Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln

27
May
09

On This Day, May 27: Unlimited National Emergency

May 27, 1941

FDR proclaims an unlimited national emergency

President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces a state of unlimited national emergency in response to Nazi Germany’s threats of “world domination” on this day in 1941. In a speech on this day, he repeated his famous remark from a speech he made in 1933 during the Great Depression: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

In a radio address delivered from the White House, FDR tried to rally isolationists to his philosophy that aid to Europe was purely in America’s self-interest. In March 1941, he had successfully pushed through the Lend-Lease Bill, which gave military aid to any country vital to the defense of the United States. Roosevelt recounted for his audience how German submarines were boldly attacking British shipping and threatening American shipping in the Atlantic and how Londoners endured nightly raids of German bombers. He painted an almost apocalyptic vision of a Nazi-controlled Western Hemisphere where American workers would be enslaved by Germany, godless Nazis would outlaw freedom of worship and America’s children would “wander off, goose-stepping in search of new gods.”

Roosevelt also took pains to define what he meant by America being “attacked.” He insisted that an attack on the United States “can begin with the domination of any base which menaces our security,” for instance Canada, Brazil or Trinidad, and not just when “bombs actually drop in the streets of New York or San Francisco or New Orleans or Chicago.” He appeared to be urging Americans to consider actively engaging in the war in Europe stating “it would be suicide to wait until they are in our front yard.”

FDR then laid out his administration’s policy with regard to the current war in Europe. Without committing troops, he promised the protection of shipping in the Atlantic, continued humanitarian and military aid to Britain, the establishment of a civilian defense and warned of saboteurs and “fifth columnists” (communist infiltrators) who threatened democracy in America and abroad. He also condemned war profiteering and urged organized labor to resist disruptive strikes in war-production industries.

Finally, FDR warned Germany that the U.S. was prepared to go to war in case of attack and pledged to strengthen America’s defense “to the extreme limit of our national power and authority.”

Just over seven months later, the United States entered World War II after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

“FDR proclaims an unlimited national emergency,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=541 [accessed May 27, 2009]

On This Day

1647 – Achsah Young, a resident of Windsor, CT, was executed for being a “witch.” It was the first recorded American execution of a “witch.”

1668 – Three colonists were expelled from Massachusetts for being Baptists.

1919 – A U.S. Navy seaplane completed the first transatlantic flight.

1929 – Colonel Charles Lindbergh and Anne Spencer Murrow were married.

1937 – In California, the Golden Gate Bridge was opened to pedestrian traffic. The bridge connected San Francisco and Marin County.

1941 – The German battleship Bismarck was sunk by British naval and air forces. 2,300 people were killed.

1985 – In Beijing, representatives of Britain and China exchanged instruments of ratification on the pact returning Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997.

1994 – Nobel Prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia. He had been in exile for two decades.

1999 – In The Hague, Netherlands, a war crimes tribunal indicted Slobodan Milosevic and four others for atrocities in Kosovo. It was the first time that a sitting head of state had been charged with such a crime.

May 27, 1863

Ex parte Merryman issued

On this day, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney issues ex parte Merryman, challenging the authority of Abraham Lincoln and the military to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Maryland.

Early in the war, President Lincoln faced many difficulties due to the fact that Washington was located in slave territory. Although Maryland did not secede, Southern sympathies were widespread. On April 27, 1861, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus between Washington and Philadelphia to give military authorities the necessary power to silence dissenters and rebels. Under this order, commanders could arrest and detain individuals who were deemed threatening to military operations. Those arrested could be held without indictment or arraignment.

On May 25, John Merryman, a vocal secessionist, was arrested in Cockeysville, Maryland. He was held at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, where he appealed for his release under a writ of habeas corpus. The federal circuit court judge was Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who issued a ruling, ex parte Merryman, denying the president’s authority to suspend habeas corpus. A Marylander himself, Taney shrilly denounced the heavy hand played by Lincoln in interfering with civil liberties and argued that only Congress had the power to suspend the writ.

Lincoln did not respond directly to Taney’s edict, but he did address the issue in his message to Congress that July. He justified the suspension through Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution, which specifies a suspension of the writ “when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

Although military officials continued to arrest suspected Southern sympathizers, the incident led to a softening of the policy. Concern that Maryland might still secede from the Union forced a more conciliatory stance from Lincoln and the military. Merryman was remanded to civil authorities in July and allowed to post bail. He was never brought to trial, and the charges of treason against him were dropped two years after the war.

