Posts Tagged ‘United Nations

01
Feb
09

On This Day, February 1: Guadalcanal

February 1, 1943

Japanese begin evacuation of Guadalcanal

On this day, Japanese forces on Guadalcanal Island, defeated by Marines, start to withdraw after the Japanese emperor finally gives them permission.

On July 6, 1942, the Japanese landed on Guadalcanal Island, part of the Solomon Islands chain, and began constructing an airfield. In response, the U.S. launched Operation Watchtower, in which American troops landed on five islands within the Solomon chain, including Guadalcanal. The landings on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tananbogo met with much initial opposition from the Japanese defenders, despite the fact that the landings took the Japanese by surprise because bad weather had grounded their scouting aircraft. “I have never heard or read of this kind of fighting,” wrote one American major general on the scene. “These people refuse to surrender.”

The Americans who landed on Guadalcanal had an easier time of it, at least initially. More than 11,000 Marines landed, but 24 hours passed before the Japanese manning the garrison knew what had happened. The U.S. forces quickly met their main objective of taking the airfield, and the outnumbered Japanese troops temporarily retreated. Japanese reinforcements were landed, though, and fierce hand-to-hand jungle fighting ensued. The Americans were at a particular disadvantage because they were assaulted from both sea and air, but when the U.S. Navy supplied reinforcement troops, the Americans gained the advantage. By February 1943, the Japanese retreated on secret orders of their emperor. In fact, the Japanese retreat was so stealthy that the Americans did not even know it had taken place until they stumbled upon abandoned positions, empty boats, and discarded supplies.

In total, the Japanese lost more than 25,000 men compared with a loss of 1,600 by the Americans. Each side lost 24 warships.

“Japanese begin evacuation of Guadalcanal.” 2009. The History Channel website. 1 Feb 2009, 07:59 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6682.

On This Day

1790 – The U.S. Supreme Court convened for the first time in New York City.

1793 – France declared war on Britain and Holland.

1861 – Texas voted to secede from the Union.

1900 – Eastman Kodak Co. introduced the $1 Brownie box camera.

1946 – Norwegian statesman Trygve Lie was chosen to be the first secretary-general of the United Nations.

1951 – The first telecast of an atomic explosion took place.

1957 – P.H. Young became the first black pilot on a scheduled passenger airline.

1960 – Four black college students began a sit-in protest at a lunch counter in Greensboro, NC. They had been refused service.

1968 – During the Vietnam War, South Vietnamese National Police Chief Brig. Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executed a Viet Cong officer with a pistol shot to the head. The scene was captured in a news photograph.

2003 – NASA’s space shuttle Columbia exploded while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. All seven astronauts on board were killed.

February 1, 1968

Nixon announces his candidacy for president

Richard M. Nixon announces his candidacy for the presidency. Most observers had written off Nixon’s political career eight years earlier, when he had lost to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election.

Two years after losing to Kennedy, Nixon ran for governor of California and lost in a bitter campaign against Edmund G. (“Pat”) Brown, but by 1968 he had sufficiently recovered his political standing in the Republican Party to announce his candidacy for president. Taking a stance between the more conservative elements of his party, led by Ronald Reagan, and the liberal northeastern wing, led by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Nixon won the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach.

Nixon chose Spiro T. Agnew, the governor of Maryland, as his running mate. Nixon’s Democratic opponent, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, was weakened by internal divisions within his own party and the growing dissatisfaction with the Johnson administration’s handling of the war in Vietnam. Alabama governor George C. Wallace, running on a third party ticket, further complicated the election. Although Nixon and Humphrey each garnered about 43 percent of the popular vote, the distribution of Nixon’s nearly 32 million votes gave him a clear majority in the Electoral College, and he won the election.

“Nixon announces his candidacy for president.” 2009. The History Channel website. 1 Feb 2009, 08:00 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1647.

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13
Jan
09

January 13, On This Day: Soviets Boycott UN

January 13, 1950

Soviets boycott United Nations Security Council

For the second time in a week, Jacob Malik, the Soviet representative to the United Nations, storms out of a meeting of the Security Council, this time in reaction to the defeat of his proposal to expel the Nationalist Chinese representative. At the same time, he announced the Soviet Union’s intention to boycott further Security Council meetings.

