Archive for April, 2008



22
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-22-08: Earth Day

John Paul Jones leads American raid on Whitehaven, England

At 11 p.m. on this day in 1778, Commander John Paul Jones leads a small detachment of two boats from his ship, the USS Ranger, to raid the shallow port at Whitehaven, England, where, by his own account, 400 British merchant ships are anchored. Jones was hoping to reach the port at midnight, when ebb tide would leave the shops at their most vulnerable.

Jones and his 30 volunteers had greater difficulty than anticipated rowing to the port, which was protected by two forts. They did not arrive until dawn. Jones’ boat successfully took the southern fort, disabling its cannon, but the other boat returned without attempting an attack on the northern fort, after the sailors claimed to have been frightened away by a noise. To compensate, Jones set fire to the southern fort, which subsequently engulfed the entire town.

Commander Jones, one of the most daring and successful naval commanders of the American Revolution, was born in Scotland on July 6, 1747. He was apprenticed to a merchant at the age of 13 and soon went to sea from Whitehaven, the very port he returned to attack on this day in 1778. In Virginia at the onset of the revolution, Jones sided with the Patriots and received a commission as a first lieutenant in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775.

After the raid on Whitehaven, Jones continued to his home territory of Kirkcudbright Bay, where he intended to abduct the earl of Selkirk, then exchange him for American sailors held captive by Britain. Although he did not find the earl at home, Jones’ crew was able to steal all his silver, including his wife’s teapot, still containing her breakfast tea. From Scotland, Jones sailed across the Irish Sea to Carrickfergus, where the Ranger captured the HMS Drake after delivering fatal wounds to the British ship’s captain and lieutenant.

“John Paul Jones leads American raid on Whitehaven, England.” 2008. The History Channel website. 22 Apr 2008, 10:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=471.

1509 – Henry VIII ascended to the throne of England upon the death of his father Henry VII.

1792 – U.S. President George Washington proclaimed American neutrality in the war in Europe.

1861 – Robert E. Lee was named commander of Virginia forces.

1864 – The U.S. Congress mandated that all coins minted as U.S. currency bear the inscription “In God We Trust”.

1889 – At noon, the Oklahoma land rush officially started as thousands of Americans race for new, unclaimed land.

1898 – The first shot of the Spanish-American war occurred when the USS Nashville captured a Spanish merchant ship.

1915 – At the Second Battle Ypres the Germans became the first country to use poison gas.

1930 – The U.S., Britain and Japan signed the London Naval Treaty, which regulated submarine warfare and limited shipbuilding.

1944 – During World War II, the Allies launched a major attack against the Japanese in Hollandia, New Guinea.

1952 – An atomic test conducted in Nevada was the first nuclear explosion shown on live network television.

1970 – The first “Earth Day” was observed by millions of Americans.

1976 – Barbara Walters became first female nightly network news anchor.

1993 – The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was dedicated in Washington, DC.

1997 – In Lima, Peru government commandos storm and capture the residence of the Japanese ambassador ending a 126-day hostage crisis. In the rescue 71 hostages were saved. Those killed: one hostage (of a heart attack), two soldiers, and all 14 rebels.

2000 – Elian Gonzalez was reunited with his father. He had to be taken from his Miami relatives by U.S. agents in a predawn raid.

 

McCarthy Army hearings begin

Senator Joseph McCarthy begins hearings investigating the United States Army, which he charges with being “soft” on communism. These televised hearings gave the American public their first view of McCarthy in action, and his recklessness, indignant bluster, and bullying tactics quickly resulted in his fall from prominence.

“McCarthy Army hearings begin.” 2008. The History Channel website. 22 Apr 2008, 10:47 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2645.

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21
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-21-08: The Red Baron

“Red Baron” killed in action

In the well-trafficked skies above the Somme River in France, Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the notorious German flying ace known as the “Red Baron,” is killed by Allied fire on April 21, 1918.

Richthofen, the son of a Prussian nobleman, switched from the German army to the Imperial Air Service in 1915. By 1916, he was terrorizing the skies over the Western Front in an Albatross biplane, downing 15 enemy planes by the end of the year, including one piloted by British flying ace Major Lanoe Hawker. In 1917, Richthofen surpassed all flying-ace records on both sides of the Western Front and began using a Fokker triplane, painted entirely red in tribute to his old cavalry regiment. Although only used during the last eight months of his career, it was this aircraft with which Richthofen was most commonly associated and that led to an enduring English nickname for the German pilot—the Red Baron.

