On This Day in History, Mar. 30, 2021

  • 1839Mary Elizabth Bowser is born. A former slave, Bowser served as an undercover agent for Ulysses S. Grant by working as a servant in the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Because of the racial prejudice of the day, the assumption that slaves were illiterate and not intelligent, and the way slave servants were trained to seem invisible, Mary was able to glean considerable military intelligence by simply doing her job. 
  • 1867 – US buys Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000 ($109 million in 2018), roughly 2 cents an acre. At the time, it was mocked as “Seward’s Folly.” It’s not mocked anymore. 
  • 1870 – The 15th Amendment to the US Constitution is adopted, guaranteeing men the right to vote regardless of race. In the late 1870s, however, the Southern Republican Party vanished with the end of Reconstruction, and Southern state governments effectively nullified the 14th and 15th Amendments, stripping Southern African Americans of the right to vote for another century.
  • 1981 – Ronald Reagan is shot and wounded in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley.