Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On This Day in History: With a certain English flavor

Diana was the world's princess.
1422 – Upon the death of his father, Henry VI ascended to the throne and became the King of England at nine months of age.  Possibly the youngest monarch in history, a regency council was established to govern in Henry's place until he came of age in 1437.  Although generally ill prepared to be King, Henry's legacy is largely defined by the establishment of Eton College (described as the most famous public school in the world) in 1440 and King's College, Cambridge the year after.

1803 – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark leave Pittsburgh, PA and begin their expedition to the west.  Having not achieved their primary objective of finding the "Northwest Passage," Lewis and Clark are nonetheless responsible for production of the first accurate maps of the west and a better understanding of the region's natural resources.  They also established friendly relations with some of the indigenous tribes, without whom the explorers (33 in all) would have starved to death and/or become hopelessly lost in the Rocky Mountains.

1864 – Union forces, led by Maj. General William T. Sherman, launch a final assault on Atlanta, Georgia.  The following November, Sherman ordered that all military and government buildings in the area to be burned, although many private homes and shops were also torched.  I guess if Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, who initially led the opposition against Sherman's Atlanta Campaign and later served as a pallbearer at his funeral, would not speak ill of the Ohio native, then neither will I.

1888 – A woman named Mary Ann Nichols is found murdered in the Whitechapel district of London.  She later becomes known as the first victim of Jack the Ripper.

1897 – Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.

1943 – The first United States Navy ship to be named after a Black person, the USS Harmon (DE-678), is commissioned.  This ship was named for mess attendant Leonard Roy Harmon, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism aboard the USS San Francisco (CA-38) during the Battle of Guadalcanal at the Solomon Islands.

1948 – Robert Mitchum is arrested in a Hollywood drug raid.  He would later be found guilty of criminal conspiracy to possess marijuana and sentenced to 60 days in prison.  Today he is a stoner icon.

1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales is killed in a car crash in Paris, just one year (and three days to be exact) after her divorce from Prince Charles was finalized.  To this day she is more revered in America than most of those who served as President, and for good reason.

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