PIVOTAL PAPERS

Let's Check These 10 Important Documents That Changed History


Published on May 12, 2024


Credit: Pierre Bamin

As a species, we have been on this Earth for a very long time. And we can affirm one thing: change is the only constant. For better or worse, many crucial moments in our national and global history have been immortalized in documents that are witnesses of our persistent pursuit of progress.

Whether you're a history fan or just curious about the past, delving into history is not only entertaining but also essential for understanding our present . Join us as we revisit these 10 documents that, in one way or another, have changed the world!

1

Magna Carta (1215)

Credit: Tomasz Zielonka

Back in the **13th century,** King John of England sealed a document that would change the course of history. This ancient but pivotal document, known as the Magna Carta , paved the way for many other papers and treaties that would shape the field of law for centuries to come.

Among its pioneering features, this document limited the power of the monarchy and proclaimed the principle that everyone was subject to the law, including the king.

Today, there are four original copies of the Magna Carta, two of them kept in the cathedrals of Lincoln and Salisbury , and two others in the British Library in London.

2

Mayflower Compact (1620)

Credit: Jamie Morrison

In 1620 , after a 2-month journey across the Atlantic , the Mayflower finally arrived in what would become America.

Even while still aboard, the passengers understood the need to establish a form of government once they arrived in the New World. The pilgrims , who then established the Plymouth Colony , signed what we now know as the Mayflower Compact , a document considered by history as an early example of government by the will of the majority in this continent.

While it applied only to male passengers, the Mayflower Compact is regarded as fundamental, as it set the stage for later documents that would embody democratic principles in America.

3

U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776)

Credit: Ernie Journeys

As many of you already know, on July 4, 1776 , at the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall ), delegates from the original Thirteen Colonies adopted a revolutionary document: the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

This key document laid out the reasons why America would no longer accept British colonial rule. Its influence would later inspire similar declarations of independence in many other countries.

The men who set this precedent continue to inspire us in countless ways. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson , the mind behind the Declaration, was just 33 years old when he penned it? Truly amazing!

4

Treaty of Paris (1783)

Credit: Mathew Benoit

On September 3, 1783 , representatives from the United States and King George III of Great Britain sealed a deal like no other. The historic Treaty of Paris marked the end of the American Revolutionary War, following the victories of George Washington's army over the British forces.

With this Treaty, the American colonies established their freedom and were now officially recognized as sovereign states.

Among many other crucial points, the Treaty of Paris also recognized Americans' right to navigate the Mississippi River, a vital route for commerce that played an essential role in the growth of this country.

5

Bill of Rights (1791)

Credit: MJ S

After the establishment of the U.S. Constitution, some worries spread through our land. Many feared the original Constitution didn't cover or protect several individual rights and freedoms. The Bill of Rights came to assuage this concern, and its inclusion was vital to the ratification of the Constitution by the states.

Proposed in 1789 and ratified in 1791, The Bill of Rights was inspired by George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 and established the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution , which concern fundamental rights for citizens (such as the right to a fair trial, the right to free speech, among many others).

6

Louisiana Purchase (1803)

Credit: Ron Dauphin

1803, the year the **U.S. received an offer impossible to refuse.** Fifteen million dollars may seem like a lot of money. But not in this story, because for that price, the U.S. would gain a staggering 828,000 square miles of land.

The United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France, then ruled by the legendary Napoleon Bonaparte , for that amount of money, which gives us approximately 18 dollars per square mile.

Robert Livingston and James Monroe, emissaries of President Thomas Jefferson , and Barbé Marbois, the French representative, signed the important treaty on April 30, 1803 , opening many possibilities for America's growth and expansion.

7

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Credit: Ed Fr

Abraham Lincoln is a central figure in American history for multiple reasons, with one of his most notable contributions being the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Signed on January 1, 1863 , during the American Civil War , the Emancipation Proclamation changed the legal status of millions. This document was crucial in the process of liberation of enslaved people in the Confederate states , even though its effects were not immediate.

As such, the Proclamation serves as a powerful symbol , standing as a testament to the foundational principles of freedom and equality upon which our nation was built.

8

Treaty of Versailles (1919)

Credit: Louis Paulin

When WWI finally ended , the world was clamoring for peace, and one of the most famous peace treaties in history was the Treaty of Versailles.

The Treaty of Versailles, named after the palace where it was signed on June 28, 1919 , marked a major deal between the Allied, other associated powers, and Germany. This historic document of 440 articles, which came into force on January 10, 1920, made some serious demands, including big war reparations.

Even though the Treaty of Versailles aimed for peace and compensation, some historians criticize it for being too severe, and some even say it helped set the stage for World War II.

9

19th Amendment (1920)

Credit: Element5 Digital

The 19th Amendment marked a triumph after many years of women's determined fight for the right to vote.

Also known as the Anthony Amendment in honor of Susan B. Anthony, the 19th Amendment was finally ratified in 1920. But it was actually proposed an astonishing 42 years earlier , way back in 1878 .

Prohibiting gender discrimination in voting, this amendment became a major milestone in our country's history, and it was just one of the many rights women won in the following decades.

10

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

Credit: NPS Photo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

As you probably already know, Eleanor Roosevelt was an important advocate behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . Leading a committee of global representatives, she headed the drafting of this groundbreaking document, which was later approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

One of the most important rights documents in world history, this declaration- comprising 30 articles - establishes certain civil, economic, social, and cultural rights considered fundamental, regardless of "nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status."


