This Week In History: June 4-10


This week in history: Women get the vote, post WWII plan outlined, and Nova Aquila observed. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.

June 4, 1919 – Women’s Suffrage is Approved by Congress

Today in history, the United States Congress approves what would become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which would grant women the right to vote. The proposal was submitted on this day to the Supreme Court for ratification, but would not receive the requisite 36 votes until 1920, when it would officially added to the Constitution. Some politicians feared that, now armed with the right to vote, a formidable “Women’s Bloc” would emerge in the 1920 election; however, only 36% of women eligible to vote turned out to the polls. This number would only continue to increase, however, as barriers such as literacy tests and poll taxes began to disappear.

Learn more about the women behind the Suffrage Movement and other major figures in women’s history in Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour Through American History

June 5, 1947 – Marshall Plan Outlined

Following the complete devastation of Europe in the aftermath of World War II, the United States sought to assist its allies in rebuilding their lives. Secretary of State George Marshall outlined his Marshall Plan on this day in 1947. Beginning in April of 1948, the Marshall Plan would provide $12 billion (nearly $120 billion in modern money terms) to assist in rebuilding Western European economies and to help relieve the stress of rationing. Although aid was offered to the Soviet Union it was refused, and subsequently no Eastern Bloc countries would receive any of the benefits. Viewed as antagonistic by the USSR, a similar Soviet plan entitled the Molotov Plan would be developed and enacted, but it was unsuccessful. While it is accepted that the Marshall Plan did not single-handedly revitalize Europe, it certainly helped launch an increased period of economic growth between 1948 and 1952.

Learn more about the Marshall Plan in An Economic History of the World Since 1400

June 8, 1918 – The Nova Aquila is First Observed

Confirmed by Grace Cook on this day in 1918, the Nova Aquila was the brightest nova recorded since the invention of the telescope. It was the second brightest nova ever observed, second to Kepler’s nova in 1604, which was bright enough to be seen by the naked eye. Not to be confused with the more spectacular supernova, a nova occurs when a binary star system of a white dwarf and another star, such as a red dwarf, come in close orbit of each other. The resulting exchange of hydrogen generates an expulsion of matter into space, creating the light that we observe. This light is typically bright at first, before it fades and eventually disappears. While supernovae are a rare cosmic occurrence, novae are observed fairly frequently by astronomers.

Learn more about nova and other cosmic wonders in Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy 2nd Edition