[Although the US government now maintains that the strange craft seen above New Mexico on this day in 1947 was a spy balloon known as Mogul, at a press conference the following day an official with the Roswell Army Air Field referred to the materials recovered as being from 'a flying disc'; it wasn't until noted ufologist Stanton T. Friedman interviewed Major Jesse Marcel in 1978, however, that the conspiracy theories began flying almost as fast as those crazy flying saucers the kids are so wild about...]
1456 - At the insistence of France's King Charles VII Joan of Arc was acquitted of heresy by the Inquisitor-General Jean Brehal at a so-called 'nullification retrial' authorized by Pope Callixtus III; held 25 years after an ecclesiastical trial called by her English captors and presided over by Bishop Pierre Cauchon found her guilty and ordered her burned at the stake, the phrase 'too little too late' leaps immediately to mind...
1585 - The Treaty of Nemours - signed by Queen Mother Catherine de' Medici and representatives of the House of Guise - abolished what little tolerance (official or otherwise) that had once been shown toward the Huguenots of France.
1777 - During the American Revolution the Battle of Hubbardton pitted the American forces of Seth Warner, Ebenezer Francis, and Nathan Hale against the British, commanded by Simon Fraser and Baron Friedrich Adolf Riedesel of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in the territory of the New Hampshire Grants (modern-day Vermont). Both an American strategic victory and a British tactical victory, the engagement (near the middle of the Saratoga campaign, following the withdrawal from Fort Ticonderoga) cost the Americans a commander in Francis, who died in battle, and saw Hale surrender both himself and a detachment of 70 men to the British; it did, however, convince the French to enjoin the battle on the American side, giving them and their cause a much needed boost when it mattered most.
1798 - The US Congress rescinded its various treaties with France, sparking the Quasi-War.
1807 - The Peace of Tilsit between France, Prussia and Russia ended the Fourth Coalition, marking the start of a new phase in the Napoleonic Wars.
1846 - Near the outset of the Mexican-American War American troops occupied Monterey and Yerba Buena (modern-day San Francisco), while Commodore John Drake Sloat undertook a naval blockade of the harbour at Yerba Buena - thus beginning the US conquest of Alta California.
1865 - Four of the co-conspirators in the assassination of US President Abraham Lincoln - Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt - were hanged before an audience of more than 1,000 at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary in Washington, DC; Suratt, in fact, was the first woman in US history to be executed by the federal government.
1892 - The Revolutionary Philippine Brotherhood known as Katipunan was established; their activities would contribute to the fall of the Spanish Empire in Asia.
1898 - US President William McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution, annexing the sovereign nation of Hawaii as a territory of the United States.
1915 - A Great Gorge and International Railway trolley with an extreme overload of 157 passengers crashed near Queenston, Ontario, killing 15.
1928 - Sliced bread was sold for the first time by Missouri's Chillicothe Baking Company; described as 'the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped', this little bit of advertising hyperbole gave rise to the expression 'the greatest thing since sliced bread'.
1930 - Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser began construction of the Boulder Dam, which is now known as Hoover Dam.
1937 - During the Battle of Lugou Bridge, the Imperial Japanese Army overwhelmed China's National Revolutionary Army and invaded Beijing, provoking the Second Sino-Japanese War.
1946 - Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini was canonized by Pope Pius XII, the first American to be so honoured.
1947 - The alleged and disputed Roswell UFO Incident took place... Or did it?
1953 - Ernesto 'Che' Guevara set out on a trip through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador... Although less well-known than the nine-month journey around South America in 1952 which later became famous when its exploits were published as The Motorcycle Diaries, the 1953 trip was equally crucial in the development of Guevara as a committed foe of imperialism and capitalism - embodied throughout this particular journey by the United Fruit Company. It was also during this trip that Che married his first wife, Hilda Gadea Acosta.
1978 - The Solomon Islands became independent from the United Kingdom.
1983 - At the height of the Cold War, Samantha Smith, an American schoolgirl, visited the Soviet Union at the invitation of Secretary General Yuri Andropov; Smith had written a letter to Andropov which captured his - and shortly thereafter the world's - attention.
2007 - Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter entitled Summorum Pontificum, removing restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass - all part of a modernization campaign by a hip, cutting-edge papacy*.
*Uh, yeah... Sarcasm!
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