Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam War

13
Jun
09

On This Day, June 13: The Pentagon Papers

June 13, 1971

“Pentagon Papers” damage credibility of Cold War policy

The New York Times begins to publish sections of the so-called “Pentagon Papers,” a top-secret Department of Defense study of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The papers indicated that the American government had been lying to the people for years about the Vietnam War and the papers seriously damaged the credibility of America’s Cold War foreign policy.

In 1967, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered his department to prepare an in-depth history of American involvement in the Vietnam War. McNamara had already begun to harbor serious doubts about U.S. policy in Vietnam, and the study–which came to be known as the “Pentagon Papers”–substantiated his misgivings. Top-secret memorandums, reports, and papers indicated that the U.S. government had systematically lied to the American people, deceiving them about American goals and progress in the war in Vietnam. The devastating multi-volume study remained locked away in a Pentagon safe for years. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a Defense Department employee who had turned completely against the war, began to smuggle portions of the papers out of the Pentagon. These papers made their way to the New York Times, and on June 13, 1971, the American public read them in stunned amazement. The publication of the papers added further fuel to the already powerful antiwar movement and drove the administration of President Richard Nixon into a frenzy of paranoia about information “leaks.” Nixon attempted to stop further publication of the papers, but the Supreme Court refused to issue an injunction.

The “Pentagon Papers” further eroded the American public’s confidence in their nation’s Cold War foreign policy. The brutal, costly, and seemingly endless Vietnam War had already damaged the government’s credibility, and the publication of the “Pentagon Papers” showed people the true extent to which the government had manipulated and lied to them. Some of the most dramatic examples were documents indicating that the Kennedy administration had openly encouraged and participated in the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963; that the CIA believed that the “domino theory” did not actually apply to Asia; and that the heavy American bombing of North Vietnam, contrary to U.S. government pronouncements about its success, was having absolutely no impact on the communists’ will to continue the fight.

“”Pentagon Papers” damage credibility of Cold War policy,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2697 [accessed Jun 13, 2009]

 

On This Day

1777 – The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in the American colonies to help with their rebellion against the British.

1866 – The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the U.S. Congress. It was ratified on July 9, 1868. The amendment was designed to grant citizenship to and protect the civil liberties of recently freed slaves. It did this by prohibiting states from denying or abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, depriving any person of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying to any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

1888 – The U.S. Congress created the Department of Labor.

1898 – The Canadian Yukon Territory was organized.

1912 – Captain Albert Berry made the first successful parachute jump from an airplane in Jefferson, Mississippi.

1920 – The U.S. Post Office Department ruled that children may not be sent by parcel post.

1944 – Germany launched 10 of its new V1 rockets against Britain from a position near the Channel coast. Of the 10 rockets only 5 landed in Britain and only one managed to kill (6 people in London).

1966 – The landmark “Miranda vs. Arizona” decision was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision ruled that criminal suspects had to be informed of their constitutional rights before being questioned by police.

1983 – The unmanned U.S. space probe Pioneer 10 became the first spacecraft to leave the solar system. It was launched in March 1972. The first up-close images of the planet Jupiter were provided by Pioneer 10.

1989 – U.S. President George Bush exercised his first Presidential veto on a bill dealing with minimum wage.

2000 – In Pyongyang, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il welcomed South Korea’s President Kim Dae for a three-day summit. It was the first such meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea.

June 13, 1807

Thomas Jefferson subpoenaed in Aaron Burr’s treason trial

President Thomas Jefferson receives a subpoena to testify in the treason trial of his former vice president, Aaron Burr, on this day in 1807. In the subpoena, Burr asked Jefferson to produce documents that might exonerate him.

Burr had already been politically and socially disgraced by killing former Treasury secretary and Revolutionary-era hero Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. After killing Hamilton, Burr, still Jefferson’s vice president, went into hiding to avoid prosecution for murder. (The charges were later dropped.) Burr then concocted a seditious plan to enlist the help of Britain and Spain to create a separate nation in the southwestern reaches of the American continent, including parts of Mexico, over which Burr would rule. The outrageous plan failed miserably when one of Burr’s co-conspirators, General James Wilkinson, betrayed Burr and alerted Jefferson to the plot. Burr was hunted down and arrested in 1806 and indicted for treason.

