[That the Space Shuttle Columbia was both the first to become space-worthy (on mission STS-1, shown above, in April 1981) and almost the last one in history (following mission STS-107, launched on this day in 2003) is an irony not lost on the Pop Culture Institute; unfortunately, the same talking heads whose criticisms nearly scuttled NASA's Space Shuttle Program altogether following Columbia's tragic destruction seemed incapable of grasping the idea that space travel involves a lower risk for fatality than any other kind of travel, including anything involving a motor vehicle.]
27 BCE - The title Augustus was bestowed upon Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian by the Roman Senate, making the nephew and heir of Julius Caesar the first Emperor of Rome.
929 CE - Emir Abd-ar-Rahman III of Cordoba declared himself caliph, thereby establishing the Caliphate of Cordoba in what is now northern Spain.
1120 - The Council of Nablus was held, establishing the earliest surviving written laws of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which was established by Crusaders in 1099.
1362 - A great storm tide originating in the North Sea tore the German island of Strand in two and destroyed the wealthy city of Rungholt, as will happen along the Wadden Sea.
1547 - Ivan the Terrible was crowned Tsar of Russia having succeeded his father Vasili III in December 1533 and following the long regency of his mother, Elena Glinskaya.
1556 - The husband and king consort of England's Queen Mary I became King Philip II of Spain.
1605 - The first edition of El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (Book One of Don Quixote) by Miguel de Cervantes was published in Madrid.
1761 - British forces captured the Indian settlement of Puducherry from the French and did what the British usually did in such a situation: changed its name, to Pondicherry.
1809 - The British defeated the French at the Battle of La Coruña during the Peninsular War.
1847 - John C. Frémont was appointed Governor of the new California Territory, three days after the Treaty of Cahuenga ended the Mexican-American War.
1883 - In response to the assassination of President James Garfield by a disgruntled office-seeker, the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was passed by US Congress, establishing a civil service based on merit; sponsored by Senator George H. Pendleton (D-Ohio) and written by Dorman Bridgeman Eaton, the new law outlawed patronage and nepotism in the US government.
1938 - The famous jazz concert by the Benny Goodman Orchestra and special guests took place at Carnegie Hall in New York City, the first jazz performance in that venue.
1945 - Adolf Hitler moved into his underground bunker, the so-called Führerbunker.
1986 - The Internet Engineering Task Force first met.
1996 - Long-serving three-time Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou resigned from office for health reasons; he died the following June.
2001 - Congolese President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was assassinated by Rashidi Kasereka, one of his own bodyguards, who was also killed in the botched coup attempt.
2003 - Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off on the ill-starred mission STS-107 which would be its final one; Columbia disintegrated 16 days later over the southern US upon re-entry.
2005 - Adriana Iliescu became the oldest woman in the world to give birth, at age 66... The event also gave birth to some truly horrible jokes, some of which I'm not at all proud of myself for having thought them up.
2006 - Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as Liberia's new president, making her Africa's first female elected head of state.
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