On This Day: 27 July

By Contributor and Editor Mateo Portelli

On This Day, the 208th day of 2018,

  • The United States celebrates National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
    • Puerto Rico celebrates José Celso Barbosa Day
  • North Korea celebrates the Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War
  • The Philippines celebrates Iglesia ni Cristo Day
  • Vietnam celebrates Martyrs and Wounded Soldiers Day
  • The second total lunar eclipse of 2018 will take place, visible in parts of Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. In total, it will last for 103 minutes, making it the longest eclipse of the 21st century. It begins at around 17:14:47 UTC.


17th Century

  • In 1694, 324 years ago, King William III of England granted a royal charter to the Bank of England, establishing the Bank of England as the central bank of the United Kingdom. Governor Mark Carney, OC, has headed the Bank of England since 2013. The first Governor of the Bank of England was Sir John Houblon.

18th Century

  • In 1775, 243 years ago, during the American Revolution, the Continental Congress passed legislation establishing “a hospital for an army consisting of 20,000 men,” founding the U.S. Army Medical Department (AMEDD). Lieutenant General Nadja West has headed the AMEDD since 2015. The first Surgeon General of the Army, then the Chief Physician and Director General, was Dr. Benjamin Church.
  • In 1789, 229 years ago, Congress established the United States Department of Foreign Affairs. The first federal government agency, it would later be renamed the Department of State. Secretary Mike Pompeo has headed the Department of State since 2018. The first Secretary of State was Thomas Jefferson, who would become the Third President of the United States.
  • In 1794, 224 years ago, during the French Revolution, the Thermidorian Reaction took place. Members of the National Convention arrested and denounced Revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre as a tyrant. Robespierre and 21 other of his followers were arrested. The next day, they were declared outlaws, condemned, and executed without judicial processing. Suffice it to say, he wasn’t allowed to have his cake nor eat it too.

19th Century

  • In 1866, the first permanent transatlantic telegraph cable was completed, connecting Valentia Island, Ireland to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland. The first message was sent in August, in 1858, reducing the communication time between North American and Europe from ten days to mere minutes. However, it would not be completed and established permanently until eight years later to this day.
  • In 1890, Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a 7mm Lefaucheux à broche revolver. His rib deflected the bullet and passed through his chest without doing any damage to internal organs, likely stopped by his spine. Two doctors attended to him, but without a surgeon available, the bullet could not be removed. He would die 30 hours later; his last words were, “The sadness will last forever.”

20th Century

  • 1910s
    • In 1919, the Chicago Race Riots raged on, leading to 38 deaths and 537 injuries over a five-day period. The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 is considered the worst of the 25 riots during the Red Summer.
  • 1920s
    • In 1929, 53 nations signed the Geneva Convention (1929). Entering into force in 1931, the treaty’s provisions covered the treatment of prisoners-of-war. It is the predecessor to the Third Geneva Convention.
  • 1940s
    • In 1940, directed by Tex Avery, produced by Leon Schlesinger, and animated by Virgil Ross, the animated short A Wild Hare was released. The short featured the characters of Elmer Fudd and what is considered to be the first official appearance of Bugs Bunny. This film coined the iconic phrase, “Eh, what’s up, Doc?”
    • In 1949, the first flight of the de Havilland Comet DH 106 Comet took place. The de Havilland Comet, produced by de Havilland, originating from the United Kingdom, was the world’s first commercial jet airliner. The DH 106 Comet was retired in March in 1997, having been developed into the now-retired Hawker Siddeley Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft of the Royal Air Force.
  • 1950s
    • In 1953, the cessation of hostilities of the Korean War was achieved, when the United States, China, and North Korea signed the Korean Armistice Agreement. President of South Korea Syngman Rhee refused to sign the agreement but pledged to observe the armistice.
    • In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty entered into force, reestablishing Austria as a sovereign state. Originally occupied by Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union, the Treat established an independent and democratic Austria. It would later be admitted into the United Nations in December.
  • 1970s
    • In 1974, during the Watergate scandal, the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives voted 27-to-11 for recommending the first article of impeachment for obstruction of justice against President Richard Nixon. In February, the House approved H.Res. 803, granting the Judiciary Committee the authority to investigate impeachment of the President. Later in July, the Judiciary Committee would recommend the second article of abuse of power and third article of contempt of Congress.
  • 1990s
    • In 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Belarusian Soviet Republic declared Belarus independent from the USSR. Until 1996, the 27th of July was considered the Independence Day of Belarus. It wouldn’t be until 1991 that Belarus becomes functionally independent from the USSR.
    • In 1995, Congress dedicated the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Memorializing those who served in the Korean War, the Memorial is located Southeast of the Lincoln Memorial, off Independence Avenue.

