Posts Tagged ‘Communism

22
Mar
09

On This Day, March 22: Loyalty Checks

March 22, 1947

Truman orders loyalty checks of federal employees

In response to public fears and Congressional investigations into communism in the United States, President Harry S. Truman issues an executive decree establishing a sweeping loyalty investigation of federal employees.

As the Cold War began to develop after World War II, fears concerning communist activity in the United States, particularly in the federal government, increased. Congress had already launched investigations of communist influence in Hollywood, and laws banning communists from teaching positions were being instituted in several states. Of most concern to the Truman administration, however, were persistent charges that communists were operating in federal offices. In response to these fears and concerns, Truman issued an executive order on March 21, 1947, which set up a program to check the loyalty of federal employees. In announcing his order, Truman indicated that he expected all federal workers to demonstrate “complete and unswerving loyalty” the United States. Anything less, he declared, “constitutes a threat to our democratic processes.”

The basic elements of Truman’s order established the framework for a wide-ranging and powerful government apparatus to perform loyalty checks. Loyalty boards were to be set up in every department and agency of the federal government. Using lists of “totalitarian, fascist, communist, or subversive” organizations provided by the attorney general, and relying on investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, these boards were to review every employee. If there existed “reasonable grounds” to doubt an employee’s loyalty, he or she would be dismissed. A Loyalty Review Board was set up under the Civil Service Commission to deal with employees’ appeals.

Truman’s loyalty program resulted in the discovery of only a few employees whose loyalty could be “reasonably” doubted. Nevertheless, for a time his order did quiet some of the criticism that his administration was “soft” on communism. Matters changed dramatically in 1949-1950. The Soviets developed an atomic bomb, China fell to the communists, and Senator Joseph McCarthy made the famous speech in which he declared that there were over 200 “known communists” in the Department of State. Once again, charges were leveled that the Truman administration was “coddling” communists, and in response, the Red Scare went into full swing.

“Truman orders loyalty checks of federal employees.” 2009. The History Channel website. 22 Mar 2009, 03:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2614.

 

On this Day

1457 – Gutenberg Bible became the first printed book.

1630 – The first legislation to prohibited gambling was enacted. It was in Boston, MA.

1638 – Anne Hutchinsoon, a religious dissident, was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1765 – The Stamp Act was passed. It was the first direct British tax on the American colonists. It was repealed on March 17, 1766.

1794 – The U.S. Congress banned U.S. vessels from supplying slaves to other countries.

1874 – The Young Men’s Hebrew Association was organized in New York City.

1882 – The U.S. Congress outlawed polygamy.

1903 – Niagara Falls ran out of water due to a drought.

1905 – Child miners in Britain received a maximum 8-hour workday.

1933 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill legalizing the sale and possession of beer and wine containing up to 3.2% alcohol.

1945 – The Arab League was formed with the adoption of a charter in Cairo, Egypt.

1946 – The British granted Transjordan independence.

1980 – People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was founded by Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco.

1988 – The Congress overrode U.S. President Reagan’s veto of a sweeping civil rights bill.

 

March 22, 1965

Officials confirm “non-lethal gas” was provided

The State Department acknowledges that the United States had supplied the South Vietnamese armed forces with a “non-lethal gas which disables temporarily” for use “in tactical situations in which the Viet Cong intermingle with or take refuge among non-combatants, rather than use artillery or aerial bombardment.” This announcement triggered a storm of criticism worldwide. The North Vietnamese and the Soviets loudly protested the introduction of “poison gas” into the war. Secretary of State Dean Rusk insisted at a news conference on March 24 that the United States was “not embarking upon gas warfare,” but was merely employing “a gas which has been commonly adopted by the police forces of the world as riot-control agents.”

“Officials confirm “non-lethal gas” was provided.” 2009. The History Channel website. 22 Mar 2009, 03:25 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1744.

