Posts Tagged ‘St Lawrence Seaway

10
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-10-2008: Japan Accepts Potsdam Declaration

Japan accepts Potsdam terms, agrees to unconditional surrender

On this day in 1945, just a day after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan submits its acquiescence to the Potsdam Conference terms of unconditional surrender, as President Harry S. Truman orders a halt to atomic bombing.

Emperor Hirohito, having remained aloof from the daily decisions of prosecuting the war, rubber-stamping the decisions of his War Council, including the decision to bomb Pearl Harbor, finally felt compelled to do more. At the behest of two Cabinet members, the emperor summoned and presided over a special meeting of the Council and implored them to consider accepting the terms of the Potsdam Conference, which meant unconditional surrender. “It seems obvious that the nation is no longer able to wage war, and its ability to defend its own shores is doubtful.” The Council had been split over the surrender terms; half the members wanted assurances that the emperor would maintain his hereditary and traditional role in a postwar Japan before surrender could be considered. But in light of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, Nagasaki on August 9, and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, as well as the emperor’s own request that the Council “bear the unbearable,” it was agreed: Japan would surrender.

Tokyo released a message to its ambassadors in Switzerland and Sweden, which was then passed on to the Allies. The message formally accepted the Potsdam Declaration but included the proviso that “said Declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as sovereign ruler.” When the message reached Washington, President Truman, unwilling to inflict any more suffering on the Japanese people, especially on “all those kids,” ordered a halt to atomic bombing, He also wanted to know whether the stipulation regarding “His Majesty” was a deal breaker. Negotiations between Washington and Tokyo ensued. Meanwhile, savage fighting continued between Japan and the Soviet Union in Manchuria.

“Japan accepts Potsdam terms, agrees to unconditional surrender.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 02:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6546.

 

On This Day

1792 – King Louis XVI was taken into custody by mobs during the French Revolution. He was executed the following January after being put on trial for treason.

1846 – The Smithsonian Institution was chartered by the U.S. Congress. The “Nation’s Attic” was made possible by $500,000 given by scientist Joseph Smithson.

1856 – In Louisiana, a hurricane came ashore and killed about 400 people.

1869 – The motion picture projector was patented by O.B. Brown.

1914 – Austria-Hungary invaded Russia.

1921 – Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with polio.

1927 – Mount Rushmore was formally dedicated. The individual faces of the presidents were dedicated later.

1944 – U.S. forces defeated the remaining Japanese resistance on Guam.

1954 – Construction began on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1969 – Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were murdered. Members of the Charles Manson cult committed the crimes one day after the killing of Sharon Tate and four other people.

1977 – The “Son of Sam,” David Berkowitz, was arrested in Yonkers, NY. Berkowitz, a postal employee, had shot and killed six people and wounded seven others.

1988 – U.S. President Reagan signed a measure that provided $20,000 payments to Japanese-Americans who were interned by the U.S. government during World War II.

1994 – In Germany, three men were arrested after being caught smuggling plutonium into the country.

2003 – Ekaterina Dmitriev and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko were married. Malenchenko was about 240 miles above the earth in the international space station. It was the first-ever marriage from space.

 

New state west of the Mississippi

Missouri enters the Union as the 24th state–and the first located entirely west of the Mississippi River.

Named for one of the Native American groups that once lived in the territory, Missouri became a U.S. possession as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In 1817, Missouri Territory applied for statehood, but the question of whether it would be slave or free delayed approval by Congress. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise was reached, admitting Missouri as a slave state but excluding slavery from the other Louisiana Purchase lands north of Missouri’s southern border. Missouri’s August 1821 entrance into the Union as a slave state was met with disapproval by many of its citizens.

In 1861, when other slave states seceded from the Union, Missouri chose to remain; although a provincial government was established in the next year by Confederate sympathizers. During the war, Missourians were split in their allegiances, supplying both Union and Confederate forces with troops. Lawlessness persisted during this period, and Missouri-born Confederate guerrillas such as Jesse James continued this lawlessness after the South’s defeat. With the ratification of Missouri’s new constitution by the citizens of the state in 1875, the old divisions were finally put to rest.

“New state west of the Mississippi.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 02:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5247.

Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri

The struggle for Missouri erupts with the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, where a motley band of raw Confederates defeat a Union force in the southwestern section of the state.

“Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 02:23 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2279.

Truman signs National Security Bill

President Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Bill, which establishes the Department of Defense. As the Cold War heated up, the Department of Defense became the cornerstone of America’s military effort to contain the expansion of communism.

In 1947, the National Security Act established the Cabinet-level position of secretary of defense, which oversaw a rather unwieldy umbrella military-defense agency known as the National Military Establishment. The secretary of defense, however, was just one of a number of military-related cabinet positions, including the pre-existing secretaries for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The growing complexity of the Cold War, a war in which the mishandled application of military force could lead to a world war of cataclysmic proportions, convinced U.S. officials that the 1947 act needed to be revised.

