Posts Tagged ‘Jamestown

13
May
09

On This Day, May 13: US Declares War on Mexico

May 13, 1846

President Polk declares war on Mexico

On May 13, 1846, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas.

Under the threat of war, the United States had refrained from annexing Texas after the latter won independence from Mexico in 1836. But in 1844, President John Tyler restarted negotiations with the Republic of Texas, culminating with a Treaty of Annexation.
The treaty was defeated by a wide margin in the Senate because it would upset the slave state/free state balance between North and South and risked war with Mexico, which had broken off relations with the United States. But shortly before leaving office and with the support of President-elect Polk, Tyler managed to get the joint resolution passed on March 1, 1845. Texas was admitted to the union on December 29.
While Mexico didn’t follow through with its threat to declare war, relations between the two nations remained tense over border disputes, and in July 1845, President Polk ordered troops into disputed lands that lay between the Neuces and Rio Grande rivers. In November, Polk sent the diplomat John Slidell to Mexico to seek boundary adjustments in return for the U.S. government’s settlement of the claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico and also to make an offer to purchase California and New Mexico. After the mission failed, the U.S. army under Gen. Zachary Taylor advanced to the mouth of the Rio Grande, the river that the state of Texas claimed as its southern boundary.

Mexico, claiming that the boundary was the Nueces River to the northeast of the Rio Grande, considered the advance of Taylor’s army an act of aggression and in April 1846 sent troops across the Rio Grande. Polk, in turn, declared the Mexican advance to be an invasion of U.S. soil, and on May 11, 1846, asked Congress to declare war on Mexico, which it did two days later.

After nearly two years of fighting, peace was established by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848. The Rio Grande was made the southern boundary of Texas, and California and New Mexico were ceded to the United States. In return, the United States paid Mexico the sum of $15 million and agreed to settle all claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico.

“President Polk declares war on Mexico,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=58864 [accessed May 13, 2009]

On This Day

1607 – Jamestown, Virginia, was settled as a colony of England.

1648 – Margaret Jones of Plymouth was found guilty of witchcraft and was sentenced to be hanged by the neck.

1865 – The last land engagement of the American Civil War was fought at the Battle of Palmito Ranch in far south Texas, more than a month after Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, VA.

1867 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis became a free man after spending two years in prison for his role in the American Civil War.

1888 – Slavery was abolished in Brazil.

1912 – Royal Flying Corps was established in England.

1954 – U.S. President Eisenhower signed into law the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Act.

1968 – Peace talks between the U.S. and North Vietnam began in Paris.

1981 – Pope John Paul II was shot and seriously wounded in St. Peter’s Square by Turkish assailant Mehmet Ali Agca.

1985 – A confrontation between Philadelphia authorities and the radical group MOVE ended as police dropped an explosive onto the group’s headquarters. 11 people died in the fire that resulted.

May 13, 1958

Vice President Nixon is attacked

During a goodwill trip through Latin America, Vice President Richard Nixon’s car is attacked by an angry crowd and nearly overturned while traveling through Caracas, Venezuela. The incident was the dramatic highlight of trip characterized by Latin American anger over some of America’s Cold War policies.

By 1958, relations between the United States and Latin America had reached their lowest point in years. Latin Americans complained that the U.S. focus on the Cold War and anticommunism failed to address the pressing economic and political needs of many Latin American nations. In particular, they argued that their countries needed more basic economic assistance, not more arms to repel communism. They also questioned the American support of dictatorial regimes in Latin America simply because those regimes claimed to be anticommunist-for example, the U.S. awarded the Legion of Merit medal to Venezuelan dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1954; Jimenez was overthrown by a military coup early in 1958.

This was the atmosphere into which Vice President Richard Nixon arrived during his goodwill trip through Latin America in April and May 1958. The trip began with some controversy, as Nixon engaged in loud and bitter debates with student groups during his travels through Peru and Uruguay. In Caracas, Venezuela, however, things took a dangerous turn. A large crowd of angry Venezuelans who shouted anti-American slogans stopped Nixon’s motorcade through the capital city. They attacked the car, damaged its body and smashed the windows. Inside the vehicle, Secret Service agents covered the vice president and at least one reportedly pulled out his weapon. Miraculously, they escaped from the crowd and sped away. In Washington, President Eisenhower dispatched U.S. troops to the Caribbean area to rescue Nixon from further threats if necessary. None occurred, and the vice president left Venezuela ahead of schedule.

The riot in Caracas served as a wake-up call to U.S. officials in Washington, alerting them to America’s deteriorating relations with Latin America. In the next few months, the United States increased both its military and economic assistance to the region. However, it was not until communist Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba beginning in 1959 that the United States truly realized the extent of discontent and rebelliousness in Latin America.

