First residential crew arrives aboard the International Space Station

Year
2000
Month Day
November 02

On November 2, 2000, the first residential crew arrives aboard the International Space Station. The arrival of Expedition 1 marked the beginning of a new era of international cooperation in space and of the longest continuous human habitation in low Earth orbit, which continues to this day.

The space agencies of the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe agreed to cooperate on the ISS in 1998, and its first components were launched into orbit later that year. Five space shuttle flights and two unmanned Russian flights delivered many of its core components and partially assembled the space station. Two Russians, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, accompanied by NASA’s Bill Shepherd, were selected as the crew of Expedition 1.

The trio arrived at the ISS on a Russian Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakhstan. Unlike all subsequent missions, Expedition 1’s tasks consisted mostly of constructing and installing various components and activating others. This was sometimes easier said than done: the crew reported taking over a day to activate one of the station’s food warmers. Throughout their time in space, they were visited and resupplied by two unmanned Russian rockets and three space shuttle missions, one of which brought the photovoltaic arrays, giant solar panels, which provide the station with most of its power. Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev became the first humans to adjust to long-term life in low orbit, circling the Earth roughly 15.5 times a day and exercising at least two hours a day in order to offset the muscle atrophy that occurs in low gravity.

On March 10, the space shuttle Discovery brought three new residents to relieve Expedition 1, who landed back on Earth at the Kennedy Space Center on March 21. Since then, humans have continuously resided on the ISS, with plans to continue until at least 2030. 236 people from 18 nations have visited the station and a number of new modules have been added, many for the purpose of research into biology, material sciences, the feasibility of further human space travel and more.

READ MORE: The 5 Deadliest Disasters of the Space Race 

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Truck explosion kills 3,000 in Afghanistan

Year
1982
Month Day
November 02

On November 2, 1982, a truck explodes in the Salang Tunnel in Afghanistan, killing an estimated 3,000 people, mostly Soviet soldiers traveling to Kabul.

The Soviet Union’s military foray into Afghanistan was disastrous by nearly every measure, but perhaps the worst single incident was the Salang Tunnel explosion in 1982. A long army convoy was traveling from Russia to Kabul through the border city of Hairotum. The route took the convoy through the Salang Tunnel, which is 1.7 miles long, 25 feet high and approximately 17 feet wide. The tunnel, one of the world’s highest at an altitude of 11,000 feet, was built by the Soviets in the 1970s.

The Soviet army kept a tight lid on the story, but it is believed that an army vehicle collided with a fuel truck midway through the long tunnel. About 30 buses carrying soldiers were immediately blown up in the resulting explosion. Fire in the tunnel spread quickly as survivors began to panic. Believing the explosion to be part of an attack, the military stationed at both ends of the tunnel stopped traffic from exiting. As cars idled in the tunnel, the levels of carbon monoxide in the air increased drastically and the fire continued to spread. Exacerbating the situation, the tunnel’s ventilation system had broken down a couple of days earlier, resulting in further casualties from burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.

It took several days for workers to reach all the bodies in the tunnel. Because the Soviet army limited the information released about the disaster, the full extent of the tragedy may never be known.

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Truman defeats Dewey

Year
1948
Month Day
November 02

In one of the greatest upsets in presidential election history, Democratic incumbent Harry S. Truman defeats his Republican challenger, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, by just over two million popular votes. In the days preceding the vote, political analysts and polls were so behind Dewey that on election night, long before all the votes were counted, the Chicago Tribune published an early edition with the banner headline “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.”

Harry Truman was thrust into the presidency by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death in 1945. Approaching the 1948 presidential election, he seemed to stand a slim chance of retaining the White House. Despite his effective leadership at the end of World War II and sound vision in the confused postwar world, many voters still viewed Truman as an ineffectual shadow of his four-term predecessor. He also antagonized Southern Democrats with his civil rights initiatives. Most were sure that Dewey would take the White House.

READ MORE: ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’: The Election Upset Behind the Photo

In the last weeks before the election, Truman embarked on a “whistle-stop” campaign across the United States in defiance of his consistently poor showings in the polls. He traveled to America’s cities and towns, fighting to win over undecided voters by portraying himself as an outsider contending with a “do-nothing” Congress. 

Truman, a one-time farmer who was elevated to the pinnacle of American politics because of his reputation for honesty and integrity, won the nation’s affection, and he narrowly won a second term.

