John’s Believe It Or Not… July 16th

* 1880 – Emily Howard Stowe the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada. * 622 Muslim Era begins – Muhammad begins flight from Mecca to Medina (Hijra) * 1863 Draft riots continue to rock New York City * 1951 Catcher in the Rye is published * 1999 JFK Jr. killed in plane crash

JFK Jr. & his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy

It’s Monday! Did You Know…

* 1880 – Emily Howard Stowe the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada.

Emily Howard Stowe (née Jennings, May 1, 1831 – April 30, 1903) was the first female doctor to practise in Canada, the second licensed female physician in Canada and an activist for women’s rights and suffrage. Stowe helped found the women’s suffrage movement in Canada and campaigned for the country’s first medical college for women.

Emily Howard Jennings Stowe was born in Norwich Township, Oxford County, Upper Canada to Hannah Howard and Solomon Jennings. While Solomon converted to Methodism, Hannah raised Stowe and her five sisters as Quakers. In the tradition of the Society of Friends, Stowe’s parents encouraged her to obtain an education; they sent her to a co-educational Quaker school in Providence, Rhode Island.

After teaching at local schools for seven years, Stowe’s public struggle to achieve equality for women began in 1852, when she applied for admission to Victoria College, Cobourg, Canada West. Refused on the grounds that she was female, she applied to the Normal School for Upper Canada, which Egerton Ryerson had recently founded in Toronto. She entered in November 1853 and was graduated with first-class honours in 1854. Hired as principal of a Brantford, Ontario public school, she was the first woman to be a principal of a public school in Upper Canada. She taught there until her marriage in 1856.

She married John Fiuscia Michael Heward Stowe in 1856. In the next seven years, she had three children: two sons and a daughter. Shortly after the birth of their third child, her husband developed tuberculosis, which led her to take a renewed interest in medicine. Having had experience with herbal remedies and homoeopathic medicine since the 1840s, Emily Howard Stowe left teaching and decided to become a doctor.

Stowe was denied entrance into the Toronto School of Medicine in 1865 and was told by its Vice Principal, “The doors of the University are not open to women and I trust they never will be.” Unable to study medicine in Canada, Emily Stowe earned her degree in the United States from the homoeopathic New York Medical College for Women in 1867. The same year, she returned to Canada and opened a medical practice in Toronto, on Richmond Street. Stowe gained some local prominence through public lectures on women’s health and maintained a steady clientele through newspaper advertisements.

In 1870, the president of the Toronto School of Medicine granted special permission to Stowe and fellow student Jennie Kidd Trout to attend classes, a requirement for medical practitioners with foreign licences. Faced with hostility from both the male faculty and students, Stowe refused to take the oral and written exams and left the school.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario granted Stowe a licence to practise medicine on July 16, 1880, based on her experience with homoeopathic medicine since 1850. This licence made Stowe the second female licensed physician in Canada, after Trout. Her daughter, Augusta Stowe-Gullen, was the first woman to earn a medical degree in Canada.

While studying medicine in New York, Stowe met with Susan B. Anthony and witnessed the divisions within the American women’s suffrage movement. Stowe also attended a women’s club meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. Stowe adopted a gradualist strategy which she brought back to her work in Canada.

In 1876, Stowe founded the Toronto Women’s Literary Club, renamed the Canadian Women’s Suffrage Association in 1883. This has led some to consider Stowe the mother of the suffrage movement in Canada. The Literary Club campaigned for improved working conditions for women and pressured schools in Toronto to accept women into higher education. In 1883, a public meeting of the Suffrage Association led to the creation of the Ontario Medical College for Women. When the Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association was founded in 1889, Stowe became its first president and remained president until her death.

As is true for many suffragists, a tension existed between Stowe’s commitment to fellow women and class loyalty. In an episode that may demonstrate the dominance of the latter, Stowe broke the bond of doctor-patient confidentiality by disclosing the abortion request of a patient, Sara Ann Lovell, a domestic servant, to her employer. Stowe, however, sharply criticized the National Policy economic program in 1892. She believed that it would not help working-class Canadians and was instead a corrupt deal on behalf of major businesses.

After breaking her hip at the Columbian Exposition’s Women’s Congress in 1893, Stowe retired from medicine. In 1896, Emily and her daughter Augusta participated in an all-female “mock parliament,” in which the women considered a petition from a male delegation for the right to vote. Stowe, as the Attorney General, used the same arguments that the Canadian Parliament had levelled against female suffragists and denied the petition. Stowe died in 1903, fourteen years before Canadian women were granted the right to vote.

