1652: Slavery is banned on Rhode Island.
1803: Britain abandons the Treaty of Amiens, signed only in 1802, and declares war on France.
1804: Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Emperor of France, 11 years after the Revolution guillotined King Louis XVI, ending the monarchy. Napoleon was asked to take the throne in a petition by his senate following the outcry in February over a royalist attempt to assassinate him. He ruled as a virtual king since being made consul for life two years before, when a referendum brought him more than three million votes with only a few thousand against him. Napoleon built a new order in France, which revolutionised law, education, industry and government, balanced the budget, restored the economy and established France as the major world power and the French loved him for it.
1832: In Paris, French novelist George Sand (nom de plume of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) publishes her first novel ‘Indiana’, in which she makes a plea for women’s right to independence.
1909: Death of British poet and novelist George Meredith.
1909: Death of Isaac Albéniz, Spanish composer and pianist, best-known for ‘Iberia’ – a collection of 12 piano pieces.
1911: Gustav Mahler, inspired Austrian conductor and composer died from heart disease aged 51. He had been expecting to die since he learned of his condition four years before, yet he kept up a busy touring schedule in Europe and New York, where he was a favourite. His Ninth Symphony is so charged with emotion that many find it overpowering. Mahler always tended towards the magnificent: his symphonies are long works requiring huge orchestras, music on a monumental scale not heard before. They are awe-inspiring, but only the Second Symphony has yet gained any popularity. Mahler was born a Jew, but converted to the Catholic faith to qualify as conductor of the Vienna Court Opera. His ten years in the post was seen as a high point of the art and his early death was an immense loss to German music.
1954: The European Convention on Human Rights comes into effect.
1975: Unstoppable Japanese climber Junko Tabei was the first woman to reach the summit of the world’s highest peak, the treacherous 8 863m (29 078ft) Mount Everest in Nepal.
1981: American poet, playwright and novelist William Saroyan dies.
1987: Iraqi Exocet missiles hit the US naval frigate ‘USS Stark’, killing 26. Baghdad says it was an accident.
1990: In the face of strong Soviet disapproval, West and East Germany took the first step towards unity when their two finance ministers met in Bonn to sign a formal accord on monetary union. From July 1, the two countries will have one currency – West Germany’s deutschmark.
1991: Muriel Box, British writer, feminist publisher and director of many films including ‘Rattle of a Simple Man’ and ‘The Happy Family’, dies aged 85.
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