Posts Tagged ‘Rome

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]

19
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-19-08, World War II: America Bombs Rome

America bombs Rome

On this day in 1943, the United States bombs railway yards in Rome in an attempt to break the will of the Italian people to resist as Hitler lectures their leader, Benito Mussolini, on how to prosecute the war further.

On July 16, President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed to the Italian civilian population to reject Mussolini and Hitler and “live for Italy and civilization.” As an “incentive,” American bombers raided the city, destroying its railways. Panic broke out among the Romans. Convinced by Mussolini that the Allies would never bomb the holy city, civilians poured into the Italian capital for safety. The bombing did more than shake their security in the city — it shook their confidence in their leader.

The denizens of Rome were not alone in such disillusion. In a meeting in northern Italy, Hitler attempted to revive the flagging spirits of Il Duce, as well as point out his deficiencies as a leader. Afraid that Mussolini, having suffered successive military setbacks, would sue for a separate peace, leaving the Germans alone to battle it out with Allied forces along the Italian peninsula, Hitler decided to meet with his onetime role model to lecture him on the manly art of war. Mussolini remained uncharacteristically silent during the harangue, partly due to his own poor German (he would request a translated synopsis of the meeting later), partly due to his fear of Hitler’s response should he tell the truth — that Italy was beaten and could not continue to fight. Mussolini kept up the charade for his German allies: Italy would press on. But no one believed the brave front anymore. Just a day later, Hitler secretly ordered Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to take command of the occupied Greek Islands, better to “pounce on Italy” if and when Mussolini capitulated to the United States. But within a week, events would take a stunning turn.

“America bombs Rome.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Jul 2008, 04:56 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6524.

 

On This Day

1525 – The Catholic princes of Germany formed the Dessau League to fight against the Reformation.

1799 – The Rosetta Stone, a tablet with hieroglyphic translations into Greek, was found in Egypt.

1848 – The Women’s Rights Convention took place in Seneca Fall, NY. Bloomers were introduced at the convention.

1870 – France declared war on Prussia.

1942 – German U-boats were withdrawn from positions off the U.S. Atlantic coast due to effective American anti-submarine countermeasures.

1943 – During World War II, more than 150 B-17 and 112 B-24 bombers attacked Rome for the first time.

1974 – The House Judiciary Committee recommended that U.S. President Richard Nixon should stand trial in the Senate for any of the five impeachment charges against him.

1975 – The Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts separated after being linked in orbit for two days.

1985 – Christa McAuliffe of New Hampshire was chosen to be the first schoolteacher to ride aboard the space shuttle. She died with six others when the Challenger exploded the following year.

1989 – 112 people were killed when a United Airline DC-10 airplane crashed in Sioux City, Iowa. 184 people did survive the accident.

 

Massachusetts begins ill-fated Penobscot expedition

On this day in 1779, Massachusetts, without consulting either Continental political or military authorities, launches a 4,000-man naval expedition commanded by Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, Adjutant General Peleg Wadsworth, Brigadier General Solomon Lovell and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Revere. The expedition consisted of 19 warships, 24 transport ships and more than 1,000 militiamen. Their objective was to capture a 750-man British garrison at Castine on the Penobscot Peninsula, in what would later become Maine. The expedition arrived on July 25 and proceeded to launch a series of inconclusive land attacks, leaving Patriot naval forces underutilized and allowing the British plenty of time to send for reinforcements. The land commander, Brig. Gen. Lovell, began to retreat at the arrival of Sir George Colliers seven British warships, expecting Saltonstall to engage in a naval battle. Saltonstall, however, did not fight for long: the naval engagement concluded in total disaster on August 14, when Saltonstall surprised both Patriot and British commanders by fleeing upriver and burning his own ships. The Patriots lost in excess of 470 men, as well as numerous Continental Navy and Massachusetts ships that were burned during the retreat. The British achieved their victory at a cost of only 13 men. Saltonstall and Paul Revere later faced court martial because of the fiasco. Saltonstall lost his commission, but Revere won acquittal. By contrast, Peleg Wadsworth, who served as Reveres second-in-command, won acclaim for his performance in the engagement. He had organized the retreat, which was the only well-executed aspect of the mission. Wadsworth’s family continued to play a celebrated role in American history: his grandson was the famed poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The failed Penobscot expedition was considered the worst naval disaster in American history until the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, more than 160 years later.