Commemorative Canadian postage stamp featuring a picture of Emily Stowe.

* 622 Muslim Era begins – Muhammad begins flight from Mecca to Medina (Hijra)

The Hegira (also called Hijrah,‎) is the migration or journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Yathrib, later renamed by him to Medina, in the year 622. In June 622, after being warned of a plot to assassinate him, Muhammad secretly left his home in Mecca to emigrate to Yathrib, 320 km (200 mi) north of Mecca, along with his companion Abu Bakr. Yathrib was soon renamed Madīnat an-Nabī  (literally “City of the Prophet”), but an-Nabī was soon dropped, so its name is “Medina”, meaning “the city”.

The Hijrah is also often identified with the start of the Islamic calendar, which was set to 19 April 622 in the Julian calendar.

The first Hijrah is dated to 615 or Rajab (September–October) 613 when a group of Muslims counselled by Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca arrived at the court of the Christian monarch (Negus) of the Ethiopian Empire, Ashama ibn-Abjar. Muhammad himself did not join this emigration. In that year, his followers fled Mecca’s leading tribe, the Quraysh, who sent emissaries to Ethiopia to bring them back to the Arabian Peninsula. However, the Negus refused to send them back.

In Mecca, at the pilgrimage season of 620, Muhammad met six men of the Banu Khazraj from Medina, propounded to them the doctrines of Islam, and recited portions of the Quran. Impressed by this, the six embraced Islam, and at the Pilgrimage of 621, five of them brought seven others with them. These twelve informed Muhammad of the beginning of gradual development of Islam in Medina, and took a formal pledge of allegiance at Muhammad’s hand, promising to accept him as a prophet, to worship none but one God, and to renounce certain sins such as theft, adultery, and murder. This is known as the “First Pledge of al-Aqaba”. At their request, Muhammad sent with them Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umair to teach them the instructions of Islam. Biographers have recorded the considerable success of Mus`ab ibn ‘Umair in preaching the message of Islam and bringing people under the umbrella of Islam in Medina.

The next year, at the pilgrimage of 622, a delegation of around 75 Muslims of the Banu Aws and Khazraj from Medina came, and in addition to restating the formal promises, they also assured Muhammad of their full support and protection if the latter would migrate to their land. They invited him to come to Medina as an arbitrator to reconcile among the hostile tribes. This is known as the “second pledge at al-Aqabah”, and was a ‘politico-religious’ success that paved the way for his and his followers’ immigration to Medina. Following the pledges, Muhammad encouraged his followers to migrate to Medina, and in a span of two months, nearly all the Muslims of Mecca migrated to Medina.

During the early seventh century, Medina was inhabited by two types of population: Jewish and pagan Arabs. The Jews there had three principal clans – Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nadir, and Banu Qurayza. The Arab pagans had two tribes – the Banu Aws and Khazraj. At that time, the Jews there had the upper hand with their large settlement and huge property. Before the encounter between Muhammad and the six men from Medina in 620, there ensued a terrible battle between Aws and Khazraj, known as the Battle of Buath, in which many leading personalities of both the sides died and left Yathrib in a disordered state. Traditional rules for maintaining law and order became dysfunctional, and, without a neutral man with considerable authority over things, stability seemed unlikely. As the pagan Arabs of Medina lived in close proximity to the Jews, they had gained some knowledge about their scriptures and had heard the Jews awaiting the arrival of a future prophet. It is because of this knowledge, taken together with their need for an adjudicator, that the six men who met Muhammad at the pilgrimage season of 620 readily accepted his message, lest the Jews should steal a march over them.

The Migration
According to Muslim tradition, after receiving divine direction to depart Mecca, Muhammad began taking preparation and informed Abu Bakr of his plan. On the night of his departure, Muhammad’s house was besieged by men of the Quraysh who planned to kill him in the morning. At the time, Muhammad possessed various properties of the Quraysh given to him in trust; so he handed them over to ‘Ali and directed him to return them to their owners, and asked him to lie down on his bed assuring him of God’s protection. It is said that when Muhammad emerged from his house, he recited the ninth verse of Surah Ya Sin of the Quran and threw a handful of dust at the direction of the besiegers, rendering the besiegers unable to see him. Soon, Muhammad joined Abu Bakr, left the city, and the two took shelter in a cave outside the city. Next morning, the besiegers were frustrated to find Ali on Muhammad’s bed. Fooled and thwarted by Muhammad’s plan, they rummaged the city in search of him, and some of them eventually reached the threshold of the cave, but success eluded them. When the Quraysh came to know of Muhammad’s escape, they announced heavy reward for bringing Muhammad back to them, alive or dead. Unable to resist this temptation, pursuers scattered in all directions. After staying for three days, Muhammad and Abu Bakr resumed their journey and were pursued by Suraqa bin Malik. But each time he neared Muhammad’s party, his horse stumbled and he finally abandoned his desire of capturing Muhammad. After eight days’ journey, Muhammad entered the outskirts of Medina around June 622 but did not enter the city directly. He stopped at a place called Quba’, a place some miles from the main city, and established a mosque there. After a four-day stay at Quba’, Muhammad along with Abu Bakr continued their migration to Medina, participated in their first Friday prayer on the way, and upon reaching the city, were greeted cordially by its people.

