On this day on 11th October

On this day in 1521 Pope Leo X titles King Henry VIII of England "Defender of the Faith". Cardinal Thomas Wolsey had suggested to Henry that he might want to distinguish himself from other European princes by showing himself to be erudite as well as a supporter of the Roman Catholic Church. With the help of Wolsey and Thomas More, Henry composed a reply to Martin Luther entitled In Defence of the Seven Sacraments. Pope Leo X was delighted with the document and in 1521 he granted him the title, Defender of the Faith. Luther responded by denouncing Henry as the "king of lies" and a "damnable and rotten worm". As Peter Ackroyd has pointed out: "Henry was never warmly disposed towards Lutherism and, in most respects, remained an orthodox Catholic."

Henry VIII

Henry VIII

On this day in 1856 Henry Nevinson was born in Leicester. He worked for The Daily Chronicle and reported on the Boer War and 1905 Russian Revolution. Nevinson was a supporter of women's suffrage. His wife, Margaret Nevinson, and his lover, Evelyn Sharp, were both members of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). However, in 1906, frustrated by the NUWSS lack of success, they both joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). Another journalist, Philip Gibbs pointed out: "Henry W. Nevinson, always the defender of liberty, always a man of fearless courage, allied himself with the women's cause and marched with them when they advanced to the House of Commons, or spoke for them when they held meetings at Caxton Hall. I was at the Albert Hall where the Suffragettes kept up constant interruptions of a big meeting where Cabinet Ministers were present. Nevinson's blood boiled when he saw one of the stewards clench his fist and give a knock-out blow on the chin to one of the militant women. Other women were being roughly handled. Nevinson jumped from the stage box, and fought half a dozen stewards at once until they over-powered him and flung him out."

Edward Seymour
Henry Nevinson

On this day in 1865 President Andrew Johnson paroles Confederate States Vice President Alexander Stephens, a strong supporter of slavery. The Radical Republicans became concerned when Johnson began surrounding himself with advisers such as Preston King, Henry W. Halleck and Winfield S. Hancock, who were well known for their reactionary views. Johnson also began to clash with those cabinet members such as Edwin M. Stanton, William Dennison and James Speed who favoured the granting of black suffrage. In this he was supported by conservatives in the government such as Gideon Welles and and Henry McCulloch.

Johnson now began to argue that African American men should only be given the vote when they were able to pass some type of literacy test. He advised William Sharkey, the governor of Mississippi, that he should only "extend the elective franchise to all persons of color who can read the Constitution of the United States in English and write their names, and to all persons of color who own real estate valued at not less than two hundred and fifty dollars."

Johnson became increasingly hostile to the work of General Oliver Howard and the Freeman's Bureau. Established by Congress on 3rd March, 1865, the bureau was designed to protect the interests of former slaves. This included helping them to find new employment and to improve educational and health facilities. In the year that followed the bureau spent $17,000,000 establishing 4,000 schools, 100 hospitals and providing homes and food for former slaves.

In early 1866 Lyman Trumbull introduced proposals to extend the powers of the Freeman's Bureau . When this measure was passed by Congress it was vetoed by Johnson. However, the Radical Republicans were able to gain the support of moderate members of the Republican Party and Johnson's objections were overridden by Congress.

In April 1866, Johnson also vetoed the Civil Rights Bill that was designed to protect freed slaves from Southern Black Codes (laws that placed severe restrictions on freed slaves such as prohibiting their right to vote, forbidding them to sit on juries, limiting their right to testify against white men, carrying weapons in public places and working in certain occupations). On 6th April, Johnson's veto was overridden in the Senate by 33 to 15.

Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson

On this day in 1872 Emily Wilding Davison was born in London. A member of the Women's Social and Political Union she became involved in its arson campaign and in December 1911 she was arrested for setting fire to pillar-boxes. Davison was convinced that women would not win the vote until the suffragette movement had a martyr. Emily took the decision to draw attention to the suffragette campaign by jumping down an iron staircase. Emily landed on wire-netting, 30 feet below. This prevented her death but she suffered severe spinal injuries.

