Author Archives: John

Radium discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie: 21 December 1898 – This Day in History

On this day in 1898, having recently discovered polonium, future Nobel Prize winners Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the radioactive chemical element radium, a silvery white metal that would be used to treat cancer.

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1988: Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, apparently because of a terrorist bombing; in 2003 the government of Libya accepted responsibility for the explosion and in 2004 agreed to compensate the families of the victims.

1968: Apollo 8 was launched from Cape Kennedy (Cape Canaveral) and eventually completed 10 lunar orbits.

1958: Charles de Gaulle was elected president of the French Fifth Republic.

1913: The New York World published the first modern crossword puzzle.

1864: General William Tecumseh Sherman captured Savannah, Georgia, during his “March to the Sea” in the American Civil War.

1845: The Battle of Firoz Shah began between British and Sikh forces during the First Sikh War.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily

Armistice Day celebrated: 11 November 1920 – This Day in History

On this day in 1920, the anniversary of the end of World War I, Armistice Day was marked with the burial of unknown soldiers in tombs in Paris and London, and a similar ceremony was held in Arlington, Virginia, in 1921.

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1975: Angola declared independence after the Portuguese withdrew.

1966: Gemini 12, the last spacecraft in the Gemini series and the first to make an automatically controlled reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, was launched.

1889: Washington was admitted to the union as the 42nd U.S. state.

1813: British troops under Colonel J.W. Morrison defeated U.S. forces led by General John Boyd at the Battle of Crysler’s Farm during the War of 1812.

1778: During the American Revolution, Iroquois Indians, in direct retaliation for colonial assaults on two Indian villages, attacked a New York frontier settlement in the Cherry Valley Raid.

1493: Christopher Columbus discovered the island of St. Martin.

1417: Martin V was unanimously elected pope, bringing an end to the Great Schism.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily

Dr. David Livingstone found by Henry Stanley: 10 November 1871 – This Day in History

On this day in 1871, according to his journal, explorer Henry Stanley greeted David Livingstone, the fellow explorer in search of the source of the Nile River, with the famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

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1982: Soviet statesman and Communist Party leader Leonid Ilich Brezhnev died in Moscow after presiding as the leader of the Soviet Union for more than 18 years.

1938: Turkish reformer Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president (1923–38) of the Republic of Turkey, died in Istanbul.

1918: Józef Pisudski, Polish revolutionary and first chief of state of the newly reconstituted Poland, arrived in Warsaw to declare Poland an independent state.

1444: Turkish forces defeated the Hungarians in the Battle of Varna, securing Turkey‘s control over Constantinople (Istanbul) and assuring the Ottoman conquest in the Balkans.

911: Conrad I was elected German king at Forchheim, after the death of Louis the Child, the last of the East Frankish Carolingians.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily

Opening of the Berlin Wall: 9 November 1989 – This Day in History

Long a symbol of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, erected in 1961 and eventually extending 28 miles (45 km) to divide the western and eastern sectors of Berlin, was opened by the East German government on this day in 1989.

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1996: Evander Holyfield scored a technical knockout of Mike Tyson to win the heavyweight boxing championship for a third time.

1943: The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was created by a 44-nation agreement.

1938: Beginning on this night, called Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night” or “Night of Broken Glass”), some 48 hours of Nazi-orchestrated anti-Jewish violence erupted throughout Germany and Austria, resulting in the destruction and vandalizing of synagogues and Jewish businesses and the deaths of at least 91 Jews.

1923: The Beer Hall Putsch led by Adolf Hitler ended after 16 Nazis were killed on a march toward the Marienplatz in the centre of Munich, Germany.

1888: Jack the Ripper‘s infamous killing spree in the Whitechapel district of London’s East End came to an end.

1799: The Coup of 18–19 Brumaire began in Paris, marking Napoleon‘s rise to power and the end of the French Revolution.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily

Douglas Wilder elected governor: 8 November 1989 – This Day in History

On this day in 1989, Virginian Douglas Wilder became the first African American to win a U.S. gubernatorial election, and, after he left office when his term expired in 1994, he was elected mayor of Richmond in 2004.

