November 26th might seem like a fairly ordinary date, but it has marked some significant historical events. It was on this day, calendar amended, that the Second Triumvirate was formed in Rome by Octavius (later Augustus), Lepidus and Antony. It presaged future civil war and the Roman Empire.
In 1688, Louis XIV declared war on the Netherlands, starting the Nine Years War, during which William of Orange became King of England, a fact that Louis ultimately and reluctantly accepted. James Cook, the explorer, landed in Hawaii on November 26th 1778, and America held its first National Thanksgiving in 1789.
The first tram drove in central New York on this date in 1832. On the literary front the date marked the publication of the final installment of Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” in 1859, and the publication in America of “Alice in Wonderland” in 1865.
Howard Carter opened the intact tomb of Tutankhamun on this day in 1922. And in 2003 Concorde made its last flight over Bristol en route to its final resting place, having made its last commercial flight earlier that year.
The last anniversary, 15 years ago today, is rather sad. It was a magnificent plane, and although it was an operational success, it never recovered its development costs. I had the privilege of flying it 5 times, and found it a thrilling experience every time.
It reminds us, as does the upcoming 50th anniversary in December of Apollo 8, the first manned flight to the moon, that not all progress is smooth and linear. Optimism suggests we’ll fly supersonic again soon, and that humans will return to the moon, but sometimes it takes an anniversary to spur us on to repeat and surpass our past successes.