History Highlights2018-01-06T17:21:53+00:00

In Landmark Events’ History Highlights, historian Bill Potter draws contemporary lessons and applications from key people and events of the past.

2018

The Romanian Uprising Begins, 1989

Week of December 9
Dictators have a long and storied history of leaving this mortal world well before their demographics might suggest, due to their unbridled tyranny. Nicolae Ceauşescu, “President” of Romania, is a good case in point. His downward mortality arc...

The Birth of Andrew Carnegie, 1835

Week of November 25
The 19th Century Industrial Revolution changed the life and culture of the United Kingdom and the western world. Machines brought increased production of manufactured goods, demand for entrepreneurs, engineers, inventors, and...

Gustavus Adolphus Killed in Battle, 1632

Week of November 18
In 1593 the Swedish Church adopted the Lutheran Augsburg Confession as its statement of faith, bringing to culmination a half century of struggle over whether the Protestant Reformation would finally win popular support. According to one...

The End of the Great War, 1918

Week of November 11
The leaders of the nations and armies of the First World War called for an Armistice at the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month in 1918. After four years of unprecedented industrial-scale slaughter, resulting in the deaths of about eight million...

Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, 1605

Week of November 4
King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Not everyone in England was happy with this outcome. A secret cabal of Roman Catholic assassins determined to blow up the King and Lords and...

Sir Walter Raleigh Beheaded, 1618

Week of October 28
Warrior, pirate, businessman, investor, courtier, explorer, jailbird, Member of Parliament, Governor, historian, poet: Sir Walter Raleigh lived a most colorful and dangerous life, full of adventure. He loved to fight, hated the Catholic Church, was...

The Battle of Trafalgar, 1805

Week of October 21
Admiral Horatio Nelson, England’s greatest living war hero, sent his last communication to the fleet. They were about to engage the combined naval forces of France and Spain in the Napoléonic War showdown at Trafalgar, off the coast of Spain...

Anthony Comstock Launches His Crusade, 1872

Week of October 14
Anthony Comstock was one of the most admired and most hated men of the nineteenth century. Journalist and professional cynic H.L. Mencken hurled ridicule at the legislation inspired by...

The Great Chicago Fire, 1871

Week of October 7
Fire has destroyed many cities in the past. The great fire of London, England in 1661 consumed more than 13,000 homes and 87 parish churches as temperatures reached 2,280 degrees fahrenheit. Many saw it as divine judgement on a dissolute...

The Birth of Caesar Augustus, 63 BC

Week of September 23
“Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that census be taken of all the inhabited earth.” (Luke 2:1) With these words many Christmas pageants and plays begin, but Augustus is just a bit player off stage to the moment...

Emancipation Proclamation Announced, 1862

Week of September 16
In his First Inaugural Address, President Abraham Lincoln stated that “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I have no lawful right...

Death of William the Conqueror, 1087

Week of September 9
Scottish writer and historian Thomas Carlyle during the 1840s, and especially in his book Heroes and Hero Worship, argued that history can largely be explained by the actions and leadership of great men of the past. He lauds but a few in his book...

Japan Surrenders, 1945

Week of September 2
The iconic photograph shows the American commander in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur, standing behind the table that supports the surrender document. It will soon be signed by the representatives of the...

The Eruption of Krakatoa, 1883

Week of August 26
Out for a walk on a summer Sabbath in 1884, boys from a mission school on the island of Zanzibar, East Africa, spotted a strange looking object stranded on a sandbar in the ocean. Upon closer inspection, it proved to be a black island of...

Burning of the Library of Congress, 1814

Week of August 19
The Library of Congress is the largest book repository in the world, with more than one hundred million books as well as another sixty million other items, in four hundred fifty languages. These holdings take up about 838 miles of shelves...

The Birth of Herbert Hoover, 1874

Week of August 5
Bertie was declared dead by his distraught father, at the age of 2, having suffered from the croup, turned purple, and had no discernable heartbeat. His uncle, Dr. John Minthorn, came in the door and worked desperately on the child. He coughed and...

Lafayette Becomes a General, 1777

Week of July 29
If ever a young man was born to a heroic past and military tradition, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette was that man. His father served as a Colonel of grenadiers, falling in an artillery barrage in the Battle of...

