United States and American History: 1891

About the history of the United States in 1891, first big interracial boxing match, basketball is invented, the international copyright act, a miner's strike.


--The National Colored Farmer's Alliance had 1,300,000 members.

--Georgia became the 1st State to segregate passengers on streetcars.

--The 1st interracial boxing match of significance, between Peter Jackson, the champion of Australia, and James J. Corbett, ended in a draw after 61 rounds.

--Basketball was invented by Dr. James A. Naismith, physical education instructor at the YMCA Training College in Springfield, Mass. Recalled Dr. Naismith in 1937: "We decided that there should be a game that could be played indoors in the evening and during the winter seasons. . . . Football was rough because you had to allow the defense to tackle because the offense ran with the ball. Accordingly, if the offense didn't have an opportunity to run with the ball, there would be no necessity for tackling and we would thus eliminate roughness. This is the fundamental principle of basketball." Dr. Naismith's original game used 7 men on each side and 2 peach baskets. By 1906, the modern hoop was in use. Of Dr. Naismith's 13 basic rules, 12 are still in effect for high school and college games.

Mar. 4 The International Copyright Act, halting the piracy of British, Belgian, French, Swiss books by U.S. publishers, was passed by Congress.

Mar. 15 A mob in New Orleans broke open a prison and murdered 11 Sicilians accused of being Mafia members.

July 5 Mine operators in Briceville, Tenn., brought in 40 convicts to work a mine that was being struck by miners who had refused to sign a contract which required that they be paid in scrip redeemable only at the company store. The convicts tore down the miners' houses and built a stockade for themselves.

At midnight on July 15, 300 armed miners overwhelmed the convicts and marched convicts, guards, and mine officials to the depot, where they put them on the train to Knoxville. The next day, the governor, accompanied by 125 militiamen, personally led the convicts back to the mine. Miners from other counties began arriving and, on July 20, 2,000 armed miners easily persuaded the militia, guards, and convicts to accompany them to the depot and return to Knoxville. The governor then sent 600 militiamen to Anderson County and a truce was called so that a special session of the Tennessee legislature could meet to repeal the convict lease law. When the legislators failed to do this, the miners appealed to the courts, who also did nothing, so the miners returned to a policy of direct action.

Between October 31 and November 2, the miners ousted several hundred convicts from 3 mines and burned the stockades to the ground. The miners won their demands, but in mid-December the governor sent the convicts back and built "Fort Anderson," a permanent military camp with 175 guards, trenches, and a Gatling gun.

Nov. 29 A gridiron tradition began with the 1st Army-Navy football game. Played at West Point, N.Y., the Navy crushed the Army, 24-0.

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