October 1, 1890
Yosemite National Park established
On this day in 1890, an act of Congress creates Yosemite National Park, home of such natural wonders as Half Dome and the giant sequoia trees. Environmental trailblazer John Muir (1838-1914) and his colleagues campaigned for the congressional action, which was signed into law by President Benjamin Harrison and paved the way for generations of hikers, campers and nature lovers, along with countless “Don’t Feed the Bears” signs.
Native Americans were the main residents of the Yosemite Valley, located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, until the 1849 gold rush brought thousands of non-Indian miners and settlers to the region. Tourists and damage to Yosemite Valley’s ecosystem followed. In 1864, to ward off further commercial exploitation, conservationists convinced President Abraham Lincoln to declare Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias a public trust of California. This marked the first time the U.S. government protected land for public enjoyment and it laid the foundation for the establishment of the national and state park systems. Yellowstone became America’s first national park in 1872.
In 1889, John Muir discovered that the vast meadows surrounding Yosemite Valley, which lacked government protection, were being overrun and destroyed by domestic sheep grazing. Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson, a fellow environmentalist and influential magazine editor, lobbied for national park status for the large wilderness area around Yosemite Valley. On October 1 of the following year, Congress set aside over 1,500 square miles of land (about the size of Rhode Island) for what would become Yosemite National Park, America’s third national park. In 1906, the state-controlled Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove came under federal jurisdiction with the rest of the park.
Yosemite’s natural beauty is immortalized in the black-and-white landscape photographs of Ansel Adams (1902-1984), who at one point lived in the park and spent years photographing it. Today, over 3 million people get back to nature annually at Yosemite and check out such stunning landmarks as the 2,425-foot-high Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s tallest waterfalls; rock formations Half Dome and El Capitan, the largest granite monolith in the U.S.; and the three groves of giant sequoias, the world’s biggest trees.
“Yosemite National Park established.” 2008. The History Channel website. 1 Oct 2008, 11:42 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=51644.
1781 – James Lawrence was born. He was the American naval officer whose dying words were “Don’t give up the ship.”
1800 – Spain ceded the territory of Louisiana back to France. Later the property would be purchased by the U.S. effectively doubling its size. (A little known clause in this deal states that Spain would let France have this territory provided France didn’t allow the United States to have it.)
1890 – The U.S. Congress passed the McKinley Tariff Act. The act raised tariffs to a record level.
1908 – The Model T automobile was introduced by Henry Ford. The purchase price of the car was $850.
1936 – General Francisco Franco was proclaimed the head of the Spanish state.
1938 – German forces enter Czechoslovakia and seized control of the Sudetenland. The Munich Pact had been signed two days before.
1940 – The Pennsylvania Turnpike opened as the first toll superhighway in the United States.
1946 – The International War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg sentenced 12 Nazi officials to death. Seven others were sentenced to prison terms and 3 were acquitted.
1964 – The Free Speech Movement was started at the University of California at Berkeley.
1972 – The Chinese government approved friendly relations with the United States.
1979 – The United States handed control of the Canal Zone over to Panama.
1989 – The authorized Charles Schulz biography, Good Grief, was published.
1989 – 7,000 East Germans were welcomed into West Germany after they were allowed to leave by the communist government.
October 1, 1949
Mao Zedong proclaims People’s Republic of China
Naming himself head of state, communist revolutionary Mao Zedong officially proclaims the existence of the People’s Republic of China; Zhou Enlai is named premier. The proclamation was the climax of years of battle between Mao’s communist forces and the regime of Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek, who had been supported with money and arms from the American government. The loss of China, the largest nation in Asia, to communism was a severe blow to the United States, which was still reeling from the Soviet Union’s detonation of a nuclear device one month earlier.
State Department officials in President Harry S. Truman’s administration tried to prepare the American public for the worst when they released a “white paper” in August 1949. The report argued that Chiang’s regime was so corrupt, inefficient, and unpopular that no amount of U.S. aid could save it. Nevertheless, the communist victory in China brought forth a wave of criticism from Republicans who charged that the Truman administration lost China through gross mishandling of the situation. Other Republicans, notably Senator Joseph McCarthy, went further, claiming that the State Department had gone “soft” on communism; more recklessly, McCarthy suggested that there were procommunist sympathizers in the department.
The United States withheld recognition from the new communist government in China. The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, during which communist Chinese and U.S. forces did battle, drove an even deeper wedge between the two nations. In the ensuing years, continued U.S. support of Chiang’s Republic of China, which had been established on the island of Taiwan, and the refusal to seat the People’s Republic of China at the United Nations made diplomatic relations impossible. President Richard Nixon broke the impasse with his stunning visit to communist China in February 1972. The United States extended formal diplomatic recognition in 1979.
“Mao Zedong proclaims People’s Republic of China.” 2008. The History Channel website. 1 Oct 2008, 11:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2438.