1897—Self-educated engineer Andrew J. Beard is awarded a patent (#594,059) for an automatic railroad car coupling device—the Jenny Coupler. Prior to this device rail cars were joined manually and hundreds of workers lost fingers, hands and arms. Beard eventually sold rights to his invention for $50,000.
1980—More than 1,000 Blacks from 25 states gathered in Philadelphia, Pa., and formed the National Black Independent Political Party. However, the lack of funding and Black voter allegiance to the Democratic Party doomed the effort.
1865—Mississippi enacts another set of “Black Codes” designed to control and virtually re-enslave the recently freed slaves. The racist laws made it illegal for Blacks to be called for jury duty, testify against a White person in court, own guns, attend White schools, or own farmland. Several other Southern states immediately attempted to imitate the Mississippi laws. Reconstruction slowed the implementation of the “Black Codes.” But when Reconstruction ended around 1877, the codes were re-instituted.
1868—Scott Joplin is born in Texarkana, Texas. Joplin becomes skilled at the piano and with composing music. As a result of these skills and his energy, he becomes one of the leading founders of a music genre known as “Ragtime,” which was one of the most popular types of music in America for at least 20 years. The most popular “Ragtime” tune was Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” of 1897. Sadly, the talented Joplin died in a New York City asylum at the age of 49.