Jefferson expressed in his personal papers that he felt no love or loyalty to Burr despite their former political relationship. Burr had run a close and contentious election against the republican Jefferson in the 1800 campaign. After the election resulted in a tie, the vote went to the House of Representatives. Only after Alexander Hamilton reluctantly lobbied for Jefferson did the House select Jefferson for the presidency instead of Burr. This was only one of the many grievances Burr held against Hamilton that led to the fatal duel.

Jefferson refused to appear in Burr’s defense and released only a few of the documents Burr had requested, invoking his presidential right to protect the public interest. If Jefferson’s intent was to help get Burr convicted, his refusal to supply documentation backfired. In the end, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall found Burr not guilty by lack of evidence.

“Thomas Jefferson subpoenaed in Aaron Burr’s treason trial,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=656 [accessed Jun 13, 2009]

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09
Jun
09

On This Day, June 9: The Domino Theory

June 9, 1964

CIA report challenges “domino theory”

In reply to a formal question submitted by President Lyndon B. Johnson–“Would the rest of Southeast Asia necessarily fall if Laos and South Vietnam came under North Vietnamese control?”–the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) submits a memo that effectively challenges the “domino theory” backbone of the Johnson administration policies. This theory contended that if South Vietnam fell to the communists, the rest of Southeast Asia would also fall “like dominoes,” and the theory had been used to justify much of the Vietnam War effort.

The CIA concluded that Cambodia was probably the only nation in the area that would immediately fall. “Furthermore,” the report said, “a continuation of the spread of communism in the area would not be inexorable, and any spread which did occur would take time–time in which the total situation might change in any number of ways unfavorable to the communist cause.” The CIA report concluded that if South Vietnam and Laos also fell, it “would be profoundly damaging to the U.S. position in the Far East,” but Pacific bases and allies such as the Philippines and Japan would still wield enough power to deter China and North Vietnam from any further aggression or expansion. President Johnson appears to have ignored the CIA analysis–he eventually committed over 500,000 American troops to the war in an effort to block the spread of communism to South Vietnam.

“CIA report challenges “domino theory”,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1897 [accessed Jun 9, 2009]

 

On This Day

68 A.D. – Roman Emperor Nero committed suicide.

1534 – Jacques Cartier became the first to sail into the river he named Saint Lawrence.

1931 – Robert H. Goddard patented a rocket-fueled aircraft design.

1940 – Norway surrendered to the Nazis during World War II.

1945 – Japanese Premier Kantaro Suzuki declared that Japan would fight to the last rather than accept unconditional surrender.

1959 – The first ballistic missile carrying submarine, the USS George Washington, was launched.

1978 – Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints struck down a 148-year-old policy of excluding black men from the Mormon priesthood.

1986 – The Rogers Commission released a report on the Challenger disaster. The report explained that the spacecraft blew up as a result of a failure in a solid rocket booster joint.

 

June 9, 1973

Secretariat wins Triple Crown

With a spectacular victory at the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat becomes the first horse since Citation in 1948 to win America’s coveted Triple Crown–the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. In one of the finest performances in racing history, Secretariat, ridden by Ron Turcotte, completed the 1.5-mile race in 2 minutes and 24 seconds, a dirt-track record for that distance.

Secretariat was born at Meadow Stables in Doswell, Virginia, on March 30, 1970. He was sired by Bold Ruler, the 1957 Preakness winner, and foaled by Somethingroyal, which came from a Thoroughbred line known for its stamina. An attractive chestnut colt, he grew to over 16 hands high and was at two years the size of a three-year-old. He ran his first race as a two-year-old on July 4, 1972, a 5 1/2-furlong race at Aqueduct in New York City. He came from behind to finish fourth; it was the only time in his career that he finished a race and did not place. Eleven days later, he won a six-furlong race at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York, and soon after, another race. His trainer, Lucien Laurin, moved him up to class in August, entering him in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, which he won by three lengths. By the end of 1972, he had won seven of nine races.

With easy victories in his first two starts of 1973, Secretariat seemed on his way to the Triple Crown. Just two weeks before the Kentucky Derby, however, he stumbled at the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct, coming in third behind Angle Light and Sham. On May 5, he met Sham and Angle Light again at the Churchill Downs track in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat, a 3-to-2 favorite, broke from near the back of the pack to win the 2 1/4-mile race in a record 1 minute and 59 seconds. He was the first to run the Derby in less than two minutes and his record still stands. Two weeks later, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, Secretariat won the second event of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes. The official clock malfunctioned, but hand-recorded timers had him running the 1 1/16-mile race in record time.

