On This Day, January 4th
1. 1847: Samuel Colt sold his first revolvers to the Texas Rangers
It was on this date in 1847 that Captain Samuel Walker of the Texas Rangers met with Samuel Colt in his gun shop in New York City. That meeting resulted in the first order of Colt revolvers for the Rangers and therefore the U.S. Government. Walker traveled to locate Colt after a few of his men acquired some of the first Colt revolvers that proved to be incredibly effective during the Seminole War. He placed an order for 1,000 revolvers to be made, but with a few small changes. Walker requested that it be switched from 5 shot to a 6 shot and also be quick to reload but yet remain strong enough to kill a man or horse with a single shot. This was the biggest order Colt had ever received and it allowed him to be able to expand upon his firearm business. He hired Eli Whitney Blake, who was highly respected in the firearm industry at that time, and Blake helped him to create his new model and fill the massive order placed by the Rangers. He used Walker’s suggestions and even called it the Colt Walker and it was so effective that as soon as the Rangers received the first thousand they ordered a thousand more.
2. 1974: President Nixon refused to hand over the Watergate tapes
President Richard Nixon flat out refused to hand over any of the 500 different documents and tapes subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate committee on this date in 1974. He went on record to say that the request was “an overt attempt to intrude into the executive office to a degree that constitutes an unconstitutional usurpation of power.” His refusal to do so was ultimately the beginning of the end of his Presidency. He wrote a letter to the committee chairman, Senator Sam J. Ervin Jr., explaining his refusal that was delivered by one of the White House congressional liaison staff members more than three hours after the deadline set to hand over the documents and tapes. A special bid had to be passed by Congress to subpoena the documents from the White House directly. Roughly eight months later, Nixon disgracefully resigned from office to prevent himself from being impeached for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.
3. 1990: Pakistan suffers its worst rail disaster
It was on this date in 1990 that Pakistan suffered its worst rail disaster when a passenger train that was overloaded with more than 600 passengers over its capacity ran head-on into a freight train that had been parked overnight. The Zakaria was running its common route from Multan to Karachi with roughly 2000 passengers onboard, when just as it reached the village of Sangi it was suddenly switched to a side track without the engineers knowing. They also didn’t know that a freight train with more than 67 cars had been parked on this side track overnight. The Zakaria wasn’t able to stop in time and plowed right into the back of the massive freight train at approximately 35 mph. This left more than 300 casualties and as many as 700 more seriously injured. Miraculously the train’s engineer survived and he later revealed that the rail switch was caused by a signalman that wasn’t paying attention who was later convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to serve jail time.