Often history is a mix of conflicting narratives, with very different activities happening in close time proximity in far divergent parts of the world. Such is the case with today’s date – May 21st. In 1851 slavery was outlawed south of the US in Colombia. And yet in 1856 the town of Lawrence, Kansas was captured and burned by pro-slavery forces. In 1934 the town of Oskaloosa, Iowa became the first municipality to fingerprint all of its citizens, while in 1991 the former prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a female suicide bomber near Madras.

Also today Engish author Daniel Defoe, mostly known for his shipwrecked hero Robinson Crusoe, was arrested on a charge of seditious libel, caused by his prolific pamphleteering involving fierce criticism of the British government. And the American Red Cross was established in Washington DC by Clara Barton in 1881.

This is the birthdate of German painter, engraver, and mathematician Albrecht Durer (1471), English poet Alexander Pope (1688), English Quaker prison reformer and philanthropist Elizabeth Fry (1780), and Russian physicist, dissident, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Andre Sakharov (1921).

This date saw the passing of King Henry VI of England (1471), Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto (1542), American activist and author Jane Addams (1935), and English author Barbara Cartland (2000).

Today is International Tea Day, so drink it up.