On this day:
49 BC – Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon, signalling the start of civil war.
Gaius Julius Caesar[b] (Classical Latin: [ˈɡaː.i.ʊs ˈjuː.li.ʊs ˈkae̯.sar]; 13 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), known as Julius Caesar, was a Roman politician, general, and notable author of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.
In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey formed a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years. Their attempts to amass power as Populares were opposed by the Optimates within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero. Caesar’s victories in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC, extended Rome’s territory to the English Channel and the Rhine. Caesar became the first Roman general to cross both when he built a bridge across the Rhine and conducted the first invasion of Britain.
These achievements granted him unmatched military power and threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC. With the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome. Caesar refused the order, and instead marked his defiance in 49 BC by crossing the Rubicon with the 13th Legion, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy under arms. Civil war resulted, and Caesar’s victory in the war put him in an unrivalled position of power and influence.
1776 – Thomas Paine publishes his pamphlet Common Sense.
Thomas Paine has a claim to the title The Father of the American Revolution, which rests on his pamphlets, especially Common Sense, which crystallized sentiment for independence in 1776. It was published in Philadelphia on January 10, 1776, and signed anonymously “by an Englishman.” It became an immediate success, quickly spreading 100,000 copies in three months to the two million residents of the 13 colonies. In all about 500,000 copies total including unauthorized editions were sold during the course of the American Revolution. Paine’s original title for the pamphlet was Plain Truth; Paine’s friend, pro-independence advocate Benjamin Rush, suggested Common Sense instead.
Born on this day:
1802 – Carl Ritter von Ghega, Italian-Austrian engineer, designed the Semmering railway (d. 1860)
After his return to the state railway he began with the planning of the railway line to the south, from Mürzzuschlag to Graz and Trieste. The crossing of the Semmering was not believed possible, but as early as 1844 he submitted a plan for the crossing of the Semmering, with locomotives without an extra rail for gear wheels. Before the building was fully decided, he began to enforce the construction of locomotives which could overcome such upward gradients. Construction of the Semmeringbahn was begun in 1848 and completed in 1854. In 1856, the Borovnica viaduct, one of the most imposing railroad bridges of the era, was built upon the plans by von Ghega as part of the Austrian Southern Railway from Vienna to Trieste.
In 1851, Ghega was knighted (Ritter) for his services to the country, and in 1853 he was made chief of planning for the whole railway network of the Austrian Empire.
1850 – John Wellborn Root, American architect, designed the Rookery Building and Monadnock Building (d. 1891)
John Wellborn Root (January 10, 1850 – January 15, 1891) was an American architect who was based in Chicago with Daniel Burnham. He was one of the founders of the Chicago School style. Two of his buildings have been designated a National Historic Landmark; others have been designated Chicago landmarks and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1958, he received the AIA Gold Medal.
Lake View Presbyterian Church, 1888
Grannis Block (1880) Chicago (destroyed)
Montauk Building (1882–1883) Chicago (destroyed)
Rookery Building (1885) Chicago, National Historic Landmark (NHL)
Phoenix (Phenix) Building (1887) Chicago (destroyed)
Lake View Presbyterian Church (1888) Chicago
Monadnock Building (1889), Chicago, National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)
Society for Savings Building, Cleveland, (1889), NRHP
Reliance Building (1889) Chicago, ground floor only, NHL
Keokuk Union Depot (1891) Keokuk, Iowa, NRHP
1898 – Katharine Burr Blodgett, American physicist and engineer (d. 1979)
Katharine Burr Blodgett (January 10, 1898 – October 12, 1979) was an American scientific researcher. She was the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge, in 1926. After receiving her master’s degree, she was hired by General Electric, where she invented low-reflectance “invisible” glass.
Blodgett received numerous awards during her lifetime. In 1945, she received the Achievement Award from the American Association of University Women. In 1951 she received the prestigious Francis Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society for her work on monomolecular films. That same year, she was chosen by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of 15 “women of achievement.” Among many other awards she had received, the mayor of Schenectady honored her with Katharine Blodgett Day on June 13, 1951 because of all the honor she had brought to her community. In 2007 she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 2008 an elementary school in Schenectady was opened bearing her name.
1900 – Violette Cordery, English race car driver (d. 1983)
Cordery was employed as a driver to captain Noel Macklin of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) at Dover, he had been invalided out of the Royal Artillery in 1915 and subsequently transferred to the RNVR. Macklin was married to her elder sister Lucy.
In 1920 she competed in the South Harting hill climb driving a Silver Hawk, manufactured by Noel Macklin. Cordery also competed in two British Motor Cycle Racing Club handicap events driving an Eric-Campbell, also manufactured by Noel Macklin. In May 1921 she won the ladies’ race at the Junior Car Club meeting, averaging 49.7 miles per hour (80.0 km/h).
In 1925 she publicised the new Invicta car, also manufactured by Noel Macklin, by racing and breaking records. At the West Kent Motor Club meeting at Brooklands she won the half mile sprint in a 2.7 litre Invicta, and went on other victories and records.
