History: November 14


Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick is published.

It follows the whaling ship Pequod, and its captain, Ahab, in pursuit of a giant white whale.

The first words are among the most famous in American literature: “Call me Ishmael.”

At first the book didn’t sell very well, which disappointed Melville, who had written several successful novels. After his death, in the early 1920s, Moby Dick resurfaced, and became the must-read it is today.



Britain amends its speed limit for horseless carriages.

Some 30 motorists had taken to the streets of London, and some were causing trouble. Parliament had recently repealed the “Red Flag Act.” This was a bizarre law that required cars to be accompanied by someone walking alongside it, holding a red flag to alert pedestrians and horses to its presence. The Red Flag Act limited speeds to 4 miles per hour.

The new law increased the speed limit to 14 miles per hour.



Eugene Ely becomes the first pilot to get a plane airborne from a naval vessel.

With 83 feet of runway sloped five degrees, Ely managed to get his plane airborne off the bow of the scout cruiser Birmingham.

Ely was also the first man to land a plan on a ship, a feat he achieved the following year.



The British Broadcasting Company begins its daily radio news updates.

It featured a 6pm nightly newscast, originating in London.

A broadcast license fee cost 10 shillings at the time — that’s about $30 today. The BBC was looking to cheaply spread its programming and build an extensive network.



The second manned mission to the moon blasts off from Cape Canaveral.

On board are Charles Conrad Jr, Richard F Gordon Jr, and Alan Bean. President Nixon was on hand to witness the launch.

On liftoff, a bolt of lightning shocked the rocket, killing the power. Miraculously, the ascent continued and power was eventually restored.

The third and fourth men on the moon conducted more tests, and looked into the crash site of the Surveyor 3 probe, which impacted the moon in 1967.



A plane carrying the Marshall University football team crashes over West Virginia, killing more than 60 players, doctors, and coaches.

The team had lost their game earlier that day.

Huntington, North Carolina was the home of the university, and it uncharacteristically shut down in the days after the crash.

The next season, a new coach started to build a new team from scratch — and it managed to win its first home game since the crash.