On This Day

On This Day in History for October 17

Events in History

  • 79 Mt. Vesuvius erupts, burying the cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae and killing thousands. New research in 2018 suggests the eruption occurred on or after this date not the previously used 24 August. [1] [2]
  • 415 Jewish autonomy in Palestine ended by the Romans and Raban Gamliel forced from office
  • 532 Boniface II ends his reign as Catholic Pope

BattleBattle of Interest

1346 Battle of Neville's Cross: King David II of Scotland is captured by Edward III of England at Calais, and imprisoned in the Tower of London for eleven years

King of England Edward III
King of England
Edward III
  • 1387 Swells convent Windesheim initiated
  • 1404 Cosma de' Migliorati elected Pope Innocentius VII
  • 1448 Second Battle of Kosovo, where the mainly Hungarian army led by John Hunyadi were defeated by an Ottoman army led by Sultan Murad II.
  • 1456 The University of Greifswald is established, making it the second oldest university in northern continental Europe (also for a period the oldest in Sweden, and Prussia)
  • 1483 Tomas de Torquemada appointed inquisitor-general of Spain
  • 1556 Ex-emperor Karel departs Netherland for Spain

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1651 Future King Charles II flees from England

King of England Charles II
King of England
Charles II


1660 Nine Regicides, the men who signed the death warrant of Charles I, are hanged, drawn and quartered, another is hanged.

King of England Charles I
King of England
Charles I
  • 1662 Charles II of Great Britain sells Dunkirk to France for 2.5 million livres (320,000 English pounds)
  • 1691 New royal charter for Massachusetts, now including Maine, Plymouth
  • 1720 Pierre de Marivaux' "Arlequin Poli Par l'Amour" premieres in Paris
  • 1740 Ivan VI becomes Tsar of Russia

  • 1777 British General John Burgoyne surrenders at Saratoga during the American Revolutionary War
  • 1787 Boston African Americans petition legislature for equal school facilities
  • 1797 Peace of Campo Formio: Austrian Dutch possessions & France
  • 1800 Dutch colony Curacao transfererd to Great Britain
  • 1806 Former leader of the Haitian Revolution, Emperor Jacques I of Haiti is assassinated
  • 1808 Political rights of Jews suspended in Duchy of Warsaw
  • 1814 A Beer Flood occurs in London killing nine.
  • 1829 Delaware River & Chesapeake Bay Canal formally opens
  • 1829 1st supposed attack on abandoned German teenager Kaspar Hauser
  • 1850 Knickerbocker Engine Co Number 5 organized
  • 1854 French and British forces bombard Sevastopol for the first time during the Crimean War
  • 1855 Bessemer steelmaking process patented
  • 1862 Battle of Leetown & Thoroughfare Gap, VA
  • 1868 Constitution of Grand Duchy of Luxembourg comes into effect
  • 1871 Great Britain annexes Griqualand, South Africa

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1871 US President Ulysses S. Grant suspends habeas corpus in parts of South Carolina during prosecutions against Ku Klux Klan

Union General and US President Ulysses S. Grant
Union General and US President
Ulysses S. Grant

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1876 Henry Morton Stanley's reaches Lualaba River

Journalist and Explorer Henry Morton Stanley
Journalist and Explorer
Henry Morton Stanley

Electoral defeatElection of Interest

1878 After serving as the opposition for five years, John A. Macdonald is re-elected as Prime Minister of Canada

Prime Minister of Canada John A. Macdonald
Prime Minister of Canada
John A. Macdonald
  • 1894 Ohio national guard kills 3 lynchers while rescuing a black man

  • 1896 Anton Tsjechovs "Chayka" premieres in St Petersburg
  • 1899 Sutro railroad sold to Robert F Morrow for $215,000
  • 1900 Bernhard von Bülow becomes German Chancellor

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1904 Bank of Italy (Bank of America) opens its doors in San Francisco, founded by Amadeo Giannini

