Saturday, August 31, 2013

Jack the Ripper (#62, August 31st)


In the mid-1800s, many immigrants were flooding into London, mainly into London's East End. Irish immigrants were coming from the West, and Jewish Immigrants were coming from the East. The sudden jump in population led to worsening of conditions in London. On April 3rd, 1888, the first of eleven "Whitechapel Murders" took place in London's East End.


During the investigation process of these eleven murders, at least five are assumed to have been committed by the same person, who became known as Jack the Ripper. On August 31st, 1888, the body of Mary Ann Nichols was found, with her throat cut and her abdomen ripped open. From that date to November 9th, 1888, there were four more murders, each similar to the one described above. Each murder victim was a poor women, and each body was mutilated, some even having organs missing. 

As the police investigated the Whitechapel murders, it was assumed that the Ripper was a man who lived in London and worked during the week. This was assumed because the Ripper struck around a certain area of town each time, yet only struck during the weekend. The police first investigated surgeons, butchers, other workers who handled knives, believing that people of these occupations were more likely to kill victims by cutting them with knives. Unfortunately, all the main suspects had alibis that checked out.

There were hundreds of letters sent to the police and the newspapers whose authors claimed to be Jack the Ripper. In the letter known as the "Dear Boss" letter, the author became the first to use the name Jack the Ripper, which became a world famous name. In another letter, known as the "From Hell" letter, the author sent half a kidney, which the author claimed was the kidney of Catherine Eddowes, who had had her kidney stolen during her murder by the Ripper. The author also claimed that he had cooked and eaten the other half of the kidney. Though most letters were immediately thrown out as hoaxes, the "From Hell" letter was kept, though it was never discovered whether the kidney was indeed Eddowes's.

As the murder investigation progressed, the media caught onto the story. Tax reforms had made printing newspapers much cheaper than before, and Jack the Ripper's story was one of the first to be widely distributed throughout the city and the country. 

The End

The true identity of Jack the Ripper was never discovered, though policemen investigated the murders until 1931. Jack the Ripper became a legend, a fairy tale to scare children into being good. The Ripper's appearance also helped to bring media attention to the poor living conditions of London's East End. Jack the Ripper is on our list for being one of the few people who remain famous (or infamous) without actually having a face to put with their name.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Battle of San Juan del Monte (August 30th)

On July 7th, 1892, Jose Rizal, a Filipino writer who critiqued Spanish government, was banished from the Philippines. Because of this, Filipino patriots, led by Andres Bonifacio, founded the Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan. In English, this means The Highest and Most Honorable Society of the Children of the Nation. This Katipunan was a secret revolutionary organization that stayed secret until 1896.

In 1896, the Katipunan sent a delegation to the Emperor of Japan in order to solicit funds and weapons. When one member of the Katipunan, Teodoro Patino, went to the Spanish authorities, the existence of the Katipunan was realized. On August 26th, 1896, the members of the Katipunan tore up their identification cards and began the Philippine Revolution.

On the night of the 29th of August, 1896, Bonifacio led his men to El Polvorin, a Spanish powder magazine in San Juan del Monte. At 4:00am on August 30th, 1896, after two unsuccessful attempts at taking the powder magazine, Bonifacio made his surprise attack on the Spanish soldiers stationed at El Polvorin. Though the Spanish soldiers had rifles and the Filipinos only had bolo knives, a few guns, and bamboo spears, Bonifacio was able to take El Polvorin. The Spanish retreated, but regrouped, and with reinforcements, the Spanish were able to recapture the powder magazine, capturing 200 Filipino patriots and killing another150. Banifacio and his remaining men were forced to retreat.

On August 30th, 1896, Governor-General Ramon Blanco y Erenas declared the eight provinces of Manila under martial law. The Philippine Revolution continued until 1899, and though the Philippines was close to independence, the victory was short-lived, for that same year, Spain signed the Philippines over to America in the Treaty of Paris. Both Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio were executed by the Spanish Government.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

British Hong Kong (August 29th)

In 1836, the China was the center of the opium trade, but the Chinese government wanted the trade to be stopped. Lin Zexu was given the task in 1839 of suppressing opium. He went to the British and ordered them to surrender the opium trade. All the British soldiers and merchants, including the Superintendent of Trade, Charles Elliot, were confined to the Canton Factories and cut off their supplies. Elliot complied to the demands of the Chinese in order to secure passage back to England for himself and his men.

All 20,283 chests of British opium were handed over to Zexu, who had all of it burned publicly. The British Cabinet demanded that the Chinese pay for the destruction of British property. The British stressed the fact that they cared not for China's opium policies, but did care about the way the situation was handled. In 1840, when China refused to pay, Charles Elliot and his cousin, Rear Admiral George Elliot, blockaded key ports along the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers. This fighting led to the First Opium War.

