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10 Historical Events Overshadowed by Other Events

Overshadowed historical events

Nowadays, events such as the death of a celebrity or industrial disaster get more coverage than any other event, as today the media is running after hot news rather than actual meaningful news. However, when there is no media intervention, many big events get overshadowed by other events in history. Many wars were overshadowed by other wars, and many disasters were overshadowed by other events. Let’s see 10 historical events that were overshadowed by other events.

1. In 1947, an industrial disaster happened at a port in Galveston Bay on the Gulf Coast of Texas, as a ship detonated containing ammonium nitrate. It killed 581 people and injured 3,500, but it was overshadowed because of Jackie Robinson. On the day before, he became the first player to break the color barrier of baseball.

Galveston Bay - Overshadowed historical Events
The view from Galveston after the 1947 Texas City Disaster (Image to the left), Jackie Robinson. Image credits: texashistory, Sabi

On April 16, 1947, the worst industrial disaster happened in a port in Galveston Bay on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The ship, the SS Grandcamp, was being loaded with peanuts, tobacco, ammonium nitrate, and government-owned ammunition. A longshoreman was smoking cigarettes at the docks, which eventually caused the fire. The ship containing ammonium nitrate exploded.

Around 9 a.m., flames from within started erupting and fireballs streaking across the sky could be seen from afar. a 15-foot-high tidal wave created from the explosion flooded the area. A Monsanto chemical plant situated near the docks was destroyed. People at the docks were instantly killed, all total, 581 people were killed and around 3,500 people were injured.

Unfortunately, one of the worst industrial disasters didn’t get much attention because, on April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson created history by breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier after he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. (1, 2)

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2. Dennis Ritchie, who invented the C programming language, died on October 12, 2011. His death was overshadowed by the death of Steve Jobs who died on October 5, 2011. Jobs was the chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Apple. Ritchie had made a major contribution to the invention of the software behind Macs, but his death got less coverage.

Dennis Ritchie And Steve Jobs
Dennis Ritchie (Image to the left), Steve Jobs. Image credits: Denise Panyik-Dale/Flickr via Wikimedia, Shutterstock

Dennis Ritchie was an American computer scientist who invented the C programming language in the 1970s. He developed the UNIX operating system and B programming language with his colleague Ken Thompson. He was awarded various awards in the field of science.

The UNIX operating system was the foundation of operating systems that contributed heavily to Apple’s iOS. Most of the people of this generation didn’t even know him. He died on October 12, 2011, but his death didn’t get much attention because just a week earlier on October 5, 2011, Apple CEO, Chairman, and co-founder Steve Jobs died.

There was a huge outcry after Steve Jobs’ death, which is justified, but Dennis who also made a major contribution to the success of Apple did not even get noticed on his death. (1, 2)

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3. The Sultana explosion was the worst maritime disaster. The steamboat burned down to the waterline near Marion, Arkansas, but the event was overshadowed by the death of John Wilkes Booth who was Lincoln’s assassin. Wilkes died on April 26, 1865, and the explosion occurred on 27 April 1865.

Sultana Disaster
Sultana disaster (Image to the left), John Wilkes Booth. Image credits: orangebean, Shutterstock

On April 27, 1865, the Sultana, a steamboat, exploded and sank in the Mississippi River. The Sultana was a steamboat. It was 260 feet long and regularly transported people and freight on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and St. Louis. The Sultana was designed to carry only 376 passengers, but the day it burned, it was carrying 2,137 passengers.

The newly patched boilers were subjected to over-pressurization by the overcrowding and the river’s current. Eventually, three of the four overstrained boilers exploded causing an uncontrollable fire. The Sultana burned and sank in the Mississippi River, costing 1,168 lives. It was regarded as one of the worst maritime disasters, but it was overshadowed by an event that happened just a day before.

Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, died on April 26, 1865, during his attempted capture, and that got more media coverage than the Sultana disaster. (1, 2)

4. The Bath School disaster, which killed over 38 children in an attack on May 18, 1927, was overshadowed by the historical flight that took place just two days after the bombing. The flight named Spirit of St. Louis was the first nonstop flight between New York and Paris.

Bath School Disaster - Overshadowed historical Events
Bath School disaster (Image to the left), Spirit of St Louis. Image credits: LSJ Archives via usatoday, Donald Hall Photograph Collection via charleslindberg

On May 18, 1927, one of the worst mass killings happened in the small town of Bath, Michigan. The Bath School disaster was a deadly bombing done by Andrew Kehoe.

He was the school-board treasurer and was angry at paying higher taxes for the development of the school building. He decided to place the dynamite in the basement of the school. He killed his wife a day or two before carrying out the attack.

On the 18th of May, he set his house on fire and went to school. After reaching the school, he started greeting children saying, “Today is your last day at school.” Later, around 8:45 a.m., half of the school was blown up. Over 38 children and six adults died in the explosion, but unfortunately, this event was overshadowed by another historical event that happened just two days later.

A historic plane named Spirit of St. Louis took off on May 20, 1927, from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York. It was the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic that flew from New York to Paris. (1, 2)

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5. In 1994, the Rwandan Genocide in which 800,000 people were slaughtered, took place. Hutu extremists killed Tutsis, Hutus, and Twas. and others during a 100-day period between April 7 to 15 July. The Rwandan Genocide was completely overshadowed by Nelson Mandela winning the 1994 South African general election.

Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan refugee camp in Benako, Tanzania, in 1994(Image to the left), Nelson Mandela. Image credits: Sebastiao SalgadoImage via NYTimes, Alessia Pierdomenico/Shutterstock

The Rwandan Genocide started on April 7, 1994, and continued until the 15th of July. This mass slaughter killed over 800,000 people in Rwanda targeted the Tutsi minority ethnic group and some other moderate Hutus and Twas. These people were killed by ethnic Hutu extremists.

In 1958, after Hutus overthrew the Tutsi community, they escaped to neighboring countries. Later, the Tutsi formed a rebel group named the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and invaded in 1990 initiating the Rwandan Civil War. The war continued until 1993 until a peace deal was agreed upon.

On 6 April 1994, the plane carrying Juvenal Habyarimana, who was Hutus president, was shot down, and Hutu extremists started blaming Tutsi for the incident. This is what started the Rwandan Genocide. Unfortunately, this incident didn’t get much attention because of the victory of Nelson Mandela in the South African general election.

Mandela became South Africa’s first Black president on 10 May 1994. (1, 2)

Also read: 11 Historical Events That Sound Like Fiction but Are Actually Real

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