Category Archives: This day in History

Voters Reject Proposal to Establish Australia as a Republic (1999)

The British began settling Australia in 1788, and before long, the entire continent was a British dependency. Over the years, Britain’s role in Australian government has been progressively restricted, yet Australians remain reluctant to entirely cut ties, as evidenced by the 1999 referendum in which voters rejected a plan to establish Australia as a republic and replace the British monarch as head of state with a president elected by parliament. What other measure did they strike down? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Publishing Magnate Robert Maxwell Dies Mysteriously at Sea (1991)

A Czechoslovakian Jew, Maxwell fled to the UK during World War II and joined the British army. After the war, he purchased publishing house Pergamon Press. The company’s success helped him win election to Parliament in 1964, but a 1969 financial scandal cost him control of Pergamon and his political career. He regained control of the company in 1974 and rejuvenated and expanded his empire. What did investigators discover about Maxwell’s business dealings after his mysterious drowning death? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

"Genie" the Feral Child Discovered by California Authorities (1970)

One of the worst known cases of child abuse and social isolation in American history is that of “Genie,” a girl forced to spend the first 13 years of her life alone in her bedroom, most of the time strapped to a potty chair. She was never spoken to and was apparently beaten if she attempted to speak. By the time she was discovered by authorities, she was nearly mute—her vocabulary consisted of about 20 words and a few short phrases. What did experts hope to learn by studying Genie? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Christopher Columbus First Sights the Caribbean Island of Dominica (1493)

On the first Sunday in November 1493, Christopher Columbus spotted a mountainous island between Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Sea. Ignoring the fact that its Carib inhabitants already had a name for the island, Columbus renamed it Dominica, the Latin name for the day of the week on which he spotted it. The Caribs managed to resist Spanish efforts to colonize the island but were unable to fend off the British and French. When did Dominica finally gain its independence? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

First and Only Flight of the "Spruce Goose" (1947)

A few years before going into complete seclusion, millionaire aviator and airplane manufacturer Howard Hughes built and piloted the only flight of the Hughes H-4 Hercules, the largest flying boat—indeed the largest airplane—in history. He designed the seaplane as a troop and materiel transport for the US War Department and manufactured it almost entirely from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum. Though nicknamed the “Spruce Goose,” it was actually primarily made of what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ivy Mike: First Successful Test of a Hydrogen Bomb (1952)

Years before the atomic bomb was developed, Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi, and other American nuclear physicists set their sights on developing a weapon with even greater destructive potential—the hydrogen bomb. Their designs would not be realized, however, until after the development of the A-bomb, which is needed to generate the temperatures required to initiate H-bombs’ fusion reactions. How did Teller, thousands of miles away during the “Ivy Mike” test, know almost immediately of its success? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Harry Houdini Makes His Final Escape (1926)

Born Erik Weisz, Harry Houdini was an American magician and escape artist. He was famous for escaping from locks, handcuffs, straitjackets, and even sealed chests underwater, thanks to his incredible strength, agility, and skill at manipulating locks. His strength likely carried him through his last performance on October 24, 1926, while suffering from acute appendicitis. He was hospitalized and died on October 31. What strange occurrence in his dressing room contributed to his death? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Bridge Spans the Bosphorus to Connect Europe and Asia (1973)

The shores of the Bosphorus Strait were once lined with fortifications built by Byzantine emperors and Ottoman sultans protecting Constantinople. Today, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges spans the Bosphorus, linking European Turkey with Asian Turkey. The bridge was completed on October 30, 1973—one day after the Turkish republic’s 50th anniversary. A second bridge was finished in 1988. What is not allowed to cross the Bosphorus Bridge? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Sir Walter Raleigh Is Executed for Treason (1618)

Raleigh was an English explorer, courtier, and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, whom he famously—according to the story—protected from a puddle by laying down his cloak. After King James I took the throne, however, Raleigh was accused of plotting against the king, was arrested, and lost many of his offices and monopolies. He was also found guilty, on somewhat insufficient evidence, of conspiring with Spain against England. Raleigh was not actually executed, though, until 1618, after what happened? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Maxentius Becomes Emperor of Rome (306 CE)

Shortly after Roman co-emperors Diocletian and Maximian retired, Maximian’s successor, Constantius, died. The Romans, discontented with the shift of power away from Rome, supported Maximian’s son, Maxentius, who claimed the throne. His father came out of retirement to help him when Severus and Galerius claimed the throne and tried to overthrow him. Severus was compelled to surrender, and Galerius withdrew. Maxentius and his father fell out, however, and Maxentius was defeated by whom in 312 CE? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary