Posts Tagged ‘NASA

07
Jun
09

On This Day, June 7: Mohandas K Gandhi

June 7, 1893

Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience

In an event that would have dramatic repercussions for the people of India, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a young Indian lawyer working in South Africa, refuses to comply with racial segregation rules on a South African train and is forcibly ejected at Pietermaritzburg.

Born in India and educated in England, Gandhi traveled to South Africa in early 1893 to practice law under a one-year contract. Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi later recalled one such incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man.

When his contract expired, he spontaneously decided to remain in South Africa and launch a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906, the Transvaal government sought to further restrict the rights of Indians, and Gandhi organized his first campaign of satyagraha, or mass civil disobedience. After seven years of protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African government.

In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and spirituality on the periphery of Indian politics. He supported Britain in the First World War but in 1919 launched a new satyagraha in protest of Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians. Hundreds of thousands answered his call to protest, and by 1920 he was leader of the Indian movement for independence. Always nonviolent, he asserted the unity of all people under one God and preached Christian and Muslim ethics along with his Hindu teachings. The British authorities jailed him several times, but his following was so great that he was always released.

After World War II, he was a leading figure in the negotiations that led to Indian independence in 1947. Although hailing the granting of Indian independence as the “noblest act of the British nation,” he was distressed by the religious partition of the former Mogul Empire into India and Pakistan. When violence broke out between Hindus and Muslims in India in 1947, he resorted to fasts and visits to the troubled areas in an effort to end India’s religious strife. On January 30, 1948, he was on one such prayer vigil in New Delhi when he was fatally shot by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist who objected to Gandhi’s tolerance for the Muslims.

Known as Mahatma, or “the great soul,” during his lifetime, Gandhi’s persuasive methods of civil disobedience influenced leaders of civil rights movements around the world, especially Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States.

“Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5073 [accessed Jun 7, 2009]

 

On This Day

1494 – Spain and Portugal divided the new lands they had discovered between themselves.

1498 – Christopher Columbus left on his third voyage of exploration.

1712 – The Pennsylvania Assembly banned the importation of slaves.

1775 – The United Colonies changed their name to the United States.

1863 – Mexico City was captured by French troops.

1903 – Professor Pierre Curie revealed the discovery of Polonium.

1932 – Over 7,000 war veterans marched on Washington, DC, demanding their bonuses.

1939 – King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, arrived in the U.S. It was the first visit to the U.S. by a reigning British monarch.

1942 – The Battle of Midway ended. The sea and air battle lasted 4 days. Japan lost four carriers, a cruiser, and 292 aircraft, and suffered 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost the Yorktown, the destroyer USS Hammann, 145 aircraft, and suffered 307 casualties.

1944 – Off of the coast of Normandy, France, the Susan B. Anthony sank. All 2,689 people aboard survived.

1965 – In the U.S., the Gemini 4 mission was completed. The mission featured the first spacewalk by an American.

1981 – Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers destroyed Iraq’s only nuclear reactor.

1998 – James Byrd Jr., at age 49, was murdered in Jasper, TX. Byrd had been dragged to death behind a pickup truck. On February 25, 1999 William King was sentenced to the death penalty for the racial crime while two other men charged awaited trial.

June 7, 1776

“Lee’s Resolution” presented to Continental Congress

On this day in 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduces a resolution for independence to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia; John Adams seconds the motion.

Lee’s resolution declared: “That these United Colonies are, and of right out to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together.”

During the ensuing debates, it became clear that New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina were as yet unwilling to declare independence, but would likely be ready to vote in favor of a break with England in due course. Thus, Congress agreed to delay the vote on Lee’s Resolution until July 1. In the intervening period, Congress appointed a committee to draft a formal declaration of independence. Its members were John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, well-known to be the best writer of the group, was selected to be the primary author of the document, which was presented to Congress for review on June 28, 1776.

On July 1, 1776, debate on the Lee Resolution resumed as planned, with a majority of the delegates favoring the resolution. Congress thought it of the utmost importance that independence be unanimously proclaimed. To ensure this, they delayed the final vote until July 2, when 12 colonial delegations voted in favor of it, with the New York delegates abstaining, unsure of how their constituents would wish them to vote.

John Adams wrote that July 2 would be celebrated as “the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” Instead, the day has been largely forgotten in favor of July 4, when Jefferson’s edited Declaration of Independence was adopted.

