Posts Tagged ‘Joseph McCarthy

02
Jun
09

On This Day, June 2: American Civil War Ends

June 2, 1865

American Civil War ends

In an event that is generally regarded as marking the end of the Civil War, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi, signs the surrender terms offered by Union negotiators. With Smith’s surrender, the last Confederate army ceased to exist, bringing a formal end to the bloodiest four years in U.S. history.

The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate shore batteries under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. During 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort, and on April 13 U.S. Major Robert Anderson, commander of the Union garrison, surrendered. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to help quell the Southern “insurrection.” Four long years later, the Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate dead.

American Civil War ends,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5057 [accessed Jun 2, 2009]

On This Day

1537 – Pope Paul III banned the enslavement of Indians.

1793 – Maximillian Robespierre initiated the “Reign of Terror”. It was an effort to purge those suspected of treason against the French Republic.

1896 – Guglieimo Marconi’s radio was patented in the U.S.

1928 – Nationalist Chiang Kai-shek captured Peking, China.

1933 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the first swimming pool to be built inside the White House.

1954 – U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy charged that there were communists working in the CIA and atomic weapons plants.

1966 – Surveyor 1, the U.S. space probe, landed on the moon and started sending photographs back to Earth of the Moon’s surface. It was the first soft landing on the Moon.

1979 – Pope John Paul II arrived in his native Poland on the first visit by a pope to a Communist country.

1998 – Voters in California passed Proposition 227. The act abolished the state’s 30-year-old bilingual education program by requiring that all children be taught in English.

2003 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that companies could not be sued under a trademark law for using information in the public domain without giving credit to the originator. The case had originated with 20th Century Fox against suing Dastar Corp. over their use of World War II footage.

June 2, 1924

The Indian Citizenship Act

With Congress’ passage of the Indian Citizenship Act, the government of the United States confers citizenship on all Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the country.

Before the Civil War, citizenship was often limited to Native Americans of one-half or less Indian blood. In the Reconstruction period, progressive Republicans in Congress sought to accelerate the granting of citizenship to friendly tribes, though state support for these measures was often limited. In 1888, most Native American women married to U.S. citizens were conferred with citizenship, and in 1919 Native American veterans of World War I were offered citizenship. In 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act, an all-inclusive act, was passed by Congress. The privileges of citizenship, however, were largely governed by state law, and the right to vote was often denied to Native Americans in the early 20th century.

“The Indian Citizenship Act,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5059 [accessed Jun 2, 2009]

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22
Apr
09

On This Day, April 22: The First Earth Day

April 22, 1970

The first Earth Day

Earth Day, an event to increase public awareness of the world’s environmental problems, is celebrated in the United States for the first time. Millions of Americans, including students from thousands of colleges and universities, participated in rallies, marches, and educational programs.

Earth Day was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a staunch environmentalist who hoped to provide unity to the grassroots environmental movement and increase ecological awareness. “The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy,” Senator Nelson said, “and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda.” Earth Day indeed increased environmental awareness in America, and in July of that year the Environmental Protection Agency was established by special executive order to regulate and enforce national pollution legislation.

On April 22, 1990, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, more than 200 million people in 141 countries participated in Earth Day celebrations.

Earth Day has been celebrated on different days by different groups internationally. The United Nations officially celebrates it on the vernal equinox, which usually occurs about March 21.

“The first Earth Day,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4943 [accessed Apr 22, 2009]

On This Day

1500 – Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil.

1529 – Spain and Portugal divided the eastern hemisphere in Treaty of Saragosa.

1861 – Robert E. Lee was named commander of Virginia forces.

1889 – At noon, the Oklahoma land rush officially started as thousands of Americans raced for new, unclaimed land.

1898 – The first shot of the Spanish-American war occurred when the USS Nashville captured a Spanish merchant ship.

1915 – At the Second Battle Ypres the Germans became the first country to use poison gas.

1930 – The U.S., Britain and Japan signed the London Naval Treaty, which regulated submarine warfare and limited shipbuilding.

1952 – An atomic test conducted in Nevada was the first nuclear explosion shown on live network television.

1976 – Barbara Walters became first female nightly network news anchor.

1993 – The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was dedicated in Washington, DC.

April 22, 1954

McCarthy Army hearings begin

Senator Joseph McCarthy begins hearings investigating the United States Army, which he charges with being “soft” on communism. These televised hearings gave the American public their first view of McCarthy in action, and his recklessness, indignant bluster, and bullying tactics quickly resulted in his fall from prominence.

In February 1950, Senator McCarthy charged that there were over 200 “known communists” in the Department of State. Thus began his dizzying rise to fame as the most famous and feared communist hunter in the United States. McCarthy adeptly manipulated the media, told ever more outrageous stories concerning the communist conspiracy in the United States, and smeared any opponents as “communist sympathizers” to keep his own name in the headlines for years. By 1954, however, his power was beginning to wane. While he had been useful to the Republican Party during the years of the Democratic administration of President Harry S. Truman, his continued attacks on “communists in government” after Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower took over the White House in 1953 were becoming political liabilities.

In an effort to reinvigorate his declining popularity, McCarthy made a dramatic accusation that was a crucial mistake: in early 1954, he charged that the United States Army was “soft” on communism. McCarthy was indignant because David Schine, one of his former investigators, had been drafted and the Army, much to McCarthy’s surprise, refused the special treatment he demanded for his former aide. In April 1954, McCarthy, chairman of the Government Operations Committee in the Senate, opened televised hearings into his charges against the Army.