“<I>Ex parte Merryman</I> issued,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2044 [accessed May 27, 2009]

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22
May
09

On This Day, May 22: The Oregon Trail

May 22, 1843

Great Emigration departs for Oregon

A massive wagon train, made up of 1,000 settlers and 1,000 head of cattle, sets off down the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri. Known as the “Great Emigration,” the expedition came two years after the first modest party of settlers made the long, overland journey to Oregon.

After leaving Independence, the giant wagon train followed the Sante Fe Trail for some 40 miles and then turned northwest to the Platte River, which it followed along its northern route to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. From there, it traveled on to the Rocky Mountains, which it passed through by way of the broad, level South Pass that led to the basin of the Colorado River. The travelers then went southwest to Fort Bridger, northwest across a divide to Fort Hall on the Snake River, and on to Fort Boise, where they gained supplies for the difficult journey over the Blue Mountains and into Oregon. The Great Emigration finally arrived in October, completing the 2,000-mile journey from Independence in five months.

In the next year, four more wagon trains made the journey, and in 1845 the number of emigrants who used the Oregon Trail exceeded 3,000. Travel along the trail gradually declined with the advent of the railroads, and the route was finally abandoned in the 1870s.

“Great Emigration departs for Oregon,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5024 [accessed May 22, 2009]

 

On This Day

1455 – King Henry VI was taken prisoner by the Yorkists at the Battle of St. Albans, during the War of the Roses.

1819 – The steamship Savannah became the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

1841 – Henry Kennedy received a patent for the first reclining chair.

1849 – Abraham Lincoln received a patent for the floating dry dock.

1872 – The Amnesty Act restored civil rights to Southerners.

1947 – The Truman Doctrine was enacted by the U.S. Congress to appropriate military and economic aid Turkey and Greece.

1955 – A scheduled dance to be headlined by Fats Domino was canceled by police in Bridgeport, Connecticut because “rock and roll dances might be featured.”

1967 – “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” premiered on PBS.

1969 – A lunar module of Apollo 10 flew within nine miles of the moon’s surface. The event was a rehearsal for the first lunar landing.

1972 – U.S. President Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit Russia. He met with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

1990 – Microsoft released Windows 3.0.

May 22, 1939

The Pact of Steel is signed; the Axis is formed

On this day in 1939, Italy and Germany agree to a military and political alliance, giving birth formally to the Axis powers, which will ultimately include Japan.

Mussolini coined the nickname “Pact of Steel” (he had also come up with the metaphor of an “axis” binding Rome and Berlin) after reconsidering his first choice, “Pact of Blood,” to describe this historic agreement with Germany. The Duce saw this partnership as not only a defensive alliance, protection from the Western democracies, with whom he anticipated war, but also a source of backing for his Balkan adventures. Both sides were fearful and distrustful of the other, and only sketchily shared their prospective plans. The result was both Italy and Germany, rather than acting in unison, would often “react” to the precipitate military action of the other. In September 1940, the Pact of Steel would become the Tripartite Pact, with Japan making up the third constituent of the triad.

“The Pact of Steel is signed; the Axis is formed,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6461 [accessed May 22, 2009]

15
Apr
09

On This Day, April 15: Sacco and Vanzetti

April 15, 1920

The Sacco-Vanzetti case draws national attention

A paymaster and a security guard are killed during a mid-afternoon armed robbery of a shoe company in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Out of this rather unremarkable crime grew one of the most famous trials in American history and a landmark case in forensic crime detection.

Both Fred Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli were shot several times as they attempted to move the payroll boxes of their New England shoe company. The two armed thieves, identified by witnesses as “Italian-looking,” fled in a Buick. The car was found abandoned in the woods several days later. Through evidence found in the car, police suspected that a man named Mike Boda was involved. However, Boda was one step ahead of the authorities, and he fled to Italy.

Police did manage to catch Boda’s colleagues, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were each carrying loaded weapons at the time of their arrest. Sacco had a .32 caliber handgun–the same type as was used to kill the security guards–and bullets from the same manufacturer as those recovered from the shooting. Vanzetti was identified as a participant in a previous robbery attempt of a different shoe company.