21st Century

  • In 2009, the first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue took place. Its purpose was to discuss a range of regional and global strategic and economic issues between both countries. The structure of the Dialogue is split into two tracks, the Strategic Track, managed by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Chinese State Councilor, and the Economic Track, managed by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and the Chinese Vice Premier. The last meeting took place in 2016.
  • In 2016, the Parliament of Catalonia defied the Constitutional Court of Spain by holding an informal and unilateral vote for secession.


  • 15th Century
    • In 1452, 566 years ago, Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza was born. He was a patron of Leonardo da Vinci, among other artists, and is famed as the man who commissioned The Last Supper. His mistress, Lucrezia Crivelli — who was also born on the same day! — is thought to be the subject of da Vinci’s La belle ferronnière.
  • 17th Century
    • In 1612, 406 years ago, 17th Ottoman Sultan Murad IV was born. He reigned as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623 until his death in 1640. He is known for restoring the state’s authority, and for his brutality. He reigned during the Ottoman-Safavid War, the outcome of which laid down the approximate foundation for the current Turkey-Iran-Iraq borders.
  • 18th Century
    • In 1740, 278 years ago, Jeanne Baret was born. She was a member of Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s expedition on the ships La Boudeuse and Étoile from 1766 to 1769. She is recognized as the first woman to have completed a voyage of circumnavigation around the world. In order to join the expedition, she disguised herself as a man, Jean Baret. She enlisted as valet and assistant to the expedition’s naturalist Philibert Commerson. According to de Bougainville, she was an expert botanist. Personally, I think this is a better story than Mulan (1998), though I’m sure there was a good soundtrack for Baret’s adventures.
  • 19th Century
    • In 1857, Dr. José Celso Barbosa was born. Known as the Father of the Statehood for Puerto Rico movement, Barbosa was the first Puerto Rican, and one of the first persons of African descent, to earn a medical degree in the United States, graduating from the University of Michigan. A member of the Puerto Rican Republican Party, Barbosa made many contributions to medicine and public health, initiating an early form of health insurance, encouraging employers to pay a fee to cover future needs of employees. Barbosa served as a member of the Executive Cabinet of Puerto Rico from 1900 to 1917, and as a member of the Senate of Puerto Rico from 1917 to 1921.
    • In 1882, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland was born. Graduating from Oxford, Sir de Havilland was an English aviation pioneer and aerospace engineer. He designed the de Havilland Mosquito, which served during World War II as one of the most versatile combat aircraft. He also designed the de Havilland Comet, which would take its first flight 67 years after his birth. He also served as a Captain in the British Army from 1912 to 1919 in the Royal Flying Corps, earning an Air Force Cross.
  • 20th Century
    • In 1921, Garry Davis was born. Davis was an international peace activist best known for creating the World Passport, a non-national travel document based on his interpretation of Article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He served as an American bomber pilot during World War II, however, he would later reject his national citizenship and became a stateless person in 1948. Despite critiquing the World Federalist Movement, he was a staunch World Federalist, promoting world citizenship, and founding the World Service Authority.
    • In 1929, Jean Baudrillard was born. A French sociologist, philosopher, and cultural and political theorist, he is best known for his work on media analysis, technological communications, and concepts on the nature of reality and hyperreality. His works are most often associated with Postmodernism or Post-Structuralism and Western Marxism.
    • In 1938, Gary Cygax was born. He was an American game designer and is often named as the Father of Role-Playing Games, as he is the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, along with Dave Arneson. I don’t have a witty comment for this. D&D is a classic and iconic role-playing game.