10
Oct
08

On This Day, 10-10-2008: Charles Martel

October 10, 732

Battle of Tours

At the Battle of Tours near Poitiers, France, Frankish leader Charles Martel, a Christian, defeats a large army of Spanish Moors, halting the Muslim advance into Western Europe. Abd-ar-Rahman, the Muslim governor of Cordoba, was killed in the fighting, and the Moors retreated from Gaul, never to return in such force.

Charles was the illegitimate son of Pepin, the powerful mayor of the palace of Austrasia and effective ruler of the Frankish kingdom. After Pepin died in 714 (with no surviving legitimate sons), Charles beat out Pepin’s three grandsons in a power struggle and became mayor of the Franks. He expanded the Frankish territory under his control and in 732 repulsed an onslaught by the Muslims.

Victory at Tours ensured the ruling dynasty of Martel’s family, the Carolingians. His son Pepin became the first Carolingian king of the Franks, and his grandson Charlemagne carved out a vast empire that stretched across Europe.

“Battle of Tours.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Oct 2008, 01:41 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5418.

On This Day

1845 – The United States Naval Academy opened in Annapolis, MD.

1865 – The billiard ball was patented by John Wesley Hyatt.

1911 – China’s Manchu dynasty was overthrown by revolutionaries under Sun Yat-sen.

1913 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson triggered the explosion of the Gamboa Dike that ended the construction of the Panama Canal.

1938 – Nazi Germany completed its annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland.

1943 – Chaing Kai-shek took the oath of office as the president of China.

1965 – The Red Baron made his first appearance in the “Peanuts” comic strip.

1970 – Pierre Laporte, the labor minister of Quebec, was kidnapped by the Quebec Liberation Front (FLQ) during the October Crisis in Canada. He was found eight days later strangled to death.

1973 – U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after being charged with federal income tax evasion.

1991 – The United States cut all foreign aid to Haiti in reaction to a military coup that forced President Jean-Claude Aristide into exile.

October 10, 1881

Darwin publishes work on mold and worms

On this day in 1881, Charles Darwin published The Formation of Vegetable Mold Through the Action of Worms. He considered the work a more important accomplishment than his The Origin of Species (1859), which turned out to be one of the most influential and controversial books in history.

Darwin, the privileged and well-connected son of a successful English doctor, had been interested in botany and natural sciences since his boyhood, despite the discouragement of his early teachers. At Cambridge, he found professors and scientists with similar interests and with their help began participating in scientific voyages, including the HMS Beagle‘s trip. By the time Darwin returned, he had developed an outstanding reputation as a field researcher and scientific writer, based on his many papers and letters dispatched from South America and the Galapagos Islands, which were read at meetings of prominent scientific societies in London.

Darwin began publishing studies of zoology and geology as soon as he returned from his voyage, while also secretly working on his radical theory of evolution. Knowing that scientists who had published radical theories before had been ostracized or worse, Darwin held off on publishing his theory of natural selection for nearly two decades. Meanwhile, he married and had seven children. He finally published The Origin of Species after another scientist began publishing papers with similar ideas. His book laid the groundwork for modern botany, cellular biology, and genetics. He died in 1882.

“Darwin publishes work on mold and worms.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Oct 2008, 01:37 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4117.

October 10, 1957

President Dwight D. Eisenhower apologizes to African diplomat

In the conclusion to an extremely embarrassing situation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower offers his apologies to Ghanian Finance Minister, Komla Agbeli Gbdemah, who had been refused service at a restaurant in Dover, Delaware. It was one of the first of many such incidents in which African diplomats were confronted with racial segregation in the United States.

While the matter might appear rather small relative to other events in the Cold War, the continued racial slights to African (and Asian) diplomats during the 1950s and 1960s were of utmost concern to U.S. officials. During those decades the United States and the Soviet Union were competing for the “hearts and minds” of hundreds of millions of people of color in Asia and Africa. Racial discrimination in America–particularly when it was directed at representatives from those regions–was, as one U.S. official put it, the nation’s “Achilles’ heel.”

Matters continued to deteriorate during the early 1960s, when dozens of diplomats from new nations in Africa and Asia faced housing discrimination in Washington, D.C., as well as a series of confrontations in restaurants, barbershops, and other places of business in and around the area. It was clear that American civil rights had become an international issue.

“President Dwight D. Eisenhower apologizes to African diplomat.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Oct 2008, 01:40 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2448.

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