1743 Thomas Jefferson is born Future President Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the Declaration of Independenceand the nation’s preeminent political theorist, is born on this day in 1743. Historian and biographer Joseph Ellis has called Jefferson, who had a monumental role in shaping American politics, the American sphinx for his enigmatic character. Since his terms in office, presidents and politicians from both ends of the political spectrum have borrowed from Jefferson’s political philosophy in an attempt to link their own leadership with this most influential and admired founding father. Jefferson’s character—as a man or a president—defies definition in black and white. He was at once an intellectual, architect, philosopher, musician and essayist. His fascination with science prompted his study and collection of fossils. He projected a down-to-earth, relaxed and unconventional attitude and his desire to be seen as a common man was reflected in his penchant for receiving White House visitors in a robe and slippers. Jefferson denounced oppressive government and was a fierce proponent of freedom of speech and religion. He worried that fellow founding fathers George Washington, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton had designs to fashion the American presidency after a monarchy. When Washington and Hamilton proposed a national bank and state assumption of national debt, Jefferson resigned from Washington’s cabinet in protest. He adamantly rejected Hamilton’s plan to build a strong federal military, fearing it might be used by a tyrannical leader against American citizens. Though Jefferson was highly principled, he was not above using smear tactics against political opponents. He anonymously assailed his victims in print under a pseudonym and helped to fund the anti-Federalist press. Although in theory Jefferson desired the abolition of slavery, it is a fact that Jefferson owned other human beings who worked his plantation. Historical accounts indicate Jefferson treated his slaves well within the context of the times. It has long been rumored—and debated by historians—that one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, was Jefferson’s lover. She bore a son, named Eston, in 1808. For 200 years, the Hemings affair and Eston’s paternity were the focus of intense scholarly analysis. In 1998, DNA testing proved that a Jefferson was Eston’s biological father, which many took to mean that he was indeed Thomas Jefferson’s son, a fact backed up by the oral tradition of the Hemings family. However, other scholars have disagreed with this conclusion and it remains a topic of fervent debate. Jefferson, a widower since the death of his wife Martha in 1782, is also thought to have had a relationship with Maria Cosway, a beautiful (and married) British painter and musician whom he met while serving as minister to France. Jefferson’s relationship with Cosway inspired him to write the romantic essay A Dialogue Between the Head and Heart in October 1786. One historical account of their affair paints Jefferson as a lovesick schoolboy—as he and Cosway shared a romantic walk in the countryside near Paris, Jefferson attempted to leap over a fence, fell and broke his wrist. Jefferson’s anti-federalist policies and personal attacks on John Adams caused a huge falling-out between the two former friends. After retirement, though, Adams and Jefferson rekindled their personal connection. The last two original revolutionaries living, Jefferson and Adams, died on the same day: July 4, 1826. 1866 Outlaw Butch Cassidy is born Butch Cassidy, the last of the great western train-robbers, is born on this day in Beaver, Utah Territory. Born Robert Leroy Parker, he was the son of Mormon parents who had answered Brigham Young’s call for young couples to help build communities of Latter Day Saints on the Utah frontier. Cassidy was the first of 13 children born to Max and Annie Parker. When Cassidy was 13 years old, the family moved to a ranch near the small Mormon community of Circleville. He became an admirer of a local ruffian named Mike Cassidy, who taught him how to shoot and gave him a gun and saddle. With Cassidy’s encouragement, the young man apparently began rustling, eventually forcing him to leave home during his mid-teens under a cloud of suspicion. For several years, he drifted around the West using the name Roy Parker. Finally, on June 24, 1889, he committed his first serious crime, robbing a bank in Telluride, Colorado, for more than $20,000. As a fugitive, he took to calling himself George Cassidy, a nod to his first partner in crime back in Utah. Wishing to lay low, for a time he worked in a Rock Springs, Wyoming, butcher shop, earning the nickname that would complete one of the most famous criminal aliases in history, “Butch” Cassidy. In 1894, Butch Cassidy was arrested for horse theft in Wyoming. After serving two years in the Wyoming Territorial Prison at Laramie, Cassidy was pardoned. He immediately returned to a life of crime, this time gathering around him a local band of carousing outlaws that became known as the Wild Bunch. Cassidy’s most famous partner was Harry Longabaugh, better known as the “Sundance Kid.” Other members included the quick-to-kill Harvey Logan (“Kid Curry”), Ben Kilpatrick (“Tall Texan”), Harry Tracy, Deaf Charley Hanks, and Tom Ketchum (“BlackJack”). By 1897, Cassidy was solidly in control of a sophisticated criminal operation that was active in states and territories from South Dakota to New Mexico. The Wild Bunch specialized in holding up railroad express cars, and the gang was sometimes called the Train Robbers’ Syndicate. Between robberies, Cassidy rendezvoused with various lovers around the West and took his gang on unruly vacations to Denver, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. By the turn of the century, however, the wild days of the West were rapidly fading. Once deserted lands were being tamed and settled, and western states and territories were creating an increasingly effective law-enforcement network. Tired of his robberies, railroad executives hired detectives to catch Cassidy and began placing mounted guards in railcars to pursue the Wild Bunch. In 1901, Cassidy fled the U.S. for Argentina accompanied by his lover, Etta Place, and the Sundance Kid. The trio homesteaded a ranch at Cholila, though Place returned to the United States after several years. In 1904, Cassidy and Sundance learned that detectives had tracked them to South America. They abandoned the Cholila ranch and resumed a life of robbery in Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. Though there is no evidence definitely to confirm it, Bolivian troops reportedly killed the partners in the village of San Vicente in 1908. The families of both men insist, however, that the men survived and returned to live into old age in the United States. 1360 Hail storm kills 1,000 English troops in France On so-called “Black Monday” in 1360, a hail storm kills an estimated 1,000 English soldiers in Chartres, France. The storm and the devastation it caused also played a part in the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. The Hundred Years’ War began in 1337; by 1359, King Edward III of England was actively attempting to conquer France. In October, he took a massive force across the English Channel to Calais. The French refused to engage in direct fights and stayed behind protective walls throughout the winter, while Edward pillaged the countryside. In April 1360, Edward’s forces burned the Paris suburbs and began to move toward Chartres. While they were camped outside the town, a sudden storm materialized. Lightning struck, killing several people, and hailstones began pelting the soldiers, scattering the horses. One described it as “a foul day, full of myst and hayle, so that men dyed on horseback [sic].” Two of the English leaders were killed and panic set in among the troops, who had no shelter from the storm. The heavy losses suffered by the English were seen by many as a sign from God. King Edward was convinced to negotiate peace with the French. On May 8, 1360, the Treaty of Bretigny was signed, marking the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War. Edward agreed to renounce all claims to the throne of France, though he was given control of land in the north of the country. Fighting resumed nine years later, when the king of France declared war, claiming Edward had not honored the treaty. The last phase of the Hundred Years’ War did not end until 1453. The largest hailstone recorded in modern times was found in Aurora, Nebraska. It was seven inches in diameter, about the size of a soccer ball. Hail typically falls at about 100 miles per hour.