Several days before the January 13 meeting, Malik walked out to show his displeasure over the United Nations’ refusal to unseat the Nationalist Chinese delegation. The Soviet Union had recognized the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the true Chinese government, and wanted the PRC to replace the Nationalist Chinese delegation at the United Nations.

Malik returned on January 13, however, to vote on the Soviet resolution to expel Nationalist China. Six countries–the United States, Nationalist China, Cuba, Ecuador, Cuba, and Egypt–voted against the resolution, and three–the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and India–voted in favor of it. Malik immediately left the meeting, declaring that the United States was “encouraging lawlessness” by refusing to recognize the “illegal presence” of the Nationalist Chinese representatives. He concluded that “even the most convinced reactionaries” had to recognize the justness of the Soviet resolution, and he vowed that the Soviet Union would not be bound by any decisions made by the Security Council if the Nationalist Chinese representative remained. Hoping to forestall any future Security Council action, Malik announced that the Soviet Union would no longer attend its meetings. The remaining members of the Security Council decided to carry on despite the Soviet boycott.

In late June 1950, it became apparent that the Soviet action had backfired when the issue of North Korea’s invasion of South Korea was brought before the Security Council. By June 27, the Security Council voted to invoke military action by the United Nations for the first time in the organization’s history. The Soviets could have blocked the action in the Security Council, since the United States, Soviet Union, China, Britain, and France each had absolute veto power, but no Russian delegate was present. In just a short time, a multinational U.N. force arrived in South Korea and the grueling three-year Korean War was underway.

“Soviets boycott United Nations Security Council.” 2009. The History Channel website. 13 Jan 2009, 03:06 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2545.

On This Day

1794 – U.S. President Washington approved a measure adding two stars and two stripes to the American flag, following the admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the union.

1893 – Britain’s Independent Labor Party, a precursor to the current Labor Party, met for the first time.

1900 – In Austria-Hungary, Emperor Franz Joseph decreed that German would be the language of the imperial army to combat Czech nationalism.

1957 – Wham-O began producing “Pluto Platters.” This marked the true beginning of production of the flying disc.

1982 – An Air Florida 737 crashed into the capital’s 14th Street Bridge after takeoff and fell into the Potomac River. 78 people were killed.

1989 – Bernhard H. Goetz was sentenced to one year in prison for possession of an unlicensed gun that he used to shoot four youths he claimed were about to rob him. He was freed the following September.

1990 – L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia, the nation’s first elected black governor, took the oath of office in Richmond.

1992 – Japan apologized for forcing tens of thousands of Korean women to serve as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

January 13, 1966

Johnson appoints first African-American cabinet member

On this day in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appoints the first African-American cabinet member, making Robert C. Weaver head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the agency that develops and implements national housing policy and enforces fair housing laws. In keeping with his vision for a “Great Society,” Johnson sought to improve race relations and eliminate urban blight. As many of the country’s African Americans lived in run-down inner-city areas, appointing Weaver was an attempt to show his African-American constituency that he meant business on both counts.

Weaver’s expertise in social and economic issues concerning urban African Americans was well-known. Prior to his appointment as HUD secretary, he held key positions in several Democratic administrations. Under Franklin D. Roosevelt in the mid-to-late 1930s, he advised the secretary of the interior and served as a special assistant with the Housing Authority. In 1940, he was appointed to the National Defense Advisory Commission and worked to mobilize black workers during World War II. From 1955 to 1959, Weaver served as rent commissioner for the state of New York, then went on to serve as head of the Housing and Home Finance Agency under President John F. Kennedy.

As HUD’s senior administrator, Weaver expanded affordable housing programs and, in 1968, advocated for the passage of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited “discrimination against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” Weaver and Johnson shared the goal of revitalizing America’s urban areas through improved housing, the creation of inner-city parks and support for African American-owned businesses.

“Johnson appoints first African-American cabinet member.” 2009. The History Channel website. 13 Jan 2009, 03:07 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=111.

On This Day in Wisconsin: January 13

1922 – WHA Radio Founded
On this date the call letters of experimental station 9XM in Madison were replaced by WHA. This station dates back to 1917, making it “The oldest station in the nation.” [Source: History Just Ahead: A Guide to Wisconsin’s Historical Markers, edited by Sarah Davis McBride]

10
Jan
09

On This Day, 1-10-2009: The League of Nations

January 10, 1920

League of Nations instituted

On January 10, 1920, the League of Nations formally comes into being when the Covenant of the League of Nations, ratified by 42 nations in 1919, takes effect.