“Massachusetts begins ill-fated Penobscot expedition .” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Jul 2008, 04:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=50382.

Morgan’s raiders defeated at Buffington Island

Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s raid on the North is dealt a serious blow when a large part of his force is captured as they try to escape across the Ohio River at Buffington Island, Ohio. Cut off from the south, Morgan fled north with the remnants of his command and was captured a week later at Salineville, Ohio.

“Morgan’s raiders defeated at Buffington Island.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Jul 2008, 04:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2252.

18
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-18-08 Nero’s Rome Burns

Fire of Rome

A fire erupts in Rome, spreading rapidly throughout the market area in the center of the city. When the flames finally died out more than a week later, nearly two-thirds of Rome had been destroyed.

Emperor Nero used the fire as an opportunity to rebuild Rome in a more orderly Greek style and began construction on a massive palace called the Domus Aureus. Some speculated that the emperor had ordered the burning of Rome to indulge his architectural tastes, but he was away in Antium when the conflagration began. According to later Roman historians, Nero blamed members of the mysterious Christian cult for the fire and launched the first Roman persecution of Christians in response.

“Fire of Rome.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 Jul 2008, 10:35 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5187.

 

On This Day

1536 – The authority of the pope was declared void in England.

1789 – Robespierre, a deputy from Arras, France, decided to back the French Revolution.

1914 – Six planes of the U.S. Army helped to form an aviation division called the Signal Corps.

1932 – The U.S. and Canada signed a treaty to develop the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1935 – Ethiopian King Haile Selassie urged his countrymen to fight to the last man against the invading Italian army.

1936 – The Spanish Civil War began as Gen. Francisco Franco led an uprising of army troops based in Spanish North Africa.

1942 – The German Me-262, the first jet-propelled aircraft to fly in combat, made its first flight.

1944 – U.S. troops captured Saint-Lo, France, ending the battle of the hedgerows.

1944 – Hideki Tojo was removed as Japanese premier and war minister due to setbacks suffered by his country in World War II.

1971 – New Zealand and Australia announced they would pull their troops out of Vietnam.

1984 – A gunman opened fire at a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant in San Ysidro, CA. He killed 21 people before being shot dead by police.

1994 – In Buenos Aires, a massive car bomb killed 96 people belonging to Argentinean Jewish organizations.

 

Assault of Battery Wagner and death of Robert Gould Shaw

On this day, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and 272 of his troops are killed in an assault on Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina. Shaw was commander of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, perhaps the most famous regiment of African-American troops during the war.

“Assault of Battery Wagner and death of Robert Gould Shaw.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 Jul 2008, 10:40 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2251.

Singing Wobbly Joe Hill sentenced to death

Convicted of murder on meager evidence, the singing Wobbly Joe Hill is sentenced to be executed in Utah.

A native of Sweden who immigrated to the U.S. in 1879, Joe Hill joined the International Workers of the World (IWW) in 1910. The IWW was an industrial union that rejected the capitalist system and dreamed one day of leading a national workers’ revolution. Members of the IWW–known as Wobblies–were especially active in the western United States, where they enjoyed considerable success in organizing mistreated and exploited workers in the mining, logging, and shipping industries.

“Singing Wobbly Joe Hill sentenced to death.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 Jul 2008, 10:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4585.

Charges of communists in the U.S. Army raised

In testimony before the House Military Affairs subcommittee, the subcommittee’s chief counsel, H. Ralph Burton, charges that 16 officers and non-commissioned officers in the U.S. Army have pasts that “reflect communism.” The charges, issued nearly 10 years before Senator Joseph McCarthy would make similar accusations, were hotly denied by the U.S. Army and government.

“Charges of communists in the U.S. Army raised.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 Jul 2008, 10:41 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2732.

Incident on Chappaquiddick Island

Shortly after leaving a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts drives an Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge into a tide-swept pond. Kennedy escaped the submerged car, but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, did not. The senator did not report the fatal car accident for 10 hours.

“Incident on Chappaquiddick Island.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 Jul 2008, 10:39 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5189.

