This Day in History: October 26

1881: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: The gunfight at the O.K. Corral is perhaps the most famous event of the wild west. At 3 p.m., a group of lawmen in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, engaged in gunfire with a group of outlaws known as the Cowboys. The lawmen included Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday, vs. the Cowboys who had been known for stealing cattle and robbing stagecoaches. Many supporters of Cowboys were convinced that they had been unarmed, and three members of the Cowboys were killed.

1936: Electrical Generator opened at Hoover Dam: Originally known as Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam is the most famous dam and source of hydroelectric power in the United States. Built during the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression, the Dam was seen as a source of energy and as an economic stimulus in a financially burdened era. It is one of the biggest and oldest concrete structures of its type, and created the U.S.’ largest reservoir, Lake Mead. It still provides power to people around Nevada, Arizona, and California, and is a major tourist attraction.

1967: Mohammad Reza Pahlavi crowns himself and his wife Emperor and Empress of Iran: Iran is a mysterious and dangerous land to many Americans, an exemplar of Islamist theocracy. But the origins of it lie decades ago. Pahlavi held the title ‘Shah’ and had been Iran’s monarch since the forced abdication of his father. His prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, was ousted in a CIA backed coup when he nationalized the oil industry. The Shah’s power increased until he crowned himself emperor on this day in 1967. He is known for his modernizing, secularizing efforts, but also for brutal persecution of his political opponents. This resentment led to the Islamic revolution and the Iranian government we know today.

1977: Last recorded case of smallpox: One of the most devastating diseases in human history, smallpox has killed millions, most famously scores of Native people who had no immunity to the Old World disease. It was one of the first diseases to demonstrate the effectiveness of vaccination, when a British physician demonstrated how exposure to cowpox could cause immunity to smallpox. Two centuries later, smallpox had been gradually eliminated, and in 1977 Ali Maow Maalin, a Somali hospital cook, was diagnosed with the last recorded natural case of smallpox. He made a full recovery and died in 2013 of malaria after several decades of administering vaccines to prevent further diseases.

2001: USA PATRIOT Act signed into law: The 9/11 Terrorist attacks, in addition to causing over 3000 deaths, caused a great deal of fear, and the Bush administration passed one of the most controversial pieces of security legislation in U.S. history. The “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001,” authorized a number of measures, including wiretaps, indefinite detention of immigrants, searches without a court order or warrant, and increased rights of national security officials to search individuals records, conversations, and correspondences, in the name of preventing terrorism. The act is viewed by many as unconstitutional, and many of its provisions have been ruled as such even though the Act has been reauthorized and remains in force.

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