Today In History 08/05


August 5th

1 – In 70 AD fires resulting from the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem were extinguished. Only the western wall, known as the Wailing Wall, remains. It is now a sacred site for the Jews.

2 – In 1100 Henry I is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey. The fourth son of William the Conqueror, he seized the throne after the accidental death of his brother William, promising to correct many of Williams unpopular policies. He was considered a harsh but effective leader, appointing officials not from blue bloods but men of obscure backgrounds. After his death, his nephew Stephen took the throne, despite Henry’s daughter Matilda being the heir to the throne.

3 – 1620 – The Mayflower departs from Southampton, England, carrying would-be settlers, on its first attempt to reach North America; it is forced to dock in Dartmouth when its companion ship, the Speedwell, springs a leak.

4 – 1816 – The British Admiralty dismisses Francis Ronalds’s new invention of the first working electric telegraph as “wholly unnecessary”, preferring to continue using the semaphore.

5 – 1861 – American Civil War: In order to help pay for the war effort, the United States government levies the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US$800 or $27,737.18 today ; rescinded in 1872).

6 – 1882 – Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, today known as ExxonMobil, is established officially. The company would later grow to become the holder of all Standard Oil companies and the entity at the center of the breakup of Standard Oil.

7 – 1888 – Bertha Benz drives from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back in the first long distance automobile trip, commemorated as the Bertha Benz Memorial Route since 2008.

8 – 1914 – The British Expeditionary Force mobilizes for World War I.

Meanwhile In Cleveland, Ohio, the first electric traffic light is installed.

9 – Born is 1923, Richard G. Kleindienst, was one of the key officials who helped elect Richard Nixon to the presidency in 1969.

10 – In 1930 Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, was born.

11 – 1936 – Jesse Owens shatters world records and Nazi propaganda at the Olympics

12 – 1974 – Watergate scandal: President Richard Nixon, under orders of the US Supreme Court, releases the “Smoking Gun” tape, recorded on June 23, 1972, clearly revealing his actions in covering up and interfering investigations into the break-in. His political support vanishes completely.

13 – 1981 – President Ronald Reagan fires 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers who ignored his order for them to return to work.

14 – In 1991 Soichiro Honda, Japanese engineer and businessman, died. Born in 1906 to a bicycle repairman, he was an inventive child. Honda was not interested in traditional education. His school handed grade reports to the children, but required that they be returned stamped with the family seal, to make sure that a parent had seen it. Honda created a stamp to forge his family seal out of a used rubber bicycle pedal cover. The fraud was soon discovered when he started to make forged stamps for other children. Honda was unaware that the stamp was supposed to be mirror-imaged. His family name (in kanji) 本田 (Honda) is symmetrical when written vertically, so it did not cause a problem, but some of the other children’s family names were not. He raced a turbocharged Ford in Japans 1st automobile race in 1936. He crashed and seriously injured his eye, his brother was also injured. He quit racing after that race. In 1937 he founded Tokai Seiki to produce piston rings for Toyota. The company was bombed during WWII and an earthquake destroyed the rest. Selling out to Toyota, he used the proceeds to found Honda Technical Research Institute. In 1948 he started producing a motorized bicycle, and in 1949 produced a true motorcycle.

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