Sacco and Vanzetti were anarchists, believing that social justice would come only through the destruction of governments. In the early 1920s, mainstream America developed a fear of communism and radical politics that resulted in a anti-communist, anti-immigrant hysteria. Sacco and Vanzetti, recognizing the uphill battle ahead, tried to put this fear to their advantage by drumming up support from the left wing with claims that the prosecution was politically motivated. Millions of dollars were raised for their defense by the radical left around the world. The American embassy in Paris was even bombed in response to the Sacco-Vanzetti case; a second bomb intended for the embassy in Lisbon was intercepted.

The well-funded defense put up a good fight, bringing forth nearly 100 witnesses to testify on the defendants’ behalf. Ultimately, eyewitness identification wasn’t the crucial issue; rather, it was the ballistics tests on the murder weapon. Prosecution experts, with rather primitive instruments, testified that Sacco’s gun was the murder weapon. Defense experts claimed just the opposite. In the end, on July 14, 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty; they were sentenced to death.

However, the ballistics issue refused to go away as Sacco and Vanzetti waited on death row. In addition, a jailhouse confession by another criminal fueled the controversy. In 1927, Massachusetts Governor A. T. Fuller ordered another inquiry to advise him on the clemency request of the two anarchists. In the meantime, there had been many scientific advances in the field of forensics. The comparison microscope was now available for new ballistics tests and proved beyond a doubt that Sacco’s gun was indeed the murder weapon.

Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in August 1927, but even the new evidence didn’t completely quell the controversy. In October 1961, and again in March 1983, new investigations were conducted into the matter, but both revealed that Sacco’s revolver was indeed the one that fired the bullet and killed the security guards. On August 23, 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had not received a fair trial.

“The Sacco-Vanzetti case draws national attention,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=973 [accessed Apr 15, 2009]

On This Day

1784 – The first balloon was flown in Ireland.

1817 – The first American school for the deaf was opened in Hartford, CT.

1861 – U.S. President Lincoln mobilized the Federal army.

1865 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln died from injuries inflicted by John Wilkes Booth.

1912 – The ocean liner Titanic sank at 2:27 a.m. in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg the evening before. 1,517 people died and more than 700 people survived.

1945 – During World War II, British and Canadian troops liberated the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen.

1947 – Jackie Robinson played his first major league baseball game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Previously he had only appeared in exhibition games.

1952 – U.S. President Harry Truman signed the official Japanese peace treaty.

1952 – The first B-52 prototype was tested in the air.

1953 – Charlie Chaplin surrendered his U.S. re-entry permit rather than face proceedings by the U.S. Justice Department. Chaplin was accused of sympathizing with Communist groups.

1960 – The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was organized at Shaw University.

1987 – In Northhampton, MA, Amy Carter, Abbie Hoffman and 13 others were acquitted on civil disobedience charges related with a CIA protest.

1989 – Students in Beijing launched a series of pro democracy protests upon the death of former Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang. The protests led to the Tienanmen Square massacre.

1998 – Pol Pot died at the age of 73. The leader of the Khmer Rouge regime thereby evaded prosecution for the deaths of 2 million Cambodians.

April 15, 1959

Castro visits the United States

Four months after leading a successful revolution in Cuba, Fidel Castro visits the United States. The visit was marked by tensions between Castro and the American government.

On January 1, 1959, Castro’s revolutionary forces overthrew the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. From the beginning of the new regime in Cuba, U.S. officials worried about the bearded revolutionary. Castro’s anti-American rhetoric, his stated plans to nationalize foreign properties in Cuba, and his association with a number of suspected leftists (including his second-in-command, Che Guevara) prompted American diplomats to keep a wary eye on him. Though he worried politicians, American reporters adored him–his tales of the days spent fighting a guerrilla war in Cuba, the fatigues and combat boots he favored, and his bushy beard cut a striking figure. In April 1959, Castro accepted an invitation from the American Society of Newspaper Editors to visit the U.S.

The trip got off to an inauspicious start when it became clear that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had no intention of meeting with Castro. Instead, Eisenhower went to the golf course to avoid any chance meeting with Castro. Castro gave a talk to the Council on Foreign Affairs, a New York-based group of private citizens and former government officials interested in U.S. international relations. Castro was confrontational during the session, indicating that Cuba would not beg the United States for economic assistance. Angered by some of the questions from the audience, Castro abruptly left the meeting. Finally, before departing for Cuba, Castro met with Vice President Richard Nixon. Privately, Nixon hoped that his talk would push Castro “in the right direction,” and away from any radical policies, but he came away from his discussion full of doubt about the possibility of reorienting Castro’s thinking. Nixon concluded that Castro was “either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline-my guess is the former.”

