1199: While making an un-guarded walking tour around castle Chalus-
1306: Robert the Bruce, after years of political maneuvering with fellow Scottish lords, multiple wars with England’s Edward Longshanks, alliances and betrayals against William Wallace, is crowned King of Scotland.
1513: Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon discovers Florida.
1584: Sir Walter Raleigh is granted a royal patent to colonize Virginia.
1603: Death of Queen Elizabeth I (b.1533), after 44 years on the English throne. The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she oversees the first flowering of the British Empire. Prominent figures during her reign include Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, and William Shakespeare. She became known as the Virgin Queen due to her insistence that marriage politics
1634: The first settlers arrive in Maryland, an English colony established by George Calvert, the Lord Baltimore, as a haven for Catholics in the New World.
1765: Following on the heels of the Stamp Act, Parliament passes the Quartering Act which requires the American colonies to house and feed the British soldiers sent over to keep order. Like the Stamp Act, this law is not received well in the colonies.
1773: Birth of Nathaniel Bowditch (d.1838), American mathematician and navigator, whose books on celestial navigation remain the standard to this day.
1794: Congress authorizes the construction of six frigates, one of which, USS Constitution, is still afloat and in good sailing condition. Their expense caused critics to question the need for a “six-ship navy.” Note: USS Constellation, now on display in Baltimore, was for years billed as one of these original frigates. However, the original frigate of that name was completely disassembled in 1853 and eventually re-built in the Gosport Navy Yard down in Portsmouth. The ship in Baltimore is, in fact, the final sail-only warship designed by the Navy, but is not Constitution’s sister-ship.
1807: The British Parliament abolishes the slave trade. Slavery per se remained legal, but there was now for the British Empire no further commerce in human beings.
1814: Death of Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin (b.1738) who was, ironically, a long-time foe of capital punishment. Dr Guillotin, as a member of the new French National Assembly in 1791, introduced a six-point legislative package he thought would rationalize the justice system and lead to the eventual end of executions. Only one part of his reform plan was adopted, with the result that the machine now bearing his slightly modified name- guillotine- was quickly designed and built to administer a fast and painless death to anyone, regardless of age, sex or wealth. The machine thus embodied the Revolution’s rational concepts of equality and humanity. In the hands of the revolutionary French government, it eventually killed over 15,000 people between 1792 and the close of the French Revolution in 1799, and remained in regular- although less vigorous- use through 1930. (FYI- Dr. Guillotin’s reform package: 1) Capital punishment shall be standardized throughout the country; 2) There shall be only one method* of execution, decapitation by a machine that is quick and painless; 3) The victim’s family shall not be harmed; 4) The victim’s family shall not be discredited; 5) The victim’s property shall not be confiscated; 6) The corpse shall be returned to the family for burial.)
1836: Birth of brewer Frederick Pabst.
1865: The Siege of Petersburg- Confederate forces temporarily overrun the Union’s Fort Stedman along the southeastern perimeter of the siege line. The next three weeks will bring the War Between the States to its dramatic conclusion.
1866: President Andrew Johnson vetoes a civil rights bill. After his impeachment, Congress sends the same legislation to the States to become the 14thAmendment to the Constitution. It would be an interesting thought experiment to consider how the interaction between the Several States and the federal government would have developed had the eventual 14th Amendment been put on the books simply as a federal statute.
1969: Death of Dwight D. Eisenhower (b.1890), USMA class of 1915.
1874: Birth of Robert Frost (d.1963), American poet laureate.
1899: Birth of brewer August Anheuser Busch Jr.
1902: Death of Cecil Rhodes (b.1853), the great Briton who founded the DeBeers diamond mines, and whose name still defines the peak of scholarship. The fertile country north of South Africa was for decades named for him, although today it is divided between Zambia and Robert Mugabe’s basket case of socialist irresponsibility, Zimbabwe. Rhodes was a lifelong proponent of the virtues of British colonialism: “Remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life.”
1912: The first of 3,020 Japanese cherry trees are planted on the north bank of the Potomac River near the planned site of the Jefferson Memorial.
1928: Birth of James Lovell, one of the second group of astronauts selected for the US space program. He flew on Gemini 7 (first orbital rendezvous), commanded Gemini 12 (rendezvous, docking and three spacewalks from spacecraft to spacecraft, was Command Module Pilot for the dramatic flight of Apollo 8 (first to leave Earth’s gravitational field fist to orbit the Moon), and commanded the even more dramatic but ill-fated Apollo 13 (Service Module explosion, trans-lunar return via Lunar Module as a lifeboat).
1945: Last launch of the Nazi V-2 ballistic missile. Under development since late 1942, its first launch in combat occurred on 6 September 1944. More than 1,100 missiles were fired in the next six months, killing over 2700 Britons. Captured V-2 parts and engineers formed the core of the space programs for both the United States and Soviet Union for the next 25 years. It remains the core technology for the widely deployed SCUD ballistic missile.
1958: Private Elvis Presley is inducted into the Army.
1964: The strongest earthquake in American history strikes Alaska at 8.4 on the Richter scale. A 100 foot tsunami devastates coastal towns all around the Gulf of Alaska.
1977: A KLM 747 collides with a Pan Am 747 on the foggy runway at Tenerife, Canary Islands killing 583 souls. It remains the single worst disaster in aviation history.
1979: Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Meacham Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter sign the Camp David Accords, the first formal peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state since the Jewish state’s founding in 1948.1979: A series of serious but solvable water system malfunctions, combined with human error, act to prematurely shut down the cooling system in Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island reactor, raising internal core temperatures to over 3000 degrees and releasing a moderate amount of radioactive steam into the atmosphere. No one dies, although some workers inside the plant are exposed to “unhealthy” levels of radiation. The ensuing public hysteria, unconstrained by logic, reason or engineering expertise, completely forecloses the construction of new nuclear power plants in the United States to this day.
1989: The tanker Exxon Valdez runs aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, releasing over 11,000,000 gallons of crude oil and contaminating over 1,300 miles of Alaskan coastline. The ship is later repaired and re-named Sea River Mediterranean and worked the Atlantic basin, being prohibited from calling in Alaska. On this date in 2012, she was sold for scrap.
1999: First night of NATO bombing in the Yugoslavia campaign.