1620: Pilgrims spot land at Cape Cod: The group of people who settled in New England, known as the Pilgrims, were English Calvinists who wished to be separated from the English State Church. They settled in Holland, but not wanting to lose a sense of the Englishness, left to establish a colony in New England. They first spotted land on this day at Cape Cod, but did not establish a permanent settlement there. They signed the “Mayflower Compact,” an early written constitution, while aboard the ship, and would finally land at Plymouth Rock in December. They made contact with the Native People, including the famous Squanto, who knew English. Squanto was part of a group that had been kidnapped years earlier, by Englishmen who attempted to sell them as slaves. The following year, the pilgrims held what we know as the first Thanksgiving, a celebration after their first harvest, though accounts of it are largely mythical.
1906: Teddy Roosevelt takes first official presidential trip to another country: International travel is now standard procedure for a president, but this was not always the case. For one, travel was expensive, and administrations were much smaller than they are now. Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to make an official international trip, and it was to inspect progress on the Panama Canal. In 1903, the United States established a treaty with Colombia (which Panama was then part of) to establish and operate the Panama Canal for an annual fee. But later that year, Panama declared independence, and so the United States established a relationship with Panama to build the canal. Roosevelt visited the canal on this day in 1906.
1923: Beer Hall Putsch is crushed in Germany: The National Socialists, or Nazis, who controlled Germany from 1933 to 1945, tried to take over Germany for the first time in 1923, an attempt that ended in utter failure. Inspired by Mussolini’s March on Rome, two thousand Nazis marched from the Bürgerbräukeller Beer Hall in Munich to the center of town, where they clashed with German Police. Sixteen Nazis and two police were killed, and Adolf Hitler was arrested days later. While in prison, Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf,” which solidified Nazi racial ideology, and the failure of the Putsch was overshadowed ten years later when Hitler was appointed Chancellor.
1989: Fall of Berlin Wall: In the aftermath of World War II, Germany was divided into two countries, the Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany, aligned with NATO and the United States, and the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany aligned with the Soviet Union. The capital of West Germany was unofficially Bonn, but the legal capital was Berlin, deep within East Germany. Berlin, as such, was divided in two, with the western half belonging to West Germany and the Eastern Half by East Germany. East Germany began constructing a wall in 1961 to keep its citizens from defecting. With the fall of communism in the Eastern Bloc, the Wall was demolished starting today on 1989.
2016: Donald Trump defeats Hillary Clinton for presidency: Billionaire Donald Trump is the most unlikely president in U.S. History. During the primaries, his candidacy was not originally taken seriously, but eventually won out against a large field of Republicans. By the time of the general election, Clinton had won most polls, and so the Democratic Party assumed an easy win. In a narrow, and unexpected turn, Trump won the election, which saw major protests by his opponents. It has now been a year since the election, and Trump’s presidency is fraught with scandal and controversy, with accusations still flying about collusion with Russia.