[Given the scrupulously honest dealings the British have had with indigenous peoples in other parts of the world, it would have surprised me more if they hadn't tried to pull something on the Maoris of New Zealand on this day in 1840, with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi; they did, so my worldview is safe! It seems the wordings of the English and Maori versions differ, to such an extent that a legion of lawyers have been kept busy ever since trying to sort it out, which may be the greatest evil of all; since 1975 this has been the responsibility of the Waitangi Tribunal. Despite the inequities which remain between whites and indigenous peoples there, Waitangi Day is still celebrated as a national holiday in New Zealand, marked by the awarding of the Order of New Zealand honours.]
1685 - James II of England and VII of Scotland became King upon the death of his brother Charles II, unleashing a sectarian shit-storm of epic proportions which only ended when William of Orange succeeded in hounding him out of the country in December 1688 during the so-called Glorious Revolution.
1740 - Pope Clement XII died; he was succeeded by Benedict XIV on August 17th.
1788 - Massachusetts became the sixth US state.
1815 - The first American railroad charter was granted, to John Stevens for his New Jersey Railroad.
1819 - Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founded Singapore.
1840 - The Treaty of Waitangi - drafted by William Hobson with the help of his secretary, James Freeman and Resident Minister James Busby - was signed by the British and the Māori at Busby's house (now known as Treaty House) marking the foundation of New Zealand.
1843 - The first ever minstrel show - starring a troupe calling itself the Virginia Minstrels - opened at the Bowery Amphitheatre in New York City.
1862 - During the American Civil War Union general Ulysses S. Grant gave the United States its first victory when he captured Fort Henry, Tennessee, following the Battle of Fort Henry.
1922 - Achille Ratti became Pope Pius XI.
1934 - A botched coup attempt by right-wing extremists at the Palais Bourbon failed to topple France's Third Republic.
1936 - The fourth Olympic Winter Games opened in Germany, at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
1952 - England's King George VI died in his sleep at Sandringham House; he was succeeded by his daughter, who became Elizabeth II while staying at Treetops Hotel in Kenya.
1958 - Seven players for Manchester United were killed - Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, and Liam 'Billy' Whelan instantly, Duncan Edwards of his injuries 15 days later - in the Munich air disaster, along with co-pilot Kenneth 'Ken' Rayment, cabin steward Tom Cable, three members of Man United's staff, eight journalists, and two supporters; there were also 21 survivors.
1971 - Astronaut Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the Moon.
1987 - Justice Mary Gaudron became the first woman appointed to the High Court of Australia.
1989 - The so-called Roundtable Talks began in Poland, oddly enough resulting in the Polish Roundtable Agreement; by May 1990, similar talks would be held in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Bulgaria, thus marking the onset of the overthrow of communist rule in Eastern Europe.
1993 - Tennis star Arthur Ashe died of complications arising from AIDS, which he contracted from a tainted blood sample received during open heart surgery in 1983.
1998 - Corsican prefect Claude Erignac was assassinated in Ajaccio, presumably by Yvan Colonna.
2005 - Britain's Tony Blair became the Labour Party's longest-serving Prime Minister with his 2,838th day on the job - surpassing Harold Wilson, who was PM twice from 1964–1970 and 1974-1976.
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