On This Day in Wisconsin: March 22

1854 – Eugene Shepard, Father of the Hodag
On this date Eugene Shepard was born near Green Bay. Although he made his career in the lumbering business near Rhinelander, he was best known for his story-telling and practical jokes. He told many tales of Paul Bunyan, the mythical lumberjack, and drew pictures of the giant at work that became famous. Shepard also started a new legend about a prehistoric monster that roamed the woods of Wisconsin – the hodag. Shepard built the mythical monster out of wood and bull’s horns. He fooled everyone into believing it was alive, allowing it to be viewed only inside a dark tent. The beast was displayed at the Wausau and Antigo county fairs before Shepard admitted it was all a hoax. [Source: Badger saints and sinners, by Fred L. Holmes, p.459-474]

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03
Mar
09

On This Day, March 3: The Feinberg Law

March 3, 1952

Supreme Court rules on communist teachers

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds a New York state law that prohibits communists from teaching in public schools. Coming at the height of the Red Scare in the United States, the Supreme Court decision was additional evidence that many Americans were concerned about possible subversive communist activity in their country.

The New York state statute-called the Feinberg Law-banned from the teaching profession anyone who called for the overthrow of the government; the law was specifically aimed at communists. Several other states adopted similar measures. In New York, a group of teachers and parents challenged the law, and eventually the case went to the Supreme Court. The majority decision upholding the Feinberg Law, declared the New York Times, supported the belief that “the state had a constitutional right to protect the immature minds of children in its public schools from subversive propaganda, subtle or otherwise, disseminated by those ‘to whom they look for guidance, authority and leadership.'” The dissenting opinion from justices William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, and Felix Frankfurter charged that the New York statute “turns the school system into a spying project.” In New York, the Teachers Union vowed to continue fighting the law. Eight teachers had already been dismissed under the provisions of the law and as many others were facing hearings.

The Supreme Court decision was a barometer of the national temper. In the years preceding the case, former State Department official Alger Hiss had been convicted of perjury in connection with his testimony concerning his involvement with the Communist Party; Julius and Ethel Rosenberg had been convicted and sentenced to death for passing atomic secrets to the Soviets; and Senator Joseph McCarthy had made a career out of searching for communists in the U.S. government. By 1952, many Americans were convinced that communist agents and supporters were actively at work within the United States, and that their forces permeated every aspect of American life. The Feinberg Law remained in force until another Supreme Court decision in 1967 declared most of its provisions unconstitutional.

“Supreme Court rules on communist teachers.” 2009. The History Channel website. 3 Mar 2009, 11:02 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2595.

 

On This Day

1791 – The U.S. Congress passed a resolution that created the U.S. Mint.

1812 – The U.S. Congress passed the first foreign aid bill.

1845 – Florida became the 27th U.S. state.

1845 – The U.S. Congress passed legislation overriding a U.S. President’s veto. It was the first time the Congress had achieved this.

1849 – The Gold Coinage Act was passed by the U.S. Congress. It allowed the minting of gold coins.

1851 – The U.S. Congress authorized the 3-cent piece. It was the smallest U.S. silver coin.

1875 – The U.S. Congress authorized the 20-cent piece. It was only used for 3 years.

1910 – J.D. Rockefeller Jr. announced his withdrawal from business to administer his father’s fortune for an “uplift in humanity”. He also appealed to the U.S. Congress for the creation of the Rockefeller Foundation.

1910 – In New York, Robert Forest founded the National Housing Association to fight deteriorating urban living conditions.

1918 – The Treaty of Brest Litovsky was signed by Germany, Austria and Russia. The treaty ended Russia’s participation in World War I.

1931 – The “Star Spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key, was adopted as the American national anthem. The song was originally a poem known as “Defense of Fort McHenry.”

1969 – Apollo 9 was launched by NASA to test a lunar module.

1969 – Sirhan Sirhan testified in a Los Angeles court that he killed Robert Kennedy.