“‘Lee’s Resolution’ presented to Continental Congress,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=714 [accessed Jun 7, 2009]

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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]

30
May
09

On This Day, May 30: Decoration Day

May 30, 1868

Civil War dead honored on Decoration Day

By proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, the first major Memorial Day observance is held to honor those who died “in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” Known to some as “Decoration Day,” mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

The 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances that had taken place in various locations in the three years since the end of the Civil War. In fact, several cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; and Carbondale, Illinois. In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon B. Johnson, declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo–which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866–because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 19th century, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day, and after World War I, observers began to honor the dead of all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. It is customary for the president or vice president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. More than 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually. Several Southern states continue to set aside a special day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.

“Civil War dead honored on Decoration Day,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5048 [accessed May 30, 2009]

On This Day

1416 – Jerome of Prague was burned as a heretic by the Church.

1431 – Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen, France, at the age of 19.

1539 – Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer, landed in Florida with 600 soldiers to search for gold.

1854 – The U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas were established.

1883 – Twelve people were trampled to death in New York City in a stampede when a rumor that the Brooklyn Bridge was in danger of collapsing occurred.

1911 – Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis Sweepstakes. The 500-mile auto race later became known as the Indianapolis 500. Harroun’s average speed was 74.59 miles per hour.

1913 – The First Balkan War ended.

1922 – The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC.

1958 – Unidentified soldiers killed in World War II and the Korean conflicts were buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

1967 – The state of Biafra seceded from Nigeria and Civil war erupted.

1989 – The “Goddess of Democracy” statue (33 feet height) was erected in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.

 

May 30, 1971

Mariner 9 departs for Mars

The U.S. unmanned space probe Mariner 9 is launched on a mission to gather scientific information on Mars, the fourth planet from the sun. The 1,116-pound spacecraft entered the planet’s orbit on November 13, 1971, and circled Mars twice each day for almost a year, photographing the surface and analyzing the atmosphere with infrared and ultraviolet instruments. It gathered data on the atmospheric composition, density, pressure, and temperature of Mars, and also information about the surface composition, temperature, and topography of the planet.

When Mariner 9 first arrived, Mars was almost totally obscured by dust storms, which persisted for a month. However, after the dust cleared, Mariner 9 proceeded to reveal a very different planet–one that boasted enormous volcanoes and a gigantic canyon stretching 3,000 miles across its surface. The spacecraft’s cameras also recorded what appeared to be dried riverbeds, suggesting the ancient presence of water and perhaps life on the planet. The first spacecraft to orbit a planet other than earth, Mariner 9 sent back more than 7,000 pictures of the “Red Planet” and succeeded in photographing the entire planet. Mariner 9 also sent back the first close-up images of the Martian moon. Its transmission ended on October 27, 1972.

Mariner 9 departs for Mars,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5050 [accessed May 30, 2009]

29
May
09

On This Day, May 29: Wisconsin Statehood

May 29, 1848

Wisconsin enters the Union

Following approval of statehood by the territory’s citizens, Wisconsin enters the Union as the 30th state.

In 1634, French explorer Jean Nicolet landed at Green Bay, becoming the first European to visit the lake-heavy northern region that would later become Wisconsin. In 1763, at the conclusion of the French and Indian Wars, the region, a major center of the American fur trade, passed into British control. Two decades later, at the end of the American Revolution, the region came under U.S. rule and was governed as part of the Northwest Territory. However, British fur traders continued to dominate Wisconsin from across the Canadian border, and it was not until the end of the War of 1812 that the region fell firmly under American control.

In the first decades of the 19th century, settlers began arriving via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes to exploit Wisconsin’s agricultural potential, and in 1832 the Black Hawk War ended Native American resistance to white settlement. In 1836, after several decades of governance as part of other territories, Wisconsin was made a separate entity, with Madison, located midway between Milwaukee and the western centers of population, marked as the territorial capital. By 1840, population in Wisconsin had risen above 130,000, but the people voted against statehood four times, fearing the higher taxes that would come with a stronger central government. Finally, in 1848, Wisconsin citizens, envious of the prosperity that federal programs brought to neighboring Midwestern states, voted to approve statehood. Wisconsin entered the Union the next May.

“Wisconsin enters the Union,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5044 (accessed May 29, 2009).

On This Day

1453 – Constantinople fell to Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, ending the Byzantine Empire.

1765 – Patrick Henry denounced the Stamp Act before Virginia‘s House of Burgesses.

1790 – Rhode Island became the last of the original thirteen colonies to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

1910 – An airplane raced a train from Albany, NY, to New York City. The airplane pilot Glenn Curtiss won the $10,000 prize.

1911 – The first running of the Indianapolis 500 took place.

1912 – Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, PA, for dancing the Turkey Trot while on the job.

1922 – Ecuador became independent.

1951 – C.F. Blair became the first man to fly over the North Pole in single engine plane.

1953 – Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became first men to reach the top of Mount Everest.

1962 – Buck (John) O’Neil became the first black coach in major league baseball when he accepted the job with the Chicago Cubs.

1973 – Tom Bradley was elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles.

1985 – 39 people were killed and 400 were injured in a riot at a European Cup soccer match in Brussels, Belgium.

1999 – Space shuttle Discovery completed the first docking with the International Space Station.

2001 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that disabled golfer Casey Martin could use a cart to ride in tournaments.

May 29, 1932

Bonus Marchers arrive in Washington

At the height of the Great Depression, the so-called “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group of 1,000 World War I veterans seeking cash payments for their veterans’ bonus certificates, arrive in Washington, D.C. One month later, other veteran groups spontaneously made their way to the nation’s capital, swelling the Bonus Marchers to nearly 20,000 strong, most of them unemployed veterans in desperate financial straits. 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, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, to evict them forcibly. 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 arrive in Washington,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5046 (accessed May 29, 2009).

26
May
09

On This Day, May 26: Pequot Massacres

May 26, 1637

Pequot massacres begin

During the Pequot War, an allied Puritan and Mohegan force under English Captain John Mason attacks a Pequot village in Connecticut, burning or massacring some 500 Indian women, men, and children.

As the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay spread further into Connecticut, they came into increasing conflict with the Pequots, a war-like tribe centered on the Thames River in southeastern Connecticut. By the spring of 1637, 13 English colonists and traders had been killed by the Pequot, and Massachusetts Bay Governor John Endecott organized a large military force to punish the Indians. On April 23, 200 Pequot warriors responded defiantly to the colonial mobilization by attacking a Connecticut settlement, killing six men and three women and taking two girls away.

On May 26, 1637, two hours before dawn, the Puritans and their Indian allies marched on the Pequot village at Mystic, slaughtering all but a handful of its inhabitants. On June 5, Captain Mason attacked another Pequot village, this one near present-day Stonington, and again the Indian inhabitants were defeated and massacred. On July 28, a third attack and massacre occurred near present-day Fairfield, and the Pequot War came to an end. Most of the surviving Pequot were sold into slavery, though a handful escaped to join other southern New England tribes.

“Pequot massacres begin,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5035 [accessed May 26, 2009]

On This Day

0017 – Germanicus of Rome celebrated his victory over the Germans.

1521 – Martin Luther was banned by the Edict of Worms because of his religious beliefs and writings.

1647 – A new law banned Catholic priests from the colony of Massachusetts. The penalty was banishment or death for a second offense.

1736 – The British and Chickasaw Indians defeated the French at the Battle of Ackia.

1805 – Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned King of Italy in Milan Cathedral.

1864 – The Territory of Montana was organized.

1868 – U.S. President Andrew Johnson was acquitted, by one vote, of all charges in his impeachment trial.

1938 – The House Committee on Un-American Activities began its work of searching for subversives in the United States.

1940 – The evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, France, began during World War II.

1946 – A patent was filed in the United States for an H-bomb.

1948 – The U.S. Congress passed Public Law 557 which permanently established the Civil Air Patrol as the Auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force.

1961 – Civil rights activist group Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee was established in Atlanta, GA.

1969 – The Apollo 10 astronauts returned to Earth after a successful eight-day dress rehearsal for the first manned moon landing.

1972 – The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) was signed by the U.S. and USSR. The short-term agreement put a freeze on the testing and deployment of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles for a 5-year period.

1994 – U.S. President Clinton renewed trade privileges for China, and announced that his administration would no longer link China’s trade status with its human rights record.

May 26, 1865

General Edmund Kirby Smith surrenders

Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi division, surrenders on this day in 1865, one of the last Confederate generals to capitulate. Smith, who had become commander of the area in January 1863, was charged with keeping the Mississippi River open to the Southerners. Yet he was more interested in recapturing Arkansas and Missouri largely because of the influence of Arkansans in the Confederate Congress who helped to secure his appointment.

Drawing sharp criticism for his failure to provide relief for Vicksburg in the summer of 1863, Smith later conducted the resistance to the failed Union Red River campaign of 1864. When the Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee and Joseph Johnston surrendered in the spring of 1865, Smith continued to resist with his small army in Texas. He insisted that Lee and Johnston were prisoners of war and decried Confederate deserters of the cause. On May 26, General Simon Buckner, acting for Smith, met with Union officers in New Orleans to arrange the surrender of Smith’s force under terms similar to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Smith reluctantly agreed, and officially laid down his arms at Galveston on June 2. Smith himself fled to Mexico, and then to Cuba, before returning to Virginia in November 1865 to sign an amnesty oath. He was the last surviving full Confederate general until his death in 1893.

Twenty-three days after Smith’s surrender, Brigadier General Stand Watie, a Cherokee, became the last Confederate field general to surrender.

“General Edmund Kirby Smith surrenders,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2043 [accessed May 26, 2009]

25
May
09

On This Day, May 25: The Constitutional Convention

May 25, 1787

Constitutional Convention convenes in Philadelphia

With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional Convention formally convenes on this day in 1787. The convention faced a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as it had been defined by the Article of Confederation.

The process began with the proposal of James Madison’s “Virginia Plan.” Madison had dedicated the winter of 1787 to the study of confederacies throughout history and arrived in Philadelphia with a wealth of knowledge and an idea for a new American government. Virginia’s governor, Edmund Randolph, presented Madison’s plan to the convention. It featured a bicameral legislature, with representation in both houses apportioned to states based upon population; this was seen immediately as giving more power to large states, like Virginia. The two houses would in turn elect the executive and the judiciary and would possess veto power over the state legislatures. Madison’s conception strongly resembled Britain’s parliament. It omitted any discussion of taxation or regulation of trade, however; these items had been set aside in favor of outlining a new form of government altogether.

William Patterson soon countered with a plan more attractive to the new nation’s smaller states. It too bore the imprint of America’s British experience. Under the “New Jersey Plan,” as it became known, each state would have a single vote in Congress as it had been under the Articles of Confederation, to even out power between large and small states. But, the plan also gave Congress new powers: the collection of import duties and a stamp tax, the regulation of trade and the enforcement of requisitions upon the states with military force.

Alexander Hamilton then put forward to the delegates a third plan, a perfect copy of the British Constitution including an upper house and legislature that would serve “on good behavior.”

Confronted by three counter-revolutionary options, the representatives of Connecticut finally came up with a workable compromise: a government with an upper house made up of equal numbers of delegates from each state and a lower house with proportional representation based upon population. This idea formed the basis of the new U.S. Constitution, which became the law of the land in 1789.

“Constitutional Convention convenes in Philadelphia,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=633 (accessed May 25, 2009).

 

On This Day

585 BC – The first known prediction of a solar eclipse was made in Greece.

1810 – Argentina declared independence from Napoleonic Spain.

1844 – The gasoline engine was patented by Stuart Perry.

1925 – John Scopes was indicted for teaching the Darwinian theory in school.

1953 – In Nevada, the first atomic cannon was fired.

1961 – America was asked by U.S. President Kennedy to work toward putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

1968 – The Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, MO, was dedicated.

1977 – An opinion piece by Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs appeared in “The Washington Post.” The article called for a national memorial to “remind an ungrateful nation of what it has done to its sons” that had served in the Vietnam War.

1999 – A report by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China concluded that China had “stolen design information on the U.S. most-advanced thermonuclear weapons” and that China’s penetration of U.S. weapons laboratories “spans at least the past several decades and almost certainly continues today.”

2008 – NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander landed in the arctic plains of Mars.

May 25, 1977

Chinese government removes ban on Shakespeare

A new sign of political liberalization appears in China, when the communist government lifts its decade-old ban on the writings of William Shakespeare. The action by the Chinese government was additional evidence that the Cultural Revolution was over.

