Thursday, December 2, 2010
1552 – St. Francis Xavier, Jesuit missionary to India and the Far East, dies of a fever on Shangchuan Island, China.
1818 – Illinois becomes the 21st U.S. state. The state will be home to four future U.S. Presidents, but only one will grow up there: Who is it? (Answer below.)
1842 – Future flour tycoon Charles Alfred Pillsbury is born at Warner, New Hampshire.
1854 – At Ballarat, Victoria, more than 20 rebellious gold miners are killed by mixed force of Australian soldiers and police at what comes to be known as the Battle of Eureka Stockade. The miners are outraged by the high price of government mining licenses and the taxes imposed on them.
1857 – Future merchant seaman and writer Joseph Conrad is born at Berdyczów in the Russian Empire. His service as captain of the Congo River steamer Roi des Belges (right) will be the basis for his novella Heart of Darkness.
1894 – Robert Louis Stevenson, who gave up a career at the Scottish bar to write adventure novels, dies of a brain hemorrhage at his estate in Samoa. Last words to his wife: "Does my face look strange?"
1910 – At the Salon de l'Auto in Paris, Georges Claude makes the first public demonstration of his new invention, the neon light.
1984 – At Bhopal, India, an accidental chemical release from a Union Carbide pesticide plant kills nearly 4,000 people and injures tens of thousands of others. The company will ultimately settle the resulting claims for $470 million.
1990 – Two passenger aircraft run into each other on the runway at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, killing 7 passengers and 1 crew member. The Transportation Safety Administration immediately decides that passengers on all future flights must wear fluorescent protective headgear.
2007 – Thousands of delegates from 180 countries and dozens of other entities arrive at the luxurious oceanfront Bali International Convention Center on carbon-spewing jet aircraft for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
[Answer to the trivia question: Ronald Reagan. The other presidents with ties to Illinois are Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Barack Obama.]