551 B.C: Birth of Chinese philosopher Confucius (d.479 B.C.).
420 A.D: Death of Saint Jerome (b.347 A.D.), an early Christian scholar and one of the Doctors of the Church, who is best known for his seminal work of translating Hebrew and Greek biblical texts into a standardized Latin version, known as the Vulgate, in addition to a huge number of incisive commentaries on various books and letters contained in therein. He is recognized as a Saint by all the major High Church denominations.
935 A.D: Death of Prince Wenceslaus I (b. circa 907 A.D.), at the hand of his brother. Wenceslaus was the first Christian king of the Czechs, resisting multiple attempts to re-convert him to the local Bohemian paganism. He was the founder of the rotunda at Prague Castle, now consecrated as St. Vitus Cathedral. At his death his remains were interred in the rotunda, and after his elevation to sainthood, they became holy relics on display.
1770: Death of Christian evangelist and founder of Methodism, George Whitfield (b.1714), whose open-air sermons in the fields of England sparked a significant spiritual revival in that country. He first came over to the New World in 1738 and continued his custom of preaching the Gospel to huge crowds in outdoor venues. In 1740 he began a preaching a series of revivals that lasted continuously for several months, beginning in New England and ending in Charleston, South Carolina. His work during this period, and the explosive growth of churches throughout the colonies are now known as The Great Awakening. Whitfield’s voice, his crossed eyes, his charisma and his message made him one of the most recognized and celebrated men in the English colonies, widely admired by even the worldly Benjamin Franklin, who considered him a lifelong friend. He is buried in the Old South Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
1882: American inventor Thomas Edison, creating the market infrastructure for his electrical inventiveness, opens his first commercial hydroelectric power station on the Fox River near Appleton, Wisconsin.
1895: Death of Louis Pasteur (b.1822), one of the great minds of micro-biology, who helped develop and later proved the germ theory of disease, and whose name is forever attached to the process of ensuring milk and wine do not carry their traditional threat of illness. He also created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax.
1909: Birth of cartoonist Al Capp (d.1979), father of Lil’Abner, among others.
1927: Outfielder Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees hits his 60th home run of the season, a record that will stand until 1961.
1928: Birth of Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor and relentless Nazi-hunter, Elie Wiesel (d.2016).
1938: The League of Nations, perhaps sensing the true import of yesterday’s Munich Pact, unanimously passes a resolution that outlaws “intentional bombing of civilian populations.”
1939: A month into Germany’s invasion of Poland, the Nazi and Soviet governments publicly agree to divide the country between themselves.
1947: First television broadcast of the World Series, the contest that year being between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1966: The former British Protectorate of Bechuanaland declares its independence and changes its name to Botswana. It’s a shame about the name change, as it is one of those historic place-names, like Zanzibar and Tanganyika, that just feel good to pronounce out loud.
1968: At their plant in Everett, Washington, the Boeing Company rolls out the astonishing 747 airliner. 1,558 of them have been built to date, in no fewer than seven variants. This is probably the place to add that the machine’s wingspan (211 feet) is longer than the Wright Brothers first flight in (120 feet) in 1903