This Week In History: January 29 – February 4


This week in history: Changes made around the world. “The Raven” published, Hitler made Chancellor, and the 13th Amendment passed. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.

January 29th, 1845 – Edgar Allan Poe publishes “The Raven” 

Image of Headstone of Edgar Allan Poe
Headstone of Edgar Allan Poe in Baltimore, MD, USA.

Arguably Poe’s most famous piece of writing was published in the New York Evening Mirror. The 18-stanza poem is comprised of six lines each. It is unique in the fact that the meter is trochaic octameter. Each line has eight pairs of stressed syllables followed by an unstressed one. (Try it for yourself: “Once upon a midnight dreary / while I pondered weak and weary.”) The poem made the Baltimore native a household name, though it did not bring Poe significant financial success. “The Raven” has been appropriated into many forms including parody, movies, and even a Halloween episode of The Simpsons.

Learn more about Poe and the other early writers of horror and science fiction in How Great Science Fiction Works

January 30th, 1933 – Hitler becomes Chancellor

Image of Adolf Hitler, 1933, Photographer Heinrich Hoffmann
Adolf Hitler, 1933

Under the Weimar Republic, the role of the Chancellor was not robust. Once Adolf Hitler took the title, an office he would hold until 1945, he immediately changed the responsibilities of the office. He gathered power and in only two months he would convince the Reichstag body to pass the Enabling Act giving the Reich Chancellor full powers. He could now pass any law without consulting Parliament. When the incumbent president passed away in 1934, Hitler used the Enabling Act to merge his position as Chancellor with the office of the President. As they say, the rest is history.

Learn more about the reign of Hitler and WWII in A History of Hitler’s Empire, 2nd Edition.

January 31st, 1865 – 13th Amendment to the US Constitution Passed

Image of Constitution of the United States
Constitution of the United States

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” In the wake of the American Civil War, Amendment XIII abolished slavery and servitude. Though the amendment abolished slavery throughout the US, other forces such as white supremacist violence and selective law enforcement continued to subject some black Americans in the south to involuntary labor. The 13th Amendment also allows Congress to pass laws against sex trafficking and modern forms of slavery.

Learn more about the US Constitutional Amendments with the History of the Supreme Court.


Hitler image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1987-0703-506 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (], via Wikimedia Commons