Posts Tagged ‘Leonardo da Vinci

02
May
09

On This Day, May 2: Stonewall Jackson Wounded

May 2, 1863

Jackson flanks Hooker at Chancellorsville

Stonewall Jackson administers a devastating defeat to the Army of the Potomac. In one of the most stunning upsets of the war, a vastly outnumbered Army of Northern Virginia sent the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Joseph Hooker, back to Washington in defeat.

Hooker, who headed for Lee’s army confident and numerically superior, had sent part of his force to encounter Lee’s troops at Fredericksburg the day before, while the rest swung west to approach Lee from the rear. Meanwhile, Lee had left part of his army at Fredericksburg and had taken the rest of his troops to confront Hooker near Chancellorsville. When the armies collided on May 1, Hooker withdrew into a defensive posture.

Sensing Hooker’s trepidation, Lee sent Jackson along with 28,000 troops on a swift, 14-mile march around the Union right flank. Splitting his army into three parts in the face of the mighty Army of the Potomac was a bold move, but it paid huge dividends for the Confederates. Although Union scouts detected the movement as Jackson swung southward, Hooker misinterpreted the maneuver as a retreat. When Jackson’s troops swung back north and into the thick woods west of Hooker’s army, Union pickets reported a possible buildup; but their warnings fell on deaf ears.

In the evening of May 2, Union soldiers from General Oliver Otis Howard’s 11th Corps were casually cooking their supper and playing cards when waves of forest animals charged from the woods. Behind them were Jackson’s attacking troops. The Federal flank crumbled as Howard’s men were driven back some two miles before stopping the Rebel advance.

Despite the Confederate victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Union forces soon gained the upper hand in the war in the eastern theater. Scouting in front of the lines as they returned in the dark, Jackson and his aides were fired upon by their own troops. Jackson’s arm was amputated the next morning, and he never recovered. He died from complications a week later, leaving Lee without his most able lieutenant.

“Jackson flanks Hooker at Chancellorsville,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2002 [accessed May 2, 2009]

On This Day

1519 – Leonardo da Vinci died.

1670 – The Hudson Bay Company was founded by England’s King Charles II.

1776 – France and Spain agreed to donate arms to American rebels fighting the British.

1798 – The black General Toussaint L’ouverture forced British troops to agree to evacuate the port of Santo Domingo.

1865 – U.S. President Andrew Johnson offered $100,000 reward for the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

1887 – Hannibal W. Goodwin applied for a patent on celluloid photographic film. This is the film from which movies are shown.

1926 – U.S. Marines landed in Nicaragua to put down a revolt and to protect U.S. interests. They did not depart until 1933.

1933 – Hitler banned trade unions in Germany.

1945 – Russians took Berlin after 12 days of fierce house-to-house fighting. The Allies announced the surrender of Nazi troops in Italy and parts of Austria.

1970 – Student anti-war protesters at Ohio‘s Kent State University burn down the campus ROTC building. The National Guard took control of the campus.

1974 – Former U.S. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew was disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

1982 – The British submarine HMS Conqueror sank Argentina’s only cruiser, the General Belgrano during the Falkland Islands War. More than 350 people died.

1994 – Nelson Mandela claimed victory after South Africa’s first democratic elections.

May 2, 1972

End of an era at the FBI

After nearly five decades as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), J. Edgar Hoover dies, leaving the powerful government agency without the administrator who had been largely responsible for its existence and shape.

Educated as a lawyer and a librarian, Hoover joined the Department of Justice in 1917 and within two years had become special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Deeply anti-radical in his ideology, Hoover came to the forefront of federal law enforcement during the so-called “Red Scare” of 1919 to 1920. The former librarian set up a card index system listing every radical leader, organization, and publication in the United States and by 1921 had amassed some 450,000 files. More than 10,000 suspected communists were also arrested during this period, but the vast majority of these people were briefly questioned and then released. Although the attorney general was criticized for abusing his authority during the so-called “Palmer Raids,” Hoover emerged unscathed, and on May 10, 1924, he was appointed acting director of the Bureau of Investigation, a branch of the Justice Department established in 1909.

During the 1920s, with Congress’ approval, Director Hoover drastically restructured and expanded the Bureau of Investigation. He built the corruption-ridden agency into an efficient crime-fighting machine, establishing a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory, and a training school for agents. In the 1930s, the Bureau of Investigation launched a dramatic battle against the epidemic of organized crime brought on by Prohibition. Notorious gangsters such as George “Machine Gun” Kelly and John Dillinger met their ends looking down the barrels of Bureau-issued guns, while others, like Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the elusive head of Murder, Incorporated, were successfully investigated and prosecuted by Hoover’s “G-men.” Hoover, who had a keen eye for public relations, participated in a number of these widely publicized arrests, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, as it was known after 1935, became highly regarded by Congress and the American public.

