1468: Death of Johannes Gutenberg (b.1398), who invented re-usable, movable type for printing presses, launching an information revolution. In 1455 he published his first major project, the Holy Bible, of which about 180 were produced. The last sale of a complete Gutenberg Bible was for $2,200,000 in 1978. Many of the other surviving copies have been broken apart for sale of individual leaves or sections; an estimated 21 remain intact as complete.
1478: Birth of the counselor to Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More (d.1535), who called himself “The King’s good servant, but God’s first.”
1488: Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz lands at Mossel Bay in what is now South Africa, becoming the first European to round the Cape of Good Hope and sail into the Indian Ocean.
1497: In Florence, Italy, the Dominican Friar Girolamo Savonarola instigates from the pulpit a quest for purity from “moral laxity,” calling for
1756: Birth of Aaron Burr (d.1836), one of the key second-level leaders of the American Revolution: soldier, New York politician, and Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President. Best remembered today for the duel he fought with former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who died of his wounds.
1794:On this day the National Assembly abolishes slavery throughout the territories of the French Republic.
1869: In Victoria, Australia,
1885: Belgian King Leopold II establishes Congo Free State as his personal possession, managed by the International African Association, of which he was the sole director and shareholder. The association thence began
1895: Birth of George Herman Ruth, Jr. (d.1948), the great slugger for the New York Yankees, NOT the Boston Red Stockings
1898: Opening day of the criminal libel trial of Emile Zola, the French intellectual and journalist who sparked The Dreyfus Affair with a front page,
1899: Only months after our prying the islands from Spanish colonial rule, Philippine nationalists rebel against nascent American rule, opening the Philippine Insurrection. The war officially lasts through
1902: Birth of Charles Lindbergh (d.1974).
1912: Birth of Eva Braun (d.1945), mistress of Adolf Hitler and for 40 hours in the Fuhrerbunker under Berlin, his wife.
1913: Final ratification of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution,
1913: Birth of civil rights activist Rosa Parks (d.2005), whose refusal, in December of 1955, to sit in the back of the bus finally sparked the kind of widespread outrage that led to the burgeoning and ultimately successful civil rights movement.
1917: The United States breaks diplomatic relations with Imperial Germany, the day after the Germans announce
1919: Sensing a tremendous business opportunity, silent movie stars Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin join with director D.W. Griffith to create United Artists, the first comprehensive movie production studio. The studio has gone through
1924: Death of President Woodrow Wilson (b.1856), incapacitated since collapsing of exhaustion in
1937: Death of Elihu Root (b.1845), who served as Secretary of War under Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt, Secretary of State for President Roosevelt, and Senator from New York, in between practicing law and serving as a member of various commissions and delegations. His was one of the minds who helped define the United States’ coming of age as a world power.
1942: Birth of Naval Academy Graduate and Navy Supply Officer, Roger Staubach, who also played football for the Dallas Cowboys.
1952: Death of Britain’s King George VI (b.1895). Although his declining health from lung cancer was well known, his sudden death at age 57 came as a shock to the nation. His daughter Elizabeth, now suddenly Queen Regent, was out of the country at the time.
1958: After a mid-air collision with its F-86 escort during a night navigation mission, a damaged USAF B-47 jettisons its 7,600 pound Mk-15 hydrogen bomb into the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Tybee Island, Georgia. The crew safely recovered their aircraft at Hunter AAF, but the bomb itself has never been found, despite several exhaustive search efforts. Today it lurks in conspiratorial folklore as The Tybee Bomb.
1959: Deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and Big Bopper Richardson in a plane crash in Iowa.
1962: In an attempt to apply economic sanctions against a too-close-for-comfort hostile communist regime, the United States institutes an embargo of imports and exports from Cuba. Its goal, if not to force Fidel Castro from power, was to at least force him to moderate his anti-American rhetoric and activities. Castro, you probably noticed, remained firmly in power (lately using his brother as
1971: Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell
2008: Death of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (b.1917), an actual guru, whose Transcendental Meditation techniques gained international fame when the Beatles took up the practice.