This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
November 3 is the 307th day of the year (308th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 58 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1964, residents of the District of Columbia cast their ballots in a presidential election for the first time. The passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961 gave citizens of the nation’s capital the right to vote for a commander in chief and vice president. They went on to help Democrat Lyndon Johnson defeat Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964, the next presidential election.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the federal territory until an act of Congress in 1871 established a single, unified municipal government for the whole District. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. Named in honor of George Washington, the city shares its name with the U.S. state of Washington located on the country’s Pacific coast.
On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President Washington. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the initial shape of the federal district was a square, measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (260 km2). During 1791-92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the border of the District with both Maryland and Virginia, placing boundary stones at every mile point. Many of the stones are still standing. A new “federal city” was then constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of the established settlement at Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the federal city was named in honor of George Washington, and the district was named the Territory of Columbia, Columbia being a poetic name for the United States in use at that time. Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800.
The Organic Act of 1801 officially organized the District of Columbia and placed the entire federal territory, including the cities of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria, under the exclusive control of Congress. Further, the unincorporated territory within the District was organized into two counties: the County of Washington to the east of the Potomac and the County of Alexandria to the west. Following this Act, citizens located in the District were no longer considered residents of Maryland or Virginia, thus ending their representation in Congress.
The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1961, granting the District three votes in the Electoral College for the election of President and Vice President, but still no voting representation in Congress.
644 – Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second Muslim caliph, is martyred by a Persian slave in Medina.
1468 – Liege is sacked by Charles I of Burgundy’s troops.
1493 – Christopher Columbus first sights the island of Dominica in the Caribbean Sea.
1783 – John Austin, a highwayman, is the last person to be publicly hanged at London’s Tyburn gallows.
1783 – The American Continental Army is disbanded.
1793 – French playwright, journalist and feminist Olympe de Gouges is guillotined.
1812 – Napoleon’s armies are defeated at Vyazma
1817 – The Bank of Montreal, Canada’s oldest chartered bank, opens in Montreal, Quebec.
1838 – The Times of India, the world’s largest circulated English language daily broadsheet newspaper is founded as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce.
1848 – A greatly revised Dutch constitution, drafted by Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, severely limiting the powers of the Dutch monarchy, and strengthening the powers of parliament and ministers, is proclaimed. This constitution is still in effect today.
1867 – Garibaldi and his followers are defeated in the Battle of Mentana and fail to end the Pope’s Temporal power in Rome (it would be achieved three years later).
1883 – American Old West: Self-described “Black Bart the poet” gets away with his last stagecoach robbery, but leaves an incriminating clue that eventually leads to his capture.
1887 – Coimbra Academic Association, the oldest students’ union in Portugal, is founded.
1903 – With the encouragement of the United States, Panama separates from Colombia.
1905 – Czar Nicholas II of Russia signs a document of amnesty for political prisoners.
1911 – Chevrolet officially enters the automobile market in competition with the Ford Model T.
1913 – The United States introduces an income tax.
1918 – Austria-Hungary enters into an armistice with the Allies, and the Habsburg-ruled empire dissolves.
1918 – Poland declares its independence from Russia.
1930 – Getulio Dornelles Vargas becomes Head of the Provisional Government in Brazil after a bloodless coup on October 24.
1935 – George II of Greece regains his throne through a popular plebiscite.
1942 – World War II: The Koli Point action begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign and ends on November 12.
1943 – World War II: 500 aircraft of the U.S. 8th Air Force devastate Wilhelmshafen harbor in Germany.
1957 – Sputnik program: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2. On board is the first animal to enter orbit, a dog named Laika.
1964 – Washington D.C. residents are able to vote in a presidential election for the first time.
1967 – Vietnam War: The Battle of Dak To begins.
1969 – Vietnam War: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon addresses the nation on television and radio, asking the “silent majority” to join him in solidarity on the Vietnam War effort and to support his policies.
1973 – Mariner program: NASA launches the Mariner 10 toward Mercury. On March 29, 1974, it becomes the first space probe to reach that planet.
1978 – Dominica gains its independence from the United Kingdom.
1979 – Greensboro massacre: Five members of the Communist Workers Party are shot dead and seven are wounded by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis during a “Death to the Klan” rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States.
1982 – The Salang tunnel fire in Afghanistan kills up to 2,000 people.
1986 – Iran-Contra Affair: The Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa reports that the United States has been secretly selling weapons to Iran in order to secure the release of seven American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon.
1986 – The Federated States of Micronesia gain independence from the United States of America.
1988 – Sri Lankan Tamil mercenaries try to overthrow the Maldivian government. At President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s request, the Indian military suppresses the coup attempt within 24 hours.
1997 – The United States of America imposes economic sanctions against Sudan in response to its human rights abuses of its own citizens and its material and political assistance to Islamic extremist groups across the Middle East and Eastern Africa.
2007 – Pervez Musharraf declares emergency rule across Pakistan. He suspends the Constitution, imposes a State of Emergency, and fires the chief justice of the Supreme Court.