Archive for June, 2009



21
Jun
09

On This Day, June 21: US Constitution Ratified

June 21, 1788

U.S. Constitution ratified

New Hampshire becomes the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land.

By 1786, defects in the post-Revolutionary War Articles of Confederation were apparent, such as the lack of central authority over foreign and domestic commerce. Congress endorsed a plan to draft a new constitution, and on May 25, 1787, the Constitutional Convention convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate moderated by convention president George Washington, the new U.S. constitution, which created a strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances, was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

Beginning on December 7, five states–Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut–ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July.

On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution–the Bill of Rights–and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution until the U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document, and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today the U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world.

“U.S. Constitution ratified,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5111 [accessed Jun 21, 2009]

On This Day

1834 – Cyrus McCormick patented the first practical mechanical reaper for farming. His invention allowed farmers to more than double their crop size.

1913 – Georgia Broadwick became the first woman to jump from an airplane.

1938 – In Washington, U.S. President Roosevelt signed the $3.75 billion Emergency Relief Appropriation Act.

1954 – The American Cancer Society reported significantly higher death rates among cigarette smokers than among non-smokers.

1958 – In Arkansas, a federal judge let Little Rock delay school integration.

1963 – France announced that they were withdrawing from the North Atlantic NATO fleet.

1982 – A jury in Washington, DC, found John Hinckley Jr. innocent by reason of insanity in the shootings of U.S. President Reagan and three other men.

1985 – Scientists announced that skeletal remains exhumed in Brazil were those of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele.

1989 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that burning the American flag as a form of political protest was protected by the First Amendment.

2004 – SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan and piloted by Mike Melvill, reached 328,491 feet above Earth in a 90 minute flight. The height is about 400 feet above the distance scientists consider to be the boundary of space.

June 21, 1964

The KKK kills three civil rights activists

Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney are killed by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob near Meridian, Mississippi. The three young civil rights workers were working to register black voters in Mississippi, thus inspiring the ire of the local Klan. The deaths of Schwerner and Goodman, white Northerners and members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), caused a national outrage.

When the desegregation movement encountered resistance in the early 1960s, CORE set up an interracial team to ride buses into the Deep South to help protest. These so-called Freedom Riders were viciously attacked in May 1961 when the first two buses arrived in Alabama. One bus was firebombed; the other boarded by KKK members who beat the activists inside. The Alabama police provided no protection.

Still, the Freedom Riders were not dissuaded and they continued to come into Alabama and Mississippi. Michael Schwerner was a particularly dedicated activist who lived in Mississippi while he assisted blacks to vote. Sam Bowers, the local Klan’s Imperial Wizard, decided that Schwerner was a bad influence, and had to be killed.

When Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, a young black man, were coming back from a trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi, deputy sheriff Cecil Price, who was also a Klan member, pulled them over for speeding. He then held them in custody while other KKK members prepared for their murder. Eventually released, the three activists were later chased down in their car and cornered in a secluded spot in the woods where they were shot and then buried in graves that had been prepared in advance.

When news of their disappearance got out, the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. With the help of an informant, agents learned about the Klan’s involvement and found the bodies. Since Mississippi refused to prosecute the assailants in state court, the federal government charged 18 men with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

Bowers, Price, and five other men were convicted; eight were acquitted; and the all-white jury deadlocked on the other three defendants.
On the forty-first anniversary of the three murders, June 21, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter. The 80-year-old Killen, known as an outspoken white supremacist and part-time Baptist minister, was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

“The KKK kills three civil rights activists,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1043 [accessed Jun 21, 2009]

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20
Jun
09

Bald Eagle Gliding

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19
Jun
09

World War II American Airplane: Grumman (Columbia) J2F-6 Duck

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Primarily used for reconnaissance, Grumman’s J2F-6 “Duck” served before, during and after World War II.

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Variations of this plane served as medical transport, air taxi and photo-reconnaissance.  Designed for a crew of two, pilot and rear gunner, a third crewman could be added in the space behind the wing in the float.

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Donated to the EAA Aviation Foundation in 1974, a fourteen month restoration projected began in 1982 resulted in how the plane appears today.  This plane can be found at EAA Airventure Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

For more information see:  Grumman J2F-6 Duck

18
Jun
09

Foggy Sunrise

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18
Jun
09

On This Day, June 18: Waterloo

June 18, 1815

Napoleon defeated at Waterloo

At Waterloo in Belgium, Napoleon Bonaparte suffers defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington, bringing an end to the Napoleonic era of European history.