In 1841, Elliot negotiated with Emperor Qishan at the Convention of Chuenpee. In the treaty that was arranged, peace would be made, but the Emperor would give Hong Kong to the British Empire. The flag was first raised in January of 1842, and on August 29th, 1842, the Treaty of Nanking was officially ratified and the island of Hong Kong was ceded to Britain, and it stayed in British hands for 100 years.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"I Have a Dream" (August 28th)

Martin Luther King Jr. found himself in the middle in the center of what would become known as the American Civil Rights Movement. King was one of the leaders of the African American civil disobedience protests. In these protests, African Americans would disobey laws while not violently protesting. This disobedience included going into whites-only restaurants, refusing to give up seats for white people on buses, and protesting discriminatory businesses altogether.

Martin Luther King also helped organize marches to bring awareness to the cause. The largest march that King helped organized was the March on Washington, in which over 200,000 people, both black and white, marched to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to rally support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech to the hundreds of thousands of people who showed up to the March on Washington. Standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, King spoke the immortal words "I have a dream." The speech, which became known as the "I Have A Dream" speech, showed King's hope of a world with full equality for all men. That speech became one of the most famous speeches of the 20th century, and that moment came to represent the entire Civil Rights Movement.

The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act both passed, and King became the TIME magazine Person of the Year. In 1964, King became the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Krakatoa (August 27th)

Krakatoa is an Indonesian island that is the result of three volcanoes: Rakata, Danan, and Perbowatan. These three volcanoes had been active for hundreds of years, but the eruption in 1883 would be what made these volcanoes the most famous in the world.

By 1883, the area surrounding Krakatoa had been having seismic activity around the volcanoes for several years, some were so strong, they were felt as far off as Australia. In May of that year, steam began regularly venting from Perbowatan, and small eruptions of ash reached altitudes of 20,000 ft.  By the end of May, all activity had died down, but the volcanoes began erupting again around June 16th, covering the island in a black cloud. The eruptions reached their highest level of intensity on August 25th, and by the 26th, it was evident that a greater eruption was yet to come.

On August 27th, 1883, four explosions occurred on the small island of Krakatoa. At 5:30am, Perboewatan volcano erupted, creating tsunamis going North. At 6:44am, Danan volcano exploded, sending tsunamis both East and West. At 10:02am, the largest explosion took place, and was heard 3,110 km south in Perth, Australia and 4,800km west in Mauritius, where the sound was mistaken for distant cannon fire. The energy released in this explosion alone was said to be equal to 200 megatons of TNT, or four times the energy created by the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful thermonuclear weapon ever detonated.

 At 10:41am, a landslide on Rakata volcano caused the fourth and final eruption. The pressure created by the last explosion radiated out from the volcano at 1,086 km/h (675mph). The blast was so powerful, it blew out the eardrums of sailors in ships nearby. The pressure also caused a 2 and a half inch spike of mercury in pressure gauges in Batavia, and records from barographs around the world continued to pick up the volcano's shock-wave for the next five days. From these records, it has been concluded that the last eruption's shock-wave reverberated around the world seven times in total.

Hot ash from the volcano fell in Ketimbang in Sumatra later on the 27th, and approximately 1,000 people died. On the nearby island of Sebesi, only 13km off from the volcano, 3,000 were killed. Many settlements in the area were destroyed by the 30m tall tsunami. Smaller waves caused by the volcano were recorded as far away as the English Channel.

The volcanic ashed forced into the atmosphere by the eruption lowered the earth's temperature by 1.2 degrees Celsius, and it took five years for the temperature to return to normal. This ash also caused the sky to redden around the world. In New York, it was said that the sky was so red, many believed that there was a fire. In other areas, a Bishop's ring, or halo, formed around the sun.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Nineteenth Amendment (August 26th)

In 1789, when the United States Constitution was adopted, only white males were allowed to vote for representatives. The 15th amendment was passed in 1869, giving men of all races the right to vote. The next group to rise up for their right to vote was the women.

Though many smaller organizations existed before this point, the beginning of the Women's Suffrage Movement is traditionally said to be the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention in New York.  The movement had grown, but during the Civil War, the Women's Rights movement faded into the background while the nation turned its head to a more pressing issue, slavery. When the reconstruction amendments were passed, granting 'universal suffrage', women pushed to be included, but were denied.

As Americans moved West, though, the Women's Suffrage Movement gained ground. Women's suffrage was soon established in the Wyoming Territory, Utah, and the Washington Territory. The 19th amendment was originally created by Susan B. Anthony with the help of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who gave the bill to California Senator Aaron A. Sargent. The bill was first introduced to congress in 1878. The first vote taken on the amendment was taken in 1887, when it failed with a 16 to 34 vote. For the next three decades, the amendment was voted on several times, yet failed each time. In a 1919 vote, the amendment failed by only one vote. The bill was brought back to vote on May 19th, 1919, where it passed with 42 more votes than necessary.

