DayBird - April 27th
1667 – The impoverished John Milton sells the copyright of Paradise Lost for a measly £10. Jobless and blind, he dictated his poem Paradise Lost to his forever resentful family. Once printed, the poem was immediately hailed as a masterpiece of the English language. In William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the "voice of the devil" argues:
The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it.
I totes agree.
1865 - The Sultana steamboat exploded on the Mississippi River. Only about six hundred of the 2,400 passengers aboard survive, most of them are Union prisoners of war from Andersonville and somewhere else. The ship was originally built to hold 376 passengers legally, but what are numbers to men like us.
1882 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist dies.
1916 - British officers, including the famous "Lawrence of Arabia,” attempt to negotiate the release of thousands of British troops under siege at the city of Kut-al-Amara, with a bribe. If the Turks allowed the men in Kut to leave and rejoin Allied troops, they would be rewarded with £1 million in gold. You have our word. Hotterdeedoo.
The Turks, confident of their imminent victory, refused the offer. Dude, we already won. They were right, the British lost, as they so often do. Some 11,800 British soldiers, most of them Indians, became prisoners after the five-month Siege of Kut, around 4,250 died in captivity.
1945 – Benito Mussolini is arrested by Italian partisans in Dongo, while attempting escape disguised as a German soldier. Busted. The next day, Mussolini and company were summarily executed.
On the 29th, the bodies of Mussolini, and other Fascists were loaded up and taken to the old Piazza Loreto, where they are dumped and open season declared. After being shot, kicked, spat on, and all manner of grossness, the bodies were hung upside down on meat hooks from the roof of a petrol station.
1950 – In South Africa, the Group Areas Act is passed formally segregating races. The act assigned racial groups to different residential and business sections in urban areas. It only took 41 years to repeal it.
1956 - World heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano retires from boxing at age 31. He retired as the only heavyweight champion with a perfect record--49 wins in 49 professional bouts, with 43 knockouts.
1965 – Edward R. Murrow, American journalist, good night and good luck.