In 1949, the National Security Bill streamlined the defense agencies of the U.S. government. The 1949 bill replaced the National Military Establishment with the Department of Defense. The bill also removed the cabinet-level status of the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, who would henceforth be subordinate to the Secretary of Defense. The first person to hold this position was Louis Johnson. Finally, the bill provided for the office of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in an effort to bring an end to the inter-service bickering that had characterized the Joint Chiefs in recent years. World War II hero General Omar Bradley was appointed the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The National Security Bill of 1949 was the result of the realization that more coordination and efficiency were needed for America’s military-defense bureaucracy, which had experienced tremendous growth during and after World War II. The Cold War was a new and dangerous kind of war for America, and the 1949 reorganization was recognition of the need for a different approach to U.S. defense.

“Truman signs National Security Bill.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Aug 2008, 02:24 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2755.

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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.

26
Jun
08

On This Day, 6-26-08: Berlin Airlift

Berlin Airlift begins

On this day in 1948, U.S. and British pilots begin delivering food and supplies by airplane to Berlin after the city is isolated by a Soviet Union blockade.

When World War II ended in 1945, defeated Germany was divided into Soviet, American, British and French zones of occupation. The city of Berlin, though located within the Soviet zone of occupation, was also split into four sectors, with the Allies taking the western part of the city and the Soviets the eastern. In June 1948, Josef Stalin’s government attempted to consolidate control of the city by cutting off all land and sea routes to West Berlin in order to pressure the Allies to evacuate. As a result, beginning on June 24 the western section of Berlin and its 2 million people were deprived of food, heating fuel and other crucial supplies.

Though some in U.S. President Harry S. Truman’s administration called for a direct military response to this aggressive Soviet move, Truman worried such a response would trigger another world war. Instead, he authorized a massive airlift operation under the control of General Lucius D. Clay, the American-appointed military governor of Germany. The first planes took off from England and western Germany on June 26, loaded with food, clothing, water, medicine and fuel.

By July 15, an average of 2,500 tons of supplies was being flown into the city every day. The massive scale of the airlift made it a huge logistical challenge and at times a great risk. With planes landing at Tempelhof Airport every four minutes, round the clock, pilots were being asked to fly two or more round-trip flights every day, in World War II planes that were sometimes in need of repair.

The Soviets lifted the blockade in May 1949, having earned the scorn of the international community for subjecting innocent men, women and children to hardship and starvation. The airlift–called die Luftbrucke or “the air bridge” in German–continued until September 1949, for a total delivery of more than 1.5 million tons of supplies and a total cost of over $224 million. When it ended, the eastern section of Berlin was absorbed into Soviet East Germany, while West Berlin remained a separate territory with its own government and close ties to West Germany. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961, formed a dividing line between East and West Berlin. Its destruction in 1989 presaged the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and marked the end of an era and the reemergence of Berlin as the capital of a new, unified German nation.

“Berlin Airlift begins.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Jun 2008, 12:31 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52635.

1096 – Peter the Hermit’s crusaders forced their way across Sava, Hungary.

1483 – Richard III usurped himself to the English throne.

1794 – The French defeated an Austrian army at the Battle of Fleurus.

1819 – The bicycle was patented by W.K. Clarkson, Jr.

1844 – John Tyler took Julia Gardiner as his bride, thus becoming the first U.S. President to marry while in office.

1900 – The United States announced that it would send troops to fight against the Boxer rebellion in China.

1917 – General John “Black Jack” Pershing arrived in France with the American Expeditionary Force.

1924 – After eight years of occupation, American troops left the Dominican Republic.

1945 – The U.N. Charter was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, CA.

1959 – U.S. President Eisenhower joined Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in ceremonies officially opening the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1961 – A Kuwaiti vote opposed Iraq’s annexation plans.

1963 – U.S. President John Kennedy announced “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner) at the Berlin Wall.

1996 – The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Virginia Military Institute to admit women or forgo state support.

1997 – The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that made it illegal to distribute indecent material on the Internet.

1997 – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld state laws that allow for a ban on doctor-assisted suicides.

1998 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers are always potentially liable for supervisor’s sexual misconduct toward an employee.

Westmoreland given authority to commit U.S. forces

Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. military commander in Vietnam, is given formal authority to commit American troops to battle when he decides they are necessary “to strengthen the relative position of the GVN [Government of Vietnam] forces.” This authorization permitted Westmoreland to put his forces on the offensive. Heretofore, U.S. combat forces had been restricted to protecting U.S. airbases and other facilities.

The first major offensive by U.S. forces under this new directive was launched two days later by 3,000 troops of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, in conjunction with 800 Australian soldiers and a Vietnamese airborne unit. These forces assaulted a jungle area known as Viet Cong Zone D, 20 miles northeast of Saigon. The operation was called off after three days when it failed to make any major contact with the enemy. One American was killed, and nine Americans and four Australians were wounded.