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MLK federal holiday declared

Year
1983
Month Day
November 02

President Ronald Reagan signs a bill in the White House Rose Garden designating a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., to be observed on the third Monday of January.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta in 1929, the son of a Baptist minister. He received a doctorate degree in theology and in 1955 organized the first major protest of the civil rights movement: the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott. Influenced by Mohandas Gandhi, he advocated nonviolent civil disobedience to racial segregation. The peaceful protests he led throughout the American South were often met with violence, but King and his followers persisted, and the movement gained momentum.

READ MORE: The Fight for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

A powerful orator, he appealed to Christian and American ideals and won growing support from the federal government and Northern whites. In 1963, he led his massive March on Washington, in which he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” address. In 1964, the civil rights movement achieved two of its greatest successes: the ratification of the 24th Amendment, which abolished the poll tax, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education and outlawed racial segregation in public facilities. In October of that year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He donated the prize money, valued at $54,600, to the civil rights movement.

In the late 1960s, King openly criticized U.S. involvement in Vietnam and turned his efforts to winning economic equality for poorer Americans. By that time, the civil rights movement had begun to fracture, with activists such as Stokely Carmichael rejecting King’s vision of nonviolent integration in favor of African American self-reliance and self-defense. In 1968, King intended to revive his movement through an interracial “Poor People’s March” on Washington, but on April 4 escaped white convict James Earl Ray assassinated him in Memphis, Tennessee.

READ MORE: Black History Milestones: Timeline

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Howard Hughes’s “Spruce Goose” flies

Year
1947
Month Day
November 02

The Hughes Flying Boat—at one time the largest aircraft ever built—is piloted by designer Howard Hughes on its first and only flight. Built with laminated birch and spruce (hence the nickname the Spruce Goose) the massive wooden aircraft had a wingspan longer than a football field and was designed to carry more than 700 men to battle.

Howard Hughes was a successful Hollywood movie producer when he founded the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932. He personally tested cutting-edge aircraft of his own design and in 1937 broke the transcontinental flight-time record. In 1938, he flew around the world in a record three days, 19 hours, and 14 minutes.

READ MORE: 7 Things You May Not Know About Howard Hughes

Following the U.S. entrance into World War II in 1941, the U.S. government commissioned the Hughes Aircraft Company to build a large flying boat capable of carrying men and materials over long distances. The concept for what would become the “Spruce Goose” was originally conceived by the industrialist Henry Kaiser, but Kaiser dropped out of the project early, leaving Hughes and his small team to make the H-4 a reality. Because of wartime restrictions on steel, Hughes decided to build his aircraft out of wood laminated with plastic and covered with fabric. Although it was constructed mainly of birch, the use of spruce (along with its white-gray color) would later earn the aircraft the nickname Spruce Goose. It had a wingspan of 320 feet and was powered by eight giant propeller engines.

Development of the Spruce Goose cost a phenomenal $23 million and took so long that the war had ended by the time of its completion in 1946. The aircraft had many detractors, and Congress demanded that Hughes prove the plane airworthy. On November 2, 1947, Hughes obliged, taking the H-4 prototype out into Long Beach Harbor, CA for an unannounced flight test. Thousands of onlookers had come to watch the aircraft taxi on the water and were surprised when Hughes lifted his wooden behemoth 70 feet above the water and flew for a mile before landing.

Despite its successful maiden flight, the Spruce Goose never went into production, primarily because critics alleged that its wooden framework was insufficient to support its weight during long flights. Nevertheless, Howard Hughes, who became increasingly eccentric and withdrawn after 1950, refused to neglect what he saw as his greatest achievement in the aviation field. From 1947 until his death in 1976, he kept the Spruce Goose prototype ready for flight in an enormous, climate-controlled hangar at a cost of $1 million per year. Today, the Spruce Goose is housed at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

READ MORE: 6 Little-Known Pioneers of Aviation

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Balfour Declaration letter written

Year
1917
Month Day
November 02

On November 2, 1917, Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour writes an important letter to Britain’s most illustrious Jewish citizen, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, expressing the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The letter would eventually become known as the Balfour Declaration.

Britain’s support for the Zionist movement came from its concerns regarding the direction of the First World War. Aside from a genuine belief in the righteousness of Zionism, held by Lloyd George among others, Britain’s leaders hoped that a statement supporting Zionism would help gain Jewish support for the Allies.