1991 – Rodney King was severely beaten by Los Angeles police officers. The scene was captured on amateur video.

 

March 3, 1971

U.S. 5th Special Forces Group withdraws

The U.S. Army’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) departs South Vietnam. The Special Forces were formed to organize and train guerrilla bands behind enemy lines. President John F. Kennedy, a strong believer in the potential of the Special Forces in counterinsurgency operations, had visited the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg to review the program and authorized the Special Forces to wear the headgear that became their symbol, the Green Beret.

The 5th Group was sent to Vietnam in October 1964 to assume control of all Special Forces operations in Vietnam. Prior to this time, Green Berets had been assigned to Vietnam only on temporary duty. The primary function of the Green Berets in Vietnam was to organize the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG) among South Vietnam’s Montagnard population. The Montagnards–“mountain people” or “mountaineers”–were a group of indigenous people from several tribes, such as the Rhade, Bru, and Jarai, who lived mainly in the highland areas of Vietnam. These tribes were recruited to guard camps in the mountainous border areas against North Vietnamese infiltration. At the height of the war the Green Berets oversaw 84 CIDG camps with more than 42,000 CIDG strike forces and local militia units. The CIDG program ended in December 1970 with the transfer of troops and mission to the South Vietnamese Border Ranger Command. The Green Berets were withdrawn as part of the U.S. troop reductions in Vietnam.

“U.S. 5th Special Forces Group withdraws.” 2009. The History Channel website. 3 Mar 2009, 11:06 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1706.

04
Jan
09

On This Day, 1-4-2009: The God That Failed

January 4, 1950

The God That Failed published

The God That Failed, a collection of essays by six writers and intellectuals who either joined or sympathized with the communist cause before renouncing the ideology, is published by Harpers.

The book provided interesting insight into why communism originally appealed to, and then disappointed, so many adherents in the United States and Europe, particularly during the 1920s and 1930s. The essays also showed that many individuals of good conscience and intentions desperately hoped that communism would bring order, justice, and peace to a world they worried was on the brink of disaster.

The six men who contributed to the book were all writers or journalists. Two were American (Louis Fischer and the African-American novelist Richard Wright); the rest were from Europe (Andre Gide from France, Arthur Koestler and Stephen Spender from England, and Ignazio Silone from Italy). Of these, Spender, Wright, Koestler, and Silone had been members of the Communist Party for varying lengths of time. Gide and Fischer, though they sympathized with the communist ideology, never formally joined the party. Each man, in his turn, eventually turned against communist ideology.

According to the volume’s editor, British politician and essayist Richard Crossman, the very fact that these intelligent and compassionate individuals were drawn to communism was “an indictment of the American way of life,” and evidence of “a dreadful deficiency in European democracy.” All of the writers–particularly during the 1920s and 1930s, when fascism and totalitarianism were on the march and the Western democracies seemed unable or unwilling to intercede–turned to communism as the hope for a better, more democratic, and more peaceful world. Each man eventually broke with the communist ideology, however. Some were disturbed by the Soviet-Nazi pact of 1939; others had traveled to the Soviet Union and were appalled by the poverty and political oppression.

The book, which was published the same year that former State Department official Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury related to his alleged role in a communist spy ring in the United States, was an interesting contribution to the ongoing national debate concerning communism.

The God That Failed published.” 2009. The History Channel website. 4 Jan 2009, 08:51 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2535.

On This Day

1821 – The first native-born American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, died in Emmitsburg, MD.

1884 – The socialist Fabian Society was founded in London.

1885 – Dr. William Grant performed the first successful appendectomy. The patient was Mary Gartside.

1896 – Utah became the 45th U.S. state.

1944 – The attack on Monte Cassino was launched by the British Fifth Army in Italy.

1948 – Britain granted independence to Burma.

1951 – During the Korean conflict, North Korean and Communist Chinese forces captured the city of Seoul.

1958 – The Soviet satellite Sputnik I fell to the earth from its orbit. The craft had been launched on October 4, 1957.

