This week in history, we will see the anniversary of several important events that shaped the world we live in. Here is a quick rundown.
On Feb. 27, 1951, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting anyone from serving in the office of the presidency for more than two consecutive terms. This was an unofficial precedent set by George Washington, who only served two terms as America’s first president from 1789 to 1797. No other president would serve past this mark until Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to a third term in office in 1940 and won a fourth election in 1944 as well. FDR decided to seek re-election after his first two terms because he believed a change of leadership would be detrimental to America, as it was experiencing one of the most trying periods of our nation’s history. He turned out to be right, as he guided America through the Great Depression and then into World War II. After his death, the 22nd Amendment sought to prevent any one person from ruling indefinitely as pPresident or consolidating the power of the executive branch. No other person in American history has served more than two terms, and the only man to serve two non-consecutive terms as President was Grover Cleveland.
On Feb. 28, 1953, British scientist Francis Crick and American scientist James Watson discovered in an English lab that DNA molecules took the shape of a three-dimensional double-helix. This was a groundbreaking discovery in the field of science and gave rise to the study of genetics and the Human Genome Project. Watson and Crick based much of their work on the scientific research of Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, who were working at King’s College at the time. Due to their contributions to science, Watson, Crick and Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962. Franklin was left out of the nomination since she died in 1958. Despite the criticism over Franklin’s exclusion from the award, Watson and Crick’s discovery remains one of the most important scientific events of the 20th century.
On Feb. 28, 1993, the siege of a compound belonging to the religious group known as the Branch Davidians by various federal organizations began outside of Waco, Texas. The religious group was led by a man named David Koresh, who believed he was the group’s final ultimate prophet. It was suspected that Koresh and the group were stockpiling a large number of illegal weapons, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms obtained a warrant to search the compound and arrest Koresh. Unfortunately, when the federal agents attempted to enter the compound, a furious gunfight ensued. Over the next several minutes, four federal agents and six members of the Branch Davidians were killed. After this shootout, the Federal Bureau of Investigation surrounded the area and decided to wait out the group with a siege. After 51 days, the FBI tried to raid the facility, but during the attack, a fire broke out and consumed the compound. In total, 76 people were killed, including Koresh. The aftermath of the ordeal saw civil and criminal lawsuits brought against members of the Branch Davidians and several government officers and agencies, and it remains one of the most controversial events in recent American history.
Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.