06
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-6-08: James Monroe

1820 – The Missouri Compromise was enacted by the U.S. Congress and signed by U.S. President James Monroe. The act admitted Missouri into the Union as a slave state, but prohibited slavery in the rest of the northern Louisiana Purchase territory.

1836 – The thirteen-day siege of the Alamo by Santa Anna and his army ended. The Mexican army of three thousand men defeated the 189 Texas volunteers.

1857 – The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision ruled that blacks could not sue in federal court to be citizens.

1899 – Aspirin was patented by German researchers Felix Hoffman and Hermann Dreser.

1928 – A Communist attack on Peking, China resulted in 3,000 dead and 50,000 fled to Swatow.

1944 – During World War II, U.S. heavy bombers began the first American raid on Berlin. Allied planes dropped 2000 tons of bombs.

1946 – Ho Chi Minh, the President of Vietnam, struck an agreement with France that recognized his country as an autonomous state within the Indochinese Federation and the French Union.

1960 – Switzerland granted women the right to vote in municipal elections.

1960 – The United States announced that it would send 3,500 troops to Vietnam.

1967 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his plan to establish a draft lottery.

1973 – U.S. President Richard Nixon imposed price controls on oil and gas.

1990 – The Russian Parliament passed a law that sanctioned the ownership of private property.

1992 – The computer virus “Michelangelo” went into effect.

Monroe signs the Missouri Compromise

On this day in 1820, President James Monroe signs the Missouri Compromise, also known as the Compromise Bill of 1820, into law. The bill attempted to equalize the number of slave-holding states and free states in the country, allowing Missouri into the Union as a slave state while Maine joined as a free state. Additionally, portions of the Louisiana Purchase territory north of the 36-degrees-30-minutes latitude line were prohibited from engaging in slavery by the bill.

Monroe, who was born into the Virginia slave-holding planter class, favored strong states’ rights, but stood back and let Congress argue over the issue of slavery in the new territories. Monroe then closely scrutinized any proposed legislation for its constitutionality. He realized that slavery conflicted with the values written into the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence but, like his fellow Virginians Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, feared abolition would split apart the nation they had fought so hard to establish.

Passage of the Missouri Compromise contributed to the “Era of Good Feelings” over which Monroe presided and facilitated his election to a second term. In his second inaugural address, Monroe optimistically pointed out that although the nation had struggled in its infancy, “no serious conflict has arisen” that was not solved peacefully between the federal and state governments. “By steadily pursuing this course,” he predicted, “there is every reason to believe that our system will soon attain the highest degree of perfection of which human institutions are capable.”

In the end, the Missouri Compromise failed to permanently ease the underlying tensions caused by the slavery issue. The conflict that flared up during the bill’s drafting presaged how the nation would eventually divide along territorial, economic and ideological lines 40 years later during the Civil War. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=270

Supreme Court rules in Dred Scott case

The U.S. Supreme Court hands down its decision on Sanford v. Dred Scott, a case that intensified national divisions over the issue of slavery.

In 1834, Dred Scott, a slave, had been taken to Illinois, a free state, and then Wisconsin territory, where the Missouri Compromise of 1820 prohibited slavery. Scott lived in Wisconsin with his master, Dr. John Emerson, for several years before returning to Missouri, a slave state. In 1846, after Emerson died, Scott sued his master’s widow for his freedom on the grounds that he had lived as a resident of a free state and territory. He won his suit in a lower court, but the Missouri supreme court reversed the decision. Scott appealed the decision, and as his new master, J.F.A. Sanford, was a resident of New York, a federal court decided to hear the case on the basis of the diversity of state citizenship represented. After a federal district court decided against Scott, the case came on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which was divided along slavery and antislavery lines; although the Southern justices had a majority.

During the trial, the antislavery justices used the case to defend the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise, which had been repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The Southern majority responded by ruling on March 6, 1857, that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the territories. Three of the Southern justices also held that African Americans who were slaves or whose ancestors were slaves were not entitled to the rights of a federal citizen and therefore had no standing in court. These rulings all confirmed that, in the view of the nation’s highest court, under no condition did Dred Scott have the legal right to request his freedom. The Supreme Court’s verdict further inflamed the irrepressible differences in America over the issue of slavery, which in 1861 erupted with the outbreak of the American Civil War.  http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4813

Georgi Malenkov succeeds Stalin

Just one day after the death of long-time Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Georgi Malenkov is named premier and first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Malenkov’s tenure was extremely brief, and within a matter of weeks he was pushed aside by Nikita Khrushchev.  http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2598

U.S. is sending Marines to South Vietnam

The White House confirms reports that, at the request of South Vietnam, the United States is sending two battalions of U.S. Marines for security work at the Da Nang air base, which will hopefully free South Vietnamese troops for combat. On March 1, Ambassador Maxwell Taylor informed South Vietnamese Premier Phan Huy Quat that the United States was preparing to send 3,500 U.S. Marines to Vietnam. Three days later, a formal request was submitted by the U.S. Embassy, asking the South Vietnamese government to “invite” the United States to send the Marines. Premier Quat, a mere figurehead, had to obtain approval from the real power, Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, chief of the Armed Forces Council. Thieu approved, but asked that the Marines be “brought ashore in the most inconspicuous way feasible.” The Marines began landing near Da Nang on March 8. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1712

If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy.
James Monroe

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