1965 – Poet T.S. Eliot died at age 76.

1974 – U.S. President Nixon refused to hand over tape recordings and documents subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee.

1991 – The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to condemn Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

2006 – Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first woman to hold the position.

January 4, 1796

Congress accepts Colors of the French Republic

On this day in 1796, the House of Representatives accepts the “Colors,” or flag, of the French Revolutionary Republic, proclaiming it “the most honorable testimonial of the existing sympathies and affections of the two Republics.”

In an accompanying message, the French Committee of Public Safety lauded the United States as “the first defenders of the rights of man, in another hemisphere.” The French revolutionaries were eager to link their overthrow of Louis XVI in 1789 to that of King George III in 1776. They viewed the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights as American precursors to their own revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man.

The French wrote that they believed that the citizens of the new United States understood the French Revolution as an extension of a universal fight for freedom begun by the 13 colonies’ war for independence and therefore celebrated every French victory as their own. In truth, however, the new republic was deeply divided over the French Revolution. Future President Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party were impassioned supporters of the revolutionaries, even as they turned to terror as a means of achieving their goals. By contrast, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and the rest of the Federalists looked upon the bloodbath the French Revolution had become with horror.

The French Revolution became a litmus test for Americans as they assessed their own revolution. The Democratic-Republicans believed the Federalist administrations of the 1790s had backed away from the more radical goals of democracy—for white people, at least–espoused during the War for Independence and that the Federalists hoped to simply replace the British aristocracy with an American meritocracy. Jeffersonians, on the other hand, desired equal rights for all men with white skin. Federalists took the outcome of the French Revolution as final evidence that overthrowing the social order as well as the political order could lead to nothing but death, destruction and destitution. So, when Thomas Jefferson won the presidency in 1800, Americans understood it as an endorsement of a revolutionary shift in the philosophy of their government.

Historians consider the peaceful succession of power from Federalist John Adams to the Democratic-Republican Jefferson to be the ultimate triumph of the American Revolution.

“Congress accepts Colors of the French Republic.” 2009. The History Channel website. 4 Jan 2009, 08:54 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=143.

25
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-25-08: Samantha Smith

Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two

On this day in 1945, eight Russian armies completely encircle Berlin, linking up with the U.S. First Army patrol, first on the western bank of the Elbe, then later at Torgau. Germany is, for all intents and purposes, Allied territory.

The Allies sounded the death knell of their common enemy by celebrating. In Moscow, news of the link-up between the two armies resulted in a 324-gun salute; in New York, crowds burst into song and dance in the middle of Times Square. Among the Soviet commanders who participated in this historic meeting of the two armies was the renowned Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov, who warned a skeptical Stalin as early as June 1941 that Germany posed a serious threat to the Soviet Union. Zhukov would become invaluable in battling German forces within Russia (Stalingrad and Moscow) and without. It was also Zhukov who would demand and receive unconditional surrender of Berlin from German General Krebs less than a week after encircling the German capital. At the end of the war, Zhukov was awarded a military medal of honor from Great Britain.

“Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Apr 2008, 01:54 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6433.

1684 – A patent was granted for the thimble.

1792 – The guillotine was first used to execute highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier.

1846 – The Mexican-American War ignited as a result of disputes over claims to Texas boundaries. The outcome of the war fixed Texas‘ southern boundary at the Rio Grande River.

1859 – Work began on the Suez Canal in Egypt.

1860 – The first Japanese diplomats to visit a foreign power reached Washington, DC. They remained in the U.S. capital for several weeks while discussing expansion of trade with the United States.

1862 – Union Admiral Farragut occupied New Orleans, LA.

1864 – After facing defeat in the Red River Campaign, Union General Nathaniel Bank returned to Alexandria, LA.

1867 – Tokyo was opened for foreign trade.

1882 – French commander Henri Riviere seized the citadel of Hanoi in Indochina.

