On this day in 626 – (1,390 years ago) — in the midst of a complicated palace intrigue, Prince Li Shimin, second son of the Chinese Emperor Gaozu, set up an ambush to kill both his brothers in what became known to historians as the Xuanwu Gate Incident. Li Shimin’s father was a warlord who had spent his younger years subjugating various nomadic and agricultural peoples and bringing them together as founder of the Tang dynasty. By killing his brothers in cold blood, his son not only established himself as sole heir to the dynasty, but also terrified his now elderly father into abdicating and passing the empire over to him. In this way, Li Shimin became Emperor Taizong, regarded today as one of the greatest and most powerful emperors in Chinese history.
On this day in 1822 – (194 years ago) – in Charleston, South Carolina, Denmark Vesey was executed by hanging, along with thirty-five slaves, after being accused and convicted of the crime of organizing a slave rebellion. Vesey, also known as Telemaque, was himself a former slave who had won a city lottery and purchased his own freedom some two decades earlier. As a slave he had secretly learned to read and write, and he was fluent in French and Spanish as well as English. After buying his way out of slavery, he had built a successful carpentry business and co-founded a local African Methodist church, which had grown to become the second largest of that denomination in the United States. But after he was executed, the church was demolished and its minister was chased out of town.
On this day in 1962 – (54 years ago) – in Rogers, Arkansas, the first Wal-Mart store opened for business. Owned and operated by a former employee of J. C. Penney’s named Sam Walton, it was an unassuming five-and- dime that showed no sign of growing into a retail juggernaut that would one day spread across five continents, forcing small-town independents out of business and subjecting employees to its draconian labor practices.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi