This Day in History: October 13

54: Claudius Poisoned to Death: The Emperor Claudius was the first Roman emperor to be born outside of what is now Italy, being born in Gaul, or what is now France. He succeeded Caligula, also assassinated in 41. Claudius undertook Rome’s largest bout of imperialism since the reign of Augustus, conquering Britain, and parts of North Africa. He is also known for his public works projects, religious reforms and his heavy handed edict declaring. He died of poisoning, and many suspect his wife, Agrippina, to be the murderer.

1821: Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire: Mexico had been in the possession of Spain since Cortez conquered Tenochtitlan from the Aztecs in 1519. The Mexican War for Independence had begun in 1810, inspired by the Enlightenment and growing nationalism, much like in the American and Haitian revolutions. The first Government of Independent Mexico was a monarchy, headed by emperor Augustin I. The Declaration of Independence was signed on this day in 1821.

1845: Republic of Texas decides to become a State in the U.S: Texas had been part of Mexico until 1836 when it seceded. Texas was not recognized by Mexico but was by the neighboring United States. In 1845, the United States voted to annex Texas, and the voters of Texas approved a new constitution under which it became a state. Conflict with Mexico was not over, however. War would break out a year later as the Mexican- American War.

1881: First known conversation in Modern Hebrew: Hebrew had ceased to be spoken as an everyday language centuries prior. Jews around the world simply spoke the language of their surroundings, and Hebrew remained a purely sacred language for use in the Synagogues. The 19th century heralded a growing Jewish nationalism, or Zionism. On October 13, 1881, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and some friends had a conversation in Hebrew in Paris, which was the first known conversation in the modern version of the language.

1917: Miracle of the Sun, Fatima, Portugal: Several peasant children in Portugal, Lucia dos Santos, Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto, began seeing visions of the Virgin Mary in Fatima Portugal, in 1916. The Virgin taught them prayers, showed them visions of heaven and hell, and prophesied to them. The local authorities doubted their story, but on October 13, 1917, a crowd of between 30,000 and 100,000 witnessed something incredible. The sun began to spin around, change colors, and at one point appeared to hurl towards the Earth. Prior to the event, it had been raining, but the crowds clothes were dry afterwards. Among the crowd were not only devout Catholics, but agnostics, atheists, and skeptics. The miracle was approved by the Catholic Church in 1930.

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