1898 – The U.S. declared war on Spain. Spain had declared war on the U.S. the day before.

1915 – During World War I, Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli in Turkey in hopes of attacking the Central Powers from below. The attack was unsuccessful.

1928 – A seeing eye dog was used for the first time.

1945 – Delegates from about 50 countries met in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.

1952 – After a three-day fight against Chinese Communist Forces, the Gloucestershire Regiment was annihilated on “Gloucester Hill,” in Korea.

1954 – The prototype manufacture of the first solar battery was announced by the Bell Laboratories in New York City.

1959 – St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping. The water way connects the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

1967 – Colorado Governor John Love signed the first law legalizing abortion in the U.S. The law was limited to therapeutic abortions when agreed to, unanimously, by a panel of three physicians.

1984 – David Anthony Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, was found dead of a drug overdose in a hotel room.

1992 – Islamic forces in Afghanistan took control of most of the capital of Kabul following the collapse of the Communist government.

1996 – The main assembly of the Palestine Liberation Organization voted to revoke clauses in its charter that called for an armed struggle to destroy Israel.

 

Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader

The Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader. This rather unusual piece of Soviet propaganda was in direct response to President Ronald Reagan’s vigorous attacks on what he called “the evil empire” of the Soviet Union.

In 1983, President Reagan was in the midst of a harsh rhetorical campaign against the Soviet Union. A passionate anticommunist, President Reagan called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat. In Russia, however, events were leading to a different Soviet approach to the West. In 1982, long-time leader Leonid Brezhnev died; Yuri Andropov was his successor. While Andropov was not radical in his approach to politics and economics, he did seem to sincerely desire a better relationship with the United States. In an attempt to blunt the Reagan attacks, the Soviet government released a letter that Andropov had written in response to one sent by Samantha Smith, a fifth-grade student from Manchester, Maine.

Smith had written the Soviet leader as part of a class assignment, one that was common enough for students in the Cold War years. Most of these missives received a form letter response, if any at all, but Andropov answered Smith’s letter personally. He explained that the Soviet Union had suffered horrible losses in World War II, an experience that convinced the Russian people that they wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth. This is the wish of everyone in the Soviet Union. That’s what we were taught to do by Vladimir Lenin, the great founder of our state.” He vowed that Russia would “never, but never, be the first to use nuclear weapons against any country.” Andropov complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character of Becky from the Mark Twain novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “All kids in our country, boys and girls alike, know and love this book,” he added. Andropov ended by inviting Samantha and her parents to visit the Soviet Union. In July 1983, Samantha accepted the invitation and flew to Russia for a three-week tour.

Soviet propaganda had never been known for its human qualities. Generally speaking, it was given to heavy-handed diatribes and communist cliches. In his public relations duel with Reagan-the American president known as the “Great Communicator”-Andropov tried something different by assuming a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach. Whether this would have borne fruit is unknown; just a year later, Andropov died. Tragically, Samantha Smith, aged 13, died just one year after Andropov’s passing, in August 1985 in a plane crash.

“Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Apr 2008, 01:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2648.

25
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-25-08: Howl

Soviets announce withdrawal from Iran

In conclusion to an extremely tense situation of the early Cold War, the Soviet Union announces that its troops in Iran will be withdrawn within six weeks. The Iranian crisis was one of the first tests of power between the United States and the Soviet Union in the postwar world.

The Iranian crisis began during World War II. In 1942, Iran signed an agreement by which British and Soviet troops were allowed into the country in order to defend the oil-rich nation from possible German attack. American troops were also soon in Iran. The 1942 treaty stated that all foreign troops would withdraw within six months after the end of the war. In 1944, however, both Great Britain and the United States began to press the Iranian government for oil concessions and the Soviets thereupon demanded concessions of their own. By 1945, the oil situation was still unsettled, but the war was coming to an end and the American attitude toward the Soviet Union had changed dramatically.

