0648BC The earliest total solar eclipse, chronicled by Greeks, is recorded.
0006BC This day is believed by some Biblical scholars to be the actual date of the historical birth of Jesus Christ.
1199 Death: English King Richard I, the Lionhearted (1189-99), killed by an arrow at the siege of the castle of Chaluz in France. He is succeeded by his brother John.
1483 Birth: Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio), Dutch painter.
1520 Death: Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio), on his 37th birthday.
1528 Death: Albrecht Durer, artist, in Nurnberg, Germany.
1652 Jan van Riebeeck lands at Table Bay, at the Cape, South Africa, to establish a trading station for the Dutch East India Company.
1663 King Charles II signs the Carolina Charter.
1735 Having been invited to America by colonial governor James Oglethorpe, the first Moravians from Europe, ten males of the Unitas Fratrum, arrive in Savannah, Georgia after sailing from England in February.
1773 Birth: James Mill, in Scotland, philosopher, historian; History of British India.
1786 Birth: Sacagawea (or Sacajawea), American explorer.
1789 The first US Congress begins regular sessions at Federal Hall in New York City.
1789 George Washington is elected the first president of the United States; the only president to be unanimously elected. "...Following the war, Washington quelled a potentially disastrous bid by some of his officers to declare him king. He then returned to Mount Vernon and the genteel life of a tobacco planter, only to be called out of retirement to preside at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. His great stature gave credibility to the call for a new government and insured his election as the first President of the United States. Keenly aware that his conduct as President would set precedents for the future of the office, he carefully weighed every step he took. He appointed Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton to his cabinet. Almost immediately, these two men began to quarrel over a wide array of issues, but Washington valued them for the balance they lent his cabinet. Literally the "Father of the Nation," Washington almost single-handedly created a new government..."
1808 Thanks to Lewis and Clark's famous expedition, the area west of the Mississippi had become terra firma for the fur trade during the early nineteenth century. Looking to seize his piece of this potentially rich pie, budding fur maven John Jacob Astor incorporates the American Fur Company on this day. Astor installs himself as the lone stockholder of his New York City-based company and proceeds to make inroads into the fur business. Indeed, in a few short years, he will be able to mount a serious challenge to industry leaders like the North West Company. Astor will soon start expanding his fur concern: in 1810, he will create the Pacific Fur Company; the following year, he will establish the South West Fur Company. Astor's new companies will boost his ability to capitalize on America's burgeoning regional markets and cement his rise to the top of the fur trade. By 1828, Astor and his mighty fur empire will stand as unrivaled kings of the fur industry. (Bradley)
1810 Birth: Philip Gosse, inventor of the institutional aquarium, writer; Omphalos.
1814 Granted sovereignty in the island of Elba and a pension from the French government, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicates at Fountainebleau. He is allowed to keep the title of emperor.
1830 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose adherents are known as Mormons, is organized by Joseph Smith and five others in Fayette, Seneca County, New York.
1841 John Tyler is inaugurated as the tenth president of the United States; the first vice president to assume the presidency due to the death of the president.
1848 Jews in Prussia are granted legal equality.
1854 Death: William Strickland, US architect.
1859 The US recognizes the Liberal government in Mexico's War of the Reform.
1862 US Civil War: The Battle of Shiloh begins in Tennessee.
1865 US Civil War: At the Battle of Sayler's Creek, a third of Lee's army is cut off by Union troops pursuing him to Appomattox.
1866 Birth: Butch Cassidy, outlaw.
1866 Birth: Joseph Lincoln Steffens, muckraker, journalist; Shame of the Cities.
1868 The Ku Klux Klan, a group which violently opposes the fight for racial equality, is founded this day in Pulaski, Tennessee, by Confederate Army veterans. Its founders include former Confederate Army General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
1868 Mormon church leader Brigham Young, 67, weds his 27th and last wife. In all, Brigham Young's wives bore him 47 children.
1868 In Japan, Emperor Meiji establishes the Charter Oath which changes the form of government and promises a popular assembly.
1874 Birth: Harry Houdini, born Erich Weiss, famous magician, escape artist, skeptic.
1890 Birth: Anthony Herman Gerard Fokker, in Holland, aircraft pioneer.
1892 Birth: Donald Wills Douglas, US aircraft pioneer; will found the Douglas aircraft company.
1892 Birth: Lowell Thomas, in Woodington, Ohio, journalist, author; High Adventure.
1896 James B. Connolly of Boston, Massachusetts wins the first event, the hop, skip and jump contest, and first gold medal of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece with eight nations participating.
1903 French Army Nationalists are revealed to have forged documents to guarantee a conviction for Alfred Dreyfus.
1906 The first animated cartoon is copyrighted on this date. James Stuart Blackton's film consists of drawings of a man rolling his eyes.
1909 Explorer Robert Peary reaches the North Pole, conquering one of the most inhospitable spots in the world. The American commander had persevered through five previous unsuccessful attempts, dating back over seven years. These expeditions all failed in the icy seas of the Arctic. This time, Peary began his journey on the Roosevelt, a ship specially designed to withstand Arctic ice, which sailed north from the USA to Greenland. This was followed by an exhausting 145-kilometre (90-mile) trek, in preparation for the final 36-day move towards the Pole. The party dwindled in size as exhausted members turned back. Peary shares his triumph this day with the four remaining Inuit team members and his African-American assistant, Matthew Hensen. (Bradley)
1917 WW1: The US House of Representatives approves Wilson's resolution against Germany and the United States declares war. The Zimmerman note along with the news that more American ships had been sunk by U-boats had finally aroused Americans out of their isolationism.
