On this day:
1661 – Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, is ritually executed more than two years after his death, on the 12th anniversary of the execution of the monarch he himself deposed.
Some Christians believed that the resurrection of the dead on judgement day requires that the body be buried whole facing east so that the body could rise facing God. If dismemberment stopped the possibility of the resurrection of an intact body, then a posthumous execution was an effective way of punishing a criminal.
In England Henry VIII granted the annual right to the bodies of four hanged felons. Charles II later increased this to six … Dissection was now a recognised punishment, a fate worse than death to be added to hanging for the worst offenders. The dissections performed on hanged felons were public: indeed part of the punishment was the delivery from hangman to surgeons at the gallows following public execution, and later public exhibition of the open body itself … In 1752 an act was passed allowing dissection of all murderers as an alternative to hanging in chains. This was a grisly fate, the tarred body being suspended in a cage until it fell to pieces. The object of this and dissection was to deny a grave … Dissection was described as “a further terror and peculiar Mark of Infamy” and “in no case whatsoever shall the body of any murderer be suffered to be buried”. The rescue, or attempted rescue of the corpse was punishable by transportation for seven years.
— Dr D. R. Johnson, Introductory Anatomy.
1826 – The Menai Suspension Bridge, considered the world’s first modern suspension bridge, connecting the Isle of Anglesey to the north West coast of Wales, is opened.
The Menai Suspension Bridge (Welsh: Pont Grog y Borth) is a suspension bridge to carry road traffic between the island of Anglesey and the mainland of Wales. The bridge was designed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1826 and is a Grade I listed building.
Before the bridge was completed in 1826, the island had no fixed connection to the mainland and the primary means of access to and from Anglesey was by ferry across the fast flowing and dangerous waters of the Menai Strait. The main source of income on Anglesey was from the sale of cattle, and to move them to the markets of the mainland, including London, they had to be driven into the water and encouraged to swim across the Strait, a dangerous practice which often resulted in the loss of valuable animals. With Holyhead as the closest point to, and thus one of the principal ports for ferries to Dublin, Engineer Thomas Telford was engaged to complete a survey of the route from London to Holyhead, and he proposed that a bridge should be built over the Menai Strait from a point near Bangor on the mainland to the village of Porthaethwy (which is now also known as Menai Bridge) on Anglesey.
Because of the high banks and fast flowing waters of the Strait, it would have been difficult to build piers on the shifting sands of the sea-bed and, even if it could be done, they would have obstructed the navigation. Also, the bridge would have to be high enough to allow the passage of the tall ships of the day. In view of this, Telford proposed that a suspension bridge should be built and his recommendation was accepted by Parliament.
Construction of the bridge, to Telford’s design, began in 1819 with the towers on either side of the strait. These were constructed from Penmon limestone and were hollow with internal cross-walls. Then came the sixteen huge chain cables, each made of 935 iron bars, that support the 176-metre (577 ft) span. To avoid rusting between manufacture and use, the iron was soaked in linseed oil and later painted. The chains each measured 522.3 metres (1,714 ft) and weighed 121 long tons (123 t; 136 short tons). Their suspending power was calculated at 2,016 long tons (2,048 t; 2,258 short tons). The bridge was opened to much fanfare on 30 January 1826.
1969 – The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police.
Apple Records is a record label founded by the Beatles in 1968, as a division of Apple Corps Ltd. It was initially intended as a creative outlet for the Beatles, both as a group and individually, plus a selection of other artists including Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, Badfinger, and Billy Preston. In practice, by the mid-1970s, the roster had become dominated with releases by the former Beatles as solo artists. Allen Klein managed the label from 1969 to 1973. It was then managed by Neil Aspinall on behalf of the four Beatles and their heirs. He retired in 2007 and was replaced by Jeff Jones.
Apple has blocked the concert: This video contains content from Apple Corps Ltd, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.
Born on this day:
1754 – John Lansing, Jr., American lawyer and politician (d. 1829)
John Ten Eyck Lansing Jr. (January 30, 1754 in Albany, New York – vanished December 12, 1829 in New York City), was an American lawyer and politician. He was the uncle of Gerrit Y. Lansing.