On June 9, 1973, almost 100,000 people came to Belmont Park near New York City to see if “Big Red” would become the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown. Secretariat gave the finest performance of his career in the Belmont Stakes, completing the 1.5-mile race in a record 2 minutes and 24 seconds, knocking nearly three seconds off the track record set by Gallant Man in 1957. He also won by a record 31 lengths. Ron Turcotte, who jockeyed Secretariat in all but three of his races, claimed that at Belmont he lost control of Secretariat and that the horse sprinted into history on his own accord.

Secretariat would race six more times, winning four and finishing second twice. In November 1973, the “horse of the century” was retired and put to stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Among his notable offspring is the 1988 Preakness and Belmont winner, Risen Star. Secretariat was euthanized in 1989 after falling ill. An autopsy showed that his heart was two and a half times larger than that of the average horse, which may have contributed to his extraordinary racing abilities. In 1999, ESPN ranked Secretariat No. 35 in its list of the Top 50 North American athletes of the 20th century, the only non-human on the list.

“Secretariat wins Triple Crown,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6923 [accessed Jun 9, 2009]

06
May
09

On This Day, May 6: The Hindenburg Disaster

May 6, 1937

The Hindenburg disaster

The airship Hindenburg, the largest dirigible ever built and the pride of Nazi Germany, bursts into flames upon touching its mooring mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 passengers and crewmembers.

Frenchman Henri Giffard constructed the first successful airship in 1852. His hydrogen-filled blimp carried a three-horsepower steam engine that turned a large propeller and flew at a speed of six miles per hour. The rigid airship, often known as the “zeppelin” after the last name of its innovator, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, was developed by the Germans in the late 19th century. Unlike French airships, the German ships had a light framework of metal girders that protected a gas-filled interior. However, like Giffard’s airship, they were lifted by highly flammable hydrogen gas and vulnerable to explosion. Large enough to carry substantial numbers of passengers, one of the most famous rigid airships was the Graf Zeppelin, a dirigible that traveled around the world in 1929. In the 1930s, the Graf Zeppelin pioneered the first transatlantic air service, leading to the construction of the Hindenburg, a larger passenger airship.

On May 3, 1937, the Hindenburg left Frankfurt, Germany, for a journey across the Atlantic to Lakehurst’s Navy Air Base. Stretching 804 feet from stern to bow, it carried 36 passengers and crew of 61. While attempting to moor at Lakehurst, the airship suddenly burst into flames, probably after a spark ignited its hydrogen core. Rapidly falling 200 feet to the ground, the hull of the airship incinerated within seconds. Thirteen passengers, 21 crewmen, and 1 civilian member of the ground crew lost their lives, and most of the survivors suffered substantial injuries.

Radio announcer Herb Morrison, who came to Lakehurst to record a routine voice-over for an NBC newsreel, immortalized the Hindenberg disaster in a famous on-the-scene description in which he emotionally declared, “Oh, the humanity!” The recording of Morrison’s commentary was immediately flown to New York, where it was aired as part of America’s first coast-to-coast radio news broadcast. Lighter-than-air passenger travel rapidly fell out of favor after the Hindenberg disaster, and no rigid airships survived World War II.

“The Hindenburg disaster,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4978 [accessed May 6, 2009]

On This Day

1527 – German troops began sacking Rome, bringing about the end of the Renaissance.

1861 – Arkansas became the ninth state to secede from the Union.

1877 – Chief Crazy Horse surrendered to U.S. troops in Nebraska.

1882 – The U.S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. The act barred Chinese immigrants from the U.S. for 10 years.

1889 – The Universal Exposition opened in Paris, France, marking the dedication of the Eiffel Tower. Also at the exposition was the first automobile in Paris, the Mercedes-Benz.

1941 – Joseph Stalin assumed the Soviet premiership.

1942 – During World War II, the Japanese seized control of the Philippines. About 15,000 Americans and Filipinos on Corregidor surrendered to the Japanese.

1957 – U.S. Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book “Profiles in Courage”.

1962 – The first nuclear warhead was fired from the Polaris submarine.

