Charles Darwin's ship the HMS Beagle left England. (1831) During the two year voyage that followed, Darwin would go on to study hundreds of new species, and come up with his theory of evolution based on natural selection.
Gorilla conservation activist Dian Fossey was found dead in Rwanda. (1985) Fossey was famous for her efforts to study and save mountain gorillas in Africa. She was murdered in her hut in Rwanda with a machete she had confiscated from a poacher some months earlier. No charges were made.
Temperance activist Carry Nation smashed her first bar. (1900) Nation had been a member of the Women's Christian Temperance organization until she became fed up with their non-violent tactics, and decided to smash up pubs instead. She became famous for traveling around the country making speeches about the importance of temperance and destroying alcohol and saloons with her hatchet.
Ether was first used as an anesthetic for childbirth. (1845) Dr. Crawford W. Long gave his wife ether to serve as an anesthetic while she gave birth to their second child. The birth was a success, and it is considered the beginning of modern anesthetics.
The World Bank was created. (1945) The bank was originally founded to provide funds to help re-build nations torn apart by World War II. Today it has several focuses, including reducing poverty, promoting the development of environmentally-friendly technology, and participating in the Clean Air initiative.
USSR forces occupied Afghanistan to install a new leader. (1979) This was the beginning of nearly 10 years of ongoing fighting between USSR and Afghani forces. Ultimately, the USSR had to withdraw after losing thousands of soldiers, as well as trade relations with the US, which disagreed with the USSR's intervention.
The Greater Poland Uprising began. (1918) Initiated by pianist Ignacy Paderewski, the uprising almost lasted two weeks. The Pole's success in this uprising played an important role in establishing a larger Poland.
Mae West performed the skit that got her banned from the radio. (1937) West was a popular Vaudeville performer known for making suggestive double entendres. On this day, she performed a skit called "Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden," which was immediately decried as obscene and sacrilegious. NBC pulled West off the air, and she wasn't able to perform on the radio for another 12 years.
Indonesia became independent. (1949) The country had been a vital part of the Dutch trading empire for centuries, and it took four years of war before the Netherlands granted Indonesia independence. The leader of the revolution, Sukarno, became the first president of Indonesia, but was later forced out of office and held under house arrest until his death.
The Hagia Sophia was consecrated. (537) Created in just five years, the Hagia Sophia remains a landmark in Istanbul. It was originally connected by a private bridge to the palace of Justinian the Great, the Eastern Roman Emperor.