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1960: John F. Kennedy was narrowly elected president of the United States.

1956: Comet Arend-Roland was discovered.

1900: Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, was born in Atlanta, Georgia.

1837: One of the first institutions of higher education for women in the United States, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College) opened in Massachusetts.

1520: The Danish king Christian II began mass executions of Swedish nobles in what became known as the Stockholm Bloodbath.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily

Disputed U.S. presidential election: 7 November 2000 – This Day in History

On this day in 2000, the U.S. presidential election ended in a statistical tie between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, only to be settled on December 12 by the U.S. Supreme Court after a bitter legal dispute.

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1962: Former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt died in New York City at age 78.

1944: Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Thomas E. Dewey and was elected to an unprecedented fourth term as president of the United States.

1940: The Tacoma Narrows Bridge connecting the Olympic Peninsula with Tacoma, Washington, broke up in a wind of about 42 miles (67 km) per hour.

1837: Abolitionist newspaper editor Elijah P. Lovejoy was murdered by a mob in Alton, Illinois, while defending his press building.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily

Abraham Lincoln elected president of the United States: 6 November 1860 – This Day in History

On this day in 1860, Americans elected as their president Abraham Lincoln, whose victory led to the secession of Southern states and the long and bloody Civil War that lasted until 1865 and ended slavery in the U.S.

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1984: U.S. President Ronald Reagan won reelection in a landslide victory over Democratic candidate Walter F. Mondale.

1917: The second phase of the Russian Revolution of 1917 began (October 25, Old Style) as the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia.

1888: Benjamin Harrison was elected U.S. president by an electoral majority despite losing the popular vote by more than 90,000 to his opponent, Grover Cleveland.

1887: Professional baseball player Walter Johnson, who had perhaps the greatest fastball in the history of the game, was born in Humboldt, Kansas.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily

Gunpowder Plot: 5 November 1605 – This Day in History

Celebrated with fireworks as Guy Fawkes Day, this English holiday marks the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, when Roman Catholics led by Robert Catesby tried to blow up Parliament, the king, and his family this day in 1605.

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1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented third term as president of the United States.

1930: Social critic Sinclair Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first American to receive the honour.

1914: France and Britain declared war on Turkey, widening the conflict of World War I.

1838: Honduras declared its absolute independence, seceding from the United Provinces of Central America.

1556: Mughal power was restored in India following Bayram Khn’s victory at the second Battle of Panipat.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily

Yitzhak Rabin assassinated: 4 November 1995 – This Day in History

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, corecipient with Shimon Peres and Ysir ‘Araft of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1994, was assassinated this day in 1995 by a Jewish extremist while attending a peace rally.

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1980: Conservative Republican Ronald Reagan was elected the 40th president of the United States.

1979: A hostage crisis in Iran began as the U.S. embassy in Tehrn was seized by Iranian militants in a move sanctioned by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

1922: British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen.

1791: In what became known as St. Clair’s Defeat, U.S. General Arthur St. Clair was beaten by the British-supported Northwest Indian Confederation.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily

Another section of Great Wall of China discovered: 3 November 1998 – This Day in History

Announced on this day in 1998 was the discovery in the Hui Autonomous Region of Ningxia of a previously unknown 15.5-mile (25-km) segment of the Great Wall of China, which runs in toto about 4,500 miles (7,300 km).

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1978: Dominica achieved full independence, with Patrick Roland John as its first prime minister.

1957: The Soviet Union launched Sputnik 2, which carried the dog Laika, the first living creature to be shot into space and orbit Earth.

1916: Playwright Eugene O’Neill made his New York City debut with the one-act play Bound East for Cardiff.

1295: Mamd Ghzn, the most prominent of the Il-Khans (a Mongol dynasty) to rule Iran, was formally enthroned.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily