1187: The great Saracen general Saladin invests Jerusalem in a bid to break the nearly 100 year reign of Christian kings over the city.
1519: Portuguese explorer and navigator Ferdinand Magellan, on commission Spanish King Carlos I (later Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire), departs on a voyage of circumnavigation in order to confirm a westward connection between Spain and the Spice Islands of the South Pacific. Magellan’s fleet consists of five ships and 270 men.
1598: English playwright and poet Ben Jonson is briefly jailed for manslaughter after killing an actor in a duel. He is released after reciting a Bible verse and getting a tattoo on his thumb. Jonson went on to become one of the most popular men of letters during the Elizabethan era in merrie olde England. He was a peer and theatrical competitor of William Shakespeare.
1641: The British merchant ship Merchant Royal founders at sea and sinks off of the coast of Cornwall, with a cargo of £100,000 of gold, 400 bars of Mexican silver, and 500,000 pieces of eight. It has never been found.
1676: At the climax of three months of agitation by 29 year old planter Nathaniel Bacon, a makeshift “army” of nearly a thousand angry Virginia frontiersmen and farmers, furious that Governor William Berkeley will not stand with them against Indian harassment and raids, storm into the colonial capital at Jamestown and burn the city to the ground. Although Bacon’s Revolt (a.k.a. Bacon’s Rebellion) represented a clear danger to the colonial government, it rapidly fell apart when Bacon himself contracted dysentery and died in late October.
1776: Death of twenty-one year old American patriot Nathan Hale (b.1755), hanged as a spy after being caught scouting around the British encampment of British General William Howe on Long Island. You probably remember his final words as the noose was placed around his neck: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
1780: Arrest of British major John Andre, General Clinton’s primary aide-de-camp, who coordinated Benedict Arnold’s treasonous surrender of West Point. Andre was captured inside American lines while wearing civilian clothes, along with Arnold’s handwritten copy of the defensive plan for the fort tucked into his stockings. Andre was tried and convicted as a spy, and with the bitter memory of Nathan Hale still fresh, was sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead instead of being shot like a soldier.
1793: George Washington lays the first cornerstone for the capitol building in the District of Columbia.
1806: Leaders of the 1803 Corps of Discovery, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, arrive in Saint Louis three years after their westward departure, completing their epic exploration and recording of the United States’ new Louisiana Territory.
1845: In New York, the Knickerbockers Baseball Club is formed, becoming the nation’s first professional baseball team.
1850: As part of the Compromise of 1850 Congress passes the Fugitive Slave Act.
1861: Birth of Robert Bosch (d.1942), who came into prominence in the nascent automobile industry with his invention of a dependable magneto for spark plug ignition. He continued to invent and manufacturer a line of the highest quality electrical equipment in his Stuttgart plant. Today, the company that bears his name has added retail electrical tools and equipment to its product line.
1863: The Battle of Chickamauga is fought on the approaches to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The huge clash is a pyrrhic Confederate victory that halts a major Union advance, but at such a cost that the Confederates never really recovered their full fighting capability in the Western theater. The battle carries the distinction of creating the second-highest number of casualties in the entire Civil War, (Union 16,170 (1,670 KIA), Confederate 18,454 (2,312 KIA)), second only to the casualty count at Gettysburg in July.
1881: Death of President James Garfield (b.1831), eighty days (yes) after being shot by a disgruntled federal employee. Garfield’s major accomplishment during his short term as President was initiating a massive civil service reform program, beginning with the post office. You would be correct to recognize the correlation between the reforms with his shooter.
1893: American bicycle maker and inventor Charles Duryea, along with his brother Frank, perform a road test on their first gasoline powered vehicle, a 4 horsepower single-cylinder model. They performed a second test in November, and then decided to go commercial with the idea.
1904: Death of Chief Joseph, last leader of the Nez Perce tribe of the Pacific Northwest (b.1840).
1937: Publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s magnum opus, The Hobbit. The book has never been out of print
1939: First broadcast by Nazi propagandist Lord Haw Haw, who railed against British combat and diplomatic activities across the European continent.
1939: Death of Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (b.1856).
1942: First flight of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, a pressurized, high altitude bomber which provided the Army Air Corps with a dramatic increase in range and payload over their B-17s and B-24s.
1952: American silent film icon and long-time left wing political advocate Charlie Chaplin leaves for a trip to England, and is immediately barred from re-entry by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the behest of the House Un-American Activities Committee and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.
1962: Civil rights activist James Meredith is barred from entering the University of Mississippi.
1964: The first flight of the Mach 3 North American XB-70 Valkyrie supersonic bomber. One of the two prototypes was destroyed in a mid-air collision. The Soviets were worried sick* about this thing, with good reason.
1970: Death of guitarist Jimmi Hendrix (b.1942) from a heroin overdose.
1975: Kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst is arrested a year after her inclusion on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
1981: The Senate unanimously confirms Sandra Day O’Connor as the first female Justice of the Supreme Court.
1984: Retired USAF test pilot Joe Kittenger complete the first solo balloon crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
1991: Discovery of 5,300 year old Copper Age mummy, “Otzi the Iceman” by German mountaineers.