Posts Tagged ‘Henry VIII

11
Jun
09

On This Day, June 11: Allies Consolidate Position

June 11, 1944

D-Day landing forces converge

Five days after the D-Day landing, the five Allied landing groups, made up of some 330,000 troops, link up in Normandy to form a single solid front across northwestern France.

On June 6, 1944, after a year of meticulous planning conducted in secrecy by a joint Anglo-American staff, the largest combined sea, air, and land military operation in history began on the French coast at Normandy. The Allied invasion force included 3 million men, 13,000 aircraft, 1,200 warships, 2,700 merchant ships, and 2,500 landing craft.

Fifteen minutes after midnight on June 6, the first of 23,000 U.S., British, and Canadian paratroopers and glider troops plunged into the darkness over Normandy. Just before dawn, Allied aircraft and ships bombed the French coast along the Baie de la Seine, and at daybreak the bombardment ended as 135,000 Allied troops stormed ashore at five landing sites. Despite the formidable German coastal defenses, beachheads were achieved at all five landing locations. At one site–Omaha Beach–German resistance was especially strong, and the Allied position was only secured after hours of bloody fighting by the Americans assigned to it. By the evening, some 150,000 American, British, and Canadian troops were ashore, and the Allies held about 80 square miles. During the next five days, Allied forces in Normandy moved steadily forward in all sectors against fierce German resistance. On June 11, the five landing groups met up, and Operation Overlord–the code name for the Allied invasion of northwestern Europe–proceeded as planned.

“D-Day landing forces converge,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5086 [accessed Jun 11, 2009]

On This Day

1509 – King Henry VIII married his first of six wives, Catherine of Aragon.

1798 – Napoleon Bonaparte took the island of Malta.

1880 – Jeanette Rankin was born. She became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress.

1910 – Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born. He was the French underwater explorer that invented the Aqua-Lung diving apparatus.

1927 – Charles A. Lindberg was presented the first Distinguished Flying Cross.

1940 – The Italian Air Force bombed the British fortress at Malta in the Mediterranean.

1947 – The U.S. government announced an end to sugar rationing.

1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Florida for trying to integrate restaurants.

1963 – Buddhist monk Quang Duc immolated himself on a Saigon street to protest the government of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

1963 – Alabama Gov. George Wallace allowed two black students to enroll at the University of Alabama.

1993 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people who commit “hate crimes” could be sentenced to extra punishment. The court also ruled in favor of religious groups saying that they indeed had a constitutional right to sacrifice animals during worship services.

1998 – Mitsubishi of America agreed to pay $34 million to end the largest sexual harassment case filed by the U.S. government. The federal lawsuit claimed that hundreds of women at a plant in Normal, IL, had endured groping and crude jokes from male workers.

June 11, 1989

China issues warrant for Tiananmen dissident

In the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, China issues a warrant for a leading Chinese dissident who had taken refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing. The diplomatic standoff lasted for a year, and the refusal of the United States to hand the dissident over to Chinese officials was further evidence of American disapproval of China’s crackdown on political protesters.

In April and May 1989, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Beijing to call for greater political democracy in communist China. On June 4, Chinese soldiers and police swarmed into the center of protest activity, Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds and arresting thousands. The Chinese government used this brutal crackdown as a pretext for issuing an arrest warrant for Fang Lizhi, an internationally respected astrophysicist and leading Chinese dissident. Although Fang had not participated in the Tiananmen Square protests, he had been a consistent advocate of greater political democracy and a persistent critic of government policies. In February 1989, more than one hundred Chinese security personnel forcibly prevented Fang from meeting with visiting President George Bush.

In the June arrest warrant, Fang and his wife, Li Shuxian, were charged with “committing crimes of counter-revolutionary propaganda and instigation.” Fang and Li immediately took refuge in the U.S. embassy. Chinese officials demanded that the American government hand over the pair, but the U.S. refused. Almost exactly one year later, Fang and Li were given free passage out of the country and they left the U.S. embassy for the first time since June 1989. The action was part of a wider effort by the Chinese government to repair some of the international damage done to its reputation in the wake of the Tiananmen Square incident. In addition to Fang and Li, hundreds of other political prisoners were also released. Fang and Li traveled to the United States and took up residence. Fang continued his dissident activities against the Chinese government and taught in both America and Great Britain.

