July 17 in History Events, Birthdays, & News

To know what happened today in history, famous events occurred, famous birthdays, death days, legend quotes, and historical news on July 17.

July 17

Events on July 17

1212 In Spain, the Christians win a military victory over the Muslims, defeating Caliph Mahommed al-Nasr near Toledo.

1453 The defeat of the English at Castillon ends the Hundred Years War with France, leaving only Calais in British hands.

1790 Thomas Saint of London patents the first sewing machine.

1793 Charlotte Corday, a member of the Girondist right-wing republican party, is guillotined four days after she murdered French revolutionary leader Jean Paul Marat by stabbing him through the heart with a bread knife as he sat in his bath.

1948 Discrimination against the employment of women is declared illegal by the Indian Government. This allows women to be eligible for any public service including administrative and police services.

1951 The Abbey Theatre in Dublin, founded in 1907 by poets Lady Augusta Gregory and W.B. Yeats, burns down.

1968 The Beatles cartoon film Yellow Submarine premiered at the London Pavilion.

1969 Oh! Calcutta, the show devised by influential critic Kenneth Tynan and condemned by many in Britain as obscene on account of its profanity and nudity, opens in New York.

Famous Birthdays on July 17

Maksim Litvinov 1876, Soviet statesman and diplomat who obtained US recognition of his county in 1934.

Erle Stanley Gardner 1889, American lawyer and prolific novelist who created the detective Perry Mason.

James Cagney 1899, American actor who began his career as a song-and-dance man but went on to specialize in tough guy roles in films such as Mayor of Hell and Lady Killer.

Wayne Sleep 1948, British ballet dancer and actor.

Quotes from Legend

If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.

- Louis Armstrong, jazz trumpeter - the first Newport Jazz Festival took place today, 1954.

Historical News on July 17

Invisible Hand Beckons Smith

1790 Adam Smith, author of the influential treatise on political economy, The Wealth of Nations, has died in Edinburgh after a painful illness.

He was 67.

Economics work best, Smith believed, by leaving them alone.

The natural forces of competition and self-interest provide all the regulations necessary to ensure a healthy system that benefits all.

The division of labor demanded by mechanization was regarded by Smith as the most efficient method of producing goods.

Trade barriers, he thought, should be applied only in exceptional circumstances.

Smith devoted a large part of the income he received as Commissioner of Customs and Salt Duties for Scotland to various secret acts of charity.

1954 The grounds of the Newport Casino on Rhode Island are the venue for a new jazz festival which was launched today.

The festival has been organized by Louis and Elaine Lorillard as a non-profit-making venture.

George Wein, pianist, and owner of Boston’s Storyville Club, is the festival director.

Lady Day Finds Peace

Lady day finds peace on July 17
Lady day finds peace

1959 Billie Holiday, considered by many aficionados to be one of the greatest jazz singers of all time, died at Metropolitan Hospital, New York, today.

She was 44.

Born in Baltimore of unmarried teenage parents, “Lady Day”, as she would become known, started her singing career in Harlem clubs aged 15 after several years as a prostitute.

By the mid-30s she was an established artist, performing with the cream of musicians from the big bands.

She formed a unique partnership with tenor saxophonist Lester Young, whom she nicknamed “the President”.

By the 1950s her health and vocal performance were beginning to show signs of the alcohol and narcotics to which she had become accustomed.

She was admitted to hospital shortly after performing at the Phoenix Theatre in Manhattan.

Holiday died as she had lived – the victim of a catalog of personal disasters including rape, racism, imprisonment, and unhappy love affairs.

While she lay on her deathbed, New York police served a warrant for her arrest – because narcotic addiction is an offense under US law.

New Weekly Paper for London

New weekly paper for London on July 17
New weekly paper for London

1841 The first issue of a weekly newspaper called Punch was published in London today.

The idea for the paper came from engraver Ebenezer Landells, who suggested to journalist Henry Mayhew that a publication along the lines of Philippon’s audacious Paris Charivari would go down well in London.

Mayhew and his fellow joint-editors Mark Lemon and Joseph Stirling Coyne hope to provide an entertaining mix of satiric humor, cartoons, and caricatures.

US Holds Pirates at Bay

1801 The United States is learning grimly that its former colonial status had at least one benefit – its shipping enjoyed immunity from attack by North African pirates.

After making a series of humiliating financial concessions to the increasingly confident and voracious rulers of Algeria, Tunis, and Tripoli, who control the pirates, two months ago the US dug in its heels and said “no” when the Pasha of Tripoli demanded that he be paid $2,25,000 (£1,22,000) now plus $25,000 (£13,500) annually.

A US squadron under Commodore Richard Dale was dispatched to the Mediterranean and is currently blockading Tripoli.

This show of force seems to have persuaded Algiers and Tunis that it would not be a good idea for them to join a war alliance with Tripoli.

Morocco, however, is still willing to throw in its lot with the beleaguered pasha.

Although Congress is taking pride in this display of US military muscle, some believe action is necessary.

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