If you feel inclined to lounge on the lawn today, we encourage you to crack open a copy of ‘Leaves of Grass,’ the life’s work of American poet Walt Whitman, whose birthday is May 31. When ‘Leaves of Grass’ was first released in 1855 it was considered controversial for its imagery of sexuality among other wide-ranging topics. Expressed as a form of free verse without rhyme and with ever-changing meter and rhythm, Whitman’s style was highly personal, but also expansive, meant to reflect the limitless possibilities of Americans and the United States itself. He spent years revising and adding to the compilation of poems and today is regarded as one of the most important of American poets. He once said, ‘Keep your face always toward the sunshine—and shadows will fall behind you.’
Lived: 1303 BC – 1213
Height: 5′ 7″ (1.70 m)
Spouse: Meritamen · Bintanath · Nefertari · Isetnofret · Nebettawy · Henutmire · Maathorneferure
Buried: Deir el-Bahari · KV7
Children: Bintanath (Daughter) · Merneptah (Son) · Ramesses (Son) · Meritamen (Daughter) · Khaemweset (Son) · Amun-her-khepeshef (Son) · Nebettawy (Daughter) · Pareherwenemef (Son) · Meryatum (Son) · Henuttawy (Daughter) · Setepenre (Son) · Isetnofret II (Daughter) · Ramesses-Meryamun-Nebweben (Son) · Simentu (Son) · Meryre (Son)
Parents: Seti I (Father) · Tuya (Mother)
Photo of the free standing part of Gerf Hussein temple, originally in Nubia
(1279 BCE) A great pharaoh takes the Egyptian throne.
Also on this day,
1819 | Walt Whitman born
1859 | Big Ben debuts
1889 | Johnstown flood
The iconic Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, is chock full of symbolism and details for eagle-eyed observers to discover. Dedicated on this day in 1922, the landmark is surrounded by 36 columns, representing each of the states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death. The president’s pose was designed to represent both his strength and compassion (one fist is clenched, the other at rest), and even the building materials were sourced from locations significant to his life and legacy. Look closely at the inscription on the wall of the north chamber and you’ll even spot a typo in the text of Lincoln’s second inaugural address, where the sculptor carved ‘EUTURE’ instead of ’FUTURE.’ Oops! The inscription has since been corrected, but the original mistake remains discernible.
Lived: Mar 15, 1767 – Jun 08, 1845 (age 78)
Height: 6′ 1″ (1.85 m)
Spouse: Rachel Jackson (m. 1794 – 1828)
Parties: Democratic Party · Democratic-Republican Party
Vice Presidents: Martin Van Buren · John C. Calhoun
Buried: The HermitageHighlights
- 1794: After the divorce was officially completed, Rachel and Jackson remarried in 1794.
- 1797: In 1797, the state legislature elected him as U.S. Senator.
- 1821: After the ratification of the Adams–Onís Treaty in 1821, Jackson briefly served as the territorial Governor of Florida before returning to Tennessee.
- 1832: Van Buren continued to serve as an important adviser to Jackson and was placed on the ticket for vice president in the 1832 election, making him Jackson’s heir-apparent.
- 1832: On December 28, 1832, with less than two months remaining in his term, Calhoun resigned as vice president to become a U.S. Senator for South Carolina.
- 1845: Jackson died at his plantation on June 8, 1845, at the age of 78, of chronic dropsy and heart failure.
78-year-old Andrew Jackson
(1806) A future US president kills a man in a duel.
Also on this day,
1431 | Joan of Arc executed
1911 | First Indy 500
1935 | Ruth’s last game
Greetings from base camp at Mount Everest, the highest peak on Earth. For most of us, pictures are as close as we’ll get to this iconic destination, which was first summited on this day in 1953. Mountaineers Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the historic first ascent and achieved instant fame. The two spent 15 minutes on the summit, with Norgay leaving an offering of sweets.