Three explorers made news on this date in history. Italian Amerigo Vespucci, for whom the Americas are named, left Cadiz on his first voyage to the New World in 1497. Spanish transplant from Italy Christopher Columbus visited the Cayman Islands in 1502 and named them Las Tortugas after the turtles were found there. And French explorer Jacques Cartier visited Newfoundland in 1534.
In 28 BC a sunspot was observed by Han Dynasty astronomers during the reign of Emperor Cheng, being the earliest observance in the history of China. The first transcontinental railroad linking the western and eastern US was completed at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory with the golden spike in 1869. And a blizzard struck Mt Everest in 1996 killing 8 climbers by the next day.
In political news rioting broke out in London after John Wilkes is imprisoned for writing an article for the North Briton severely criticizing King George III in 1768. This mirrored the Boston Tea Party protest after the Tea Act was passed by Parliament in 1773 which cut taxes on the British East India Company and allowed them to directly sell to the colonies. in 1774 Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette became King and Queen of France. And in 1994 Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first black president of South Africa.
Those counting this date as their birthday include Swiss theologian and author Karl Barth (1886), American dancer and actor Fred Astaire (1899), 54th Speaker of the House Carl Albert (1908), American self-help author and educator Wayne Dyer (1940), and two notable singers – Scottish Donovan (1946) and Irish rocker Bono (1950).
English navigator and explorer George Vancouver, who made the European discovery of the Columbia River, stopped sailing in 1798. American coppersmith and patriot Paul Revere stopped riding in 1818. And Confederate General Stonewall Jackson died by friendly fire during a Civil War battle in 1863.
Today is Golden Spike Day in Promontory, Utah.