The amendment was then sent to the states to be ratified. Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan were the first states to ratify the amendment, doing so on June 10th, 1919. Over the next year, the other states began to ratify the amendment. On August 18th, 1920, Tennessee was the 36th of 48 states to ratify the amendment, giving the amendment the two-thirds majority it needed to become part of the U.S. Constitution. On August 26th, 2013, the Secretary of State proclaimed the 19th Amendment of the United States, giving women the right to vote in America.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sir Henry Morgan (#63, August 25th)


Henry Morgan was born in southeast Wales around the year 1635, the son of a farmer. Not much is known about Morgan before the age of 1655. Historians do know that he dropped out of school and that somehow, Morgan managed to make his way to the West Indies. Some accounts say that Morgan came to Barbados as an indentured servant, but other accounts claim that Morgan came as a soldier in part of Cromwell's Western Design to take Hispaniola from Spain. While in the West Indies, Morgan married his cousin, Mary, the daughter of the Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica.


Morgan joined the fleet of Christopher Mings in 1663. Mings had received a letter of marque the Governor of Jamaica. These letters allowed Mings and his fleet to attack Spanish ships as pirates. Morgan aided Mings in many attacks, including the capture of the island of Providence from Spain. 

In 1667, Morgan received his first independent commission from Modyford, the Governor of Jamaica. Morgan received ten ships and 500 men so he could capture Puerto Principe from the Spanish. After Morgan has successfully finished this task, Modyford entrusted Morgan with the task of attacking Spanish ships along the coast of Cuba. With letters of marque given to him by Modyford, Morgan continued to raid major Spanish ports, including Porto Bello, Cartagena, Maracaibo, and Gibraltar. 

In December of 1670, Morgan captured the island of Santa Catalina, and the fortress of San Lorenzo, which was on the coast of Panama. Morgan led his men into Panama and attacked the Spanish fortress at Panama City. Morgan successful took the city and his men looted the city of all its gold. The city was then burned. This attack on Panama violated England's 1670 peace treaty with Spain, so Morgan was arrested and brought to England in 1672. When it was proved that Morgan had no knowledge of the treaty, he was released, and in 1674, when Spanish-English relations deteriorated, Morgan was knighted for his work as a privateer.

The End

Sir Henry Morgan was brought back to Jamaica in 1674 to take up the post of Lieutenant Governor of the island. By 1683, however, Morgan had fallen out of the favor of King Charles II of England. Morgan was also being attacked by political enemies for his drunkenness and many of his disreputable actions taken while working as a privateer. Morgan was removed from the Jamaican Council in 1688. 

On August 25th, 1688, Sir Henry Morgan died, which has been suspected to be caused by tuberculosis contracted while in England or by liver failure brought on by heavy drinking. Morgan is on our list for being one of the most successful privateers during the era of American colonization


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Paracelsus (#64)


Phillip von Hohenheim, also known as Paracelsus, was born in Switzerland on the 11th of November 1493, the son of a German chemist. When he was 16, Paracelsus went to stude medecine at the University of Basel. By 1516, Paracelsus had gained his doctorate from the University of Ferrara.


As a physician, Paracelsus pioneered the use of chemicals and minerals as forms of medicine, and often found himself in disagreement with traditional medical books. Paracelsus's arrogance led to him being kicked out of the University of Basel's staff and out of the city of Basel. Paracelsus wandered Europe in search of knowledge. He would take old manuscripts and revise them. In 1536, Paracelsus published Die grosse Wundartznei, which helped Paracelsus to regain some fame. 

Paracelsus was known for burning traditional medical manuscripts, and many attributed this to his upbringing as a Lutheran. Paracelsus rejected the idea, saying that himself and Luther both have their own ideas and each is simply defending them, though their ideas are quite different.

Paracelsus is famous for his idea that the celestial bodies, the different metals, and the different human organs are connected, and along with being a physician, Paracelsus was an alchemist. Along with being a physician and alchemist, Paracelsus was also one of the first to experiment with psychotherapy and is known by many as the father of toxicology.

The End

At the age of 47, in the year 1541, Paracelsus died of natural causes and was buried in  Salzburg. Paracelsus is on our list for being an outstanding figure of both medicine and alchemy during the same time.

The Sack of Rome (August 24th)

In the fifth century AD, Rome was in quite a bit of trouble. Barbarian tribes around the Roman Empire were starting to get stronger. The Huns attacked from the East, and the Visigoths attacked from the North. Eventually, Roman Emperor, Theodosius I, had to sign a treaty with the Visigoths. The Visigoths all became Roman citizens and fought as part of the Roman army. Alaric I, the King of the Visigoths, rode along with Theodosius, riding into battle against the Goths and the Huns, but all this changed when Theodosius died.

After Theodosius died, the peace between the Romans and the Visigoths quickly disintegrated, leading to the the top general, Flavius Stilicho, chasing the Visigoths out of Italy. When Eastern Roman Emperor Arcadius died, Honorius, the Western Emperor, decided to go to Rome. Stilicho forbade his leaving Rome and suggested that he go instead. Rumors spread that Stilicho wanted to put his own son on the throne. Olympius, a Roman politician, staged a mutiny within the army and convinced Honorius that Stilicho was a threat.

Stilicho was soon executed, and the Roman Army was soon in chaos.Much violence broke out against the slaves and barbarian soldiers residing in Italy. Many of the persecuted people fled from Italy and sided with Alaric. Alaric's army grew by several thousand, and he was soon able to attack Rome.

