A Historical Day

(1606) English conspirator Guy Fawkes foils own execution

1606 Guy Fawkes, head of The Gunpowder Plot to blow up the English parliament in London’s Westminster Palace, leaps off a ladder to his death moments before his planned hanging.

(1945) US Army Private Eddie Slovik executed for desertion

1945 In the first execution of an American soldier for desertion since the Civil War, and the only one in the whole of WWII, Private Eddie Slovik of the 28th Infantry Division dies by firing squad.

(1949) First daytime network TV soap opera debuts

1949 ‘These Are My Children’ is broadcast live on Chicago’s NBC station. It’s the first in what becomes an institution of daytime drama serials that will begin dying out in the 21st century.

(1953) Catastrophic European flood kills thousands

1953 Roiling out of the North Sea, a storm bearing 100-mph winds and flooding rain devastates the Netherlands, destroying 50,000 buildings, leaving 300,000 homeless, and killing more than 1,500.

A Historical Day

(1649) England’s King Charles I executed on charge of treason

1649 Controversial from his reign’s start, King Charles clashed frequently with the English parliament, leading to two civil wars, Oliver Cromwell’s rise, and finally to his own beheading.

(1948) Mahatma Gandhi assassinated

1948 Gandhi, India’s political and spiritual leader whose use of nonviolent civil disobedience led to his country’s independence from British colonial rule, is slain in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist.

(1968) The Tet Offensive begins with surprise attacks

1968 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces break the holiday truce, launching a widespread military campaign against US and South Vietnamese targets that is among the largest of the Vietnam War.

(1972) Northern Ireland suffers ‘Bloody Sunday’

1972 British soldiers fire on unarmed Catholic civil rights protestors during a Derry, Northern Ireland, march, killing 14 and wounding 17. The incident ratchets up tension and strife during The Troubles.

A Historical Day

(1845) Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ is published

1845 The New York Evening Mirror prints a macabre and mysterious narrative poem by Boston-native Edgar Allan Poe, which will lead him to celebrity and acclaim but very little monetary profit.

(1936) Baseball Hall of Fame inducts first members

1936 Inaugural inductees to Baseball’s Hall of Fame include famous names of talent and temperament, including hitters Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb (shown here), and pitchers Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson.

(1964) Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove’ premieres

1964 Director Stanley Kubrick’s biting black comedy of cold war paranoia opens in US and UK cinemas, introducing a bomb-fearing world to President Muffley, Captain Mandrake, and General Ripper’s “precious bodily fluids.”

(2002) George W. Bush speech warns of “axis of evil”

2002 Name-checking Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as “the world’s most dangerous regimes,” President George W. Bush introduces the phrase “axis of evil” into the lexicon of political discussion.

A Historical Day

(1624) Britain’s first Caribbean colony is founded on St. Kitts

1624 Citing abundant salt deposits and friendly natives, Sir Thomas Warner establishes a colony on St. Kitts Island. Within 16 years the natives will be killed or exiled, and African slaves imported to work newly planted sugar cane plantations.

(1813) ‘Pride and Prejudice’ published

1813 Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy begin their hold on the public imagination as Jane Austen’s novel of manners and morays is published in London. Its 200th anniversary in 2013 will be celebrated by fans around the world.

(1945) Japanese ‘Burma Road’ blockade broken

1945 WWII Allied forces reopen part of the Burma Road, a 717-mile supply route between Burma’s coast to Kunming, China after a three-year Japanese blockade, allowing China to again receive vital materials.

(1986) Challenger space shuttle explodes after liftoff

1986 Seven crew, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, die when the Challenger space shuttle explodes 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida. A single faulty ‘O-ring’ will be identified as the cause of the explosion.

A Historical Day

(1785) Georgia founds first state university in US

1785 The University of Georgia is incorporated, and America’s first publicly funded institution of higher learning will be built on the banks of the Oconee River, in what is now the city of Athens.

(1837) Russian poet Pushkin mortally wounded in duel

1837 Having survived 29 previous duels, Alexander Pushkin is again defending his honor, this time against his wife’s suspected lover, when a shot pierces his spleen. The celebrated poet will die two days later at age 37.

(1888) National Geographic Society founded

1888 Having gathered together for the first time two weeks previously, 33 founders, mostly scientists, explorers, and wealthy travelers, incorporate the National Geographic Society to promote “geographical knowledge.” Their magazine will begin publishing nine months later.

(1944) Seige of Leningrad lifted

1944 A Soviet offensive pushes German troops from the southern border of Leningrad, breaking the devastating military blockade on the city 872 days after it had begun. Surviving residents of Leningrad have endured a stranglehold on their city that cost the lives of roughly 1 million of their neighbors and defenders.