Daily Almanac for Thursday, November 2022; Thanksgiving Day!

On this date in 1859, Charles Darwin’s controversial Origin of Species was published. Charles Darwin 1854, when he was preparing On the Origin of Species for publication, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org


Charles Robert Darwin (/ˈdɑːrwɪn/ DAR-win; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalistgeologist, and biologist, widely known for contributing to the understanding of evolutionary biology. His proposition that all species of life have descended from a common ancestor is now generally accepted and considered a fundamental concept in science. In a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, he introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding. Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history, and he was honoured by burial in Westminster Abbey.

Darwin’s early interest in nature led him to neglect his medical education at the University of Edinburgh; instead, he helped to investigate marine invertebrates. His studies at the University of Cambridge‘s Christ’s College from 1828 to 1831 encouraged his passion for natural science. His five-year voyage on HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836 established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell‘s concept of gradual geological change, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.

Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin began detailed investigations and, in 1838, devised his theory of natural selection. Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research, and his geological work had priority. He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay that described the same idea, prompting immediate joint publication of both their theories. Darwin’s work established evolutionary descent with modification as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. In 1871 he examined human evolution and sexual selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Actions of Worms (1881), he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.

Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. By the 1870s, the scientific community and a majority of the educated public had accepted evolution as a fact. However, many favoured competing explanations that gave only a minor role to natural selection, and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed in which natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. Darwin’s scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.


Thanksgiving Day

In a 1789 proclamation, President George Washington called on the people of the United States to acknowledge God for affording them “an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness” by observing a day of thanksgiving. Devoting a day to “public thanksgiving and prayer,” as Washington called it, became a yearly tradition in many communities.

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863. In that year, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. He asked his fellow citizens to “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise …”

It was not until 1941 that Congress designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day, thus creating a federal holiday.

However official, the idea of a special day for giving thanks was not born of presidential proclamations. Native American harvest festivals had been celebrated for centuries, and colonial services dated back to the late 16th century. Thanksgiving Day, as we know it today, began in the early 1600s when settlers in both Massachusetts and Virginia came together to give thanks for their survival, for the fertility of their fields, and for their faith. The most widely known early Thanksgiving is that of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, who feasted for 3 days with the Wampanoag people in 1621.

Turkey has become the traditional Thanksgiving fare because at one time it was a rare treat. During the 1830s, an eight- to ten-pound bird cost a day’s wages. Even though turkeys are affordable today, they still remain a celebratory symbol of bounty. In fact, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roast turkey in foil packets for their first meal on the Moon.

Find more about Thanksgiving Day from history to recipes.

Question of the Day

Do cars feel the effects of the windchill factor?

No. The temperature of the wind should have no effect on a car whatsoever. Wind can cause a car’s engine to cool down faster if it’s parked outside, but its ultimate temperature will be unaffected.

Advice of the Day

After a dinner party, offer your guests anise seeds; they can be chewed to aid digestion and freshen breath.

Home Hint of the Day

When building or repairing a stone wall, use the oldest rule in masonry: One over two and two over one. If the stones overlap, the wall will be stronger.

Word of the Day

Bronx cheer

A cry or noise made to express displeasure or contempt.

Puzzle of the Day

What is the geometrical form of an escaped parrot?

A polygon (Polly gone)


  • Zachary Taylor (12th U.S. president) – 1784
  • Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett (novelist) – 1849
  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (artist) – 1864
  • Scott Joplin (pianist, King of Ragtime) – 1868
  • Cathleen Nesbitt (actress) – 1888
  • Garson Kanin (playwright) – 1912
  • Steve Yeager (baseball player) – 1948
  • Brad Sherwood (comedian) – 1964
  • Colin Hanks (actor) – 1977
  • Katherine Heigl (actress) – 1978


  • Lee Harvey Oswald (suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy) – 1963
  • Freddie Mercury (musician) – 1991
  • John Rawls (leading figure in political philosophy and legal theory) – 2002
  • Warren Spahn (American baseball player) – 2003
  • Pat Morita (actor) – 2005


  • The transit of Venus was first observed– 1639
  • Justus Falckner became the first Lutheran pastor ordained in America (Philadelphia)– 1703
  • Charles Darwin’s controversial Origin of Species published– 1859
  • First national Thanksgiving celebration– 1863
  • Joseph Glidden granted patent for barbed wire fencing– 1874
  • Cape Breton Railway opened, Nova Scotia– 1890
  • Ruth Nichols became the first woman to fly a transcontinental flight– 1930
  • Lee Harvey Oswald, accused by Dallas police of assassinating President Kennedy, was shot and killed by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas municipal building while in police custody– 1963
  • 239-lb. yellowfin tuna caught off Catalina Island, California– 1984
  • 14.04-pound saugeye caught, Antrim Lake, Ohio– 2004


  • In what became known as the “Battle Above the Clouds,” the Union army, aided by clouds obscuring the battlefield, was victorious at Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga– 1863

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