On This Day in History, August 2

In 1343, Breton nobleman Olivier de Clisson was executed on French soil due to supposed treason in failing to prevent the English capture of Vannes. In response, Jeanne de Clisson, Olivier’s wife, sells their estates and becomes a privateer, assailing French ships along the English Channel as vengeance for her husband’s questionable execution.

In 1869, the reforms of the Meiji Restoration in Japan brought an end to the Edo period class structure of the island nation. This especially included the elimination of the samurai and an end of the shogunate governmental structure that had dominated the country during the period. Three years later, the daimyos peacefully surrendered their power and the modern prefectures were established.

In 1939, Leó Szilárd, with signatory from Albert Einstein, wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that warned of Nazi German development of atomic weapons and pushed for the president to begin American nuclear research. The letter prompted Roosevelt to eventually take action and begin what would become the Manhattan Project.

A Notable Birth

1892 – Jack L. Warner (d. 1978) was a Canadian-American film executive who with his brother, Sam, founded Warner Bros. Studio. Despite his curious past, including being a staunch Republican while producing films supportive of the New Deal and his opposition to fascism and communism, he remained a strong figure in Hollywood up until his death.

A Notable Death

1799 – Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier (b. 1745) was a French paper maker who, with his brother Joseph-Michel, invented the hot air balloon. Two of sixteen children, it was Joseph who became interested in first parachutes, then balloons, and dragged his brother Jacques into the matter. Their first public demonstration was in 1783.

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