“Vice President Nixon is attacked,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2666 [accessed May 13, 2009]

01
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-1-08: Germany Declares War on Russia

First World War erupts

Four days after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Germany and Russia declare war against each other, France orders a general mobilization, and the first German army units cross into Luxembourg in preparation for the German invasion of France. During the next three days, Russia, France, Belgium, and Great Britain all lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and the German army invaded Belgium. The “Great War” that ensued was one of unprecedented destruction and loss of life, resulting in the deaths of some 20 million soldiers and civilians.

For the most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation. Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months. Of the initial belligerents, Germany was most prepared for the outbreak of hostilities, and its military leaders had formatted a sophisticated military strategy known as the “Schlieffen Plan,” which envisioned the conquest of France through a great arcing offensive through Belgium and into northern France. Russia, slow to mobilize, was to be kept occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces while Germany attacked France.

The Schlieffen Plan was nearly successful, but in early September the French rallied and halted the German advance at the bloody Battle of the Marne near Paris. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was a final victory in sight. On the western front–the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium–the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition.

World War I was known as the “war to end all wars” because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict–the Treaty of Versailles of 1919–forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.

“First World War erupts.” 2008. The History Channel website. 1 Aug 2008, 02:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6976.

 

On This Day

1498 – Christopher Columbus landed on “Isla Santa” (Venezuela).

1619 – The first black Americans (20) land at Jamestown, VA.

1774 – Oxygen was isolated from air successfully by chemist Carl Wilhelm and scientist Joseph Priestly.

1790 – The first U.S. census was completed. The population of the 17 states was 3,929,214.

1834 – Slavery was outlawed in the British empire with an emancipation bill.

1873 – Andrew S. Hallidie successfully tested a cable car. The design was done for San Francisco, CA.

1876 – Colorado became the 38th state to join the United States.

1894 – The first Sino-Japanese War erupted. The dispute was over control of Korea.

1907 – The U.S. Army established an aeronautical division that later became the U.S. Air Force.

1914 – Germany declared war on Russia at the beginning of World War I.

1936 – Adolf Hitler presided over the Olympic games as they opened in Berlin.

1943 – Several deaths occurred in a race-related riot in Harlem, New York City.

1946 – In the U.S., the Atomic Energy Commission was established.

1957 – The North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) was created by the United States and Canada.

1966 – Fifteen people were shot and killed and 31 others were injured by Charles Joseph Whitman from a tower at the University of Texas at Austin. Whitman was killed in the tower.

1973 – The movie “American Graffiti” opened.

1975 – The Helsinki accords pledged the signatory nations to respect human rights.

1988 – Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” opened.

2006 – Cuban leader Fidel Castro turned over absolute power when he gave his brother Raul authority while he underwent an intestinal surgery.

 

 

PT-109 sinks; Lieutenant Kennedy is instrumental in saving crew

On this day in 1943, a Japanese destroyer rams an American PT (patrol torpedo) boat, No. 109, slicing it in two. The destruction is so massive other American PT boats in the area assume the crew is dead. Two crewmen were, in fact, killed, but 11 survived, including Lt. John F. Kennedy.

Warsaw Revolt begins

During World War II, an advance Soviet armored column under General Konstantin Rokossovski reaches the Vistula River along the eastern suburb of Warsaw, prompting Poles in the city to launch a major uprising against the Nazi occupation. The revolt was spearheaded by Polish General Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski, who was the commander of the Home Army, an underground resistance group made up of some 40,000 poorly supplied soldiers. In addition to accelerating the liberation of Warsaw, the Home Army, which had ties with the Polish government-in-exile in London and was anti-communist in its ideology, hoped to gain at least partial control of Warsaw before the Soviets arrived.

Although the Poles in Warsaw won early gains–and Soviet liberation of the city was inevitable–Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered his authorities to crush the uprising at all costs. The elite Nazi SS directed the German defense force, which included the Kaminiski Brigade of Russian prisoners and the Dirlewanger Brigade of German convicts. In brutal street fighting, the Poles were gradually overcome by the superior German weaponry. As the rebels were suppressed, the Nazis deliberately razed large portions of the city and massacred many civilians.

Meanwhile, the Red Army gained several bridgeheads across the Vistula River but made no efforts to aid the rebels in Warsaw. The Soviets also rejected a request by the British to use Soviet air bases to airlift supplies to the beleaguered Poles. The rebels and the city’s citizens ran out of medical supplies, food, and eventually water. Finally, on October 2, the surviving rebels, including Bor-Komorowski, surrendered.

During the 63-day ordeal, three-fourths of the Home Army perished along with 200,000 civilians. As a testament to the ferocity of the fighting, the Germans also suffered high casualties: 10,000 killed, 9,000 wounded, and 7,000 missing. During the next few months, German troops deported the surviving population, and demolition squads destroyed what buildings remained intact in Warsaw. All of its great treasures were looted or burned. The Red Army remained dormant outside Warsaw until January 1945, when the final Soviet offensive against Germany commenced. Warsaw, a city in ruins, was liberated on January 17. With Warsaw out of the way, the Soviets faced little organized opposition in establishing a communist government in Poland.