In 1914, a political assassination in Sarajevo set off a chain of events that led to the outbreak of the most costly war ever fought to that date. As more and more young men were sent down into the trenches, influential voices in the United States and Britain began calling for the establishment of a permanent international body to maintain peace in the postwar world. President Woodrow Wilson became a vocal advocate of this concept, and in 1918 he included a sketch of the international body in his 14-point proposal to end the war.

In November 1918, the Central Powers agreed to an armistice to halt the killing in World War I. Two months later, the Allies met with conquered Germany and Austria-Hungary at Versailles to hammer out formal peace terms. President Wilson urged a just and lasting peace, but England and France disagreed, forcing harsh war reparations on their former enemies. The League of Nations was approved, however, and in the summer of 1919 Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

Wilson suffered a severe stroke in the fall of that year, which prevented him from reaching a compromise with those in Congress who thought the treaties reduced U.S. authority. In November, the Senate declined to ratify both. The League of Nations proceeded without the United States, holding its first meeting in Geneva on November 15, 1920.

During the 1920s, the League, with its headquarters in Geneva, incorporated new members and successfully mediated minor international disputes but was often disregarded by the major powers. The League’s authority, however, was not seriously challenged until the early 1930s, when a series of events exposed it as ineffectual. Japan simply quit the organization after its invasion of China was condemned, and the League was likewise powerless to prevent the rearmament of Germany and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The declaration of World War II was not even referred to by the then-virtually defunct League.

In 1946, the League of Nations was officially dissolved with the establishment of the United Nations. The United Nations was modeled after the former but with increased international support and extensive machinery to help the new body avoid repeating the League’s failures.

“League of Nations instituted.” 2009. The History Channel website. 10 Jan 2009, 05:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6772.

On This Day

1776 – Thomas Paine published his pamphlet “Common Sense.”

1861 – Florida seceded from the United States.

1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporated Standard Oil.

1901 – Oil was discovered at the Spindletop oil field near Beaumont, TX.

1911 – Major Jimmie Erickson took the first photograph from an airplane while flying over San Diego, CA.

1928 – The Soviet Union ordered the exile of Leon Trotsky.

1951 – Donald Howard Rogers piloted the first passenger jet on a trip from Chicago to New York City.

1984 – The United States and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations for the first time in more than a century.

1990 – Chinese Premier Li Peng ended martial law in Beijing after seven months. He said that crushing pro-democracy protests had saved China from “the abyss of misery.”

2003 – North Korea announced that it was withdrawing from the global nuclear arms control treaty and that it had no plans to develop nuclear weapons.

January 10, 1946

First meeting of the United Nations

The first General Assembly of the United Nations, comprising 51 nations, convenes at Westminster Central Hall in London, England. One week later, the U.N. Security Council met for the first time and established its rules of procedure. Then, on January 24, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution, a measure calling for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.

In 1944, at the Dumbarton Oaks conference in Washington, D.C., the groundwork was laid by Allied delegates for an international postwar organization to maintain peace and security in the postwar world. The organization was to possess considerably more authority over its members than the defunct League of Nations, which had failed in its attempts to prevent the outbreak of World War II. In April 1945, with celebrations of victory in Europe about to commence, delegates from 51 nations convened in San Francisco to draft the United Nations Charter. On June 26, the document was signed by the delegates, and on October 24 it was formally ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council and a majority of other signatories.

“First meeting of the United Nations.” 2009. The History Channel website. 10 Jan 2009, 05:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=4666.

04
Dec
08

On This Day, 12-4-2008: Black Panther Party

December 4, 1969

Police kill two members of the Black Panther Party

Black Panthers Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, are gunned down by 14 police officers as they lie sleeping in their Chicago, Illinois, apartment. About a hundred bullets had been fired in what police described as a fierce gun battle with members of the Black Panther Party. However, ballistics experts later determined that only one of those bullets came from the Panthers’ side. In addition, the “bullet holes” in the front door of the apartment, which police pointed to as evidence that the Panthers had been shooting from within the apartment, were actually nail holes created by police in an attempt to cover up the attack. Four other Black Panthers were wounded in the raid, as well as two police officers.

Despite the evidence provided by ballistics experts showing that police had fired 99 percent of the bullets and had falsified the report on the incident, the first federal grand jury did not indict anyone involved in the raid. Furthermore, even though a subsequent grand jury did indict all the police officers involved, the charges were dismissed.

