11
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-11-08: Alexander Hamilton

Burr slays Hamilton in duel

In a duel held in Weehawken, New Jersey, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist and the chief architect of America’s political economy, died the following day.

Alexander Hamilton, born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, came to the American colonies in 1773 as a poor immigrant. (There is some controversy as to the year of his birth, but it was either 1755 or 1757.) In 1776, he joined the Continental Army in the American Revolution, and his relentless energy and remarkable intelligence brought him to the attention of General George Washington, who took him on as an aid. Ten years later, Hamilton served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and he led the fight to win ratification of the final document, which created the kind of strong, centralized government that he favored. In 1789, he was appointed the first secretary of the treasury by President Washington, and during the next six years he crafted a sophisticated monetary policy that saved the young U.S. government from collapse. With the emergence of political parties, Hamilton was regarded as a leader of the Federalists.

Aaron Burr, born into a prestigious New Jersey family in 1756, was also intellectually gifted, and he graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) at the age of 17. He joined the Continental Army in 1775 and distinguished himself during the Patriot attack on Quebec. A masterful politician, he was elected to the New State Assembly in 1783 and later served as state attorney. In 1790, he defeated Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law in a race for the U.S. Senate.

“Burr slays Hamilton in duel.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 01:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6955.

1533 – Henry VIII, who divorced his wife and became head of the church of England, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church by Pope Clement VII.

1786 – Morocco agreed to stop attacking American ships in the Mediterranean for a payment of $10,000.

1798 – The U.S. Marine Corps was formally re-established by “An Act for Establishing a Marine Corps” passed by the U.S. Congress. The act also created the U.S. Marine Band. The Marines were first commissioned by the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775.

1864 – In the U.S., Confederate forces led by Gen. Jubal Early began an invasion of Washington, DC. They turned back the next day.

1955 – The U.S. Air Force Academy was dedicated in Colorado Springs, CO, at Lowry Air Base.

1972 – U.S. forces broke the 95-day siege at An Loc in Vietnam.

1977 – The Medal of Freedom was awarded posthumously to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a White House ceremony.

1979 – The abandoned U.S. space station Skylab returned to Earth. It burned up in the atmosphere and showered debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.

1980 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the release of hostage Richard Queen due to illness. Queen was flown to Zurich, Switzerland. Queen had been taken hostage with 62 other Americans at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.

1995 – Full diplomatic relations were established between the United States and Vietnam.

1998 – U.S. Air Force Lt. Michael Blassie, a casualty of the Vietnam War, was laid to rest near his Missouri home. He had been positively identified from his remains that had been enshrined in the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, VA.

 

Battle of Rich Mountain

On this day, Union troops under General George B. McClellan score another major victory in the struggle for western Virginia at the Battle of Rich Mountain. The Yankee success secured the region and ensured the eventual creation of West Virginia.

Western Virginia was a crucial battleground in the early months of the war. The population of the region was deeply divided over the issue of secession, and western Virginia was also a vital east-west link for the Union because the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran through its mountains.

After McClellan scored a series of small victories in western Virginia in June and early July, Confederate General Robert Garnett and Colonel John Pegram positioned their forces at Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill to block two key roads and keep McClellan from penetrating any further east. McClellan crafted a plan to feign an attack against Garnett at Laurel Hill while he sent the bulk of his force against Pegram at Rich Mountain.

Part of McClellan’s force, led by General William Rosecrans, followed a rugged mountain path to swing around behind the Rebels’ left flank. McClellan had promised to attack the Confederate front when he heard gunfire from Rosecrans’s direction. After a difficult march through a drenching rain, Rosecrans struck the Confederate wing. It took several attempts, but he was finally able to drive the Confederates from their position. McClellan shelled the Rebel position, but did not make the expected assault. Each side suffered around 70 casualties.

Pegram was forced to abandon his position, but Rosecrans was blocking his escape route. Two days later, he surrendered his force of 555. Although McClellan became a Union hero as a result of this victory, most historians agree that Rosecrans deserved the credit. Nonetheless, McClellan was on his way to becoming the commander of the Army of the Potomac.

“Battle of Rich Mountain.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 02:00 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2242.

Soviets agree to hand over power in West Berlin

Fulfilling agreements reached at various wartime conferences, the Soviet Union promises to hand power over to British and U.S. forces in West Berlin. Although the division of Berlin (and of Germany as a whole) into zones of occupation was seen as a temporary postwar expedient, the dividing lines quickly became permanent. The divided city of Berlin became a symbol for Cold War tensions.

“Soviets agree to hand over power in West Berlin.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 02:01 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2725.

Thieu challenges NLF to participate in free elections

South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, in a televised speech, makes a “comprehensive offer” for a political settlement. He challenged the National Liberation Front to participate in free elections organized by a joint electoral commission and supervised by an international body. Following the speech, South Vietnamese Foreign Minister Tran Chanh Thanh, seeking to clarify the Thieu proposal, said communists could never participate in elections in South Vietnam “as communists” nor have any role in organizing elections–only by the South Vietnamese government could organize the elections.

“Thieu challenges NLF to participate in free elections.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 02:05 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1960.

“I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value”

 Alexander Hamilton quotes

I never expect to see a perfect work from an imperfect man.
Alexander Hamilton

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