Feudalism Abolished in France (1789)
Less than a month after the storming of the Bastille, the National Assembly held a meeting in which the nobles and clergy, driven partly by fear and partly by an outburst of idealism, relinquished their manorial rights. In the course of a few hours, nobles, clergy, towns, provinces, companies, and cities lost their special privileges. Shortly afterward, the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen
1809: Prince Metternich, who will dominate European affairs for much of the next four decades, becomes foreign minister of the Austrian Habsburg empire.
In 1882, the famous feud between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky erupted into full-scale violence as one member of the Hatfield clan was mortally wounded by three McCoy brothers, who ended up being slain in turn.
Ferdinand Magellan Sets Sail to Circumnavigate Globe (1519)
Magellan's expedition sailed down the South American coast, through the Straight of Magellan, and across the Pacific Ocean, which Magellan himself named. The voyage proved definitively the roundness of the earth and revealed the Americas as a new world, separate from Asia. Though Magellan is often credited with being the first to circumnavigate the globe, he himself died in the Philippines and never returned to Europe.
Cortés Conquers Tenochtitlán (1521)
Tenochtitlán was the flourishing capital of the Aztec Empire with an estimated population of between 200,000 and 300,000, a unique system of lake agriculture known as chinampas, and a ceremonial precinct that contained a great pyramid sacred to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli. Hernán Cortés was routed from the city in 1520, but returned a year later, took the city after a three-month siege, and razed it
Today's Highlight in History:
On Aug. 18, 1587, Virginia Dare became the first child of English parents to be born on American soil, on what is now Roanoke Island, N.C. (However, the colony she was born into ended up mysteriously disappearing.)
On this date:
In 1838, the first marine expedition sponsored by the U.S. government set sail from Hampton Roads, Va.; the crews traveled the southern Pacific Ocean, gathering scientific information.
In 1846, U.S. forces led by Gen. Stephen W. Kearny captured Santa Fe, N.M.
In 1894, Congress established the Bureau of Immigration.
In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the right of all American women to vote, was ratified as Tennessee became the 36th state to approve it.
In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King dedicated the Thousand Islands Bridge connecting the United States and Canada.
In 1958, the novel "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov was first published in New York by G.P. Putnam's Sons, almost three years after the book was originally published in Paris.
In 1963, James Meredith became the first black student to graduate from the University of Mississippi.
In 1969, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair ended in Sullivan County, N.Y., with a mid-morning set performed by Jimi Hendrix.
In 1976, two U.S. Army officers were killed in Korea's demilitarized zone as a group of North Korean soldiers wielding axes and metal pikes attacked U.S. and South Korean soldiers.
In 1983, Hurricane Alicia slammed into the Texas coast, leaving 21 dead and causing more than a billion dollars' worth of damage.
Ten years ago: A day after his grand jury testimony, President Clinton left Washington on a vacation with his family. Meanwhile, some lawmakers called for Clinton to resign in the wake of his admissions concerning Monica Lewinsky, while a spokeswoman for Hillary Rodham Clinton said the first lady "believes in this marriage."
Ceiling of Sistine Chapel Completed (1512)
In 1508, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The work was completed in 1512 and features over 300 biblical figures and nine episodes from the Book of Genesis. Below these scenes are the statuesque figures of prophets and sibyls, with episodes from the Old Testament in the spandrels. The last great work Michelangelo executed in the chapel was The Last Judgment
First Tuatara Nest Found in 200 Years
The sole survivor of the reptilian order Rhynchocephalia, the tuatara is a rare reptile with lineage dating back to the age of dinosaurs. They are found only on certain islands off New Zealand and in wildlife sanctuaries cleared of predators such as rats. The introduction of such predators to the country’s three main islands nearly drove the reptiles to extinction in the 1700s. The discovery of four small eggs in a nest on New Zealand’s mainland was the first such find in about 200 years and is the first concrete proof that the tuatara there are breeding. The unique, dragon-like reptiles have remained unchanged for 220 million years and are considered to be "living fossils
Wilhelm Röntgen Discovers X-Rays (1895)
While experimenting with electricity, Röntgen, a German physicist, observed peculiar wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation that he called X-rays. His discovery, which gave medicine a critical view inside the body and allowed bones to be photographed, remains a valuable tool in the diagnosis of numerous medical conditions. In 1901, Röntgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize for Physics.
Carter Breaches Entrance to Tutankhamun's Tomb (1922)
When Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the tomb of the Egyptian King Tutankhamun, they were the first people to do so in approximately 3,000 years. The pharaoh's tomb was then the best preserved and most intact ever found in the Valley of the Kings. The discovery received worldwide press coverage and renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun remains a popular icon.
Batista Leads a Successful Coup in Cuba (1952)
In 1933, Army sergeant Fulgencio Batista and other coup leaders ousted the Cuban Céspedes government and installed Ramón Grau as president. Just months later, however, Batista forced Grau's resignation and became Cuba's de facto ruler. After a brief period of exile beginning in 1944, Batista returned to Cuba and once again led a coup to seize power
Bureau of Indian Affairs Created (1824)
Though the Bureau of Indian Affairs was given jurisdiction over trade with Native Americans and was responsible for protecting them from exploitation, it had little success safeguarding Native American rights and, instead, evolved primarily into a land-administering agency. It now acts as trustee over Native American lands and funds, promotes development, and provides Native Americans with various social services.
Ferdinand Magellan Reaches the Philippines (1521)
Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan set sail from Spain on September 20, 1519, with five vessels and about 265 men. Sighting the South American coast near Pernambuco, he searched for a suspected passage to the South Sea and ultimately discovered the strait that bears his name. On March 6, 1521, Magellan reached the Marianas and 10 days later the Philippines, where he was killed in a battle with the natives