History: January 31, 2019

1606

Guy Fawkes takes his own life before his scheduled execution by British authorities.

Fawkes was behind the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Westminster in London. He had set up nearly 2 tons of gunpowder in the bowels of the Parliament building. During his interrogation, Fawkes’ principal motivations were religious – he wanted to end the Protestant government.

On his way to the gallows, Fawkes jumped off the ladder and landed on his head, dying instantly.

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1865

The US House passes the 13th Amendment to end slavery.

Republicans held majorities in the both houses, but Lincoln wanted bipartisan support. He also needed a two-thirds majority to pass, which it did, 119 to 56.

The Amendment then went to the states for ratification, and it passed in December that year.

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1950

President Truman announces that the military is developing a weapon 100 times more powerful than the atomic bombs unleashed on Japan to end World War II.

It came as the Soviets had also gained atomic weapons five months earlier. American and British intelligence had also discovered that top-ranking US physicist Klaus Fuchs, who was a transplant from Germany, was spying for the Reds.

Truman believed it imperative that the USA hold the world’s most powerful weapons.

Almost two years later, the first Hydrogen Bomb, which was nicknamed Mike, was detonated in the Pacific Marshal Islands.

Of course, the Soviets caught up by 1955.

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1958

The U.S. enters the space age with the launch of the satellite Explorer-I.

It came four months after the Soviets were the first, with Sputnik.

Aside from being the first American satellite, it also discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

A 60-megawatt transmitter sent the data back to Earth.

The satellite was merely 80 inches long and 6 inches in diameter.

Its took just under 2 hours to orbit the Earth. It lasted in orbit 111 days.

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1971

Apollo 14 blasts off, en route to the Moon.

Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell would become the 5th and 6th men to walk on the lunar surface.

Shepard was also the first American in space, in 1961.

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