Survivors of the attack and relatives of Hampton and Clark filed a lawsuit against Hampton and other officials, which was finally settled in 1983.

“Police kill two members of the Black Panther Party.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Dec 2008, 11:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1209.

On This Day

1783 – Gen. George Washington said farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York.

1875 – William Marcy Tweed, the “Boss” of New York City’s Tammany Hall political organization, escaped from jail and fled from the U.S.

1918 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson set sail for France to attend the Versailles Peace Conference. Wilson became the first chief executive to travel to Europe while in office.

1942 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the dismantling of the Works Progress Administration. The program had been created in order to provide jobs during the Great Depression.

1942 – U.S. bombers attacked the Italian mainland for the first time during World War II.

1945 – The U.S. Senate approved American participation in the United Nations.

1965 – The U.S. launched Gemini 7 with Air Force Lt. Col. Frank Borman and Navy Comdr. James A. Lovell on board.

1973 – Pioneer 10 reached Jupiter.

1978 – Dianne Feinstein became San Francisco’s first woman mayor when she was named to replace George Moscone, who had been murdered.

1986 – Both U.S. houses of Congress moved to establish special committees to conduct their own investigations of the Iran-Contra affair.

1991 – Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson was released after nearly seven years in captivity in Lebanon.

1991 – Pan American World Airways ceased operations.

1992 – U.S. President Bush ordered American troops to lead a mercy mission to Somalia.

1993 – The Angolan government and its UNITA guerrilla foes formally adopted terms for a truce. The conflict was killing an estimated 1,000 people per day.

1997 – The play revival “The Diary of Anne Frank” opened.

December 4, 1942

Polish Christians come to the aid of Polish Jews

On this day in Warsaw, a group of Polish Christians put their own lives at risk when they set up the Council for the Assistance of the Jews. The group was led by two women, Zofia Kossak and Wanda Filipowicz.

Since the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Jewish population had been either thrust into ghettos, transported to concentration and labor camps, or murdered. Jewish homes and shops were confiscated and synagogues were burned to the ground. Word about the Jews’ fate finally leaked out in June of 1942, when a Warsaw underground newspaper, the Liberty Brigade, made public the news that tens of thousands of Jews were being gassed at Chelmno, a death camp in Poland-almost seven months after the extermination of prisoners began.

Despite the growing public knowledge of the “Final Solution,” the mass extermination of European Jewry and the growing network of extermination camps in Poland, little was done to stop it. Outside Poland, there were only angry speeches from politicians and promises of postwar reprisals. Within Poland, non-Jewish Poles were themselves often the objects of persecution and forced labor at the hands of their Nazi occupiers; being Slavs, they too were considered “inferior” to the Aryan Germans.

But this did not stop Zofia Kossak and Wanda Filipowicz, two Polish Christians who were determined to do what they could to protect their Jewish neighbors. The fates of Kossak and Filipowicz are unclear so it is uncertain whether their mission was successful, but the very fact that they established the Council is evidence that some brave souls were willing to risk everything to help persecuted Jews. Kossak and Filipowicz were not alone in their struggle to help; in fact, only two days after the Council was established, the SS, Hitler’s “political” terror police force, rounded up 23 men, women, and children, and locked some in a cottage and some in a barn-then burned them alive. Their crime: suspicion of harboring Jews.

Despite the bravery of some Polish Christians, and Jewish resistance fighters within the Warsaw ghetto, who rebelled in 1943 (some of whom found refuge among their Christian neighbors as they attempted to elude the SS), the Nazi death machine proved overwhelming. Poland became the killing ground for not only Poland’s Jewish citizens, but much of Europe’s: Approximately 4.5 million Jews were killed in Poland’s death and labor camps by war’s end.

“Polish Christians come to the aid of Polish Jews.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Dec 2008, 11:30 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6400.

