This Day in History: March 23

1857: Elisha Otis’ Elevator first installed: Rudimentary elevators have existed in theory since Roman times, but they were not safest way to get from the bottom floor up, as the cab, or platform, or the elevator would fall if the cable were to break. American industrialist Elisha Otis introduced the safety elevator, which came with a safety mechanism, at the Crystal Palace in England in 1852. His designed was installed in New York City on this day in 1857.

1889: Ahmadiyya Islam founded: Punjab, British India, was a religiously diverse place, with Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christian missionaries. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a religious leader who believed he was the Messiah and the Madhi (a redeeming ruler who will rule before the end of time) and founded a religious movement that would later be called Ahmadiyya Islam. Ahmadiyya Islam differs from mainstream Islam in that it believes that Jesus was crucified and died, and the Muhammad was not the final prophet, among other beliefs. Much of the Muslim believe the Ahmadiyya to be a heretical sect. It is lead by a Caliph, the current one is a man named Mirza Masroor Ahmad, and there are between 10 and 12 million Ahmadiyya followers in the world today.

1919: Mussolini founds fascism: Young Mussolini was an avid socialist, and a high ranking member of the Italian Socialist party. He was expelled from the party due to its neutrality in the midst of WWI, and he fought in the Italian Army. He was discharged with a new, aggressively nationalist outlook. There had been a number of different movements known as fascio, which comes from a word meaning a bundle or sheaf. In 1919, in Milan, he reconstituted the Milan fascio as the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento (Italian Combat Squad). This would later morph into the National Fascist Party, which would march on Rome in 1922, installing Mussolini as prime minister and the world’s first fascist dictator.

1933: Enabling Act creates a dictator: Speaking of fascist dictators, a man named Adolph Hitler was inspired by Mussolini’s example, and sought to create a far right revolutionary state of his own. The previous year, Hitler ran against Hindenburg for president of Germany. He lost. But Hindenburg appointed him Chancellor, and on this day in 1933, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which allowed Hitler, as chancellor, to pass laws circumventing the Reichstag altogether. This gave him dictatorial powers, and the interwar Weimar Republic became the Third Reich.

1956: Pakistan becomes world’s first Islamic republic: The early to mid 20th century was quite the time for political experiments. In 1956, fascism had been tried and failed, communism was in full swing. Soon after India was granted independence, there was a major conflict between the Hindus and Muslims. The so called partition of India led millions of Muslim to migrate to what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh in the largest mass migration in modern history. Pakistan remained a Dominion of Britain and a member of the commonwealth, which ended on this day in 1956 when Pakistan was declared an Islamic Republic.

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