October 27, 1659, SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: during the late 1650s, the government of colonial Massachusetts felt deeply threatened by the Quaker religion. Puritan leaders thought it could destabilize society by undermining their culture and religion. Laws were passed that outlawed Quakerism. Being a Quaker, meeting with or aiding a Quaker, or publishing Quaker material was punished by banishment from the territory, on pain of death. The first Quakers to break the laws were Marmaduke Stevenson, William Robinson, Mary Dyar, and Nicholas Davis. On September 12, 1659, they were banished from Massachusetts, and if any of them returned, they would be put to death. Dyar and Davis left Massachusetts. Stevenson and Robinson ignored the ruling, and went to Salem, MA to spread their gospel. The pair were quickly apprehended and imprisoned in Boston. Dyar left Massachusetts but was compelled to return, and she was also locked up. On October 27, 1659, Stevenson, Robinson, and Dyar were paraded by 200 armed men through the town of Boston to the place of execution at Boston Neck. They tenderly hugged each other, and each cheerfully climbed the gallows-ladder while praising the Lord. Stevenson and Robinson were executed, but Dyar received a reprieve. She demanded to be hanged like her brethren, but was not executed. Dyar was banished once again, and was eventually hanged in 1660 for returning to the colony. October 27, 1904: New York City Mayor George McClellan took the controls on the inaugural run of the city's innovative new rapid transit system: the subway. While London boasts the world's oldest underground train network (opened in 1863) and Boston built the first subway in the United States in 1897, the New York City subway soon became the largest American system. More than 100 workers died during the construction of the first 13 miles of tunnels and track (click → NYT subway)
October 27, 1947, The Red Scare, McCarthyism, and the Cold War: screenwriter John Howard Lawson, a witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee, refused to answer, on constitutional grounds, whether he is or was a member of the Communist Party. He was ejected from the hearing and later charged with contempt of Congress. (click → NYT article) October 27, 1951, BLACK HISTORY & US Labor History: The National Labor Council was formed in Cincinnati to unite Black workers in the struggle for full economic, political and social equality. The group was to function for five years before disbanding, having forced many AFL and CIO unions to adopt non-discrimination policies. October 27, 1960, BLACK HISTORY & MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: King was released from jail. Word about John Kennedy’s call circulated widely in the African-American community. Some political commentators believed the publicity gained Kennedy enough African-American votes to give him victory in the November presidential election, but others dispute this interpretation.
October 27, 1962, The Cold War & Cuban Missile Crisis: Radio Moscow began broadcasting a message from Khrushchev. The message offered a new trade, that the missiles on Cuba would be removed in exchange for the removal of the Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey. Cuba shot down a US U2 plane with surface to air missile killing the pilot, Rudolph Anderson. U.S. Army anti-aircraft rockets sat, mounted on launchers and pointed out over the Florida Straits in Key West, Florida. October 27, 1962, The Beatles before their US appearance: “Love Me Do/PS I Love You” #48 on UK Melody Maker hit parade. October 27, 1967, Future Woodstock Performers: Ten Years After released its first album, Ten Years After. Alvin Lee, age 22. October 27, 1968, Vietnam: in London, 50,000 protested the Vietnam war. October 27, 1970, LSD : The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act passed. Part II of this is the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) which defined a scheduling system for drugs. It placed most of the known hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, mescaline, peyote, cannabis, & MDA) in Schedule I. It placed coca, cocaine, and injectable methamphetamine in Schedule II. Other amphetamines and stimulants, including non-injectable methamphetamine were placed in Schedule III. October 27, 1986, Crime and Punishment: President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The law created a significant disparity in the sentences imposed in federal courts for crimes involving powdered cocaine versus the sentences imposed for crimes involving crack cocaine. The law imposed certain mandatory minimum sentences for crimes involving certain quantities of powdered cocaine, but those mandatory sentences could also be triggered by crimes involving only one percent of that quantity in cases of crack cocaine. For instance, a drug crime involving five grams of crack cocaine resulted in a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison, but crimes involving less than 500 grams of powdered cocaine would not trigger the five year minimum sentence. This one hundred-to-one sentencing disparity, which was not based on credible scientific evidence about differing biological impacts between cocaine in powder form versus crack form, has had a significant impact on the mass incarceration of African Americans. In the years following the enactment of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, admissions of African Americans to federal prison spiked from approximately 50 admissions per 100,000 adults to nearly 250 admissions per 100,000 adults, while there was almost no change among whites. Disparities in sentence lengths also increased. In 1986, African Americans received drug sentences that were 11% longer than sentences received by whites, on average, but that disparity increased to 49% in the years following the law's enactment. This law, and similar laws, had a significant role in increasing the incarcerated population from approximately 500,000 in 1980 to nearly 2.3 million in 2013. October 27, 1997, Jack Kevorkian: the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which was approved by referendum on November 8, 1994, and which allows voluntary end of life, took effect on this day. The law allows individuals to voluntarily end their own lives by ingesting a life-ending drug that is prescribed by a licensed physician. The law has survived two challenges. Oregon voters rejected a repeal measure by a margin of 60 percent in 1997. And in 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the law, in Gonzales v. Oregon. October 27, 2014, LGBTQ: the Judicial Council of the nation's second-largest Protestant denomination ruled that a Pennsylvania church jury was wrong to defrock Frank Schaefer last year after he would not promise never to perform another same-sex wedding. The council ruled on technical grounds and did not express support for gay marriage in general. Its decision was final.