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.
April 6 is the 96th day of the year (97th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 269 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1896, the Olympic Games, a long-lost tradition of ancient Greece, are reborn in Athens 1,500 years after being banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I. At the opening of the Athens Games, King Georgios I of Greece and a crowd of 60,000 spectators welcomed athletes from 13 nations to the international competition.
The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event celebrated in Athens, Greece, from April 6 to April 15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the Modern era. Because Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Athens was perceived to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games. It was unanimously chosen as the host city during a congress organized by Pierre de Coubertin, a French pedagogue and historian, in Paris, on June 23, 1894. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was also established during this congress.
Despite many obstacles and setbacks, the 1896 Olympics were regarded as a great success. The Games had the largest international participation of any sporting event to that date. The Panathinaiko Stadium, the only Olympic stadium used in the 19th Century, overflowed with the largest crowd ever to watch a sporting event. The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spiridon Louis. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, who won four events.
After the Games, Coubertin and the IOC were petitioned by several prominent figures including Greece’s King George and some of the American competitors in Athens, to hold all the following Games in Athens. However, the 1900 Summer Olympics were already planned for Paris and, except for the Intercalated Games of 1906, the Olympics did not return to Greece until the 2004 Summer Olympics, some 108 years later.
During the 18th century, several small-scale sports festivals across Europe were named after the Ancient Olympic Games. The 1870 Olympics at the Panathenaic stadium, which had been refurbished for the occasion, had an audience of 30,000 people. Coubertin adopted Dr William Penny Brooke‘s idea to establish a multi-national and multi-sport event-the ancient games were in a sense international, because various Greek city-states and colonies were represented, but only free male athletes of Greek origin were allowed to participate. In 1890, Coubertin wrote an article in La Revue Athletique, which espoused the importance of Much Wenlock, a rural market town in the English county of Shropshire. It was here that, in October 1850, the local physician William Penny Brookes had founded the Wenlock Olympian Games, a festival of sports and recreations that included athletics and team sports, such as cricket, football and quoits. Coubertin also took inspiration from the earlier Greek games organized under the name of Olympics by businessman and philanthropist Evangelis Zappas in 1859, 1870 and 1875. The 1896 Athens Games was funded by the legacies of Evangelis Zappas and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas and by George Averoff who had been specifically requested by the Greek government, through crown prince Constantine, to sponsor the second refurbishment of the Panathinaiko Stadium. This the Greek government did despite the fact that the cost of refurbishing the stadium in marble had already been funded in full by Evangelis Zappas forty years earlier.
On June 18, 1894, Coubertin organized a congress at the Sorbonne, in Paris, to present his plans to representatives of sports societies from 11 countries. Following his proposal’s acceptance by the congress, a date for the first modern Olympic Games needed to be chosen. Coubertin suggested that the Games be held concurrently with the 1900 Universal Exposition of Paris. Concerned that a six-year waiting period might lessen public interest, congress members opted instead to hold the inaugural Games in 1896. With a date established, members of the congress turned their attention to the selection of a host city. It remains a mystery how Athens was finally chosen to host the inaugural Games. In the following years both Coubertin and Demetrius Vikelas would offer recollections of the selection process that contradicted the official minutes of the congress. Most accounts hold that several congressmen first proposed London as the location, but Coubertin dissented. After a brief discussion with Vikelas, who represented Greece, Coubertin suggested Athens. Vikelas made the Athens proposal official on June 23, and since Greece had been the original home of the Olympics, the congress unanimously approved the decision. Vikelas was then elected the first president of the newly established International Olympic Committee (IOC).
46 BC – Julius Caesar defeats Caecilius Metellus Scipio and Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Younger) in the battle of Thapsus.
402 – Stilicho stymies the Visigoths under Alaric in the Battle of Pollentia.
1199 – King Richard I of England dies from an infection following the removal of an arrow from his shoulder.
1320 – The Scots reaffirm their independence by signing the Declaration of Arbroath.
1327 – The poet Petrarch first sees his idealized love, Laura, in the church of Saint Clare in Avignon.
1385 – John, Master of the Order of Aviz, is made king John I of Portugal.
1453 – Mehmed II begins his siege of Constantinople (Istanbul), which falls on May 29.
1580 – One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in the history of England, Flanders, or Northern France, takes place.
1652 – At the Cape of Good Hope, Dutch sailor Jan van Riebeeck establishes a resupply camp that eventually becomes Cape Town .
1667 – An earthquake devastates Dubrovnik, then an independent city-state.
1776 – American Revolutionary War: Ships of the Continental Navy fail in their attempt to capture a Royal Navy dispatch boat.
1782 – Rama I of Siam (modern day Thailand) founds the Chakri dynasty.
1793 – During the French Revolution, the Committee of Public Safety becomes the executive organ of the republic.
