This Day in History

Prohibition Era Begins in the US (1920)
By January of 1919, members of the US temperance movement had been campaigning against excessive drinking for a century. Their efforts resulted in the 18th Amendment, which, when it went into effect in 1920, prohibited the sale—but not the consumption—of liquor. Prohibition spawned what John D. Rockefeller called "a vast army of lawbreakers" who profited from the illegal sale of alcohol, and the failed ban was repealed in 1933. What was delivered to the White House immediately after the repeal? Discuss

Otho Begins His 3-Month Reign as Roman Emperor (69 CE)
Otho and Roman Emperor Nero were once friends. Then, Otho's wife became Nero's mistress, and Nero dispatched Otho to the remote province of Lusitania. After patiently governing the province for a decade, Otho joined a revolt against the emperor in 68 CE. Nero committed suicide, and Otho took over. However, a rival soon challenged him for the throne. Just three months into his reign, Otho killed himself, presumably to avoid a civil war in his empire. How did he bid farewell to his friends?

Huygens Probe Lands on Titan (2005)
It took the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft more than six years to reach Saturn. During the trip, the Huygens probe remained dormant, preserving its battery life for a landing on Saturn's largest moon. The only moon in the solar system known to have clouds and a dense atmosphere, Titan resembles Earth in many ways. It was not known whether the probe would land on solid ground or in an ocean. After Huygens touched down, Titan's surface was described as being similar to what food?


Dian Fossey (1932)
Fossey was an occupational therapist when, on a trip to Africa in 1963, she met famed anthropologist Louis Leakey, who encouraged her to pursue her dream of studying gorillas. In 1966, she began living a solitary life in the mountains of central Africa, gradually gaining the acceptance of the gorillas she observed and building a vast body of knowledge about their habits, communication, and social structure. In 1985, she was found hacked to death in her Rwandan forest camp. Who murdered her? Discuss

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809)
Believed to have been the first person to call himself an anarchist, Proudhon was a French journalist and social theorist best known for his radical assertion that "property is theft." Originally a printer, he joined the socialist movement after moving to Paris in 1838. There, he published radical newspapers and was imprisoned. His writings were deeply influential within the anarchist movement. In his famous essay "What is Government?" how does Proudhon define what it means to be governed?

Kimitake Hiraoka, AKA Yukio Mishima (1925)
Born into a samurai family, Mishima served briefly in the finance ministry before going on to become one of the most important Japanese novelists of the 20th century. His novels are known for their exquisite attention to detail and character and often involve paradoxes—such as when a troubled monk destroys the temple he loves in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Following a failed coup attempt in 1970, he tried to commit seppuku, ritual suicide by self-disembowelment. How did he die?