In 408, the Visigoths attacked the great city of Rome, and starvation and diseases rapidly spread through the city. Alaric was given 5,000 pounds of gold and 30,000 pounds of silver along with silk and pepper in order to stop the siege.

Encouraged by Pope Innocent I, Honorius decided to make an alliance with the Visigoths. When Alaric demanded the title of Magister Militium, Honorius refused and sent Alaric an insulting letter. When Alaric intercepted a force of soldiers being secretly brought into Rome, he was furious and laid siege to Rome once more.When starvation returned, the Roman Senate surrendered again, and Alaric pressured them to appoint a new military leader.

When a treaty was almost reached between Honorius and Alaric, a Gothic commander allied with Honorius attacked Alaric. Alaric defeated the Gothic raiders and traveled to Rome, laying siege to the city for a third time. On August 24, 410, slavesopened Romes gate and Visigoths looted the city for three days.

This was the first time Rome had been sacked in 800 years, and it showed Rome's growing weakness and vulnerability. The eternal city was falling. In less than seventy years from the sacking of Rome, the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus, would be dethroned.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (August 23rd)

In 1939, Adolf Hitler was preparing Germany for war. Hitler's first target was Poland. Unfortunately, Poland was protected by both France and Britain, and if the two powers of Western Europe entered the war, the Soviet Union, the major power of the East, might also enter the war. In World War I, Germany had also learned the consequences of fighting a two-front war, so Hitler sought to keep the U.S.S.R. from fighting.

On August 14, 1939, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyaaheslav Molotov, the Foreighn Ministers of Germany and the U.S.S.R., respectively, met in Moscow to arrange the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.

Publicly, the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was an agreement that Germany and Germany would not attack each other, but Ribbentrop and Molotov also included a secret protocol to the pact.

In the secret protocol, the Soviet Union would not attack when Germany invaded Poland, and in return, Germany would give the Baltic States and part of Poland to the Soviet Union. Even after World War II ended, the very existence of the protocol was denied by the Soviet Union until 1989.

On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany attacked Poland, and the Soviet Union did nothing. Britain declared war on Germany two days later. The Non-Aggression Pact allowed Hitler to take Poland and fight the France and Britain without Stalin's intervention. The pact stayed in effect until June 22, 1941, when Hitler made a surprise attack on the Soviet Union, bringing Stalin into World War II.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Death of Richard III (August 22nd)

In 1455, the War of the Roses broke out between two families in England: the Lancasters and the Yorks. The two families fought for the throne of England, and during the fight, most nobles in England took a side.

In 1483, Richard, Duke of York, was crowned as Richard the III of England after he usurped the throne from his twelve-year-old nephew, Edward V. The War of the Roses, however, was not over with the crowning of a York.

Richard was contested for the throne by Henry Tudor, the last remaining male member of the House of Lancaster. Because of this, Henry Tudor had the Lancaster family's strongest claim on the throne of England. Henry Tudor had gathered his forces in Frances, and then sailed his army to Milford Haven, Wales.

On August 21, 1485, twelve miles west of Leicester, on Bosworth Field, Henry Tudor's forces met Richard's in battle. Richard could have, for his army was of greater numbers, but at the last minute, several of his most important and powerful barons defected, giving Henry a decisive victory. Though he knew of his impending defeat, Richard is reported to have said, "I will not budge a foot. I will die king of England." Soon afterwards, Richard was unhorsed and killed, leaving Henry Tudor as Henry VII of England. Richard was only thirty-two years old and had been king for only two years when he died.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Theft of the Mona Lisa (August 21st)

The Mona Lisa is one of the most famous pieces of artwork in history. It was painted by Leonardo da Vinci around the year 1503. Ever since the Franco-Prussian War ended in 1871, the painting has been on display in the Louvre in France.

On August 21, 1911, the painting was stolen from the museum. Louis Beroud, a painter, noticed the missing painting and asked the head of the guards. The guards believed the painting was being photographed, but when it turned out that the photographers did not have the paintings, the Louvre shut down for a week and an investigation was begun.

Guillaume Apollinaire was arrested after coming under suspicion. Apollinaire, a French poet, had called for the Louvre to be burnt down. Apollinaire implicated that his friend, Pablo Picasso, had committed the crime, but both were later released. The painting was missing for almost two years before the thief was discovered.

Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian waiter working in Paris, had entered the Louvre during regular hours and hidden in a broom closet until the museum closed. He then took the painting and smuggled it out underneath his jacket. Peruggia was an Italian patriot and wanted the Mona Lisa, an Italian piece of art, to be displayed in an Italian museum. He was working with other to create forgeries of the painting to be sold in America, but Peruggia, who had been storing the painting in his apartment, got impatient and tried to sell the painting to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence in 1913. Peruggia was caught soon afterwards, and though he was sent to jail for six monthes, Peruggia was praised for his patriotism in Italy. The painting was exhibited throughout Italy and then was brought back to the Louvre, where it still resides today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Leon Trotsky (#65, August 20th)


Lev Davidovich Bronstein was born on Nobember 7, 1879, the son of a Jewish Farmer in what is now Ukraine. When Bronstein was eight, his parents sent him to school in Odessa. Bronstein stayed in Odessa until 1896, when he moved to Nikolayev for his final year of school. It was in Nickolayev that Bronstein learned the ideas of Marxism. Bronstein began meeting with political exiles and surrounding himself with other men with revolutionary ideas.

