Monday, September 27, 2010

August 8th in History

Emperor Krishna
Deva Raya
Vijayanagara ruins in India,
circa the reign of
 Emperor Krishna Deva Raya

1509   The Emperor Krishnadeva Raya is crowned, marking the beginning of the regeneration of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Vijayanagara Empire was one of the leading Hindu medieval civilizations of the Indian subcontinent, responsible for pushing back the Muslim Moghul invasions, and establishing positive contact with the exploring Europeans, primarily the Portuguese.
  He was a Renaissance man in the European sense, an able and active warrior, judge and diplomat, but also an author and scholar, and patron of the arts.  His path to the throne was obstructed by treachery, including his mother attempting to have his eye gouged out to make him unfit as a warrior-king, enabling her own son, his half-brother, to rule instead.  She was deceived the eye-gouging had been act had been carried out when shown goats eyes.  Krishna Deva Raya had her locked up during his lengthy coronation rituals.

1518   Birth of Conrad Lycosthenes, Alsatian humanist, encyclopedist, and all around polyhistor. (d. 1561)

Tyge Brahe
Johannes Kepler

1576   The cornerstone for Tyge Otteson Brahe's Uraniborg observatory is laid on Hven. Brahe was a  Swedish nobleman who was renowned for his ability as an astronomer and 'alchemist'.  After 'differences of opinion', he joined the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II, where he worked with Johannes Kepler.  He and Kepler are credited with the formulation of the Tychonic model of the universe, and to determine the laws of planetary motion as an improvement on the Ptolemaic and Copernican systems; all done without use of a telescope.  Tycho had an interesting appearance, having lost part of his nose, in a duel.  He wore a glued-on metal prosthesis, which can be seen if you look closely at his portrait, left.

1585   John Davis enters Cumberland Sound in search of the Northwest Passage.

1709   Bartolomeu de Gusmão demonstrates the lifting power of hot air in an audience before the King of Portugal in Lisbon.  He is reputed to have come up with a version of a lighter than air craft which predated the hot air balloons of the French Montgolfier brothers.  Gusmao, a priest, ran afoul of the Portuguese Inquisition, and fled to Spain where he died before perfecting his invention.

1794   Joseph Whidbey and George Vancouver lead an expedition in search of the Northwest Passage near Juneau, Alaska, and their names occur on numerous geographical entities.

Brigham Young
"The Mormon Moses"
"Lion of the Lord"

1844   The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was reaffirmed as the leading body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka the Mormon Church, and reaffirmed Brigham Young as their leader succeeding Joseph Smith.  Brigham Young was an ardent polygamist, married to 55 wives, 6 were married to other living husbands at the time.  Of those 55 wives, he fathered 56 children by 16 of them.  Some of the marriages were 'for eterenity', and some were temporary 'for a time only'; he divorced 10 of his wives.

He was involved in the violent conflicts between Mormons and the U.S. Government in the 'Utah War',  in the violent 'pacification' of Native Americans by the Mormon Militia, and in the 'Mountain Meadows Massacre' which resulted in the execution of 120+ unarmed pioneer men, women, and children passing through the Utah Territory.  He was also associated with exporting Mormonism to the UK, and the Mormon policy of allowing black members in the church, but not in positions of leadership or as clergy.  While LDS church nominally opposed slavery, they tolerated it, and under Brigham Young in 1852 the Utah Legislature which he helped establish approved slavery in Utah while territorial governor.  It was the position of the LDS church until relatively recently that being black was the 'mark of Cain', and that any mixture of the races was a particular sin which could lead to instantaneous death as a consequence.  Racial 'purity' was a major concern of the LDS during the leadership of Brigham Young, and many of his successors. until the latter 20th century

1876   Thomas Edison receives a patent for his mimeograph.

Note the absence of landing gear in this photo
of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk in 1900

1879   Birth of Bob Smith, American founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (d. 1950) and of Emiliano Zapata, Mexican revolutionary (d. 1919).

1908    Wilbur Wright makes his first public demonstration of heavier-than-air flight, unlike hot air balloons and zepplins,  at a racecourse at Le Mans, France.

1910    The US Army installs the first tricycle landing gear on the Army's Wright Flyer.

1911    The millionth patent is filed in the United States Patent Office by Francis Holton for a tubeless vehicle      
            Public Law 62-5 sets the number of representatives in the United States House of Representatives at 435. The law came into effect in 1913.

1918   World War I: the Battle of Amiens begins a string of almost continuous victories with a push through the German front lines, known as the Hundred Days Offensive.

1929   The German lighter than air ship, Graf Zeppelin, begins a round-the-world flight.

an early version of
the Daleks

1930   For the unapologetic geeks among Penigma readers, I include the Birth of Terry Nation, Welsh novelist and screenwriter (d. 1997),  He began his career as a comedic writer, later becoming successful as a science fiction / fantasy adventure writer for television.  Perhaps best known for his "Dr. Who" scripts as the creator of the Daleks in the second season with the first 'Doctor' in 1963.  Raise your hand if "Exterminate! Exterminate!" is now playing a continuous loop in your head. Bonus geek points if you can name at least three characters from another of Nation's series, Blake 7.  You can't be serious all the time.