In 1966, Mao Tse-Tung, the leader of the People’s Republic of China, announced a “Cultural Revolution,” which was designed to restore communist revolutionary fervor and vigor to Chinese society. His wife, Chiang Ching, was made the unofficial secretary of culture for China. What the revolution meant in practice, however, was the assassination of officials deemed to have lost their dedication to the communist cause and the arrest and detention of thousands of other officials and citizens for vaguely defined “crimes against the state.” It also meant the banning of any cultural work–music, literature, film, or theater–that did not have the required ideological content. By the early 1970s, however, China was desperate to open new and improved relations with the West, particularly the United States, partially because of its desire for new sources of trade but also because of its increasing fear of confrontation with the Soviet Union. President Richard Nixon’s 1973 trip to China was part of this campaign. In October 1976, the Cultural Revolution was officially declared ended, and the May 1977 announcement of the end of the ban on the works of William Shakespeare was clear evidence of this. It was a move that cost little, but was sure to reap public relations benefits with Western society that often looked askance at China’s puritanical and repressive cultural life.

Together with the announcement that the ban was lifted, the Chinese government also stated that a Chinese-language edition of the Bard’s works would soon be available.

“Chinese government removes ban on Shakespeare,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2678 (accessed May 25, 2009).

22
May
09

On This Day, May 22: The Oregon Trail

May 22, 1843

Great Emigration departs for Oregon

A massive wagon train, made up of 1,000 settlers and 1,000 head of cattle, sets off down the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri. Known as the “Great Emigration,” the expedition came two years after the first modest party of settlers made the long, overland journey to Oregon.

After leaving Independence, the giant wagon train followed the Sante Fe Trail for some 40 miles and then turned northwest to the Platte River, which it followed along its northern route to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. From there, it traveled on to the Rocky Mountains, which it passed through by way of the broad, level South Pass that led to the basin of the Colorado River. The travelers then went southwest to Fort Bridger, northwest across a divide to Fort Hall on the Snake River, and on to Fort Boise, where they gained supplies for the difficult journey over the Blue Mountains and into Oregon. The Great Emigration finally arrived in October, completing the 2,000-mile journey from Independence in five months.

In the next year, four more wagon trains made the journey, and in 1845 the number of emigrants who used the Oregon Trail exceeded 3,000. Travel along the trail gradually declined with the advent of the railroads, and the route was finally abandoned in the 1870s.

“Great Emigration departs for Oregon,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5024 [accessed May 22, 2009]

 

On This Day

1455 – King Henry VI was taken prisoner by the Yorkists at the Battle of St. Albans, during the War of the Roses.

1819 – The steamship Savannah became the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

1841 – Henry Kennedy received a patent for the first reclining chair.

1849 – Abraham Lincoln received a patent for the floating dry dock.

1872 – The Amnesty Act restored civil rights to Southerners.

1947 – The Truman Doctrine was enacted by the U.S. Congress to appropriate military and economic aid Turkey and Greece.

1955 – A scheduled dance to be headlined by Fats Domino was canceled by police in Bridgeport, Connecticut because “rock and roll dances might be featured.”

1967 – “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” premiered on PBS.

1969 – A lunar module of Apollo 10 flew within nine miles of the moon’s surface. The event was a rehearsal for the first lunar landing.

1972 – U.S. President Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit Russia. He met with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

1990 – Microsoft released Windows 3.0.

May 22, 1939

The Pact of Steel is signed; the Axis is formed

On this day in 1939, Italy and Germany agree to a military and political alliance, giving birth formally to the Axis powers, which will ultimately include Japan.

Mussolini coined the nickname “Pact of Steel” (he had also come up with the metaphor of an “axis” binding Rome and Berlin) after reconsidering his first choice, “Pact of Blood,” to describe this historic agreement with Germany. The Duce saw this partnership as not only a defensive alliance, protection from the Western democracies, with whom he anticipated war, but also a source of backing for his Balkan adventures. Both sides were fearful and distrustful of the other, and only sketchily shared their prospective plans. The result was both Italy and Germany, rather than acting in unison, would often “react” to the precipitate military action of the other. In September 1940, the Pact of Steel would become the Tripartite Pact, with Japan making up the third constituent of the triad.

“The Pact of Steel is signed; the Axis is formed,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6461 [accessed May 22, 2009]




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