Monday, January 17, 2005
1229: Albert of Buxhoeveden (left), first Prince Bishop of Livonia, dies. In 1201, together with Hanseatic League traders from Gotland and Lubeck, he founded the city of Riga as a trading capital for the region.
1617: Croatian inventor Faust Vrancic dies at Vienna. He developed and demonstrated the first practical parachute, but since no one had invented the airplane yet, it did not catch on.
1648: The British Parliament, angry at Charles I’s refusal to agree to peace terms, passes the "Vote of No Addresses," cutting off further negotiations.
1763: America’s first tycoon, John Jacob Astor, is born at Walldorf, Germany. His American Fur Company, founded in 1808, will dominate the North American fur trade, and he will get even richer from his speculations in New York City real estate.
1781: One of the seminal battles of the American Revolution occurs, as 1,000 men under former farmer/teamster Daniel Morgan defeat a similar British force under Banastre Tarleton at the Cowpens in South Carolina.
1819: The Republic of Colombia is proclaimed by Simón Bolívar.
1871: Andrew Smith Hallidie of San Francisco gets a patent for one of the world’s great tourist attractions, the "cable car."
1893: Sugar planters and the Citizens’ Committee of Public Safety overthrow the government of the Kingdom of Hawaii. President Grover Cleveland, angry at this, offers to return Queen Lili’uokalani to power if she will pardon the conspirators, but she refuses; a year later the Republic of Hawaii is proclaimed.
1917: The United States buys the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million, ostensibly to keep them from being seized by Germany as a submarine base.
1926: Hair impresario Vidal Sassoon in born in London. His development of the "bob" (left) and the "five point cut" in 1963 make him "the the founder of modern hairdressing," and a considerable amount of money.
1950: The Great Brinks Robbery nets $2.7 million in what will soon come to be known as the "crime of the century." It would have yielded more, except that the thieves can't open a box containing the payroll for the General Electric Co.
1995: The Golf Channel debuts. Today it is available in 30 million homes, and at least some of them must watch.
2000: Two big pharmaceutical firms announce that they will join together to get even bigger. SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome agree to merge, forming the world’s biggest drug maker, with annual sales of $25 billion.