Category Archives: This day in History

Maiden Voyage of World's Largest Ocean Liner, RMS Queen Mary 2 (2004)

The RMS Queen Mary 2 (QM2) is a Cunard Line ocean liner named after the earlier Cunard liner Queen Mary, which was, in turn, named after Mary of Teck, the Queen Consort of George V. With 15 restaurants and bars, 5 pools, a casino, a ballroom, a theater, and a planetarium, the QM2 is the largest ocean liner in the world, and, at the time of its construction, was the longest, widest, and tallest passenger ship ever built. What ship challenged that distinction in 2006? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Innocent III Is Pope (1198)

Lotario di Segni became Pope of the Catholic Church in 1198 at the age of 37, taking the name “Innocent III.” He believed that just as things of the spirit take preeminence over things of the body, so should earthly monarchs be subject to the pope, and he set out immediately to realize this ideal. He was the virtual overlord of Christian Spain, Scandinavia, Hungary, and the Latin East and launched the Fourth Crusade, which went awry when the crusaders did what instead of going to the Holy Land? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Queen Victoria Chooses to Make Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's Capital (1857)

First inhabited by indigenous tribes, the city that became Ottawa was founded as Bytown in 1827 by John By, an engineer in charge of construction of the Rideau Canal linking Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River. In the 1850s, the city was renamed Ottawa—after the Algonquian-speaking Ottawa tribe—when it fell into competition with major cities like Montreal and Toronto to be named capital of the Province of Canada, which comprised modern-day Ontario and Quebec. Why did Queen Victoria choose Ottawa? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Iroquois Theater Fire (1903)

Billed as “absolutely fireproof,” Chicago’s Iroquois Theater was filled with mostly women and children—out of school for the holidays—for a matinée on December 30, 1903, when a curtain caught fire. One actor tried calming the audience, but panic spread. Many escape routes were unmarked, and a stampede ensued. As people fled, the cold air they let in fed the inferno. More than 575 people died—a death toll more than double that of the famed 1871 Chicago Fire. What show had packed the theater? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster (1876)

As the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway train plowed ahead through deep snow on December 29, 1876, a bridge over Ohio’s Ashtabula River fractured with a loud crack, plunging every train car except the lead engine into the river about 70 ft (21 m) below. The wooden cars, equipped with kerosene lamps and stoves, became an inferno. Ninety-two people died, many burned beyond recognition. The accident initiated the standardization of bridge inspection. What became of the bridge’s designers? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Messina Earthquake (1908)

Messina is a busy seaport and commercial center in northeastern Sicily, Italy, opposite the Italian mainland. On the morning of December 28, 1908, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Messina, followed by a 40-foot (12-meter) tsunami. About 80,000 people were killed, and at least 90 percent of Messina’s buildings, including its churches and palaces, were destroyed. Afterward, the city was completely rebuilt under standards for quake-resistant construction. What happened to the survivors? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Rome and Vienna Airport Attacks (1985)

Nearly three months after Israel’s bombing of Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters in Tunisia, terrorists retaliated in two nearly simultaneous attacks at European airports. At Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome, Italy, gunmen opened fire and threw grenades at the Israeli airline’s ticket counter, while at an airport in Vienna, Austria, terrorists threw grenades into a crowd awaiting a flight to Tel Aviv. In all, 19 people were killed and more than 100 hurt. Who claimed responsibility? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Largest Mass Execution in US History (1862)

Though the US government and the Sioux concluded several treaties during the first half of the 19th century, relations had deteriorated by 1862 when a Sioux uprising killed more than 800 white settlers and soldiers in Minnesota. Military tribunals convicted 303 Sioux prisoners of murder and rape and sentenced them to death. US President Abraham Lincoln commuted most sentences, but the public hanging of 38 prisoners was still the largest mass execution in US history. What became of the bodies? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Hirohito Becomes Emperor of Japan (1926)

Hirohito was the longest reigning Japanese monarch, ruling from 1926 to 1989. During his reign, militaristic Japan entered World War II and bombed Pearl Harbor. After the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, Hirohito pushed for surrender. He then broke the precedent of imperial silence by making a national radio broadcast to announce Japan’s surrender. After World War II, Hirohito changed the importance of the monarchy when he renounced what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Tangiwai Rail Disaster (1953)

On December 24, 1953, an overnight express train from Wellington to Auckland, New Zealand, was crossing a rail bridge over the Whangaehu River near Tangiwai when the bridge collapsed, sending the engine and first five carriages into the river. The sixth car teetered on the edge, giving a passersby and a guard time to save passengers before it plummeted into the river. Fortunately, the last five carriages remained on the tracks. What had weakened the bridge just minutes before the train arrived? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary