The Code of Hammurabi is the earliest known example of a ruler publicly proclaiming to his people an entire set of laws, in an orderly arrangement, so that all of men might read and known what was required of them. Hammurabi was a ruler of ancient Babylon, probably from around 1795 B.C. to about 1750 B.C. His code was carved on a black stone monument, in 3,600 lines of cuneiform, standing eight feet high, and obviously intended for public view. This monument was discovered in 1901, not in Babylon, but in the Persian mountains, where it had probably been carried by some triumphant conqueror. It begins and ends with addresses to the gods and curses for anyone who neglects or destroys the law. It then goes on to list an organized code of laws and regulations for society. For example, a judge who makes a mistake in a case of law is to be expelled from his judgeship forever and issued a heavy fine. Any witness who gives false testimony is to be executed. All of the more serious crimes, in fact, are punishable by death -- even unintentional crimes. For instance, if a man builds a house badly, and it collapses and kills its owner, the builder is to be executed. If the owner's son was killed, then the builder's son is to be killed. Many believe the Code of Hammurabi or some similar code of laws to be the source of the Hebrew's edict of "an eye for an eye". The only escape for an accused person was to throw himself into "the river," the Euphrates. If the current carried him to shore alive, he was declared innocent. If he drowned, he was guilty. Although there were definitely earlier codes of law (their existence is even implied in Hammurabi's code), they have all disappeared -- leaving the Code of Hammurabi as the earliest surviving system of laws.
On April 14, 1865, during an evening performance of Our American Cousin, John Wilkes Booth entered the State Box where Abraham Lincoln and his wife were watching the play with Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone. Lincoln's bodyguard, a Metropolitan Police Officer named John Parker, had left his post. Booth placed a Derringer pistol in the back of Lincoln's head and fired at point-blank range. Dropping the gun, a single-shot weapon, Booth struggled with Rathbone who he stabbed in the arm with a hunting knife. He then jumped over the railing and landed eleven feet below on the stage, snapping the fibula in his left leg. He flashed his knife at the startled audience and raced out the back of the theatre. A doctor was immediately summoned. He examined the President and found that the bullet had entered through Lincoln's left ear and lodged behind his right eye. Although paralyzed, he was breathing faintly. Nine hours later, however, in spite of the doctor's best efforts, Lincoln died. On April 26, federal authorities caught up with Booth and one of his accomplices at a farm near Port Royal, Virginia. They hid in a barn which was set on fire. Still, Booth refused to come out. He was eventually shot dead by Sergeant Boston Corbett.
The Battle of Wavre was the last battle of the Napoleonic Wars. It took place on June 18 and 19, 1815, between Prussian and French forces. Although the Prussians, outnumbered nearly two to one, were driven back, the Battle of Wavre prevented several French corps from participating in the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, thus contributing to the final downfall of Napoleon. Although deposed following this battle, Napoleon remained at large for a time in France. Eventually, he was exiled to Saint Helena where he died in 1821.
The world's first postage stamp, the Penny Black, which featured a portrait of Queen Victoria, was introduced by Great Britain in 1840. Initially resisted by the public who didn't like the idea of pre-paying for mail delivery, the postage stamp eventually took off, and the method was quickly adopted by other countries.
In 1991, Boris Yeltsin became the first democratically elected President of Russia. As President, Yeltsin supported private property, a free press, stronger human rights, and an end to state control of the economy. He announced his resignation on December 31, 1999, due to health concerns and political pressures.
In 1845, Stephen Perry, of the rubber manufacturing company Messers Perry and Co., invented the rubber band to hold papers or envelopes together. On March 17, 1845, Perry patented the rubber band. These first rubber bands were made of vulcanized rubber. The first dishwasher was patented by Joel Houghton in 1850. The first chewing gum was patented by William Finley Semple in 1869. The first cash register was patented by James Ritty in 1879.
Although it was not the official title during his day, Sir Robert Walpole is generally considered the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He served during the reigns of George I and George II, from 1721 to 1742, making his administration the longest in British history.