On June 16, 1815, he defeated the Prussians under Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher at Ligny, and sent 33,000 men, or about one-third of his total force, in pursuit of the retreating Prussians. On June 18, Napoleon led his remaining 72,000 troops against the Duke of Wellington’s 68,000-man allied army, which had taken up a strong position 12 miles south of Brussels near the village of Waterloo. In a fatal blunder, Napoleon waited until mid-day to give the command to attack in order to let the ground dry. The delay in fighting gave Blucher’s troops, who had eluded their pursuers, time to march to Waterloo and join the battle by the late afternoon.

In repeated attacks, Napoleon failed to break the center of the allied [line]. Meanwhile, the Prussians gradually arrived and put pressure on Napoleon’s eastern flank. At 6 p.m., the French under Marshal Michel Ney managed to capture a farmhouse in the allied center and began decimating Wellington’s troops with artillery. Napoleon, however, was preoccupied with the 30,000 Prussians attacking his flank and did not release troops to aid Ney’s attack until after 7 p.m. By that time, Wellington had reorganized his defenses, and the French attack was repulsed. Fifteen minutes later, the allied army launched a general advance, and the Prussians attacked in the east, throwing the French troops into panic and then a disorganized retreat. The Prussians pursued the remnants of the French army, and Napoleon left the field. French casualties in the Battle of Waterloo were 25,000 men killed and wounded and 9,000 captured, while the allies lost about 23,000.

Napoleon returned to Paris and on June 22 abdicated in favor of his son. He decided to leave France before counterrevolutionary forces could rally against him, and on July 15 he surrendered to British protection at the port of Rochefort. He hoped to travel to the United States, but the British instead sent him to Saint Helena, a remote island in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa. Napoleon protested but had no choice but to accept the exile. With a group of followers, he lived quietly on St. Helena for six years. In May 1821, he died, most likely of stomach cancer. He was only 51 years old. In 1840, his body was returned to Paris, and a magnificent funeral was held. Napoleon’s body was conveyed through the Arc de Triomphe and entombed under the dome of the Invalides.

“Napoleon defeated at Waterloo,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=6932 (accessed Jun 18, 2009).

 

On This Day

1155 – Frederick I Barbarossa was crowned emperor of Rome.

1778 – Britain evacuated Philadelphia during the U.S. Revolutionary War.

1812 – The War of 1812 began as the U.S. declared war against Great Britain. The conflict began over trade restrictions.

1817 – London’s Waterloo Bridge opened. The bridge, designed by John Rennie, was built over the River Thames.

1873 – Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for attempting to vote for a U.S. President.

1928 – Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean as she completed a flight from Newfoundland to Wales.

1942 – The U.S. Navy commissioned its first black officer, Harvard University medical student Bernard Whitfield Robinson.

1959 – A Federal Court annulled the Arkansas law allowing school closings to prevent integration.

1979 – In Vienna, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) 2.

1983 – Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

 

June 18, 1798

Adams passes first of Alien and Sedition Acts

President John Adams passes the Naturalization Act, the first of four pieces of controversial legislation known together as the Alien and Sedition Acts, on this day in 1798. Strong political opposition to these acts succeeded in undermining the Adams administration, helping Thomas Jefferson to win the presidency in 1800.

At the time, America was threatened by war with France, and Congress was attempting to pass laws that would give more authority to the federal government, and the president in particular, to deal with suspicious persons, especially foreign nationals. The Naturalization Act raised the requirements for aliens to apply for U.S. citizenship, requiring that immigrants reside in the U.S. for 14 years before becoming eligible. The earlier law had required only five years of residence before an application could be made.

Adams, in fact, never enforced the Naturalization Act. Nevertheless, he came under heavy fire from the Republicans, led by Vice President Thomas Jefferson, who felt that the Naturalization Act and its companion legislation was unconstitutional and smacked of despotism. So disgusted was Jefferson with Adams’ enthusiastic support of the law that he could no longer support the president and left Washington during the Congressional vote. Former President George Washington, on the other hand, supported the legislation. Adams signed the second piece of the legislation, the Alien Act, on June 25. This act gave the president the authority to deport aliens during peacetime. The Alien Enemies Act, which Adams signed on July 6, gave him the power to deport any alien living in the U.S. with ties to U.S. wartime enemies. Finally, the Sedition Act, passed on July 14, gave Adams tremendous power to define “treasonable activity” including “any false, scandalous and malicious writing.” The intended targets of the Sedition Act were newspaper, pamphlet and broadside publishers who printed what he considered to be libelous articles aimed primarily at his administration. Abigail Adams urged her husband to pass the Sedition Act, calling his opponents “criminal” and “vile.”

