April 30, 2011

April 30th: Walpurgis Night

Tonight is Walpurgis Night, when the boundaries between the worlds are especially thin. Read article here.

Photograph by David Castor, from Wikimedia Commons.

April 29, 2011

April 29th: the Peace Rose introduced in US, 1945

The Peace Rose was introduced in the US on April 29, 1945. It was created by Francis Meilland of France, who smuggled it out of France on the last plane leaving for the US before the German invasion. Read more.

Photo: The Peace Rose. By Hobbykafe, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons license.

April 28, 2011

April 28th: The Mutiny on the Bounty, 1789

This is Thursday October Christian, son of Fletcher Christian. Fletcher didn't want his son to have a name that reminded him of England, but apparently he didn't have anything against calendars.
Illustration by John Shillibeer, 1814.

Today is the anniversary of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Read more.here. 

April 27, 2011

April 27: the Duel of Les Mignons, 1578

A reenactment of a stupid duel killed several of the King's favorites. Read article here.

Pictured: Louis de Maugiron, one of Les Mignons.  Illustration by Humbert de Terrebasse, 1577

April 26, 2011

April 26th: John James Audubon's Birthday, 1785

Today is the birthday of John James Audubon. Was he really the Lost Dauphin? Read article here

Pictured: Trumpeter Swan by John James Audubon, 1838.


April 25, 2011

April 25: First Execution by Guillotine, 1792

Today is the anniversary of the first execution by guillotine. The condemned was Nicholas Jacques Pelletier. The execution was supposed to be humane. Read article here.

Pictured: the execution of Marie Antoinette, from a public domain illustration.

April 24, 2011

April 24th: Death of Daniel Defoe

His birth name was Foe, and he changed it to seem more "aristocrat-y". He survived the Great Plague, the Great Fire, the Great Storm, and the Monmouth Rebellion. Read article here.

Pictured: Daniel Defoe, by unknown 17th or 18th century painter.

April 23, 2011

April 23rd: Happy Birthday, Miguel de Cervantes

The author of the first modern novel got his idea while locked up in prison. The charge? Bad bookkeeping, or possibly theft.
Read more.

Pictured: Miguel de Cervantes, by Frederick Mackenzie, 1787-1854.

April 22, 2011

April 22nd: National Jelly Bean Day

If you've ever thought about the history of jelly beans at all, you might think they're a modern invention. Not so. Jelly beans -- or at least the ancestors of jelly beans -- to all the way back to at least the 15th century, and probably much further. Read article here.

Pictured: Turkish Delights, the ancestors of Jelly Beans. Photo by Chris Buttigieg, posted on Wikimedia Commons.

April 21, 2011

April 21: The Founding of Rome, 753 BC

Today is the anniversary of the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus. Read more here.

Pictured: The shepherd Faustulus brings home the babies. By Nicolas Mignard, 1654.

April 20, 2011

April 20th: Ashford v Thornton, 1818

On this day in 1818, Ashford v Thornton was concluded. Thornton, being charged the second time for the murder of Mar Ashford, claimed his right to Trial by Battle. Read what happened here.

Pictured: Lord Ellenborough, Lord Chief Justice at the trial.
"It is the law of England, Mr. Clarke; we must not call it murder."
Contemporary painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence.

April 19, 2011

April 19th: The Pragmatic Sanction

Charles VI issued the Pragmatic Solution so that a female could inherit the throne. He didn't even have a daughter yet.  Too bad no one honored it. Read article here.

Pictured: Marie Theresa, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, and mother of Marie Antoinette (and 15 other children.) Painting by Andreas Moeller, 1727.

April 18, 2011

April 18th: Paul Revere's Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five...

Most of us remember Paul Revere's Ride because of Longfellow, but the poet didn't quite have it right. Read article here. 

Pictured: Paul Revere in later life. A portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1813.

April 17, 2011

April 17th: Ellis Island admits record number of immigrants, 1907

Today is Ellis Island Family History Day, commemorating the day in 1907 when Ellis Island admitted a record number of immigrants: 11,747.

Pictured: Immigrants at Ellis Island in 1902. Library of Congress photo.

April 16, 2011

April 16th: Odysseus Slays the Suitors

Amazing. Odysseus MIGHT have been a real person. They think they know the exact date he slew the suitors (based an astronomical stuff) and they may have even found his tomb. Read more here.

