Category Archives: This day in History

The Battle of the Herrings (1429)

The meatless days of Lent were approaching when Sir John Fastolf set off from Paris with hundreds of wagons laden with weapons and barrels of herring to resupply the English troops that had been laying siege to the French town of Orléans for months. Engaged by thousands of French troops attempting to sever his supply route, Fastolf made a defensive formation with his wagons, lending the battle its name. What group’s poorly timed attempt to help the French may have caused them to lose the battle? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Tewodros II Crowned Emperor of Ethiopia (1855)

Often called Ethiopia’s first modern ruler, Tewodros was a bold and clever warrior who came to the throne through the conquest of other chiefs, reunifying the various Ethiopian kingdoms into one empire. He attempted to modernize the country, abolish feudalism and slavery, and focus loyalty around the government rather than the church but failed to achieve this during his reign. His later years were marked with instability and cruelty. Why did he assume the name Tewodros upon taking the throne? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Opens on Broadway (1949)

Considered Miller’s masterpiece, Death of a Salesman won a Pulitzer Prize, a Tony Award for Best Play, and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play award in its first year. An unconventional tragedy, it tells the story of the last day of Willy Loman, a failed salesman betrayed by his own hollow values. The play follows Loman’s stream of consciousness. As he talks to people from his past, those from his present wonder if he is unraveling. What famous actors have played Loman? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Beatles Kick Off the British Invasion on The Ed Sullivan Show (1964)

Hailed as a milestone in American pop culture, the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show attracted a record 73 million viewers—the majority of Americans watching television that night. As the band’s first concert in the US, the event effectively marked the beginning of the “British Invasion.” The band opened with “All My Loving” in front of hundreds of screaming teenage fans. What caption accompanied John Lennon’s name when it appeared on-screen over a close-up of his face? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Champion Race Horse Abducted, Never to be Seen Again (1983)

Two years after his record-setting win at the Epsom Derby, the acclaimed Irish racehorse Shergar was loaded into a trailer at gunpoint and abducted by a gang of masked men. At that time, the retired 1981 “European Horse of the Year” commanded a stud fee upwards of £50,000 and was thus extremely valuable. The horse’s owners refused to pay the demanded ransom, and police were unable to find him. Shergar was never seen again. Who may have taken him, and what is believed to have been his fate? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The New Madrid Earthquake (1812)

One of the largest earthquakes ever to strike the US—and possibly one of the strongest earthquakes in human history—the New Madrid earthquake is said to have made the Mississippi River run backwards, permanently changing its course and redefining state boundaries. Though it struck a sparsely populated area near modern-day New Madrid, Missouri, the quake was felt across the country, ringing church bells as far away as Boston, Massachusetts. What large lake did it create in Tennessee? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Dalton Gang Holds Up Its First Train (1891)

After US Marshall Frank Dalton was killed in the line of duty, three of his nine brothers—Bob, Grat, and Emmett—became lawmen themselves. However, they soon decided that they preferred the other side of the law. Aided by another Dalton brother, Bill, the gang held up its first train in 1891. It did not go well. Undeterred, the brothers embarked on a train-robbing spree across much of the western US, which ended when the townspeople of Coffeyville, Kansas, saw through what unsuccessful disguise? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Morecambe Bay Cockling Disaster (2004)

At low tide, the sand flats of England’s Morecambe Bay are rich in cockles, or edible saltwater clams. However, gathering them can be dangerous, as the bay is subject to treacherous, fast-moving tides. In 2004, 23 Chinese immigrants who had been at work collecting cockles on the sand flats drowned after becoming trapped by the incoming tide. The leader of the group was later convicted of manslaughter for failing to warn them about the tide. Whose attempt to warn them unfortunately went unheeded? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Karen Carpenter Dies of Anorexia-Related Heart Failure (1983)

Anorexia nervosa was a little-known disorder during Carpenter’s life, but her death brought it lasting media attention. Performing alongside her brother Richard as half of the Carpenters duo, she had become a successful pop singer in the 1970s. Behind the scenes, however, her obsessive dieting and extreme weight fluctuations took a toll on her health, straining her heart. She succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 32. What is her husband said to have thrown into the casket at her funeral? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Contested Kentucky Governor Dies of Gunshot Wounds (1900)

At the time he was shot on the grounds of Kentucky’s state capitol, William Goebel was not a well-liked man—nor had he technically won the heavily contested 1899 Kentucky gubernatorial election. However, he lived just long enough to be declared governor and sworn into office, making him the only state governor in US history to have been assassinated. The identity of his assassin remains a mystery. Several years before his murder, Goebel shot a political foe in the head. What prompted their duel? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary