Today in History

Today in History

1474 In the Swiss-Burgundian Wars, the Swiss infantry shatters the army of Charles the Bold at Hericourt near Belfort, countering his march to Lorraine.

1835 Texas officially proclaims its independence from Mexico, and calls itself the Lone Star Republic, after its flag, until its admission to the Union in 1845.

1851 The London-to-Paris telegraph begins operation.

1860 South Carolina’s legislature calls a special convention to discuss secession from the Union.

1862 Lewis Carroll writes in his diary, “Began writing the fairy-tale of Alice–I hope to finish it by Christmas.”

1878 New Mexico Governor Lew Wallace offers amnesty to many participants of the Lincoln County War, but not to gunfighter Billy the Kid.

1897 The first metal dirigible is flown from Tempelhof Field in Berlin.

1907 Paul Corno achieves the first helicopter flight.

1914 The brassiere, invented by Caresse Crosby, is patented.

1927 New York’s Holland Tunnel officially opens for traffic.

1940 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Hansberry v. Lee that African-Americans cannot be barred from white neighborhoods.

1941 A German U-boat, the U-81, torpedoes Great Britain’s premier aircraft carrier, the HMS Ark Royal. The ship sinks the next day.

1942 Lt. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower flies to Algeria to conclude an agreement with French Admiral Jean Darlan.

1945 Charles de Gaulle is elected president of France.

1952 Harvard’s Paul Zoll becomes the first man to use electric shock to treat cardiac arrest.

1956 The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously strikes down two Alabama laws requiring racial segregation on public buses.

1969 Anti-war protesters stage a symbolic “March Against Death” in Washington, DC.

1970 A powerful tropical cyclone strikes the Ganges Delta region of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), causing an estimated half-million deaths in a single night; the Bhola cyclone is regarded as the worst natural disaster of the 20th century.

1982 The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, DC.

1985 Some 23,000 people die when the Nevado del Ruiz erupts, melting a glacier and causing a massive mudslide that buries Armero, Columbia.

1989 Compact of Free Association: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau—places US troops wrested from Japanese control in WWII—become sovereign nations, associated states of the United States.

1989 Hans-Adam II becomes Prince of Liechtenstein

(1989– ) upon the death of his father, Franz Joseph II.

2000 Articles of impeachment are passed against Philippine President Joseph Estrada.

2001 US President George W. Bush signs an executive order allowing military tribunals against foreigners suspected of connections to planned or actual terrorist acts against the US.


354 Saint Augustine, Christian theologian and philosopher.

1312 Edward III, King of England.

1850 Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist and poet (Treasure Island, Kidnapped).

1856 Louis Brandeis, the first Jew to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

1909 Eugene Ionesco, Romanian-born dramatist; a leading playwright of the Theater of the Absurd genre (The Bald Soprano, Rhinoceros).

1911 John Jordan “Buck” O’Neill, the first African-American coach in Major League Baseball; previously, he was a first baseman and a manager in the Negro League.

1924 Motoo Kimura, Japanese biologist who introduced the neutral theory of molecular evolution (1968).

1934 Garry Marshall, actor, director, producer; created the Happy Days TV series and its spinoffs.

1940 William Taubman, political scientist, author; won the Pulitzer Prize for biography (2004) for his biography of Nikita Khrushchev.

1947 Joe Mantegna, actor, producer, director, voice actor (The Godfather Part III; Criminal Minds TV series; voice of mob boss Fat Tony on The Simpsons).

1955 Whoopi Goldberg,comedian, actress (The Color Purple; Ghost), singer, talk show host (The View); second African-American woman to win an Oscar (Best Supporting Actress, Ghost, 1990); one of the few entertainers to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy.