On Oct. 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire — started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, legend says — began.
Welcome to our new On This Date. Today is Sunday, Oct. 8, the 281st day of 2017. There are 84 days left in the year.
Today’s highlight in history might be of interest to Mainers for a couple reasons. First, because Portland has had a similar history — and second because… Well, you’ll see.
ON THIS DATE IN 1871, the Great Chicago Fire erupted; fires also broke out in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and in several communities in Michigan.
The Great Chicago Fire was one of the worst fires in American history, killing up to 300 Chicago residents while destroying more than 3 square miles of the city and displacing up to 100,000 people. In comparison, five years earlier, the Great fire of Portland killed two, forced up to ten thousand people from their homes and destroyed roughly 1,800 buildings. Both fires were aided and abetted by the prevalence of wood construction of the era and by a substandard ability to respond by the fire crews of the time.
But perhaps most interestingly, much like with the Great fire of Portland, the exact cause of the fire was never accurately identified. But that did not stop a legend from being built. And that legend was at least partially driven by anti-immigrant sentiment. In particular, in Chicago in the early 1870s, that meant anti-Irish sentiment. Thus, poor Mrs. O’Leary’s milking cow took the brunt of the blame.
In other milestones from this date, Don Larsen threw the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956, and in 1998, the U.S. House voted to move forward with the impeachment of President Clinton.
Also on this date:
In 1934, Bruno Hauptmann was indicted by a grand jury in New Jersey for murder in the death of the kidnapped son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
In 1945, President Harry S. Truman told a press conference in Tiptonville, Tennessee, that the secret scientific knowledge behind the atomic bomb would be shared only with Britain and Canada.
In 1956, Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in a World Series to date as the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5, 2-0.
In 1957, the Brooklyn Baseball Club announced it was accepting an offer to move the Dodgers from New York to Los Angeles.
In 1970, Soviet author Alexander Solzhenitsyn was named winner of the Nobel Prize for literature.
In 1982, all labor organizations in Poland, including Solidarity, were banned.
In 1998, the House triggered an open-ended impeachment inquiry against President Bill Clinton in a momentous 258-176 vote; 31 Democrats joined majority Republicans in opening the way for nationally televised impeachment hearings.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama designated the Keene, California, home of Cesar Chavez, the late founder of the United Farmworkers Union, as a national monument.
One year ago: Three Palm Springs, California, police officers were shot, two fatally, in what authorities called an ambush during a domestic dispute call by a gang member; a suspect has pleaded not guilty to murder. Donald Trump vowed on Twitter to continue his campaign even though he said the “media and establishment” wanted him out of the race “so badly”; many Republicans were calling on Trump to abandon his presidential bid in the wake of the release of a 2005 video in which he made lewd remarks about women and appeared to condone sexual assault.