This Week in History

This week in history we will celebrate the anniversary of several events that helped shaped the world we live in. Here is a quick rundown:

On Oct. 8, 1871, The Great Chicago Fire started in a small barn on the outskirts of the city and burned for the next two days. The fire consumed nearly four square miles of Chicago and resulted in the deaths of over 300 people. The majority of buildings that burned down were apartment complexes that left over 100,000 people without homes. The city was quickly rebuilt with the help of several large donations, including a substantial amount from the United Kingdom, and the city issued new sweeping safety codes for residential buildings.

On Oct. 9, 1888, the Washington Monument opened to the public for the first time in Washington D.C. Although construction began in 1848, the lack of funds and eruption of the Civil War greatly delayed finishing the project. Built to commemorate Commander of the Continental Army and first President George Washington, it sits on the National Mall at the end of the Reflecting Pool opposite the Lincoln Memorial. It was the tallest structure in the world from 1884 until 1889, when it was surpassed by the Eiffel Tower.

On Oct. 9, 1919, the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series in a best of nine game format against the Chicago White Sox. Shortly afterwards, eight players on the White Sox were accused of intentionally throwing the series in exchange for betting revenues orchestrated by Arnold Rothstein. This became known as the “Black Sox Scandal” that tainted the integrity of baseball and Chicago’s team. As a result, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was appointed the first Commissioner of Baseball and given full authority to handle the situation.

The eight men were eventually acquitted of all charges, but Landis still had all members of the accused party permanently banned from playing professional baseball as well as consideration for post career honors, including the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Protests were continually lodged for the men to be reinstated, especially for “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of the best outfielders to ever play the game. Despite these efforts, the banishment was never overturned and the eight players still live in infamy today.

Lastly, on Oct. 12, 1945, Private First Class Desmond Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Doss refused to harm an enemy soldier or carry a weapon due to his beliefs as a Seventh-Day Adventist, so the military allowed to him to serve as a combat medic. During the Battle of Okinawa, Doss managed to save the lives of 75 soldiers despite being injured himself and was awarded the highest military honor for his actions. His life was portrayed in several books and movies since his death in 2006, including the critically acclaimed film “Hacksaw Ridge,” starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Mel Gibson.


Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at seamus.mckeever@uconn.edu.