This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
October 15 is the 288th day of the year (289th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 77 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte begins his final exile on the Island of St. Helene.
Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a military and political leader of France and Emperor of the French as Napoleon I, whose actions shaped European politics in the early 19th century.
Napoleon was born in Corsica to parents of minor noble Italian ancestry and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. Bonaparte rose to prominence under the French First Republic and led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. In 1799, he staged a coup d’etat and installed himself as First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. In the first decade of the 19th century, the French Empire under Napoleon engaged in a series of conflicts-the Napoleonic Wars-involving every major European power. After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe, and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence through the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states.
The French invasion of Russia in 1812 marked a turning point in Napoleon’s fortunes. His Grande Armee was badly damaged in the campaign and never fully recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at Leipzig; the following year the Coalition invaded France, forced Napoleon to abdicate and exiled him to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, he escaped Elba and returned to power, but was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer, though Sten Forshufvud and other scientists have since conjectured he was poisoned with arsenic.
Napoleon’s campaigns are studied at military academies the world over. While considered a tyrant by his opponents, he is also remembered for the establishment of the Napoleonic code, which laid the administrative and judicial foundations for much of Western Europe.
533 – Byzantine general Belisarius makes his formal entry into Carthage, having conquered it from the Vandals.
1582 – Pope Gregory XIII implements the Gregorian calendar. In Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, October 4 of this year is followed directly by October 15.
1764 – Edward Gibbon observes a group of friars singing in the ruined Temple of Jupiter in Rome, which inspires him to begin work on The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
1783 – The Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon marks the first human ascent, by Jean-François Pilatre de Rozier, (tethered balloon).
1793 – Queen Marie-Antoinette of France is tried and condemned in a swift, pre-determined trial in the Palais de Justice, Paris, and condemned to death the following day.
1815 – Napoleon I of France begins his exile on Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.
1863 – American Civil War: The H. L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink a ship, sinks during a test, killing its inventor, Horace L. Hunley.
1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of Glasgow is fought, resulting in the surrender of Glasgow, Missouri, and its Union garrison, to the Confederacy.
1878 – The Edison Electric Light Company begins operation.
1880 – Mexican soldiers kill Victorio, one of the greatest Apache military strategists.
1888 – The “From Hell” letter sent by Jack the Ripper is received by the investigators.
1894 – The Dreyfus affair: Alfred Dreyfus is arrested for spying.
1904 – The Russian Baltic Fleet leaves Reval, Estonia for Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War.
1917 – World War I: At Vincennes outside of Paris, Dutch dancer Mata Hari is executed by firing squad for spying for the German Empire.
1928 – The airship, the Graf Zeppelin completes its first trans-Atlantic flight, landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, United States.
1932 – Tata Airlines (later to become Air India) makes its first flight.
1934 – The Soviet Republic of China collapses when Chiang Kai-shek’s National Revolutionary Army successfully encircle Ruijin, forcing the fleeing Communists to begin the Long March.
1938 – The District of Columbia formally adopts a design for its flag.
1939 – The New York Municipal Airport (later renamed La Guardia Airport) is dedicated.
1944 – The Arrow Cross Party (very similar to Hitler’s NSDAP (Nazi party)) takes over the power in Hungary.
1945 – World War II: The former premier of Vichy France Pierre Laval is shot by a firing squad for treason.
1946 – Nuremberg Trials: Hermann Goring poisons himself the night before his execution.
1951 – Mexican chemist Luis E. Miramontes conducted the very last step of the first synthesis of norethisterone, the progestin that would later be used in one of the first two oral contraceptives.
1953 – British nuclear test Totem 1 detonated at Emu Field, South Australia.
1956 – Fortran, the first modern computer language, is shared with the coding community for the first time.
1965 – Vietnam War: The National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam stages the first public burning of a draft card in the United States to result in arrest under a new law.
1966 – Black Panther Party is created by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.
1969 – Vietnam War; The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam was held in Washington DC and across the US. Over 2 million demonstrated nationally; about 250,000 in the nation’s capitol.
1970 – Thirty-five construction workers are killed when a section of the new West Gate Bridge in Melbourne collapses.
1970 – The domestic Soviet Aeroflot Flight 244 is hijacked and diverted to Turkey.
1971 – The start of the 2500-year celebration of Iran, celebrating the birth of Persia.
1973 – The diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Gabon are established.
1979 – Black Monday in Malta. The Building of the Times of Malta, the residence of the opposition leader Eddie Fenech Adami and several Nationalist Party clubs are ransacked and destroyed by supporters of the Malta Labour Party.
1987 – The Great Storm of 1987 hits France and England.
1989 – Wayne Gretzky becomes the all-time leading points scorer in the NHL.
1990 – Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to lessen Cold War tensions and open up his nation.
1997 – The first supersonic land speed record is set by Andy Green in ThrustSSC (United Kingdom), exactly 50 years and 1 day after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in the Earth’s atmosphere.
1997 – The Cassini probe launches from Cape Canaveral on its way to Saturn.
2001 – NASA’s Galileo spacecraft passes within 112 miles of Jupiter’s moon Io.
2003 – China launches Shenzhou 5, its first manned space mission.
2003 – The Staten Island Ferry boat Andrew J. Barberi runs into a pier at the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, killing 11 people and injuring 43.
2005 – Iraqi constitution ratification vote.
2005 – A riot in Toledo, Ohio breaks out during a National Socialist/Neo-Nazi protest; over 100 are arrested.
2007 – Seventeen activists in New Zealand are arrested in the country’s first post 9/11 anti-terrorism raids.