Thursday, October 20, 2011

On This Day in History

c/o MacArthur Memorial, via AltDaily
1803 – The U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase, acquiring 828,000 square miles originally claimed by France for less than three cents per acre (equivalent to 42 cents per acre today).

Ultimately 15 States would be carved from the area. Also of note, Napoleon Bonaparte said of the exchange, "This accession of territory affirms forever the power of the United States, and I have given England a maritime rival who sooner or later will humble her pride."

1818 – The Convention of 1818 was signed between the United States and the United Kingdom. Most importantly, Article II of the agreement established the 49th parallel as the border between the U.S. and Canada. It hasn't moved an inch after 193 years, and unlike our neighbors to the south, Canadians have no problem respecting our mutual border whatsoever.

1944 – General Douglas MacArthur (pictured) fulfilled his "I shall return" promise when the Battle of Leyte commenced in the Philippines. The Allies reclaimed the islands from the Japanese by New Year's Eve, and World War II would be decided nine months later. The good guys won.

1946 – Lewis Grizzard, a distinguished writer and humorist known for his commentary and Southern demeanor, was born in Fort Benning, Georgia. He was inflicted with a congenital heart defect from birth and died from complications of his fourth heart-valve surgery in 1994. "I Haven't Understood Anything Since 1962 and Other Nekkid Truths" is one of my all-time favorites.

1950 – Tom Petty, one of our finest singer-songwriters, was born in Gainesville, Florida. His music, both solo and collaborative, has sold a combined 60 million units worldwide since he debuted (with the Heartbreakers) in 1976.

1967 – A brief motion picture of an unidentified subject purported to be "Bigfoot" was filmed by two men in the Six Rivers National Forest in the northwestern-most corner of California. Known as the Patterson-Gimlin film, its veracity still remains open to debate.

1973 – Designed by acclaimed Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the Sydney Opera House opened to the public for the first time at Bennelong Point in New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, the SOH remains one of the most distinctive buildings and one of the most famous performing arts centers in the world.

1977 – Just three days after the release of their fifth album, Street Survivors, a plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed in Gillsburg, Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines, along with three other non-members of the band.

Skynyrd reformed 10 years later for a reunion tour with lead singer Ronnie Van Zant's younger brother as the new frontman, a position Johnny holds to this day. Although lead/rhythm guitarist Gary Rossington is the only founding member who remains with Skynyrd, thousands still show up to see the Kings of Southern Rock every time they play. To date, the band has sold nearly 30 million units in the U.S. alone.

Information initially obtained from Wikipedia; confirmed and revised (when necessary) through various sources.

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