1st February 1851 the Death of Mary Shelley

“And Shelley, fourfam'd – for her parents, her lord, And the poor lone impossible monster abhorr'd.” – Leigh Hunt, on Mary Shelley

She was born of impeccable parentage – the daughter of two of the 18th century’s most notable and infamous thinkers: pioneering feminist and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft; and radical philosopher and proto-anarchist, William Godwin. She … Continue reading

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2nd February 1970 the Death of Bertrand Russell

On the 2nd of February 1970, after a long life in which he travelled far and wide, Bertrand Russell died less than a hundred miles from his Welsh birthplace. To some he was the most important philosopher of the 20th … Continue reading

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3rd February 1787 Shays’ Rebellion

Engraving depicting Daniel Shays (left) and fellow rebel Job Shattuck

Today we consider Shays’ Rebellion – otherwise known as “the American Revolution’s Final Battle” – which very nearly led to America’s first civil war. This major grassroots uprising raged for six months and shared much in common with the ideologies that … Continue reading

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3rd February 1468 Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Revolution


As befits such a momentous world-shifting event, On This Deity proudly presents two overviews to mark the occasion of the death of Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Revolution he begat.  These days we are constantly told that the Internet is the … Continue reading

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4th February 1987 the Murder of Meena Keshwar Kamal


In 1989, as a 26-year-old, I first truly understood what it was like to be disrespected because I am a woman. Although I was modestly dressed, I had dared to walk down the street on my own in a village … Continue reading

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5th February 1881 the Death of Thomas Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle

Today, we commemorate the indefatigable, controversial and visionary Scottish historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle, a literary giant of his time whose biography of Frederick the Great so a-flamed the German imagination that it was even studied as part of the … Continue reading

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6th February 1976 Leonard Peltier Illegally Arrested

Peltier's Arrest

On this day in 1976, leading Native American activist Leonard Peltier was illegally arrested in Canada by means of coerced and fraudulent testimony for the murder of two FBI agents. Extradited to the United States, Peltier was tried and convicted … Continue reading

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7th February 1992 the Maastricht Treaty


Today we look back to 1992 and the signing of a treaty that would cause delight, despair and scepticism. A treaty that announced a radical evolution of the European Project from an economic trade pact to a political union. But … Continue reading

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8th February 1921 the Death of Peter Kropotkin

"All things for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men worked to produce them in the measure of their strength, and since it is not possible to evaluate everyone's part in the production of the world's wealth... All is for all!" - Peter Kropotkin

Today we salute one of the turn-of-the-century’s great revolutionary heroes, Peter Alexeyevich Kropotkin. Born into extraordinary wealth and nobility – a Russian prince, no less – Kropotkin surrendered his birthright and all that came with it for the life of … Continue reading

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9th February

No event has as yet occurred on this day that warrants an On This Deity entry. Budding politicos and future revolutionaries please therefore take note of 9th February for all potential world-changing international incidents. And don’t forget to do your … Continue reading

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10th February 1855 A Racist Vivisector at the Foundations of Gynaecology

The first Woman's Hospital, Madison Avenue and 29th Street, NYC: residence of female butcher J. Marion Sims

On this day back in 1855, the Woman’s Hospital in New York City was founded. This was the first hospital in the world to be established for conditions specific to women, and from this beginning the study and discovery of … Continue reading

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10th February 1778 the death of Carl Linnaeus

Carl Linnaeus

The Bible, Genesis 2:20, states: “And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field”. But actually it wasn’t Adam. It was a Swedish botanist: Carl Linnaeus. My dad … Continue reading

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11th February 1990 The Freeing of Nelson Mandela

Free at Last!

Today we dance in celebration on this the 25th  anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in South Africa. Incarcerated for almost three decades, subjected to inhuman conditions breaking rocks in a lime quarry, restricted to two visitors per year, … Continue reading

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11th February 1650 the Death of René Descartes

René Descartes

Today, on the anniversary of his death in 1650, we remember the life and work of French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes. Although not overtly political, the work of Descartes succeeded in redefining much of philosophical thought, to the extent … Continue reading

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12th February 1909 The Founding of the NAACP


On 12th February 1909, the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, a group of sixty black and white intellectuals, reformers and socialists dedicated to securing the civil and political rights of African Americans as guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth … Continue reading

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13th February 1970 The Release of “BLACK SABBATH”

Ozzy, Tony, Bill & Geezer

Today we celebrate the release, nay, escape of Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut LP, forty-six years ago, with which the initial re-paganising of late-50s Whitey – with its fuse lit by Afro-American rock’n’rollers – was crystallised forever by four psychedelicized Anglo-Saxon … Continue reading

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14th February 1831 the Death of Vicente Guerrero

Vicente Guerrero

Today we pay tribute to the man known as the George Washington and Abraham Lincoln of Mexico. Vicente Guerrero was one of the leading revolutionary generals in Mexico’s 11-year war of independence and, as the republic’s second president, abolished slavery … Continue reading

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14th February 1779 The Death of Captain James Cook

