History, Holidays & Observances – November 19

A look at some of the history and holidays on November 19

Holidays & Observances on November 19

Feast of St. Raphael Kalinowski – Polish by birth, Kalinowski started his adult life in the mid-19th century as a military officer in the Russian Imperial Army.  He eventually resigned and joined the leadership of the Polish rebels in the January Uprising.  When that rebellion was crushed by Russia, he was jailed at hard labor in Siberia for ten years.  When he was released, Kalinowski joined the Carmelite Order and the priesthood.  For the next thirty-three years, he worked tirelessly to build and grow multiple Catholic organizations around Poland and Ukraine.  He is considered the Patron Saint of the Polish Military and of Polish exiles in Siberia.


Major Events on November 19

1863 – The Gettysburg Address

On this date in 1863, on the battlefield where Union soldiers had won a pivotal victory four months earlier, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication ceremony for the military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The speech soon passed into the canon of our nation.

1942 – World War II: Battle of Stalingrad:

Soviet Union forces under General Georgy Zhukov launched the Operation Uranus counterattacks at Stalingrad, turning the tide of this pivotal battle of WWII in the USSR’s favor.



1985 – Cold War: In Geneva, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev meet for the first time.

1998 – Vincent van Gogh‘s Portrait of the Artist Without Beard sells at auction for US$71.5 million.


Born on November 19

1600 – Charles I of England was a tyrannical ruler who believed in the divine right of Kings.  Britain’s Parliament tried to come to an agreement with the King, issuing one of the foundational documents of British Government, the Petition of Right of 1628.  Charles I ignored the Petition and, within a dozen years, had plunged his nation into the English Civil War.  It ended poorly for Charles I, as he lost his head to the executioner’s axe in January, 1649.  More than a few provisions of our U.S. Constitution have roots in the lessons learned from the tyranny of Charles I.

1905 – Tommy Dorsey, a trombonist and one of the most popular bandleaders of the swing era.

Died on November 19

1581 – Tsarevich Ivan Ivanovich of Russia, son of Ivan the Terrible, died when his Father struck him with his sceptre during an argument.  The murder left Ivan the Terrible without an acceptable heir, eventually plunging Russia in the Time of Troubles.

1703 – The Man in the Iron Mask died after 34 years of confinement in France.  His identity remains unknown to this day.