[1812 has been called the worst year in British history by BBC History magazine - not least because it saw the Prime Minister murdered... While readers of the Daily Mail may disagree, who gives a shit about them, their reactionary fascism, and shocking lack of historical perspective anyway?]
1812 - British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons - the only head of government in that country's history to have met such a fate - whereupon he was removed to 10 Downing Street for the five days prior to his burial. Bellingham shot the Prime Minister in retaliation for financial reverses he'd suffered; a week later he was hanged for his crime, after which his widow and children were provided with a hefty sum raised by public subscription.
1820 - The HMS Beagle was launched at Woolwich Dockyard near London; the vessel remained unused for six years, when it was refitted as survey barque in preparation for use by Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage.
1867 - Following the Luxembourg Crisis that country gained its independence from Holland under the terms of the Second Treaty of London.
1934 - A two-day storm removed massive amounts of topsoil from the American Great Plains in one of the worst events of the Dust Bowl.
1970 - Henry 'Dickie' Marrow was murdered by Robert Teel and his sons Roger and Gerald (who had been a childhood friend of Marrow's) in Oxford, North Carolina - apparently for speaking to Teel's daughter. When an all-white jury exonerated all three murderers, the town's black community went on a rampage, burning and pillaging many of its buildings. The story is related in Timothy Tyson's book Blood Done Sign My Name, which is currently being made into a motion picture by writer-director Jeb Stuart.
1971 - The Daily Sketch - then Britain's oldest tabloid (having been founded in 1909 by Sir Edward Hulton) - closed.
1981 - The musical Cats premiered in the West End's glittering London; it closed 21 years later to the day in 2002.
1987 - Klaus Barbie went on trial in Lyon for war crimes committed during World War II.
1997 - IBM Deep Blue, a chess-playing supercomputer, defeated Garry Kasparov in the last game of the rematch, becoming the first computer to beat a world-champion chess player.
2002 - Dutch Princess Margriet unveiled the Man With Two Hats monument in Ottawa - having previously unveiled an identical one in Apeldoorn - symbolically linking the two countries, commemorating their relationship throughout World War II.
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