History: July 18

July 18

390BC The Battle of the Allia: The Gauls inflict heavy casualties on the Romans. An army of Gallic mercenaries that was allied to the ruler of Syracuse, Dionysius, marched through the valley of the Tiber. The Romans tried to repel them at a brook called Allia, but they were not used to the Gallic way of fighting. Almost immediately after the two armies had made contact, the Roman commanders ordered the retreat. Since Rome was too big to have a city wall, the soldiers went to nearby Veii. As a result, Rome was occupied by the Gauls, who tried to capture the Capitol. After seven months, the Roman garrison bought its freedom for 1000 pounds of gold. The battle was less disastrous than later Roman historians assumed, but nevertheless, the "day of the Allia" (18 July) was considered to be an unlucky day for centuries.

0064 The Great Fire of Rome begins, leaving most of the city in ruins. Although it's not clear who starts the fire, the local population blames the Roman Emperor Nero, who takes advantage of the fire's destruction to indulge his aesthetic tastes in the reconstruction of the city. Nero, in turn, blams the Christians, who are later persecuted. He plays the lyre (not the violin, which had not yet been invented) when he hears the news.


1504 Birth: Heinrich Bullinger, Swiss reformer. He continued Zwingli's work after his death at Kappel (1531), and composed the Second Helvetic Confession in 1566.

1536 The authority of the pope is declared void in England by an act of Parliament. Note: This move makes England, in effect, the first truly modern European State.

Hooke's Microscope

1635 Birth: Robert Hooke, on the Isle of Wight, physicist (Micrographia).


1650 Death: Christoph Scheiner, German astronomer, aged 74.

1753 Birth: Lemuel Haynes, Colonial American Congregational Clergyman. In 1785, Haynes, aged 32, was ordained to a church in Torrington, Connecticut, making him the first African-American to pastor a white church.


1789 French Revolution: Robespierre, a deputy from Arras, France, decides to back the French Revolution.

1812 Great Britain signs the Treaty of Orebro, making peace with Russia and Sweden.

1830 Uruguay adopts a liberal constitution.

1853 America's first international railroad, the Grand Trunk Line, is completed. The first train to cross the US-Canada boundary travels from Portland, Maine to Montreal.

1861 US Civil War: Union and Confederate troops skirmish at Blackburn's Ford, Virginia, in a prelude to the Battle of Bull Run.

1870 The Vatican I Ecumenical Council issues the proclamation Pastor Aeternus, declaring the pope's primacy and infallibility in deciding faith and moral matters.

1872 The Ballot Act is passed in Great Britain, providing for secret election ballots.

1887 Birth: Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian politician and Nazi collaborator.


1913 Birth: Richard 'Red' Skelton, Emmy Award-winning comedian, (Clem Kadiddlehopper, Freddie the Freeloader). Died in 1997.

1914 Six planes of the US Army help form an aviation division called the Signal Corps.

1915 WW1: The Second Battle of Isonzo begins. A series of battles on this river are fought during the year with no gain for the Italians and the loss of 280,000 men.

1918 WW1: As Ludendorff prepares to pull back, Foch orders a counteroffensive at Soissons. The French, using light tanks and aided by U.S. and British divisions, assault the Marne from left to right, reaching the Vesle River and recapturing Soissons. Ludendorff calls off the proposed drive in Flanders. (Note: Later the German Chancellor would write, "On the 18th even the most optimistic among us knew that all was lost. The history of the world was played out in three days.") (Schlesinger I)

1918 WW1: July 18-25 Dispatch Runner Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler participates in defensive operations between Soissons and Reims with 3 Company, 16 Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment. (Maser)


1921 Birth: John H. Glenn Jr., in Cambridge, Ohio, Colonel USMC, astronaut, US Senator. (Mer 6, Senator-D-Ohio).

1925 The first volume of Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Hitler's personal political testament, is published in Munich. The book is dedicated to Dietrich Eckart and the sixteen Nazi who died in the Munich Putsch of November 9, 1918.

1932 The US and Canada sign a treaty to develop the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1935 Ethiopian King Haile Selassie urges his countrymen to fight to the last man against the invading Italian army.

1936 Holocaust: The Nazi-controlled Danzig Senate nullifies the Free City's constitution, prohibits Jewish ritual slaughter and prevents Jews from renewing leases and business licenses.

