Two “massacres” happened this week in history: At the O.K. Corral, three men died and many were wounded; in Nixon’s White House, three men lost their jobs and a country’s confidence in its leaders was injured.
Saturday Night Massacre
No one died, but a president’s reputation did. On this night in 1973, President Richard Nixon indirectly fired the independent special prosecutor on the Watergate case, Archibald Cox. Nixon first ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to terminate Cox. Richardson refused and resigned his position. William Ruckelshaus became acting Attorney General; Ruckelshaus also resigned when Nixon requested he fire Cox. Nixon then went to Solicitor General Robert Bork. Bork complied and fired Cox. This dismissal was later deemed illegal. Bork appointed Leon Jaworksi as a new special prosecutor on the Watergate Case. Jaworski delved into deeper levels of White House corruption.
Vietnam Protests Hit the Pentagon
On this day in 1967, 100,000 demonstrators marched from the Lincoln Memorial to the Pentagon to protest the ongoing Vietnam War. The demonstration was largely peaceful, until the throng reached the military headquarters where upwards of 250 people were arrested. No shots were fired, but protestors were hit with nightsticks and rifle butts. Protests paralleled this demonstration in Europe and Japan.
The Great Disappointment
The world was set to end on this day in 1844, but did not. The Millerites, followers of Baptist preacher William Miller, expected October 22, 1844, to be the day Jesus Christ would return to Earth, thus ending the world. Miller preached that the world was going to end in 1844 and a follower, Samuel Snow, gave the more specific date. October 22 came and went and nothing apocalyptic happened. Some Millerites revised their end-date, only to be proven wrong again. Others had sold all their belongings. This date is now known to the Millerites as the Great Disappointment. The Millerite cause had spread across the country by the time October 22 passed.
Music evolved once again on this day in 2001 when Apple revealed its latest invention, the iPod MP3 player. Initially only compatible with Macs, and holding 5 gigabytes, the first iPod sold for $399. Steve Jobs claimed that it was a device that could put “1,000 songs in your pocket.” The iPod gained popularity, quickly becoming the most popular digital music device. Subsequent redesigns have kept the device relevant and popular. By January 2010, Apple had sold more than 250 million iPods.
First Barrel Over Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls’ majestic waters became more of a spectacle on this day in 1901 when Annie Edson Taylor, on her 63rd birthday, was the first person to go over the falls in a barrel. Taylor was a former dance teacher whose husband had died in the Civil War. She hoped to gain notoriety and riches from her feat of human ingenuity and survival. Daredevils have repeated Taylor’s stunt with varying success.
Perhaps the greatest artist of the 20th century was born on this day in 1881. Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Spain and began his artistic training at a young age. He helped start the Cubist movement, invented different forms of sculpture such as collage and constructed sculpture and is remembered for his oftentimes unusual but evocative forms. His most famous works include “Guernica,” a depiction of the German bombing of the town of the same name during the Spanish Civil War, and “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” Picasso died April 8, 1973.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
One of the most famous and most exaggerated events in the Wild West happened on this day in 1881. Local authorities Marshal Virgil Earp, his brothers, Deputies Wyatt Earp and Morgan Earp and their affiliate, Doc Holliday confronted the Clanton and McLaury brothers behind the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Ariz. The actual gunfight was over quickly and left three men dead and all but one wounded. The fight has been portrayed in myriad films, books and other media. It is emblematic of the “wild” nature of the lawless frontier-era western U.S.