P.T. Barnum's "Greatest Show on Earth" debuted October 30, 1873.
When Jon Stewart raised the idea of doing a march in Washington, he said he wanted to make sure it was "on a date of no significance."
Stewart publicly floated the idea of a counter-rally to Glenn Beck's much-publicized "Restoring Honor" rally on the National Mall in a profile in the September 12 edition of New York magazine. Beck's rally was held on the 47th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered in the same place.
So when Stewart and Comedy Central's other favorite funny man, Stephen Colbert, decided to announce rallies of their own in the nation's capital October 30, we had to take a look into history to see whether the date held a clean slate or whether there were some moments in time the two comedians might be ironically, or purposely, shining a light on.
Although it's likely any single day they chose could have some ironies to it, it turns out there are a number of interesting events in history that have taken place October 30.
Perhaps the double team of Stewart and Colbert are hoping their respective rallies will be regarded as the "Greatest Shows on Earth" - after all, P.T. Barnum's now-well-known circus did debut October 30, 1873. (If nothing else, it'd be a nod to the show's creator, who is also known for coining the phrase "there's a sucker born every minute"). Are you trying to send a tongue-in-cheek message to us, men of comedy?
Or perhaps the date of the rallies, and their place on the Mall, could be a nod to several historic moments in time. Here are a few of the other big events that have taken place on October 30. Are any the impetus behind the date's use? Or just a coincidence? Share your thoughts in the comments bellow.
- In 1905, Russian Czar Nicholas II signed the "October Manifesto," which granted civil liberties like the freedom of speech, press, assembly and worship as well as political liberties. With one stroke of the pen on October 30, Russia had a constitution and became a constitutional monarchy.
- In 1918, the Ottoman Empire signed an armistice with the Allied powers, ending World War I in the Middle East, which enabled Britain and other countries to begin carving out boundaries in the area - and essentially marking the dissolution of the Empire to partition several countries, including Iraq and Iran.
- In 1938, Orson Welles created panic across the country when he broadcast an adaptation of "War of the Worlds" on the radio. Some chaos ensued because of the style and format of the broadcast: The first parts of the show were presented like news bulletins, confusing many listeners, who thought there was an actual Martian invasion currently happening. We wonder if perhaps Colbert and Stewart want to start a little shakeup of their own.
- In 1944, the use of gas chambers in concentration camps during the Holocaust was officially put to a stop on October 30.
- In 1945, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball by signing a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The fight against racial segregation also took a large step forward on October 30 of another year - 1954 - when the U.S. armed forces officially ended the practice within their ranks.
- In 1950, Pope Pius XII witnessed "the Miracle of the Sun" at the Vatican. "I was awestruck by a phenomenon that before now I had never seen," the pope reportedly said in a memo. "The sun, which was still quite high, looked like a pale, opaque sphere, entirely surrounded by a luminous circle," he recounted. You could look at the sun "without the slightest bother. There was a very light little cloud in front of it."
- October 30, 1974, was also a huge day in sports. The famous Rumble in the Jungle boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire.
- And finally, in 1995, Quebec made a big decision of its own on October 30 and voted on a referendum to remain part of Canada.