On This Day in Wisconsin: December 4

1842 – Waukesha Civil War Hero Born
On this date William B. Cushing of Waukesha was born. In October, 1864 Cushing led a small group of soldiers in the sinking of the Confederate ironclad ram, the Albermarle. The crew exploded a torpedo beneath the ship and then attempted to escape. The Albermarle imposed a blockade near Plymouth, North Carolina and sunk or removed many Union vessels while on the watch. Cushing’s plan was a success, although his ship sank and most of the crew either surrendered or drowned. Cushing and one other man swam to shore and hid in the swamps to evade Confederate capture. Cushing received a “vote of thanks” from the U.S. Congress and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He died in 1874 of ill health and is buried in the Naval Cemetary at Annapolis, Maryland. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Holmes, p.274-285]

27
Jun
08

On This Day, 6-27-08: The Korean War

Truman orders U.S. forces to Korea

On June 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman announces that he is ordering U.S. air and naval forces to South Korea to aid the democratic nation in repulsing an invasion by communist North Korea. The United States was undertaking the major military operation, he explained, to enforce a United Nations resolution calling for an end to hostilities, and to stem the spread of communism in Asia. In addition to ordering U.S. forces to Korea, Truman also deployed the U.S. 7th Fleet to Formosa (Taiwan) to guard against invasion by communist China and ordered an acceleration of military aid to French forces fighting communist guerrillas in Vietnam.

By May 1951, the communists were pushed back to the 38th parallel, and the battle line remained in that vicinity for the remainder of the war. On July 27, 1953, after two years of negotiation, an armistice was signed, ending the war and reestablishing the 1945 division of Korea that still exists today. Approximately 150,000 troops from South Korea, the United States, and participating U.N. nations were killed in the Korean War, and as many as one million South Korean civilians perished. An estimated 800,000 communist soldiers were killed, and more than 200,000 North Korean civilians died.

The original figure of American troops lost–54,246 killed–became controversial when the Pentagon acknowledged in 2000 that all U.S. troops killed around the world during the period of the Korean War were incorporated into that number. For example, any American soldier killed in a car accident anywhere in the world from June 1950 to July 1953 was considered a casualty of the Korean War. If these deaths are subtracted from the 54,000 total, leaving just the Americans who died (from whatever cause) in the Korean theater of operations, the total U.S. dead in the Korean War numbers 36,516.

“Truman orders U.S. forces to Korea.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jun 2008, 02:37 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6941.

0363 – The death of Roman Emperor Julian brought an end to the Pagan Revival.

1787 – Edward Gibbon completed “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” It was published the following May.

1893 – The New York stock market crashed. By the end of the year 600 banks and 74 railroads had gone out of business.

1905 – The battleship Potemkin succumbed to a mutiny on the Black Sea.

1918 – Two German pilots were saved by parachutes for the first time.

1924 – Democrats offered Mrs. Leroy Springs for vice presidential nomination. She was the first woman considered for the job.

1929 – Scientists at Bell Laboratories in New York revealed a system for transmitting television pictures.

1931 – Igor Sikorsky filed U.S. Patent 1,994,488, which marked the breakthrough in helicopter technology.

1944 – During World War II, American forces completed their capture of the French port of Cherbourg from the German army.

1954 – The world’s first atomic power station opened at Obninsk, near Moscow.

1973 – Nixon vetoed a Senate ban on bombing Cambodia.

1980 – U.S. President Carter signed legislation reviving draft registration.

1985 – The U.S. House of Representatives voted to limit the use of combat troops in Nicaragua.

1986 – The World Court ruled that the U.S. had broken international law by aiding Nicaraguan rebels.

1998 – An English woman was impregnated with her dead husband’s sperm after two-year legal battle over her right to the sperm.

2005 – In Alaska’s Denali National Park, a roughly 70-million year old dinosaur track was discovered. The track was form a three-toed Cretaceous period dinosaur.

Mormon leader killed by mob

Joseph Smith, the founder and leader of the Mormon religion, is murdered along with his brother Hyrum when an anti-Mormon mob breaks into a jail where they are being held in Carthage, Illinois.

“Mormon leader killed by mob.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jun 2008, 02:38 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5129.

Buffalo hunters and Indians clash at Adobe Walls

Using new high-powered rifles to devastating effect, 28 buffalo hunters repulse a much larger force of attacking Indians at an old trading post in the Texas panhandle called Adobe Walls.

The Commanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne Indians living in western Texas had long resented the advancement of white settlement in their territories. In 1867, some of the Indians accepted the terms of the Treaty of Medicine Lodge, which required them to move to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) but also reserved much of the Texas Panhandle as their exclusive hunting grounds. Many white Texans, however, maintained that the treaty had ignored their legitimate claims to the area. These white buffalo hunters, who had already greatly reduced the once massive herds, continued to hunt in the territory.

