539 BC: Cyrus the Great takes Babylon: One of the most important events of Biblical history is the exile of the Hebrews to Babylon. This Babylonian exile was a period of approximately 70 years where groups of Hebrews were taken captive to Babylon. As powerful as Babylon was, an even greater empire was rising to the East: Persia. On this day in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon and a year later liberated the Jews held captive there. For this, he is called “Anointed one,” (Is. 45:1). Cyrus is the only Gentile referred to as such in the Bible.
1793: Christianity Disestablished in France: Catholic Christianity had been the official religion of France for almost 1300 years when Clovis I was baptized. However, the philosophers of the enlightenment had been challenging Christianity’s role, advocating deism or even atheism. These philosophies, along with discontent towards the monarchy, fueled the revolution, and Christianity was disestablished in 1792. The revolutionary government instituted a new calendar, dated with the start of revolution, and established the Cult of the Supreme Being and the Cult of Reason to replace Catholicism. In addition, priests, religious and devout lay people were expelled, executed or forced to practice in secret. The French government’s persecution of the Church continued until 1801, when Napoleon established a Concordat with Pope Pius VII.
1947: First televised Presidential Address: In 1947, radio was still the dominant method of reaching the American public. There were about 40 million radios, compared to a measly 44 thousand television sets. FDR had previously been broadcast on TV at the World’s Fair in 1939, but this was only visible to fairgoers. President Truman broadcast his address from the White House, and he would for every subsequent White House Address. He addressed the need for additional rationing after the end of the war, as Europe was still in economic ruin and the Marshall Plan had not yet given the European economy a needed postwar boost.
1962: Love me do: The Beatles are perhaps the most important musical act of the 20th century. Coming from Liverpool, The Beatles played in Hamburg for a number of years. On this day, they released their first single, “Love me do,” with “P.S. I love you,” as the B-side. The song was written in 1958-1959 by Paul McCartney, with John Lennon contributing on some parts later on. It reached number 17 on the UK charts and it began The Beatles rise to stardom, as it would reach number 1 in the US in 1964.
1982: Tainted Tylenol: In 1982, seven people in the Chicago area mysteriously dropped dead after taking Tylenol. The pills had been laced with cyanide. Facing a public relations disaster, the company immediately recalled all Tylenol products from the shelves and investigated the issue. The crisis resulted in tamper proof packaging, as well as putting cotton in the bottles. The company’s swift recall resulted in the company regaining its full market share. Johnson and Johnson offered a $100,000 for the capture of the person who laced the pills. The reward remains unclaimed and the killer uncaught.