The incident indicated that feelings about what had occurred in Tiananmen Square ran high, both in the United States and China. For America, the brutal attack on the protesters repulsed most people and led Congress to pass economic sanctions against the Chinese government. In China, the refusal to hand over Fang and the U.S. criticisms of what the Chinese government considered to be a purely internal matter generated a tremendous amount of resentment. The issue of human rights in China continued to be a major issue in relations between the U.S. and China throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century.

“China issues warrant for Tiananmen dissident,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2695 [accessed Jun 11, 2009]

01
Jun
09

On This Day, June 1: Herbert Hoover and the Boxers

June 1, 1900

Future President Hoover caught in Boxer Rebellion

On this day in 1900, future President Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou are caught in the middle of the Boxer Rebellion in China.

After marrying in Monterey, California, on February 10, 1899, Herbert and Lou Hoover left on a honeymoon cruise to China, where Hoover was to start a new job as a mining consultant to the Chinese emperor with the consulting group Bewick, Moreing and Co. The couple had been married less than a year when Chinese nationalists rebelled against colonial control of their nation, besieging 800 westerners in the city of Tientsin. Hoover led an enclave of westerners in building barricades around their residential section of the city, while Lou volunteered in the hospital. Legend holds that, during the ensuing month-long siege, Hoover rescued some Chinese children caught in the crossfire of urban combat.

After an international coalition of troops rescued the Hoovers and spirited them and other westerners out of China, Herbert Hoover was made a partner at Bewick, Moreing and Co. He and Lou split their time between residences in California and London and traveled the world between 1901 and 1909. They then returned to the U.S. and, after serving as secretary of commerce under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge from 1921 to 1924, Hoover headed the American Child Health Association and served as chairman of the Federal Street and Highway Safety Commission. During World War I, Lou chaired the American Women’s War Relief Fund and worked on behalf of other war-related charitable organizations. Both Hoovers, inspired by their experience in China, were active in helping refugees and tourists stranded in hostile countries.

In 1928, Hoover ran for president and won. Unfortunately, the couple’s charitable reputation was soon tarnished by Hoover’s ineffective leadership in staving off the Great Depression, and Lou’s ostentatious White House social functions, which appeared heartless, frivolous and irresponsible at a time when many Americans could hardly make ends meet. As the Depression deepened, a growing number of shanty towns full of destitute unemployed workers sprang up in city centers; they became known as “Hoovervilles.”

“Future President Hoover caught in Boxer Rebellion,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=640 [accessed Jun 1, 2009]

On This Day

0193 – The Roman Emperor, Marcus Didius, was murdered in his palace.

1533 – Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s new queen, was crowned.

1792 – Kentucky became the 15th state of the U.S.

1796 – Tennessee became the 16th state of the U.S.

1861 – The first skirmish of the U.S. Civil War took place at the Fairfax Court House, Virginia.

1915 – Germany conducted the first zeppelin air raid over England.

1935 – The Ingersoll-Waterbury Company reported that it had produced 2.5 million Mickey Mouse watches during its 2-year association with Disney.

1941 – The German Army completed the capture of Crete as the Allied evacuation ended.

1963 – Governor George Wallace vowed to defy an injunction that ordered the integration of the University of Alabama.

1968 – Helen Keller died. She had been deaf and blind since the age of 18 months. During her life she learned to speak, ride horses, and the waltz. She also graduated from Radcliffe cum laude.

1980 – Cable News Network (CNN) made its debut as the first all-news station.

2008 – The Phoenix Mars Lander became the first NASA spacecraft to scoop Martian soil.

June 1, 1977

Soviets charge Shcharansky with treason

The Soviet government charges Anatoly Shcharansky, a leader among Jewish dissidents and human rights activists in Russia, with the crime of treason. The action was viewed by many in the West as a direct challenge to President Jimmy Carter’s new foreign policy emphasis on human rights and his criticism of Soviet repression.

