Invention and exploration dominated this date. In 1542 Francisco de Orellana crossed South America from Guayaquil on the Pacific coast to the mouth of the Amazon River on the Atlantic coast. In 1768 Captain James Cook set sail from England on board the HMS Endeavor in his quest to circumnavigate the globe. His ship completed the task – but he unfortunately was killed in Hawaii in a clash with the natives. In 1791 John Fitch was granted a patent for his steamboat.
In other news, the historic Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was approved by the National Constituent Assembly of France in 1789. And in 1972 the Munich Winter Olympic Games opened.
Notables born on this date include the first officially recognized Prime Minister of the UK Robert Walpole (1676), the French inventor of the hot air balloon, Joseph-Michel Montgolfer (1740), French chemist and biologist Antoine Lavoisier (1741), Polish-American physician and virologist Albert Sabin (1906) who developed the polio vaccine, and Mother Teresa (1910).
Those who left us on this date include the Dutch biologist and microscopist Antoine van Leeuwenhoek (1723), American psychologist and philosopher William James (1910), actor Lon Chaney (1930) the “man of a thousand faces”, and two very active personalities in very different ways -Charles Lindbergh (1974) who thrilled the world with his non-stop solo transatlantic flight and tarnished his legacy with his America First activities and pro-Nazi leanings prior to WWII. Roger Nash Baldwin (1981) on the other hand left a rich legacy of advocacy for the less fortunate by founding the American Civil Liberties Union.
Today is Women’s Equality Day in the US, first celebrated in 1971 on the anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution recognizing the right of women to vote.