Roanoke Colony Established, 1587

Week of July 22
Connecting the providential skeins of ideas can lead to the very practical results of how God caused history to flow. In the midst of the sixteenth century, a sixteen-year-old Englishman visited his lawyer-cousin of the same name, Richard Hakluyt...

The Birth of Robert the Bruce, 1274

Week of July 9
Robert Bruce of Scotland was born in 1274, probably at Turnberry Castle, “of which the remains can still be seen perched on the cliffs which plunge steeply into the waters of the firth of Clyde.” His family claimed Anglo-Norman ancestry and...

Andrew Jackson Vetoes Bank Recharter, 1832

Week of July 2
Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States, engendered hatred and opposition on a scale that previous chief executives never experienced. Jackson, in fact, still faces hatred...

The Execution of the Rosenbergs, 1953

Week of June 17
Following the Second World War, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics waged a “Cold War” to bring the “third-world” nations into the political orbit of the West or of the USSR. Both sides were determined to thwart the other, by...

The Signing of the Magna Carta, 1215

Week of June 10
In the year 1100, King Henry I of England issued a document known since then as “The Charter of Liberties,” in an attempt to curry favor with his barons. He was the youngest son of William the Conqueror, but was able to grab the throne after...

The Six Day War Begins, 1967

Week of June 3
In the late 19th Century, certain eastern European Jewish leaders created a movement known as Zionism, advocating the return of Jews to Palestine for the eventual creation of a Jewish state, hopefully in the same boundaries as Old Testament Israel...

The Fall of Constantinople, A.D. 1453

Week of May 27
In one of the greatest sieges of all time, Sultan Mohammed II, on May 29, A.D. 1453, captured the last Christian bastion in the Middle East, Constantinople, which had withstood every assault for 1,100 years. With the total collapse of the...

America Declares War on Mexico, 1846

Week of May 13
On December 29, 1845, The Republic of Texas became the 28th State of the United States. The legislation admitting Texas did not define the borders of the new state. The government of Mexico protested loudly that Texas was still...

Scopes Trial, Dayton, Tennessee, 1925

Week of April 29
In March of 1925, the State Legislature of Tennessee passed the Butler Act, prohibiting the teaching of the theory of evolution in the public schools. Governor Austin Peay signed the bill, courting the support of rural legislators. He later...

Bay of Pigs Invasion Routed, 1961

Week of April 15
The United States’ involvement in the island of Cuba has a long and storied history. So much so that one of “America’s Little Wars” was fought there in 1898, and helped vault Theodore Roosevelt...

Birth of Booker T. Washington, 1856

Week of April 1
The 1860 census taker noted that the Burroughs family in Franklin County, Virginia and their fourteen children, also had seven slaves, one of them a boy named Booker, valued at $400.00. Born to Jane...

Jonathan Edwards Sermon, 1742

Week of March 25
The impact of itinerant English evangelist George Whitefield’s preaching was felt across New England. Many people were converted to Christ, and Christians were renewed in their faith. Ministers of the region followed up on Whitefield’s success...

Pocahontas Dies in London, 1617

Week of March 18
Inside the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, eight magnificent 12x18 foot paintings depict some of the most important moments in American history. Four of them relate to the War for Independence, and three to exploration and settlement...

Confederate Constitution Adopted, 1861

Week of March 11
By the first of February, 1861, seven southern states had seceded from the United States: South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. They formed a federal...

Saracens Attack after First Crusade, 1144

Week of March 4
Deus Vult! The battle cry of the Crusaders, “God Wills It,” is no longer heard outside the walls of Accra, Antioch, Jerusalem and all the other Christian strong-points in the Levant. Allahu Akbar...

Articles of Confederation Take Effect, 1781

Week of February 25
When the Founding Fathers declared independence on July 4, 1776, they were then faced with the construction of a new form of government. The representatives of the thirteen colonies had...

Marbury v. Madison, 1803

Week of February 18
Many Americans believe that the overwhelming power of the United States Supreme Court is a fairly recent phenomenon. The far-reaching authority of the Court, however, has developed incrementally...

The Birth of Cotton Mather, 1663

Week of February 11
Born the grandson and namesake of two of the most famous Puritan preachers of the 17th Century, founders of the “Puritan oligarchy,” and son of the most influential preacher of the second generation...

