1664 – Roger Williams is granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island
1721 – Johann Sebastian Bach opens his Brandenburg Concerts
1765 – Britain enacts Quartering Act, required colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers
1832 – Mormon Joseph Smith beaten, tarred and feathered in Ohio
1883 – First telephone call between New York and Chicago
1898 – First automobile sold
1900 – New York City Mayor Robert Anderson Van Wyck breaks ground for a new underground “Rapid Transit Railroad” that would link Manhattan and Brooklyn.
1910 – 83°F highest temperature ever recorded in Cleveland in March
1944 – 811 British bombers attack Berlin
1947 – John D Rockefeller Jr donates NYC East River site to the UN
1955 – First seagoing oil drill rig placed in service
1958 – Elvis Presley joins the army (serial number 53310761)
1989 – Worst US oil spill, Exxon’s Valdez spills 11.3 mil gallons off Alaska
1999 – Mont Blanc Tunnel Fire: 39 people die when a Belgian transport truck carrying flour and margarine caught fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel
1693 – John Harrison, British clockmaker (died on his 83rd birthday in 1776).
A self-educated clockmaker John Harrison invented the marine chronometer, solving the centuries-old problem of determining with reasonable certainty the longitude or East/West position of a ship at sea.
With that knowledge, the world opened up as long distance travel became possible. Isaac Newton doubted that such a clock could ever be built and favoured other methods for reckoning longitude, such as the method of lunar distances. Newton observed that “a good watch may serve to keep a reckoning at sea for some days and to know the time of a celestial observation; and for this end a good Jewel may suffice till a better sort of watch can be found out. But when longitude at sea is lost, it cannot be found again by any watch.” John Harrison spend his life working to solve this problem and by the time he perfected his time piece known as H4. His difficulty was in producing a clock that was not affected by variations
in temperature, pressure or humidity, remained accurate over long time intervals, resisted corrosion in salt air, and was able to function on board a constantly-moving ship.
1733 – Joseph Priestley, England, clergyman/scientist (discovered oxygen)
1874 – Harry Houdini, [Erich Weiss], Budapest, magician/escape artist
1886 – Edward Weston, American photographer (d. 1958)
1909 – Clyde Barrow, bank robber (of Bonnie & Clyde fame)
1919 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, US, beat poet (Coney Island of the Mind)
1930 – Steve McQueen, actor (Wanted, Dead or Alive, Blob, Bullitt)
1603 – Elizabeth I Tudor, [Virgin Queen], of England and Ireland (1558-1603), dies at 69
1776 – John Harrison, English clockmaker (b. 1693)
1905 – Jules Verne, sci-fi author (Around the World in 80 Days), dies at 77
Edited from various sources including historyorb.com, the NYTimes.com Wikipedia and other internet searches
To the editor:
Enjoying my daily Broadsheet as usual, especially This Day in History.
Regarding Wednesday’s installment, I do not believe it is correct to say that Yuan Shikai was the last emperor of China. It is generally recognized that the last emperor was Pu Yi, the last ruler of the Qing dynasty, who reigned as the Xuantong Emperor. He became emperor at the age of 2 years and 10 months in December 1908, with first his father Prince Chun and then Empress Dowager Longyu as Regents. Pu Yi abdicated in February 1912.
Yuan Shikai, then Prime Minister, brokered the abdication with the Republicans. Under the agreement, Pu Yi retained his imperial title as the “Great Qing Emperor” along with apartments in the Forbidden City and a large stipend.
Yuan Shikai was not of royal ancestry. He was a politician and general, and ultimately prime minister to Pu Yi, then President of the Republic of China after Pu Yi’s abdication. In December 1915, Yuan, with Japanese support, declared the “Empire of China” with himself as the “Great Emperor of the Chinese Empire,” “abdicated” 3 months later and died in June 1916.
Pu Yi was restored to the imperial throne for 12 days in July 1917, and is therefore recognized as the last Emperor of China. He is the person portrayed in the film, The Last Emperor (1987, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci). In 1924 he was expelled from the Forbidden City. In 1932 the Japanese occupiers of Manchuria installed Pu Yi as “Emperor of Manchukuo.” In 1945 at the end of World War II, Pu Yi was captured by the Soviet Army while he was fleeing to Japan. When the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, he was repatriated to China and spent ten years in detention being “re-educated.” He was released, married (for the fifth time) and worked as an editor for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. He died in 1967 in Beijing.
Barrett S. DiPaolo