Fokker Dr.I

On April 21, 1918, with 80 victories under his belt, Richthofen led his squadron of triplanes deep into Allied territory in France on a search for British observation aircraft. The flight drew the attention of an Allied squadron led by Canadian Royal Air Force pilot Captain Arthur Roy Brown. As Richthofen pursued a plane piloted by Brown’s compatriot, Wilfred R. May, the Red Baron ventured too far into enemy territory and too low to the ground. Two miles behind the Allied lines, just as Brown caught up with Richthofen and fired on him, the chase passed over an Australian machine-gun battery, whose riflemen opened fire. Richthofen was hit in the torso; though he managed to land his plane alongside the road from Corbie to Bray, near Sailley-le-Sac, he was dead by the time Australian troops reached him. Brown is often given credit for downing Richthofen from the air, though some claimed it was actually an Australian gunner on the ground who fired the fatal shot; debate continues to this day.

Fokker Dr Ib

Manfred von Richthofen was buried by the Allies in a small military cemetery in Bertangles, France, with full military honors. He was 25 years old at the time of his death. His body was later moved to a larger cemetery at Fricourt. In 1925, it was moved again, at the behest of his brother, Karl Bolko, this time to Berlin, where he was buried at Invaliden Cemetery in a large state funeral. In a time of wooden and fabric aircraft, when 20 air victories ensured a pilot legendary status, the Red Baron downed 80 enemy aircraft and went down in history as one of the greatest heroes to emerge from World War I on either side of the conflict.

“Red Baron” killed in action.” 2008. The History Channel website. 21 Apr 2008, 12:14 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=439.

For a picture of what the Red Baron’s plane looked like see: http://www.ronsandsreplicas.com/Fokker_DR1_Plans.htm

19
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-19-08: Lexington and Concord

The American Revolution begins

At about 5 a.m., 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, march into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

When the British troops reached Concord at about 7 a.m., they found themselves encircled by hundreds of armed Patriots. They managed to destroy the military supplies the Americans had collected but were soon advanced against by a gang of minutemen, who inflicted numerous casualties. Lieutenant Colonel Frances Smith, the overall commander of the British force, ordered his men to return to Boston without directly engaging the Americans. As the British retraced their 16-mile journey, their lines were constantly beset by Patriot marksmen firing at them Indian-style from behind trees, rocks, and stone walls. At Lexington, Captain Parker’s militia had its revenge, killing several British soldiers as the Red Coats hastily marched through his town. By the time the British finally reached the safety of Boston, nearly 300 British soldiers had been killed, wounded, or were missing in action. The Patriots suffered fewer than 100 casualties.

“The American Revolution begins.” 2008. The History Channel website. 19 Apr 2008, 04:56 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4934.

Baltimore Riots

Residents of Baltimore, Maryland, attack a Union regiment while the group makes its way to Washington, D.C.

Baltimore’s hostilities to the North were already well known, as just two percent of the city’s voters cast their ballots for Abraham Lincoln while nearly half supported John Breckinridge, the Southern Democratic Party candidate. Lincoln was to pass through Baltimore on his way to Washington for his inauguration, but death threats forced the president-elect to slip through the city in the middle of the night in disguise.

“Baltimore Riots.” 2008. The History Channel website. 19 Apr 2008, 04:58 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2177.

1539 – Emperor Charles V reached a truce with German Protestants at Frankfurt, Germany.

1587 – English admiral Sir Francis Drake entered Cadiz harbor and sank the Spanish fleet.

1713 – Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which gave women the rights of succession to Hapsburg possessions.

1764 – The English Parliament banned the American colonies from printing paper money.

1782 – The Netherlands recognized the new United States.

1861 – U.S. President Lincoln ordered a blockade of Confederate ports.

1897 – The first annual Boston Marathon was held. It was the first of its type in the U.S.

1927 – In China, Hankow communists declared war on Chaing Kai-shek.

1939 – Connecticut approved the Bill of Rights for the U.S. Constitution after 148 years.