Relations between the United States and Castro deteriorated rapidly following the April visit. In less than a year, President Eisenhower ordered the CIA to begin arming and training a group of Cuban exiles to attack Cuba (the disastrous attack, known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, was eventually carried out during the Kennedy administration). The heated Cold War animosity between America and Cuba would last for over 40 years.

“Castro visits the United States,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2638 [accessed Apr 15, 2009]

14
Apr
09

On This Day, April 14: Lincoln Shot

April 14, 1865

President Lincoln is shot

At Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally wounds President Abraham Lincoln. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox, effectively ending the American Civil War.

Booth, who remained in the North during the war despite his Confederate sympathies, initially plotted to capture President Lincoln and take him to Richmond, the Confederate capital. However, on March 20, 1865, the day of the planned kidnapping, the president failed to appear at the spot where Booth and his six fellow conspirators lay in wait. Two weeks later, Richmond fell to Union forces. In April, with Confederate armies near collapse across the South, Booth hatched a desperate plan to save the Confederacy.

Learning that Lincoln was to attend Laura Keene’s acclaimed performance in Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater on April 14, Booth plotted the simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William H. Seward. By murdering the president and two of his possible successors, Booth and his conspirators hoped to throw the U.S. government into a paralyzing disarray.

On the evening of April 14, conspirator Lewis T. Powell burst into Secretary of State Seward’s home, seriously wounding him and three others, while George A. Atzerodt, assigned to Vice President Johnson, lost his nerve and fled. Meanwhile, just after 10 p.m., Booth entered Lincoln’s private theater box unnoticed, and shot the president with a single bullet in the back of his head. Slashing an army officer who rushed at him, Booth jumped to the stage and shouted “Sic semper tyrannis! [Thus always to tyrants]–the South is avenged!” Although Booth had broken his left leg jumping from Lincoln’s box, he succeeded in escaping Washington.

The president, mortally wounded, was carried to a cheap lodging house opposite Ford’s Theater. About 7:22 a.m. the next morning, he died–the first U.S. president to be assassinated. Booth, pursued by the army and secret service forces, was finally cornered in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died from a possibly self-inflicted bullet wound as the barn was burned to the ground. Of the eight other persons eventually charged with the conspiracy, four were hanged and four were jailed.

“President Lincoln is shot,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6867 [accessed Apr 14, 2009]

On This Day

1543 – Bartoleme Ferrelo returned to Spain after discovering San Francisco Bay in the New World.

1860 – The first Pony Express rider arrived in San Francisco with mail originating in St. Joseph, MO.

1902 – James Cash (J.C.) Penney opened his first retail store in Kemmerer, WY. It was called the Golden Rule Store.

1912 – The Atlantic passenger liner Titanic, on its maiden voyage hit an iceberg and began to sink. 1,517 people lost their lives and more than 700 survived.

1918 – The U.S. First Aero Squadron engaged in America’s first aerial dogfight with enemy aircraft over Toul, France.

1946 – The civil war between Communists and nationalist resumed in China.

1953 – Viet Minh invaded Laos with 40,00 troops.

1969 – For the first time, a major league baseball game was played in Montreal, Canada.

1981 – America’s first space shuttle, Columbia, returned to Earth after a three-day test flight. The shuttle orbited the Earth 36 times during the mission.

1985 – The Russian paper “Pravda” called U.S. President Reagan’s planned visit to Bitburg to visit the Nazi cemetery an “act of blasphemy”.

1999 – Pakistan test-fired a ballistic missile that was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching its rival neighbor India.

April 14, 1775

First American abolition society founded in Philadelphia

The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, the first American society dedicated to the cause of abolition, is founded in Philadelphia on this day in 1775. The society changes its name to the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage in 1784.

Leading Quaker educator and abolitionist Anthony Benezet called the society together two years after he persuaded the Quakers to create the Negro School at Philadelphia. Benezet was born in France to a Huguenot (French Protestant) family that had fled to London in order to avoid persecution at the hands of French Catholics. The family eventually migrated to Philadelphia when Benezet was 17. There, he joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) and began a career as an educator. In 1750, Benezet began teaching slave children in his home after regular school hours, and in 1754, established the first girls’ school in America. With the help of fellow Quaker John Woolman, Benezet persuaded the Philadelphia Quaker Yearly Meeting to take an official stance against slavery in 1758.

