Category Archives: This day in History

Philippine Opposition Leader Benigno Aquino, Jr., Is Assassinated (1983)

Aquino, leader of the Philippines’ Liberal Party, was planning to run for president in 1972 when Ferdinand Marcos, the incumbent, declared martial law and had Aquino arrested on inflated charges. Aquino served eight years in prison, at one point demonstrating against his sentence with a 40-day hunger strike. In 1980, he was released to go to the US for heart-bypass surgery. After three years in exile, he returned to the Philippines and was immediately assassinated. Why had Aquino gone back? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Infamous Menendez Brothers Murder Their Parents (1989)

The trials of Lyle and Erik Menendez for the cold-blooded murders of their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion captivated the nation. The “bereaved” sons initially escaped suspicion, but in the months after the murders, they went on a spending spree with their parents’ money, to the tune of over $1 million, that raised a few eyebrows. Still, the pair might never have been arrested, and ultimately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, had not who come forward? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Little Person Eddie Gaedel Has Major League Debut (1951)

At 43 inches (1.1 m) tall, Gaedel became the shortest player in the history of Major League Baseball when he made a single plate appearance for the St. Louis Browns in 1951. He arrived on the field inside a replica cake honoring the American League’s 50th anniversary, amusing the crowd by popping out of it. No one suspected his true reason for being there. Browns owner Bill Veeck—a showman fond of publicity stunts—had put Gaedel on the roster. What happened when Gaedel stepped up to the plate? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Priest Urbain Grandier Burned at the Stake for Witchcraft (1634)

Grandier was a 17th-century French Catholic priest who was accused of bewitching the nuns of the Ursuline convent. Although he was acquitted by an ecclesiastical council, Grandier had published scathing criticisms of Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister and virtual ruler of France, who arranged to have him re-tried. Accused of having entered a pact with the devil, Grandier was tortured, found guilty, and burned at the stake. What was presented as evidence of the Grandier’s diabolical pact? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Double Eagle II Becomes First Balloon to Cross the Atlantic (1978)

By 1978, there had been at least 14 failed attempts to cross the Atlantic by balloon, during which five people died. One of the failures was that of the Double Eagle I in 1977. A year later, however, Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman landed the Double Eagle II in a field in Miserey, France, 137 hours after leaving Presque Isle, Maine. After their successful flight, the trio drew straws to determine who would get to sleep in a bed at the US Embassy once slept in by whom? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Peterloo Massacre (1819)

On August 16, 1819, 60,000 men, women, and children gathered at St. Peter’s Field in Manchester, England, to protest unemployment and high food prices. To disperse the gathering, city officials sent in the untrained volunteer cavalry, which attacked the unarmed crowd with sabers. At least 11 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded. The incident, likened to the Battle of Waterloo, sparked widespread indignation. In 2007, a memorial plaque at the site was changed to include what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Cameroon's Lake Monoun Explodes, Suffocating 37 (1984)

The explosion at Cameroon’s Lake Monoun, which killed 37 people, at first baffled investigators. It was only after a similar event at nearby Lake Nyos two years later claimed the lives of 1,700 people that experts determined that high concentration of carbon dioxide in the lakes had caused the suffocating limnic eruptions. Venting pipes were inserted into Lake Monoun to remove the gas and prevent future eruptions. How many lakes in the world are susceptible to this sort of deadly gas release? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Final Public Execution in the US (1936)

In 1936, convicted rapist Rainey Bethea was sentenced to be hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky, at a time when such hangings were conducted publicly. Because the county sheriff supervising the execution was a woman, the case sparked national press coverage, and up to 20,000 spectators gathered to watch the event, the last of its kind in the US. Two years later, the Kentucky legislature officially put an end to public executions. How did newspaper reports depict the hanging? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Berlin Wall Goes Up (1961)

After World War II, the Soviet Union occupied East Berlin while control of West Berlin was split between the US, the UK, and France. From 1949 to 1961, more than 2 million East Germans fled to West Germany to escape Communist rule before the wall was built to stop the tide of defectors. First constructed of barbed wire and erected at night, the barrier was eventually replaced by a concrete structure studded with watchtowers manned by East German soldiers. What was the “Death Strip”? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Russian Submarine K-141 Kursk Sinks in Barents Sea (2000)

While completing naval exercises with dummy torpedoes on August 12, 2000, the Russian submarine Kursk suffered two explosions two minutes and 15 seconds apart. The second explosion registered about a 3.5 on the Richter scale. The blasts destroyed the front hull, and all 118 crew members died. It was initially believed that the entire crew died quickly. However, what evidence later suggested that some survived in another area of the submarine for about four hours after the explosions? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary