1099: Having subdued all lingering resistance and now controlling Jerusalem, the knights of the First Crusade elect Godfrey de Bouillon as the first Defender of the Holy Sepulchre, creating the first Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem. Godfrey could not bring himself to take the title of “King” in the Holy City- hence the awkward title- but he acted the part, forcing Acre and a dozen other cities to pay tribute to this nascent kingdom.
1715: A Spanish treasure fleet of 11 ships departs Havana, stuffed to the gunwales with gold, silver and precious stones from the New World. Seven days later, the entire fleet founders and is lost in a hurricane off the coast of southern Florida. Treasure hunters have long sought the wrecks, without success. This is not to be confused with entrepreneur and explorer Mel Fisher’s 1985 discovery and excavation of the wreck of the Senora de Atocha, which was not from this fleet, but was lost under similar circumstances in 1622.
1725: Birth of John Newton (d.1807), English slave ship captain, redeemed Christian, priest, hymnist who wrote Amazing Grace, and spiritual mentor to the English Parliamentarian William Wilberforce
1812: An Anglo-Portuguese army under the command of Arthur Wellesley * (later the Duke of Wellington) defeats a French army in the Battle of Salamanca. The battle cemented Wellesley’s reputation for tactical genius, as he kept his own dispositions hidden from the French while remaining alert and disciplined to watch and wait for opportunities to exploit fleeting French tactical weaknesses. The British Peninsular Campaign remained a constant drain on French resources during Napoleon’s reign. Although neither side won a decisive strategic victory, the constant coalition pressure on the Iberian Peninsula eased French pressure against other coalition allies in the French eastern European campaigns, most notably the French drive deep into Russia.
1847: Mormon pioneers under the leadership of Brigham Young arrive in the Salt Lake Valley, where they end their flight from Illinois to create a new society in the Utah territory.
1849: Birth of American poet Emma Lazarus (d.1887), author of the poem** inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor; your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the wretched refuse of your teeming soil; bring these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me; I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door.”
1898: Continuing the earlier success of forcibly evicting Spain from her worldwide island empire in Cuba, Guam and the Philippines, the United States invades Puerto Rico, landing at Guanica after two months of preparatory shelling of San Juan and its environs.
1903: Ford Motor Company sells its first car, a “quadracycle.” They’ve sold a lot more since then.
1914: The Empire of Austria-Hungary issues an ultimatum to the Republic of Serbia to allow Austria to conduct the investigation and trial of whomever it was that shot Archduke Ferdinand last month. To no-one’s surprise, Serbia rejects the demand, setting in motion Austrian plans that have been in place since 1912 to once and for all crush Serbian nationalism and its constant interference in Bosnia. During the post-assassination dragnet, one of the conspirators spills his guts, leading not only to the arrest of several more conspirators, but also to six bombs built by the Serb arsenal, four pistols, training documentation, suicide pills, and a map, annotated with locations of the Gendarmerie and escape routes out of Sarajevo. Leading up to this ultimatum were a series of diplomatic notes and tense diplomacy between Austria and Germany, the bottom line being that Germany needed to goad Austria into declaring war in order to trigger a wider war with France and Russia for which they were much better prepared than either. From the Austrian perspective, it was crucial to ensure Germany would support an Austrian mobilization for yet another Balkan war, particularly since Russia had signaled its support for Serbia. Germany, in fact, gave a Austria a famous diplomatic “Blank Cheque” to destroy Serbia. To help prop up the façade that Germany was caught completely unawares by the ultimatum, the entire General Staff, the Kaiser, and the majority of his ministers ostentatiously went on vacation on the 23rd.
1929: The Fascist state of Italy bans the use of foreign words in the Italian language.
1933: Fifty thousand cheering people greet aviation pioneer Wiley Post as he arrives at Floyd Bennett Field in New York City at the completion of his second flight around the world. The distinction here is that he did the feat solo, using a self-developed autopilot and compass instead of a navigator as on his earlier flight. He went on to further acclaim as he investigated the problems of high altitude flight, inventing several varieties of pressure suits to compensate for the physiological dangers of low pressures, low temperatures and low oxygen. His Lockheed Vega aircraft “Winnie Mae” is on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Dulles annex.
1834: Death of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (b.1772), English poet, literary critic and debater, best known as the author of epic poems, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan. His writings profoundly influenced both the Romantic movement in Europe and the Transcendentalist movement in the United States. As an aside, as his physical energy began to decay in his 40s, he became attracted to the “medicinal” qualities of opium, eventually becoming an addict who consumed over two quarts of laudanum a week.
1935: Peak temperature for the Dust Bowl period- 109 degrees recorded in Chicago, 104 in Milwaukee.
1940: Bugs Bunny makes his film debut in “Porky’s Hare Hunt”.
1942: The National Socialist German government opens the Treblinka extermination camp.
1946: Jewish terrorists of the Irgun movement, including future Prime Minister Manachem Begin, bomb the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, headquarters of the civil and military administration of British Palestine.
1956: Forty-five nautical miles south of Nantucket Island, the Swedish liner MS Stockholm collides with Italian luxury liner SS Andrea Doria in a heavy fog, destroying the bow of Stockholm and fatally puncturing the hull of Andrea Doria, which capsizes and sinks the next day. 51 people die in the collision. The tragedy sparked a number of safety improvements for the shipping industry, not the least of which was mandating that a functioning radio be installed for use on the navigation bridge, instead of in its own space elsewhere. True… In 1956: Radio Rooms- delivering notes by pneumatic tubes…unbelieveable. The wreckage is a popular and dangerous dive site, considered by many to be “the Mount Everest of diving” because of its depth (~160 feet at the top) and the strong currents that surge through the sound.
1969: The crew of Apollo 11 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, completing President Kennedy’s goal of sending a man to the moon and safely returning to Earth. In an odd display of the concept of “an abundance of caution” over an unknown threat of extraterrestrial infection, the crew are required to don Biological Isolation Garments before opening the hatch to the Command Module, and a disinfectant crew follows them all the way to an Airstream trailer outfitted as a biological isolation living space, where they remain ensconced with a flight surgeon for 21 days
1973: Death of Eddie Rickenbacker (b.1890), pioneering race car driver, World War I fighter ace (26 confirmed kills), owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and CEO of Eastern Airlines. Rickenbacker also acted as President Roosevelt’s personal courier during World War II, commandeering a B-17 to transport him to meet with General Douglas MacArthur on a subject that remains unknown to this day. During the trip across the Pacific, the crew became lost, and the pilot was forced to ditch the aircraft at sea, which led to an ordeal of survival for 26 days in a rubber raft. Rickenbacker would always credit God-directed miracles for their survival, most notably the time when a seagull alighted on his head and remained there for nearly an hour while Rickenbacker slowly reached up and captured it. They carefully divided all the parts evenly, which kept them alive for several more days. During his time at the helm of Eastern, he wrote in his autobiography what many in the aviation field believe is a fundamental truth: “I have never liked to use the word ‘safe’ in connection with either Eastern Airlines or the entire transportation field; I prefer the word ‘reliable.’”
2003: United States troops of the 101st Airborne Division, making a coordinated attack on a protected Iraqi compound, kill Uday and Qusay Hussein.