In 1897, Bronstein helped to found the South Russian Workers' Union, which got him arrested. To years later, Bronstein was put on trial and sent to Siberia. In Siberia, Bronstein met his first wife, Alexandra Lvovna, who was also in prison as a revolutionary. The two had two daughter's during Bronstein's stay in Siberia. Bronstein escaped prison in 1902, leaving his wife and two children behind. When forging a passport, Bronstein made a fake name, the name Leon Trotsky.

Under this name, Trotsky moved to London, where he met Vladmir Lenin, another revolutionary, and the two worked to founded the Social-Democrats' newspaper, Iskra. In 1903, Trotsky married his second wife, Natalia Ivanovna, with whom he had two more children.

Work in Russia

In 1905, when Bloody Sunday occured, Trotsk decided to return to Russia, where he wrote numerous pamphlets to encourage the overthrow of the Tsar's power. That same year, Trotsky led a revolution which failed. Trotsky was arrested and sent back to Siberia. In 1907, Trotsky escaped with a deer-pulled sleigh. Trotsky fled the country, living in cities throughout Europe and America. Trotsky was in New York when the Tsar was overthrown, and arrived back in Russia in May of 1917.

Trotsky became the leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, officially joining the Bolshevik Party in August. Lenin would become the leader of the Soviet Union with Trotsky as his second-in-command. Trotsky negotiated the treaty with Germany to end the Soviet Union's involvement in World War I, and later, Trotsky became the leader of the Red Army.

Before Lenin died, he named Trotsky as his successor, but when Lenin died in 1924, Trotsky was politically outmaneuvered by Joseph Stalin, who pushed Trotsky out of politics and into exile, eventually forcing Trotsky to leave the Soviet Union all together.

The End

Trotsky traveled the globe, living in Turkey, France, and Norway. In 1936, Trotsky moved to Mexico. Trostky, in exile, began writing again, criticizing Stalin. Stalin accused Trotsky of a conspiracy against the Soviet Union. This began Stalin's Great Purge, where Stalin began eliminating all his political enemies. Trotsky was number one on Stalin's list. In May of 1940, Soviet agents machine-gunned Trotsky's house, but he was not killed. The Great Purge ended on August 20th, 1940, when Ramon Mercader hit Trotsky in the head with an ice pick. 

Trotsky is on our list for being one of the few leaders of the Soviet Union to stick to the Marxist ideals. Also, anybody who defies Stalin for as long as Trotsky did deserves recognition.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Salem Witch Trials (August 19th)

In the colony of Massachusetts, many believed in the supernatural. The majority of people in Massachusetts were Puritans, who had a strong belief of the work of Satan, demons, and evil spirits in the world. The idea of a person using these supernatural beings became known as dark magic, and the practice of dark magic was known as witchcraft.

Witchcraft and dark magic was used to explain bad crops, strange sounds, and many other bad occurrences. In 1692, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, who were 9 and 11 years old respectively, began to have fits . They began to scream, throw things across the room, crawl under furniture, and contort themselves into peculiar positions. The doctor, William Griggs, found no physical evidence of ailment, but soon, many other women in the town began experiencing similar symptoms.

Soon, several women were arrested for using witchcraft to afflict the young women. These accused "witches" were Sarah Good, a homeless beggar, Sara Osborne, a woman who didn't attend church, and Tituba, an African slave. These women were the first to be sent to jail for witchcraft. Over the next four years, many more women were arrested for witchcraft.

On August 19, 1692, the first six "witches" were executed in Salem. The witch hunt spread across Puritan Massachusetts, and dozens of women were arrested, and a total of twelve women were executed as witches.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Genghis Khan (#66, August 18th)


Temujin was born in either 1162 or 1155 in what is now northern Mongolia. He was the third son of his father, Yesugei, who was the leader of the Kiyad tribe. The Kiyad tribe, like many others on the Mongolian plains, were nomads, surviving by raising horses. 

When Temujin was nine, his parents put him into an arranged marriage and Temujin's father delivered him to the Oniggirat tribe, where his wife-to-be lived. On the way back from delivering Temujin, Yesugei was captured by Tatars and died. Upon hearing the news, Temujin returned to his tribe to claim his position as leader, but the tribe refused to let the young boy rule, so Temujin, his mother, and his siblings were all abandoned by the tribe.

Temujin and his family lived in poverty, living off of wild fruit and small game that Temujin and his brothers hunted. In 1177, Temujin was captured and enslaved by the Tayichi'ud tribe, though with the help of a gaurd, Temujin was able to escape. Temujin led his family through the area, gaining followers as he went. Two of the most important allies that Temujin gained were Jelme and Bo'orchu, who would become major generals during Temujin's regin.

