Aug 29 2010

On This Day in History: August 29

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

August 29 is the 241st day of the year (242nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 124 days remaining until the end of the year.

We are all aware that on this day, 5 years ago, a category 4 hurricane named Katrina slammed into the Gulf coast. Much of the news this past week and today has been, and will be, devoted to that catastrophe and its aftermath which is as much of a disaster as was the original event.

But other important things happened on this day as well.

On this day in 1533, the 300 year old Inca civilization ended when Francisco Pizarro’s conquistadors strangled the last Inca Emperor, Atahuallpa.

High in the Andes Mountains of Peru, the Inca built a dazzling empire that governed a population of 12 million people. Although they had no writing system, they had an elaborate government, great public works, and a brilliant agricultural system. In the five years before the Spanish arrival, a devastating war of succession gripped the empire. In 1532, Atahuallpa’s army defeated the forces of his half-brother HuÁscar in a battle near Cuzco. Atahuallpa was consolidating his rule when Pizarro and his 180 soldiers appeared.

In 1531, Pizarro sailed down to Peru, landing at Tumbes. He led his army up the Andes Mountains and on November 15, 1532, reached the Inca town of Cajamarca, where Atahuallpa was enjoying the hot springs in preparation for his march on Cuzco, the capital of his brother’s kingdom. Pizarro invited Atahuallpa to attend a feast in his honor, and the emperor accepted. Having just won one of the largest battles in Inca history, and with an army of 30,000 men at his disposal, Atahuallpa thought he had nothing to fear from the bearded white stranger and his 180 men. Pizarro, however, planned an ambush, setting up his artillery at the square of Cajamarca.

On November 16, Atahuallpa arrived at the meeting place with an escort of several thousand men, all apparently unarmed. Pizarro sent out a priest to exhort the emperor to accept the sovereignty of Christianity and Emperor Charles V., and Atahuallpa refused, flinging a Bible handed to him to the ground in disgust. Pizarro immediately ordered an attack. Buckling under an assault by the terrifying Spanish artillery, guns, and cavalry (all of which were alien to the Incas), thousands of Incas were slaughtered, and the emperor was captured.

Atahuallpa offered to fill a room with treasure as ransom for his release, and Pizarro accepted. Eventually, some 24 tons of gold and silver were brought to the Spanish from throughout the Inca empire. Although Atahuallpa had provided the richest ransom in the history of the world, Pizarro treacherously put him on trial for plotting to overthrow the Spanish, for having his half-brother HuÁscar murdered, and for several other lesser charges. A Spanish tribunal convicted Atahuallpa and sentenced him to die. On August 29, 1533, the emperor was tied to a stake and offered the choice of being burned alive or strangled by garrote if he converted to Christianity. In the hope of preserving his body for mummification, Atahuallpa chose the latter, and an iron collar was tightened around his neck until he died.

 708 – Copper coins are minted in Japan for the first time (Traditional Japanese date: August 10, 708).

1350 – Battle of Winchelsea (or Les Espagnols sur Mer): The English naval fleet under King Edward III defeats a Castilian fleet of 40 ships.

1475 – The Treaty of Picquigny ends a brief war between France and England.

1498 – Vasco da Gama decides to depart Calicut and return to Portugal.

1521 – The Ottoman Turks capture Nandorfehervar, now known as Belgrade.

1526 – Battle of Mohacs: The Ottoman Turks led by Suleiman the Magnificent defeat and kill the last Jagiellonian king of Hungary and Bohemia.

1541 – The Ottoman Turks capture Buda, the capital of the Hungarian Kingdom.

1655 – Warsaw falls without resistance to a small force under the command of Charles X Gustav of Sweden during The Deluge.

1756 – Frederick the Great attacks Saxony, beginning the Seven Years’ War.

1758 – The first American Indian Reservation is established, at Indian Mills, New Jersey.

1786 – Shays’ Rebellion, an armed uprising of Massachusetts farmers, begins in response to high debt and tax burdens.

1825 – Portugal recognizes the Independence of Brazil.

1831 – Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction.

1833 – The United Kingdom legislates the abolition of slavery in its empire.

1842 – Treaty of Nanking signing ends the First Opium War.

1861 – American Civil War: US Navy squadron captures forts at Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina.

1862 – Second Battle of Bull Run

1869 – The Mount Washington Cog Railway opens, making it the world’s first rack railway.

1871 – Emperor Meiji orders the Abolition of the han system and the establishment of prefectures as local centers of administration. (Traditional Japanese date: July 14, 1871).

1885 – Gottlieb Daimler patents the world’s first motorcycle.

1898 – The Goodyear tire company is founded.

1903 – The Russian battleship Slava, the last of the five Borodino-class battleships, is launched.

1907 – The Quebec Bridge collapses during construction, killing 75 workers.

1910 – Japan changes Korea’s name to Chosen and appoints a governor-general to rule its new colony.

1911 – Ishi, considered the last Native American to make contact with European Americans, emerges from the wilderness of northeastern California.

1915 – US Navy salvage divers raise F-4, the first U.S. submarine sunk in accident.

1916 – The United States passes the Philippine Autonomy Act.

1918 – Bapaume taken by the New Zealand Division in the Hundred Days Offensive

1922 – Turkish forces set fire to Smyrna in Asia Minor.

1930 – The last 36 remaining inhabitants of St Kilda are voluntarily evacuated to other parts of Scotland.

1943 – German-occupied Denmark scuttles most of its navy;Germany dissolves the Danish government.

1944 – Slovak National Uprising takes place as 60,000 Slovak troops turn against the Nazis.

1949 – Soviet atomic bomb project: The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, known as First Lightning or Joe 1, at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.

1958 – United States Air Force Academy opens in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

1966 – The Beatles perform their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

1970 – Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War, East Los Angeles, California. Police riot kills three people, including journalist Ruben Salazar.

1982 – The synthetic chemical element Meitnerium, atomic number 109, is first synthesized at the Gesellschaft fur Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt, Germany.

1991 – Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union suspends all activities of the Soviet Communist Party.

1991 – Libero Grassi, an Italian businessman from Palermo is killed by the Mafia after taking a solitary stand against their extortion demands.

2003 – Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, the Shia Muslim leader in Iraq, is assassinated in a terrorist bombing, along with nearly 100 worshippers as they leave a mosque in Najaf.

2005 – Hurricane Katrina devastates much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, killing more than 1,836 and causing over $80 billion in damage.

2007 – 2007 United States Air Force nuclear weapons incident: six US cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads are flown without proper authorization from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale Air Force Base.