On this day

In 1497, the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama embarked from Lisbon on his first direct voyage to India.

In 1775, the Second Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania signed the Olive Branch Petition. The Petition was an attempt made by some of Britain's American Colonies to avoid a total break the mother-country and thus a revolutionary war. It was co-authored by John Dickerson and Thomas Jefferson with Dickerson being the primary author. Britain's King George III rejected the petition, thus preparing the Colonies for the escalation of the War and the Revolution effected by the War.

In 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in public by John Nixon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1822, the English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelly died at sea near Viareggio, Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

In 1839, the industrialist, co-founder of Standard Oil and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller was born in Richford, New York.

In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy sailed into Tokyo Bay. Perry would eventually force a reluctant Japan to open itself to relations with the United States.

In 1857, the psychologist Alfred Binet was born in Nice, France. Binet invented the first practical intelligence (IQ) test.

In 1885, the German-Jewish philosopher Ernst Bloch was born in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Bloch's interpretations of Marx and Hegel were of such a kind that they produced a body of work which eventually influenced theologians, philosophers and political activists in the New Left and elsewhere. His most notable book: Das Prinzip Hoffnung (The Principle of Hope).

In 1908, the businessman, art collector, philanthropist and politician Nelson A. Rockefeller, grandson of John D. Rockefeller, was born in Bar Harbor, Maine.

In 1962, the philosopher and archivist Georges Bataille died in Paris.

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