The new administration of Harry S. Truman, which came to power when Franklin D. Roosevelt died in April 1945, decided that the Soviets were not to be trusted and were bent on expansion. Therefore, a policy of “toughness” was adopted toward the former wartime ally. Iran came to be a test case for this new policy. The Soviets had decided to take action in Iran. Fearing that the British and Americans were conspiring to deny Russia its proper sphere of influence in Iran, the Soviets came to the assistance of an Iranian rebel group in the northern regions of the country. In early 1946, the United States complained to the United Nations about the situation in Iran and accused the Soviets of interfering with a sovereign nation. When the March 2, 1946 deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iran passed and the Soviets were still in place, a crisis began to develop.

A major diplomatic confrontation was avoided when the Soviets announced on March 25, 1946, that they would be withdrawing their forces within six weeks. President Truman bragged that his threats of a possible military confrontation had been the deciding factor, but that seems unlikely. The Soviet Union and Iran had reached an agreement that gave the Soviets an oil concession in Iran. With this promise in hand, the Soviets kept their part of the bargain and moved their troops out of Iran in April 1946. Almost immediately, the Iranian government reneged on the oil deal and, with U.S. aid and advice, crushed the revolt in northern Iran. The Soviets were furious, but refrained from reintroducing their armed forces into Iran for fear of creating an escalating conflict with the United States and Great Britain. The Iranian crisis, and the suspicion and anger it created between the United States and the Soviet Union, helped set the tone for the developing Cold War.

“Soviets announce withdrawal from Iran.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Mar 2008, 02:18 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2617.

1306 – Robert the Bruce was crowned king of Scotland.

1634 – Lord Baltimore founded the Catholic colony of Maryland.

1655 – Puritans jailed Governor Stone after a military victory over Catholic forces in the colony of Maryland.

1700 – England, France and Netherlands ratify the 2nd Extermination Treaty.

1802 – France, Netherlands, Spain and England signed the Peace of Amiens.

1813 – The frigate USS Essex flew the first U.S. flag in battle in the Pacific.

1865 – During the American Civil War, Confederate forces captured Fort Stedman in Virginia.

1900 – The U.S. Socialist Party was formed in Indianapolis.

1905 – Russia received Japan’s terms for peace.

1911 – In New York City, 146 women were killed in fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York City. The owners of the company were indicted on manslaughter charges because some of the employees had been behind locked doors in the factory. The owners were later acquitted and in 1914 they were ordered to pay damages to each of the twenty-three families that had sued.

1931 – The Scottsboro Boys were arrested in Alabama. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/SB_acct.html

1960 – A guided missile was launched from a nuclear powered submarine for the first time.

1989 – In Paris, the Louvre reopened with I.M. Pei’s new courtyard pyramid.

1993 – President de Klerk admitted that South Africa had built six nuclear bombs, but said that they had since been dismantled.

Blackboard Jungle film released

Blackboard Jungle is released on this day in 1955. The film associated youth violence and anarchy with rock and roll, a linkage that would become a persistent underlying theme in the genre. The movie’s theme song, “Rock Around the Clock,” by Bill Haley and the Comets, became a top seller.

Blackboard Jungle film released.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Mar 2008, 02:20 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=3107.

U.S. Customs seizes Howl http://members.tripod.com/~Sprayberry/poems/howl.txt

The U.S. Customs Department confiscates 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s book Howl, which had been printed in England. Officials alleged that the book was obscene.

City Lights, a publishing company and bookstore in San Francisco owned by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, proceeded to publish the book in the fall of 1956. The publication led to Ferlinghetti’s arrest on obscenity charges. Ferlinghetti was bailed out by the American Civil Liberties Union, which led the legal defense. Nine literary experts testified at the trial that the poem was not obscene, and Ferlinghetti was found not guilty.

