Monday, Dec. 8, the 342nd day of 2014. There are 23 days and 3weeks left in the year. Highlights of today in world history…
Mary Queen of Scots Born

In Linlithgow Palace in Scotland, a daughter is born to James V, the dying king of Scotland. Named Mary, she was the only surviving child of her father and ascended to the Scottish throne when the king died just six days after her birth.
Mary’s French-born mother, Mary of Guise, sent her to be raised in the French court, and in 1558 she married the French dauphin, who became King Francis II of France in 1559 and died in 1560. After Francis’ death, Mary returned to Scotland to assume her designated role as the country’s monarch. Mary’s great-uncle was Henry VIII, the Tudor king of England, and in 1565 she married her English cousin Lord Darnley, another Tudor, which reinforced her claim to the English throne. This greatly angered the current English monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.
In 1567, Darnley was mysteriously killed in an explosion at Kirk o’ Field, and Mary’s lover, James Hepburn, the earl of Bothwell, was the key suspect. Although Bothwell was acquitted of the charge, his marriage to Mary in the same year enraged the nobility, and Mary was forced to abdicate in favor of her son by Darnley, James. Mary was imprisoned on the tiny island of Loch Leven.
In 1568, she escaped from captivity and raised a substantial army but was defeated by her Scottish foes and fled to England. Queen Elizabeth I initially welcomed Mary but was soon forced to put her cousin under house arrest after Mary became the focus of various English Catholic and Spanish plots to overthrow her. In 1586, a major Catholic plot to murder Elizabeth was uncovered, and Mary was brought to trial, convicted for complicity, and sentenced to death.
On February 8, 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded for treason at Fotheringhay Castle in England. Her son, King James VI of Scotland, calmly accepted his mother’s execution, and upon Queen Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he became James I, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Americans Begin Siege of Quebec

Beginning on this day in 1775, Colonel Benedict Arnold and General Richard Montgomery lead an American force in the siege of Quebec. The Americans hoped to capture the British-occupied city and with it win support for the American cause in Canada.
In June, Congress decided to send two columns of 1,000 men each towards Canada. General Richard Montgomery proceeded up Lake Champlain and successfully captured Montreal in November before reaching Quebec City. Colonel Benedict Arnold led his men through the woods of Maine, approaching the city directly. On November 14, Arnold arrived on the Plains of Abraham outside the city of Quebec; his men sustained themselves upon dog meat and leather in the cold winter. The 100 men defending the city refused to either surrender to Arnold or leave their defenses to fight them on open plains, so Arnold waited for Montgomery to join him with his troops and supplies at the beginning of December.
The royal governor general of Canada, Sir Guy Carleton, had managed to escape Montgomery’s early successful attacks. He snuck into Quebec, organized 1,800 men for the city’s defense, and prepared to wait out the Patriots’ siege. But Arnold and Montgomery faced a deadline as their troops’ enlistments expired at the end of the year. On December 7, Montgomery fired arrows over the city walls bearing letters demanding Carleton’s surrender. When Carleton did not acquiesce, the Americans began a bombardment of the city with Montgomery’s cannon on December 8. They then attempted a disastrous failed assault on December 31, in which Montgomery was killed and Arnold seriously wounded.

