[Try as they might to imagine they'd achieved dominion over the Earth, the Victorians were too often let down by their early attempts at civil engineering; one such event was the flood caused by a dam failure at Low Bradfield, which destroyed 800 houses and killed 240 as it swept inexorably down the River Loxley toward Sheffield.]
1708 - Queen Anne withheld Royal Assent from the Scottish Militia Bill, apparently; it was the last time a British monarch vetoed legislation.
1801 - Eccentric, tyrannical Paul I (the son of Catherine the Great) was assassinated by a group of thirty Russian nobles led by Count von Benningsen (on the orders of the Tsar's most trusted advisor, Count Peter Alekseyevich Pahlen) after refusing to abdicate; he was succeeded by his son Alexander I.
1824 - The United States War Department created the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which ought to give one some idea of the US government's attitude towards its indigenous peoples.
1845 - In New Zealand, Chiefs Hone Heke and Kawiti led 700 Māoris to chop down the flagpole and drive settlers out of Kororareka owing to the British settlers there having breached 1840's Treaty of Waitangi; the incident would cause the so-called Flagstaff War.
1848 - Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin became the first Prime Ministers of the Province of Canada to be democratically elected under what was then a uniquely Canadian interpretation of the Westminster system known as responsible government.
1851 - Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto made its debut at La Fenice in Venice.
1861 - The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted.
1864 - The Great Sheffield Flood - the worst man-made disaster in English history - killed over 240 people when the newly-built Dale Dyke Dam broke; these events have formed the basis for Phil Parkin's 2004 documentary The Forgotten Flood.
1867 - Giuseppe Verdi's opera Don Carlos debuted at the Paris Opéra.
1872 - Japan's Meiji government officially annexed the Ryukyu Kingdom into what would become the Okinawa prefecture.
1888 - What later became known as the Great Blizzard of '88 began along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, blanketing parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut in more than 100 cm of snow, shutting down commerce and killing more than 400.
1927 - Samuel Roxy Rothafel opened the Roxy Theatre in New York City.
1941 - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act into law, allowing American-built war supplies to be shipped to the Allies on loan.
1959 - The original Broadway production of A Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry - and starring (among others) Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Louis Gossett Jr. - opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City.
1985 - Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet leader following the death of Konstantin Chernenko.
1990 - Lithuania declared itself independent from the Soviet Union during the so-called Singing Revolution.
1993 - Janet Reno was confirmed by the US Senate as the first female Attorney General of the United States; she was sworn in the following day.
1996 - John Winston Howard became the 25th Prime Minister of Australia; his would be the 2nd longest term in Australian history - only Sir Robert Menzies served longer - lasting until December 2007, when his Liberal/National coalition was defeated at the polls by the Australian Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd.
2006 - Michelle Bachelet was inaugurated as the first female president of Chile.
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