08
Mar
09

On This Day, March 8: The Evil Empire

March 8, 1983

Reagan refers to U.S.S.R. as “evil empire”…again

Speaking to a convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Florida on this day in 1983, President Ronald Reagan publicly refers to the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” for the second time in his career. He had first used the phrase in a 1982 speech at the British House of Commons. Some considered Reagan’s use of the Star Wars film-inspired terminology to be brilliant democratic rhetoric. Others, including many within the international diplomatic community, denounced it as irresponsible bombast.

Reagan’s aggressive stance toward the Soviet Union became known as the Reagan Doctrine. He warned against what he and his supporters saw as the dangerous trend of tolerating the Soviets’ build-up of nuclear weapons and attempts to infiltrate Third World countries in order to spread communism. Advocating a “peace through strength” policy, Reagan declared that the Soviets “must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards [nor] ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.” To do so would mean abandoning “the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”

Reagan proposed a policy that went beyond the Truman Doctrine of containment, urging active intervention. He vowed to increase U.S. military spending and to use force if necessary to roll back communist expansion in Third World nations. His administration provided military aid to Nicaraguan groups fighting the leftist Sandinista government and gave material support to the Afghan mujahedeen in their ongoing war against Soviets. At the same time, he reassured Americans that he would pursue an “understanding” with totalitarian powers and cited the United States’ effort to limit missile development as a step toward peace.

Reagan’s doctrine came at the same time as a surge in international and domestic protests against the U.S.-Soviet arms race. His opponents blamed the administration for causing the largest increase in American military spending since the beginning of the Cold War, a policy that swelled the nation’s budget deficit.

The Soviet economy ultimately collapsed in the late 1980s, ending decades of communist rule in Russia and Eastern Europe. Americans disagreed as to the cause: while economists and Reagan’s critics claimed the Soviet empire had buckled under the weight of its own bloated defense spending and a protracted war in Afghanistan, Reagan and his supporters credited his hard-line anti-communist policies for defeating Soviet communism.

“Reagan refers to U.S.S.R. as ?evil empire??again.” 2009. The History Channel website. 8 Mar 2009, 01:19 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=272.

 

On This Day

1618 – Johann Kepler discovered the third Law of Planetary Motion.

1853 – The first bronze statue of Andrew Jackson is unveiled in Washington, DC.

1855 – A train passed over the first railway suspension bridge at Niagara Falls, NY.

1862 – The Confederate ironclad “Merrimack” was launched.

1907 – The British House of Commons turned down a women’s suffrage bill.

1910 – The King of Spain authorized women to attend universities.

1911 – In Europe, International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time.

1917 – Russia’s “February Revolution” began with rioting and strikes in St. Petersburg. The revolution was called the “February Revolution” due to Russia’s use of the Old Style calendar.

1917 – The U.S. Senate voted to limit filibusters by adopting the cloture rule.

1921 – French troops occupied Dusseldorf.

1945 – Phyllis Mae Daley received a commission in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. She later became the first African-American nurse to serve duty in World War II.

1946 – The French naval fleet arrived at Haiphong, Vietnam.

1954 – France and Vietnam opened talks in Paris on a treaty to form the state of Indochina.

1965 – The U.S. landed about 3,500 Marines in South Vietnam. They were the first U.S. combat troops to land in Vietnam.

1966 – Australia announced that it would triple the number of troops in Vietnam.

 

March 8, 1782

Pennsylvania militiamen senselessly murder Patriot allies

On this day in 1782, 160 Pennsylvania militiamen murder 96 Christian Indians–39 children, 29 women and 28 men–by hammering their skulls with mallets from behind as they kneel unarmed, praying and singing, in their Moravian Mission at Gnadenhuetten in the Ohio Country. The Patriots then piled their victims’ bodies in mission buildings before burning the entire community to the ground. Two boys managed to survive, although one had lost his scalp to his attackers. Although the militiamen claimed they were seeking revenge for Indian raids on their frontier settlements, the Indians they murdered had played no role in any attack.

This infamous attack on non-combatants led to a loss of faith in the Patriots by their Indian allies and reprisals upon Patriot captives in Indian custody. The Indians resurrected the practice of ritualized torture, discontinued during the Seven Years’ War, on the men they were able to apprehend who had participated in the Gnadenhuetten atrocity.

Although the Moravians and their Indian converts were pacifists who refused to kill under any circumstances, they found other ways to assist the Patriot cause. Like other Indian allies who refused to kill fellow Indians, they aided the Patriots by working as guides and spies. The German Moravian missionaries were also supplying the Americans with critical information, for which they were later arrested and tried by the British.

None of this protected the Indians when 160 members of the Pennsylvania militia decided to act as judge, jury and executioner. The Delaware Indians they murdered were neutral pacifists. Their Christian missionaries were aiding the Patriot cause. Furthermore, they did not live in the manner described as “savage” by European settlers–they were instead engaged in European-style settled agriculture in their mission village. There was no political, religious or cultural justification for the militiamen’s indiscriminate brutality during the Gnadenhuetten massacre; the incident is sadly illustrative of the anti-Indian racism that sometimes trumped even political allegiances during the American Revolution.

“Pennsylvania militiamen senselessly murder Patriot allies.” 2009. The History Channel website. 8 Mar 2009, 01:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=304.

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