With the outbreak of World War II, Hoover revived the anti-espionage techniques he had developed during the first Red Scare, and domestic wiretaps and other electronic surveillance expanded dramatically. After World War II, Hoover focused on the threat of radical, especially communist, subversion. The FBI compiled files on millions of Americans suspected of dissident activity, and Hoover worked closely with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, the architect of America’s second Red Scare.

In 1956, Hoover initiated Cointelpro, a secret counterintelligence program that initially targeted the U.S. Communist Party but later was expanded to infiltrate and disrupt any radical organization in America. During the 1960s, the immense resources of Cointelpro were used against dangerous groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, but also against African American civil rights organizations and liberal anti-war organizations. One figure especially targeted was civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who endured systematic harassment from the FBI.

By the time Hoover entered service under his eighth president in 1969, the media, the public, and Congress had grown suspicious that the FBI might be abusing its authority. For the first time in his bureaucratic career, Hoover endured widespread criticism, and Congress responded by passing laws requiring Senate confirmation of future FBI directors and limiting their tenure to 10 years. On May 2, 1972, with the Watergate affair about to explode onto the national stage, J. Edgar Hoover died of heart disease at the age of 77. The Watergate affair subsequently revealed that the FBI had illegally protected President Richard Nixon from investigation, and the agency was thoroughly investigated by Congress. Revelations of the FBI’s abuses of power and unconstitutional surveillance motivated Congress and the media to become more vigilant in future monitoring of the FBI.

“End of an era at the FBI,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4969 [accessed May 2, 2009]

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03
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-3-2008: Communists and Klansmen

November 3, 1979

Communists and Klansmen clash in Greensboro

Five members of the Communist Workers Party, participating in a “Death to the Klan” rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, are shot to death by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis. Seven others were wounded.

Members of the Communist Workers Party had organized the anti-Ku Klux Klan rally and march and were joined by a group of local African American mill workers. A caravan of cars carrying Klansmen and neo-Nazis arrived to disrupt the march, and videotape shows demonstrators initiating the violence by kicking and striking the Klan and Nazi vehicles. The Klansmen and Nazis then opened fire, shooting six demonstrators. The communists, who were carrying concealed weapons, then returned fire. When the gun battle ended, five demonstrators were dead or dying, and seven were wounded.

In 1980, six Klan and Nazi members were put on trial on murder and rioting charges. During the trial, evidence came to light indicating that the Greensboro police, and perhaps the federal government, were aware of the probability of violence at the rally but did little to prevent it. Edward Dawson, a paid informant for the Greensboro Police Department and former FBI informer in the Klan, had helped plan the massacre and had notified the Greensboro police of the details, while Bernard Butkovich, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agent undercover in the local branch of the American Nazi Party, had supplied some of the firearms used. When the scheduled time arrived for the Klansman and neo-Nazis to disrupt the march, the tactical squad from the Greensboro Police Department assigned to monitor the march was suspiciously absent.

The six defendants were acquitted on all charges on the grounds that they had fired on the demonstrators in self-defense. In 1984, a federal trial likewise ended in acquittals. In 1985, a North Carolina jury found two Greensboro police officers, five Klansmen and Nazis, and Edward Dawson liable for the “wrongful death” of one of the demonstrators who was killed and ordered them to pay nearly $400,000 in damages. The jury also ruled that there was no conspiracy between the Klan, local police, and the federal government to disrupt the rally or injure the protesters.

“Communists and Klansmen clash in Greensboro.” 2008. The History Channel website. 3 Nov 2008, 01:59 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5492.

On This Day

1507 – Leonardo DaVinci was commissioned by the husband of Lisa Gherardini to paint her. The work is known as the Mona Lisa.

1631 – The Reverend John Eliot arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was the first Protestant minister to dedicate himself to the conversion of Native Americans to Christianity.

1796 – John Adams was elected the 2nd U.S. President.

1839 – The first Opium War between China and Britain erupted.

1903 – Panama proclaimed its independence from Columbia.

1934 – The first race track in California opened under a new pari-mutuel betting law.

1941 – Japanese Ambassador John Grew warned that the Japanese may be planning a sudden attack on the U.S.

1957 – Sputnik II was launched by the Soviet Union. It was the second manmade satellite to be put into orbit and was the first to put an animal into space, a dog named Laika.

