For those who think book banning is a recent problem, you should know that the Catholic Church, which had a firm grip on literacy in Middle Ages Europe had an Index of Forbidden Books and in 1616 Nicholas Copernicus’s book On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres was placed on it (73 years after it was first published). The Index was not formally abolished until 1966 and the last edition of the Index appeared in 1948.
There was aviation and space news on this date. In 1912 during the Italo-Turkish war, the Italian forces were the first to use airships for military purposes, using them for reconnaissance behind Turkish lines. Britain flew its first combat jet -the Gloster Meteor in 1943. In 1982 the Soviet probe Venera 14 landed on Venus. And in sad news, Patsy Cline and three other country stars, and their pilot were killed in a plane crash in 1963.
Americans can recall the Boston “Massacre” in 1770. I put quotes, partly because the five that died were part of a mob of about 200 that attacked a customs house defended by a few British soldiers. John Adams was serving as a legal officer of the Crown and defended the soldiers, resulting in all but one being acquitted. I also quote it because 5 does not seem to be a massacre – especially when you contrast it with the Katyn Massacre in 1940 when 25,000 Polish military officers and civilian intellectuals, of which 14,000 POWs, were executed by Soviet forces in the Katyn forest.
And in a famous speech at Westminster College, Missouri, Winston Churchill first used the term, Iron Curtain, to describe the border between Soviet forces and the West in Europe – signaling the beginning of the Cold War.
In 1512 we welcomed in Gerardus Mercator, the Flemish mathematician and cartographer, who demonstrated to us another way to look at the map of our globe. 1637 brought us the landscape painting of the Dutch painter Jan van der Heyden. And 1955 brought us the magic of Penn Jillette who paired up with Raymond Teller to entertain us.
In 1829 we said goodbye to John Adams (no not that John Adams) the last surviving mutineer of the Bounty. We lost on this date 2 prolifically creative geniuses – American poet Edgar Lee Masters (1950) of the Spoon River Anthology – and Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1963) who entertained us with the delightful Peter and the Wolf, among other musical masterpieces.
Two actors passed on – Jay Silverheels (1980) who played Tonto as the sidekick to the Lone Ranger – and John Belushi (1982) who played Bluto in Animal House, and was a Blues Brother with Dan Akroyd.
Ousted Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mosaddegh passed on in 1967, 14 years after the UK and US-supported coup tossed him out of office. It only took the US 60 years to finally admit that it had a hand in his ouster.
And the world breathed a sigh of relief when the end came for Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1953