Shcharansky, a 29-year-old computer expert, had been a leading figure in the so-called “Helsinki group” in the Soviet Union. This group came into existence in 1975, after the signing of the European Security Act. The European Security Act, also referred to as the Helsinki Accords, was the result of U.S. and Soviet efforts to reinvigorate the spirit of dÝtente. The two nations called 35 other countries together to discuss a variety of topics, and the final agreements signed at the meeting included guidelines for human rights. Although the Soviets signed the act, Jewish dissidents in Russia complained that their rights continued to be violated, particularly their right to emigrate. These Jewish dissidents and other human rights activists in the Soviet Union came together to form the Helsinki group, which was designed to monitor Russian respect of the 1975 act. Shcharansky was one of the best known of this group, particularly because of his flair for sparking public interest in human rights violations in Russia. President Carter used the situation of Russian Jews as an example of the human rights violations he wished to curtail when he came into office in 1977. The Soviets responded with a series of arrests of Helsinki group leaders and the deportation of others. Shcharansky, the most vociferous of the group, came in for the harshest treatment. In June 1977, he was charged with treason, specifically with accepting funds from the CIA in order to create dissension in the Soviet Union. After a perfunctory trial, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was finally released in February 1986, when he and four other prisoners were exchanged for four Soviet spies who had been held in the West.

Shcharansky’s arrest and imprisonment elicited a good deal of criticism from the American people and government, but the criticism seemed merely to harden the Soviet position. It was not until after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985, promising a freer political atmosphere in the Soviet Union, that Shchransky and other political dissidents, such as Andrei Sakharov, were freed from prison and internal exile. Despite the relatively freer atmosphere of the Gorbachev years, members of the Helsinki group, as well as other Soviet dissidents, continued to press for greater democratic freedom and human rights right up to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“Soviets charge Shcharansky with treason,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2685 [accessed Jun 1, 2009]

28
May
09

On This Day, May 28: Belgium Surrenders

May 28, 1940

Belgium surrenders unconditionally

On this day in 1940, after 18 days of ceaseless German bombardment, the king of Belgium, having asked for an armistice, is given only unconditional surrender as an option. He takes it.

German forces had moved into Belgium on May 10, part of Hitler’s initial western offensive. Despite some support by British forces, the Belgians were simply outnumbered and outgunned from the beginning. The first surrender of Belgium territory took place only one day after the invasion, when the defenders of Fort Eben-Emael surrendered.

Disregarding the odds, King Leopold III of Belgium had tried to rally his forces, evoking the Belgian victory during World War I. The Belgian forces fought on, courageously, but were continually overcome by the invaders.

By May 27, the king of Belgium, realizing that his army was depleted and that even retreat was no longer an option, sent an emissary through the German lines to request an armistice, a cease-fire. It was rejected. The Germans demanded unconditional surrender. Belgium’s government in exile, stationed in Paris, repudiated the surrender, but to no avail. Belgium had no army left to fight. In the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill defended King Leopold’s decision, despite the fact that it made the British troops’ position, attempting to evacuate Dunkirk, in northern France, more precarious.

King Leopold refused to flee the country and was taken prisoner by the Nazis during their occupation, and confined to his palace. A Belgian underground army grew up during the occupation; its work including protecting the port of Antwerp, the most important provisioning point for Allied troops on the Continent, from destruction by the Germans.

“Belgium surrenders unconditionally,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6467 [accessed May 28, 2009]

On This Day

1533 – England’s Archbishop declared the marriage of King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn valid.

1774 – The First Continental Congress convened in Virginia.

1863 – The first black regiment left Boston to fight in the U.S. Civil War.

1928 – Chrysler Corporation merged with Dodge Brothers, Inc.

1937 – U.S. President Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, DC, signaling that vehicular traffic could cross the newly opened Golden Gate Bridge in California.

1961 – Amnesty International, a human rights organization, was founded.

1976 – The Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Treaty was signed, limiting any nuclear explosion – regardless of its purpose – to a yield of 150 kilotons.

1998 – Dr. Susan Terebey discoved a planet outside of our solar system with the use of photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

May 28, 1987

Matthias Rust lands his plane in Red Square

Matthias Rust, a 19-year-old amateur pilot from West Germany, takes off from Helsinki, Finland, travels through more than 400 miles of Soviet airspace, and lands his small Cessna aircraft in Red Square by the Kremlin. The event proved to be an immense embarrassment to the Soviet government and military.

Rust, described by his mother as a “quiet young man…with a passion for flying,” apparently had no political or social agenda when he took off from the international airport in Helsinki and headed for Moscow. He entered Soviet airspace, but was either undetected or ignored as he pushed farther and farther into the Soviet Union. Early on the morning of May 28, 1987, he arrived over Moscow, circled Red Square a few times, and then landed just a few hundred yards from the Kremlin. Curious onlookers and tourists, many believing that Rust was part of an air show, immediately surrounded him. Very quickly, however, Rust was arrested and whisked away. He was tried for violating Soviet airspace and sentenced to prison. He served 18 months before being released.