1973 – The U.S. launched the Mariner 10 spacecraft. On March 29, 1974 it became the first spacecraft to reach the planet Mercury.

1986 – The Ash-Shiraa, pro-Syrian Lebanese magazine, first broke the story of U.S. arms sales to Iran to secure the release of seven American hostages. The story turned into the Iran-Contra affair.

1992 – Carol Moseley-Braun became the first African-American woman U.S. senator.

November 3, 1777

Washington learns of Conway cabal

On this day in 1777, General George Washington is informed that a conspiracy is afoot to discredit him with Congress and have him replaced by General Horatio Gates. Thomas Conway, who would be made inspector general of the United States less than two months later on December 14, led the effort.

Conway, who was born in Ireland but raised in France, entered the French army in 1749. He was recruited to the Patriot cause by Silas Deane, the American ambassador to France, and after meeting with Washington at Morristown in May 1777, he was appointed brigadier general and assigned to Major General John Sullivan’s division.

Conway served admirably under Sullivan at the battles of Brandywine, in September 1777, and Germantown, in October 1777, before becoming involved in an unconfirmed conspiracy to remove General Washington from command of the Continental Army. The rumored conspiracy would go down in history as the “Conway cabal.”

After the Continental Army suffered several defeats in the fall of 1777, some members of Congress expressed displeasure with Washington’s leadership and Conway began writing letters to prominent leaders, including General Horatio Gates, that were critical of Washington. After Washington got wind of Conway’s letter to General Gates, he responded with a letter to Congress in January 1778. Embarrassed, Conway offered his resignation in March 1778 by way of apology, and was surprised and humiliated when Congress accepted. After General John Cadwalader wounded him in a duel defending Washington’s honor, Conway returned to France, where he died in exile in 1800.

“Washington learns of Conway cabal.” 2008. The History Channel website. 3 Nov 2008, 02:02 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52037.

29
Jan
08

On This Day 1-29-08: Charles Starkweather

1845 – Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” was published for the first time in the “New York Evening Mirror.”

1850 – Henry Clay introduced in the Senate a compromise bill on slavery that included the admission of California into the Union as a free state.

1861 – In America, Kansas became the 34th state of the Union.

1886 – The first successful petrol-driven motorcar, built by Karl Benz, was patented.

1900 – The American Baseball League was organized in Philadelphia, PA. It consisted of 8 teams.

1916 – In World War I, Paris was bombed by German zeppelins for the first time.

1949 – “The Newport News” was commissioned as the first air-conditioned naval ship in Virginia.

1958 – Charles Starkweather was captured by police in Wyoming.

1979 – U.S. President Carter formally welcomed Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping to the White House. The visit followed the establishment of diplomatic relations.

1987 – “Physician’s Weekly” announced that the smile on the face of Leonardo DeVinci’s Mona Lisa was caused by a “…facial paralysis resulting from a swollen nerve behind the ear.”

1990 – Joseph Hazelwood, the former skipper of the Exxon Valdez, went on trial in Anchorage, AK, on charges that stemmed from America’s worst oil spill. Hazelwood was later acquitted of all the major charges and was convicted of a misdemeanor.

1997 – America Online agreed to give refunds to frustrated customers under threat of lawsuits across the country. Customers were unable to log on after AOL offered a flat $19.95-a-month rate.

1998 – A bomb exploded at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, AL, killing an off-duty policeman and severely wounding a nurse. Eric Rudolph was charged with this bombing and three other attacks in Atlanta.

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allan Poe

For more on Charles Starkweather: http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/mass/starkweather/index_1.html

03
Jan
08

On This Day: 1-3-08

1496 – References in Leonardo da Vinci notebooks suggested that he tested his flying machine. The test didn’t succeed and he didn’t try to fly again for several years.

1521 – Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther.

1777 – The Battle of Princeton took place in the War of Independence, in which George Washington defeated the British forces, led by Cornwallis.

1823 – Stephen F. Austin received a grant from the Mexican government and began colonization in the region of the Brazos River in Texas.

1925 – In Italy, Mussolini announced that he would take dictatorial powers.

1947 – In Trenton, NJ, Al Herrin, passed away at age 92. He had claimed that he had not slept at all during his life.

1959 – In the U.S., Alaska became the 49th state.

1962 – Pope John XXIII excommunicated Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro.

1967 – Jack Ruby died in a Dallas, TX, hospital.

1980 – Conservationist Joy Adamson, author of “Born Free,” was killed in northern Kenya by a servant.

2000 – Charles M. Schulz’s final original daily comic strip appeared in newspapers.

Blood alone moves the wheels of history.
Martin Luther

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
Martin Luther




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