Lansing studied law with Robert Yates in Albany, NY and was admitted to practice in 1775.
From 1776 until 1777 during the Revolutionary War Lansing served as a military secretary to General Philip Schuyler. Afterwards he was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1780 to 1784, in 1785-86, and 1788–89, being its speaker during the latter two terms. He served New York as a member of the Confederation Congress in 1785. In 1786, he was appointed Mayor of Albany. He represented New York as one of three representatives at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. His intentions at the convention were to follow the wishes of the New York Legislature which had elected him to attend. He was authorized only to amend the existing Articles of Confederation. As the convention progressed, Lansing became disillusioned because he believed it was exceeding its instructions. Lansing believed the delegates had gathered together simply to amend the Articles of Confederation and was dismayed at the movement to write an entirely new constitution. His desire was to see the Articles strengthened giving it a source of revenue, the power to regulate commerce, and to enforce treaties. He joined other prominent Anti-Federalists that strongly opposed Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson and James Madison’s notions of a strong centralized national government to replace the Articles. He, Luther Martin of Maryland, George Mason of Virginia and Robert Yates also of New York strongly opposed the newly proposed United States Constitution because they thought it was fundamentally flawed and should be rejected because it infringed on the sovereignty of the independent States and did not do enough to guarantee individual liberty. Both he and Robert Yates walked out after 6 weeks and explained their departure in a joint letter to New York Governor George Clinton. Lansing and Yates never signed the constitution. At the New York Ratifying Convention that followed, he along with Melancton Smith took the lead in the debates as the leaders of the Anti-Federalist majority. Their attempts to prevent ratification ultimately failed by a narrow vote of 30 to 27. He was appointed a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court in 1790 and on 15 February 1798 he was elevated to the post Chief Justice. In 1801, he also became the second Chancellor of New York, succeeding Robert R. Livingston. In 1814 he became a regent of the University of New York.
1899 – Max Theiler, South African-American virologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1972)
Max Theiler (30 January 1899 – 11 August 1972) was a South African-American virologist and doctor. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951 for developing a vaccine against yellow fever in 1937, becoming the first African-born Nobel laureate.
Born in Pretoria, Theiler was educated in South Africa through completion of his degree in medical school. He went to London for post-graduate work at St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School, King’s College London and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, earning a 1922 diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene. That year he moved to the United States to do research at the Harvard University School of Tropical Medicine. He lived and worked in that nation the rest of his life. In 1930 he moved to the Rockefeller Institute in New York, becoming director of the Virus Laboratory.
After passing the yellow fever virus through laboratory mice, Theiler found that the weakened virus conferred immunity on Rhesus monkeys. The stage was set for Theiler to develop a vaccine against the disease. Theiler first devised a test for the efficacy of experimental vaccines. In his test, sera from vaccinated human subjects was injected into mice to see if it protected the mice against Yellow Fever virus. This “mouse protection test,” was used with variations as a measure of immunity until after World War II. Subculturing the particularly virulent Asibi strain from West Africa in chicken embryos, a technique pioneered by Ernest Goodpasture, the Rockefeller team sought to obtain an attenuated strain of the virus that would not kill mice when injected into their brains. It took until 1937, and more than one hundred subcultures in chicken embryos, for Theiler and his colleague Hugh Smith to obtain an attenuated strain, which they named “17D”. Animal tests showed the attenuated 17D mutant was safe and immunizing. Theiler’s team rapidly completed the development of a 17D vaccine, and the Rockefeller Foundation began human trials in South America. Between 1940 and 1947, the Rockefeller Foundation produced more than 28 million doses of the vaccine and finally ended yellow fever as a major disease.
For this work Theiler received the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Theiler also was awarded the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s Chalmers Medal in 1939, Harvard University’s Flattery Medal in 1945, and the American Public Health Association’s Lasker Award in 1949.
Theiler’s Murine Encephalomyelitis Virus (TMEV)
In 1937, Max Theiler discovered a filterable agent that was a known cause for paralysis in mice. He found the virus was not transmittable to Rhesus monkeys, and that only some mice developed symptoms. The virus is now referred to as Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus. The virus has been well characterized, and now serves as a standard model for studying multiple sclerosis.