Benezet’s argument for abolition found a trans-Atlantic audience with the publication of his tract Some Historical Account of Guinea, written in 1772. Benezet counted Benjamin Franklin and John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, among his sympathetic correspondents. He died in 1784; his funeral was attended by 400 black Philadelphians. His society was renamed in that year, and in 1787, Benjamin Franklin lent his prestige to the organization, serving as its president.

“First American abolition society founded in Philadelphia,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=462 [accessed Apr 14, 2009]

04
Apr
09

On This Day, April 4: Martin Luther King

April 4, 1967

Martin Luther King, Jr., speaks out against the war

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says in a speech that there is a common link forming between the civil rights and peace movements. King proposed that the United States stop all bombing of North and South Vietnam; declare a unilateral truce in the hope that it would lead to peace talks; set a date for withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam; and give the National Liberation Front a role in negotiations.

King had been a solid supporter of President Lyndon B. Johnson and his “Great Society,” but he became increasingly concerned about U.S. involvement in Vietnam and, as his concerns became more public, his relationship with the Johnson administration deteriorated. King came to view U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia as little more than imperialism disguised as “fighting the communists”. Additionally, he believed that the Vietnam War diverted money and attention from domestic programs created to aid the black poor. King maintained his antiwar stance and supported peace movements until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

“Martin Luther King, Jr., speaks out against the war.” 2009. The History Channel website. 4 Apr 2009, 05:31 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1767.

April 4, 1865

President Lincoln in Richmond

President Abraham Lincoln visits the Confederate capital a day after Union forces capture it.

Lincoln had been in the area for nearly two weeks. He left Washington at the invitation of general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant to visit Grant’s headquarters at City Point, near the lines at Petersburg south of Richmond. The trip was exhilarating for the exhausted president. Worn out by four years of war and stifled by the pressures of Washington, Lincoln enjoyed himself immensely. He conferred with Grant and General William T. Sherman, who took a break from his campaign in North Carolina. He visited soldiers, and even picked up an axe to chop logs in front of the troops.

He stayed at City Point, sensing that the final push was near. Grant’s forces overran the Petersburg line on April 2, and the Confederate government fled the capital later that day. Union forces occupied Richmond on April 3, and Lincoln sailed up the James River to see the spoils of war. His ship could not pass some obstructions that had been placed in the river by the Confederates so 12 soldiers rowed him to shore. He landed without fanfare but was soon recognized by some black workmen who ran to him and bowed. The modest Lincoln told them to “…kneel to God only, and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy.”

Lincoln, accompanied by a small group of soldiers and a growing entourage of freed slaves, walked to the Confederate White House and sat in President Jefferson Davis’s chair. He walked to the Virginia statehouse and saw the chambers of the Confederate Congress. Lincoln even visited Libby Prison, where thousands of Union officers were held during the war. Lincoln remained a few more days in hopes that Robert E. Lee’s army would surrender, but on April 8 he headed back to Washington. Six days later, Lincoln was shot as he watched a play at Ford’s Theater.

“President Lincoln in Richmond.” 2009. The History Channel website. 4 Apr 2009, 05:30 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=2158.

09
Mar
09

On This Day, March 9: Battle of Pensacola

March 9, 1781

Spanish siege of Pensacola begins

After successfully capturing British positions in Louisiana and Mississippi, Spanish General Bernardo de Galvez, commander of the Spanish forces in North America, turns his attention to the British-occupied city of Pensacola, Florida, on this day in 1781. General Galvez and a Spanish naval force of more than 40 ships and 3,500 men landed at Santa Rosa Island and begin a two-month siege of British occupying forces that becomes known as the Battle of Pensacola.

Galvez’s flotilla survived a hurricane in harbor before initiating two months of constant artillery and cannon bombardment of the British forts. By April 23, reinforcements had arrived, increasing Galvez’s total force to 7,800 and, on the morning of May 8, 1781, the 18-year British occupation of Pensacola, Florida, ended with a British surrender. The British lost 105 men; the Spanish lost 78. An additional 198 Spaniards were wounded. Spain took 1,113 prisoners and sent 300 Britons to Georgia on the promise that they would not reenter the British military.