1808 – John Jacob Astor incorporates the American Fur Company, eventually leading him to become America’s first Millionaire.
1812 – British forces under the command of the Duke of Wellington assault the fortress of Badajoz. This would be the turning point in the Peninsular War against Napoleon led France.
1814 – Nominal beginning of the Bourbon Restoration – anniversary date that Napoleon abdicates and is exiled to Elba. (Rule by the Bourbon’s was delayed a few weeks, though allies held most key locales of France.)
1830 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is organized by Joseph Smith, Jr. and others at Fayette or Manchester, New York.
1860 – The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints-later renamed Community of Christ-is organized by Joseph Smith III and others at Amboy, Illinois
1861 – First performance of Arthur Sullivan’s debut success, his suite of incidental music for The Tempest, leading to a career that included the famous Gilbert and Sullivan operas.
1862 – American Civil War: The Battle of Shiloh begins – in Tennessee, forces under Union General Ulysses S. Grant meet Confederate troops led by General Albert Sidney Johnston.
1865 – American Civil War: The Battle of Sayler’s Creek – Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia fights its last major battle while in retreat from Richmond, Virginia.
1866 – The Grand Army of the Republic, an American patriotic organization composed of Union veterans of the American Civil War, is founded. It lasts until 1956.
1869 – Celluloid is patented.
1888 – Thomas Green Clemson dies, bequeathing his estate to the State of South Carolina to establish Clemson Agricultural College.
1893 – Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is dedicated by Wilford Woodruff.
1895 – Oscar Wilde is arrested in the Cadogan Hotel, London after losing a libel case against the John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry.
1896 – In Athens, the opening of the first modern Olympic Games is celebrated, 1,500 years after the original games are banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I.
1903 – The Kishinev pogrom in Kishinev (Bessarabia) begins, forcing tens of thousands of Jews to later seek refuge in Israel and the Western world.
1909 – Robert Peary and Matthew Henson allegedly reach the North Pole.
1917 – World War I: The United States declares war on Germany (see President Woodrow Wilson’s address to Congress).
1919 – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi orders a general strike.
1923 – The first Prefects Board in Southeast Asia is formed in Victoria Institution, Malaysia.
1926 – Varney Airlines makes its first commercial flight (Varney is the root company of United Airlines).
1929 – Huey P. Long Governor of Louisiana is impeached by the Louisiana House of Representatives.
1930 – Gandhi raises a lump of mud and salt and declares, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.” beginning the Salt Satyagraha.
1936 – Tupelo-Gainesville tornado outbreak: Another tornado from the same storm system as the Tupelo tornado hits Gainesville,
Georgia, killing 203.
1941 – World War II: Nazi Germany launches Operation 25 (the invasion of Kingdom of Yugoslavia) and Operation Marita (the invasion of Greece).
1945 – World War II: Sarajevo is liberated from the German and Croatian Nazis by the Yugoslav Partisans.
1947 – The first Tony Awards are presented for theatrical achievement.
1957 – Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis buys the Hellenic National Airlines (TAE) and founds Olympic Airlines.
1962 – Leonard Bernstein causes controversy with his remarks from the podium during a New York Philharmonic concert featuring Glenn Gould performing Brahms’ First Piano Concerto.
1965 – Launch of Early Bird, the first communications satellite to be placed in geosynchronous orbit.
1965 – The British Government announces the cancellation of the TSR-2 aircraft project.
1968 – In Richmond, Indiana’s downtown district, a double explosion kills 41 and injures 150.
1970 – Newhall Incident: Four California Highway Patrol officers are killed.
1972 – Vietnam War: Easter Offensive – American forces begin sustained air strikes and naval bombardments.
1973 – Launch of Pioneer 11 spacecraft.
1973 – The American League of Major League Baseball begins using the designated hitter.
1982 – Estonian Communist Party bureau declares “fight against bourgeois TV” – meaning Finnish TV – a top priority of the propagandists of Estonian SSR
1984 – Members of Cameroon’s Republican Guard unsuccessfully attempt to overthrow the government headed by Paul Biya.
1994 – The Rwandan Genocide begins when the aircraft carrying Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira is shot down.
1998 – Pakistan tests medium-range missiles capable of reaching India.
1998 – Travelers Group announces an agreement to undertake the $76 billion merger between Travelers and Citicorp, and the merger is completed on October 8, of that year, forming Citibank.
2004 – Rolandas Paksas becomes the first president of Lithuania to be peacefully removed from office by impeachment.
2005 – Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani becomes Iraqi president; Shiite Arab Ibrahim al-Jaafari is named premier the next day.
2009 – A 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes near L’Aquila, Italy, killing 307.
2010 – Maoist rebels kill 76 CRPF officers in Dantewada district, India.
2011 – In San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico, over 193 bodies were exhumed from several mass graves made by Los Zetas.
Christian Feast Day
* Bl. Catherine of Pallanza