These coming days will mark the anniversary of several major global events, as well as the expansion of the American landscape.
On Oct. 16, 1793, Queen Marie Antoinette was found guilty of high treason by the Revolutionary Tribunal and executed by guillotine in France. Her husband, King Louis XVI, was also executed on crimes of high treason. The monarchy had been abolished on Sept. 21 and the royal family had been held captive by revolutionary forces since Aug. 13. This would mark the climax of the French Revolution and effectively allowed Maximilien Robespierre to take control of the country and begin the Reign of Terror utilizing his Committee of Public Safety. Nearly 20,000 thousand people would be executed, and the Reign of Terror would not end until the death of Robespierre himself. The newly formed United States elected not to support the French Revolution despite the help the French provided during the American Revolution.
On Oct. 17, 1931, Al Capone was convicted on charges of tax evasion and would be sentenced to serve 11 years in prison. The majority of his time in prison would be at Alcatraz Island, after he was able to use his connections in other prisons to live a lavish lifestyle behind bars. Capone gained control of the Chicago underground in 1929 through the St. Valentine Day’s Massacre, where members of Capone’s gang killed at least seven men involved in a rival gang. It would take Treasury Agent Eliot Ness and his squad of “Untouchables” to take down the crime boss, and they were helped by Capone’s accountant, who testified against Capone in exchange for his freedom. Capone would only serve seven and a half years of his sentence before returning to his home in Florida where he would pass away due to syphilis and a stroke in 1947.
On the same day in 1979, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her decision to leave her teaching position to work with people of poverty in her city. She would later be canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church on Sept. 4, 2016.
On Oct. 19, 1803, the U.S. finalized the Louisiana Purchase from France for 15 million dollars. This deal expanded the Continental U.S. by 828,000 square miles, almost doubling the amount of land the new government had owned. Napoleon, who was the leader of France at the time, sought to sell the territory to help finance the continuing Napoleonic Wars against other European forces. Originally the U.S. had only hoped to buy the port city of New Orleans, which would give them access to trade routes throughout the Gulf of Mexico, but they quickly accepted the offer to purchase the entire area. Thomas Jefferson was president at the time and his act of buying the Louisiana Territory greatly expanded the powers of the presidency as the Constitution never stated whether or not the president was allowed to buy land from foreign countries.
Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.