The Death of Sir Winston Churchill, 1965

Week of January 21
"The history of the world is but the biography of great men,” wrote Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle. He was articulating the widespread belief that certain historical characters — through their...

The Death of John Tyler, 1862

Week of January 14
His funeral was the largest ever held in Richmond, Virginia. President John Tyler (1790-1862) was the only President who died not a citizen of the United States — he was serving in the Congress of...

Marines Capture Los Angeles, 1847

Week of January 7
With the election of President James K. Polk came Texas annexation and the advancement of American “Manifest Destiny,” a widely accepted theory that the United States was destined...

The Battle of Princeton, 1777

Week of December 31
As Christmas approached, the cause of American independence seemed as bleak as the winter that descended on New Jersey and Pennsylvania. George Washington’s army lay frozen in their...

2017

Texas Admitted to the Union, 1845

Week of December 24
Texas became the twenty-eighth state to enter the Union of States, but the last one to allow slavery within her boundaries. Therein lies a tale of intrigue, political grandstanding, threats of secession...

The Birth of Charles Wesley, 1707

Week of December 17
His mother Susanna was the twenty-fifth and last child in her family, dissenters from the Anglican Church. He himself was the eighteenth of nineteen children (nine of whom died in infancy), of...

The Birth of Alvin York, 1887

Week of December 10
The man who was destined to become one of the most decorated war veterans in United States history, came into the world as one of eleven children in a remote valley of East Tennessee...

Death of the USSR, 1991

Week of December 3
The Russian Revolution began in 1917 with a revolt against the government in Petrograd. In March, the Tsar of the Russian Empire, Nicholas II, abdicated, and was replaced by a provisional governing...

The Battle of Franklin, 1864

Week of November 26
On the last day of November, 1864, in a grand assault composed of more than 20,000 men, the Confederate Army of Tennessee breasted a blizzard of rifle and cannon fire from an equal number of...

The Death of Rev. Isaac Backus, 1806

Week of November 19
It has become fashionable among historians, including some Christian ones, to denigrate the “Great Awakening” as evidence of a mere psychological phenomenon in American history...

The Birth of Richard Baxter, 1615

Week of November 12
In God’s good providence, the seventeenth century produced many great preachers of the Gospel, especially in England and Scotland. They were born in times of persecution and trouble, to be sure...

John Hanson Elected President, 1781

Week of November 5
Three different floors in the United States Capitol display significant and representative statues of great historical characters, two from each state. Many of them are well known, like George...

The Birth of Samuel Davies, 1723

Week of October 29
His godly parents, Welsh immigrants to Colonial Delaware, named him after the prophet Samuel and dedicated him to the service of God. His mother homeschooled him to the age of ten, and by...

The Battle of Agincourt, 1415

Week of October 22
Had William Shakespeare not written Henry V (1599), the Battle of Agincourt (1415) may have remained but an obscure medieval battle between the seemingly interminable enemies, Britain...

Senate Ratifies Louisiana Purchase, 1803

Week of October 15
Many people in every American colony possessed a sense that God had allowed or even ordained, that the English-speaking immigrants would eventually possess the North American continent, even...

The Hanging of the Spy John André, 1780

Week of October 1
Espionage was and is a dangerous business. When the American colonies seceded from Great Britain, intelligence-gathering networks received primary attention on both sides. At the beginning of...

The Salem Witch Trial Executions, 1692

Week of September 17
The word “Puritans” often triggers the instant response of “witch burners“ among both casual and professional historians of American history. Who the Puritans actually were, and the details of the...

The American Flag at Brandywine, 1777

Week of September 10
We tend to take for granted the power of national symbols. They do not have the same grip on us that they used to, in part because they are down-played in our new multi-cultural ethos that hates our...

The Death of Saint Augustine, A.D. 430

Week of August 27
When historians of the history of Christianity examine the lives and teaching of the men who most influenced the Church and the world in the post-apostolic era, Augustine of Hippo...

Africans Arrive at Jamestown, 1619

Week of August 20
The history of Africans in America is a far more interesting and complex story than most historians care to admit. In fact, the distortions, farragos of deceit, and myths they have created, seem to...