On November 2, Balfour sent his letter to Lord Rothschild, a prominent Zionist and a friend of Chaim Weizmann, stating that: “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The influence of the Balfour Declaration on the course of post-war events was immediate: According to the “mandate” system created by the Versailles Treaty of 1919, Britain was entrusted with the administration of Palestine, with the understanding that it would work on behalf of both its Jewish and Arab inhabitants.

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Grete Waitz wins her eighth New York City Marathon

Year
1986
Month Day
November 02

On November 2, 1986, Norwegian distance runner Grete Waitz wins her eighth New York City marathon. She finished the 26-mile, 385-yard course in 2:28.6, more than a mile ahead of the second- and third-place women in the race. Waitz had won her first marathon in New York in 1978 and she won the NYC marathon again in 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985. In 1988, she won it for the ninth time—something no runner had ever done in any marathon.

Waitz grew up in Oslo, Norway. She’d won national and international titles in shorter distances—400 meters, 800 meters, 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters, and the metric mile—but she had never run a marathon before 1978, when Fred Lebow, the director of the New York race, called her and invited her to participate. “He never thought I would complete the race,” she remembered later, but “he needed a ‘rabbit,’ someone who would go out strong and set the pace for the elite women.” Waitz agreed and set out for New York with her husband, Jack. The furthest she’d ever run was 12 miles. The night before the race, eager to celebrate their “second honeymoon” in Manhattan, the two went out to a swanky restaurant, where they ate shrimp cocktail, filet mignon and ice cream, and drank plenty of red wine. The next morning, bright and early, the 25-year-old Waitz started the marathon at the front of the pack and stayed there. But as the race dragged on, she started to wonder what she’d gotten herself into. “I continued running strong,” she remembered, “but having no idea what mile I was on or where this place called Central Park was, I began to get annoyed and frustrated. Every time I saw a patch of trees, I thought, “Oh, this must be Central Park,” but no. To keep motivated, I started swearing at my husband for getting me into this mess in the first place.” When she finished the race, she hurled her shoes at Jack’s head. But she’d won, and she’d set a new world record, two minutes faster than the old one: 2:32.30.

The next year, Waitz quit her teaching job and started running full time. She won the silver medal at the 1984 Olympics (Norway, like the United States, had boycotted the 1980 Games in Moscow). Along with her nine NYC Marathon titles, Waitz set 10 world records: in the 3,000 meters, 8,000 meters, 10,000 meters, 15,000 meters and 10 miles, along with the marathon.

Waitz retired from competitive running in 1990. She became a health and fitness expert and running coach in Oslo. In 1992, she accompanied Fred Lebow as he ran his own marathon for the first time while he was in remission from brain cancer. And in 2005, Waitz was diagnosed with cancer herself. Still, “I’m going to be in the marathon again,” she told reporters. “And you know, I’ve won most of the races in my life. I expect to win this one, too.” She died in 2011, at age 57. 

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Warren G. Harding is born

Year
1865
Month Day
November 02

On November 2, 1865, Warren Gamaliel Harding, the future 29th American president, is born in Corsica, Ohio.

In 1891, Harding married Florence Mabel Kling De Wolfe. Florence was influential throughout Harding’s political career and it was at her urging that Harding, who was working as an editor of the Marion Star newspaper, entered politics. In fact, she was once quoted as saying, “I know what’s best for the President. I put him in the White House. He does well when he listens to me and poorly when he does not.” With this staunch behind-the-scenes support, Harding was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1915. Though this first political success was overshadowed by his 35-year-old son’s death from alcoholism and tuberculosis that same year, Harding’s rapid rise to political prominence continued, culminating in his election to the presidency in 1920.

As president, Harding was a strong supporter of new technologies. In 1922, he became the first president to have his voice transmitted by radio when he addressed a crowd at the dedication of a memorial site for Francis Scott Key, the composer of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The broadcast heralded a revolutionary shift in how presidents addressed the American public. Early in 1923, he installed the first radio in the White House and that June, he recorded a speech on an early “phonograph.”

