Posts Tagged ‘Nelson Mandela

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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21
Mar
09

On This Day, March 21: Sharpeville

March 21, 1960

Massacre in Sharpeville

In the black township of Sharpeville, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Afrikaner police open fire on a group of unarmed black South African demonstrators, killing 69 people and wounding 180 in a hail of submachine-gun fire. The demonstrators were protesting against the South African government’s restriction of nonwhite travel. In the aftermath of the Sharpeville massacre, protests broke out in Cape Town, and more than 10,000 people were arrested before government troops restored order.

The incident convinced anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela to abandon his nonviolent stance and organize paramilitary groups to fight South Africa’s system of institutionalized racial discrimination. In 1964, after some minor military action, Mandela was convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison. He was released after 27 years and in 1994 was elected the first black president of South Africa.

“Massacre in Sharpeville.” 2009. The History Channel website. 21 Mar 2009, 04:18 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=4853.

 

On This Day

1349 – 3,000 Jews were killed in Black Death riots in Efurt Germany.

1556 – Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake at Oxford after retracting the last of seven recantations that same day.

1804 – The French civil code, the Code Napoleon, was adopted.

1851 – Emperor Tu Duc ordered that Christian priests be put to death.

1871 – Journalist Henry M Stanley began his famous expedition to Africa.

1905 – Sterilization legislation was passed in the State of Pennsylvania. The governor vetoed the measure.

1918 – During World War I, the Germans launched the Somme Offensive.

1945 – During World War II, Allied bombers began four days of raids over Germany.

1963 – Alcatraz Island, the federal penitentiary in San Francisco Bay, CA, closed.

1965 – More than 3,000 civil rights demonstrators led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began a march from Selma to Montgomery, AL.

1972 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not require one year of residency for voting eligibility.

1984 – A Soviet submarine crashed into the USS Kitty Hawk off the coast of Japan.

1985 – In Langa, South Africa, at least 21 demonstrators were killed at a march to mark the 25th anniversary of the Sharpeville shootings.

1990 – Namibia became independent of South Africa.

 

March 21, 1980

Carter tells U.S. athletes of Olympic boycott

President Jimmy Carter informs a group of U.S. athletes that, in response to the December 1979 Soviet incursion into Afghanistan, the United States will boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. It marked the first and only time that the United States has boycotted the Olympics.

After the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan in December 1979 to prop up an unstable pro-Soviet government, the United States reacted quickly and sharply. It suspended arms negotiations with the Soviets, condemned the Russian action in the United Nations, and threatened to boycott the Olympics to be held in Moscow in 1980. When the Soviets refused to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, President Carter finalized his decision to boycott the games. On March 21, 1980, he met with approximately 150 U.S. athletes and coaches to explain his decision. He told the crowd, “I understand how you feel,” and recognized their intense disappointment. However, Carter defended his action, stating, “What we are doing is preserving the principles and the quality of the Olympics, not destroying it.” Many of the athletes were devastated by the news. As one stated, “As citizens, it is an easy decision to make-support the president. As athletes, it is a difficult decision.” Others declared that the president was politicizing the Olympics. Most of the athletes only reluctantly supported Carter’s decision.

The U.S. decision to boycott the 1980 Olympic games had no impact on Soviet policy in Afghanistan (Russian troops did not withdraw until nearly a decade later), but it did tarnish the prestige of the games in Moscow. It was not the first time that Cold War diplomacy insinuated itself into international sports. The Soviet Union had refused to play Chile in World Cup soccer in 1973 because of the overthrow and death of Chile’s leftist president earlier that year. Even the playing field was not immune from Cold War tensions

“Carter tells U.S. athletes of Olympic boycott.” 2009. The History Channel website. 21 Mar 2009, 04:26 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2613.

10
Feb
08

On This Day 2-10-08: Nelson Mandela

1763 – The Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War. In the treaty France ceded Canada to England.

1846 – Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began their exodus to the west from Illinois.

1942 – The Normandie, the former French liner, capsized in New York Harbor. The day before the ship had caught fire while it was being fitted for the U.S. Navy.

1962 – The Soviet Union exchanged capture American U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers for the Soviet spy Rudolph Ivanovich Abel being held by the U.S.

1967 – The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The amendment required the appointment of a vice-president when that office became vacant and instituted new measures in the event of presidential disability.

1989 – Ron Brown became the first African American to head a major U.S. political party when he was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

1990 – South African President F.W. de Klerk announced that black activist Nelson Mandela would be released the next day after 27 years in captivity.

2005 – North Korea publicly announced for the first time that it had nuclear arms. The country also rejected attempts to restart disarmament talks in the near future saying that it needed the weapons as protection against an increasingly hostile United States.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Nelson Mandela

In my country we go to prison first and then become President.
Nelson Mandela

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
Nelson Mandela




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