History: November 16

1532

Conquistador Francisco Pizarro captures Incan emperor Atahualpa.

Pizarro tricked the native king into attending what was supposed to be a peaceful feast held in his honor.

When Atahualpa arrived with his escort of Incans, the Spaniards open fire on them, killing them all.

Pizarro eventually forced Atahualpa to convert to Christianity. Then he killed them.

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1777

The ragtags trying to run the budding American government establish the Articles of Confederation.

It took 16 months to finalize the document. It was designed to give power to the states individually, with a small federal government.

Much of that changed with the passage of the US Constitution 11 years later.

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1849

Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky is sentenced to death for publicly decrying the government.

He was a part of the Petrashevsky Circle, a group of intellectual radicals who opposed the Tsar.

Just before he was scheduled to be shot by firing squad, someone in the Russian monarchy changed their mind; he was instead sentenced to spend 4 years working in a Siberian labor camp. This was as good as a death sentence, though some survived.

He would later write his most notable work, The Brothers Karamazov, in 1880.

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1945

The US starts herding German scientists across the Atlantic, to get their help developing rocket technology.

Most of the recruits worked for the Nazis, though not all willingly.

The US was eager to get its hands on the technology that powered the V-1 and V-2 German rockets.

In order to avoid public outcry for getting their help, the military said they were simply volunteers coming to work after the war for small stipends. Officially, the scientists were in American “protective custody.”

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1901

A small electric car breaks the world record for fastest automobile, a title held for 10 years.

The device was called the Torpedo Racer, and it was a glorified platform on bike wheels.

It hit speeds of 57 miles per hour.

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2001

To wild fanfare and box office glory, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone opens in theaters stateside.

Christopher Columbus was the director, who followed suit for the second movie, but quit after that.

The franchise of course spans 7 books, which turned into 8 movies, and made Rowling a kajillionaire.

The films have become the most successful in history, selling more in ticket sales than Star Wars. But with Episode 7 in the works, who knows?