Posts Tagged ‘Bonus Marchers

07
Jun
09

On This Day, June 7: Mohandas K Gandhi

June 7, 1893

Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience

In an event that would have dramatic repercussions for the people of India, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a young Indian lawyer working in South Africa, refuses to comply with racial segregation rules on a South African train and is forcibly ejected at Pietermaritzburg.

Born in India and educated in England, Gandhi traveled to South Africa in early 1893 to practice law under a one-year contract. Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi later recalled one such incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man.

When his contract expired, he spontaneously decided to remain in South Africa and launch a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906, the Transvaal government sought to further restrict the rights of Indians, and Gandhi organized his first campaign of satyagraha, or mass civil disobedience. After seven years of protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African government.

In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and spirituality on the periphery of Indian politics. He supported Britain in the First World War but in 1919 launched a new satyagraha in protest of Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians. Hundreds of thousands answered his call to protest, and by 1920 he was leader of the Indian movement for independence. Always nonviolent, he asserted the unity of all people under one God and preached Christian and Muslim ethics along with his Hindu teachings. The British authorities jailed him several times, but his following was so great that he was always released.

After World War II, he was a leading figure in the negotiations that led to Indian independence in 1947. Although hailing the granting of Indian independence as the “noblest act of the British nation,” he was distressed by the religious partition of the former Mogul Empire into India and Pakistan. When violence broke out between Hindus and Muslims in India in 1947, he resorted to fasts and visits to the troubled areas in an effort to end India’s religious strife. On January 30, 1948, he was on one such prayer vigil in New Delhi when he was fatally shot by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist who objected to Gandhi’s tolerance for the Muslims.

Known as Mahatma, or “the great soul,” during his lifetime, Gandhi’s persuasive methods of civil disobedience influenced leaders of civil rights movements around the world, especially Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States.

“Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5073 [accessed Jun 7, 2009]

 

On This Day

1494 – Spain and Portugal divided the new lands they had discovered between themselves.

1498 – Christopher Columbus left on his third voyage of exploration.

1712 – The Pennsylvania Assembly banned the importation of slaves.

1775 – The United Colonies changed their name to the United States.

1863 – Mexico City was captured by French troops.

1903 – Professor Pierre Curie revealed the discovery of Polonium.

1932 – Over 7,000 war veterans marched on Washington, DC, demanding their bonuses.

1939 – King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, arrived in the U.S. It was the first visit to the U.S. by a reigning British monarch.

1942 – The Battle of Midway ended. The sea and air battle lasted 4 days. Japan lost four carriers, a cruiser, and 292 aircraft, and suffered 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost the Yorktown, the destroyer USS Hammann, 145 aircraft, and suffered 307 casualties.

1944 – Off of the coast of Normandy, France, the Susan B. Anthony sank. All 2,689 people aboard survived.

1965 – In the U.S., the Gemini 4 mission was completed. The mission featured the first spacewalk by an American.

1981 – Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers destroyed Iraq’s only nuclear reactor.

1998 – James Byrd Jr., at age 49, was murdered in Jasper, TX. Byrd had been dragged to death behind a pickup truck. On February 25, 1999 William King was sentenced to the death penalty for the racial crime while two other men charged awaited trial.

June 7, 1776

“Lee’s Resolution” presented to Continental Congress

On this day in 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduces a resolution for independence to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia; John Adams seconds the motion.

Lee’s resolution declared: “That these United Colonies are, and of right out to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together.”

During the ensuing debates, it became clear that New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina were as yet unwilling to declare independence, but would likely be ready to vote in favor of a break with England in due course. Thus, Congress agreed to delay the vote on Lee’s Resolution until July 1. In the intervening period, Congress appointed a committee to draft a formal declaration of independence. Its members were John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, well-known to be the best writer of the group, was selected to be the primary author of the document, which was presented to Congress for review on June 28, 1776.

On July 1, 1776, debate on the Lee Resolution resumed as planned, with a majority of the delegates favoring the resolution. Congress thought it of the utmost importance that independence be unanimously proclaimed. To ensure this, they delayed the final vote until July 2, when 12 colonial delegations voted in favor of it, with the New York delegates abstaining, unsure of how their constituents would wish them to vote.

John Adams wrote that July 2 would be celebrated as “the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” Instead, the day has been largely forgotten in favor of July 4, when Jefferson’s edited Declaration of Independence was adopted.

“‘Lee’s Resolution’ presented to Continental Congress,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=714 [accessed Jun 7, 2009]

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29
May
09

On This Day, May 29: Wisconsin Statehood

May 29, 1848

Wisconsin enters the Union

Following approval of statehood by the territory’s citizens, Wisconsin enters the Union as the 30th state.

In 1634, French explorer Jean Nicolet landed at Green Bay, becoming the first European to visit the lake-heavy northern region that would later become Wisconsin. In 1763, at the conclusion of the French and Indian Wars, the region, a major center of the American fur trade, passed into British control. Two decades later, at the end of the American Revolution, the region came under U.S. rule and was governed as part of the Northwest Territory. However, British fur traders continued to dominate Wisconsin from across the Canadian border, and it was not until the end of the War of 1812 that the region fell firmly under American control.

