1883 Fog leads to deadly collision in North Sea Heavy fog in the North Sea causes the collision of two steamers and the death of 357 people on this day in 1883. The Cimbria was a 330-foot, 3,000-ton steamship built in 1867 and operated by the Hamburg-Amerika Line. It left Hamburg, Germany, on January 18 with 302 passengers and 120 crew members. Among the passengers were eastern Europeans heading to America, French sailors on their way to Le Havre and a touring group of Native Americans who were exhibiting Wild West paraphernalia. The Sultan, a smaller Hull and Hamburg Line steamer traveling with only a crew, was also moving through the North Sea on January 19. Although there was heavy fog early that morning, neither boat took any precautionary measures, like reducing their speed, and the Sultan smashed straight into the Cimbria on the port side. Both steamers were badly damaged and the Cimbria‘s lifeboats were launched. Seven were inflated, but in the confusion, they weren’t filled anywhere near capacity. In addition, three lifeboats quickly disappeared in the heavy fog and were never seen again. For those people who did not make it onto a lifeboat, the cold water was deadly. Hypothermia and drowning claimed hundreds of lives within minutes. A few nearby ships picked up a couple of lifeboats soon after but the bulk of the 65 survivors from the Cimbria were not picked up until two days later. The captain of the Sultan, which had managed to stay afloat, was widely criticized for his failure to provide any assistance to the passengers and crew of the Cimbria. In total, 357 people lost their lives. 1847 Mexican rebels kill Charles Bent Angered by the abusive behavior of American soldiers occupying the city, Mexicans in Taos strike back by murdering the American-born New Mexican governor Charles Bent. The eldest of four brothers who all became prominent frontiersmen, Charles Bent began his involvement with the Wild West in 1822, when he left Virginia at the age of 23 to become a trader for the Missouri Fur Company. When that company was destroyed by cutthroat competition from John Jacob Astor’s powerful American Fur Company, Bent became a trader on the Santa Fe Trail. Building outlets in the Mexican cities of Santa Fe and New Mexico, and an Indian trading post on the Arkansas River called Bent’s Fort (in modern-day Colorado), Bent and his business partners eventually created the largest mercantile firm in the Southwest. Bent’s financial, political, and personal interests increasingly began to center on Taos, New Mexico. In the 1830s, he moved there and married Maria Ignacia Jaramillo, a wealthy widow from a prominent Mexican family. Bent’s new wife and his considerable wealth helped him win acceptance among the Mexican political elites, and he became a close associate of the New Mexican governor, Manuel Armijo. However, when war between Mexico and the U.S. broke out in 1846, Bent revealed his true colors by welcoming General Stephen Kearney’s largely bloodless conquest of New Mexico with open arms. Kearney awarded Bent by appointing him to the governorship. Kearney and most of his soldiers then moved on to take California, leaving the new governor to fend for himself, and Bent soon discovered that his behavior had earned him many enemies in Taos. Many of the Mexican families naturally resented the American conquest of their home, and the Taos Indians had long disliked Bent because of his trade relations with their northern enemies. The small force of American soldiers left behind to maintain order exacerbated the bad feelings by treating the Mexicans with undisguised contempt. On January 19, 1847, the people of Taos struck back. A violent mob attacked a Taos home that Bent was visiting, murdered his guards, and then killed and scalped Bent. Dragging Bent’s mangled body through the streets of Taos, the mob called for a full-scale rebellion against the American occupation, and by the end of the evening, 15 other Americans had been killed. Those who survived fled to Santa Fe to sound the alarm. Within two weeks, the American Colonel Sterling Price had quelled the rebellion and executed the supposed ringleaders. With the end of the Mexican War in 1848, New Mexico and all the rest of Mexico’s old northern frontier became the American Southwest. 1840 Wilkes claims portion of Antarctica for U.S. During an exploring expedition, Captain Charles Wilkes sights the coast of eastern Antarctica and claims it for the United States. Wilkes’ group had set out in 1838, sailing around South America to the South Pacific and then to Antarctica, where they explored a 1,500-mile stretch of the eastern Antarctic coast that later became known as Wilkes Land. In 1842, the expedition returned to New York, having circumnavigated the globe. Antarctica was discovered by European and American explorers in the early part of the 19th century, and in February 1821 the first landing on the Antarctic continent was made by American John Davis at Hughes Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula. During the next century, many nations, including the United States, made territorial claims to portions of the almost-inhabitable continent. However, during the 1930s, conflicting claims led to international rivalry, and the United States, which led the world in the establishment of scientific bases, enacted an official policy of making no territorial claims while recognizing no other nation’s claims. In 1959, the Antarctic Treaty made Antarctica an international zone, set guidelines for scientific cooperation, and prohibited military operations, nuclear explosions, and the disposal of radioactive waste on the continent.