October 16th, 1793: Nine months after the execution of her husband, King Louis XVI of France, Marie-Antoinette follows him to the guillotine. The daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, she married Louis in 1770 to strengthen the French-Austrian alliance. At a time of economic turmoil in France, she lived extravagantly and encouraged her husband to resist reform of the monarchy. In one episode, she allegedly responded to news that the French peasantry had no bread to eat by callously replying, "Let them eat cake." The increasing revolutionary uproar convinced the king and queen to attempt an escape to Austria in 1791, but they were captured by revolutionary forces and carried back to Paris. In 1792, the French monarchy was abolished, and Louis and Marie-Antoinette were condemned for treason.
October 16th, 1934: The embattled Chinese Communists break through Nationalist enemy lines and begin an epic flight from their encircled headquarters in southwest China. Known as Ch'ang Cheng—the "Long March"—the retreat lasted 368 days and covered 6,000 miles, nearly twice the distance from New York to San Francisco.
October 16th, 1859: Abolitionist John Brown leads a small group on a raid against a federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), in an attempt to start an armed slave revolt and destroy the institution of slavery. Born in Connecticut in 1800 and raised in Ohio, Brown came from a staunchly Calvinist and antislavery family. He spent much of his life failing at a variety of businesses--he declared bankruptcy at age 42 and had more than 20 lawsuits filed against him. In 1837, his life changed irrevocably when he attended an abolition meeting in Cleveland, during which he was so moved that he publicly announced his dedication to destroying the institution of slavery. As early as 1848 he was formulating a plan to incite an insurrection.
October 16th, 1946: At Nuremberg, Germany, 10 high-ranking Nazi officials are executed by hanging for their crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, and war crimes during World War II. Two weeks earlier, the 10 were found guilty by the International War Crimes Tribunal and sentenced to death along with two other Nazi officials. Among those condemned to die by hanging were Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi minister of foreign affairs; Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of the German air force; and Wilhelm Frick, minister of the interior. Seven others, including Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's former deputy, were given prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life. Three others were acquitted.
October 16th 1854: Oscar Wilde is born on this day in Dublin, Ireland. He grew up in Ireland and went to England to attend Oxford, where he graduated with honors in 1878. A popular society figure known for his wit and flamboyant style, he published his own book of poems in 1881. He spent a year lecturing on poetry in the United States, where his dapper wardrobe and excessive devotion to art drew ridicule from some quarters. After returning to Britain, Wilde married and had two children, for whom he wrote delightful fairy tales, which were published in 1888. Meanwhile, he wrote reviews and edited Women's World. In 1890, his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was published serially, appearing in book form the following year. He wrote his first play, The Duchess of Padua, in 1891 and wrote five more in the next four years. His plays, including The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), were successful and made him a popular and well-known writer. In 1895, the Marquess of Queensberry denounced Wilde as a homosexual, accusing him of having an affair with the marquess's son. Wilde sued for libel, but lost his case when evidence strongly supported the marquess's observations. Unfortunately, homosexuality was classified as a crime in England at the time. Wilde was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to two years of hard labor. Wilde was released from prison in 1897 and fled to Paris, where his many loyal friends visited him. He started writing again, producing The Ballad of Reading Gaol, based on his experiences in prison. He died of acute meningitis in 1900.
October 16th, 1925: On this day in 1925, the stage and
screen actress Angela Lansbury, who starred in the TV series Murder, She Wrote and earned Oscar nominations for her performances in such films as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Manchurian Candidate, is born in London, England. In Hollywood, a place that prizes youth (particularly for its female performers), Lansbury became one of a rare breed of actresses who managed to carve out a lengthy, successful career.
I wouldn't be caught dead with a necrophiliac.
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