Captain Cook

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” Whatever you may think about British colonial expansion, its impact and subsequent noxious effects, you have to admire the bravery, spirit … Continue reading

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15th February 1989 The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Cheering crowds as Soviet T-62 battle tank withdraws from Afghanistan

Empires fall. It’s what they do. It’s inevitable. Sometimes the collapse is due to the depletion of essential resources. Sometimes it’s a result of being overwhelmed by external aggressors. Sometimes it’s plague or a natural disaster that does it. And … Continue reading

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16th February 2005 the Kyoto Protocol Comes into (Non) Effect

The Kyoto Protocol: They Blew It

Although the concept of human-induced climate change was a century old by the latter part of the 20th century, it was only then gaining wide attention among the relevant scientists. The impact of relentlessly adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere … Continue reading

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17th February 1600 the Death of Giordano Bruno

Memorial to Giordano Bruno in Rome

Today marks the 416th anniversary of the death of the Italian Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno. Most of us associate the initiation of modern cosmology with Nicolaus Copernicus (the first to convincingly place the Sun instead of the Earth at the … Continue reading

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18th February 1943 STOP PRESS! Coming Soon! Cracks in the Nazi War Machine!

On this day in 1943, the first indications that all was not tickety-boo with Hitler’s Holocaust came to light when Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels delivered a speech at the Berlin Sportpalast to a large but carefully selected audience calling … Continue reading

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19th February 1942 Roosevelt Issues Executive Order 9066

Newspaper Headline delighting in the imminent "ouster" of all Japanese Americans

On this day in 1942, in response to the Imperial Japanese Army’s attack on Pearl Harbor two months earlier, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which cleared the way for some 120,000 Japanese Americans to be relocated … Continue reading

Posted in Atrocities, World Events | 4 Comments

20th February 1895 the Death of Frederick Douglass

Brilliant, heroic, indefatigable: Frederick Douglass

Today we pay tribute to a true colossus – the abolitionist, writer, orator and America’s first black leader of national stature, the inimitable Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery, separated in infancy from his mother and shunted from one pitiless Maryland … Continue reading

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21st February 1965 Assassination of Malcolm X

"Snakes couldn't have turned on me faster than the liberal" - Malcolm X

Today we pay tribute to America’s extraordinary 1960s ‘Black Muslim’ leader and future World Prophet Malcolm X – assassinated fifty-one years ago – whose audacious and inflammatory words, infamous autobiography and extraordinary TV appearances as the Nation of Islam’s spokesman … Continue reading

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21st February 1934 the Death of Augusto César Sandino

"We will go to the sun of freedom or to the death; if we die, our cause will continue living." - Augusto Sandino

A tribute to the Nicaraguan freedom fighter and anti-imperialist hero Augusto César Sandino –  murdered on this day – will appear here soon.

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22nd February 1943 Beheading of the White Rose

Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst

Seventy-three years ago today, three German students were executed by guillotine in Munich’s Stadelheim Prison for their crimes of high treason against Hitler’s Third Reich. Just four days earlier, 24-year-old Hans Scholl and his 21-year-old sister Sophie were arrested after … Continue reading

Posted in Dissent, Heroes, Heroines | 7 Comments

23rd February 1821 the Death of John Keats

"I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest." - John Keats (one of The Greatest)

Today we reflect on the brief but luminous life of John Keats – struck down by tuberculosis on this day in 1821 at the age of 25. Little known and lowly regarded in his lifetime, the dying poet – resigned … Continue reading

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24th February 1942 the Death of the Joint Fuehrer

Anton Drexler

Today we consider the curious case of Anton Drexler, the artist-mentor of Adolf Hitler and temporary Joint Führer, who died seventy-four years ago. Joint Führer? Surely not! Why, even the possibility of a world solipsist such as Hitler sharing the … Continue reading

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25th February 1956 Khrushchev Outs Stalin

Khrushchev delivers his "Secret Speech"

On this day in 1956, before a closed session at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev delivered his sensational speech, On the Personality Cult and its Consequences – or the “Secret Speech” as … Continue reading

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26th February 1994 the Death of Bill Hicks

"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth, and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit."

Do you remember where you were when you heard the news that Bill Hicks was dead? I was at the corner of Kentish Town Road and Hawley Road, on my way to a pub in Camden Town. My friend Justin … Continue reading

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27th February 1917 Czar Nicholas II Abdicates

Nicholas II: The Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias no more

On this day in 1917 Czar Nicholas II abdicated – marking the end of a thousand years of Romanov rule and the beginning of a chain of events that would change the course of world history. Russia had witnessed previous … Continue reading

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28th February 1906 The Publication of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”

Chicago's Meatpacking Death Factory, 1904

There have been plenty of novels written about revolutions, but not many that have been genuinely revolutionary – works that not only captured the collective imagination but also triggered a seismic social shift. Today we’re remembering one of a mere … Continue reading

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29th February A Century of American Imperialist Interventions


As no world-changing event has occurred on February 29th, let’s instead take this opportunity to reflect on one country’s determination to dominate the world in the last one hundred years by jackbooting its self-anointed authority across the globe in a … Continue reading

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