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On This Day in Rotten History...


In 1700 – (319 years ago) — the Pacific Northwest area of North America was ripped by a massive 9.2 earthquake along a fault stretching some six hundred miles from Vancouver Island to what is now northern California. Although no direct records of the quake exist from that time, scientists have deduced its time and intensity from detailed records of a tsunami that struck the east coast of Japan shortly afterward. Further evidence of the cataclysm was also preserved in growth rings in trees, and is also found in the oral traditions of local Native American and First Nations people, which tell of an apocalyptic blast that struck without warning on a winter’s night, accompanied by floods and landslides that buried entire villages and swept people into the sea, never to be heard from again. Scientists have uncovered other clues suggesting that earthquakes in that region have occurred in a cycle of roughly once every three to five hundred years. In some estimates, they suggest a 37 percent chance of another major quake occurring in that area within the next fifty years.

In 1856 – (163 years ago) — fed up after months of chaotic battle with white settlers in what became known as the Puget Sound War, a force of several hundred Native Americans attacked a white settlement located on a small peninsula at Seattle. In their armed response, the settlers were quickly supported by Marines from the USS Decatur, a Navy ship anchored just offshore. The battle lasted all day, and it ended with at least twenty-eight Native Americans dead, eighty wounded, and the rest demoralized in retreat. The whites, meanwhile, had suffered only two deaths, and would go on maintain and reinforce their hold on the peninsula.

In 1977 – (42 years ago) — former vice president, presidential candidate, and New York governor Nelson Rockefeller died of a heart attack. The first news reports of his death claimed that he had been found slumped over the desk in his office. But contradictions quickly appeared in the official story, and it soon turned out that in fact Rockefeller had met his end while alone in a Manhattan townhouse with a twenty-five-year-old woman who worked for him, and whom he had helped to purchase a condo. While Rockefeller’s family struggled to deny rumors of an illicit sexual affair, the incident quickly became the subject of jokes on late-night television.

Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi


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