Today In History Spotlights Dec. 2, 1859, John Brown’s Execution

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Today’s History Spotlight

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John Brown is executed in Charles Town, present-day West Virginia. Brown originally gained recognition from his participation in the Bleeding Kansas conflict. In 1856, he and other members of an anti-slavery militia killed five pro-slavery settlers near Pottawatomie Creek, in response to the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas. On October 16, 1859, Brown led a militia to Harpers Ferry, in an attempt to initiate a slave uprising.

His attempt failed and his men were captured or killed by US Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Brown himself was eventually captured after surrendering in an engine house. Since his attempted revolution, Brown has been held as a controversial figure. Many regard him as a hero, while others think of him as a domestic terrorist.

What Happened On This Day – December 2

  • 2001 Enron Files for Bankruptcy. The Houston, Texas-based energy company filed for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy after reports of widespread accounting fraud became public. At that time, the company became the largest company in the history of the United States to declare bankruptcy.
  • 1988 Benazir Bhutto is sworn in as Prime Minister. Benazir Bhutto takes office as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, becoming the first woman PM of Pakistan.
  • 1982 First artificial heart transplant. Barney Clark became the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart. The surgery occurred at the University of Utah Medical Center. Clark lived for 112 days after the transplant.
  • 1939 LaGuardia Airport in New York City opens its doors. The airport was named after New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. American Airlines was the first carrier to regularly provide passenger service.
  • 1804 Napoleon is crowned Emperor of France. Napoleon Bonaparte had risen through the ranks of the French army during the French revolution and became one of the most influential political figures of his era. His self-coronation as Napoleon I took place in Notre Dame in Paris, France.

Births On This Day – December 2

  • 1981 Britney Spears – American singer-songwriter, dancer, actress
  • 1978 Nelly Furtado – Canadian singer-songwriter, producer
  • 1923 Maria Callas – Greek soprano
  • 1825 Pedro II of Brazil
  • 1760 John Breckinridge – American politician, 5th United States Attorney General

Deaths On This Day – December 2

  • 1993 Pablo Escobar – Colombian drug lord
  • 1990 Aaron Copland – American composer
  • 1985 Philip Larkin – English poet
  • 1859 John Brown – American activist
  • 1814 Marquis de Sade – French author, politician

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Garrett Smith
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