READ MORE: How US Presidents Have Communicated with the Public—From the Telegraph to Twitter

Harding’s presidency is perhaps best remembered, however, for scandal. In the Teapot Dome Scandal of 1922-23, his secretary of state, Albert Fall, was accused of leasing oil-rich government-owned land at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, to business interests in return for financial “gifts” amounting to almost $500,000. Fall was later found guilty of bribery and sentenced to one year in prison, earning the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first cabinet member to go to prison for misconduct while in office. Despite battling charges of corruption within his administration, Harding managed to pursue legislation for social change. He contributed to the advancement of civil rights for African Americans and women. As a senator and progressive Republican candidate for the presidency, Harding tried to pass an anti-lynching law in 1920, which was defeated, and, unlike his predecessors, vigorously supported suffrage for women.

Still, the Teapot Dome Scandal took its toll on Harding’s administration and his physical health. On August 2, 1923, he died suddenly from a heart attack while visiting San Francisco during a tour of the country. Vice President Calvin Coolidge was awakened early the next morning with the news that he had inherited the presidency.

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James Polk is born

Year
1795
Month Day
November 02

On November 2, 1795, James Knox Polk is born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Polk grew up on his father’s plantation in Tennessee and attended the University of North Carolina, from which he graduated with honors in 1818. Like many presidents before and after him, he worked as a lawyer before entering politics.

Polk’s father, a confirmed Democrat, was a friend of war hero and future President Andrew Jackson, and Polk soon became one of Jackson’s political disciples. He served first in the Tennessee legislature and then in the U.S. House of Representatives (1825 – 1839), where he supported then-President Jackson’s efforts to close the Bank of the United States, and speaker of the House between 1835 and 1839. He then served as governor of Tennessee from 1839 to 1841. Although many considered him a “dark horse,” he won the presidency in 1844 with the backing of the aging, but still popular, Jackson.

As president, Polk earned a reputation for being a workaholic and is remembered for his conviction that it was America’s “manifest destiny” to expand freely across the continent and spread democracy. In 1846, spurred by a desire to gain Mexican territory for the United States, Polk led the country into a controversial war with its southern neighbor. Polk insisted that Mexico had “invaded” the U.S. during an earlier skirmish between American and Mexican troops that had spilled over the ill-defined territorial boundary along the Rio Grande River. His most vocal opponent in Congress was a representative from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln protested not so much expansionism itself, but Polk’s justification of the war, which he described as unconstitutional, unnecessary and expensive, calling Polk “a bewildered, confounded and miserably perplexed man.” Although the Mexican-American War was ultimately successful in territorial terms, Polk lost public support after two bloody years of conflict in which the U.S. lost 13,780 men and spent a whopping $100 million. Toward the end of 1848, Lincoln, who was beginning to make a name for himself as a persuasive orator, began coaching a Republican presidential candidate who would become Polk’s successor: Zachary Taylor. Ironically, Taylor had first won public recognition while serving as commanding general of the Army during the Mexican-American War. 

Polk’s acquisition of 525,000 square miles of new territory caused heated debate in Congress over the question of whether the new states carved out of the territory would allow slavery. This issue would become the most divisive debate to face Congress and the nation since the American Revolution.

Polk died three months after leaving office from an intestinal disorder that his doctors claimed was aggravated by overwork.

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“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” obscenity trial ends

Year
1960
Month Day
November 02

On November 2, 1960, a landmark obscenity case over Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence, ends in the acquittal of Penguin Books. The publisher had been sued for obscenity in publishing an unexpurgated version of Lawrence’s novel, which deals with the affair between the wife of a wealthy, paralyzed landowner and his estate’s gamekeeper. The book had been published in a limited English-language edition in Florence in 1928 and Paris the following year. An expurgated version was published in England in 1932. In 1959, the full text was published in New York, then in London the following year.

Lawrence was born to a poor coal-mining family in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, in 1885. His mother struggled to teach her children refinement and a love of education. She depended heavily on Lawrence for emotional support and nurturing. He won a scholarship to Nottingham High School, worked as a clerk, and attended University College in Nottingham, where he earned a teaching certificate. His first novel, The White Peacock, was published in 1911.

The following year, Lawrence fell in love with Frieda Weekley, the German wife of a fellow teacher. The pair fled to Germany and wed after Frieda divorced her husband. In 1913, Lawrence published his first major novel, Sons and Lovers, an autobiographical novel set in a coal town. The couple returned to England, and Lawrence’s next novel, The Rainbow (1915), was banned for indecency. After World War I, Lawrence traveled to Italy, Australia, and Mexico and wrote several more novels, including Women in Love (1921). He died of tuberculosis in France in 1930, at the age of 44.

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