The repercussions in the Soviet Union were immediate. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sacked his minister of defense, and the entire Russian military was humiliated by Rust’s flight into Moscow. U.S. officials had a field day with the event–one American diplomat in the Soviet Union joked, “Maybe we should build a bunch of Cessnas.” Soviet officials were less amused. Four years earlier, the Soviets had been harshly criticized for shooting down a Korean Airlines passenger jet that veered into Russian airspace. Now, the Soviets were laughingstocks for not being able to stop one teenager’s “invasion” of the country. One Russian spokesperson bluntly declared, “You criticize us for shooting down a plane, and now you criticize us for not shooting down a plane.”

“Matthias Rust lands his plane in Red Square,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2681 [accessed May 28, 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.

12
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-12-08: Boris Yeltsin

Yeltsin resigns from Communist Party

Just two days after Mikhail Gorbachev was re-elected head of the Soviet Communist Party, Boris Yeltsin, president of the Republic of Russia, announces his resignation from the Party. Yeltsin’s action was a serious blow to Gorbachev’s efforts to keep the struggling Soviet Union together.

In July 1990, Soviet Communist Party leaders met in a congress for debate and elections. Gorbachev, who had risen to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, came under severe attack from Communist Party hard-liners. They believed that his political and economic reforms were destroying the Party’s control of the nation. Gorbachev fired back at his critics during a speech in which he defended his reforms and attacked the naysayers as backward-looking relics from the dark past of the Soviet Union. He was rewarded with an overwhelming vote in favor of his re-election as head of the Communist Party. Just two days after that vote, however, Yeltsin shattered the illusion that Gorbachev’s victory meant an end to political infighting in the Soviet Union. Yeltsin had been a consistent critic of Gorbachev, but his criticisms stemmed from a belief that Gorbachev was moving too slowly in democratizing the Soviet political system. Yeltsin’s dramatic announcement of his resignation from the Communist Party was a clear indication that he was demanding a multiparty political system in the Soviet Union. It was viewed as a slap in the face to Gorbachev and his policies.

During the next year and a half, Gorbachev’s power gradually waned, while Yeltsin’s star rose. In December 1991, Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union officially dissolved. Yeltsin, however, retained his position of power as president of Russia. In their own particular ways, both men had overseen the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

Yeltsin remained president of Russia until December 31, 1999, when he resigned. Despite his attempts at economic reform, his tenure in office saw the country’s economy falter badly, including a near-complete collapse of its currency. His administration was also marked by rampant corruption, an invasion of Chechnya and a series of bizarre incidents involving Yeltsin that were reputedly a result of his alcoholism. Yeltsin’s opponents twice tried to impeach him. With his resignation, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin became acting president until new elections could be held. On March 26, 2000, Putin became Russia’s new president.

“Yeltsin resigns from Communist Party.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 10:24 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2726.

1543 – England’s King Henry VIII married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr.

1862 – The U.S. Congress authorized the Medal of Honor.

1864 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln witnessed the battle where Union forces repelled Jubal Early’s army on the outskirts of Washington, DC.

1941 – Moscow was bombed by the German Luftwaffe for the first time.

1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a highway modernization program, with costs to be shared by federal and state governments.

2000 – Russia launched the Zvezda after two years of delays. The module was built to be the living quarters for the International Space Station (ISS.)

Russians halt German advance in a decisive battle at Kursk

On this day in 1943, one of the greatest clashes of armor in military history takes place as the German offensive against the Russian fortification at Kursk, a Russian railway and industrial center, is stopped in a devastating battle, marking the turning point in the Eastern front in the Russians’ favor.

“Russians halt German advance in a decisive battle at Kursk.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 10:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6517.

Ferraro named vice presidential candidate

Walter Mondale, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, announces that he has chosen Representative Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate. Ferraro, a daughter of Italian immigrants, had previously gained notoriety as a vocal advocate of women’s rights in Congress.

“Ferraro named vice presidential candidate.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 10:29 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5173.

11
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-11-08: Alexander Hamilton

Burr slays Hamilton in duel

In a duel held in Weehawken, New Jersey, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist and the chief architect of America’s political economy, died the following day.