Banker and Entrepreneur Amadeo Giannini
Banker and Entrepreneur
Amadeo Giannini

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1907 Guglielmo Marconi's company begins the first commercial transatlantic wireless service between Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada and Clifden, Ireland

Inventor and Nobel Laureate Guglielmo Marconi
Inventor and Nobel Laureate
Guglielmo Marconi
  • 1912 Bulgaria, Greece & Serbia declares war on Turkey
  • 1916 Dutch women demonstrate for female suffrage
  • 1917 1st British bombing of Germany
  • 1918 De Kooy airport in Netherlands opens
  • 1918 Yugoslavia proclaims itself a republic
  • 1919 Radio Corporation of America (RCA) is created as a subsidiary of General Electric
  • 1921 Belgium's public library law goes into force
  • 1922 Scottish worker begins hunger march from Glasgow on London
  • 1923 Catholic University of Nijmegen Neth opens

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1933 Albert Einstein arrives in US as a refugee from Nazi Germany

Theoretical Physicist Albert Einstein
Theoretical Physicist
Albert Einstein
  • 1934 "The Aldrich Family" premieres on radio
  • 1940 German occupiers issue identity cards
  • 1941 USS Kearney becomes the 1st US destroyer torpedoed in World War II, while the country is still officially neutral
  • 1943 Liberators sink U-540 & U-631

TrainDeath Railway Completed

1943 Burma railway completed, built by Allied POWs and Asian laborers for use of the Japanese army

Learn More
'Bridge over the River Kwai' drawn by Leo Rawlings in 1943 depicting construction by POWs of the Burma Railway
'Bridge over the River Kwai' drawn by Leo Rawlings in 1943 depicting construction by POWs of the Burma Railway
Learn More

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1945 Loyalty Day in Argentina, mass demonstrations held to release Juan Perón

General and President of Argentina Juan Perón
General and President of Argentina
Juan Perón
  • 1951 Egyptian army fires on British troops
  • 1954 Philadelphia Eagle Adrian Burk passes for 7 touchdowns vs Wash (49-21)
  • 1955 Lee Merriwether joins Today Show panel
  • 1956 England's 1st large scale nuclear power station opens
  • 1956 Pakistan defeat Australia by nine wickets at 1st attempt

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1957 Britain's Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip visit the White House

Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip
Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip
  • 1957 Dike Marken-Dutch mainland closed

Nobel prizeNobel Prize

1957 French author Albert Camus awarded Nobel Prize in Literature

Author Albert Camus
Albert Camus
  • 1957 II Tsjoendrigar becomes premier of Pakistan

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1959 Queen Elizabeth II is fined $140 for withdrawing her race horse

Queen of the United Kingdom Elizabeth II
Queen of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II
  • 1959 Stinchcomb Memorial in Cleveland Metroparks' dedicated
  • 1960 US & Britain sign accord for nuclear submarine bases
  • 1961 22nd congress of CPSU opens in Moscow
  • 1961 Battle of Paris-police kill 210 Algerians

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1961 NASA civilian pilot Joseph A. Walker takes X-15 to 33,100 m

Experimental Physicist, Astronaut and NASA Test Pilot Joseph A. Walker
Experimental Physicist, Astronaut and NASA Test Pilot
Joseph A. Walker

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1961 NY Museum of Modern Art hangs Henri Matisse's "Le Bateau" upside-down It wasn't corrected until December 3rd

Impressionist Painter Henri Matisse
Impressionist Painter
Henri Matisse
  • 1967 "Hair" premieres on Broadway

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1967 Memorial service for Brian Epstein at New London Synagogue

Music Entrepreneur and Beatles Manager Brian Epstein
Music Entrepreneur and Beatles Manager
Brian Epstein
  • 1967 William "Pete" Knight in X-15 reaches 85 km

