What happened today, back in the day
1493 Christopher Columbus discovers Puerto Rico.
1581 Tsarevich Ivan Ivanovich dies after being attacked by his father, Ivan the Terrible.
1703 The “Man in the Iron Mask,” a prisoner of Louis XIV in the Bastille prison in Paris, dies. The prisoner may have been Count Matthioli, who had double-crossed Louis XIV, or the brother of Louis XIV. His identity was the cause of much intrigue.
1824 Flooding of the Russian Neva River in St Petersburg kills 10 000 people.
1863 US President Abraham Lincoln delivers the 272-word Gettysburg Address, in which he movingly reminds a war-weary public why they have to win the Civil War. Famed orator Edward Everett precedes Lincoln and drones on for two hours. Lincoln then delivers his address in less than two minutes. His words come to symbolise the definition of democracy.
1872 Mpande kaSenzangakhona, Zulu king and half-brother of Shaka and Dingane, dies at his kraal, Nodwengu, in Zululand. He came to power after overthrowing Dingane in 1840.
1941 During a mutually destructive engagement between the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney and a modified German merchant ship, Kormoran, the ships sink each other off Western Australia, with the loss of all 645 Australians and 77 German seamen. Sydney is the largest Allied warship lost with all hands during World War II. Her sinking is met with astonishment, but is overshadowed by the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan.
1977 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat becomes the first Arab leader to visit Israel.
1978 In Jonestown, Guyana, the biggest mass suicide occurs when Rev Jim Jones and 900 cult followers drink cyanide-laced fruit juice.
1981 Civil rights attorney Griffiths Mxenge is found dead in Umlazi, Durban. He had been stabbed 45 times, beaten and mutilated by an Apartheid death squad comprised of policemen Joe Mamasela, David Tshikalange, Almond Nofomela & Brian Ngqulunga under the command of Captain Dirk Coetzee.
1984 Explosions at a petrol facility in Mexico City kill about 500 people.
1985 US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet for the first time amid a thaw in the Cold War.
2017 Oumuamua is first detected by scientists, 400 metres long and reddish, first known interstellar object in our solar system first and of possible alien origin.