1902 Encyclopedia > Today in History > The Boston Tea Party, French passports abolished, Grigori Rasputin killed, and more

Today in History - December 16
• The Boston Tea Party
• French Passports Abolished
• The Monk Grigori Rasputin Killed

-- Compiled by James Finlayson-Bald

Grigori Rasputin (image)

Grigori Rasputin, often called the "Mad Monk", was a Russian mystic who was widely believed to have had a great influence on the Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra in the latter days of their reign.

On this date:

882—Pope John VII was murdered in a domestic dispute and succeeded by Marinus I.

1538—Francis I issued an edict that led to the persecution of Protestants in France.

1740—Frederick II marched into Silesia in an attempt to restore it to the House of Brandenburg, a move opposed by the Austrian rulers of Bohemia.

1773—American colonists, dressed as Indians boarded some tea-ships in the Harbour of Boston and threw 342 chests of tea overboard. Parliament in retaliation closed the port.

1835—The Wall Street area of New York was destroyed by fire.

1860—The expedition of Burke and Wills to cross the Australian continent had left Melbourne on August 31 and arrived at Cooper's Creek in Queensland on November 11. Burke now decided that he, Wills. King and Gray would push on alone, leaving one man, Brahe, to guard the depot and await the main body of the party, which had returned for more camels and supplies and whose whereabouts was unknown.

1861—The Emperor of France abolished passports in what was hailed as a wise and liberal measure. The system of passports was described in the "Quarterly Review" as "that ingenious measure for impeding the tourist and expediting the fugitive." A leading article in the "Times" two days later said: "The passport system was a standing annoyance to British subjects. It involved the two things which Englishmen detest most — vexatious stoppages for the sake of small exactions and constant liability to official interference."

1868—Daniel Douglas Home levitated out of one window and into another, 70 feet above the ground (it was claimed).

1897—The first practical sunken-treasure submarine was demonstrated.

1916—Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovitch, Prince Felix Yussupoff and Deputy Vladimir Purichkevitch lured Grigori Rasputin into the Yussupoff Palace in the Moika, and set about murdering him, firstly with cakes laced with cyanide, which didn't work, then the Prince shot him. Rasputin feigned death and the conspirators left the room whereupon he climbed the stairs and attempted to escape. However, his movements were heard just as he reached the courtyard and there he was finally killed. The body was taken in the Grand Duke's motor-car to the Petrovsky Bridge and thrown into the Neva, which, it was hoped, would carry it out to sea. However it was discovered 48 hours later.

1968—An edict that had banned Jews from Spain since 1492 was rescinded.

-- Jane Austen, novelist (1775-1817)
-- Sir Noel Coward (1899-1973).

"Pleasure is very seldom where it is sought." — Dr Samuel Johnson.

The above article was written by James Finlayson-Bald.
Edited and illustrations added by David Paul Wagner.

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