Today in 1854, the Charge of the Light Brigade took place during the Crimean War. The British were winning the Battle of Balaclava when Lord James Cardigan received an order to attack the Russians. He took his troops into a valley and suffered 40 percent casualties. Later it was revealed that the order was the result of confusion and was not given intentionally.
Today in 1861, the first US transcontinental telegram was sent (from San Francisco to Washington, DC).
Today in 1901, Annie Edson Taylor, a 43-year-old widow, became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Many people before and since have died trying this feat. It is now against the law. Mrs. Taylor's dreams of fame and fortune failed to materialize, however, and she died in poverty in 1921.
Today in 1911, Orville Wright remained in the air 9-minutes and 45-seconds in a glider at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina setting a new world record that stood for 10 years.
Today in 1926, Harry Houdini had this last performance at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. Unknowingly performing with a ruptured appendix, he fought through the show – but later landed in the hospital. He died on October 31st.
Today in 1940, the 40-hour workweek went into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
Today in 1945, the United Nations officially came into existence as its charter took effect.
Today in 1945, Gimbel Brothers in Philadelphia became the first department store to publicly demonstrate a television. Over the next three weeks, more than 25,000 people would stop by to gawk.
Today in 1951, President Harry Truman formally ended the state of war with Germany.
Today in 1969, Richard Burton bought a million-dollar diamond ring for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor. The 69.42-carat diamond, which he bought at Cartier in New York, was the world’s most expensive diamond. The couple divorced in 1974, only to remarry the following year. They divorced again the year after that. After the second divorce, Taylor sold the piece for an estimated $5-million in 1978 (that translates to nearly $20M in today’s dollars) – and she used the proceeds to build a hospital in Botswana.
Today in 1991,despite the charges of sexual harassment brought by Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas was sworn in as the nation's 106th Supreme Court Justice.
Today in 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays became the first non-US team to win the World Series.
Today in 2001, the US House of Representatives approved “The Patriot Act,” which gave police the power to secretly search homes, tap all of a person's telephone conversation and track people's use of the Internet. It was signed into law two days later by President George W. Bush.
Today in 2001, NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft successfully entered orbit around Mars.
Today in 2003, Concorde made its last commercial flight.
Today in 2008, “Bloody Friday” saw many of the world’s stock exchanges experience the worst declines in their history, with drops around 10% in most indices.
Today in 2017, a dog doping scandal was confirmed by officials of Iditarod (the Alaskan dog sled race) after dogs tested positive for a banned substance.
Today in 2017, Albert Einstein's "Theory of Happiness," which was written as a note for a bellboy instead of a tip in Tokyo back in 1922, sold for $1.6-million.
Today in 2018, the largest jackpot in US history at $1.5-billion was won by one person in Southern Carolina. That winner – who came forward in March 2019 – has chosen to remain anonymous, but we do know they took the one-time cash payout...and filled their bank account with $877-million,784-thousand,124.