This Day in History

The Great White Fleet Begins Its Circumnavigation of the Globe (1907)
Just seven years before the start of World War I, a fleet of 16 American battleships took part in a 14-month, round-the-world voyage ordered by US President Theodore Roosevelt as a peaceful display of American naval power. Later known as the "Great White Fleet," the ships were painted white except for the gilded scrollwork on their bows. In ports around the world, thousands of people turned out to see the ships when they arrived. Why did several of the ships make an unscheduled stop in Italy? Discuss

Jens Olsen's World Clock Is Started by Danish King Frederick IX (1955)
Originally a skilled locksmith, Jens Olsen learned the trade of clock-making and, in the 1920s, designed an exceedingly intricate astronomical clock made of more than 14,000 parts. Today displayed in Copenhagen City Hall, the clock shows not only the time and date but also lunar and solar eclipses and the positions of stars and planets. The complex clock took over a decade to assemble, and Olsen died before his masterpiece was finally set in motion by King Frederick IX. Who helped him start it?

First Group of Explorers Reaches South Pole (1911)
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had been planning for a trip to the North Pole until he heard that someone had beaten him to it. Instead, he and his team set sail for Antarctica. There, they spent nearly a year preparing for the final two-month trek that made them the first people to reach the South Pole. With good equipment and plenty of sled dogs, the team was extremely well prepared compared to other polar expeditions of the day, some of which ended badly. How was their clothing better?

Today

Jane Austen (1775)
Austen was a prominent English novelist whose writing is noted for its wit, realism, shrewd sympathy, and brilliant prose style. Though she received little public recognition in her own lifetime—her books were published anonymously—she is now regarded as one of the great masters of the English novel. Several of her works, including Pride and Prejudice, have been adapted for film. Before her death, Austen suffered from a protracted, unexplained illness. What might have caused it? Discuss

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (37 CE)
Nero became emperor of Rome by murdering his mother and step-brother. His respectful treatment of the Senate made him a popular emperor in the east, but his reign was marred by unemployment and a major revolt in Britain. After a fire ravaged Rome in 64 CE, he persecuted the Christians as scapegoats. With his reign in decline, Nero went on a murderous rampage, was condemned by the Senate, and chose suicide over execution. According to legend, Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned. Is it true?

Margaret Chase Smith (1897)
Smith served as her husband's secretary following his election as a US representative. After he died in 1940, she was elected to finish his unexpired term, becoming Maine's first congresswoman. Noted for her integrity and independence, she joined the Senate in 1948 and continued to be reelected until 1972. In 1950, she gave her famed "Declaration of Conscience" speech opposing the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy. The speech earned her what derisive nickname from McCarthy's staff?