1994 – The Chunnel officially opened. The tunnel under the English Channel links England and France.

May 6, 1970

Students launch nationwide protest

Hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation shut down as thousands of students join a nationwide campus protest. Governor Ronald Reagan closed down the entire California university and college system until May 11, which affected more than 280,000 students on 28 campuses. Elsewhere, faculty and administrators joined students in active dissent and 536 campuses were shut down completely, 51 for the rest of the academic year. A National Student Association spokesman reported students from more than 300 campuses were boycotting classes. The protests were a reaction to the shooting of four students at Kent State University by National Guardsmen during a campus demonstration about President Nixon’s decision to send U.S. and South Vietnamese troops into Cambodia. Four days later, a student rally at Jackson State College in Mississippi resulted in the death of two students and 12 wounded when police opened fire on a women’s dormitory.

“Students launch nationwide protest,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1830 [accessed May 6, 2009]

30
Apr
09

On This Day, April 30: Adolf Hitler

April 30, 1945

Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his underground bunker

Der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany, burrowed away in a refurbished air-raid shelter, consumes a cyanide capsule, then shoots himself with a pistol, on this day in 1945, as his “1,000-year” Reich collapses above him.

Hitler had repaired to his bunker on January 16, after deciding to remain in Berlin for the last great siege of the war. Fifty-five feet under the chancellery (Hitler’s headquarters as chancellor), the shelter contained 18 small rooms and was fully self-sufficient, with its own water and electrical supply. He left only rarely (once to decorate a squadron of Hitler Youth) and spent most of his time micromanaging what was left of German defenses and entertaining such guests as Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, and Joachim von Ribbentrop. At his side were Eva Braun, whom he married only two days before their double suicide, and his dog, an Alsatian named Blondi.

Warned by officers that the Russians were only a day or so from overtaking the chancellery and urged to escape to Berchtesgarden, a small town in the Bavarian Alps where Hitler owned a home, the dictator instead chose suicide. It is believed that both he and his wife swallowed cyanide capsules (which had been tested for their efficacy on his “beloved” dog and her pups). For good measure, he shot himself with his service pistol.

The bodies of Hitler and Eva were cremated in the chancellery garden by the bunker survivors (as per Der Fuhrer’s orders) and reportedly later recovered in part by Russian troops. A German court finally officially declared Hitler dead, but not until 1956.

“Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his underground bunker,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6439 [accessed Apr 30, 2009]

On This Day

0030 – Jesus of Nazareth was crucified.

0313 – Licinius unified the whole of the eastern empire under his own rule.

1563 – All Jews were expelled from France by order of Charles VI.

1803 – The U.S. purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million.

1812 – Louisiana admitted as the 18th U.S. state.

1930 – The Soviet Union proposed a military alliance with France and Great Britain.

1947 – The name of Boulder Dam, in Nevada, was changed back to Hoover Dam.

1948 – The Organization of American States held its first meeting in Bogota, Colombia.

1970 – U.S. troops invaded Cambodia to disrupt North Vietnamese Army base areas. The announcement by U.S. President Nixon led to widespread protests.

1984 – U.S. President Reagan signed cultural and scientific agreements with China. He also signed a tax accord that would make it easier for American companies to operate in China.

1998 – NATO was expanded to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The three nations were formally admitted the following April at NATO’s 50th anniversary summit.

April 30, 1939

New York World’s Fair opens

On April 30, 1939, the New York World’s Fair opens in New York City. The opening ceremony, which featured speeches by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and New York Governor Herbert Lehman, ushered in the first day of television broadcasting in New York.

Spanning 1,200 acres at Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, the fairground was marked by two imposing structures–the “Perisphere” and the “Trylon”–and exhibited such new technology as FM radio, robotics, fluorescent lighting, and a crude fax machine. Norman Bel Geddes designed a Futurama ride for General Motors, and users were transported through an idealized city of the future. Sixty-three nations participated in the fair, which enjoyed large crowds before the outbreak of World War II interrupted many of its scheduled events.

“New York World’s Fair opens,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=4962 [accessed Apr 30, 2009]

20
Apr
09

On This Day, April 20: Hearst’s War

April 20, 1898

McKinley asks for declaration of war with Spain

President William McKinley asks Congress to declare war on Spain on this day in 1898.

