Good News in History, March 11

130 years ago today, Wanda Hazel Gág, the famous American illustrator and printmaker was born in Minnesota. Gág won international and domestic honors for her book Growing Pains which consisted of excerpts and drawings from her teenage years, but it was her children’s book Millions of Cats for which she is best remembered. READ More… (1893)


Wanda Gag preparing lithographic stone – pub domain

Millions of Cats is the oldest picture book in the world that’s still in print. The hand-lettered text tells the story of an elderly couple who realize that they are very lonely. The wife wants a cat to love, so her husband sets off in search of a beautiful one to bring home to her. After traveling far away from home, he finds a hillside covered in “cats here, cats there, Cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats…”

Gág loved fairy tales and even helped translate some of the Brothers’ Grimm, including a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which she thought had been over-sterilized by Disney. Her prints and illustrations were sold and reviewed nearly without end between 1921 and 1938 in New York City.

She wrote books and essays as well, published a print-based art review magazine briefly, argued occasionally for feminism, and worked to revive the literary respect of children’s books as a genre for serious authors.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Henry Jones of Britain invented self-rising flour (1845)
  • The famous Roxy Theater opened in New York City (1927)
  • Although the U.S. Congress was against entering World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act, which allowed war supplies, food, and oil to be shipped to the Allies on loan–more than $50 billion worth was delivered (1941)
  • Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union (1990)
  • Paul McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for being the most successful musician and composer in popular music history with 60 gold discs and 100 million singles to date, including the most covered song in history—Yesterday—which has nearly 4,000 artists recording it, so far (1997)
  • The International Criminal Court held its inaugural session in The Hague (2003)
  • The First female president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, was inaugurated (2006)

Happy 45th birthday to probably the greatest African footballer of all time: Didier Drogba! The striker blessed with every ability needed in a center forward, Drogba transcended the sport and used his popularity across the continent of Africa to do everything from raise money for charitable causes, to literally ending his country’s civil war. Born in the Ivory Coast, Drogba did most of his famous work for the London club Chelsea. Under various managers the Ivorian would score 100 goals in 226 appearances. Known as the “ultimate big game player” Drogba scored ten goals in ten separate cup finals. He won ten major honors with Chelsea, including the club’s first premier league title in 50 years and the UEFA Champions League. For his national team he represented The Elephants 105 times, scoring 65 goals and captaining the side to two African Cup of Nations finals.

Didier Drogba being interviewed during the Peace and Sport international forum in 2017. CC 4.0.

Following a 2005 qualifying game for the African Cup of Nations, Didier Drogba, the captain of the team, invited television cameras into the dressing room where surrounded by sweaty socks and jerseys, he made an impassioned plea for the two warring factions in the Ivory Coast to forgive, lay down their weapons, and end the four-year conflict that had plagued their nation and instead take to the ballot box for a series of elections that would be held the following year. As the captain spoke, his words took on the weight of a national leader, and the elections went off without a shot being fired.

The war ended shortly after. He later helped move one of Ivory Coasts’ qualifiers for the 2010 Cup of Nations to the rebel stronghold of Bouake, aiding the peace process. The Telegraph ran the headline “Didier Drogba Brings Peace to the Ivory Coast.” WATCH one of the finest strikers at work for Chelsea… (1978)

105 years ago today, Save the Redwoods League was founded with donations of $100 after three prominent conservationists went on a life-changing road trip.

John Merriam, Madison Grant, and Fairfield Osborn drove north on California’s newly constructed Redwood Highway to see the tallest trees on Earth and were equally awed and appalled. The primeval redwood forest with giants trees reaching over 300 feet high was being felled to make railroad ties.

Thus they committed to protecting the coastal redwood and giant sequoia forests by purchasing multiple ancient groves and establishing state or national parks around them.

During its first hundred years, the League saved more than 200,000 acres of redwood forest and helped establish more than 66 redwood parks and preserves, protecting most of the old-growth redwoods that remain on Earth. (1918)

And, on this day in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union.

Генеральный секретарь ЦК КПСС М.С. Горбачев

His policies of glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”) and his negotiations with President Reagan over strategic nuclear arms contributed to the end of the Cold War, ended the Communist Party’s hold on governing, inadvertently led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and won him a Nobel Peace Prize. Born into a Ukrainian-Russian peasant family, Gorbachev still writes books and lectures today and is involved in strengthening democratic politics in Russia and elsewhere.

53 years ago today, the first album by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, was released.

Along with its No.1 hit Deja Vu, it generated three Top 40 singles—Our House, Teach Your Children, and Woodstock. It was the band’s first LP as a quartet with Neil Young, and was produced by all four members with meticulous attention to detail. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #148 on the 500 greatest albums of all time. It was certified 7-times platinum with over 8 million copies sold, and spent 88 weeks on the Billboard chart. It remains the highest-selling album of each member’s career to date. (1970)

By John Mathew Smith &, CC license

Happy 89th Birthday to the incomparable Sam Donaldson ABC News reporter, news anchor, and White House Correspondent who spent 46 years in journalism, often a thorn in the side of public figures like US presidents. (1934)

51 years ago today, Harry Nilsson finished a four-week run at No.1 on the Billboard singles chart with his version of Without You, which includes keyboards by Gary Wright. Nilsson’s vocal track was recorded in a single take and his performance won him his second Grammy Award.

The singer-songwriting musician died at age 52 of heart failure after producing a successful body of work, without ever touring. It included the original children’s animated story The Point! (with Me and My Arrow); and two more No.1 singles—Coconut, Everybody’s Talkin’. Another hit was a version of Nilsson’s One, released by Three Dog Night.

The Beatles were once asked in a press conference who their favorite American group was and they answered “Nilsson” and John Lennon was one of his best friends. (1972)

3 Ambassadors Hanafi Siege - Fair Use

And, on this day in 1977, after gunmen held three buildings in Washington, D.C. during a 39-hour siege, all 149 hostages were freed, thanks to ambassadors from 3 Islamic nations—Egypt, Iran, and Pakistan.

They courageously intervened with police, reading to the 12 Hanafi Muslim gunmen passages from the Quran to demonstrate Islam’s compassion and mercy, and urging them to surrender. WATCH a video…

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