1938   The building of Mauthausen  forced labor concentration camp begins.

1940   The "Aufbau Ost" directive is signed by Wilhelm Keitel, ordering the mobilization for Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

1942   World War II: in Washington, DC, six German would-be saboteurs (Operation Pastorius) are executed.  Operation Pastorius was named for the leader of the first German settlement in the U.S. and targeted attacks on economic rather than military targets, reminiscent of some modern terrorist attacks.  Their targets were hydroelectric plants near Niagara Falls, aluminum and cryolite plants, railroad targets,and  a bridge or two.  Four of the saboteurs were landed on Long Island by submarine, and the other four landed in Florida by submarine, near Jacksonville.

Dasch is on the left;
Burger is on the right

Two of the eight saboteurs were Germans who had become American citizens, Ernst Burger and Herbert Haupt.  George Dasch, the leader, and Ernst Burger had a change of heart, and turned themselves in to the FBI, revealing the details of the mission.  At least they tried to; at first the FBI wouldn't believe them.

Richard Quirin's mug shot

They were tried by a 17 member secret Military Tribunal, despite having uniforms with them so they could demand to be treated as prisoners of war, not as spies. The Supreme Court decision in Ex parte Quirin upheld the military tribunal jurisdiction, which became a pertinent decision in the War on Terror.

For his cooperation Burger's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, along with the leader of the group who cooperated, George Dasch.  Ernst Burger and George Dasch were released by President Truman and deported to Germany in 1948. The other six were executed in the Electric Chair (see August 6th in history, for more about the electric chair).   

1945   World War II: the Soviet Union declares war on Japan and begins the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.
          The United Nations Charter is signed by the United States, which becomes the third nation to join.

1963   Great Train Robbery: in England, a gang of 15 train robbers steal 2.6 million pounds in bank notes.

1968 Richard M. Nixon was nominated for president at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach and chose Maryland Gov. Spiro T. Agnew to be his running mate.  They won the election---- but it didn't work out at all well.

Spiro Agnew

1973    U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew appeared on television to denounce accusations he had taken kickbacks while governor of Maryland.  He later resigned, and was replaced as Vice President, by future President then-Congressman Gerald Ford.

1973   Kim Dae-Jung, 2000 Nobel Peace Prize winner,  South Korean politician and later president of South Korea, was kidnapped by the South Korean National Intelligence Service, under the orders of President Park Chung-hee, a military dictator from 1961-1979. Park had the support of the United States as an ally, including South Korea sending troops to assist the US in the Viet Nam War, despite his taking power in a military coup, and despite his being a ruthless and oppressive dictator. Park was assassinated in 1979, at which time Kim Dae-Jung was released from jail as a political prisoner.  Kim is considered the Nelson Mandela of South Korea.

Nixon resignation / departure

1974   Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard Nixon announced his resignation, effective the next day. He was replaced by replacement Vice President Gerald Ford, See 1973, above, who pardoned him.

1988   Lights were turned on at Wrigley Field for the first time, the last major league stadium able to host night games.  The Cubs played against the Philadelphia Phillies; the game was rained out after three-and-a-half innings.

1989  Space Shuttle program: STS-28 Mission: The Space Shuttle Columbia took off on a secret five-day military mission.

1990   Iraq occupied Kuwait and annexed it to Iraq. The Gulf War started.

2000   Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor, 30 years after its discovery by undersea explorer E. Lee Spence, 5 years after being filmed by a dive team funded by novelist Clive Cussler.  It was the first submarine to actually sink another vessel, after which it sunk itself for unknown reasons, for the last time.  It was powered by seven of her eight man crew working hand-cranks.  (Claustrophobia, anyone?) The H. L. Hunley, named for one of her designers, sunk not once, but on 3 separate occasions, killing a cumulative 21 crew members.  When it was raised to the surface, the remains of the eight submariners inside were identified by DNA testing and given burial services.  Both the Union and Confederate sides had prototype submarines, but they were not very effective, unlike their use in WW I and WW II.  There were earlier submarines, dating back to 1648, which was oar-powered.  There was an American Revolutionary War submarine, the Turtle, which was also hand powered, with a screw-type propeller. American Inventor Robert Fulton designed a hand-powered sub for the French, the Nautilus, but gave up on it by 1804.  The U.S. tried to use a submarine against the British in 1812, unsuccessfully, also man-powered.  It wasn't until 1900 that submarine designs became machine powered, culminating in nuclear powered submarines later in the 20th century.

the H. L. Hunley underwater as it was being raised

2009 Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the U.S. Supreme Court's first Hispanic and third female justice; almost a year later, minus one day, Elena Kagan is sworn in as the fourth female justice.

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