Howl, which created a literary earthquake among the literary community when Ginsberg first read the poem in 1955, still stands as an important monument to the countercultural fervor of the late 1950s and ’60s. Ginsberg stayed at the forefront of numerous liberal movements throughout his life and became a well-loved lecturer at universities around the country. He continued to write and read poetry until his death from liver cancer in 1997.

“U.S. Customs seizes Howl.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Mar 2008, 02:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=3918.

21
Feb
08

On This Day, 2-21-08: Das Kapital

1848: Marx publishes manifesto

The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx with the assistance of Friedrich Engels, is published in London on 21 February 1848. Karl Marx was born in Prussia in 1818, the son of a Jewish lawyer who converted to Lutheranism. After moving to Paris in 1843 he began a lifelong career as the intellectual leader of communist movement.

Expelled from France he settled in Brussels, where he wrote The Communist Manifesto. The political pamphlet opens with the dramatic words, ‘A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of communism’, and ends by declaring, ‘The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!’

Marx was later expelled from Brussels and moved to London, where he and his family lived in poverty while he continued to publish. There he composed his major work Das Kapital, which prophesied the inevitable self-destruction of the capitalist system and became the foundation of international communism. He died penniless and was buried at Highgate Cemetery, but his ideas lived on and fundamentally shaped the twentieth century.

http://www.thehistorychannel.co.uk/site/this_day_in_history/this_day_February_21.php

1804 – The first self-propelled locomotive on rails was demonstrated in Wales.

1866 – Lucy B. Hobbs became the first woman to graduate from a dental school. The school was the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in Cincinnati.

1878 – The first telephone directories issued in the U.S. were distributed to residents in New Haven, CT. It was a single page of only fifty names.

1916 – During World War I, the Battle of Verdun began in France. The battle ended on December 18, 1916 with a French victory over Germany.

1932 – William N. Goodwin patented the camera exposure meter.

1947 – Edwin Land demonstrated the Polaroid Land Camera to the Optical Society of America in New York City. It was the first camera to take, develop and print a picture on photo paper all in about 60 seconds. The photos were black and white. The camera went on sale the following year.

1965 – Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City at the age of 39 by assassins identified as Black Muslims.

1975 – Former U.S. Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2 1/2 to 8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up.

1995 – Chicago stockbroker Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon. He landed in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Dedication to Das Kapital
TO MY UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND
W i l h e l m
W o l f f
INTREPID, FAITHFUL,
NOBLE PROTAGONIST OF THE PROLETARIAT
Born in Tarnau on June 21, 1809
Died in exile in Manchester on May 9, 1864

http://www.bibliomania.com/2/1/261/1294/frameset.html

” Communism is a society without money, without a state, without property and without social classes.

People come together to carry out a project or to respond

to some need of the human community but

without the possibility

of their collective activity

taking the form of an enterprise

that involves wages and the exchange of its products.

The circulation of goods is not accomplished

by means of exchange: quite the contrary,

the by-word for this society is

from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”.

http://clsuk.tripod.com/daskapital/

A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.
Malcolm X

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
Malcolm X

You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.
Malcolm X

The Communist Manifesto 

A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.

Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

Two things result from this fact:

I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a power.

II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of communism with a manifesto of the party itself.

http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/classics/manifesto.html

09
Feb
08

On This Day 2-9-08: Turning Points, Guadalcanal

1825 – The U.S. House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams president. No candidate had received a majority of electoral votes.

1861 – The Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson Davis as its president.

1870 – The United States Weather Bureau was authorized by Congress. The bureau is officially known as the National Weather Service (NWS).

1900 – Dwight F. Davis put up a new tennis trophy to go to the winner in matches against England. The trophy was a silver cup that weighed 36 pounds.

1909 – The first forestry school was incorporated in Kent, Ohio.

1942 – The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff held its first formal meeting to coordinate military strategy during World War II.

1943 – During World War II, the battle of Guadalcanal ended with an American victory over Japanese forces.

1950 – U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy charged that the State Department was riddled with Communists. This was the beginning of “McCarthyism.”