  • 1967 USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
  • 1969 NY Nets move from Comack to Island Garden, Hempstead NY
  • 1969 Plastic Ono Band's "Cold Turkey" is released in UK
  • 1969 Soyuz 7 returns to Earth

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1970 Anwar Sadat sworn in as the 3rd President of Egypt

President of Egypt and Nobel Laureate Anwar Sadat
President of Egypt and Nobel Laureate
Anwar Sadat
  • 1971 Cleveland Metroparks' Rocky River Nature Center opens
  • 1971 It is estimated today that approximately 16,000 households were withholding rent and rates for council houses as part of the campaign of civil disobedience against internment organised by the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Northern Ireland
  • 1972 Bob Randall's "6 Rooms Riv Vu," premieres in NYC
  • 1972 The Ulster Defence Association open fire on the British Army in several areas of Belfast
  • 1973 OPEC oil ministers use oil as an economic weapon in the Arab-Israeli War, mandating a cut in exports and recommending an embargo against unfriendly states
  • 1975 1st Space Shuttle main engine test at National Space Tech Labs, Miss
  • 1975 UN passes resolution saying "Zionism is a form of racism"
  • 1976 China performs nuclear test at Lop Nor, PRC
  • 1977 Canada begins regular live TV coverage of Parliament
  • 1977 West German commandos storm hijacked Lufthansa in Mogadishu, Somalia freeing all 86 hostages & killing 3 of 4 hijackers

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1978 President Jimmy Carter signs bill restoring US citizenship to Jefferson Davis

39th US President Jimmy Carter
39th US President
Jimmy Carter
  • 1978 USSR performs underground nuclear test
  • 1979 D Bautista of Mexico completes 20,000 m walk in record 1:20:06.8

Nobel prizeNobel Prize

1979 Mother Teresa of Calcutta awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Catholic Missionary Mother Teresa
Catholic Missionary
Mother Teresa
  • 1979 US President Jimmy Carter signs legislation creating Department of Education
  • 1980 1st-class debut of Mike Whitney, NSW v Qld (2-52 & 1-39)
  • 1982 USSR performs nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya USSR
  • 1983 Nobel Prize in Economics awarded to Gérard Debreu
  • 1983 STS-9 vehicle moves to Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center (Florida) due to SRB nozzle problem

Birthdays in History

  • 1253 Ivo of Kermartin, Catholic saint and patron of Brittany, born in Kermartin, Duchy of Brittany (d. 1303)
  • 1563 Jodocus Hondius, Flemish mathematician/cartographer
  • 1577 Cristofano Allori, Italian painter (Judith)
  • 1582 Johann Gerhard, German Lutheran leader (d. 1637)
  • 1623 Francis Turretin, Swiss theologian (d. 1687)
  • 1626 Simon van Leeuwen, lawyer/historian (Roman-Holland regt)
  • 1696 August III, king of Poland/monarch Frederik August II of Saksen
  • 1704 Willem Bentinck, orangist
  • 1711 Jupiter Hammon, Lloyd Harbor NY, slave and poet, 1st African American to publish poetry
  • 1719 Jacques Cazotte, French writer (d. 1792)
  • 1725 John Wilkes, English radical, journalist (The North Briton) and politician, born in London (d. 1797)
  • 1734 Grigori G. Orlov, Russian guard officer and favorite of Catherine II
  • 1811 Albertus C van Raalte, Dutch/US vicar (owned land in Mich)
  • 1813 Georg Büchner, German playwright (d. 1837)
  • 1815 Emanuel Geibel, writer
  • 1817 Syed Ahmad Khan, Indian Muslim leader, born in Delhi, Mughal Empire
  • 1817 Samuel Ringgold Ward, Maryland, minister/abolitionist (Fugitive Negro)
  • 1833 Paul Bert, French Zoologist, Physiologist and pioneer of aerospace medicine whose study of the effects of air pressure on the body, such as altitude sickness and 'the bends', made possible space and ocean exploration, born in Auxerre, Burgundy (d. 1886)
  • 1840 Yaa Asantewaa, Ghanaian queen of Ashanti Empire, led fight against British colonialism, born in Besease, Ghana (d. 1921) appropriate date
  • 1845 Franz Ehrle, German prefect of Vatican library
  • 1853 Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (d. 1920)
  • 1864 Elinor Glyn, British novelist (3 Weeks)
  • 1865 James Rudolph Garfield, American politician (d. 1950)
  • 1875 Alfred Polgar, Austrian writer (Yes & No!)
  • 1892 Theodor Eicke, Nazi official (d. 1943)
  • 1893 Fritz Ascher, German Expressionist artist, born in Berlin, Germany (d. 1970)
  • 1895 Doris Humphrey, dancer (Dances of Women), born in Oak Park, Illinois
  • 1898 Mildred Knopf, cookbook writer
  • 1898 Simon Vestdijk, Dutch writer/poet (5th Seal)
  • 1903 Nathanael West, American novelist (Day of the Locusts)
  • 1905 Franco Albini, Italian architect
  • 1912 John Paul I [Albino Luciano], 263rd Roman Catholic pope (1978), born in Canale d'Agordo, Belluno, Veneto region of Northern Italy
  • 1914 Jerry Siegel, comic book writer (Superman)
  • 1914 John Mosely, recording expert/entrepreneur