Pictured: Odysseus slaying the suitors. Illustration by Gustav Benjamin Schwab (1792 - 1850)

April 15, 2011

April 15th: Death of Madame de Pompadour, 1764

After two miscarriages, the Marquise de Pompadour was unable to service King Louis XV sexually, but her beauty, charm, and intelligence served her well. She kept her position as chief mistress until her death.
Read complete article.

Pictured: Painting by Francois Boucher, about 1750.

April 14, 2011

April 14: First Presidential Opening Day Pitch

William Howard Taft threw out the first Presidential Opening Day Pitch on April 14, 1910. He wasn't the one who originated the custom, however. Read article here.

Picture by George Grantham Bain, now in public domain. From Wikimedia Commons. 

April 13, 2011

April 13th: Thomas Jefferson's Birthday

Thomas Jefferson was quite an inventor. One of his inventions was a polygraph, a machine for making duplicate copies of a written work. (Well, actually, it was an improvement on somebody else's invention.) Read complete article. 

Pictured: Jefferson' polygraph. Public Domain illustration from Wikimedia Commons.

April 12, 2011

April 12th: The Union Jack, 1606

Today the Union Jack is 405 years old. Read how it was created here.

Pictured: The Union Jack today. From Wikimedia Commons. Original by James I of England, SVG creation by Zscout370.

April 11, 2011

April 11th - Stone of Scone Returned (Temporarily)

On this day in 1951, the Stone of Scone was discovered on the altar of the Abbey of Arbroath. It had to go back to Westminster, but it came home to roost in Scotland eventually. Read complete article here.

Pictured: The Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey. That pocket in the seat is for the Stone of Scone. Anonymous Engraving, 1855.

April 10, 2011

April 10th: Invention of the Safety Pin

It was on this day in 1849 that Walter Hunt patented the safety pin. Then he sold it for $400, so that he could repay a $15 loan. Read more.

Pictured: an Etruscan fibula, forerunner of the safety pin. Note the spring on the lower left side, and the clasp on the right. From Wikimedia Commons, by Katie Chao and Ben Muessig.

April 9, 2011

April 9th: Jumbo Comes to America

Jumbo was one of the most famous elephants ever. Today's the anniversary of his first day in the United States.

Pictured: a 1885 photograph of Jumbo and his trainer, Matthew Scott.

April 8, 2011

April 8th: Birthday of Elizabeth Custer

Elizabeth Custer devoted her life to a publicity campaign for her husband. She didn't make out too badly financially, either. Read more. 

Photo by George L. Andrews, now in public domain.

April 7, 2011

April 7th: FirstSelf-Igniting Match SoldP

The early days of matches are fascinating. From matches that required their own jar of sulfuric acid to matches that could rot your jaw and steal your sanity. Read more.

Picture: by Jef-Infojef, on Wikimedia Commons.

April 6, 2011

April 6th: Declaration of Arbroath

Today marks the 691st anniversary of the Declaration of Abroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence. Read more.

Pictured: the ruins of Arbroath Abbey, where the Declaration of Arbroath was written. Photo by Bill Boaden, published on Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons License.

April 5, 2011

April 5th: W-A-T-E-R

On this day in 1887, Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller made their great breakthrough. Read more.

Pictured: Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, 1888. Picture from New England Historic Genealogical Society, from Wikimedia Commons.

April 4, 2011

April 4th : The Peace Symbol Displayed in London, 1958

It was a peace march supported by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The peace sign may have been inspired by this painting by Francisco de Goya. Read more here.

Pictured: The Third of May, Francisco Goya,

April 3rd: Leslie Howard's Birthday, 1893

Leslie Howard, the British actor who played Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, may have been a British spy in real life. Read more here.

Picture: Gone with the Wind trailer screenshot, now in public domain

April 2nd: Commodore William James Captures Pirate Fortress, 1755

It might not be fair to call them "pirates", but that's what the East India Company called them. They called themselves the Maratha Empire Navy. Read article here.

Picture: Severndroog Folly, public domain

April 1, 2011

April 1st: End of Cigarette Advertising on TV

On April 1st, 1970, legislation was passed banning cigarette advertising on TV. It was a different story in the 50's and 60's. Read article here.

Picture by Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin from Chalakudy, India and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.