Major Decisions that Changed the Course of Recent History

On numerous occasions, there are pivotal decisions that changed world history forever. Such moments led to revolutions, disasters, and even the cease of a war. These are the major decisions that changed the face of world history.

Saving a president’s life

On October 14th, 1912, President Theodore Roosevelt was staying at the Hotel Gilpatrick in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After sitting outside his hotel holding a 50-page manuscript, he folded it in half and slipped it into his overcoat breast pocket. He started heading to a nearby auditorium where he would give a campaign speech. He was shot at point-blank range by an unknown man in the crowd but was luckily saved by his 50-page manuscript that kept the bullet from entering his lung. Roosevelt continued with his speech as planned.

The oversight that caused the tragic Titanic’s sinking

On the fateful night of April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic ended up in ruins. Second Officer David Blair was replaced just before the ship left port, and had forgotten to hand in his key to a locker where the binoculars strored for the lookout due to the rush. This resulted in the watchman assigned to the crow’s nest not having any binoculars to spot icebergs inside a locked locker that’s missing a key. Unfortunately, that small albeit significant error led to the loss of more than 1,500 lives. There is a lot to be blamed for the massive loss of life on that night, but a portion belongs to that last-minute decision of switching officers.

miniature replicate of the Titanic, vast blue ocean, clouds

“Tell them about the dream, Martin!”

These are the four words that changed American history. On the night of August 27th, 1963, Martin Luther King had some trouble sleeping. He stayed up late to prepare for his speech at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th. While delivering his speech, Mahalia Jackson, a singer standing next to his side, shouted: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” King took a pause, went off-script, and the rest is history.

Marie Antoinette’s fatal decisions

Contrary to popular belief, Marie Antoinette never did say: “Let them eat cake.” What she did do, however, created the fatal decision that led to both her and her husband’s death by execution. Refusing to escape from Paris riding separate carriages, she insisted that she and King Louis XVI escape in a fancier carriage. While escaping on the Dutch border of Montmedy, their carriage, Berlin, was recognized by armed villagers who overtook it, leading to their capture.

One man stopped the nuclear war.

The Cuban Missile Crisis is not the only event to have brought the world closest to nuclear war. Another event is much less well-known that also took place, which was just as dangerous. In September 1983, Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant of the Soviet Union Air Defense Force, worked an overnight shift. It was then that his computer showed five US missiles nearing the Soviet Union. Petrov decided not to report the incident to his superiors after his gut told him there was something wrong. After double-checking, he realized it was a malfunction. The decision of his averted the outbreak of a nuclear war.

Buddy Holly Changing Rock History

February 3, 1959, “The Day the Music Died” is one of the most legendary moments in music history. On that day, famous musicians Buddy Holly, JP Richardson, Jr., and Richie Valens perished in a plane crash in Iowa. As it happens, they only went on that plane because of a rash and a seemingly insignificant decision by Holly.

After being on the road for a while, all three of them were almost running out of clean clothes to wear. They were supposed to ride a bus that will take them to their next show in Minnesota, but Holly wanted some clean clothes and insisted on riding a charter plane with the others to arrive early and do their laundry. This desire for fresh garments proved to be fatal.

The monk who nearly destroyed calculus

Calculus is the bane of many students’ lives, but there’s no denying its aid with many of the world’s scientific and technological developments. An unknown 13th-century monk struggles to find fresh papers where he could write his prayers, so he went and erased a portion of an ancient text written by Archimedes and wrote on that instead. Fortunately, scientists were able to decipher the world-changing knowledge left behind by the ancient Greek mathematician.

The Bay of Pigs failing due to unsynched watches

The American CIA and the Cuban exiles specifically trained for the job were all set to attack Cuba in April 1961 via the Bay of Pigs. President John F. Kennedy ordered six fighter planes to be sent in to assist the American forces after a failure in the initial airstrike. Turns out, before setting off, the pilots forgot to sync their watches to Cuban time. This made the Bay of Pigs invasion a failure.