Temujin returned to the Oniggirat tribe, where he married the woman his was engaged to, named Borte. The two had four sons, and Borte remained as Temujin's only wife throughout his entire life.


Temujin realized that to gain power, he must make alliances, so as the tribes of the Central Asian plateau began to form confederacies, Temujin offered his tribes aid to Toghryl, the leader, or Khan, of the Kerait tribe. Temujin rose in power through both skill in battle and by eliminating political opponents. Temujin was so set on gaining power that he even killed his childhood friend, Jamukha, in order to rise. By 1206, Temujin was the the Khan of all of Mongol plains, save the Naimans. The defeat of the Naimans by Temujin left Temujin as the sole ruler of a united Mongol nation. Temujin was given the name Genghis Khan, which meant ruler from one ocean to the next.

In 1206, Genghis Khan began to expand his new kingdom, and during this time of expansion, Genghis Khan's army would become the most powerful and the most feared army the world had ever seen. Genghis Khan began his conquests by attacking China, which was currently in three parts. By 1215, the great Khan had conquered the entire Western Xia Dynasty and had broken through the Great Wall of China and taken the Jin Dynasty as well. For the moment, the southern Song Dynasty was left alone, though it would eventually be conquered by Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis. From there, Genghis Khan moved west. Genghis would give each nation he encountered a choice. If the nation surrendered, he would add the nation to his ever-growing empire, but spare their lives. If the nation refused, Genghis would take them by force and raise their cities to the ground. By the time of his death, Genghis had taken all of central Asia, the Middle East, parts of Africa, and had even conquered eastern Europe and Russia.

Genghis Khan had created the largest empire that there had ever been. To this day, no nation or empire has ever matched the size of the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan also successfully conquered Moscow and the rest of Russia, a feat that both Napoleon and Hitler were unable to accomplish. Genghis Khan was able to run his military machine by sparing farmland as he conquered. He would allow farmers to continue to farm if the gave some of their crops to the army. Genghis also allowed freedom of religion for those within his empire, and conditions, in many places, improved while under the protection of the Mongols.

The End

On August 18th, 1227, Genghis Khan died after falling off the back of his horse while in Egypt. The Great Khan's body was returned to Mongolia, and any living creature that crossed paths with the funeral procession was killed. Genghis Khan was buried somewhere in Mongolia, though his burial site was unmarked, and the exact whereabouts of the tomb remain unknown. Genghis Khan is on our list because he created the largest and fastest growing empire the world had ever seen and marks of his conquest can be seen all throughout the world.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Independence of Cyprus (August 16th)

After the Russo-Turkish War ended in 1878, Cyprus was leased to the British Empire from the Ottoman Empire during the Congress of Britain. Cyprus would be used as a base for the British to protect the Ottoman Empire from Russian aggression.

By 1906, Cyprus had become a strategic colonial point for Britain. When the Famagusta harbor was finished, Cyprus was a strategic naval outpost to both overlook the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. In 1914, Britain contained full control of Cyprus from the Ottoman Empire. During World War II, Britain offered Cyprus to Greece in exchange for military aid. Though Greece refused the offer, many Greeks enlisted in the British Army in hopes that the island would be united with Greece.

On August 16th, 1960, Cyprus was given independence in the Zurich and London Agreement between the UK, Greece, and Turkey. Though there were movements to reunite with both "motherlands," Cyprus remained independent, even withstanding an Invasion from Turkey.

Bonnie and Clyde (#68 & #67)


Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was born on October 1, 1910 in Rowena, Texas. After her father, Charles Parker, died when she was four years old, Bonnie moved with her mother and two siblings to Cement City, a suburb in Dallas. Parker is said to have been a star student, winning prizes in spelling, writing, and public speaking. 

In her second year of high school, Bonnie met Roy Thorton. The two dropped out of school and married in 1926, six days before Bonnie's 16th birthday. Thorton was frequently gone and after Thorton had a few brushes of with the law, the two parted ways. They last saw each other in January of 1929, though they never divorced, and Bonnie was still wearing her wedding ring when she died.

After her marriage fell apart, Bonnie went to live with her mother and worked as a waitress in Dallas. She wrote many times during this period, saying she was impatient and bored with her current life. Her only escape from this was through her writing and her photography.


Clyde Chestnut Barrow was born on March 24, 1909 in Telico, Texas. Barrow's father was a poor farmer who lived in the West Dallas slums after his farm failed. The family of nine lived under a wagon for some time while Barrow's father earned enough money to get a tent.

From 1926 to 1930, Clyde was arrested several times for everything from cracking safes, stealing cars, and robbing cars. In April of 1930, Clyde was sent to Eastham Prison Farm. It was here that Clyde killed a man for the first time after the inmate repeatedly attempted to assault Clyde sexually. When Clyde was released on parole, he focused on smaller jobs, like robbing grocery stores and gas stations. Clyde, however, was said to have been a different man, changed by prison, and many said that his goal was to seek revenge against the Texas prison system for the abuses he suffered there.