The hearings were a fiasco for McCarthy. He constantly interrupted with irrelevant questions and asides; yelled “point of order” whenever testimony was not to his liking; and verbally attacked witnesses, attorneys for the Army, and his fellow senators. The climax came when McCarthy slandered an associate of the Army’s chief counsel, Joseph Welch. Welch fixed McCarthy with a steady glare and declared evenly, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness…Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” A stunned McCarthy listened as the packed audience exploded into cheers and applause. McCarthy’s days as a political power were effectively over. A few weeks later, the Army hearings dribbled to a close with little fanfare and no charges were upheld against the Army by the committee. In December 1954, the Senate voted to censure McCarthy for his conduct. Three years later, having become a hopeless alcoholic, he died.

“McCarthy Army hearings begin,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2645 [accessed Apr 22, 2009]

21
Apr
09

On This Day, April 21: Tiananmen Square

April 21, 1989

Chinese students begin protests at Tiananmen Square

Six days after the death of Hu Yaobang, the deposed reform-minded leader of the Chinese Communist Party, some 100,000 students gather at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate Hu and voice their discontent with China’s authoritative communist government. The next day, an official memorial service for Hu Yaobang was held in Tiananmen’s Great Hall of the People, and student representatives carried a petition to the steps of the Great Hall, demanding to meet with Premier Li Peng. The Chinese government refused such a meeting, leading to a general boycott of Chinese universities across the country and widespread calls for democratic reforms.

Ignoring government warnings of violent suppression of any mass demonstration, students from more than 40 universities began a march to Tiananmen on April 27. The students were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants, and by mid-May more than a million people filled the square, the site of communist leader’s Mao Zedong’s proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. On May 20, the government formally declared martial law in Beijing, and troops and tanks were called in to disperse the dissidents. However, large numbers of students and citizens blocked the army’s advance, and by May 23 government forces had pulled back to the outskirts of Beijing.

On June 3, with negotiations to end the protests stalled and calls for democratic reforms escalating, the troops received orders from the Chinese government to reclaim Tiananmen at all costs. By the end of the next day, Chinese troops had forcibly cleared Tiananmen Square and Beijing’s streets, killing hundreds of demonstrators and arresting thousands of protesters and other suspected dissidents. In the weeks after the government crackdown, an unknown number of dissidents were executed, and communist hard-liners took firm control of the country.

The international community was outraged at the incident, and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries sent China’s economy into decline. However, by late 1990, international trade had resumed, thanks in part to China’s release of several hundred imprisoned dissidents.

“Chinese students begin protests at Tiananmen Square,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4942 [accessed Apr 21, 2009]

On This Day

753 BC – Today is the traditional date of the foundation of Rome.

43 BC – Marcus Antonius was defeated by Octavian near Modena, Italy.

1649 – The Maryland Toleration Act was passed, allowing all freedom of worship.

1789 – John Adams was sworn in as the first U.S. Vice President.

1836 – General Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. This battle decided the independence of Texas.

1865 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train left Washington.

1914 – U.S. Marines occupied Vera Cruz, Mexico.

1918 – German fighter ace Baron von Richthofen, “The Red Baron,” was shot down and killed during World War I.

1943 – U.S. President Roosevelt announced that several Doolittle pilots had been executed by the Japanese.

1959 – The largest fish ever hooked by a rod and reel was caught by Alf Dean. It was a 16-foot, 10-inch white shark that weighed 2,664 pounds.

1967 – Svetlana Alliluyeva (Svetlana Stalina) defected in New York City. She was the daughter of Joseph Stalin.

1975 – South Vietnam president, Nguyen Van Thieu, resigned, condemning the United States.

1994 – Jackie Parker became the first woman to qualify to fly an F-16 combat plane.

April 21, 1953

Roy Cohn and David Schine return to U.S.

Roy Cohn and David Schine, two of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief aides, return to the United States after a controversial investigation of United States Information Service (USIS) posts in Europe. Upon their recommendation, thousands of books were removed from USIS libraries in several Western European countries.

Cohn and Schine had risen to fame on the coattails of Senator McCarthy as he conducted his well-publicized hunt for subversives and communists in the United States. Cohn became chief counsel to the McCarthy Senate subcommittee devoted to investigating communism in the U.S. government, and Schine, one of Cohn’s close friends, became a “special consultant.” In the spring of 1953, Cohn and Schine departed for a seven-nation tour of Western Europe. Their primary task was to investigate the workings of the USIS posts, foreign offices of the United States Information Agency that had recently been established to serve as propaganda centers. The posts hosted speakers, showed movies, and set up libraries containing what were considered to be representative pieces of American literature. Cohn and Schine were appalled by the authors they found on the USIS bookshelves. The two men reported that over 30,000 books in the libraries were by “pro-communist” writers and demanded their removal. The authors they targeted included crime novelist Dashiell Hammett, African-American intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois, Herman Melville, John Steinbeck, and Henry Thoreau. The State Department, which oversaw the operations of USIS, immediately ordered thousands of books removed from the libraries.

The irony of the situation did not escape commentators of the time. With the Nazi book burnings of World War II still fresh in the collective memory, many felt it was questionable that America had joined the ranks of nations that censored literature. In the fight against communism, even Moby Dick was dispensable.

“Roy Cohn and David Schine return to U.S.,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2644 [accessed Apr 21, 2009]

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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