What happened on this day in history: A 7.5-magnitude earthquake devastates Jamaica in 1692, Hollywood star Jean Harlow dies in 1937, and more.
1692: An Earthquake Destroys Port Royal, Jamaica
A 7.5-magnitude earthquake strikes Port Royal, Jamaica. The quake caused the town to sink into its loose soil foundation and the subsequent tsunami submerged Port Royal in 40 feet of water. Some 2,000 people died immediately, with another 3,000 later succumbing to injury and disease.
1893: Mahatma Gandhi Performs His First Act Of Civil Disobedience
Mohandas K. Gandhi is forcibly removed from a whites-only train car in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The incident inspired him to spend his life fighting for justice. “The hardship to which I was subjected was superficial – only a symptom of the deep disease of color prejudice,” he wrote. “I should try, if possible, to root out the disease and suffer hardships in the process.”
1913: Hudson Stuck Summits Denali
Mountaineer Hudson Stuck leads the first successful summit of Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) in Alaska. A British missionary, Stuck reached the mountain’s south peak, its summit, alongside a small team. Some 35,000 people have attempted the climb since but just 60 percent succeed in reaching the summit.
1929: The Vatican Becomes A Sovereign State
The Vatican becomes a sovereign state. After Italy became a unified state, the Vatican shared Rome with the new government and began to feel politically threatened. In order to maintain the Vatican’s influence and sovereignty, Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with Benito Mussolini and secured the Vatican’s independence. Today, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world (in both geographical size and population). It also has the smallest army in the world, with only 110 Swiss Guards to protect the pope and the country.
1937: Jean Harlow Dies
Actress Jean Harlow, born Harlean Harlow Carpenter, dies in Los Angeles at the age of just 26. A blonde bombshell who wowed moviegoers in films like Hell’s Angels (1930) and Red-Headed Woman (1932), Harlow stunned audiences with her iconic line “Would you be shocked if I put on something more comfortable?,” indicative of her sex symbol screen persona. However, her life and career were tragically cut short when she died of uremic poisoning and acute kidney failure.