Francis Asbury Answers the Call, 1771

Week of August 6
"Our brethren in America cry aloud for help. Who are willing to go over and help them?” So pleaded the Rev. John Wesley on August 6, 1771 in a Methodist conference meeting in Bristol, England...

First Walk on the Moon, 1969

Week of July 17
On the 20th of July, 1969 two United States Astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin disembarked from their lunar module and...

Battle of Bunker Hill, 1775

Week of June 11
The Breed’s Hill battlefield memorial today covers about four acres and is surrounded by upscale four-story apartments and condos, the building of which were part of the fund-raising...

Operation Overlord, 1944

Week of June 4
It was the mightiest amphibious military operation in the history of mankind. With literally millions of moving parts, the D-Day landings along the Normandy Coast marked the return...

The Constitutional Convention, 1787

Week of May 21
A secret cabal of rich white men — mostly slave-drivers — met secretly behind locked doors in Philadelphia to overthrow the new American government, and create a new...

The Death of St. Brendan, 587

Week of May 14
As the patron saint of sailors and travelers, superstitious people have appealed to Saint Brendan for help and safety for more than 16 centuries. Known as “Brendan...

The Sinking of the RMS Lusitania, 1915

Week of May 7
The headlines were as lurid as any in the 20th Century, and the tragedy rivaled only by the sinking of RMS Titanic three years earlier. The United States had declined to enter the...

The Easter Rising, 1916

Week of April 23
Until Henry VIII, England was virtually powerless in most of Ireland. By the end of his reign, the Tudor King and his successors would possess undisputed rule of the whole island. And so...

Lexington and Concord, 1775

Week of April 16
The Lexington Green stands silent today, surrounded by stately homes, a church, visitors’ center and Buckman tavern. At the entrance to the green, facing traffic, stands the...

The Okinawa Campaign, 1945

Week of March 26
Okinawa holds first place as the most difficult and costly military undertaking in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. Twenty-three Medals of Honor were awarded to American soldiers, which speaks of...

Death of Saint Patrick, A.D. 461

Week of March 12
Before the light of the Protestant Reformation dawned in the 16th century, many in the Christian Church believed that only a certain few Christians in history should be designated as...

The Battle of the Alamo, 1836

Week of February 19
At the age of four I received my first little 45 rpm record — Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Ballad of Davy Crockett.” I played it a thousand times (I’m not good with numbers — it was probably...

The Birth of Charles Darwin, 1809

Week of February 12
Everyone recognizes the face—long white beard, intense look in his eyes, almost the prototype of a Hollywood wizard. He adorns the cover of books and stares down at you from...

The Escape of Athanasius, 356

Week of February 5
How would you respond if five thousand armed, sweaty Byzantine Arians surrounded your church on Sunday morning baying for your pastor’s blood, and maybe yours while they’re at it?...

Execution of King Charles I, 1649

Week of January 29
On January 30, 1649 King Charles I walked to the executioner’s block to face capital punishment for high treason. This unprecedented action against an English Monarch set in motion...

The Death of Sir Francis Drake, 1596

Week of January 22
Was he a free-enterprise privateer or a rapacious pirate? Was he a Christian hero or a thieving reprobate known as “the Dragon?” Was he a bold explorer or demonic enemy of...

The Irish Free State, 1922

Week of January 15
For centuries the Irish people fought back against English domination. Various risings, wars, rebellions and petitions had been tried, without more than temporary success; often the...

Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, 1815

Week of January 8
From January 8th through the 15th, a hodge-podge of an American army led by General Andrew Jackson — a Tennessee politician and militia general — prepared to stop the...

Charles Spurgeon’s Conversion, 1850

Week of January 1
The “Prince of Preachers” did not start out that way. Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s grandfather, who preached for more than fifty years years, and his father, for sixteen, were both...

2016

Christmas Truce of 1914

Week of December 25
On December 25, 1914, with the British and German troops facing each other in their respective trenches across the frozen wastes of no-man’s-land — over which both sides had...

The Death of Washington, 1799

Week of December 11
Today we introduce a new feature authored by Landmark Events Historian Bill Potter. In History Highlights, Mr. Potter will draw contemporary lessons and applications from key...