“Westmoreland given authority to commit U.S. forces.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Jun 2008, 01:09 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1931.

25
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-25-08: Samantha Smith

Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two

On this day in 1945, eight Russian armies completely encircle Berlin, linking up with the U.S. First Army patrol, first on the western bank of the Elbe, then later at Torgau. Germany is, for all intents and purposes, Allied territory.

The Allies sounded the death knell of their common enemy by celebrating. In Moscow, news of the link-up between the two armies resulted in a 324-gun salute; in New York, crowds burst into song and dance in the middle of Times Square. Among the Soviet commanders who participated in this historic meeting of the two armies was the renowned Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov, who warned a skeptical Stalin as early as June 1941 that Germany posed a serious threat to the Soviet Union. Zhukov would become invaluable in battling German forces within Russia (Stalingrad and Moscow) and without. It was also Zhukov who would demand and receive unconditional surrender of Berlin from German General Krebs less than a week after encircling the German capital. At the end of the war, Zhukov was awarded a military medal of honor from Great Britain.

“Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Apr 2008, 01:54 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6433.

1684 – A patent was granted for the thimble.

1792 – The guillotine was first used to execute highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier.

1846 – The Mexican-American War ignited as a result of disputes over claims to Texas boundaries. The outcome of the war fixed Texas‘ southern boundary at the Rio Grande River.

1859 – Work began on the Suez Canal in Egypt.

1860 – The first Japanese diplomats to visit a foreign power reached Washington, DC. They remained in the U.S. capital for several weeks while discussing expansion of trade with the United States.

1862 – Union Admiral Farragut occupied New Orleans, LA.

1864 – After facing defeat in the Red River Campaign, Union General Nathaniel Bank returned to Alexandria, LA.

1867 – Tokyo was opened for foreign trade.

1882 – French commander Henri Riviere seized the citadel of Hanoi in Indochina.

1898 – The U.S. declared war on Spain. Spain had declared war on the U.S. the day before.

1915 – During World War I, Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli in Turkey in hopes of attacking the Central Powers from below. The attack was unsuccessful.

1928 – A seeing eye dog was used for the first time.

1945 – Delegates from about 50 countries met in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.

1952 – After a three-day fight against Chinese Communist Forces, the Gloucestershire Regiment was annihilated on “Gloucester Hill,” in Korea.

1954 – The prototype manufacture of the first solar battery was announced by the Bell Laboratories in New York City.

1959 – St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping. The water way connects the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

1967 – Colorado Governor John Love signed the first law legalizing abortion in the U.S. The law was limited to therapeutic abortions when agreed to, unanimously, by a panel of three physicians.

1984 – David Anthony Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, was found dead of a drug overdose in a hotel room.

1992 – Islamic forces in Afghanistan took control of most of the capital of Kabul following the collapse of the Communist government.

1996 – The main assembly of the Palestine Liberation Organization voted to revoke clauses in its charter that called for an armed struggle to destroy Israel.

 

Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader

The Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader. This rather unusual piece of Soviet propaganda was in direct response to President Ronald Reagan’s vigorous attacks on what he called “the evil empire” of the Soviet Union.

In 1983, President Reagan was in the midst of a harsh rhetorical campaign against the Soviet Union. A passionate anticommunist, President Reagan called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat. In Russia, however, events were leading to a different Soviet approach to the West. In 1982, long-time leader Leonid Brezhnev died; Yuri Andropov was his successor. While Andropov was not radical in his approach to politics and economics, he did seem to sincerely desire a better relationship with the United States. In an attempt to blunt the Reagan attacks, the Soviet government released a letter that Andropov had written in response to one sent by Samantha Smith, a fifth-grade student from Manchester, Maine.

Smith had written the Soviet leader as part of a class assignment, one that was common enough for students in the Cold War years. Most of these missives received a form letter response, if any at all, but Andropov answered Smith’s letter personally. He explained that the Soviet Union had suffered horrible losses in World War II, an experience that convinced the Russian people that they wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth. This is the wish of everyone in the Soviet Union. That’s what we were taught to do by Vladimir Lenin, the great founder of our state.” He vowed that Russia would “never, but never, be the first to use nuclear weapons against any country.” Andropov complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character of Becky from the Mark Twain novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “All kids in our country, boys and girls alike, know and love this book,” he added. Andropov ended by inviting Samantha and her parents to visit the Soviet Union. In July 1983, Samantha accepted the invitation and flew to Russia for a three-week tour.

Soviet propaganda had never been known for its human qualities. Generally speaking, it was given to heavy-handed diatribes and communist cliches. In his public relations duel with Reagan-the American president known as the “Great Communicator”-Andropov tried something different by assuming a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach. Whether this would have borne fruit is unknown; just a year later, Andropov died. Tragically, Samantha Smith, aged 13, died just one year after Andropov’s passing, in August 1985 in a plane crash.

“Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Apr 2008, 01:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2648.




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