[The Franklin Expedition exerts a strange pull over the Canadian psyche... In the same way island nations necessarily fear (and therefore revere) the sea, Canada's cultural identity is informed in just such a way by the North; our endless fascination with conquering it has long been tempered by its occasional retribution, the most spectacular incidence of which would be this one. Prompted mainly by Franklin's wife, Britain's Admiralty launched a search for the missing expedition in 1848; their efforts began yielding answers in 1850 with the discovery of relics on the east coast of Beechey Island, but the case isn't likely to ever be closed... In August 2008 Robert Grenier, a senior archaeologist with Parks Canada, and oral historian Dorothy Harley Eber began yet another quest for the doomed explorers.]
1535 - French explorer Jacques Cartier set sail on his second voyage to North America with three ships, 110 men, and Chief Donnacona's two sons (whom he'd kidnapped during his first voyage).
1536 - Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England's King Henry VIII, was beheaded for adultery.
1568 - England's Queen Elizabeth I had Mary, Queen of Scots, arrested upon her arrival in the town of Carlisle.
1649 - An Act declaring England a Commonwealth was passed by the so-called Long Parliament; the country would be a republic for the next eleven years, a time now known as the English Interregnum.
1780 - During New England's Dark Day a combination of thick smoke from forest fires, fog, and heavy cloud cover caused complete darkness to fall on Eastern Canada and the New England beginning at approximately 10:30 AM; the smoke, which didn't clear until the middle of the next night, was naturally taken by some to be a portent of the end times.
1802 - The Légion d'Honneur was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte, when he was still First Consul of the First Republic. Designed to replace all the royal orders swept away by the French Revolution, it remains the highest decoration in France today and is divided into five various degrees: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand'Croix (Grand Cross). The Order has a maximum quota of 75 Grand Cross, 250 Grand Officers, 1,250 Commanders, 10,000 Officers and 113,425 (ordinary) Knights; as of 2000 the actual membership was 61 Grand Cross, 321 Grand Officers, 3,626 Commanders, 22,401 Officers and 87,371 Knights. Some of the first were given out by Napoleon himself in August 1804 at a military camp near Boulogne.
1845 - HMS Erebus and HMS Terror with 134 men under John Franklin set sail from Greenhithe, a port east of London on the River Thames, beginning their disastrous expedition through the Canadian Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage; all hands were lost in that first winter to scurvy, hypothermia, tuberculosis, and lead poisoning.
1848 - Following the American victory in the Mexican-American War the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified by the Mexican Senate - having already been signed by both parties near Mexico City on February 2nd and ratified by the US on March 10th; the treaty ceded 1.36 million km² (525,000 square miles) of land including all of California, Nevada, and Utah along with parts of five other modern-day states for $15 million US.
1897 - Oscar Wilde was released from Reading Gaol, his health ruined and reputation in tatters, but his talent intact; while imprisoned Wilde wrote De Profundis, and upon his release he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, dedicated to fellow inmate Charles Thomas Wooldridge - a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards who was later executed at the facility for the murder of his wife Laura Ellen.
1961 - The Soviet Union's Venera 1 probe became the first man-made object to fly-by another planet when it passed Venus; however, it had lost contact with Earth a month earlier and did not send back data as it was intended to do.
1962 - A birthday salute to US President John F. Kennedy took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the highlight of which was Marilyn Monroe's infamous rendition of Happy Birthday; it would be her last public appearance before her death the following August.
1971 - The Mars 2 probe was launched by the Soviet Union.
1992 - Vice-President Dan Quayle criticized TV's Murphy Brown at a meeting of the Commonwealth Club of California saying, in part: '...Murphy Brown—a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman - [mocks] the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice'.' His comments were the butt of jokes throughout the summer, and even though the show's star Candice Bergen later said she agreed with the bulk of the speech, the show's season premiere that fall was the last word in revenge by comedy. Of course, he might have been taken more seriously had he been able to spell the word 'potato'...
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