On This Day in History, August 18

In 1920, The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified. This amendment, one of four ‘progressive era’ amendments, granted women’s suffrage nationwide. By the ratification of this amendment, most of the western United States had already granted suffrage, whether in part or full, beginning with Wyoming and Utah decades before the 20th Century.

In 1958, Lolita, the controversial novel written by Vladimir Nabokov, is first published in the United States. The controversy around the novel arose from its plot, concerning a middle-aged professor obsessed with a twelve year-old girl, whom he engages in a sexual relationship with. Despite the controversy, the novel has become a classic and included in several lists of the top works of the 20th Century.

In 1977, Steve Biko, a South African anti-apartheid activist, was stopped at a police roadblock due to violating a travel ban placed upon him, a common tactic used to ensure the apartheid state. He would later be beaten by security forces while in custody and would die from his injuries. His death would help expose the cruelty of apartheid to the world beyond South Africa.

A Notable Birth

1587 – Virginia Dare (d. unknown) was the first child born to English colonists in the New World. What little is known of her life comes from her grandfather, John White, who was also the governor of Roanoke Colony.

A Notable Death

1227 – Genghis Khan (b. 1152/62), born Temüjin Borjigin, was the first Great Khan and Emperor of the Mongol Empire. Having first united the various Mongolian tribes, he set upon a conquest that brought a great deal of Central Asia and China under his domain. Beyond conquest, he also introduced meritocracy and religious tolerance to his empire.

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