Martin Luther Posts 95 Theses

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther posted his “95 Theses” on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg. In them, Luther set forth two central beliefs – that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds. He also condemned the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, especially the papal practice of asking payment – called “indulgences” – for the forgiveness of sins. These revolutionary ideas formed the basis for the Protestant Reformation.

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The Stock Market Crashes

On this day in 1929, the United States experienced the most devastating stock market crash in its history as investors traded more than 16 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day. Billions of dollars were lost, wiping out thousands of investors, and stock tickers ran hours behind because the machinery could not handle the tremendous volume of trading. In the aftermath of Black Tuesday, America and the rest of the industrialized world spiraled downward into the Great Depression.

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United Nations Day

On this day in 1945, the United Nations was formally established when the five permanent members of the Security Council ratified the charter that had been drawn up earlier that year. Since 1948, the event's anniversary has been known as United Nations Day - an occasion to highlight, celebrate, and reflect on the work of the United Nations and its family of specialized agencies.


The Death of Muammar Gaddafi


The Louisiana Purchase Ratified

On this day in 1803, the U.S. Senate approved a treaty with France providing for the purchase of the territory of Louisiana. Although President Thomas Jefferson questioned the constitutionality of the deal, he believed it was essential in order to maintain American trade access to the port of New Orleans. Soon after, he commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition to study the area's plants, animal life, and geography, and to discover how the region could be exploited economically.

To learn more about the Louisiana Purchase & the Lewis & Clark Expedition, try the following resources:


The Star-Spangled Banner

On this day in 1814, the first documented performance of "The Defence of Fort McHenry" took place at the Holliday Street Theatre in Maryland. The song, which would later come to be known as "The Star-Spangled Banner" had been penned by Francis Scott Key days before during the Battle of Baltimore. Inspired by the victory and the sight of the large American flag flying overhead, Key wrote the poem on the back of a letter he had in his pocket. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued an Executive Order adopting it as the national anthem. Fifteen years later, a Congressional order signed by Herbert Hoover did the same.

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The Raid at Harpers Ferry

On this day in 1859, abolitionist John Brown led a group of 22 men, including five black men and three of his sons, on a raid against a federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), in an attempt to start an armed slave revolt and destroy the institution of slavery. Word of the raid spread, and by morning Brown and his men were surrounded. Two days later, they were overrun. Ten of his men, including two of his sons, were killed. Brown was captured and tried by the state of Virginia for treason and murder. Found guilty, he was executed on December 2.

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The Cuban Missile Crisis Begins

This day in 1962 marked the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis. For the next two weeks, the United States and the Soviet Union remained on the brink of nuclear war as President John F. Kennedy negotiated the removal of Soviet-made medium-range missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, 90 miles off the American coastline in Cuba.

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White House History

On this day in 1792, the cornerstone was laid for a presidential residence in the newly designated capital city of Washington. In 1800, President John Adams became the first president to reside in the executive mansion, which soon became known as the "White House" because its white-gray Virginia freestone contrasted strikingly with the red brick of nearby buildings. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt made the name official when he had "The White House" engraved on his stationery.

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The Legacy of Christopher Columbus

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