Of the four acts, the Sedition Act was the most distressing to staunch First Amendment advocates. They objected to the fact that “treasonable activity” was vaguely defined, was defined at the discretion of the president and would be punished by heavy fines and imprisonment. The arrest and imprisonment of 25 men for supposedly violating the Sedition Act ignited an enormous outcry against the legislation. Among those arrested was Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, who was the editor of the Republican-leaning Philadelphia Democrat-Republican Aurora. Citing Adams’ abuse of presidential powers and threats to free speech, Jefferson’s party took control of Congress and the presidency in 1800.

“Adams passes first of Alien and Sedition Acts,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=661 (accessed Jun 18, 2009).

17
Jun
09

Voyager

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This airplane achieved the goal of flying around the world non-stop without refueling.  Stuffed inside this tiny cockpit, Dick Rutan and Jeanna Yeager accomplished the goal in a little over 9 days.

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Using composite materials, designer Burt Rutan built an airplane that weighed less than a thousand pounds, however its gross weight at take-off fully fueled was over nine thousand pounds.  The flight began with over seven thousand pounds of fuel and ended with only a hundred and forty pounds of fuel remaining.

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Crammed into this tiny cockpit one pilot would fly the plane while the other rested.  Neither pilot got much rest and the difficult trip proved physically and emotionally draining, while ground crews encouraged the pilots and meteorologists from around the world helped steer them clear of weather.  A truly amazing test of man and machine’s endurance.

For more information about this plane see:  http://www.airventuremuseum.org/collection/aircraft/Scaled%20Composites-Rutan%20Voyager.asp#TopOfPage

17
Jun
09

On This Day, June 17: Statue of Liberty

June 17, 1885

Statue of Liberty arrives

The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, arrives in New York City’s harbor.

Originally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World,” the statue was proposed by French historian Edouard Laboulaye to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution. Designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the 151-foot statue was the form of a woman with an uplifted arm holding a torch. In February 1877, Congress approved the use of a site on New York Bedloe’s Island, which was suggested by Bartholdi. In May 1884, the statue was completed in France, and three months later the Americans laid the cornerstone for its pedestal in New York. On June 19, 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty arrived in the New World, enclosed in more than 200 packing cases. Its copper sheets were reassembled, and the last rivet of the monument was fitted on October 28, 1886, during a dedication presided over by U.S. President Grover Cleveland.

On the pedestal was inscribed “The New Colossus,” a famous sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus that welcomed immigrants to the United States with the declaration, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. / I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Six years later, Ellis Island, adjacent to Bedloe’s Island, opened as the chief entry station for immigrants to the United States, and for the next 32 years more than 12 million immigrants were welcomed into New York harbor by the sight of “Lady Liberty.” In 1924, the Statue of Liberty was made a national monument.

“Statue of Liberty arrives,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5107 [accessed Jun 17, 2009]

On This Day

1789 – The Third Estate in France declared itself a national assembly, and began to frame a constitution.

1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte incorporated Italy into his empire.

1848 – Austrian General Alfred Windischgratz crushed a Czech uprising in Prague.

1854 – The Red Turban revolt broke out in Guangdong, China.

1861 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln witnessed Dr. Thaddeus Lowe demonstrate the use of a hydrogen balloon.

1876 – General George Crook’s command was attacked and bested on the Rosebud River by 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Crazy Horse.

1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City aboard the French ship Isere.

1924 – The Fascist militia marched into Rome.

1931 – British authorities in China arrested Indochinese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh.

1953 – Soviet tanks fought thousands of Berlin workers that were rioting against the East German government.

June 17, 1972

Watergate burglars arrested

Five men are arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Senate investigations eventually revealed that President Richard Nixon had been personally involved in the subsequent cover-up of the break-in; additional investigation uncovered a related group of illegal activities that included political espionage and falsification of official documents, all sanctioned by the White House. Nixon became increasingly embroiled in the political scandal.

On July 29 and 30, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment, charging that Nixon had misused his powers to violate the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, obstructed justice, and defied Judiciary Committee subpoenas. To avoid almost certain impeachment, Nixon resigned from office on August 9.

The Watergate affair had a far-ranging impact, both at home and abroad. In the United States, the scandal shook the faith of the American people in the presidency. In the final analysis though, the nation survived the constitutional crisis, thus reinforcing the system of checks and balances and proving that not even the president is above the law.

Nixon’s resignation had dire consequences for the Vietnam War. Nixon had always promised that he would come to the aid of South Vietnam if North Vietnam violated the terms of the Paris Peace Accords. With Nixon gone, there was no one left to make good on those promises. When the North Vietnamese began their final offensive in 1975, the promised U.S. support was not provided and the South Vietnamese were defeated in less than 55 days.

“Watergate burglars arrested,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1914 [accessed Jun 17, 2009]




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