This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
October 19 is the 292nd day of the year (293rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 73 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1781, hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force, effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution.
The Siege of Yorktown or Battle of Yorktown in 1781 was a decisive victory by combined assault of American forces led by General George Washington and French forces led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis. It proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War in North America, as the surrender of Cornwallis’s army prompted the British government eventually to negotiate an end to the conflict.
In 1780, 5,500 French soldiers landed in Rhode Island to assist their American allies in operations against British-controlled New York City. Following the arrival of dispatches from France that included the possibility of support from the French West Indies fleet of the Comte de Grasse, Washington and Rochambeau decided to ask de Grasse for assistance either in besieging New York, or in military operations against a British army operating in Virginia. On the advice of Rochambeau, de Grasse informed them of his intent to sail to the Chesapeake Bay, where Cornwallis had taken command of the army. Cornwallis, at first given confusing orders by his superior officer, Henry Clinton, was eventually ordered to make a defensible deep-water port, which he began to do at Yorktown, Virginia. Cornwallis‘s movements in Virginia were shadowed by a Continental Army force led by the Marquis de Lafayette.
The French and American armies united north of New York City during the summer of 1781. When word of de Grasse‘s decision arrived, the combined armies began moving south toward Virginia, engaging in tactics of deception to lead the British to believe a siege of New York was planned. De Grasse sailed from the West Indies and arrived at the Chesapeake Bay at the end of August, bringing additional troops and providing a naval blockade of Yorktown. He was transporting 500,000 silver pesos collected from the citizens of Havana, Cuba, to fund supplies for the siege and payroll for the Continental Army. While in Santo Domingo, de Grasse met with Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, an agent of Carlos III of Spain. De Grasse had planned to leave several of his warships in Santo Domingo. Saavedra promised the assistance of the Spanish navy to protect the French merchant fleet, enabling de Grasse to sail north with all of his warships. In the beginning of September, he defeated a British fleet led by Sir Thomas Graves that came to relieve Cornwallis at the Battle of the Chesapeake. As a result of this victory, de Grasse blocked any escape by sea for Cornwallis. By late September Washington and Rochambeau arrived, and the army and naval forces completely surrounded Cornwallis.
After initial preparations, the Americans and French built their first parallel and began the bombardment. With the British defense weakened, Washington on October 14, 1781 sent two columns to attack the last major remaining British outer defenses. A French column took redoubt #9 and an American column redoubt #10. With these defenses taken, the allies were able to finish their second parallel. With the American artillery closer and more intense than ever, the British situation began to deteriorate rapidly and Cornwallis asked for capitulation terms on the 17th. After two days of negotiation, the surrender ceremony took place on the 19th, with Cornwallis being absent since he claimed to be ill. With the capture of over 8,000 British soldiers, negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
202 BC – Second Punic War: At the Battle of Zama, Roman legions under Scipio Africanus defeat Hannibal Barca, leader of the invading Carthaginian army.
439 – The Vandals, led by King Gaiseric, take Carthage in North Africa.
1216 – King John of England dies at Newark-on-Trent and is succeeded by his nine-year-old son Henry.
1453 – The French recapture of Bordeaux brings the Hundred Years’ War to a close, with the English retaining only Calais on French soil.
1466 – The Thirteen Years War ends with the Second Treaty of Thorn.
1469 – Ferdinand II of Aragon marries Isabella I of Castile, a marriage that paves the way to the unification of Aragon and Castile into a single country, Spain.
1512 – Martin Luther becomes a doctor of theology (Doctor in Biblia).
1649 – New Ross town, Co. Wexford, Ireland, surrenders to Oliver Cromwell.
1781 – At Yorktown, Virginia, representatives of British commander Lord Cornwallis handed over Cornwallis’ sword and formally surrendered to George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau.
1789 – Chief Justice John Jay is sworn in as the first Chief Justice of the United States.
1812 – Napoleon I of France retreats from Moscow.
1813 – The Battle of Leipzig concludes, giving Napoleon Bonaparte one of his worst defeats.
1822 – In Parnaiba; Simplício Dias da Silva, Joao Cândido de Deus e Silva and Domingos Dias declare the independent state of Piaui.
1864 – Battle of Cedar Creek – Union Army under Philip Sheridan destroy the Confederate Army under Jubal Early.
1864 – St. Albans Raid – Confederate raiders launch an attack on Saint Albans, Vermont from Canada.
1873 – Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgers universities draft the first code of American football rules.
1904 – Polytechnic University of the Philippines founded as Manila Business School through the superintendence of the American C.A. O’Reilley.
1912 – Italy takes possession of Tripoli, Libya from the Ottoman Empire.
1914 – The First Battle of Ypres begins.
1917 – The Love Field in Dallas, Texas is opened.
1921 – Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Granjo and other politicians are murdered in a Lisbon coup.
1933 – Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.
1935 – The League of Nations places economic sanctions on fascist Italy for its invasion of Ethiopia.
1943 – Streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy for tuberculosis, is isolated by researchers at Rutgers University.
1944 – United States forces land in the Philippines.
1950 – The People’s Liberation Army takes control of the town of Qamdo; this is sometimes called the “Invasion of Tibet”.
1950 – Korean War: After the Chinese leadership finally settled the issue of armed intervention on October 18, the People’s Republic of China joins the Korean War by sending thousands of troops across the Yalu river to fight United Nations forces.
1959 – The first discotheque opens.
1969 – The first Prime Minister of Tunisia in twelve years, Bahi Ladgham, is appointed by President Habib Bourguiba.
1973 – President Richard Nixon rejects an Appeals Court decision that he turn over the Watergate tapes.
1974 – Niue becomes a self-governing colony of New Zealand.
1976 – Battle of Aishiya in Lebanon.
1983 – Maurice Bishop, Prime Minister of Grenada, is overthrown and executed in a military coup d’etat led by Bernard Coard.
1986 – Samora Machel, President of Mozambique and a prominent leader of FRELIMO, and 33 others die when their Tupolev 134 plane crashes into the Lebombo Mountains.
1987 – In retaliation for Iranian attacks on ships in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy disables three of Iran’s offshore oil platforms.
1987 – Black Monday – the Dow Jones Industrial Average falls by 22%, 508 points.
1989 – The convictions of the Guildford Four are quashed by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, after they had spent 15 years in prison.
2001 – SIEV-X, an Indonesian fishing boat en-route to Christmas Island, carrying over 400 asylum seekers, sinks in international waters with the loss of 353 people.
2003 – Mother Teresa is beatified by Pope John Paul II.
2004 – Myanmar prime minister Khin Nyunt is ousted and placed under house arrest by the State Peace and Development Council on charges of corruption.
2004 – Care International aid worker Margaret Hassan is kidnapped in Iraq.
2005 – Saddam Hussein goes on trial in Baghdad for crimes against humanity.
2005 – Hurricane Wilma becomes the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record with a minimum pressure of 882 mb.
2007 – Philippines. Amidst corruption controversies hounding the Arroyo administration, a bomb explosion rocked Glorietta 2, a shopping mall in Makati. The blast killed 11 and injured more than 100 people.