This week in history, two great discoveries happened. The first was the most important archeological discovery of the 20th century. The second involved British legislators discovering a plan to destroy Parliament and kill the king. Intrigued? Read below to find out more from this week in history.
On this day in 1969, “viewers like you” brought television into homes across America. The Public Broadcasting Service, commonly known as PBS, was established to promote educational television and entertainment programs. Since 1952, similar educational programming had been privately funded and produced for the National Educational Television network. The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 created the government-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting, from which PBS was formed. PBS subsumed NET and continues to run; its shows include the children’s program “Sesame Street,” current events shows like “Newshour” and science program “Nova.”
King Tut’s Tomb Discovered
The mysteries and majesty of Egypt were shown to the world on this day in 1922 with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. Famed English archeologist Howard Carter found the unsullied tomb after years of searching the Valley of the Kings. The tomb Carter uncovered belonged to Tutankhamun, a young king who had died around 1352 B.C. at the age of 19. The treasures inside—from jewels, to ritual statues and jars, to the emblematic death mask—stunned the world and fueled the popular imagination for Egypt and the ancient world. The artifacts are stored at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and have toured the world.
The Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes Day
On the night of November 4, 1605, 20 barrels of gunpowder were discovered underneath Britain’s Parliament building. That night, the conspirators in the “Gunpowder Plot” to blow up Parliament and kill King James I were arrested. There were at least 11 conspirators, including this day’s namesake, Guy Fawkes. The conspirators were tried, convicted and beheaded; their heads were displayed on pikes on London Bridge on January 31, 1606. November 5 became a day of celebration for the British people, with Guy Fawkes effigies burned in large bonfires. Fawkes has gained new relevance in recent years, due in part to the 1980s graphic novel “V for Vendetta” and movie of the same name invoking his name and image, as well as the Internet activist group Anonymous utilizing Fawkes’ image.
“Meet the Press” Debuts
A staple of news programming began on this day in 1947. “Meet the Press” is the longest-running series in American broadcast history. The program began on radio in 1945 and has changed little in format since that time. A politician or other person in the news is interviewed and questioned about current affairs. It has aired for 66 seasons and has a track record of being the best-rated Sunday news program.
Roosevelt Re-Elected for Fourth Term
Already the longest-serving president in U.S. history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt won a remarkable fourth term of office on this day in 1944, having defeated perennial candidate Thomas Dewey. Roosevelt won this election with 432 electoral votes and a 53.4 percent majority in the popular vote. He would not serve long in this term—only 53 days. Roosevelt died April 12, 1945. Harry Truman succeeded him.
Edmond Halley Birthday
Astronomer Edmond Halley was born on this day in 1656. He would gain notoriety for his accurate prediction of the orbit of the eponymous Halley’s Comet. Halley was the second Astronomer Royal in Britain. Halley’s Comet is one of the most well known comets and astronomical occurrences. It is visible from Earth every 75 years or so; seeing it truly is a once in a lifetime event. The first recorded viewing of Halley’s Comet was in 240 B.C.; it last appeared in 1986 and is scheduled to return in 2061.
On this day in 1938, Nazi troops attacked Jewish businesses, houses and places of worship across Germany. During this “night of broken glass,” Nazis burned or destroyed more than 7,000 businesses and 900 synagogues, killed 91 people and sent around 30,000 Jews to concentration camps. German authorities claimed that the attacks were in retaliation to the assassination of a Germany Embassy worker in Paris by a Jewish student. Kristallnacht was the tipping point in Jewish repression in Nazi Germany; more persecution both economically and physically followed. The international community expressed outrage, but did little in response.