In 1926 she set a long distance record at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Italy, when she co-drove a 19.6 hp Invicta for 10,000 miles (16,000 km) at 56.47 miles per hour (90.88 km/h). In July 1926 she averaged 70.7 miles per hour (113.8 km/h) for 5,000 miles (8,000 km) at Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry, Paris, and became the first woman to be awarded the Dewar Trophy by the Royal Automobile Club.
In 1927 she drove an Invicta around the world in five months, covering 10,266 miles (16,522 km) at an average speed of 24.6 miles per hour (39.6 km/h). She traveled through Europe, Africa, India, Australia, the United States, and Canada accompanied by a nurse, a mechanic, and a Royal Automobile Club observer.
In 1929, with her younger sister Evelyn, she covered 30,000 miles (48,000 km) of the Brooklands circuit within 30,000 minutes (approximately 20 days, 20 hours) at an average speed 61.57 miles per hour (99.09 km/h) and earning a second Dewar Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club. By 1930 her 4.5-litre Invicta tourer had completed return journeys from London to Monte Carlo, London to John O’Groats and London to Edinburgh.
1943 – Jim Croce, American singer-songwriter (d. 1973)
Croce was born in South Philadelphia, to James Albert Croce and his wife Flora Mary (Babucci) Croce, both Italian Americans. Croce took a strong interest in music at a young age. At five, he learned to play his first song on the accordion, “Lady of Spain.”
Croce attended Upper Darby High School in Upper Darby Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Graduating in 1960, he studied at Malvern Preparatory School for a year before enrolling at Villanova University, where he majored in psychology and minored in German. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1965. Croce was a member of the Villanova Singers and the Villanova Spires. When the Spires performed off-campus or made recordings, they were known as The Coventry Lads. Croce was also a student disc jockey at WKVU (which has since become WXVU).
Croce did not take music seriously until he studied at Villanova, where he formed bands and performed at fraternity parties, coffee houses, and universities around Philadelphia, playing “anything that the people wanted to hear: blues, rock, a cappella, railroad music … anything.” Croce’s band was chosen for a foreign exchange tour of Africa, the Middle East, and Yugoslavia. He later said, “We just ate what the people ate, lived in the woods, and played our songs. Of course they didn’t speak English over there but if you mean what you’re singing, people understand.” On November 29, 1963 Croce met his future wife Ingrid Jacobson at the Philadelphia Convention Hall during a hootenanny, where he was judging a contest.
Croce released his first album, Facets, in 1966, with 500 copies pressed. The album had been financed with a $500 wedding gift from Croce’s parents, who set a condition that the money must be spent to make an album. They hoped that he would give up music after the album failed, and use his college education to pursue a “respectable” profession. However, the album proved a success, with every copy sold.
1944 – Frank Sinatra, Jr., American singer and actor (d. 2016)
Francis Wayne Sinatra was born January 10, 1944, in Jersey City, New Jersey, into the household of one of the most popular singers in the world, Frank Sinatra. The younger Sinatra, who was not technically a “junior” but was nonetheless known as Frank Jr. throughout his life, hardly saw his father, who was constantly on the road, either performing or working in films. However, Sinatra recalled wanting to become a pianist and songwriter from his earliest days. His father wanted to name him after Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was President at the time of his birth.
Sinatra was kidnapped, at the age of 19, on December 8, 1963, at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe (room 417). He was released two days later after his father paid the $240,000 ransom demanded by the kidnappers.[note 2] Barry Keenan, Johnny Irwin, and Joe Amsler were soon captured, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to long prison terms for kidnapping, of which they served only small portions. Mastermind Keenan was later adjudged to have been legally insane at the time of the crime and hence not legally responsible for his actions. Famed attorney Gladys Root represented one of the three men.
A rumor at the time was that Frank Sr. arranged this in an attempt to gain publicity for his son’s fledgling singing career – a rumor believed to have inspired the plot for the Hawaii Five-O episode “Tiger by the Tail” – but this was proven to be false. The kidnappers demanded that all communication be conducted by payphone. During these conversations, Frank Sr. became concerned he would not have enough change. This prompted Frank Sr. to carry ten dimes with him at all times for the rest of his life; he was even buried with ten dimes in his pocket.
At the time of the kidnapping, Frank Sr. and the Rat Pack were filming Robin and the 7 Hoods. The stress of the kidnapping, in addition to the assassination of Sinatra’s close friend John F. Kennedy just a few weeks previous, caused him to seriously consider shutting down production completely, though the film was ultimately completed.
1953 – Pat Benatar, American singer-songwriter
Patricia Mae Andrzejewski (born January 10, 1953), known professionally by her stage name Pat Benatar, is an American singer, songwriter, and four time Grammy Award winner. She is a soprano. She has had commercial success, particularly in the United States and Canada. During the 1980s, Benatar had two RIAA-certified multi-platinum albums, five RIAA-certified platinum albums, three RIAA-certified gold albums, 17 Billboard chartings, 15 of them being Top 40 singles, including the Top 10 hits “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”, “Love Is a Battlefield”, “We Belong”, and “Invincible”. Other popular singles include “Heartbreaker”, “Treat Me Right”, “Fire and Ice”, “Promises in the Dark”, “Shadows of the Night”, and “All Fired Up”. Benatar was one of the most heavily played artists in the early days of MTV. She was the first female artist to play on MTV, performing “You Better Run”.
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