This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.a
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
December 13 is the 347th day of the year (348th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 18 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1642, Abel Tasman discovers New Zealand.
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous Maori language name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, commonly translated as land of the long white cloud. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica).
The majority of Zealand’s population is of European descent; the indigenous Maori are the largest minority. Asians and non-Maori Polynesians are also significant minority groups, especially in urban areas. The most commonly spoken language is English.
New Zealand is a developed country that ranks highly in international comparisons on many topics, including lack of corruption, high educational attainment and economic freedom. Its cities also consistently rank among the world’s most liveable.
Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the country’s head of state and is represented by a Governor-General, and executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet of New Zealand.
New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major landmasses. The first known settlers were Eastern Polynesians who, according to most researchers, arrived by canoe in about AD 1250-1300. Some researchers have suggested an earlier wave of arrivals dating to as early as AD 50-150; these people then either died out or left the islands. Over the following centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Maori. The population was divided into iwi (tribes) and hapu (subtribes) which would cooperate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Maori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their distinct Moriori culture.
The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642. Maori killed four of the crew and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook’s voyage of 1768-71. Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost the entire coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Maori timber, food, artefacts and water. On occasion, Europeans traded goods for sex.
The potato and the musket transformed Maori agriculture and warfare, beginning in the frequently visited north then spreading southwards. The resulting Musket Wars encompassed over 600 battles between 1801 and 1840, killing 30,000-40,000 Maori, although introduced diseases would play an even greater role in the Maori population’s decline to around 40% of its pre-contact level during the 19th century. From the early 19th century, Christian missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Maori population, although their initial inroads were mainly among the more disaffected elements of society.
1294 – Saint Celestine V resigns the papacy after only five months; Celestine hoped to return to his previous life as an ascetic hermit.
1545 – Council of Trent begins.
1577 – Sir Francis Drake sets out from Plymouth, England, on his round-the-world voyage.
1636 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony organizes three militia regiments to defend the colony against the Pequot Indians. This organization is recognized today as the founding of the United States National Guard.
1642 – Abel Janszoon Tasman reaches New Zealand.
1643 – English Civil War: The Battle of Alton takes place in Hampshire.
1769 – Dartmouth College is founded by the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, with a Royal Charter from King George III, on land donated by Royal Governor John Wentworth.
1809 – Dr. Ephraim McDowell performed the first ovariotomy, removing a twenty-two pound tumor.
1862 – American Civil War: At the Battle of Fredericksburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee defeats the Union Major General Ambrose E. Burnside.
1867 – Fenian bomb explodes in Clerkenwell, London, killing six.
1937 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Nanjing – Nanjing, defended by the National Revolutionary Army under the command of General Tang Shengzhi, falls to the Japanese.
1937 – Nanjing Massacre. Japanese troops begin carrying out several weeks of raping and killing of civilians and suspected Chinese resistance after the fall of Nanjing.
1938 – The Holocaust: The Neuengamme concentration camp opens in the Bergedorf district of Hamburg, Germany.
1939 – World War II: Battle of the River Plate – Captain Hans Langsdorff of the German Deutschland class cruiser (pocket battleship) Admiral Graf Spee engages with Royal Navy cruisers HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax and HMNZS Achilles.
1941 – World War II: Hungary and Romania declare war on the United States.
1943 – World War II: The Massacre of Kalavryta by German occupying forces in Greece.
1949 – The Knesset votes to move the capital of Israel to Jerusalem.
1959 – Archbishop Makarios becomes the first President of Cyprus.
1960 – While Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia visits Brazil, his Imperial Bodyguard seizes the capital and proclaim him deposed and his son, Crown Prince Asfa Wossen, Emperor.
1962 – NASA “Relay 1” launch, first active repeater communications satellite in orbit.
1967 – Constantine II of Greece attempts an unsuccessful counter-coup against the Regime of the Colonels
1968 – Brazilian president Artur da Costa e Silva decrees the AI-5 (or the fifth Institutional Act), which lasts until 1978 and marks the beginning of the hard times of Brazilian military dictatorship.
1972 – Apollo program: Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt begin the third and final Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) or “Moonwalk” of Apollo 17. This is the last manned mission to the moon of the 20th century.
1974 – Malta becomes a republic.
1977 – A DC-3 aircraft chartered from the Indianapolis-based National Jet crashes near Evansville Regional Airport, killing 29, including the University of Evansville basketball team, support staff and boosters of the team.
1979 – The Canadian Government of Prime Minister Joe Clark is defeated in the House of Commons, prompting the 1980 Canadian election.
1981 – General Wojciech Jaruzelski declares martial law in Poland to prevent dismantling of the communist system by Solidarity.
1988 – Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat gives a speech at the UN general assembly in the Swiss city of Geneva after the US authorities refused to give him a visa to enter New York.
1989 – Attack on Derryard checkpoint: The Provisional Irish Republican Army launch an attack on a British Army permanent vehicle checkpoint near Rosslea, Northern Ireland. Two British soldiers are killed and one badly wounded.
1989 – The last issue of Gnistan (The Spark), the organ of the Solidaritetspartiet, is published in Sweden.
2000 – The “Texas 7” escape from the John Connally Unit near Kenedy, Texas and go on a robbery spree, during which police officer Aubrey Hawkins is shot and killed.
2001 – the Indian Parliament Sansad is attacked by terrorists. 15 people are killed, including all the terrorists.
2002 – Enlargement of the European Union: The European Union announces that Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia will become members from May 1, 2004.
2003 – Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit (see Operation Red Dawn).
2004 – Former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet is put under house arrest, after being sued under accusations over 9 kidnapping actions and manslaughter. The house arrest is lifted the same day on appeal.
2006 – The Baiji, or Chinese River Dolphin, is announced as extinct.
* Christian Feast Day
* Republic Day (Malta)
* Saint Lucy’s Day (mainly Scandinavia, some regions of Italy (e.g. Sicily, Veneto and Trentino), and Malta)
o National Day (Saint Lucia)