This Day (Save Your Pennies Edition)

Published:December 15, 2011 by Brendan Wolfe

On this day in 1791, Virginia became the final state to ratify the ten amendments to the United States Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights. Why hurry? Virginia did not ratify the nineteenth amendment, giving women the right to vote, until 1952, thirty-three years after it was first passed by Congress.

On this day in 1814, meanwhile, the Hartford Convention convened in Hartford, Connecticut. The meeting consisted of twenty-six New England members of the Federalist Party protesting the War of 1812. Influenced by the states’ rights theories contained in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (1798 and 1799), they even bandied about the idea of secession.

Finally, on this day in 1934, Maggie Lena Walker died in Richmond. We all have our favorites in the encyclopedia (mine are George Tucker, Moncure Conway, and Paquiquineo), and MLW is the favorite of our managing editor Matthew Gibson. And why shouldn’t she be? She was the first woman—white or black—to establish and become president of a bank in the United States: the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond (est. 1903). As of 2010, when it was known as Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, it was the oldest continually African American-operated bank in the United States.

Oh, and MLW was born in 1864, during the Civil War, to a former slave who worked as an assistant cook for Elizabeth Van Lew. And if you don’t know Elizabeth Van Lew, then get busy. She’s another one of my favorites.

IMAGE: A color postcard showing the St. Luke Bank and Trust Company on the corner of First and Marshall streets in Richmond (Virginia Historical Society)