1971 – The Apollo 14 spacecraft returned to Earth after mankind’s third landing on the moon.

1975 – The Russian Soyuz 17 returned to Earth.

1989 – Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. completed the $25 billion purchase of RJR Nabisco, Inc.

1997 – “The Simpsons” became the longest-running prime-time animated series. “The Flintstones” held the record previously.

I have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five people that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.
Joseph R. McCarthy

Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.
John Adams

Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.
John Adams

One reason I have always been fascinated with History is because of points in time when something so significant happens that it alters life on Earth.  When it happens it may just be something deemed newsworthy by the press; such as, the US victory over the Japanese at Guadalcanal, or US Senator Joseph McCarthy (R, Wisconsin) charging that the United States State Department was riddled with Communists.  Events that may be viewed with great cheer or great consternation, but events so important that the course of mankind is forever altered.

The battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific significantly altered the course of World War II against Japan in that from that point on Japan could not stop the US military. 

A grinding battle of attrition, Guadalcanal tested the endurance of each nation’s armies and navies.  Soldiers fought battles so closely that eye to eye hand to hand combat became the norm, rather than the firepower battles fought between dueling artillery batteries that have dominated warfare since the first time Stonewall Jackson lined up his artillery wheel to wheel in mass formation during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of the American Civil War. 

Navies gave no quarter as American PT boats and destroyers challenged Japanese destroyers and cruisers, or American cruisers took on Japanese battleships.  Both nations sacrificed air craft carriers, and desperate efforts to keep the soldiers supplied on Guadalcanal resulted in horrific casualties with American supply ships driven off and US soldiers forced to survive on captured Japanese supplies, or the desperate “Tokyo Express” runs made by fast Japanese destroyers carrying as many as a thousand soldiers each running through “The Slot” of the Solomon Islands, attempting to supply the Japanese Army on the island.  Caught out it in the open seas these ships could not outrun pursuing dive bombers or strafing fighters sent out by Japanese air craft carriers, or from the American held Henderson Air Field resulting in the untimely deaths of thousands of soldiers and sailors.  So many ships sunk in the area of sea between Guadalcanal and Tulagi it has forever been dubbed Iron Bottom Sound. 

For more pictures and information about this battle, please follow this link:  http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-pac/guadlcnl/guadlcnl.htm

The Battle of Guadalcanal typifies the horrific cost of war and the terrible sacrifice made for American freedom. 

image 1The very real threat of foreign enemies fought during World War II gave way to a perceived threat of foreign enemies following the war.  A perceived threat that US Senator Joseph McCarthy (R, Wisconsin) defined in a speech before the US Senate on this day in history, a definitive moment in history and in how Americans define freedom. 

Dubbed McCarthyism this dangerous perception of Communists in the midst of the American government, military and society forever altered how Americans would interpret freedom.  No longer would Americans debate the nature of freedom.  What is freedom of the press?  What is freedom of speech?  Because Joe McCarthy defined it as freedom is not being Communist. 

If you lived in a Communist country, if you studied Communism, if you had ever attended a lecture about Communism, if you had ever quoted a Communist, you were not free.  The careers of scientists, writers, actors, movie producers, government workers, military officers, and common citizens could be ruined with the mere suggestion that they had Communistic tendencies.  If you worked in a union, supported unions or tried to organize unions you were labeled Communist.  If you argued against the war in Vietnam, you were labeled a Communist.  If you argued against government taxation or against government meddling you were labeled a Communist.  

Understanding the significance of a moment in time fascinates me.  Understanding how those moments alter life sometimes enthralls me and sometimes angers me.  Joe McCarthy’s power hungry paranoia and disregard for the sacrifices made by Americans in the many battles like Guadalcanal in the name of freedom and freedom loving peoples has altered how Americans interpret their freedom and significantly altered life on Earth.  For more on Joe McCarthy:  http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAmccarthy.htm.




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