Once she had recovered her health, Emily Davison began making plans to commit an act that would give the movement maximum publicity. In June, 1913, she attended the most important race of the year, the Derby, with Mary Richardson: "A minute before the race started she raised a paper on her own or some kind of card before her eyes. I was watching her hand. It did not shake. Even when I heard the pounding of the horses' hoofs moving closer I saw she was still smiling. And suddenly she slipped under the rail and ran out into the middle of the racecourse. It was all over so quickly." Davison ran out on the course and attempted to grab the bridle of Anmer, a horse owned by King George V. The horse hit Emily and the impact fractured her skull and she died on 8th June without regaining consciousness.

Among the articles found in her possession were two WSPU flags, a racecard, and a return train ticket to Victoria Station. This has resulted in some historians arguing that she did not intend to kill herself. Sylvia Pankhurst has argued: "Emily Davison and a fellow-militant in whose flat she lived, she had concerted a Derby protest without tragedy - a mere waving of the purple-white-and-green at Tattenham Corner, which, by its suddenness, it was hoped would stop the race. Whether from the first her purpose was more serious, or whether a final impulse altered her resolve, I know not. Her friend declares she would not thus have died without writing a farewell message to her mother." Other research has indicated that Davidson intended to attach a WSPU scarf to the king's horse.

However, Emmeline Pankhurst believed that Davidson wanted to become a martyr. She wrote in her biography, My Own Story (1914): "Emily Davison clung to her conviction that one great tragedy, the deliberate throwing into the breach of a human life, would put an end to the intolerable torture of women. And so she threw herself at the King's horse, in full view of the King and Queen and a great multitude of their Majesties' subjects."

The historian, Martin Pugh, believes it is impossible to know if she intended to commit suicide: "Davison's detachment from the formal organisation complicates the task of explaining her motives... As a result no contemporary really knew whether Davison intended suicide. The evidence is inconclusive... Admittedly on two occasions she had thrown herself over the railings in Holloway prison (which were designed to prevent suicides) and she is on record as telling the prison doctor in June 1912 that 'a tragedy is wanted'. But what did that mean? Contemporary medical evidence commonly regarded women, and suffragettes in particular, as prone to hysteria and thus as suicidal."

Emily Wilding Davison
Emily Wilding Davison

On this day in 1884 Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City. In 1905 she married her cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Like her husband, Eleanor was a Democrat and took a strong interest in politics. However, she was far more left-wing than her husband. Eleanor worked for the League of Women's Voters, the National Consumer's League and the Women's Trade Union League. She also became friendly with the African American educator, Mary McLeod Bethune and Walter Francis White, the national secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). These friendships resulted in Eleanor taking a close interest in African American civil rights.

In 1935 Eleanor attempted to persuade Franklin D. Roosevelt to support and Anti-Lynching bill that had been introduced into Congress. However, Roosevelt refused to speak out in favour of the bill that would punish sheriffs who failed to protect their prisoners from lynch mobs. He argued that the white voters in the South would never forgive him if he supported the bill and he would therefore lose the next election.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt

On this day in 1939 Albert Einstein informs President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the possibilities of an atomic bomb.

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

On this day in 1940 Philip Zec publishes cartoon in The Daily Mirror on Operation Sealion.

Saving France - for GermanyPhilip Zec, The Daily Mirror (11th October, 1940)
Philip Zec, Saving France - for Germany, The Daily Mirror (11th October, 1940)

On this day in 1945 Chinese civil war begins between Kuomintang government led by Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong's Communist Party.

Mao Zedong'
Mao Zedong'

On this day in 1946 Fritz Saukel was executed for war crimes. Saukel joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in 1921 and when Adolf Hitler gained power in 1933 he appointed him as Governor of Thuringia. In March 1942 Martin Bormann arranged for him to become Reich Director of Labour and was responsible for meeting the demands of Albert Speer at the ministry of armaments. Over the next three years Saukel's teams went out on the streets to recruit over seven million foreign workers. At the end of the war Saukel was captured by Allied troops. At the the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial he claimed he had not known about the concentration camps. Fritz Saukel was found guilty of crimes against humanity and was executed.

Fritz Saukel
Fritz Saukel