Monday, September 27, 2010

August 16th in History

panoramic bonfire photo of the Gozan no Okuribi festival

1500 (approximate)  Exact year  unknown   Beginning of the celebration of the ancient festival Gozan no Okuribi or Daimonji, meaning send off fire, in Kyoto, Japan.  The final celebration of the five day O-Bon Buddhist celebration to honor the dead in which the spirits of the deceased return to earth to the family alters ends with five mountain top giant bon fires.  The bon fires are to send the spirits back to where they came from, and each bonfire is the traditionaly the hereditary responsibility of  a specific family.  Each bonfire is in the form of a specific shape or character, and lit sequentially at 5 minute intervals, beginning at 8 pm:  Daimonji,a Chinese character for 'great'; Myo/Ho, a Chinese character for 'wondrous dharma'; Funagata, boat-shaped; Hidari Daimonji, a Chinese character for 'large'; and Toriigata, the symbol for shrine gate.  Coincidentally, the English word for bonfire is a corruption of bane fire or bone fire, a large fire to burn the bones of animals butchered at harvest time, around Samhain, the Celtic festival of the dead.

General Hull

1812   American General William Hull, appointed first governor of the Michigan territory by President Thomas Jefferson, surrendered Fort Detroit without a fight to the British Army in the War of 1812.  The United States had declared war on Britain in June of 1812, with the intention of invading Canada.  Due to communication errors as well as an overestimation of the British,  Hull decided to surrender.  He was court martialed and also removed as territorial governor.  The fort started out as a British installation, Fort Lernoult, then became Fort Detroit (not to be confused with the 'other Fort Detroit' in American History, and then renamed Fort Shelby in 1813 when it returned to U.S. control.  The Fort was later dismantled and is now the site of the Theodore Levin  United States Courthouse, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Detroit Branch buildings.

Cruikshank caricature
of the Massacre

1819   Seventeen people die and over 600 are injured by cavalry charges at the Peterloo Massacre at a public meeting at St. Peter's Field, Manchester, England.  The public meeting was to demand parliamentary reform; the attendance was estimated at 60,000 to 80,000 citizens.  The precipitating factors were the Corn Laws, and the end of the Napoleonic Wars.  A plaque commemorates the site.

Chang and Eng

1829 Chang and Eng, a pair of conjoined twins from Siam, arrived in Boston to be exhibited to the Western world. Siamese twins became a common phrase for conjoined twins.)

President Tyler

1841   U.S. President John Tyler vetoes a bill which called for the re-establishment of the Second Bank of the United States. Enraged Whig Party members riot outside the White House in the most violent demonstration on White House grounds in U.S. history. Tyler had been elected Vice President, but assumed the office of President after only a month in office when President Harrison died.  This event became the basis for the 25th Amendment.

1858   U.S. President James Buchanan inaugurates the new transatlantic telegraph cable by exchanging greetings with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. However, a weak signal will force a shutdown of the service in a few weeks.

1861 President Abraham Lincoln prohibited the states of the Union from trading with the seceding states of the Confederacy.

Lawrence of Arabia

1888 T.E. Lawrence, the British soldier who gained fame as "Lawrence of Arabia," was born in Tremadoc, Wales.

Skookum Jim

1896   Skookum Jim Mason, George Carmack and Dawson Charlie discover gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.

1913   Birth of Menachem Begin 6th Prime Minister of Israel, Nobel laureate (d. 1992) in present day Belarus.

1920   Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians is hit in the head by a fastball thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees, and dies early the next day. To date, Chapman is the second player to die from injuries sustained in a Major League Baseball game, the first being Doc Powers in 1909. 

1929   The 1929 Palestine riots break out in the British Mandate of Palestine between Arabs and Jews and continue until the end of the month. In total, 133 Jews and 116 Arabs are killed.


1930   The first color sound cartoon, called Fiddlesticks, is made by Ub Iwerks.

1942   World War II: The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears without a trace on a routine anti-submarine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crash-lands in Daly City, California.

1945   Puyi, the last Chinese emperor and ruler of Manchukuo, is captured by Soviet troops.

1960   Joseph Kittinger parachutes from a balloon over New Mexico at 102,800 feet (31,330 m), setting three records that still stand today: High-altitude jump, free-fall, and highest speed by a human without an aircraft.

1966   The House Un-American Activities Committee begins investigations of Americans who have aided the Viet Cong. The committee intends to introduce legislation making these activities illegal. Anti-war demonstrators disrupt the meeting and 50 people are arrested.

1972   The Royal Moroccan Air Force fires upon Hassan II of Morocco's plane while he is traveling back to Rabat in an unsuccessful coup d'├ętat attempt.

Elvis, c. 1977

1977  Elvis Presley dies at his home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee.

1987 Thousands of people worldwide began a two-day celebration of the "harmonic convergence," which believers called the start of a new, purer age of humankind.

1988 Vice President George H.W. Bush tapped Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle to be his running mate on the Republican ticket.

solar flares

1989   A solar flare from the Sun creates a geomagnetic storm that affects micro chips, leading to a halt of all trading on Toronto's stock market.

1988 Vice President George H.W. Bush tapped Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle to be his running mate on the Republican ticket.

2000 Delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles nominated Vice President Al Gore for president.

2003 Idi Amin, the former dictator of Uganda, died in Saudi Arabia.

2007 Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen held for 3-1/2 years as an enemy combatant, was convicted in Miami of helping Islamic extremists and plotting overseas attacks. He was sentenced to 17 years, four months in prison.

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