Alexander Hamilton, born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, came to the American colonies in 1773 as a poor immigrant. (There is some controversy as to the year of his birth, but it was either 1755 or 1757.) In 1776, he joined the Continental Army in the American Revolution, and his relentless energy and remarkable intelligence brought him to the attention of General George Washington, who took him on as an aid. Ten years later, Hamilton served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and he led the fight to win ratification of the final document, which created the kind of strong, centralized government that he favored. In 1789, he was appointed the first secretary of the treasury by President Washington, and during the next six years he crafted a sophisticated monetary policy that saved the young U.S. government from collapse. With the emergence of political parties, Hamilton was regarded as a leader of the Federalists.

Aaron Burr, born into a prestigious New Jersey family in 1756, was also intellectually gifted, and he graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) at the age of 17. He joined the Continental Army in 1775 and distinguished himself during the Patriot attack on Quebec. A masterful politician, he was elected to the New State Assembly in 1783 and later served as state attorney. In 1790, he defeated Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law in a race for the U.S. Senate.

“Burr slays Hamilton in duel.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 01:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6955.

1533 – Henry VIII, who divorced his wife and became head of the church of England, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church by Pope Clement VII.

1786 – Morocco agreed to stop attacking American ships in the Mediterranean for a payment of $10,000.

1798 – The U.S. Marine Corps was formally re-established by “An Act for Establishing a Marine Corps” passed by the U.S. Congress. The act also created the U.S. Marine Band. The Marines were first commissioned by the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775.

1864 – In the U.S., Confederate forces led by Gen. Jubal Early began an invasion of Washington, DC. They turned back the next day.

1955 – The U.S. Air Force Academy was dedicated in Colorado Springs, CO, at Lowry Air Base.

1972 – U.S. forces broke the 95-day siege at An Loc in Vietnam.

1977 – The Medal of Freedom was awarded posthumously to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a White House ceremony.

1979 – The abandoned U.S. space station Skylab returned to Earth. It burned up in the atmosphere and showered debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.

1980 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the release of hostage Richard Queen due to illness. Queen was flown to Zurich, Switzerland. Queen had been taken hostage with 62 other Americans at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.

1995 – Full diplomatic relations were established between the United States and Vietnam.

1998 – U.S. Air Force Lt. Michael Blassie, a casualty of the Vietnam War, was laid to rest near his Missouri home. He had been positively identified from his remains that had been enshrined in the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, VA.

 

Battle of Rich Mountain

On this day, Union troops under General George B. McClellan score another major victory in the struggle for western Virginia at the Battle of Rich Mountain. The Yankee success secured the region and ensured the eventual creation of West Virginia.

Western Virginia was a crucial battleground in the early months of the war. The population of the region was deeply divided over the issue of secession, and western Virginia was also a vital east-west link for the Union because the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran through its mountains.

After McClellan scored a series of small victories in western Virginia in June and early July, Confederate General Robert Garnett and Colonel John Pegram positioned their forces at Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill to block two key roads and keep McClellan from penetrating any further east. McClellan crafted a plan to feign an attack against Garnett at Laurel Hill while he sent the bulk of his force against Pegram at Rich Mountain.

Part of McClellan’s force, led by General William Rosecrans, followed a rugged mountain path to swing around behind the Rebels’ left flank. McClellan had promised to attack the Confederate front when he heard gunfire from Rosecrans’s direction. After a difficult march through a drenching rain, Rosecrans struck the Confederate wing. It took several attempts, but he was finally able to drive the Confederates from their position. McClellan shelled the Rebel position, but did not make the expected assault. Each side suffered around 70 casualties.

Pegram was forced to abandon his position, but Rosecrans was blocking his escape route. Two days later, he surrendered his force of 555. Although McClellan became a Union hero as a result of this victory, most historians agree that Rosecrans deserved the credit. Nonetheless, McClellan was on his way to becoming the commander of the Army of the Potomac.

“Battle of Rich Mountain.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 02:00 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2242.

Soviets agree to hand over power in West Berlin

Fulfilling agreements reached at various wartime conferences, the Soviet Union promises to hand power over to British and U.S. forces in West Berlin. Although the division of Berlin (and of Germany as a whole) into zones of occupation was seen as a temporary postwar expedient, the dividing lines quickly became permanent. The divided city of Berlin became a symbol for Cold War tensions.

“Soviets agree to hand over power in West Berlin.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 02:01 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2725.

