This Week in History: 2/11/19-2/15/19

On Feb. 11, 1975, Margaret Thatcher became the first woman to lead a political party in British history when she was elected head of the Conservative party in Parliament. Known as “The Iron Lady,” Thatcher would become one of the most important figures of the late 20th century, and in 1979 also became the first woman to be elected to the position of Prime Minister. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

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

On Feb. 11, 1975, Margaret Thatcher became the first woman to lead a political party in British history when she was elected head of the Conservative party in Parliament. Known as “The Iron Lady,” Thatcher would become one of the most important figures of the late 20th century, and in 1979 also became the first woman to be elected to the position of Prime Minister. She guided the United Kingdom through some of its most trying periods, including the Iranian Embassy hostage siege of 1980 as well as the Falkland Wars in 1982. She also survived an assassination attempt by the IRA during “The Troubles” at the Brighton Hotel in 1984. She eventually stepped down from office as her popularity waned in 1990, and passed away in 2013.

On Feb. 12, 1554, Lady Jane Grey was executed for crimes of high treason in England. Grey was the shortest-serving monarch in British history and is known as “The Nine-Day Queen.” She was a first cousin of the previous king, Edward VI, who nominated Grey to inherit the crown upon his death. Grey’s half-sister, Mary, was prohibited from wearing the crown due to her Roman Catholic beliefs as Edward wanted the Protestant Church of England to continue grow. However, support for Mary grew increasingly, and Grey was removed from the throne. Mary became Mary Tudor and ruled until her death at the age of 42, while Grey was executed when she was just 17 years old.

On the same day in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or the NAACP, was founded in New York City. The organization quickly became one of the most important and successful civil rights groups in American history as it tackled major issues such as group lynchings in the south, segregation in public facilities and schools and police brutality. Some of its famous members include W.E.B. Du Bois and Thurgood Marshall, and the organization is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland today.

On Feb. 14, 1929, the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place in Chicago, Illinois. Seven members of the North Side Gang were shot in a parking garage in broad daylight by four unknown gunmen. This incident occurred during a power struggle between the Irish North Side gang and Italian South Side gang for control of the city during Prohibition. The Italian gang was lead by none other than Al Capone, who would eventually become the most powerful man in the city. The killers have long be thought to be members of the Egan’s Rats gang contracted by Capone, but no final verdict has been passed. These killings would greatly turn public opinion against Capone and prosecutors began to search for a way to bring him down. Capone was finally arrested on charges of tax evasion by the famous treasury agent Eliot Ness and sentenced in 1931 to an 11-year term. He was eventually released and died of a heart attack in 1947.


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