By the early 1870s, Commanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne hunters were finding it harder to locate buffalo, and they blamed the illegal white buffalo hunters. When the federal government failed to take adequate measures to stop the white buffalo hunters, the great chief Quanah Parker and others began to argue for war

“Buffalo hunters and Indians clash at Adobe Walls.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jun 2008, 02:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4564.

Wobblies unite

The dawn of the twentieth century witnessed a sustained burst of progressive activities as various disenfranchised elements of American society pushed to assert their rights. This was especially true in the world of organized labor, as workers marshaled their forces in the battle against Big Business. Along with heading to the picket line, workers formed new and increasingly more strident unions, such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which was formally consecrated in Chicago on this day in 1905. Organized by industrial labor’s more militant members, including Eugene Debs, William D. Haywood (also known as “Big Bill” Haywood) and the long-stymied Socialist segment of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), the IWW tilted at the formidable windmills of industrial capitalism and its caste-like wage system. As Haywood told the union’s first convention, the IWW’s “purpose” was the “emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism.” Towards that end, the IWW’s leaders sought to build a massive union that, rather than give in to labor’s nativist tendencies, built its numbers by pooling members from all races and ethnicities. Once the IWW became large enough, its leaders planned to call an apocalyptic strike that would effectively fell the capitalist system. Though the IWW did score some key victories, including leading a successful strike by textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts (1912), it also drew heavy fire from business leaders, government officials and conservative sectors of the union movement alike.

“Wobblies unite.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jun 2008, 02:47 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5909.

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.

01
Feb
08

On This Day 2-1-08: F. W. Woolworth; Greensboro, North Carolina

1790 – The U.S. Supreme Court convened for the first time in New York City.

1793 – France declared war on Britain and Holland.

1861 – Texas voted to secede from the Union.

1893 – Thomas A. Edison completed work on the world’s first motion picture studio in West Orange, NJ.

1900 – Eastman Kodak Co. introduced the $1 Brownie box camera.

1913 – Grand Central Station opened in New York City, NY. It was the largest train station in the world.

1946 – Norwegian statesman Trygve Lie was chosen to be the first secretary-general of the United Nations.

1951 – The first telecast of an atomic explosion took place.

1958 – The United Arab Republic was formed by a union of Egypt and Syria. It was broken 1961.

1960 – Four black college students began a sit-in protest at a lunch counter in Greensboro, NC. They had been refused service.

1968 – During the Vietnam War, South Vietnamese National Police Chief Brig. Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executed a Viet Cong officer with a pistol shot to the head. The scene was captured in a news photograph.

1979 – Patty Hearst was released from prison after serving 22 months of a seven-year sentence for bank robbery. Her sentence had been commuted by U.S. President Carter.

1994 – Jeff Gillooly plead guilty in Portland, OR, for his role in the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. Gillooly, Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, struck a plea bargain under which he confessed to racketeering charges in exchange for testimony implicating Harding.

2003 – NASA’s space shuttle Columbia exploded while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. All seven astronauts on board were killed.

Greensboro Lunch Counter

Greensboro Lunch Counter in the Separate Is Not Equal exhibition

In 1960, if you were African American, you were not allowed to sit here—the lunch counter at the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, North Carolina. Racial inequality pervaded American life. Throughout the South, a racist system known as “Jim Crow” segregated people in restaurants, restrooms and most other accommodations. When African Americans tried to find a house or apartment, register to vote, or even order lunch, they were denied equal rights. The Woolworth’s in the Greensboro, like other stores in the community, refused to seat and serve African Americans at the luncheonette.

On Feb. 1, 1960, four African American students sat down at this counter and asked for service. Their request was refused.

When asked to leave, they remained in their seats. Ezell A. Blair Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil and David L. Richmond were all enrolled at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College. Their “passive sit-down demand” began the first sustained sit-in and ignited a youth-led movement to challenge injustice and inequality throughout the South.

In Greensboro, hundreds of students, civil rights organizations, churches and members of the community joined in a six-month-long protest. They challenged the company’s policy of racial discrimination by sitting at the counter, and, later, organizing an economic boycott of the store. Their defiance heightened many Americans’ awareness of racial injustice and ultimately led to the desegregation of F.W. Woolworth lunch counter on July 25, 1960.

http://americanhistory.si.edu/news/factsheet.cfm?key=30&newskey=53




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