July 18

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1969 Senator Edward Kennedy, returning from a party, drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, causing the death of his companion, Mary Jo Kopechne. His conviction for leaving the scene of an accident was to dog his subsequent political career.
  • 1969 US Senator Edward Kennedy’s car careered off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, killing his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, a 28-year-old Washington secretary. Serious questions were asked about the 37-year-old senator’s conduct, not least his decision to leave the scene of the accident and not contact the police until several hours later.
  • 1966 Corporal Patrick ‘Bob’ Gallagher (22) from Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, serving with the US Marines in Vietnam, saved the lives of three companions during a Viet Cong attack, for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour.
  • 1918 Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid revolutionary and first democratically elected president of South Africa (1994–9), born in Mvezo, Cape Province.
  • 1862 Lord John George Beresford, Church of Ireland archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland since 1822, died.
  • 1817 Jane Austen (41), English novelist, author notably of Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Emma (1815), died.
  • 1811 William Makepeace Thackeray, English novelist whose Irish sketch book (1843) caused controversy on account of his graphic descriptions of pre-Famine poverty, born in Calcutta.
  • 1610 Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, belligerent Italian painter best remembered for the uncompromising realism of his religious works, died in mysterious circumstances.
  • 1972 James Jones (18), a member of the King’s Own Regiment from Kirby, Liverpool, was shot dead by an IRA sniper at a sentry post in West Belfast. He became the 100th British soldier to die on active service in Northern Ireland since 1969.
  • 1973 The Northern Ireland Constitution Act abolished the parliament of Northern Ireland and empowered the secretary of state to appoint an executive. It repeated the pledge that Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK for as long as the majority desired it.

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