Sistine Chapel Opens
In 1512, after four years of work, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican, was opened. Painted by Michelangelo, the ceiling depicts biblical scenes and is one of the greatest examples of renaissance art. In 1535 Michelangelo began work on the altar area, which he completed in six years.
Spruce Goose Flies
In 1947 Howard Hughes piloted the H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose” on its only flight. Designed to carry seven hundred fifty soldiers, the Spruce Goose is the largest airplane ever built. Hughes built the plane for the U.S. military during World War II, but when the U.S. government cut funding for the project before its completion, Hughes invested millions of his own dollars to finish the job. Hughes flew the plane once simply to prove it was airworthy.
Iranian Militants Attack U.S. Embassy
In 1979 five hundred Iranian militants overtook the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, taking ninety hostages, sixty-three of whom were American. The militants were the followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini, a radical Islamic revolutionary. Earlier in the year Khomeini had overthrown the Iranian government. President Jimmy Carter finally negotiated the release of the hostages, but it required tireless negotiation right up until his last day in office. The hostages were released on that day, January 20, 1980.
Americans Soldiers See First Action In World War I
In 1917 American soldiers began fighting in World War I. Six months earlier the United States had declared war on the Central Powers, but America’s small army and distant location made prevented immediate involvement in Europe. Nevertheless, America’s eventual entry into the war played a key role in the defeat of Germany and her allies.
Lewis and Clark Reach the Pacific Ocean
In 1805 the expedition led by Meriweather Lewis and William Clark reached the Pacific Ocean. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned this great journey of discovery after completing the Louisiana Purchase, which gave the United States much of western North America. The entire journey lasted two years, and is celebrated as one of the greatest accomplishments of the era.
Three Servicemen Statue Dedicated
In 1984 “Three Servicemen,” a sculpture by Frederick Hart, was unveiled at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. This statue was created to add a more traditional component to the Vietnam Memorial. The original design for the memorial called. Along with the wall, “Three Servicemen” is among the most visited sites in Washington D.C.
In 1917 forty one suffragettes were arrested while protesting outside The White House. An organized women’s suffrage movement had been active since 1848, and in the twentieth century women began to take more and more radical steps to try and gain the right to vote. Women were given the right to vote in the nineteenth amendment, which passed in 1920.
In 1940 the U.S. Army introduced a new military vehicle. Dubbed the “General Purpose Vehicle,” or GP for short (pronounced “jeep”), this new vehicle was inexpensive, easily built, and could operate in virtually any terrain. The jeep was the standard vehicle used by army personnel in World War II, The Korean War, and Vietnam.
Sherman’s March Begins
In 1864, during the American Civil War, Union General William T. Sherman left Atlanta in ruins and began his march to the sea. Sherman’s army marched nearly unopposed through Georgia. He cut his army off from its supply lines and during this campaign, and his army lived off the land and destroyed everything of possible military or economic value in a corridor sixty miles wide and three hundred miles long.
“Mayflower Compact” Signed
In 1620, the pilgrims onboard the Mayflower signed the “Mayflower Compact.” The Pilgrims had obtained a license to settle in Virginia. However, because of a navigation error they landed in New England, but they decided to land and settle the area. The Compact was an agreement among themselves to establish a government and bring order to their settlement. Thus, it was the beginning of self-government in America.
John Kennedy Assassinated
In 1963 U.S. President John Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in an open-air motorcade in downtown Dallas. Kennedy had earlier rejected using a bullet resistant dome on his limousine. Since this incident, presidential security has become far greater, but numerous assassination attempts have occurred. Notably, a gunman shot Ronald Regan in 1980.
New U.S. Constitution Honored
In 1789 George Washington declared a national day of thanksgiving to honor the new U.S. Constitution. The holiday had long been celebrated among Americans and Canadians, but the purpose of the holiday varied from one generation to the next. It became an official national holiday in 1941, with the date set as the fourth Thursday in November.
Tehran Conference Begins
In 1943, during World War II, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin met in Tehran to discuss war strategy. By this point an Allied victory was believed certain, and thus these “Big Three” leaders began the difficult process of negotiating the post-war restructuring of Europe. These leaders would meet several more times before the war ended.