“Warsaw Revolt begins.” 2008. The History Channel website. 1 Aug 2008, 02:50 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5225.

30
Jul
08

On this Day, 7-30-08: Jamestown

First legislative assembly in America

In Jamestown, Virginia, the first elected legislative assembly in the New World–the House of Burgesses–convenes in the choir of the town’s church.

Earlier that year, the London Company, which had established the Jamestown settlement 12 years before, directed Virginia Governor Sir George Yeardley to summon a “General Assembly” elected by the settlers, with every free adult male voting. Twenty-two representatives from the 11 Jamestown boroughs were chosen, and Master John Pory was appointed the assembly’s speaker. On July 30, the House of Burgesses (an English word for “citizens”) convened for the first time. Its first law, which, like all of its laws, would have to be approved by the London Company, required tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound. Other laws passed during its first six-day session included prohibitions against gambling, drunkenness, and idleness, and a measure that made Sabbath observance mandatory.

The creation of the House of Burgesses, along with other progressive measures, made Sir George Yeardley exceptionally popular among the colonists, and he served two terms as Virginia governor.

“First legislative assembly in America.” 2008. The History Channel website. 29 Jul 2008, 12:40 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5219.

 

On This Day

1502 – Christopher Columbus landed at Guanaja in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras during his fourth voyage.

1733 – The first Freemasons lodge opened in what would later become the United States.

1889 – Vladimir Zworykin, called the “Father of Television” was born in Russia. He invented the iconoscope.

1942 – The WAVES were created by legislation signed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The members of the Women’s Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service were a part of the U.S. Navy.

1945 – The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The ship had just delivered key components of the Hiroshima atomic bomb to the Pacific island of Tinian. Only 316 out of 1,196 men aboard survived the attack.

1956 – The phrase “In God We Trust” was adopted as the U.S. national motto.

1965 – U.S. President Johnson signed into law Social Security Act that established Medicare and Medicaid. It went into effect the following year.

1974 – The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Nixon for blocking the Watergate investigation and for abuse of power.

1975 – Jimmy Hoffa, former Teamsters union president, disappeared in Michigan. His remains were never found.

1990 – The first Saturn automobile rolled off the assembly line.

1996 – A federal law enforcement source said that security guard Richard Jewell had become the focus of the investigation into the bombing at Centennial Olympic Park. Jewell was later cleared as a suspect.

 

 

Battle of Hooge

In Flanders, Belgium, on July 30, 1915, the Germans put their new weapon, the flammenwerfer, or flamethrower, to devastating use against the Allies at the Battle of Hooge.

The Battle of Hooge represented one of the first major employments of the flamethrower, one of the most feared weapons introduced during World War I. Eleven days before the battle, British infantry had captured the German-occupied village of Hooge, located near Ypres in Belgium, by detonating a large mine. Using the flamethrowers to great effect, along with machine guns, trench mortars and hand grenades, the Germans reclaimed their positions on July 30, 1915, penetrating enemy front lines with ease and pushing the British forces back to their second trench. Though few men were lost to actual burns, a British officer reported later, the weapons had a great demoralizing effect, and when added to the assault of the other powerful weapons, they proved mercilessly efficient at Hooge.

“Battle of Hooge.” 2008. The History Channel website. 29 Jul 2008, 12:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=830.

South Vietnamese boats raid islands in the Tonkin Gulf

At about midnight, six “Swifts,” special torpedo boats used by the South Vietnamese for covert raids, attack the islands of Hon Me and Hon Ngu in the Tonkin Gulf. Although unable to land any commandos, the boats fired on island installations. Radar and radio transmissions were monitored by an American destroyer, the USS Maddox, which was stationed about 120 miles away.

The South Vietnamese attacks were part of a covert operation called Oplan 34A, which involved raids by South Vietnamese commandos operating under American orders against North Vietnamese coastal and island installations. Although American forces were not directly involved in the actual raids, U.S. Navy ships were on station to conduct electronic surveillance and monitor North Vietnamese defense responses under another program, Operation De Soto. The Oplan 34A attacks played a major role in events that led to what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. On August 2, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the Maddox, which had been conducting a De Soto mission in the area. Two days after the first attack, there was another incident that still remains unclear. The Maddox, joined by destroyer USS C. Turner Joy, engaged what were thought at the time to be more attacking North Vietnamese patrol boats. Although it was questionable whether the second attack actually happened or not, the incident provided the rationale for retaliatory air attacks against the North Vietnamese and the subsequent Tonkin Gulf Resolution. The resolution became the basis for the initial escalation of the war in Vietnam and ultimately the insertion of U.S. combat troops into the area.

“South Vietnamese boats raid islands in the Tonkin Gulf.” 2008. The History Channel website. 29 Jul 2008, 12:47 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1997.




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