In 1807to the US Congress passed the Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves. It disallowed the importation of slaves into the country but did nothing for those who were already here. In fact on the same date in history in 1859 the two-day Great Slave Auction, the largest in history, began in Savannah Georgia with buyers coming from several states. It involved 436 men, women, and children and was held to pay off the debts of a landowner who inherited his father’s estate. And also on this date in 1836, the declaration of independence of Texas from Mexico was adopted. The immediate cause of the split came because the immigrant southerners in Mexico wanted to keep their slaves, yet the Mexican government had already outlawed slavery. Coincidentally this is also the birthday of Sam Houston, the first President of the Republic of Texas.

In 1901 the US Congress passed the Platt Amendment that allowed the occupying US to force Cuba to accept certain conditions for the removal of American troops – there as a consequence of the Spanish American War. Included in the conditions was the freedom to re-occupy Cuba if seen fit by the US. In 1917 US passed the Jones-Safroth Act which granted Puerto Ricans US citizenship. That meant that people of a US Commonwealth possession became citizens 8 years before the indigenous native tribes who had lived in the continental US for thousands of years before English colonization.

In science-related news in 1969, the supersonic Anglo-French Concorde plane had its first test flight. In 1989 12 European Community nations voted to ban the production of CFCs by the end of the century. In 1998 data sent by the Galileo spacecraft indicated that Jupiter’s moon Europa had a liquid ocean underneath a thick crust of ice.

And in 1983 compact discs and players were released for the first time in the US, when they had previously been available only in Japan. And now they are considered very “old school:.

Well-known names of people born on this date include Dr. Seuss (Cat in the Hat, etc, 1904), Tom Wolfe (Right Stuff, 1930), Mikhail Gorbachev (1931), the gone-to-soon voice of Karen Carpenter (1950), and the always-rocking Jon Bon Jovi (1962).

We bid farewell to Methodist founder and theologian John Wesley in 1791. Russian Tsar Nicholas I in 1855.English archaeologist and discoverer of King Tut’s tomb Howard Carter in 1939. And American folk singer Dusty Springfield in 1999.

Be sure to spend time with books today as this is National Read Across America Day.