Thursday, August 4, 2005
79: Mount Vesuvius erupts, which is bad news for Pompeii and Herculaneum. They are buried under as much as 75 feet of red-hot, smoking ash.
1215: In an early decision on contractual duress, Pope Innocent III declares the Magna Carta extorted by English barons from King John to be unenforceable.
1511: The port of Malacca falls to Afonso de Albuquerque. Controlling the straits of Malacca, it will become a key post in the trading empires of the Portuguese, then the Dutch, then the English.
1682: William Penn receives the tract now known as the state of Delaware, which he adds to his Pennsylvania colony. Disputes over boundaries with the Calvert family of Maryland will lead to 100 years of litigation and ultimately to the Mason-Dixon line.
1814: British troops burn federal buildings in Washington, D.C., including the White House. A nice try, but they’ll all get rebuilt, and then some.
1821: The Treaty of Córdoba grants independence from Spain to Mexico.
1854: At the Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga Springs, New York, chef George Crum invents the potato chip (or “crisp” in Britain).
1890: The original “Big Kahuna” who will make surfing a popular sport, Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku (“Duke” is his first name) is born in Hawaii.
1945: Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the man who would miraculously take pro wrestling out of dingy arenas and into mainstream popular culture, is born at Pinehurst, North Carolina.
1946: U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Clark McReynolds (Virginia Law 1884) dies at Washington, D.C.
1995: Microsoft Corp. releases Windows 95. It is reported that the company paid the Rolling Stones $12 million to appear in the product’s advertising campaign.