Bonnie and Clyde

Though there are several versions of how Bonnie and Clyde met, the most credible version is that Barrow was dropping off a female friend at her house, and Parker was in the kitchen when Barrow came in. The two were smitten immediately, and Bonnie and Clyde began to live and work together. The two began working together in 1932 and with others, robbing grocery stores and gastations. Once, Barrow and another of his gang, Raymond Hamilton, were drinking when a Sheriff and his deputy approached them. The two criminals opened fire, killing the deputy and wounding the Sheriff. By 1933, the gang had murdered five people.

When Buck Barrow, Clyde's brother, was released from prison, the gang began to hide out at Buck's hideout in Joplin, Missouri. After a drunk Clyde accidentally fired a rifle, neighboring houses called the Joplin Police. When discovered, the gang fought their way out of Joplin. The gang began roaming the country, from Texas to Minnesota, robbing banks and stealing cars as they went. On several occasions, the gang would kidnap lawmen our robbery victims, but they were usually release far from home, sometimes with money to get back to their home. During a car fire, Parker gained a third-degree burn on her leg, which made it so she couldn't walk near the end of her life.

While in Iowa, Buck Barrow was shot twice, once in the head and once in the back. Barrow and his wife were soon captured, and Barrow died several days later. In 1934, Barrow and Parker led the breakout of Raymond Hamilton and Henry Methvin from the Texas Department of Corrections. When the breakout succeed, a $1,000 bounty was put on both Bonnie and Clyde, and $500 for each of the escapees. This was the first time Bonnie was seen as a killer alongside Clyde and the rest of the gang.

The End

On May 23, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed in Louisiana by six officers from Texas and Louisiana who had tracked the two since February of that year. When Bonnie's husband, Roy Thorton, heard of Bonnie and Clyde's death, he is reported to have said, "I'm glad they went out like they did. It's much better than being caught." Bonnie and Clyde are on our list for being two of the most famous criminals of the 20th Century and for avoiding the law for as long as they did.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Trans-Atlantic Balloon Flight (August 17th)

The use of hot air balloons for enjoyment has been around for hundreds of years, but hot air balloons, for the most part, have not been used for actual long-distance travel. This all changed in the year 1978.

In August of 1978, Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman set out from Presque Isle, Maine in the hot air balloon, Double Eagle II. The plan was for the Double Eagle II to fly over Ireland, where Newman would hand glide out of the balloon over Shannon Airport while Abruzzo and Anderson flew the plane to France.

Unfortunately, the hand-glider was thrown overboard as ballast. The Double Eagle II still flew over Ireland, but was passed by so the group could make it to France. Authorities in France had closed Le Bourget Airfield to allow the balloon to land, but due to a lack of ballast, the pilots declined because the feared injuring anybody in the Paris suburbs if they flew too low.

On August 17th, 1978, the group landed in a barley field sixty miles from Paris. Once landed, the balloon was surrounded. The gondola was recovered, but the majority of the logs and charts were taken as souvenirs. The trip took 137 hours and six minutes to complete.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Foundation of the Jesuit Order (August 15th)

Saint Ignatius of  Loyola was a soldier for the kingdom of Castile in what is now Spain. For many years, he fought Moors, helping to remove their presence from the Iberian Peninsula. In 1521, Ignatius had a leg broken and the other injured by a cannonball. While recovering, Ignatius read De Vita Christi by Ludolph of Saxony. This commentary on the Gospel gave Ignatius a better understanding of Christianity.

While recovering, Ignatius continued to read religious texts. After he was healed, Ignatius set his armor and weapons in front of the altar at a monastery. For a year, Ignatius lived in a cave, practicing self-denial and sacrifice. In 1523, Ignatius continued these practices while he visited the Holy Land.

Ignatius began to gain companions in his practice of sacrifice. Soon, he had six companions with him: Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laynez, Nicholas Bobadilla, Peter Faber, and Simao Rodrigues. On August 15th, 1534, these seven men took apostolic vows and formed the Society of Jesus, which became better known as the Jesuit Order.

The Jesuit Order is engaged in evangelical and apostolic ministry. The path of sacrifice that Ignatius of Loyala used became a central part of the Jesuit Order. The Jesuits would sacrifice all they had to spread across the globe and educate people on the Gospel.

Ignatius of Loyala went on to become the Father General and leader of the Jesuits. St. Francis Xavier became famous in his own right for being one of the first people to visit Japan and evangelize to the people there. The Jesuit Order has continued to grow since its foundation and has spread out into 112  nations on six continents.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Battle of Aljubarrota (August 14th)

John, known as John the Bastard, was the illegitimate son of King Pedro I of Portugal. John kept a low political profile, sitting quiet while his half-brother took the throne. When his half-brother died, the late king's widow, Queen Leonor, worked to get a different John, John I of Castile (north-central Spain) as the recognized ruler of Portugal.

