This Day in History

Captain James Cook Crosses Antarctic Circle (1773)
An explorer, navigator, and map maker, Cook sailed the Pacific Ocean between 1768 and 1779 and, with the help of new timekeeping instruments, drew the first accurate navigational maps of the area. He became the one of the first people to cross the Antarctic Circle as well as the first European to land on the Hawaiian islands, where he may have been identified by native Hawaiians as the representation of their god Lono. How did this misunderstanding contribute to his death? Discuss

The Council of Nablus (1120)
The Council of Nablus was convened to establish the first written laws for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Christian kingdom established in 1099 by the First Crusade. The council included both ecclesiastic and secular lords who established 25 canons that addressed both religious and secular issues like tithing, adultery, bigamy, false accusations, legal attire for Muslim residents, and theft. Why, according to the canons, was it necessary for the Christian leadership to organize this council?

Body of Elizabeth Short—the "Black Dahlia"—Found (1947)
Elizabeth Short was the victim of a gruesome and much-publicized murder that is still unsolved. Nicknamed the "Black Dahlia" by newspapers after her body was recovered in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, Short was found mutilated, her body severed at the waist. The unsolved murder has been the source of widespread speculation, leading to several books and film adaptations, as well as many false confessions and leads in the years since she was killed. From what was the "Black Dahlia" nickname derived?

Today

Benjamin Franklin (1706)
Regarded as one of the most extraordinary public servants in American history, Franklin was also a printer, publisher, author, scientist, and inventor. After gaining popularity as the publisher of Poor Richard's Almanack, he promoted public services in Philadelphia, including a library and a fire department. In 1776, he went to France to seek aid for the American Revolution, and in 1787 he was instrumental in the adoption of the US Constitution. What musical instrument did he invent? Discuss

Fulgencio Batista (1901)
Batista was a soldier, president, and dictator who twice ruled Cuba. After working his way up through the army, he ruled first through associates before becoming president himself in 1940. In his first term, he achieved gains in education, public works, and the economy while enriching himself and his associates. He lost the 1944 election but returned to power through a US backed coup in 1952 and ran a corrupt and brutal dictatorship that set the stage for his overthrow in 1959 by whom?

Philip Livingston (1716)
Livingston was a successful merchant who became an American revolutionary leader in the protests against the Stamp Act and other British trade restrictions. Although he was not originally an advocate of independence, Livingston signed the Declaration of Independence and remained an active member of the Continental Congress. He was generous with his large fortune and was a supporter of many causes, including the founding of King's College, which later became what university?