[In its typically melodramatic Victorian style, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper depicted the attack on US President James Garfield by Charles Guiteau, which occurred shortly after 9:30 AM on this day in 1881; here we see the stricken Chief Executive being supported by Secretary of State James G. Blaine immediately following the shooting, which occurred at the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad in Washington, DC. In the background the assassin is shown being restrained by members of the public.]
310 CE - Miltiades was elected Pope to succeed Eusebius.
626 CE - Fearing assassination, Li Shimin ambushed and killed his rival brothers Li Yuanji and Li Jiancheng during the Incident at Xuanwu Gate; the following September Shimin's father Li Yuan abdicated in his favour and Shimin became Emperor of China as Taizong of Tang.
706 CE - Chinese Emperor Zhongzong of Tang had the remains of his father Gaozong of Tang, his wife and recently-deceased ruling empress Wu Zetian, her son Li Xian, her grandson Li Chongrun, and granddaughter Li Xianhui all re-interred in a new tomb complex known as the Qianling Mausoleum, which is located outside the former Tang capital Chang'an, on Mount Liang in Shaanxi province, 85 km (53 miles) northwest of Xi'an.
963 CE - The Byzantine Army proclaimed Nicephorus Phocas to be Emperor of the Romans on the plains outside Cappadocian Caesarea.
1298 - The Battle of Göllheim was fought between Albert I of Habsburg and Adolf of Nassau-Weilburg near the German town of Worms.
1494 - Pope Julius II's Treaty of Tordesillas - which divided the New World between Spain and Portugal - was ratified by Spain.
1644 - The Battle of Marston Moor was fought during the First English Civil War between an army of Royalists commanded by Prince Rupert of the Rhine and the Marquess of Newcastle against Parliamentarians under Lord Fairfax and the Earl of Manchester; the battle effectively ended the Siege of York.
1808 - Simon Fraser reached the Pacific Ocean near New Westminster - having left South Fort George in the interior of British Columbia with a party of 24 on May 28th and traveled along the river that would one day bear his name - on behalf of the North West Company.
1839 - Twenty miles off the coast of Cuba, 53 rebelling African slaves led by Joseph Cinque took over the slave ship La Amistad; 160 years later Steven Spielberg depicted these events in his film Amistad, in which Cinque was played with both grave determination and supreme hotness by Djimon Hounsou.
1878 - The Brighton Beach Line, connecting Prospect Park to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn by subway, opened; the route is now operated in New York City as the BMT Brighton Line.
1881 - Charles J. Guiteau shot and fatally wounded US President James Garfield, who eventually died in extreme agony - of a heart attack brought on by blood poisoning - on September 19th.
1890 - The US Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which called for the government to investigate and break up monopolies and cartels; although periodically altered over the ensuing years, it is the same law used to limit such crimes today.
1917 - The East St. Louis Riots ended with hundreds of whites marching into black neighbourhoods and setting fires, then cutting fire department hoses and shooting at those attempting to escape the flames.
1934 - The Night of the Long Knives ended with the death of Hitler's chief rival, Ernst Röhm.
1937 - Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan were last heard from over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first equatorial round-the-world flight in a Lockheed L-10E Electra purchased by Purdue University, where Earhart was a member of the faculty. An earlier attempt, begun on March 17th in Los Angeles, was called off in Honolulu following its first leg, owing to various mechanical faults with the aircraft; a second attempt was more successful, taking them 35,000 km (22,000 miles) in the opposite direction. Taking off from Lae in New Guinea and bound for Howland Island in the middle of the Pacific, the pair's last known coordinates were off the Nukumanu Islands, about 1,300 km (800 miles) into the final 11,000 km (7,000 miles) of their flight...
1962 - The first Wal-Mart store opened for business in Rogers, Arkansas, giving Satan a reason to smile.
1976 - North and South Vietnam, divided since 1954, reunited to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
1979 - The first US coin to honor a woman - the Susan B. Anthony dollar - was introduced; minted from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999, it was not a popular item, either because it depicted a rather dour looking woman or else because of the American fascination with the $1 bill. (After all, it's not easy to fill a stripper's g-string with coins.) The coin's reverse depicts the Apollo 11 moon mission. While Britain, Canada, and Australia have all replaced their smallest note with coins, Americans have been reluctant to embrace them - despite the preponderance of silver dollars and such which have been in circulation since 1794; currently, a program exists to honour all US Presidents with dollar coins, and perhaps these will prove a winner where similar coins honouring Eisenhower and Sacagawea have failed.
2008 - Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other FARC hostages - including Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell (three American military contractors employed by Northrop Grumman) and 11 Colombian military and police - were successfully rescued by the Colombian armed forces from their place of captivity in the jungles of Guaviare as part of Operation Jaque; not a single shot was fired.
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