Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1904

The Russo-Japanese War begins

Following the Russian rejection of a Japanese plan to divide Manchuria and Korea into spheres of influence, Japan launches a surprise naval attack against Port Arthur, a Russian naval base in China. The Russian fleet was decimated.

During the subsequent Russo-Japanese War, Japan won a series of decisive victories over the Russians, who underestimated the military potential of its non-Western opponent. In January 1905, the strategic naval base of Port Arthur fell to Japanese naval forces under Admiral Heihachiro Togo; in March, Russian troops were defeated at Shenyang, China, by Japanese Field Marshal Iwao Oyama; and in May, the Russian Baltic fleet under Admiral Zinovi Rozhdestvenski was destroyed by Togo near the Tsushima Islands.

These three major defeats convinced Russia that further resistance against Japan’s imperial designs for East Asia was hopeless, and in August 1905 U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt mediated a peace treaty at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (He was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this achievement.) Japan emerged from the conflict as the first modern non-Western world power and set its sights on greater imperial expansion. However, for Russia, its military’s disastrous performance in the war was one of the immediate causes of the Russian Revolution of 1905.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

First execution by lethal gas

The first execution by lethal gas in American history is carried out in Carson City, Nevada. The executed man was Tong Lee, a member of a Chinese gang who was convicted of murdering a rival gang member. Lethal gas was adopted by Nevada in 1921 as a more humane method of carrying ...read more

Peter the Great dies

On February 8, 1725, Peter the Great, emperor of Russia, dies and is succeeded by his wife, Catherine. The reign of Peter, who became sole czar in 1696, was characterized by a series of sweeping military, political, economic, and cultural reforms based on Western European models. ...read more

Mary Queen of Scots beheaded

After 19 years of imprisonment, Mary Queen of Scots is beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in England for her complicity in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth I. In 1542, while just six days old, Mary ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King James V. Her ...read more

Americans secure Guadalcanal

On this day in 1943, Japanese troops evacuate Guadalcanal, leaving the island in Allied possession after a prolonged campaign. The American victory paved the way for other Allied wins in the Solomon Islands. Guadalcanal is the largest of the Solomons, a group of 992 islands and ...read more

Spud Webb wins dunk contest

On February 8, 1986, Spud Webb, who at 5’7” was one of the shortest players in the history of professional basketball, wins the NBA slam dunk contest, beating his Atlanta Hawks teammate and 1985 dunk champ, the 6’8” Dominique Wilkins. Anthony Jerome “Spud” Webb was born July 13, ...read more

Irish race horse stolen

Gunmen steal the champion Irish race horse Shergar from a stud farm owned by the Aga Khan in County Kildare, Ireland. The five-year-old thoroughbred stallion, named European horse of the year in 1981, was worth $13.5 million and commanded stud fees of approximately $100,000. On ...read more

Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary sentenced

Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty, the highest Catholic official in Hungary, is convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Communist People’s Court. Outraged observers in Western Europe and the United States condemned both the trial and Mindszenty’s conviction as ...read more

Battle of Roanoke Island

On this day in 1862, Union General Ambrose Burnside scores a major victory whenhis troopscapture Roanoke Island in North Carolina.It was one of the first major Union victories of the Civil War andgave the Yankees control of the mouth of Albemarle Sound, allowing them to threaten ...read more