In 1895, Cuba, located less than 100 miles south of the United States, attempted to overthrow Spanish colonial rule. The rebels received financial assistance from private U.S. interests and used America as a base of operations from which to attack. The Spanish military responded with brutal force; approximately 100,000 Cuban civilians died in wretched conditions within Spanish concentration camps between 1895 and 1898. McKinley originally tried to avoid an armed conflict with Spain, but the American media, led by newspaper baron Randolph Hearst, lambasted McKinley as “weak” and whipped up popular sentiment for a war to give Cubans their independence.

On February 17, 1898, the battleship USS Maine, moored in Havana’s harbor, sank after being rocked by two explosions; 252 men onboard were killed. Hawks in the media and within the government immediately blamed Spain, and President McKinley, abandoning his hopes for neutrality in the Cuban-Spanish conflict, bowed to Congressional calls for war. (It was later discovered that the explosion was caused by the spontaneous ignition of faulty ammunitions onboard the Maine.)

Swift, successful naval battles in the Philippines and the army’s capture of Santiago and Puerto Rico, led by future President Theodore Roosevelt and his band of “Rough Riders,” ended what became known as the Spanish-American War in four months with relatively few casualties. The quick success boosted American confidence, leading to further intervention in foreign affairs in an attempt to liberate what were, in the eyes of the U.S. government, at least, oppressed nations yearning for democracy and independence. Although contemporaries of McKinley and Roosevelt called it a “splendid little war,” the Spanish-American War is now viewed by most historians as a war of American imperialism.

“McKinley asks for declaration of war with Spain,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=501 [accessed Apr 20, 2009]

On This Day

1139 – The Second Lateran Council opened in Rome.

1689 – The siege of Londonderry began. Supporters of James II attacked the city.

1769 – Ottawa Chief Pontiac was murdered by an Illinois Indian in Cahokia.

1775 – The British began the siege of Boston.

1792 – France declared war on Austria, Prussia, and Sardinia. It was the start of the French Revolutionary wars.

1809 – Napoleon defeated Austria at Battle of Abensberg, Bavaria.

1836 – The U.S. territory of Wisconsin was created by the U.S. Congress.

1902 – Scientists Marie and Pierre Curie isolated the radioactive element radium.

1945 – Soviet troops began their attack on Berlin.

1962 – The New Orleans Citizens’ Council offered a free one-way ride for blacks to move to northern states.

1967 – U.S. planes bombed Haiphong for first time during the Vietnam War.

1972 – The manned lunar module from Apollo 16 landed on the moon.

1978 – The Korean Airliner 007 was shot down while in Russian airspace.

1988 – The U.S. Air Forces’ Stealth (B-2 bomber) was officially unveiled.

1999 – 13 people were killed at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, when two teenagers opened fire on them with shotguns and pipebombs. The two gunmen then killed themselves.

April 20, 1971

“Fragging” on the rise in U.S. units

The Pentagon releases figures confirming that fragging incidents are on the rise. In 1970, 209 such incidents caused the deaths of 34 men; in 1969, 96 such incidents cost 34 men their lives. Fragging was a slang term used to describe U.S. military personnel tossing of fragmentation hand grenades (hence the term “fragging”) usually into sleeping areas to murder fellow soldiers. It was usually directed primarily against unit leaders, officers, and noncommissioned officers.

Fragging was rare in the early days of U.S. involvement in ground combat, but it became increasingly common as the rapid turnover caused by the one-year rotation policy weakened unit cohesion. With leadership and morale already declining in the face of repetitive Vietnam tours, the withdrawal of public support led to soldiers questioning their purpose on the battlefield. The situation worsened with the gradual U.S. troop withdrawal that began in 1969. As some troops were withdrawn, discipline and motivation declined as many remaining soldiers began to question why they had to continue fighting.

Fragging incidents in combat were usually attempts to remove leaders perceived to be incompetent and a threat to survival. Most fragging incidents, however, occurred in rear-echelon units and were committed by soldiers on drugs or because unit leaders were enforcing anti-drug policies. Unit leaders who were perceived to be too stringent in the enforcement of discipline or regulations sometimes received warnings via a fragmentation grenade, with the safety pin left on, but with their name painted on it left on their bunk, or a smoke grenade discharged under their bunk. Most understood the message, and intimidation through threat of fragging far exceeded actual incidents.