Map and Picture showing Mohammad's flight to Medina.
622: Muslim Era begins – Muhammad begins flight from Mecca to Medina (Hijra) (LikeWike)

* 1863 Draft riots continue to rock New York City

The draft riots enter their fourth day in New York City in response to the Enrollment Act, which was enacted on March 3, 1863. Although avoiding military service became much more difficult, wealthier citizens could still pay a commutation fee of $300 to stay at home. Irritation with the draft dovetailed with opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation of September 1862, which made abolition of slavery the central goal of the war for the Union. Particularly vocal in their opposition were the Democratic Irish, who felt the war was being forced upon them by Protestant Republicans and feared that emancipation of slaves would jeopardize their jobs. Their fears were confirmed when black laborers replaced striking Irish dock workers the month before the riots.

Discontent simmered until the draft began among the Irish New Yorkers on July 11. Two days later, a mob burned the draft office, triggering nearly five days of violence. At first, the targets included local newspapers, wealthy homes, well-dressed men, and police officers, but the crowd’s attention soon turned to African Americans. Several blacks were lynched, and businesses employing blacks were burned. A black orphanage was also burned, but the children escaped.

Not until July 17 was the violence contained by the arrival of Union troops, some fresh from the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. More than 1,000 people died and property damage topped $2 million. The draft was temporarily suspended, and a revised conscription began in August. As a result of the riots and the delicate political balance in the city, relatively few New Yorkers were forced to serve in the Union army.

New York City draft riots, 1863 - Stock Image
New York City draft riots, 1863 – Stock Image

* 1951 Catcher in the Rye is published

J.D. Salinger’s only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is published by Little, Brown on this day in 1951. The book, about a confused teenager disillusioned by the adult world, is an instant hit and will be taught in high schools for half a century.

The 31-year-old Salinger had worked on the novel for a decade. His stories had already started appearing in the 1940s, many in the New Yorker.

The book took the country by storm, selling out and becoming a Book of the Month Club selection. Fame did not agree with Salinger, who retreated to a hilltop cabin in Cornish, New York, but he continued to publish stories in the New Yorker periodically. He published Franny and Zooey in 1963, based on two combined New Yorker stories.

Salinger stopped publishing work in 1965, the same year he divorced his wife of 12 years, whom he had married when he was 32. In 1999, journalist Joyce Maynard published a book about her affair with Salinger, which had taken place more than two decades earlier. Notoriously reclusive, Salinger died at his home in New Hampshire on Jan. 27, 2010. He was 91 years old.

Picture of Salinger and the front cover of the book.
Since its initial publication in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye has sold more than 65 million copies and still sells 250,000 copies annually today. (Great American Things)

* 1999 JFK Jr. killed in plane crash

On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy, Jr.; his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy; and her sister, Lauren Bessette, die when the single-engine plane that Kennedy was piloting crashes into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr., was born on November 25, 1960, just a few weeks after his father and namesake was elected the 35th president of the United States. On his third birthday, “John-John” attended the funeral of his assassinated father and was photographed saluting his father’s coffin in a famous and searing image. Along with his sister, Caroline, he was raised in Manhattan by his mother, Jacqueline. After graduating from Brown University and a very brief acting stint, he attended New York University Law School. He passed the bar on his third try and worked in New York as an assistant district attorney, winning all six of his cases. In 1995, he founded the political magazine George, which grew to have a circulation of more than 400,000. Unlike many others in his famous family, he never sought public office himself.

Always in the media spotlight, he was celebrated for the good looks that he inherited from his parents. In 1988, he was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine. He was linked romantically with several celebrities, including the actress Daryl Hannah, whom he dated for five years. In September 1996, he married girlfriend Carolyn Bessette, a fashion publicist. The two shared an apartment in New York City, where Kennedy was often seen inline skating in public. Known for his adventurous nature, he nonetheless took pains to separate himself from the more self-destructive behavior of some of the other men in the Kennedy clan.

