Sunday, July 24, 2005
1701: French military officer Antoine de la Mothe, sieuer de Cadillac, founds a small fort and settlement on the strait connecting Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. He names it after his boss, the comte de Ponchartrain, calling it Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit (“of the Strait”) but only the last part sticks.
1832: A group of 110 men and 20 wagons financed by John Jacob Astor to set up competition with the Hudson’s Bay Company, use Wyoming’s South Pass to become the first wagon train to cross the Rocky Mountains.
1847: Brigham Young leads a party of 143 men, three women and two children to the shores of the Great Salt Lake to found Salt Lake City. Others will quickly arrive and by 1849 residents will create the State of Deseret.
1862: New York lawyer and former President Martin Van Buren, whose “Albany Regency” was the first great political machine in U.S. history, dies at Kinderhook, New York.
1901: William Sydney Porter is released from prison at Columbus, Ohio, having done three years for embezzlement from a bank. In prison he’d already started writing as “O. Henry.”
1915: A ship carrying Western Electric employees to a picnic sinks 20 feet from the Chicago wharf, killing 841 passengers, twelve more than had died on the Titanic three years earlier.
1929: The Kellogg-Briant Pact goes into effect, prohibiting all future wars.
1997: U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Joseph Brennan, Jr. (Harvard Law 1931) dies at Arlington, Virginia.