Thieu challenges NLF to participate in free elections

South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, in a televised speech, makes a “comprehensive offer” for a political settlement. He challenged the National Liberation Front to participate in free elections organized by a joint electoral commission and supervised by an international body. Following the speech, South Vietnamese Foreign Minister Tran Chanh Thanh, seeking to clarify the Thieu proposal, said communists could never participate in elections in South Vietnam “as communists” nor have any role in organizing elections–only by the South Vietnamese government could organize the elections.

“Thieu challenges NLF to participate in free elections.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 02:05 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1960.

“I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value”

 Alexander Hamilton quotes

I never expect to see a perfect work from an imperfect man.
Alexander Hamilton

09
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-9-08: Homestead

Showdown at Homestead steel plant

By the late nineteenth century, the workers at Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead, PA plant had eked out a modicum of power. They won a key strike in 1889, and in the process became a potent unit of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. Still, these victories hardly erased the harsh working conditions at the Homestead mills. Nor did they mean that the Carnegie Company was pleased with or readily recognized the union. Ever mindful of Amalgamated’s potentially deleterious impact on his profit margins, Andrew Carnegie looked to erode the power of the union. In 1892, the company made its move against Amalgamated, though not with Carnegie at the helm: the steel baron had departed for a vacation in Scotland, leaving the task of smashing the union in the hands of his partner, Henry Clay Frick. Frick took his mission all too seriously: after refusing to renew the company’s contract with Amalgamated, he dug in for war, erecting a three-mile long steel wire fence around the plant. Frick also enlisted the aid of the Pinkerton Detective agency, which sent three hundred men to Homestead to ensure the plant’s transition to non-union workers. Amalgamated’s leaders responded in kind, lining up scores of workers, as well as a good chunk of the town, to wage battle against the plant. The showdown began in earnest on July 2, as Frick halted work at Homestead until the plant was staffed entirely by non-union workers. Three days later, the Homestead affair turned bloody, as the Pinkerton agents made their first appearance on the scene. Attempting to reach the plant via the Monongahela River, the agents were met by Amalgamated’s forces; the two sides engaged in a long and vicious battle that left nine strikers and seven agents dead. Despite the losses, Amalgamated’s motley army was able to turn back the detectives. Sensing that they were on the verge of disaster, officials for Carnegie enlisted the aid of the Pennsylvania Government. And, on this day in 1892, the state sent a band of 7000 troops to Homestead to “restore law and order.” The militia effectively squelched Amalgamated’s strike: the troops helped the Carnegie restaff its plant with non-union workers and by September, the Carnegie company had resumed production. Later that November, the union conceded defeat and called off its strike; Carnegie responded by summarily firing and even blacklisting the strikers.

“Showdown at Homestead steel plant.” 2008. The History Channel website. 7 Jul 2008, 02:42 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5921.

0118 – Hadrian, Rome’s new emperor, made his entry into the city.

0455 – Avitus, the Roman military commander in Gaul, became Emperor of the West.

1540 – England’s King Henry VIII had his 6-month-old marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, annulled.

1609 – In a letter to the crown, the emperor Rudolf II granted Bohemia freedom of worship.

1755 – General Edward Braddock was killed when French and Indian troops ambushed his force of British regulars and colonial militia.

1776 – The American Declaration of Independence was read aloud to Gen. George Washington’s troops in New York.

1789 – In Versailles, the French National Assembly declared itself the Constituent Assembly and began to prepare a French constitution.

1847 – A 10-hour work day was established for workers in the state of New Hampshire.

1850 – U.S. President Zachary Taylor died in office at the age of 55. He was succeeded by Millard Fillmore. Taylor had only served 16 months.

1868 – The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The amendment was designed to grant citizenship to and protect the civil liberties of recently freed slaves. It did this by prohibiting states from denying or abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, depriving any person of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying to any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

1910 – W.R. Brookins became the first to fly an airplane a mile in the air.

1943 – American and British forces made an amphibious landing on Sicily.

1951 – U.S. President Truman asked Congress to formally end the state of war between the United States and Germany.

1971 – The United States turned over complete responsibility of the Demilitarized Zone to South Vietnamese units.

Khrushchev and Eisenhower trade threats over Cuba

President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev trade verbal threats over the future of Cuba. In the following years, Cuba became a dangerous focus in the Cold War competition between the United States and Russia.

“Khrushchev and Eisenhower trade threats over Cuba.” 2008. The History Channel website. 7 Jul 2008, 02:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2723.




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