On This Day, December 16

1. 1773: The famous Boston Tea Party

It was on this date in 1773 that more than $18,000 worth of tea was dumped into the Boston Harbor by a group consisting of roughly 60 men from the Sons of Liberty. The event would eventually be called the Boston Tea Party, and it was done in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773. The bill was intended to save the East India Company by lowering the tea tax, but more importantly, it created a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. When three British ships, the Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver, entered the Boston Harbor full of tea colonists demanded that Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson send them back to England. However, when he refused, leader of the Sons of Liberty Samuel Adams organized a group of the Sons of Liberty and disguised them as Mohawk Indians and boarded all three ships. They proceeded to dump more than 342 chests full of tea right into the harbor.

2. 1989: Judge Robert Vance killed by bomb sent through the mail

Judge Robert Vance Photo: wbrc

Judge Robert Vance
Photo: wbrc

Walter Leroy Moody Photo: wbrc

Walter Leroy Moody
Photo: wbrc

Federal Judge Robert Vance was at his home outside Birmingham, Alabama on this date in 1989 when a package arrived addressed to him. When he opened it up a powerful explosion went off killing him instantly. Two days later another bomb was sent through the mail to an attorney in Savannah, Georgia named Robert Robinson that sadly killed him as well. Law enforcement was baffled by who had committed these heinous crimes. The FBI put together a task force specifically designed to track down the terrorist using the latest in forensic technology. Eventually, this would lead them to a man named Walter LeRoy Moody who was convicted back in 1972 for setting off pipe bombs that were almost identical to the design used in the mail bombings. When the FBI searched his home they didn’t find any evidence of bomb making, however, the extreme similarity between his pipe bomb and the mail bombs were enough evidence to have him arrested. He was sentenced to serve a total of seven life terms, plus an additional 400 years in June of 1991 but then later in 1997 was sentenced to death by electric chair. Luckily law enforcement was able to stop two additional mail bombs that were sent to the federal courthouse in Atlanta as well as the NAACP offices in Jacksonville, Florida.

3. 1960: New York mid-air collision

Photo: dailymail

Photo: dailymail

New York City has, unfortunately, had its fair share of airplane accidents throughout history, but it was on this date in 1960 that two commercial airliners collided right over the city. This is the only time something like this has happened over a major city in America. A TWA Super Constellation was headed to LaGuardia Airport in Northern Queens from Dayton, Ohio full of passengers. At the exact same time, a DC-8 from United Airlines was heading from Chicago to the Idlewild Airport (known now as the John F Kennedy Airport). The weather was horrible at the time, which shouldn’t come as a shock considering that it’s New York in the wintertime. But because of this, the pilot of the United flight was told to continue on a holding pattern and a crucial miscalculation sent him directly into the path of the oncoming TWA flight. In the end, all 128 passengers of both planes combined were killed as well as 6 people on the ground leaving a total of 134 casualties. The United plane burst into flames that took more than 72 hours to extinguish.