1939 Holocaust: A public announcement is printed: "The German Society of Race-hygiene is to organize the Fourth International Congress of Eugenics in Vienna on 26-28 August 1940. The President of the Congress will be Professor Rüdin." (Science)

1940 The Democratic national convention in Chicago nominates President Franklin Roosevelt for a third term in office.

1940 The first successful helicopter flight is made, in Stratford, Connecticut.

1941 Holocaust: The first acknowledged reports concerning the mass killings of Jews in the East begin reaching England.

1941 Holocaust: A group of 30 White Russians who refuse to shovel earth over 45 Jews who had been tied together and thrown into a large pit are executed by the SS. All 75 are left dead in the pit. (Gilbert II)

1942 Holocaust: Himmler continues to inspect Auschwitz and the surrounding area with several officials from I.G. Farben. (Silence)

1942 WW2: The German Me-262, the first jet-propelled aircraft to fly in combat, makes its first flight.

1944 WW2: The U.S. First Army fights its way into the village of St.-Lo, France, ending the battle of the hedgerows.

1944 Diary of Leon Gladun: (Polverigi/Palaro Marini) New position where we fire beyond 10,000-11,500. According to the latest news our infantry is already 1.5 kilometers from the sea and Ancona is cut off. Probably there are no Germans left in the region of Ancona and we assume the city will be abandoned today or tomorrow. That evening we received news that our detachments had taken Ancona and then moved far west along the sea past the River Esino. The surprise was complete. The Germans left much equipment, and 2,000 prisoners so far. Another success for us of which the newspapers write.

1944 WW2: Hideki Tojo is removed as Japanese premier and war minister due to setbacks suffered by his country in war.

1944 WW2: British and Canadian troops cross the Orne River at Caen and drive toward the south.

1944 Resistance: German theologian and Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes from prison: "The religious act is always something partial; 'faith' is something whole, involving the whole of one's life." Note: It strikes one as ironic that while it was 'faith' that enabled courageous men such as Bonhoeffer to sacrifice themselves for their ideals, many of those on the opposite side cited 'faith' in precisely the same manner while facing similar ends.


1947 Holocaust: SS Dr. Johann Paul Kremer's Auschwitz Testimony: "Particularly unpleasant was the gassing of the emaciated women from the women's camp, who were generally known as 'Muslims'. I remember I once took part in the gassing of one of these groups of women. I cannot say how big the group was. When I got close to the bunker [I saw] them sitting on the ground. They were still clothed. As they were wearing worn-out camp clothing they were not left in the undressing hut but made to undress in the open air. I concluded from the behaviour of these women that they had no doubt what fate awaited them, as they begged and pleaded to the SS men to spare them their lives. However, they were herded into the gas chambers and gassed. As an anatomist I have seen a lot of terrible things: I had had a lot of experience with dead bodies, and yet what I saw that day was like nothing I had ever seen before." (Klee)

1947 President Harry S. Truman signs the Presidential Succession Act, which places the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore next in the line of succession after the vice president. Note: Scary thought. Most Americans have no idea who either of these fellows are at any given point in time.

1947 Manifesting Destiny: The US receives the United Nations (UN) trusteeship over the Pacific Islands.

1964 A race riot starts in Harlem (New York City); the riot eventually spreads to Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn).

1966 Carl Sagan turns 1 billion seconds old.

1969 A car driven by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) crashs off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha's Vineyard. Passenger Mary Jo Kopechne died in the accident. She was 28. Note: Kennedy, after making it back alone to his hotel, calls his lawyer before doing anything else.

1971 The Nam: New Zealand and Australia announce they will pull their troops out of Vietnam.

1971 Six Trucial States, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain, Ajman & Fujeirah, decide to form the Union of Arab Emirates.

1972 Cold War: Egypt demands the Soviet Union remove its 20,000 advisers from the country, accusing it of failing to supply promised arms.

1977 Vietnam is admitted to the United Nations (UN).


1984 Svetlana Savitskaya accompanies Vladimir Dzhanibekov on EVA outside Salyut 7, becoming first woman to walk in space.

1984 Walter 'Fritz' Mondale wins the Democratic presidential nomination in San Francisco.

1989 Two weeks after Independence Day, and it just needs a little touching up.

1990 The rebel Soviet republic of Lithuania passes a new provisional law on local military service, challenging Moscow's right to conscript its young men.




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