On this day on 15th October

On this day in 1836 James Tissot was born in Nantes. Despite the fame achieved by painting wealthy patrons, Tissot was also interested in everyday life. Along with Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier and Jean-François Millet became involved in portraying people in modern dress. Art critics criticised what they considered to be "politically charged work". In 1868 Tissot painted a series of modern Parisian women going about their daily lives in the city and suburbs.

In 1869 Tissot was commissioned by Thomas Gibson Bowles to make caricatures for his new satirical magazine, Vanity Fair. The first of these depicted Emperor Napoleon III. Tissot was a member of the national guard during the Franco-Prussian War and defended the Paris Commune in 1871. During bombardment in April and May, Tissot worked as a stretcher-bearer. He was appalled to see the brutality of the French troops when they suppressed the revolt in May. This included making sketches of what he witnessed, including a mass execution of 200 communards

James Tissot, Holyday (c. 1876)
James Tissot, Holyday (c. 1876)

On this day in 1842 Karl Marx becomes editor-in-chief of The Rhenish Gazette. At socialist meetings Marx discovered that he was not a great orator. He had a slight lisp and his gruff Rhenish accent was difficult to understand. He therefore decided to try journalism. It has been pointed out by Eric Hobsbawm that the newspaper was funded by "a group of wealthy Cologne men in business and the professions and representing the moderate but loyal liberalism of the (non-clerical) Rhineland bourgeoisie". (13)

After six months and a number of articles, he became the newspaper's editorial director. He developed an aggressive style of writing and clearly "delighted in his talent for inflicting verbal violence". Karl Heinzen claimed he would use "logic, dialectics, learning... to annihilate anyone who would not see eye to eye with him. Marx, he said, wanted "to break windowpanes with cannon". According to the socialist politician, Wilhelm Liebknecht, Marx had the "style is the dagger used for a well-aimed thrust at the heart".

Karl Marx as editor-in-chief of The Rhenish Gazette
Karl Marx as editor-in-chief of The Rhenish Gazette

On this day in 1883 US Supreme Court declares Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. The Civil Rights Act (1875) was introduced to Congress by Charles Sumner and Benjamin Butler in 1870 but did not become law until 1st March, 1875. It promised that all persons, regardless of race, color, or previous condition, was entitled to full and equal employment of accommodation in "inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement." In 1883 the Supreme Court declared the act as unconstitutional and asserted that Congress did not have the power to regulate the conduct and transactions of individuals.

Harper's Weekly (19th March, 1875)
Harper's Weekly (19th March, 1875)

On this day in 1917 exotic dancer Mata Hari is executed by firing squad for spying for Germany during First World War.

Mata Hari
Mata Hari

On this day in 1941 Hideki Tojo appointed Prime Minister of Imperial Japan. Tojo held extreme right-wing views and was a supporter of Nazi Germany. He also feared the long-term plans of Joseph Stalin and in 1938 he advocated pre-emptive air strikes on both China and the Soviet Union. In October 1941 he initially backed the foreign office's efforts to reach agreement with the United States. However, when convinced that a negotiated deal was possible, ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December, 1941. As well as prime minister Tojo also held the posts of minister of war, home minister and foreign minister. From February 1944 he was also Commander in Chief of the General Staff. Tojo, aware that Japan was unable to win the war, resigned from office after the loss of Saipan in July 1944. He shot himself in the chest just before he was arrested by the US Military in 1945. Tojo survived and after being nursed back to health was tried as a war criminal. Hideki Tojo was executed on 23rd December 1948.

Hideki Tojo
Hideki Tojo

On this day in 1946 Herman Göring committed suicide. Göring, one of the most senior figures in the Nazi German government, was found guilty at Nuremberg War Crimes Trial but avoided execution by swallowing potassium cyanide.

Vaughn Shoemaker, Chicago Daily News (1938)
Vaughn Shoemaker, Chicago Daily News (1938)

On this day in 1962 photographs were taken that revealed that the Soviet Union was placing long range missiles in Cuba. At the beginning of September 1962, U-2 spy planes discovered that the Soviet Union was building surface-to-air missile (SAM) launch sites. There was also an increase in the number of Soviet ships arriving in Cuba which the United States government feared were carrying new supplies of weapons. President John F. Kennedy complained to the Soviet Union about these developments and warned them that the United States would not accept offensive weapons (SAMs were considered to be defensive) in Cuba.

As the Cubans now had SAM installations they were in a position to shoot down U-2 spy-planes. Kennedy was in a difficult situation. Elections were to take place for the United States Congress in two month's time. The public opinion polls showed that his own ratings had fallen to their lowest point since he became president. One poll showed that over 62 per cent of the population were unhappy with his policies on Cuba. Understandably, the Republicans attempted to make Cuba the main issue in the campaign.

(A1) Photograph of San Cristobal taken on 15th October, 1962
Photograph of San Cristobal taken on 15th October, 1962