This recognition of a Spaniard ruling over the Portuguese sparked some patriotism in the Portuguese. Many Portuguese nationalists, led by Pereira Nuno Alvares, approached John the Bastard to rise up and seize power. John agreed, killed Leonor's chief minister, and took the throne. Queen Leonor fled the country and went to John of Castile to ask him for aid.

John of Castile marched on Portugal with a large army, but John the Bastard and Pereira, aided by a small group of English archers, led their army into battle on the road to Lisbon, and on August 14th, 1385, Portugal won a great victory against John of Castile. This confirmed Portugal's identity as an independent state.

The next year, John of Portugal signed the Treaty of Windsor, pledging friendship between the two countries for all eternity. The alliance is still in force today. John of Portugal went on to marry Philippa, and English duke's daughter. She turned the Portugese court into a high court of Europe. The couple also had several children, one of which was Henry the Navigator. Pereira Nuno Alvares became rich after fighting in the battle, and used the money to create a monastery, where he became a friar.  Pereira later was declared a saint.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Edict of Nantes (August 13th)

In the late 1500s, France was caught in the middle of its own Wars of Religion. The Protestant Reformation was sweeping across Europe, and France had been in the middle of the entire movement. Though the French crown remained Catholic, many French citizens were converting to Protestantism. This caused many riots, rebellions, violence, and wars within France.

During this period of time, Henry IV was the king of France. Henry IV was raised Protestant and only converted to Catholicism when he inherited the crown. Throughout his life, though, he remained sympathetic to the Protestant cause.

On August 13th, 1598, Henri IV signed the Edict of Nantes, which was meant to stop internal violence from religious differences. The Edict granted  certain privileges and protections to Protestants, but reaffirmed Catholicism as the established religion of France. The Edict ensured rights for Protestants within France and protected them from forces outside of France, including the Spanish Inquisition.

The Edict remained in effect until Louis XIV renounced it in 1685, declaring Protestantism illegal. This led to a mass exodus of almost 400,000 Protestants from France to England, Prussia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and South Africa. This took away many skilled workers from France, putting back France's economy. The rights given to Protestants in the Edict of Nantes were not reestablished until the Edict of Tolerance in 1787.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Yukon Gold Rush Begins (August 12th)

Indigenous people had known of the existence of gold in the Yukon Territory of Canada for a long time, but both the Russians and the Hudson Bay Company in the region had ignored the rumors and chose to fur trade instead. There were several prospectors in the area, but none had struck real luck prior to 1896.

On August 12th, 1896, the American George Carmack was travelling with his wife, his brother-in-law, and his nephew south along the Klondike River. The group had followed rumors from previous prospectors and had discovered gold along the Rabbit, or Bonanza, Creek, a tributary of the Klondike. Since Carmack's wife, Kate, and her brother, Skookum Jim, were both Native Americans, Carmack laid claims for his relatives and himself, and the four began mining the claim soon afterwards. As the four began finding large quantities of gold, news spread and soon, mining camps were built all along Rabbit Creek.

The miners along rabbit creek were all from the Yukon territory because the ice and mountains surrounding the territory stopped the news from getting out. Eventually, mining officials in the Yukon got a message to Ottawa by sled-dog, and the news of gold in the Yukon was out. In the Yukon, or Klondike, Gold Rush, an estimated 100,000 people attempted to reach the Klondike river to make their fortunes. It is also believed that only around 30,000 or 40,000 actually made it. Among the stampeders, to the Klondike was none other than American writer Jack London.

 At total of $1,139,000 dollars in gold was discovered. This amount is equivalent to $1,000 million today. This amount of gold found meant that paper currencies increased in value, due to the gold standard tied to the currency. This helped to develop the financial panic of 1896. The amount of people who went to the Yukon and the amount of gold found made the Yukon Gold Rush one of the largest gold rushes in history.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Beginning of Alcatraz (August 11th)

Alcatraz is a small island situated in the center of San Francisco Bay, about 1.5 miles off shore. Native Americans referred to the place as the "Evil island", for they believed it was cursed. Juan Manuel de Ayala charted San Francisco Bay in 1775, naming the island La Isla de los Alcatraces, which translates to "The Island of the Pelicans". The name was eventually shortened to Alcatraz.

In 1846, John C. Fremont bought Alcatraz in the name of the United States for $5,000. In 1850, Millard Fillmore order that the land be set aside for military use. Camp Alcatraz, Alcatraz's first military garrison, was set up after the California Gold Rush began. In 1861, Alcatraz Citadel was created, which was meant to hold Civil War prisoners. Military prisoners began to be put into Alcatraz from the Civil War through the Spanish American War and First World War.

In October of 1933, Alcatraz was acquired by the United States Department of Justice, and the island became Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. On August 11, 1934, the first 137 prisoners were brought to the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Before it closed, the prison held many of the biggest criminals in American history, including Al Capon, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. During its 29 years of operation, the penitentiary claimed that no prisoner successfully escaped, though  a total of 36 prisoners made 14 escape attempts. The only hole in their record was made in 1962, when Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin escaped, but were reported "missing and presumed drowned" because no bodies were found, yet there was no evidence that they reached the shores of San Francisco Bay.