1943 – The Warsaw Ghetto uprising against Nazi rule began. The Jews were able to fight off the Germans for 28 days.

1951 – Shigeki Tanaka won the Boston Marathon. Tanaka had survived the atomic blast at Hiroshima, Japan during World War II.

1967 – Surveyor 3 landed on the moon and began sending photos back to the U.S.

1971 – Russia launched the Salyut into orbit around Earth. It was the first space station.

1975 – India launched its first satellite with aid from the USSR.

1977 – Alex Haley received a special Pulitzer Prize for his book “Roots.”

1982 – NASA named Sally Ride to be first woman astronaut.

1993 – The Branch-Davidian’s compound in Waco, TX, burned to the ground. It was the end of a 51-day standoff between the cult and U.S. federal agents. 86 people were killed including 17 children. Nine of the Branch Davidians escaped the fire.

 

The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building explodes

A massive explosion at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, kills 168 people and injures hundreds more. The bomb, contained in a Ryder truck parked outside the front of the building, went off at 9:02 a.m. as people were preparing for the workday. Among the victims of America’s worst incident of domestic terrorism were 19 children who were in the daycare center on the first floor of the building.

“The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building explodes.” 2008. The History Channel website. 19 Apr 2008, 05:01 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=977.

18
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-18-08: One if By Land, Two if by Sea

Revere and Dawes warn of British attack

image

On this day in 1775, British troops march out of Boston on a mission to confiscate the American arsenal at Concord and to capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington. As the British departed, Boston Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on horseback from the city to warn Adams and Hancock and rouse the Minutemen.

“Revere and Dawes warn of British attack.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=467.

This story began my exploration of history.  What I remember is that I was very young and I was watching a movie on television with my parents and sister.  It began with the night the British marched out of Boston and how the warning would be relayed from the Old North Church to rebels waiting on the other side of the Charles River.  My dad repeated the signal before the TV show explained it.  I was amazed at my father’s uncanny ability to predict the TV story. 

“One if by land, two if by sea,” my father said.

I added onto his phrase because I knew my dad had been in the air force, “Three if by air.”

“No idiot!”  My sister exclaimed and my mother laughed.  “They didn’t have airplanes back then.”

Back then, I thought.  There is a difference between back then and now! 

I listened, confused, as my father explained about back then and how he knew about the signal from the American rebels.  I also knew I didn’t want to be an idiot, so I made sure to concentrate on History from that day onward, until finally, years later, graduating with a BA in History.

Allman Brothers:  Midnight Rider

1861 – Colonel Robert E. Lee turned down an offer to command the Union armies during the U.S. Civil War.

1877 – Charles Cros wrote a paper that described the process of recording and reproducing sound. In France, Cros is regarded as the inventor of the phonograph. In the U.S., Thomas Edison gets the credit.

1943 – Traveling in a bomber, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, was shot down by American P-38 fighters.

1955 – Albert Einstein died.

1978 – The U.S. Senate approved the transfer of the Panama Canal to Panama on December 31, 1999.

1989 – Thousands of Chinese students demanding democracy tried to storm Communist Party headquarters in Beijing.

2002 – The city legislature of Berlin decided to make Marlene Dietrich an honorary citizen. Dietrich had gone to the United States in 1930. She refused to return to Germany after Adolf Hitler came to power.

 

Luther defiant at Diet of Worms

Martin Luther, the chief catalyst of Protestantism, defies the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V by refusing to recant his writings. He had been called to Worms, Germany, to appear before the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire and answer charges of heresy.

Martin Luther was a professor of biblical interpretation at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. In 1517, he drew up his 95 theses condemning the Catholic Church for its corrupt practice of selling “indulgences,” or forgiveness of sins. Luther followed up the revolutionary work with equally controversial and groundbreaking theological works, and his fiery words set off religious reformers across Europe. In 1521, the pope excommunicated him, and he was called to appear before the emperor at the Diet of Worms to defend his beliefs. Refusing to recant or rescind his positions, Luther was declared an outlaw and a heretic. Powerful German princes protected him, however, and by his death in 1546 his ideas had significantly altered the course of Western thought.

“Luther defiant at Diet of Worms.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:16 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4930.