Person of interestArthur Miller

1915 Arthur Miller, American playwright (Death of a Salesman, Crucible), born in NYC, New York (d. 2005)

Playwright Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
  • 1917 Sumner Locke Elliott, Australian-born American novelist (d. 1991)
  • 1919 Isaak Markovich Khalatnikov, Russian physicist, Ekaterinoslav (now Dnipro), Ukraine (d. 2021)
  • 1920 Miguel Delibes, Spanish writer
  • 1921 George Mackey Brown, poet
  • 1921 Pricilla Lanford Buckly, editor/columnist (National Review)
  • 1922 Louis Benjamin, showman
  • 1926 Karl Gordon Henize, American astronomer and NASA astronaut (STS-51-F), born in Cincinnati, Ohio (d. 1993)
  • 1928 Zacharias J de Beer, South African physician/MP (DP)
  • 1930 Jimmy Breslin, American author and columnist (NY Post, News, Newsday), born in NYC, New York (d. 2017)
  • 1930 Robert Atkins, American nutritionist (d. 2003)
  • 1931 Ernst Hinterberger, Austrian writer
  • 1932 William J Hughes, (Rep-D-New Jersey, 1975- )
  • 1933 William A Anders, Maj Gen, USAF/astronaut (Apollo 8), born in Hong Kong
  • 1934 Barend P Tammeling, Dutch journalist (Trouw, Groninger Gezinsbode)
  • 1936 David Hobson, (Rep-R-Ohio)
  • 1936 Hiroo Kanamori, Japanese seismologist

Person of interestEvel Knievel

1938 Robert "Evel" Knievel, American motorcycle daredevil (Snake River Canyon), born in Butte, Montana (d. 2007)

Motorcycle Daredevil Evel Knievel
Motorcycle Daredevil
Evel Knievel
  • 1940 Peter Stringfellow, British nightclub owner (Stringfellows), born in Sheffield, England (d. 2018)
  • 1946 Sir Cameron Mackintosh, British stage producer
  • 1946 Adam Michnik, Polish activist
  • 1946 Drusilla Modjeska, Australian writer and editor
  • 1947 Charles A Ingene, macromarketing researcher
  • 1947 Gene Green, (Rep-D-Texas)
  • 1950 Michael Lynn Synar, (Rep-D-Oklahoma, 1979- )
  • 1955 Georgios Alogoskoufis, Greek politician
  • 1955 Kerry James Marshall, American artist whose works seek to challenge the marginalization of African-Americans, born in Birmingham, Alabama