Spain never officially signed an alliance with the American revolutionaries, as King Charles III was hesitant about the precedent he might be starting by encouraging the population of another empire to overthrow their monarch. However, Spain also wanted to regain Gibraltar in the Mediterranean and solidify control of its North American holdings, so it allied itself to France in the international war against Britain. As a result, Spain regained West Florida during the fighting and East Florida, which it exchanged for the Bahamas, in the final peace. Though Gibraltar remained in British control, Spain held all the land surrounding the Gulf of Mexico.

“Spanish siege of Pensacola begins.” 2009. The History Channel website. 9 Mar 2009, 09:33 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=305.

 

On This Day

1454 – Amerigo Vespucci was born in Florence, Italy. Matthias Ringmann, a German mapmaker, named the American continent in his honor.

1788 – Connecticut became the 5th state to join the United States.

1820 – The U.S. Congress passed the Land Act that paved the way for westward expansion of North America.

1832 – Abraham Lincoln announced that he would run for a political office for the first time. He was unsuccessful in his run for a seat in the Illinois state legislature.

1860 – The first Japanese ambassador to the U.S. was appointed.

1862 – During the U.S. Civil War, the ironclads Monitor and Virginia fought to a draw in a five-hour battle at Hampton Roads, Virginia.

1863 – General Ulysses Grant was appointed commander-in-chief of the Union forces.

1910 – Union men urged for a national sympathy strike for miners in Pennsylvania.

1916 – Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico. 17 people were killed by the 1,500 horsemen.

1932 – Eamon De Valera was elected president of the Irish Free State and pledged to abolish all loyalty to the British Crown.

1936 – The German press warned that all Jews who vote in the upcoming elections would be arrested.

1957 – Egyptian leader Nasser barred U.N. plans to share the tolls for the use of the Suez Canal.

1964 – The first Ford Mustang rolled off of the Ford assembly line.

1965 – The first U.S. combat troops arrived in South Vietnam.

1975 – Work began on the Alaskan oil pipeline.

1990 – Dr. Antonia Novello was sworn in as the first female and Hispanic surgeon general.

 

March 9, 1945

Firebombing of Tokyo

On this day, U.S. warplanes launch a new bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over the course of the next 48 hours. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst single firestorm in recorded history.

Early on March 9, Air Force crews met on the Mariana Islands of Tinian and Saipan for a military briefing. They were planning a low-level bombing attack on Tokyo that would begin that evening, but with a twist: Their planes would be stripped of all guns except for the tail turret. The decrease in weight would increase the speed of each Superfortress bomber-and would also increase its bomb load capacity by 65 percent, making each plane able to carry more than seven tons. Speed would be crucial, and the crews were warned that if they were shot down, all haste was to be made for the water, which would increase their chances of being picked up by American rescue crews. Should they land within Japanese territory, they could only expect the very worst treatment by civilians, as the mission that night was going to entail the deaths of tens of thousands of those very same civilians. “You’re going to deliver the biggest firecracker the Japanese have ever seen,” said U.S. Gen. Curtis LeMay.

The cluster bombing of the downtown Tokyo suburb of Shitamachi had been approved only a few hours earlier. Shitamachi was composed of roughly 750,000 people living in cramped quarters in wooden-frame buildings. Setting ablaze this “paper city” was a kind of experiment in the effects of firebombing; it would also destroy the light industries, called “shadow factories,” that produced prefabricated war materials destined for Japanese aircraft factories.

The denizens of Shitamachi never had a chance of defending themselves. Their fire brigades were hopelessly undermanned, poorly trained, and poorly equipped. At 5:34 p.m., Superfortress B-29 bombers took off from Saipan and Tinian, reaching their target at 12:15 a.m. on March 10. Three hundred and thirty-four bombers, flying at a mere 500 feet, dropped their loads, creating a giant bonfire fanned by 30-knot winds that helped raze Shitamachi and spread the flames throughout Tokyo. Masses of panicked and terrified Japanese civilians scrambled to escape the inferno, most unsuccessfully. The human carnage was so great that the blood-red mists and stench of burning flesh that wafted up sickened the bomber pilots, forcing them to grab oxygen masks to keep from vomiting.

The raid lasted slightly longer than three hours. “In the black Sumida River, countless bodies were floating, clothed bodies, naked bodies, all black as charcoal. It was unreal,” recorded one doctor at the scene. Only 243 American airmen were lost-considered acceptable losses.

“Firebombing of Tokyo.” 2009. The History Channel website. 9 Mar 2009, 09:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6736.

06
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-6-2008: Bolshevism

November 6, 1941

Stalin celebrates the Revolution’s anniversary

On this day in 1941, the 24th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Joseph Stalin, premier and dictator of the USSR, delivers a speech to a rally of Moscow Party workers.

