November 14


1533: Conquistadors from Spain led by Francisco Pizarro (1471-1541) arrived in Cajamarca, Inca Empire, precipitating the destruction of that empire and culture.

1770: Scottish traveler James Bruce (1730-1794) discovered what he believed to be the source of the Nile.

1840: Impressionist painter Claude Monet was born in France (died 1926).

1889: Inspired by Jules Verne’s fictional character Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly (real name Elizabeth Cochrane, 1864-1922) began an attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days (she completed the trip in 72 days).


November 15

1630: German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler (born 1571), famous for his laws of planetary motion, died in Regensburg, Bavaria (now Germany).

1791: The first U.S Catholic college, Georgetown University, opened its doors in what is now Washington, D.C.

1806: Lt. Zebulon Pike (1779-1813) saw a distant mountain peak while near the Colorado foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It was later named Pikes Peak.

1859: The first modern revival of the Olympic Games took place in Athens, Greece.

1887: Born this day: Pulitzer Prize winning poet and author Marianne Moore (died 1972), and renowned painter Georgia O’Keeffe (died 1986).

November 16

1800: First Lady Abigail Smith Adams (born 1744) arrived for the first time in the nation’s new capital, Washington, D.C.

1822: Missouri trader William Becknell (1787-1865) arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, over a route he established that became known as the Santa Fe Trail.

1852: English astronomer John Russell Hind (1823-1895) first observed and charted the asteroid 22 Kalliope, which has a small moon orbiting it.

1885: Canadian rebel leader of the Métis and “Father of Manitoba,” Louis Riel (born 1844), was executed for treason against the government of Canada.


November 17

1777: The Articles of Confederation were submitted to the states for ratification.

1800: The United States Congress held its first session in Washington, D.C.

1810: Sweden declared war on its ally, the United Kingdom, beginning the Anglo-Swedish War. (The war was settled on July 18, 1812, by the Treaty of Örebro, with no actual battles fought between the two nations.)

1820: U.S. Navy Captain Nathaniel Palmer (1799-1877) became the first American to see Antarctica. (The Palmer Peninsula was later named after him.)

1855: David Livingstone (1813-1873) became the first European to see Victoria Falls in what is now Zambia-Zimbabwe.

1869: The Suez Canal linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea was opened in Egypt.

1871: The National Rifle Association was granted it first charter, by the state of New York.

1896: The Western Pennsylvania Hockey League began play at Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park Casino. (It later became the first ice hockey league to openly trade and hire players.)


November 18

1307: William Tell (circa 1280-1354) shot an apple off his son’s head with a crossbow and bolt in Altdorf, Austria.

1421: A seawall at the Zuiderzee dike in the Netherlands broke, flooding 72 villages and killing about 10,000 people.

493: Christopher Columbus (1450-1506) first sighted the island now known as Puerto Rico.

1626: St. Peter’s Basilica was consecrated.

1803: The Battle of Vertières, the last major battle of the Haitian Revolution, was fought, leading to the establishment of the Republic of Haiti, the first, and so far only, black republic in the Western Hemisphere.

1865: The short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain (1835-1910) was published in the New York Saturday Press.

1883: American and Canadian railroads established five standard continental time zones, ending the confusion of thousands of local times.


November 19

1600: Born this day: King Charles I of England (beheaded 1649); and Dutch diplomat and spy Lieuwe van Aitzema (died 1669).

1722: Born this day: Austrian physician Leopold Auenbrugger (invented percussion as a diagnostic technique, considered a founder of modern medicine, died 1809), and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Chew (died 1810).

1831: James Abram Garfield (20th U.S. president, died 1881) was born in Orange, Ohio.

1863: President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the military cemetery ceremony at Gettysburg, Pa.

1916: Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz, 1879-1974) and Edgar Selwyn (1875-1944) established Goldwyn Pictures in Hollywood, Calif.


November 20

1789: New Jersey became the first U.S. state to ratify the Bill of Rights.

1805: The only opera by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Fidelio, premiered in Vienna.

1820: An 80-ton sperm whale attacked and sank the Essex, a whaling ship from Nantucket, Mass., 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America. (The 1851 novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, 1819-1891, was inspired in part by this story).

1925: Born this day: actress Kaye Ballard (The Patty Duke Show, The Mothers-in-Law, The Doris Day Show); and presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, D-N.Y. (in office  1965-1968, assassinated 1968). 1927: Born this day: U.S. Army Major Ed Freeman, Medal of Honor recipient (died 2008); and actress Estelle Parsons (Roseanne, Today Show, Bonnie and Clyde, All in the Family).