1733 – Jeremiah Dixon born

Jeremiah Dixon was born in Cockfield, in the English county of Durham. He was the fifth of seven children born to George Dixon and Mary Hunter. His father was a wealthy coal mine owner, and Dixon became interested in astronomy and mathematics during his education, interests that would define his career.

He first served as an assistant to Charles Mason in 1761, when the two travelled to Cape of Good Hope to observe the Transit of Venus, but the pair were equals on their most famous deed: surveying the borders of Pennsylvania and Maryland, which would afterwards be known as the Mason-Dixon Line.

Referenced in:

Sailing To Philadelphia — Mark Knopfler

1974 – Nixon impeached by Congress

It is the single greatest scandal to have ever touched the office of the President of the United States: Richard Nixon was impeached by Congress. Which is to say, he was charged with criminal offences related to his office. More specifically, the charges related to his role in the Watergate scandal and its attendant (and failed) cover-up.

In little more than a fortnight, Nixon would resign the Presidency in shame, and his hand-picked successor would immediately give him the quid pro quo of a pardon that also covered Nixon for “crimes yet to be discovered.” This allowed Nixon to avoid actually facing the charges against him, and made him one of the few people to have been pardoned for crimes he was never convicted of, or even tried for; and also did untold damage to the institution of the Presidency, which would never again be as respected as it had been before 1973.

Referenced in:

All My Heroes Are Dead — Dar Williams

1794 – Maximilien Robespierre is arrested for his acts in the French Revolution

Robespierre and Louis Saint-Just were among the leading lights of the French Revolution. Both of them were active participants in the Revolution, and the Reign of Terror that followed it. Robespierre in particular was a major architect of the Terror.

A couple of years into the revolutionary calendar, and about nine months into the Terror, on 9 Thermidor – July 27 – a reaction to the excesses of the Terror occurred. Robespierre, who had become increasingly isolated politically, while at the same time concentrating power in his own hands. For a number of reasons – political, practical and personal – many of the other revolutionaries turned against him. He was arrested, and executed the following day along with Saint-Just and twenty other supporters.

Referenced in:

Sex Kills – Joni Mitchell