In the first decades of the 19th century, settlers began arriving via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes to exploit Wisconsin’s agricultural potential, and in 1832 the Black Hawk War ended Native American resistance to white settlement. In 1836, after several decades of governance as part of other territories, Wisconsin was made a separate entity, with Madison, located midway between Milwaukee and the western centers of population, marked as the territorial capital. By 1840, population in Wisconsin had risen above 130,000, but the people voted against statehood four times, fearing the higher taxes that would come with a stronger central government. Finally, in 1848, Wisconsin citizens, envious of the prosperity that federal programs brought to neighboring Midwestern states, voted to approve statehood. Wisconsin entered the Union the next May.

“Wisconsin enters the Union,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5044 (accessed May 29, 2009).

On This Day

1453 – Constantinople fell to Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, ending the Byzantine Empire.

1765 – Patrick Henry denounced the Stamp Act before Virginia‘s House of Burgesses.

1790 – Rhode Island became the last of the original thirteen colonies to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

1910 – An airplane raced a train from Albany, NY, to New York City. The airplane pilot Glenn Curtiss won the $10,000 prize.

1911 – The first running of the Indianapolis 500 took place.

1912 – Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, PA, for dancing the Turkey Trot while on the job.

1922 – Ecuador became independent.

1951 – C.F. Blair became the first man to fly over the North Pole in single engine plane.

1953 – Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became first men to reach the top of Mount Everest.

1962 – Buck (John) O’Neil became the first black coach in major league baseball when he accepted the job with the Chicago Cubs.

1973 – Tom Bradley was elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles.

1985 – 39 people were killed and 400 were injured in a riot at a European Cup soccer match in Brussels, Belgium.

1999 – Space shuttle Discovery completed the first docking with the International Space Station.

2001 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that disabled golfer Casey Martin could use a cart to ride in tournaments.

May 29, 1932

Bonus Marchers arrive in Washington

At the height of the Great Depression, the so-called “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group of 1,000 World War I veterans seeking cash payments for their veterans’ bonus certificates, arrive in Washington, D.C. One month later, other veteran groups spontaneously made their way to the nation’s capital, swelling the Bonus Marchers to nearly 20,000 strong, most of them unemployed veterans in desperate financial straits. Camping in vacant government buildings and in open fields made available by District of Columbia Police Chief Pelham D. Glassford, they demanded passage of the veterans’ payment bill introduced by Representative Wright Patman.

While awaiting a vote on the issue, the veterans conducted themselves in an orderly and peaceful fashion, and on June 15 the Patman bill passed in the House of Representatives. However, two days later, its defeat in the Senate infuriated the marchers, who refused to return home. In an increasingly tense situation, the federal government provided money for the protesters’ trip home, but 2,000 refused the offer and continued to protest. On July 28, President Herbert Hoover ordered the army, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, to evict them forcibly. MacArthur’s men set their camps on fire, and the veterans were driven from the city. Hoover, increasingly regarded as insensitive to the needs of the nation’s many poor, was much criticized by the public and press for the severity of his response.

“Bonus Marchers arrive in Washington,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5046 (accessed May 29, 2009).

28
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-28-08: World War I

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

On July 28, 1914, one month to the day after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were killed by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, effectively beginning the First World War.

Threatened by Serbian ambition in the tumultuous Balkans region of Europe, Austria-Hungary determined that the proper response to the assassinations was to prepare for a possible military invasion of Serbia. After securing the unconditional support of its powerful ally, Germany, Austria-Hungary presented Serbia with a rigid ultimatum on July 23, 1914, demanding, among other things, that all anti-Austrian propaganda within Serbia be suppressed, and that Austria-Hungary be allowed to conduct its own investigation into the archduke’s killing. Though Serbia effectively accepted all of Austria’s demands except for one, the Austrian government broke diplomatic relations with the other country on July 25 and went ahead with military preparedness measures. Meanwhile, alerted to the impending crisis, Russia—Serbia’s own mighty supporter in the Balkans—began its own initial steps towards military mobilization against Austria.

In the days following the Austrian break in relations with Serbia, the rest of Europe, including Russia’s allies, Britain and France, looked on with trepidation, fearing the imminent outbreak of a Balkans conflict that, if entered into by Russia, threatened to explode into a general European war. The British Foreign Office lobbied its counterparts in Berlin, Paris and Rome with the idea of an international convention aimed at moderating the conflict; the German government, however, was set against this notion, and advised Vienna to go ahead with its plans.

On July 28, 1914, after a decision reached conclusively the day before in response to pressure from Germany for quick action—apart from Kaiser Wilhelm II, who by some accounts still saw the possibility of a peaceful diplomatic resolution to the conflict, but was outmaneuvered by the more hawkish military and governmental leadership of Germany—Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. In response, Russia formally ordered mobilization in the four military districts facing Galicia, its common front with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That night, Austrian artillery divisions initiated a brief, ineffectual bombardment of Belgrade across the Danube River.