Person of interestMae Jemison

1956 Mae Jemison, 1st African American woman in space (STS 47), born in Decatur, Alabama

Astronaut and Physician Mae Jemison
Astronaut and Physician
Mae Jemison
  • 1956 Robin LO Linschoten, Dutch ass. secretary of Social Affairs (VVD)
  • 1959 Ron Drummond, American writer
  • 1959 Mark Peel, Australian historian and academic
  • 1960 Rob Marshall, American director
  • 1962 Mike Judge, Ecuadorian born American cartoonist, born in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Person of interestDoug McMillon

1966 Doug McMillon, American CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (2014-), born in Memphis, Tennessee

CEO of Wal-Mart Doug McMillon
CEO of Wal-Mart
Doug McMillon
  • 1974 Ariel Levy, American feminist writer
  • 1982 Nick Riewoldt, Australian rules footballer
  • 1984 Randall Munroe, American webcomic author

Weddings in History

  • 1469 Crown prince Fernando of Aragon (17) marries heir Princess Isabella of Castile (18), will unite the two Spanish crowns (not officially one country till 1707-16)

LoveWedding of Interest

1749 US revolutionary Samuel Adams (27) weds Elizabeth Checkley

US Revolutionary Samuel Adams
US Revolutionary
Samuel Adams

LoveWedding of Interest

1826 Historian Thomas Carlyle (30) weds Jane Welsh (25)

Historian and Essayist Thomas Carlyle
Historian and Essayist
Thomas Carlyle

LoveWedding of Interest

1916 Cartoonist Rube Goldberg (33) weds Irma Seeman

Cartoonist Rube Goldberg
Rube Goldberg

Deaths in History

Person of interestAgrippina the Elder

33 Agrippina the Elder, Roman noblewoman (mother of Caligula), dies of starvation at 47

Roman Noblewoman Agrippina the Elder
Roman Noblewoman
Agrippina the Elder
  • 532 Boniface II, 1st "German" Pope, dies
  • 1174 Queen Petronila of Aragon (b. 1135)
  • 1312 Jan II, duke of Brabant/Limburg (charter of Kortenberg), dies
  • 1552 Andreas Osiander, Protestant Reformation theologist, dies at 53
  • 1586 Philip Sidney, English Elizabethan era poet (Arcadia) and soldier, dies in battle at 32
  • 1616 John Pitts, Catholic scholar and writer. (b. 1560)
  • 1638 Gilles Claesz de Hondecoeter, Flemish (?) painter, buried at about 63
  • 1660 Adrian Scrope, English regicide (b. 1601)
  • 1673 Thomas Clifford, English statesman (1st Baron Clifford of Chudleigh), dies at 43
  • 1702 Walraad the Old, count/sovereign of Nassau-Usingen, dies
  • 1757 René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, French scientist (b. 1683)
  • 1763 Arnold Hoogvliet, Dutch poet (Abraham the patriarch), dies at 76
  • 1776 Pierre François le Courayer, French theologian (b. 1681)
  • 1780 William Cookworthy, English chemist, dies at 75
  • 1786 Johann Ludwig Aberli, Swiss artist (b. 1723)
  • 1806 Jean Jacques Dessalines, Emperor of Haiti, dies
  • 1836 Orest Kiprensky, Russian painter (b. 1782)