DEEP DIVE

Plunge Into The World’s 10 Deepest Lakes And Their Hidden Treasures


Published on May 12, 2024


Credit: Lisanto 李奕良

Lakes always evoke a sense of mystery and wonder. What hidden secrets lie fathoms below their waters? From icy Siberia to the warm inland waters of Africa, these sleeping giants hold many treasures waiting to be found, be it ancient shipwrecks or geological wonders.

Take a cold plunge and dive with us into 10 of the deepest lakes on Earth!

1

Lake Baikal

Credit: Markus Winkler

Location: Russia

Maximum depth: 5,387 feet

Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, holds about 20% of the Earth's unfrozen freshwater. Its icy turquoise waters are home to many endemic species of plants and animals, like the nerpa seal, and several unique bird and fish species. Even in its deepest regions, the lake has an unusually high abundance of dissolved oxygen, allowing life to thrive (and grow to larger-than-usual sizes) throughout the whole water column.

2

Lake Tanganyika

Credit: Felix Dance, CC BY 2.0

Location: Africa

Maximum depth: 4,823 feet

Lake Tanganyika is the second deepest lake, accounting for 16% of the world's freshwater. With a total length of 420 miles and averaging 50 miles in width, it is also the longest freshwater lake in the world. It is home to large Nile crocodiles and many species of turtles, among many other rare species. During World War I, the lake served as a strategic waterway, facilitating the transport of troops and cargo, and became the backdrop for numerous naval battles and skirmishes between German and Allied forces.

3

Caspian Sea

Credit: NASA

Location: Eurasia

Maximum depth: 3,363 feet

Despite its name, the Caspian Sea is technically a saline lake, and the largest inland body of water on Earth. Formed 30 million years ago, the Caspian Sea was a cultural crossroads for millennia, and there is historical evidence that suggests that the ancient inhabitants of its shores were as puzzled by its peculiar nature as scientists today, as even Alexander the Great attempted to explore its vast waters. Amazingly, dolphins and whales are thought to have lived in the lake around 50,000 - 100,000 thousand years ago, and local rock art depicting these animals seems to verify the fossil record.

4

Lake Vostok

Credit: NOAA

Location: Antarctica

Maximum depth: 2,953 feet

Buried 13,100 feet below Antarctica's icy surface lies Lake Vostok, one of the most pristine and mysterious bodies of water on the planet. It is estimated that the subglacial lake has been isolated for more than 15 million years, leading scientists to hypothesize that unusual forms of life might be dwelling in its waters, resembling the conditions on the ice-covered oceans that are thought to exist on Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus. Who knows what secrets this icy abyss might hold?

5

San Martin / O’Higgins Lake

Credit: Gabriela Palero

Location: Argentina / Chile

Maximum depth: 2,742 feet

Nestled in the southernmost point of the Andes mountain range, this icy glacier lake is shared by Argentina and Chile (the lake is known as San Martin in Argentina and O'Higgins in Chile, both independence heroes). Fed by nearby glaciers, the water has a characteristic milky light-blue color that comes from the fine suspended sediments, a product of glacial erosion.

6

Lake Malawi

Credit: Craig Manners

Location: Africa

Maximum depth: 2,316 feet

The second deepest lake in Africa, Lake Malawi, is known for harboring more species of fish than any other lake in the world. With over 1,000 species of colorful cichlids , the fishing industry is an important part of the livelihood of the local population. Also, the relatively high visibility of Lake Malawi’s waters makes it an ideal spot for recreational diving.

7

Issyk-Kul

Credit: Igor Tverdovskiy

Location: Kyrgyzstan

Maximum depth: 2,192 feet

Issyk-Kul, meaning "warm lake" in Kyrgyz, is the second-largest mountain lake in the world. Curiously, its deepest point is still 3,080 feet above sea level. Its tranquil saline waters have been a sanctuary for travelers along the ancient Silk Road for centuries. Archaeological artifacts are regularly recovered from the waters of the lake, and the remains of ancient settlements have been found in its shallow areas.

8

Great Slave Lake

Credit: Paul Gierszewski

Location: Canada

Maximum depth: 2,015 feet

Located in Canada's Northwest Territories, Great Slave Lake is the deepest lake in North America. Its frigid waters hide the wreckage of many planes and ships lost to its icy depths over the years. Remarkably, a Soviet reconnaissance satellite with a nuclear reactor fell into the lake in 1978, and the radioactive debris had to be recovered in a joint operation by the Canadian and U.S. armed forces.

9

Crater Lake

Credit: NaHarai Perez Aguilar

Location: United States

Maximum depth: 1,949 feet

A relatively young body of water, Crater Lake formed around 7,000 years ago by the collapse of a volcanic caldera. The lake is the deepest in the United States, and its pristine waters attract visitors from all over the world. Interestingly, no fish lived in the lake until 1888, when several salmon and trout species were introduced to allow for fishing.

10

Lake Matano

Credit: Fifthgana Alfahrezi

Location: Indonesia

Maximum depth: 1,936 feet

Lake Matano is the deepest lake located on an island and the deepest in Indonesia. Formed around 2 million years ago, its crystal-clear waters are home to unique organisms found nowhere else on Earth. Because the top and bottom layers of the lake rarely mix, the deep waters of Lake Matano bear possible similarities to the ancient oceans of the Archean and Paleoproterozoic Eons.

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