" There is no explanation for evil. It must be looked upon as a necessary part of the order of the universe. To ignore it is childish, to bewail it senseless. "
W. Somerset Maugham

Back in the day


Annie Edson Taylor, 63, Goes Over Niagara Falls in a Barrel

Taylor was a dance instructor who sought fame and fortune by attempting to become the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Days before her attempt, a cat was sent over the falls to test the strength of Taylor's barrel and survived the plunge uninjured. On her 63rd birthday, Taylor was set adrift in her barrel and went over the falls. Shortly thereafter, the barrel was pulled from the water and Taylor emerged—mostly unharmed. Did she gain the fortune she sought?



The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre

During the French Wars of Religion, Catherine de Médici plotted to have Gaspard II de Coligny—leader of the French Protestants known as Huguenots—assassinated. When the attempt failed, she convinced King Charles IX to murder all of the Huguenot leaders, who were in Paris for the wedding of the future Henry IV. The massacre began on August 24—St. Bartholomew's Day—and spread to the provinces. By October, tens of thousands of Huguenots had been killed. Why was Catherine able to influence Charles?

Born on a day like today


Sarah Josepha Buell Hale

Hale was an American writer and editor who turned to writing in 1822 as a widow trying to support her family. She edited Ladies' Magazine, the first successful US women's magazine, and then Godey's Lady's Book, with which it merged. As the first female magazine editor, she shaped many of the attitudes and ideas of women of the period. Hale is also credited with helping to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in the US. What popular nursery rhyme did she write?

Last updated on Monday, 24th October 2011

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