The Great San Francisco Earthquake

At 5:13 a.m., an earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 on the Richter scale strikes San Francisco, California, killing hundreds of people as it topples numerous buildings. The quake was caused by a slip of the San Andreas Fault over a segment about 275 miles long, and shock waves could be felt from southern Oregon down to Los Angeles.

“The Great San Francisco Earthquake.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:14 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4931.

Doolittle leads air raid on Tokyo

On this day in 1942, 16 American B-25 bombers, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet 650 miles east of Japan and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, attack the Japanese mainland.

“Doolittle leads air raid on Tokyo.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:17 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6423.

Federal court decides to release Ezra Pound

A federal court rules that Ezra Pound should no longer be held at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the criminally insane in Washington, D.C. Pound has been held for 13 years, following his arrest in Italy during World War II on charges of treason.

“Federal court decides to release Ezra Pound.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:47 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=3943.

For More on The Old North Church: http://www.oldnorth.com/

16
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-16-08: LSD

Hallucinogenic effects of LSD discovered

In Basel, Switzerland, Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist working at the Sandoz pharmaceutical research laboratory, accidentally consumes LSD-25, a synthetic drug he had created in 1938 as part of his research into the medicinal value of lysergic acid compounds. After taking the drug, formally known as lysergic acid diethylamide, Dr. Hoffman was disturbed by unusual sensations and hallucinations.

“Hallucinogenic effects of LSD discovered.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Apr 2008, 11:06 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4924.

0069 – Otho committed suicide after being defeated by Vitellius’ troops at Bedriacum.

1065 – The Norman, Robert Guiscard, took Bari. Five centuries of Byzantine rule in southern Italy ended.

1705 – Queen Anne of England knighted Isaac Newton.

1818 – The U.S. Senate ratified Rush-Bagot amendment to form an unarmed U.S.-Canada border.

1862 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis approved conscription act for white males between 18 and 35.

1912 – Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.

1917 – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned to Russia to start Bolshevik Revolution after years of exile.

Lenin returns

On April 16, 1917, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the revolutionary Bolshevik Party, returns to Petrograd after a decade of exile to take the reins of the Russian Revolution. One month before, Czar Nicholas II had been forced from power when Russian army troops joined a workers’ revolt in Petrograd, the Russian capital.

“Lenin returns.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Apr 2008, 11:10 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6869.

1922 – The Soviet Union and Germany signed the Treaty of Rapallo under which Germany recognized the Soviet Union and diplomatic and trade relations were restored.

1942 – The Island of Malta was awarded the George Cross in recognition for heroism under constant German air attack.

1944 – The destroyer USS Laffey survived immense damage from attacks by 22 Japanese aircraft off Okinawa.

1945 – American troops entered Nuremberg, Germany.

1947 – The Zoomar lens, invented by Dr. Frank Back, was demonstrated in New York City. It was the first lens to exhibit zooming effects.

1947 – In Texas City, TX, the French ship Grandcamp, carrying ammonium nitrate fertilizer, caught fire and blew up. The explosions and resulting fires killed 576 people.

1962 – Walter Cronkite began anchoring “The CBS Evening News”.

1968 – The Pentagon announced that troops would begin coming home from Vietnam.

1972 – Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon. It was the fifth manned moon landing.

1975 – The Khmer Rouge Rebels won control of Cambodia after a five years of civil war. They renamed the country Kampuchea and began a reign of terror.

1977 – The ban on women attending West Point was lifted.

1982 – Queen Elizabeth proclaimed Canada’s new constitution in effect. The act severed the last colonial links with Britain.

1999 – Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement from the National Hockey League (NHL).

15
Apr
08

Taxing Humor

Jokes That IRS Doesn’t Want You to Know


There was a man who computed his taxes for 1997 and found that he owed $3407. He packaged up his payment and included this letter:

Dear IRS:

Enclosed is my 1997 Tax Return & payment. Please take note of the attached article from the USA Today newspaper. In the article, you will see that the Pentagon is paying $171.50 for hammers and NASA has paid $600.00 for a toilet seat.

Please find enclosed four toilet seats (value $2400) and six hammers (value $1029).

This brings my total payment to $3429.00. Please note the overpayment of $22.00 and apply it to the ‘Presidential Election Fund’, as noted on my return. Might I suggest you send the above mentioned fund a ‘1.5 inch screw’. (See attached article – HUD paid $22.00 for a 1.5 inch Phillips Head Screw.)

