This Day in History

Quit India: Gandhi Calls on Public to "Do or Die" (1942)
In 1942, after Great Britain refused to grant immediate independence to India, Mohandas Gandhi launched the Quit India movement. Thousands of Indians responded to the call for civil disobedience, while the British attempted to suppress the rebellion by arresting over 100,000 people, levying mass fines, and subjecting demonstrators to public floggings. Though the movement ultimately failed, it showed Britain that India could not be governed for much longer. How did it impact Muslims in India? Discuss

Thor Heyerdahl Lands in Polynesia (1947)
Heyerdahl was a Norwegian adventurer with a passion for cultural anthropology. After a trip to Polynesia convinced him that Polynesian culture bore traces of South American cultures, he built a raft—the Kon-Tiki—and sailed it from South America to Polynesia to demonstrate the possibility of such contact. While his book about the voyage was an international bestseller, anthropologists have largely dismissed his theories. Why did he deliberately burn his ship during a 1978 expedition?

End of the Holy Roman Empire: Francis II Abdicates (1806)
Francis II, the last Holy Roman Emperor, came to power just before the outbreak of war with Napoleon's France. His armies were defeated, and he ceded the left bank of the Rhine to France in exchange for Venetia and Dalmatia. In 1798, he joined the Second Coalition against France, but he was again defeated. He eventually consented to the virtual dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and assumed the title of emperor of Austria. Though he despised Napoleon, Francis allowed him to marry whom?


Emiliano Zapata (1879)
During the Mexican Revolution, Zapata led the Liberation Army of the South, whose slogan, "Land and Liberty," represented its goal of returning Mexican land to the indigenous people. A champion of the rural poor, Zapata rallied his neighbors to protest against the hacienda that had appropriated their land and eventually led them in taking the land by force. His peasant soldiers occupied Mexico City three times between 1914 and 1915, and Zapata began to implement land reform. How was he killed? Discuss

Mata Hari (1876)
Born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, this Dutch courtesan, dancer, and alleged spy went by the stage name Mata Hari. During World War I, she had intimate relationships with high-ranking Allied military officers and government officials. Though details are unclear, she apparently spied for Germany from 1916. In January 1917, French intelligence intercepted German messages about a spy they identified as Mata Hari, and she was executed by the French on espionage charges. What happened to her corpse?

Alexander Fleming (1881)
Motivated by the devastating infections he saw in hospitals during World War I, Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist, began searching for an effective antiseptic. In 1922, he discovered lysozyme, an antibacterial enzyme present in saliva and tears. In 1928, he isolated the substance penicillin, which became the first successful antibiotic for human bacterial infections. His work earned him a Nobel Prize and has forever changed modern medicine. In what accidental way did he discover penicillin?