The rally was held underground, in the marbled halls of the Mayakovsky train station. There, Stalin encouraged the assembled Communist Party workers with the promise that if the Germans “want a war of extermination, they shall have one.” The very next day, standing atop Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Square, Stalin took the salute of his troops and encouraged them to defend “holy Russia”–even as German tanks, previously mired in mud, began to roll over now–frozen ground in their advance toward the Soviet capital.

But Stalin would have more than just his military to rely on. As the Red Army marched down Gorky Street, President Franklin Roosevelt officially extended the scope of the Lend-Lease Act to include the Soviet Union. The USSR would now be eligible for an influx of American arms-including British weaponry manufactured in the United States. What had begun as a military aid program for Great Britain was growing to include other allies in their fight against fascism-even fascism’s left-wing mirror image, Bolshevik Russia.

“Stalin celebrates the Revolution’s anniversary,” The History Channel website, 2008, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6372 [accessed Nov 6, 2008]

For more on the Bolshevik Revolution see:  Bolshevik Revolution

On This Day

1789 – Father John Carroll was appointed as the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States of America.

1832 – Joseph Smith, III, was born. He was the first president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was also the son of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.

1860 – Abraham Lincoln was elected to be the sixteenth president of the United States.

1861 – Jefferson Davis was elected as the president of the Confederacy in the U.S.

1917 – During World War I, Canadian forces take the village of Passchendaele, Belgium, in the Third Battle of Ypres.

1986 – Former Navy radioman John A. Walker Jr., was sentenced in Baltimore to life imprisonment. Walker had admitted to being the head of a family spy ring.

1986 – U.S. intelligence sources confirmed a story run by the Lebanese magazine Ash Shiraa that reported the U.S. had been secretly selling arms to Iran in an effort to secure the release of seven American hostages.

 

November 6, 1988

Renowned Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov visits United States

Soviet scientist and well-known human rights activist Andrei Sakharov begins a two-week visit to the United States. During his visit, he pleaded with the American government and people to support Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost (political openness) and perestroika (economic reforms), and so ensure the success of a new, more democratic, and friendlier Soviet system.

Sakharov had not always been a favorite of the Soviet government. During the late-1930s and 1940s, he was a respected physicist in the Soviet Union, and was part of the group of scientists who worked to develop Russia’s first hydrogen bomb in the 1950s. By the late 1950s, however, he began to have serious doubts about Russia’s open-air testing of nuclear weapons. He also began to protest for more scientific freedom in the Soviet Union. By the mid-1960s, he was openly criticizing the Stalinist legacy and current laws designed to muzzle political opponents. In 1968, he had an essay published in the New York Times calling for a system that merged socialism and capitalism. Because of this, Sakharov was stripped of his security clearance and job. In 1970, he co-founded the Moscow Committee for Human Rights. His work resulted in his winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.

Sakharov also urged the United States to pressure the Soviet Union concerning the latter’s human rights policies, and harshly criticized Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. He and his wife were arrested and sentenced to internal exile. Despite his isolation, his supporters continued to smuggle his writings out of the country.

In December 1986, Gorbachev released Sakharov and his wife from exile. It was a pragmatic move on Gorbachev’s part: He desired closer relations with the West, and Sakharov had become a hero to many in the United States and elsewhere. Sakharov became a spokesman for the reforms Gorbachev was trying to push through, and praised the construction of the new Soviet Union. His November 1988 trip to the United States was part of this effort. Nevertheless, he continued to press for more democracy in the Soviet Union. On December 14, 1989, shortly after delivering a speech denouncing Russia’s one-party rule, Sakharov suffered a heart attack and died.

“Renowned Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov visits United States.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Nov 2008, 01:53 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2476.

On This Day in Wisconsin: November 6

1837 – Burlington, Iowa Selected as Temporary Capital
On this date Burlington, Iowa was chosen as a temporary capital of the Wisconsin Territory. A year earlier, legislators offered a bill making Madison the capital with a temporary capital in Dubuque until which time a permanent building could be constructed in Madison. Legislators also proposed the City of Belmont as a temporary capital. One month later, on December 12th, a fire destroyed the two-story temporary capital in Burlington. The new legislature moved its headquarters to the Webber and Remey’s store in Burlington where they conducted government affairs until June 1838.[Source: Wisconsin Legislature]




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