1919 A group of anarchist intellectuals in Munich, inspired by the example of Bela Kun in Hungary, proclaims what it calls the Bavarian Soviet Republic.
1920 Weimar: Rudolf Hess flies an airplane to a Bavarian unit stationed in the Ruhr. (Missing Years)
1922 The Soviet delegation headed by Grigori Chicherin arrives in Genoa for a meeting with British, French, American Italian and German delegations.
1927 The US Department of Commerce issues the first aviators license to William P. MacCracken, Jr.
1928 Birth: James Watson, CO-discoverer of the structure of DNA.
1928 On this day handshaking in Italy is pronounced unhygienic and banned by Mussolini.
1929 Birth: 'Crazy' Joe Gallo, mobster.
1931 The first Scottsboro, Alabama trial begins, with 9 blacks accused of rape.
1933 The Paris Journal publishes a story by a correspondent in Berlin reporting that Germany has made overtures to the Vatican concerning a concordat, one of the main points of which is a provision that would forbid Catholic priests to be candidates for political office. (Lewy)
1933 Church and Reich: Heinrich Bruening succeeds Monsignor Kaas as leader of the Catholic Center Party.
1936 A tornado kills 203 people and injures 1,800 others in Gainesville, Georgia.
1937 Church and Reich: Hitler orders the resumption of the immorality and foreign exchange trials against Catholic clergymen, which had been halted shortly before the Olympic Games in the summer of 1936.
1938 The United States recognizes Nazi Germany's annexation of Austria.
1939 The US and Britain agree on joint control of Canton and Enderbury Island in the Pacific.
1939 Italy issues an ultimatum to King Zogu I of Albania.
1939 Polish Foreign Minister Beck signs a temporary mutual assistance pact in London, but since Beck fears the Soviets as much or more than the Nazis, it excludes any Soviet participation.
1941 WW2: A pact of nonaggression between Russia and Yugoslavia is made public. Germany declares war on Yugoslavia and attacks both Yugoslavia and Greece. Hitler had become concerned about British troops and aircraft being moved into the area to aid Greece, and said that he could not allow Yugoslavia and Bulgaria to revert to neutralist positions. From Berlin, Propaganda Minister Goebbels reads an Order of the Day to the German Army of the East, in the name of the Fuehrer. An excerpt: "The new aim of the British warmongers now consists of the realization of a plan that they had already hatched at the outbreak of the war and only postponed because of the gigantic victories of the German Army. The memory of the landing of British troops at Salonika in the course of the first World War also caught little Greece in the spider web of British intrigue..."
1941 WW2: Italian-held Addis Ababa surrenders to British and Ethiopian forces.
1942 WW2: Japan bombs India for the first time and attacks ports in Madras.
1943 WW2: The British and US armies link up in Africa.
1945 WW2: The giant battleship Yamamoto leaves the Japanese Inland Sea on a suicide mission to Okinawa.
1950 RCA reports the first successful transmission of color television by coaxial cable.
1959 Hal Holbrook opens in the critically acclaimed, off-Broadway presentation of Mark Twain Tonight. Quotes from the famous humorist include: 'It is best to read the weather forecast, before we pray for rain.'; 'The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.'; 'Modesty died when clothes were born.'; 'Be good and you will be lonesome.'; and 'Familiarity breeds contempt - and children.'
1962 The Russian newspaper Pravda warns communist youths about the dangers of doing the Twist.
1965 The US launches the Early Bird I, the world's first commercial communications satellite, from Cape Kennedy, Florida.
1965 The Nam: President Lyndon B. Johnson authorizes the use of ground troops in combat operations.
1968 Pierre Trudeau becomes the Liberal Party's prime minister of Canada, succeeding Lester Pearson.
1968 94.5% of East German voters approve a new socialist constitution.
1983 US Secretary of the Interior James Watt bans an Independence Day concert by the Beach Boys in Washington, DC.
1984 The Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean vote to integrate with Australia, ending the 150-year rule of the British Clunies-Ross family.
1990 US Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze conclude three days of talks in Washington, after which Shevardnadze will hand President George H. Bush a letter from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
1992 Death: Isaac Asimov, writer; Asimov's Chronology of the World, Asimov's Annotated "Paradise Lost", Asimov's Guide to the Bible, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation, I, Robot. "...Highly prolific American writer, one of the three grand masters of science fiction with Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein. For five decades Isaac Asimov was one of the central figures of science fiction...born in Petrovichi, Russia, as the son of Judah Asimov and Anna Rachel Berman Asimov. His father was educated within the limits of Orthodox Judaism, but religion did not play a central role in Isaac's childhood. "He didn't even bother to have me bar mitzvahed at the ago of thirteen", Asimov remarked later. Judah Asimov was well read in Russian literature, but especially he loved Sholem Aleichem's Yiddish stories. During World War I he served in the Russian Army. In 1923 the family moved to the United States, and settled in New York. Before opening a sweet-shop, Judah worked in odd jobs, and learned also to speak English. In old age, when he retired to Florida, he became Orthodox again. Asimov himself never learned Russian, and the culture of his parents' native country remained him distant. Asimov could read before he entered the first grade. He also had "a near-photographic memory." At school Asimov finished books in a few days... "
1994 The presidents of Burundi and Rwanda, Cyprien Ntaryamira and Juvenal Habyarimana, are killed when a rocket downs their plane as it lands in Rwanda. The assassinations will spark the genocide in Rwanda.
1995 The US Senate unanimously approves a $16 billion package of cuts in social programs.
1999 Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic declares a unilateral cease-fire in his campaign to crush rebels in Kosovo. Western leaders call it a sham and pledge more air strikes.
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