On July 16, 1999, however, with about 300 hours of flying experience, Kennedy took off from Essex County airport in New Jersey and flew his single-engine plane into a hazy, moonless night. He had turned down an offer by one of his flight instructors to accompany him, saying he “wanted to do it alone.” To reach his destination of Martha’s Vineyard, he would have to fly 200 miles–the final phase over a dark, hazy ocean–and inexperienced pilots can lose sight of the horizon under such conditions. Unable to see shore lights or other landmarks, Kennedy would have to depend on his instruments, but he had not qualified for a license to fly with instruments only. In addition, he was recovering from a broken ankle, which might have affected his ability to pilot his plane.

At Martha’s Vineyard, Kennedy was to drop off his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette, one of his two passengers. From there, Kennedy and his wife, Carolyn, were to fly on to the Kennedy compound on Cape Cod’s Hyannis Port for the marriage of Rory Kennedy, the youngest child of the late Robert F. Kennedy. The Piper Saratoga aircraft never made it to Martha’s Vineyard. Radar data examined later showed the plane plummeting from 2,200 feet to 1,100 feet in a span of 14 seconds, a rate far beyond the aircraft’s safe maximum. It then disappeared from the radar screen.

Kennedy’s plane was reported missing by friends and family members, and an intensive rescue operation was launched by the Coast Guard, the navy, the air force, and civilians. After two days of searching, the thousands of people involved gave up hope of finding survivors and turned their efforts to recovering the wreckage of the aircraft and the bodies. Americans mourned the loss of the “crown prince” of one of the country’s most admired families, a sadness that was especially poignant given the relentless string of tragedies that have haunted the Kennedy family over the years.

On July 21, navy divers recovered the bodies of JFK Jr., his wife, and sister-in-law from the wreckage of the plane, which was lying under 116 feet of water about eight miles off the Vineyard’s shores. The next day, the cremated remains of the three were buried at sea during a ceremony on the USS Briscoe, a navy destroyer. A private mass for JFK Jr. and Carolyn was held on July 23 at the Church of St. Thomas More in Manhattan, where the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis worshipped. President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, were among the 300 invited guests. The Kennedy family’s surviving patriarch, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, delivered a moving eulogy: “From the first day of his life, John seemed to belong not only to our family, but to the American family. He had a legacy, and he learned to treasure it. He was part of a legend, and he learned to live with it.”

Investigators studying the wreckage of the Piper Saratoga found no problems with its mechanical or navigational systems. In their final report released in 2000, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the crash was caused by an inexperienced pilot who became disoriented in the dark and lost control.

People magazine cover: John F Kennedy Jr, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy
John F Kennedy Jr, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy (Pinterest)

Today’s Sources: 

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* This Day In History – What Happened Today              

* Wikipedia                                                          

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

11 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 16th”

    1. Indeed, James, and that puts the present violent acts in context. However, the violent element doesn’t tell the entire story by a long shot. However, the record of US incidents of gun violence each year is one of the worst in the world. What I find disturbing in my own country is the large spike of gun violence in Toronto this year – it is beginning to rival that of NYC. Most is gang-related. One shocking incident in a Toronto playground left 3 small kids wounded, while the target got away unscathed. To open fire at another adult on a playground with children in the line of fire is nothing short of horrifying. Thanks, James.


  1. The Kennedy plane crash was a tragedy. It appears the JFK pulled back on the yoke to initially reduce airspeed. (Very dangerous thing to do) The dusk brought hazy conditions and it is likely when he pulled back on the yoke he stalled the airplane. That could be corrected by pushing the yoke forward and leveling the wings but because of the haze he probably had lost his orientation and then crashed into the water. A classic case of not beiing qualified to fly in the conditions that day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As if that family didn’t have enough tragedy already. I know nothing about flying, so I’ll take your word for it, good sir. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had not known of Emily Stowe before your article, John. What an impressive woman. I also did not know about the 1863 draft riots in New York City. How horrific. It seems money can buy most anything. Finally, I hadn’t realized that it has been 19 years since JFK Jr.’s death. It seems much more recent than that. What a tragedy. Thank you for highlighting today’s news anniversaries, John. Always enlightening. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you read, Emily Stowe was a giant in the Canadian women’s movement – glad I could introduce her to you! I wasn’t aware of those New York riots either. Conscription is not well received anywhere, it seems. I agree that the world lost a lot with JFK Jr.’s untimely demise. Thanks, Gwen!


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