It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year. I just saw an article about the Pentagon and ‘screwdrivers’.

Sincerely,

I. Getscrewed Everyear

 

Pledge of Obedience

I pledge obedience, to the bureaucrats, who are the United States government. And to their salaries, for which I pay. One nation, deep in debt, irresponsible, with the slavery of income taxation for all.

Tomas Estrada-Palma

 

Balanced Budget

Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing — and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.

— Will Rogers

“It’s tax time and President Bush is saving a lot on taxes this year. He’s writing off his entire second term.”

–David Letterman

“Last night in his speech, President Bush called for a complete overhaul of the tax code. He said he was shocked to find out that some millionaires in this country were still paying taxes.”

–Jay Leno

American History 101

It was the first day of school and a new student, Suzuki, son of a Japanese businessman, entered the fourth grade class.  The teacher said, “Let’s begin by reviewing some American history.
“Who said,  ‘Give me Liberty or give me Death’ ?”  She saw a sea of blank faces, except for Suzuki’s
“Patrick Henry 1775,” he  said.
“Very  good!  Who said ‘…government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth’?”
Again, no response, except from Suzuki. “Abraham Lincoln, 1863.”
The teacher snapped, “Class, you  should be ashamed. Suzuki, who is new to our country, knows more about its history than you do.”
She heard a loud whisper, “Screw the Japs.”
“Who said that?” she demanded.
Suzuki raised his hand: “Lee Iacocca, 1982.”
At that point a student said, “I’m  gonna puke.” The teacher glared and asked, “All right!  Who said that?”
Suzuki says, “George Bush to the Japanese Prime Minister, 1991.”
Furious, another student yells, “Oh yeah? Suck this!”
Suzuki jumps up waving his hand and shouts, “Bill Clinton, to Monica Lewinsky,  1997!”
With near mob hysteria, someone screams, “You little s**t. If you say anything else, I’ll kill you.”
Suzuki yells, “Gary Condit to Chandra Levy, 2001.”
At this, the teacher fainted.  The class gathered around her.
One of the kids says, “Oh s**t, we’re in BIG  trouble!”
Suzuki says,  “Arthur Andersen, 2002.”

14
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-14-08: Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln is shot

John Wilkes Booth shoots President Abraham Lincoln at a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington.

Five days earlier, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered his army to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The war was nearly over, although there were still Confederate forces yet to surrender. The president had recently visited the captured Rebel capital of Richmond, and now Lincoln sought a relaxing evening by attending a production of Our American Cousin starring Laura Keene. Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House, was crammed with people trying to catch a glimpse of Grant, who was rumored to be in attendance. The general and his wife had cancelled abruptly for an out-of-town trip.

Lincoln occupied a booth above the stage with his wife; Henry Rathbone, a young army officer; and his fiancýe, Clara Harris, daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris. The Lincolns arrived late for the comedy, but the president was in a fine mood and laughed heartily during the production. At 10:15, Booth slipped into the box and fired his .44-caliber single-shot derringer into the back of Lincoln’s head. Rathbone rushed Booth, who stabbed the soldier in the shoulder. Booth then leapt from the president’s box to the stage below, breaking his leg as he landed. He shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis!” (“Thus ever to tyrants!”–the Virginia state motto) and ran from the stage. There was a pause, as the crowd initially thought the unfolding drama was part of the production, but a scream from Mrs. Lincoln told them otherwise. The stricken president was carried from the box to a house across the street, where he died the following morning.

Booth was one of the most famous actors of his day, and Lincoln had seen him perform. He was a Maryland native with southern sympathies who hoped to aid the Confederacy by taking out the Union’s political leadership in one night. With Confederate president Jefferson Davis still free and General Joseph Johnston’s army still alive in the Carolinas, Booth thought the Confederate cause was not yet lost. He sent George Atzerodt to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson and Lewis Paine to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward. Atzerodt could not muster the courage to carry out his assignment, but Paine burst into Seward’s home and stabbed him as lay sick in bed. Although seriously wounded, Seward eventually recovered.

“Lincoln is shot.” 2008. The History Channel website. 14 Apr 2008, 12:59 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2172.




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