Person of interestLaura Secord

1868 Laura Secord, Canadian heroine of the war of 1812, dies at 93

Canadian War Heroine Laura Secord
Canadian War Heroine
Laura Secord

Person of interestRobert McClure

1873 Robert McClure, Irish explorer who discovered the Northwest passage, dies at 66

Explorer Robert McClure
Robert McClure
  • 1887 Gustav Kirchhoff, German physicist (spectroscopy, coined "black body" radiation), dies at 63
  • 1889 N.G. [Nikolay Gavrilovich] Chernyshevsky, Russian philosopher (What Is to Be Done?), dies at 61
  • 1910 William V Moody, American poet (Sabine Woman, Great Divide), dies
  • 1910 Sergey Muromtsev, Russian lawyer, politician and President of the First Imperial Duma, dies at 60
  • 1910 Julie Ward Howe, American poet and author, dies of pneumonia at 91
  • 1921 Yaa Asantewaa, Ghanaian queen of Ashanti Empire, led fight against British colonialism, dies at 80 or 81
  • 1931 Alfons Maria Jakob, German neurologist, dies at 47
  • 1934 Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Spanish histologist (central nervous system) and neuroscientist (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1906), dies at 82
  • 1941 John S Plaskett, Canadian astronomer (Plaskett's twins), dies
  • 1943 Stefan Starzyński, Polish politician (b. 1893)
  • 1957 John HA Eman, founder of Aruban Peoples Party, dies at 70
  • 1958 Paul Outerbridge, American photographer, dies at 63
  • 1962 Natalia Goncharova, Russian avant-garde artist and painter, dies at 81
  • 1963 Jacques Hadamard, French mathematician (proved the prime number theorem), dies at 97
  • 1967 Henry Pu Yi, last emperor of China, dies at 61
  • 1970 Pierre Laporte, Vice-Premier of Quebec (assassinated) (b. 1921)
  • 1972 George, Crown Prince of Serbia, eldest son of King Peter I, dies at 85
  • 1973 Ingeborg Bachmann, Austrian author and poet (Gott von Manhattan), dies at 47
  • 1974 René A de Rooy, Suriname/Antillean poet, dies at 57
  • 1982 Peterus van Doorne, Dutch industrialist, dies at 47
  • 1983 Raymond Aron, French sociologist/political scientist, dies at 78
  • 1987 Abdul Malek Ukil, Bangladeshi politician (b. 1925)

Person of interestRalph Abernathy

1990 Ralph Abernathy, American civil rights leader (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), dies of a blood clot at 64

Civil Rights Activist Ralph Abernathy
Civil Rights Activist
Ralph Abernathy
  • 1992 Ton Hasebos, cameraman/TV director (Gnome Hasebos), dies
  • 1992 Herman Johannes, Indonesian professor, scientist and politician (b. 1912)
  • 1993 Frank J Del Giudice, US industrial designer (Boeing 747), dies at 77
  • 1993 Helmut Gollwitzer, German theologist/antifascist, dies at 84
  • 1993 Wim van Dooren, theologist/humanist/philosopher, dies
  • 1994 Dmitri Cholodov, Russian journalist, murdered at 27
  • 1994 Joan Barbara Grigor, artist, dies at 50
  • 1994 Rik van Bentum, painter/art director of Paradiso, dies at 57
  • 1995 Peter Hinchcliff, historian, dies at 66
  • 1997 Paul Edwin Zimmer, sci-fi writer, dies of heart attack at 54
  • 1998 Hakim Mohammed Said, Pakistani scholar and philanthropist
  • 1999 Nicholas Metropolis, Greek-American mathematician, physicist and computer scientist, dies at 84
  • 1999 Ralph Grey, Baron Grey of Naunton, Governor of Northern Ireland (1968-73), dies at 89
  • 2001 Rehavam Zeevi, Israeli politician (b. 1926)
  • 2005 Ba Jin, Chinese writer (b. 1904)
  • 2005 Franky Gee, European techno artist (b. 1962)
  • 2007 Joey Bishop, American entertainer, member of the Rat Pack (b. 1918)
  • 2007 Robert A. Young, American politician (Rep-D-MO, 1977-87), dies at 83
  • 2011 Carl Lindner, Jr., Cincinnati businessman and one of the world's richest people (b. 1919)
  • 2012 Stanford Robert Ovshinsky, American inventor and scientist, dies from prostate cancer at 89
  • 2017 Julian May, American sci-fi author (Golden Torc, Magnificat), dies at 86
  • 2019 Elijah Cummings, American politician (Rep-Maryland (D) 1996-2019), dies at 68