“”Fragging” on the rise in U.S. units,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1796 [accessed Apr 20, 2009]

16
Apr
09

On This Day, April 16: LSD Discovered

April 16, 1943

Hallucinogenic effects of LSD discovered

In Basel, Switzerland, Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist working at the Sandoz pharmaceutical research laboratory, accidentally consumes LSD-25, a synthetic drug he had created in 1938 as part of his research into the medicinal value of lysergic acid compounds. After taking the drug, formally known as lysergic acid diethylamide, Dr. Hoffman was disturbed by unusual sensations and hallucinations. In his notes, he related the experience:

“Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”

After intentionally taking the drug again to confirm that it had caused this strange physical and mental state, Dr. Hoffman published a report announcing his discovery, and so LSD made its entry into the world as a hallucinogenic drug. Widespread use of the so-called “mind-expanding” drug did not begin until the 1960s, when counterculture figures such as Albert M. Hubbard, Timothy Leary, and Ken Kesey publicly expounded on the benefits of using LSD as a recreational drug. The manufacture, sale, possession, and use of LSD, known to cause negative reactions in some of those who take it, were made illegal in the United States in 1965.

“Hallucinogenic effects of LSD discovered,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4924 [accessed Apr 16, 2009]

On This Day

0069 – Otho committed suicide after being defeated by Vitellius’ troops at Bedriacum.

1065 – The Norman Robert Guiscard took Bari. Five centuries of Byzantine rule in southern Italy ended.

1746 – The Duke of Cumberland defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie (and his Jacobites) at the battle of Culloden.

1818 – The U.S. Senate ratified Rush-Bagot amendment to form an unarmed U.S.-Canada border.

1862 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis approved conscription act for white males between 18 and 35.

1862 – In the U.S., slavery was abolished by law in the District of Columbia.

1905 – Andrew Carnegie donated $10,000,000 of personal money to set up the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

1917 – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned to Russia to start Bolshevik Revolution after years of exile.

1942 – The Island of Malta was awarded the George Cross in recognition for heroism under constant German air attack.

1944 – The destroyer USS Laffey survived immense damage from attacks by 22 Japanese aircraft off Okinawa.

1945 – American troops entered Nuremberg, Germany.

1962 – Walter Cronkite began anchoring “The CBS Evening News”.

1972 – Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon. It was the fifth manned moon landing.

1975 – The Khmer Rouge Rebels won control of Cambodia after a five years of civil war. They renamed the country Kampuchea and began a reign of terror.

1982 – Queen Elizabeth proclaimed Canada’s new constitution in effect. The act severed the last colonial links with Britain.

1992 – The House ethics committee listed 303 current and former lawmakers who had overdrawn their House bank accounts.

April 16, 1972

United States resumes bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong

In an effort to help blunt the ongoing North Vietnamese Nguyen Hue Offensive, the United States resumes bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong after a four-year lull.

In the first use of B-52s against both Hanoi and Haiphong, and the first attacks against both cities since November 1968, 18 B-52s and about 100 U.S. Navy and Air Force fighter-bombers struck supply dumps near Haiphong’s harbor. Sixty fighter-bombers hit petroleum storage facilities near Hanoi, with another wave of planes striking later in the afternoon. White House spokesmen announced that the United States would bomb military targets anywhere in Vietnam in order to help the South Vietnamese defend against the communist onslaught.

These actions were part of the U.S. response to the North Vietnamese offensive, which had begun on March 30. The North Vietnamese had launched a massive invasion designed to strike the knockout blow that would win the war for the communists. The attack was called the Nguyen Hue Offensive by the North Vietnamese, but was also more commonly known to Americans as the “Easter Offensive.” The attacking force of North Vietnamese included 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, with more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles. The main North Vietnamese objectives, in addition to Quang Tri in the north, were Kontum in the Central Highlands, and An Loc farther to the south. The fighting, which continued into the fall, was some of the most desperate of the war as the South Vietnamese fought for their very survival. They prevailed against the invaders with the help of U.S. advisors and massive American airpower.

“United States resumes bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1789 [accessed Apr 16, 2009]

22
Mar
09

On This Day, March 22: Loyalty Checks

March 22, 1947

Truman orders loyalty checks of federal employees

In response to public fears and Congressional investigations into communism in the United States, President Harry S. Truman issues an executive decree establishing a sweeping loyalty investigation of federal employees.

