June 25, 1678: The first Doctorate of Philosophy to be earned by a woman is awarded to Elena Lucrezia Piscopia. The University of Padua also awarded the 32-year-old the Doctor’s Ring, the Teacher’s Ermine Cape, and the Poet’s Laurel Crown. Dr. Piscopia was born into a noble Italian family in Venice. Her father was the Procurator of San Marco and her mother was also from the upper classes. She was the eldest daughter in her family and by age seven was already being tutored.
She first studied Latin and Greek under distinguished instructors. After mastering these languages, she learned Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Arabic. With seven languages at her disposal, she was given the title “Oraculum Septilingue.” She went on to study mathematics, philosophy, and theology. In 1665 she took the habit of the Benedictine Oblate, however she never became a nun.
Her father wanted her to enter the University of Padua. She excelled in her studies and was granted her PhD in the cathedral of Padua on this day. The University authorities were in attendance as were professors and the lesser faculty. Many of the students also came to witness this event along with a great number of prestigious invited guests from other Italian Universities. Elena spoke for an hour in classical Latin and explained random selections from the works of Aristotle. She was not permitted by the Catholic Church to receive a doctorate in theology. She went on to teach and write a variety of treatises before her death at age 38.
A Doctorate in Philosophy or PhD (sometimes Ph.D.) means teacher of philosophy and is the most advanced degree awarded by universities. The term has grown to include the highest degrees for other disciplines in the sciences and humanities. In the Middle Ages, European universities considered all areas of study outside theology, medicine, and law to be the area of “philosophy” or natural philosophy if it was scientific. The first PhD was awarded in Paris in 1150. Today, the granting of this prestigious degree has a variety of requirements based on both the area of study and the university granting the degree.
The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. – Aristotle
Education is that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. – Ambrose Bierce
Life at university, with its intellectual and inconclusive discussions at a postgraduate level is on the whole a bad training for the real world. Only men of very strong character surmount this handicap. – Paul Chambers
The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change. – Carl Rogers
Also on this day:
June 25, 1876: George Armstrong Custer leads the United States Army 7th Cavalry to defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn or Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse lead combined forces of the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne nations to a stunning victory at the Battle of the Greasy Grass. Custer’s forces numbered about 650 officers, troops, civilians, and scouts. The combined Indian forces came from 949 lodges and numbered between 950 and 1,200 men.
After forced marches on June 24-25, Custer’s Crow scouts told him that there were large encampments of Indians in the area. Custer divided his troops into four detachments. The largest of them was led by Custer himself and there were 13 officers and nearly 200 men, three of them civilians [one news reporter and two scouts]. The second detachment led by Major Reno consisted of 11 officers and 131 troops while the third detachment led by Captain Benteen had 5 officers and 110 troops. The fourth detachment was the pack train with 2 officers and 127 troops. Each of the first three detachments was to seek out Indian encampments and attack.
Reno attacked and was driven off after hearing gunfire in the distance. Custer’s engagement did not go as he had planned. He met with a far greater number of combatants than he had anticipated. He was outnumbered 3:1 and after troops freed with Reno’s retreat, the numbers changed to 5:1. According to Lakota accounts, Crazy Horse led his combined forces against Custer. Many of his men had repeating rifles while the 7th Cavalry was armed with single shot rifles that were known to jam. Custer’s men were in a depression while Crazy Horse’s men were on higher ground, making arrows a more lethal weapon. After annihilating Custer’s detachment, the Indians re-engaged with Reno and Benteen fighting until nightfall and taking up the battle the next day.
The battlefield was preserved as a national cemetery in 1879. The name has changed twice since that time and is today called the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. There is a marble obelisk memorializing the fallen US soldiers. In 2003 an Indian Memorial entitled Spirit Warriors, a beautifully rendered sculpture, was dedicated at the site as well.
“There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry.” – George Armstrong Custer
“I do not wish to be shut up in a corral. All agency Indians I have seen are worthless. They are neither red warriors nor white farmers. They are neither wolf nor dog.” – Sitting Bull
“Free people, remember this maxim: we may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.” – Jean Jacques Rousseau
“The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything. Do not be afraid to make mistakes providing you do not make the same one twice.” – Theodore Roosevelt
June 25, 1905: The world’s largest gem-quality diamond is discovered by Frederick Wells, manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company in Cullinan, Gauteng, South Africa. It weighed 3,106.75 carats [621.35 g or 21.9 oz]. A larger carbonado, non-gem quality diamond, was found in Brazil weighing 3,600 carats. This largest diamond is named for the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan. Wells received $10,000 for the find.
The Cullinan Diamond was purchased for $800,000 and presented to King Edward VII of England. The Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam were given the job of cutting the stone as they had successfully cut the Excelsior, the previous world record diamond. Joseph Asscher studied the gem for three months, trying to determine the proper way to proceed. Finally, on February 10, 1908 at 2:45 PM he took the cleaving blade and placed it at the prearranged point and struck it with his hammer. The blade broke. The gem was unharmed and a second cleaving blade was found. The stone split perfectly.
The first cut produced two massive stones weighing 1,977.50 and 1,040 carats. They were eventually made into nine major stones, 96 brilliants, and 9.5 carats of unpolished pieces. The total weight for the cut stones was 1,063 carats with a 65% cutting loss. The King kept the two largest stones and purchased a “chip” for Queen Alexandra – weighing 11.5 carats.
The largest gem was faceted into the pear shaped 530.2 carat diamond officially known as both The Cullinan Diamond and the Star of Africa. It is part of the Royal Scepter and remains in the Tower of London with the crown jewels. Queen Elizabeth II is the current owner. The Golden Jubilee, another Premier mine diamond, is a larger cut gem weighing 545.67 carats and is owned by King Rama IX, King of Thailand.
“He who finds diamonds must grapple in mud and mire because diamonds are not found in polished stones. They are made.” – unknown
“Next to sound judgment, diamonds and pearls are the rarest things in the world.” – Jean de la Bruyere
“I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.” – Zsa Zsa Gabor
“Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.” – Malcolm S. Forbes
Also on this day, in Harry Thaw murders Sandford White.