06
May
08

On This Day, 5-6-08: Gorbachev

Gorbachev reviews the Cold War

In an event steeped in symbolism, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reviews the Cold War in a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri-the site of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech 46 years before. Gorbachev mixed praise for the end of the Cold War with some pointed criticisms of U.S. policy.

In 1946, Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Britain, spoke at Westminster College and issued what many historians have come to consider the opening volley of the Cold War. Declaring that an “iron curtain” had fallen across Eastern Europe, Churchill challenged both Great Britain and the United States to contain Soviet aggression. Forty-six years later, the Soviet Union had collapsed and Mikhail Gorbachev, who had resigned as president of the Soviet Union in December 1991, stood on the very same campus and reflected on the Cold War.

Gorbachev declared that the end of the Cold War was the “shattering of the vicious circle into which we had driven ourselves” and a “victory for common sense, reason, democracy, and common human values.” In addressing the issue of who began the Cold War, Gorbachev admitted that the Soviet Union had made some serious mistakes, but also suggested that the United States and Great Britain shouldered part of the blame. He decried the resulting nuclear arms race, though he made clear that he believed the United States had been the “initiator” of this folly. With the Cold War over, he cautioned the United States to realize the “intellectual, and consequently political error, of interpreting victory in the cold war narrowly as a victory for oneself.”

Gorbachev’s speech, and particularly the location at which he delivered it, offered a fitting closure to the Cold War, and demonstrated that scholarly debate about those years would continue though the animosity had come to an end.

“Gorbachev reviews the Cold War.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 May 2008, 11:42 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2659.

1527 – German troops began sacking Rome, bringing about the end of the Renaissance.

1851 – The mechanical refrigerator was patented by Dr. John Gorrie.

1851 – Linus Yale patented the clock-type lock.

1861 – Arkansas became the ninth state to secede from the Union.

1877 – Chief Crazy Horse surrendered to U.S. troops in Nebraska.

1882 – The U.S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. The act barred Chinese immigrants from the U.S. for 10 years.

1941 – Bob Hope gave his first USO show at California’s March Field.

1942 – During World War II, the Japanese seized control of the Philippines. About 15,000 Americans and Filipinos on Corregidor surrendered to the Japanese.

1945 – Axis Sally made her final propaganda broadcast to Allied troops.

1954 – British runner Roger Banister broke the four minute mile.

1957 – U.S. Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book “Profiles in Courage”.

1959 – The Pablo Picasso painting of a Dutch girl was sold for $154,000 in London. It was the highest price paid (at the time) for a painting by a living artist.

1962 – The first nuclear warhead was fired from the Polaris submarine.

1994 – The Chunnel officially opened. The tunnel under the English Channel links England and France.

1997 – Four health-care companies agreed to a settlement of $600 million to hemophiliacs who had contracted AIDS from tainted blood between 1978-1985.

1999 – A parole board in New York voted to release Amy Fisher. She had been in jail for 7 years for shooting her lover’s wife, Mary Jo Buttafuoco, in the face.

2001 – Chandra Levy’s parents reported her missing to police in Washington, DC. Levy’s body was found on May 22, 2002 in Rock Creek Park.

 

William Franklin warns Dartmouth of repercussions from Lexington and Concord

In a candid report to William Legge, 2nd earl of Dartmouth and the British secretary of state for the colonies, on this day in 1775, Benjamin Franklin’s illegitimate son, New Jersey Royal Governor William Franklin, writes that the violence at Lexington and Concord greatly diminishes the chances of reconciliation between Britain and her North American colonies.

Reconciliation between Britain and America was not the only relationship at stake for Franklin. He would never repair the damage done to his relationship with his father, famed Patriot Benjamin Franklin, when he decided to remain loyal to the crown.

“William Franklin warns Dartmouth of repercussions from Lexington and Concord.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 May 2008, 11:36 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=614.

The Hindenburg disaster

The airship Hindenburg, the largest dirigible ever built and the pride of Nazi Germany, bursts into flames upon touching its mooring mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 passengers and crewmembers.

The Hindenburg disaster.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 May 2008, 11:37 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4978.

John Steinbeck wins a Pulitzer for The Grapes of Wrath

On this day in 1940, John Steinbeck is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Grapes of Wrath.

“John Steinbeck wins a Pulitzer for The Grapes of Wrath.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 May 2008, 11:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=3961.

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