11
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-11-08: Johnny Appleseed Day

First cases reported in deadly influenza epidemic

Just before breakfast on the morning of March 11, Private Albert Gitchell of the U.S. Army reports to the hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas, complaining of the cold-like symptoms of sore throat, fever and headache. By noon, over 100 of his fellow soldiers had reported similar symptoms, marking what are believed to be the first cases in the historic influenza epidemic of 1918. The flu would eventually kill 675,000 Americans and more than 20 million people (some believe the total may be closer to 40 million) around the world, proving to be a far deadlier force than even the First World War.

The initial outbreak of the disease, reported at Fort Riley in March, was followed by similar outbreaks in army camps and prisons in various regions of the country. The disease soon traveled to Europe with the American soldiers heading to aid the Allies on the battlefields of France. (In March 1918 alone, 84,000 American soldiers headed across the Atlantic; another 118,000 followed them the next month.) Once it arrived on a second continent, the flu showed no signs of abating: 31,000 cases were reported in June in Great Britain. The disease was soon dubbed the “Spanish flu” due to the shockingly high number of deaths in Spain (some 8 million, it was reported) after the initial outbreak there in May 1918.

The flu showed no mercy for combatants on either side of the trenches. Over the summer, the first wave of the epidemic hit German forces on the Western Front, where they were waging a final, no-holds-barred offensive that would determine the outcome of the war. It had a significant effect on the already weakening morale of the troops–as German army commander Crown Prince Rupprecht wrote on August 3: “poor provisions, heavy losses, and the deepening influenza have deeply depressed the spirits of men in the III Infantry Division.” Meanwhile, the flu was spreading fast beyond the borders of Western Europe, due to its exceptionally high rate of virulence and the massive transport of men on land and aboard ship due to the war effort. By the end of the summer, numerous cases had been reported in Russia, North Africa and India; China, Japan, the Philippines and even New Zealand would eventually fall victim as well.

The Great War ended on November 11, but influenza continued to wreak international havoc, flaring again in the U.S. in an even more vicious wave with the return of soldiers from the war and eventually infecting an estimated 28 percent of the country’s population before it finally petered out. In its December 28, 1918, issue, the American Medical Association acknowledged the end of one momentous conflict and urged the acceptance of a new challenge, stating that “Medical science for four and one-half years devoted itself to putting men on the firing line and keeping them there. Now it must turn with its whole might to combating the greatest enemy of all—infectious disease.”

537 – The Goths began their siege on Rome.

1665 – A new legal code was approved for the Dutch and English towns, guaranteeing religious observances unhindered.

1824 – The U.S. War Department created the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Seneca Indian Ely Parker became the first Indian to lead the Bureau.

1847 – John Chapman ‘Johnny Appleseed’ died in Allen County, Indiana. This day became known as Johnny Appleseed Day.

1861 – A Confederate Convention was held in Montgomery, Alabama, where a new constitution was adopted.

1865 – Union General William Sherman and his forces occupied Fayetteville, NC.

1888 – The “Blizzard of ’88” began along the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard shutting down communication and transportation lines. More than 400 people died.(March 11-14)

1901 – U.S. Steel was formed when industrialist J.P. Morgan purchased Carnegie Steep Corp. The event made Andrew Carnegie the world’s richest man.

1907 – U.S. President Roosevelt induced California to revoke its anti-Japanese legislation.

1927 – The Flatheads Gang stole $104,250 in the first armored-car robbery near Pittsburgh, PA.

1941 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the Lend-Lease Act, which authorized the act of providing war supplies to the Allies.

1946 – Communists and Nationalists began fighting as the Soviets pulled out of Mukden, Manchuria.

1965 – The Rev. James J. Reeb, a white minister from Boston, died after being beaten by whites during a civil rights disturbances in Selma, Alabama.

1977 – More than 130 hostages held in Washington, DC, by Hanafi Muslims were freed after ambassadors from three Islamic nations joined the negotiations.

1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev was named the new chairman of the Soviet Communist Party.

1986 – Popsicle announced its plan to end the traditional twin-stick frozen treat for a one-stick model.

1993 – Janet Reno was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become the first female attorney general.

2002 – Two columns of light were pointed skyward from ground zero in New York as a temporary memorial to the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

2004 – In Madrid, Spain, several coordinated bombing attacks on commuter trains killed at least 190 people and injured more than 2,000.




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