As the Cold War began to develop after World War II, fears concerning communist activity in the United States, particularly in the federal government, increased. Congress had already launched investigations of communist influence in Hollywood, and laws banning communists from teaching positions were being instituted in several states. Of most concern to the Truman administration, however, were persistent charges that communists were operating in federal offices. In response to these fears and concerns, Truman issued an executive order on March 21, 1947, which set up a program to check the loyalty of federal employees. In announcing his order, Truman indicated that he expected all federal workers to demonstrate “complete and unswerving loyalty” the United States. Anything less, he declared, “constitutes a threat to our democratic processes.”

The basic elements of Truman’s order established the framework for a wide-ranging and powerful government apparatus to perform loyalty checks. Loyalty boards were to be set up in every department and agency of the federal government. Using lists of “totalitarian, fascist, communist, or subversive” organizations provided by the attorney general, and relying on investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, these boards were to review every employee. If there existed “reasonable grounds” to doubt an employee’s loyalty, he or she would be dismissed. A Loyalty Review Board was set up under the Civil Service Commission to deal with employees’ appeals.

Truman’s loyalty program resulted in the discovery of only a few employees whose loyalty could be “reasonably” doubted. Nevertheless, for a time his order did quiet some of the criticism that his administration was “soft” on communism. Matters changed dramatically in 1949-1950. The Soviets developed an atomic bomb, China fell to the communists, and Senator Joseph McCarthy made the famous speech in which he declared that there were over 200 “known communists” in the Department of State. Once again, charges were leveled that the Truman administration was “coddling” communists, and in response, the Red Scare went into full swing.

“Truman orders loyalty checks of federal employees.” 2009. The History Channel website. 22 Mar 2009, 03:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2614.

 

On this Day

1457 – Gutenberg Bible became the first printed book.

1630 – The first legislation to prohibited gambling was enacted. It was in Boston, MA.

1638 – Anne Hutchinsoon, a religious dissident, was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1765 – The Stamp Act was passed. It was the first direct British tax on the American colonists. It was repealed on March 17, 1766.

1794 – The U.S. Congress banned U.S. vessels from supplying slaves to other countries.

1874 – The Young Men’s Hebrew Association was organized in New York City.

1882 – The U.S. Congress outlawed polygamy.

1903 – Niagara Falls ran out of water due to a drought.

1905 – Child miners in Britain received a maximum 8-hour workday.

1933 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill legalizing the sale and possession of beer and wine containing up to 3.2% alcohol.

1945 – The Arab League was formed with the adoption of a charter in Cairo, Egypt.

1946 – The British granted Transjordan independence.

1980 – People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was founded by Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco.

1988 – The Congress overrode U.S. President Reagan’s veto of a sweeping civil rights bill.

 

March 22, 1965

Officials confirm “non-lethal gas” was provided

The State Department acknowledges that the United States had supplied the South Vietnamese armed forces with a “non-lethal gas which disables temporarily” for use “in tactical situations in which the Viet Cong intermingle with or take refuge among non-combatants, rather than use artillery or aerial bombardment.” This announcement triggered a storm of criticism worldwide. The North Vietnamese and the Soviets loudly protested the introduction of “poison gas” into the war. Secretary of State Dean Rusk insisted at a news conference on March 24 that the United States was “not embarking upon gas warfare,” but was merely employing “a gas which has been commonly adopted by the police forces of the world as riot-control agents.”

“Officials confirm “non-lethal gas” was provided.” 2009. The History Channel website. 22 Mar 2009, 03:25 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1744.

On This Day in Wisconsin: March 22

1854 – Eugene Shepard, Father of the Hodag
On this date Eugene Shepard was born near Green Bay. Although he made his career in the lumbering business near Rhinelander, he was best known for his story-telling and practical jokes. He told many tales of Paul Bunyan, the mythical lumberjack, and drew pictures of the giant at work that became famous. Shepard also started a new legend about a prehistoric monster that roamed the woods of Wisconsin – the hodag. Shepard built the mythical monster out of wood and bull’s horns. He fooled everyone into believing it was alive, allowing it to be viewed only inside a dark tent. The beast was displayed at the Wausau and Antigo county fairs before Shepard admitted it was all a hoax. [Source: Badger saints and sinners, by Fred L. Holmes, p.459-474]




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