This Day in History
January 23: The Marias Massacre, the 24th Amendment Is Ratified by the States, and Other Events of the Date
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January 23: The Marias Massacre, the 24th Amendment Is Ratified by the States, and Other Events of the Date


A number of important events have taken place on January 23 in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.

1789 – Georgetown College is founded

The new nation needed its own education facilities, and Georgetown College was one of the first of this kind. Georgetown University (as it is called today) is a private research university located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., founded on this date in 1789. The university has grown to comprise nine undergraduate and graduate schools, among which are the School of Foreign Service, the School of Business, the Medical School, and the Law School.

Georgetown is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated institution of higher education in the United States. The Jesuits have participated in the university's academic life, both as scholars and as administrators, since 1805; however, the university has always been governed independently of the church. The majority of Georgetown students are not Catholic.  

Georgetown is one of the main universities where future leaders study, with notable alumni including President Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, CIA Director George Tenet, and King Felipe of Spain, as well as the royalty and heads of state of more than a dozen countries. In 2015, Georgetown had 1190 alumni working as diplomats for the U.S. Foreign Service, more than any other university. In 2014, Georgetown ranked second in the nation by the average number of graduates serving in Congress. Georgetown is also a top feeder school for careers in finance and investment banking on Wall Street.

1870 – Indian wars in Montana: the Marias Massacre

As the American state expanded to new territories, massacres aimed at the annihilation of the local Native American population happened quite often. One of the bloodiest pages in the history of American expansion was written January 23, 1870, when the Marias Massacre occurred.

During the Marias Massacre (which is also known as the Baker Massacre or the Piegan Massacre) a friendly band of Piegan Blackfeet Indians was demolished by the United States Army in Montana Territory. As a result of this brutal war crime about 200 Indians were killed--mostly women, children, and elderly men.

The background was that during a campaign to suppress Mountain Chief's band of Piegan Blackfeet, (who harbored a man named Owl Child, said to have murdered a white trader and rancher, Malcolm Clarke), the U.S. Army instead attacked a band led by Heavy Runner, a chief who had been promised protection by the United States government--the “Never trust the Americans” rule at its best! Following the public outrage though, the long-term result was a shift in the federal government’s policy toward a "peace policy," as advocated by President Ulysses S. Grant.

1962 - The 24th Amendment is ratified by the states

Some people today seem to forget that minorities were suppressed in the U.S. for the majority of its existence. Something slightly started to change on this date in 1962, as the Twenty-fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution that prohibited both Congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax was ratified by the states. The amendment had been proposed by Congress to the states on August 27, 1962.

Of course, it had a lot to do with racial discrimination. Southern states of the former Confederate States of America adopted poll taxes in late 19th-century laws and new constitutions from 1890 to 1908, after the Democratic Party had generally regained control of state legislatures decades after the end of Reconstruction, as a measure to prevent African Americans and often poor whites from voting. Use of the poll taxes by states was held to be constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1937 decision Breedlove v. Suttles.

When the 24th Amendment was ratified in 1964, five states still retained a poll tax though: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia. The amendment prohibited requiring a poll tax for voters in federal elections, but it was not until 1966 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6–3 in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections that poll taxes for any level of elections were unconstitutional. It said these violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Subsequent litigation related to the potential discriminatory effects of voter registration requirements has generally been based on the application of this clause.

These are the most notable events in the U.S. history that occurred on January 23, at least in our view.

Author: USA Really