“My darling one and beautiful, everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse,” British naval official Winston Churchill wrote to his wife at midnight on July 29. He was proven right over the next several days. On August 1, after its demands for Russia to halt mobilization met with defiance, Germany declared war on Russia. Russia’s ally, France, ordered its own general mobilization that same day, and on August 3, France and Germany declared war on each other. The German army’s planned invasion of neutral Belgium, announced on August 4, prompted Britain to declare war on Germany. Thus, in the summer of 1914, the major powers in the Western world—with the exception of the United States and Italy, both of which declared their neutrality, at least for the time being—flung themselves headlong into the First World War.

“Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jul 2008, 02:09 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=828.

The Russians mobilized faster than the Germans had counted on, causing Germany to withdraw important elements of its army from attacking France thus dooming the attack on France to failure and forced the Germans into a two-front war.  World War I as it is now known destroyed the great monarchies of Europe, cost millions of lives, bankrupted empires and elevated Serbia to an almost mythical status of being the little nation that will eventually bring about Armageddon.

 

On This Day

1540 – King Henry VIII’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, was executed. The same day, Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

1794 – Maximilien Robespierre was sent to the guillotine. He was a leading figure in the French Revolution.

1821 – Peru declared its independence from Spain.

1866 – The metric system was legalized by the U.S. Congress for the standardization of weights and measures throughout the United States.

1868 – The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was declared in effect. The amendment guaranteed due process of law.

1945 – A U.S. Army bomber crashed into the 79th floor of New York City’s Empire State Building. 14 people were killed and 26 were injured.

1965 – U.S. President Johnson announced he was increasing the number of American troops in South Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000.

1998 – Serbian military forces seized the Kosovo town of Malisevo.

1998 – Monica Lewinsky received blanket immunity from prosecution to testify before a grand jury about her relationship with U.S. President Clinton.

 

 

Bonus Marchers evicted by U.S. Army

During the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover orders the U.S. Army under General Douglas MacArthur to evict by force the Bonus Marchers from the nation’s capital.

Two months before, the so-called “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group of some 1,000 World War I veterans seeking cash payments for their veterans’ bonus certificates, had arrived in Washington, D.C. Most of the marchers were unemployed veterans in desperate financial straits. In June, other veteran groups spontaneously made their way to the nation’s capital, swelling the Bonus Marchers to nearly 20,000 strong. Camping in vacant government buildings and in open fields made available by District of Columbia Police Chief Pelham D. Glassford, they demanded passage of the veterans’ payment bill introduced by Representative Wright Patman.

While awaiting a vote on the issue, the veterans conducted themselves in an orderly and peaceful fashion, and on June 15 the Patman bill passed in the House of Representatives. However, two days later, its defeat in the Senate infuriated the marchers, who refused to return home. In an increasingly tense situation, the federal government provided money for the protesters’ trip home, but 2,000 refused the offer and continued to protest. On July 28, President Herbert Hoover ordered the army to evict them forcibly. General MacArthur’s men set their camps on fire, and the veterans were driven from the city. Hoover, increasingly regarded as insensitive to the needs of the nation’s many poor, was much criticized by the public and press for the severity of his response.

“Bonus Marchers evicted by U.S. Army.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jul 2008, 02:25 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5215.

Worst modern earthquake

At 3:42 a.m., an earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale flattens Tangshan, a Chinese industrial city with a population of about one million people. As almost everyone was asleep in their beds, instead of outside in the relative safety of the streets, the quake was especially costly in terms of human life. An estimated 242,000 people in Tangshan and surrounding areas were killed, making the earthquake one of the deadliest in recorded history, surpassed only by the 300,000 who died in the Calcutta earthquake in 1737, and the 830,000 thought to have perished in China’s Shaanxi province in 1556.

The Chinese government was ill-prepared for a disaster of this scale. The day following the quake, helicopters and planes began dropping food and medicine into the city. Some 100,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army were ordered to Tangshan, and many had to march on foot from Jinzhou, a distance of more than 180 miles. About 30,000 medical personnel were called in, along with 30,000 construction workers. The Chinese government, boasting self-sufficiency, refused all offers of foreign relief aid. In the crucial first week after the crisis, many died from lack of medical care. Troops and relief workers lacked the kind of heavy rescue training necessary to efficiently pull survivors from the rubble. Looting was also epidemic. More than 160,000 families were left homeless, and more than 4,000 children were orphaned.

Tangshan was eventually rebuilt with adequate earthquake precautions. Today, nearly two million people live there. There is speculation that the death toll from the 1976 quake was much higher than the official Chinese government figure of 242,000. Some Chinese sources have spoken privately of more than 500,000 deaths.

“Worst modern earthquake.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jul 2008, 02:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6972.




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