Auto-Factory Architect Albert Kahn Dies
On December 8, 1942, the architect and engineer Albert Kahn–known as “the man who built Detroit”–dies at his home there. He was 73 years old. Kahn and his assistants built more than 2,000 buildings in all, mostly for Ford and General Motors. According to his obituary in The New York Times, Kahn “revolutionized the concept of what a great factory should be: his designs made possible the marvels of modern mass production, and his buildings changed the faces of a thousand cities and towns from Detroit to Novosibirsk.”
Albert Kahn was born in Germany in 1869. When he was 11, his family moved to the United States and settled in Detroit, where the teenager took a job as an architect’s apprentice. In 1902, after working at a number of well-known architectural firms in Detroit, Kahn started his own practice.
While building factories for Packard, the young architect found that swapping reinforced concrete for wood or masonry sped up the construction of manufacturing plants considerably. It also made them sturdier and less combustible. Moreover, reinforced-concrete buildings needed fewer load-bearing walls; this, in turn, freed up floor space for massive industrial equipment. Kahn’s first concrete factory, Packard Shop No. 10, still stands today on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit.
“Architecture,” Kahn liked to say, “is 90 percent business and 10 percent art.” His buildings reflected this philosophy: they were sleek, flexible, and above all functional. Besides all that utilitarian concrete, they incorporated huge metal-framed windows and garage doors and acres of uninterrupted floor space for conveyor belts and other machines. Kahn’s first Ford factory, the 1909 Highland Park plant, used elevators and dumbwaiters to spread the Model T assembly line over several floors, but most of his subsequent factories were huge single-story spaces: Ford’s River Rouge plant (1916), the massive Goodyear Airdock in Akron (1929), the Glenn Martin aeronautics factory in Maryland (built in 1937 around an assembly floor the size of a football field) and, perhaps most famous of all, the half-mile?long Willow Run “Arsenal of Democracy,” the home of Ford’s B-29 bomber in Ypsilanti.
Though Kahn designed a number of non-factory buildings, including the Ford and GM office towers in downtown Detroit, he is best known for building factories that reflected the needs of the industrial age. We still celebrate his innovations today.

Chinese Nationalists Move Capital to Taiwan

As they steadily lose ground to the communist forces of Mao Zedong, Chinese Nationalist leaders depart for the island of Taiwan, where they establish their new capital. Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek left for the island the following day. This action marked the beginning of the “two Chinas” scenario that left mainland China under communist control and vexed U.S. diplomacy for the next 30 years. It also signaled the effective end of the long struggle between Chinese Nationalist forces and those of the communist leader Mao Zedong, though scattered Chinese Nationalists continued sporadic combat with the communist armies.
At the time, many observers hoped that the end of the fighting and the Chinese Nationalist decision to establish a separate government on Taiwan might make it easier for foreign governments to recognize the new communist People’s Republic of China. For the United States, however, the action merely posed a troubling diplomatic problem. Many in America, including members of the so-called “China Lobby” (individuals and groups from both public and private life who tenaciously supported the Chinese Nationalist cause), called upon the administration of President Harry S. Truman to continue its support of Chiang’s government by withholding recognition of the communist government on the mainland. In fact, the Truman administration’s recognition of the Nationalist government on Taiwan infuriated Mao, ending any possibility for diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. In the years after 1949, the United States continued its support of Taiwan, and Mao’s government continued to rail against the Nationalist regime off its coast. By the 1970s, however, U.S. policymakers, desirous of opening economic relations with China and hoping to use China as a balance against Soviet power, moved toward a closer relationship with communist China. In 1979, the United States officially recognized the People’s Republic of China.

John Lennon is Murdered

Singer John Lennon is shot and killed by Mark David Chapman outside his apartment building in New York City. After committing the murder, Chapman waited calmly outside, reading a copy of The Catcher in the Rye.
Chapman was a troubled individual who was obsessed with Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of J. D. Salinger’s novel about a disaffected youth, and with various celebrities. While working as a security guard in Hawaii, he decided that Lennon was a phony and, while listening to Beatles tapes, Chapman decided to plan his murder.
Chapman purchased a gun in Hawaii and then traveled to New York. Although he called his wife to tell her that he was in New York to shoot Lennon, she ignored his threats. Unable to buy bullets in New York due to strict laws, Chapman flew to Atlanta and purchased hollow-nosed rounds to bring back.
On the day of the murder, Chapman bought an extra copy of The Catcher in the Rye and joined fans waiting outside The Dakota, Lennon’s apartment building. That evening, as Lennon walked by on his way into the building, Chapman shot him in the back and then fired two additional bullets into his shoulder as the singer wrenched around in pain.
On June 8, 1980, just two weeks before he was scheduled to present an insanity defense at trial, Chapman pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 20 years-to-life. Ironically, Chapman was sent to Attica prison, where–10 years earlier–rioting had inspired Lennon and wife, Yoko Ono, to record a benefit song to “free all prisoners everywhere.” In prison, Chapman became a born-again Christian and spent his time writing evangelical tracts for publication.

Compiled by ?Desola Akindele

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