Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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September 6th
Jane Addams
“Democratic government, associated as it is with all the mistakes and shortcomings of the common people, still remains the most valuable contribution America has made to the moral life of the world,” wrote Jane Addams, born this day in 1860 in Cedarville, Illinois. She heightened that contribution with Hull House, a “settlement house” in Chicago where Addams and other reformers helped the poor, including immigrant families.

As Addams recounted in her book Twenty Years at Hull House, the seeds of her passion were planted at about age seven on a day when she passed through the poorest part of a neighboring town with her father, a prosperous miller.

On that day I had my first sight of the poverty which implies squalor, and felt the curious distinction between the ruddy poverty of the country and that which even a small city presents in its shabbiest streets. I remember launching at my father the pertinent inquiry why people lived in such horrid little houses so close together, and that after receiving his explanation I declared with much firmness when I grew up I should, of course, have a large house, but it would not be built among the other large houses, but right in the midst of horrid little houses like these.
More than two decades later, Addams moved into a dilapidated Chicago mansion once owned by businessman Charles J. Hull. There in the crowded immigrant slums, she and her fellow reformers provided shelter, education, and affection for thousands – everything from maternal care and concerts to language classes and lessons in citizenship. Addams served as head resident of Hull House for 46 years – the rest of her life – practicing a democracy that welcomed “the common people” from around the world.

American History Parade
1781
British troops under Benedict Arnold burn New London, Connecticut.

1860
Jane Addams, founder of Hull House, is born in Cedarville, Illinois.

1901
President William McKinley is shot and mortally wounded by an anarchist at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

1995
Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. plays in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking Lou Gehrig’s record.

2002
Congress convenes in New York City to pay homage to the victims and heroes of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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