Posts Tagged ‘West Berlin

30
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-30-2008: Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall confirmed as Supreme Court justice

On this day in 1967, Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. He would remain on the Supreme Court for 24 years before retiring for health reasons, leaving a legacy of upholding the rights of the individual as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

From a young age, Marshall seemed destined for a place in the American justice system. His parents instilled in him an appreciation for the Constitution, a feeling that was reinforced by his schoolteachers, who forced him to read the document as punishment for his misbehavior. After graduating from Lincoln University in 1930, Marshall sought admission to the University of Maryland School of Law, but was turned away because of the school’s segregation policy, which effectively forbade blacks from studying with whites. Instead, Marshall attended Howard University Law School, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1933. (Marshall later successfully sued Maryland School of Law for their unfair admissions policy.)

Setting up a private practice in his home state of Maryland, Marshall quickly established a reputation as a lawyer for the “little man.” In a year’s time, he began working with the Baltimore NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and went on to become the organization’s chief counsel by the time he was 32, in 1940. Over the next two decades, Marshall distinguished himself as one of the country’s leading advocates for individual rights, winning 29 of the 32 cases he argued in front of the Supreme Court, all of which challenged in some way the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine that had been established by the landmark case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). The high-water mark of Marshall’s career as a litigator came in 1954 with his victory in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. In that case, Marshall argued that the ‘separate but equal’ principle was unconstitutional, and designed to keep blacks “as near [slavery] as possible.”

In 1961, Marshall was appointed by then-President John F. Kennedy to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a position he held until 1965, when Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, named him solicitor general. Following the retirement of Justice Tom Clark in 1967, President Johnson appointed Marshall to the Supreme Court, a decision confirmed by the Senate with a 69-11 vote. Over the next 24 years, Justice Marshall came out in favor of abortion rights and against the death penalty, as he continued his tireless commitment to ensuring equitable treatment of individuals–particularly minorities–by state and federal governments.

“Thurgood Marshall confirmed as Supreme Court justice.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Aug 2008, 02:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52777.

On This Day

30 B.C. – Cleopatra, the seventh queen of Egypt, committed suicide.

1146 – European leaders outlawed the crossbow.

1780 – General Benedict Arnold secretly promised to surrender the West Point fort to the British army.

1862 – The Confederates defeated Union forces at the second Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, VA.

1960 – A partial blockade was imposed on West Berlin by East Germany.

1963 – The “Hotline” between Moscow and Washington, DC, went into operation.

1991 – The Soviet republic of Azerbaijan declared its independence.

1994 – Rosa Parks was robbed and beaten by Joseph Skipper. Parks was known for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus in 1955, which sparked the civil rights movement.

Vladimir Lenin shot

After speaking at a factory in Moscow, Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin is shot twice by Fanya Kaplan, a member of the Social Revolutionary party. Lenin was seriously wounded but survived the attack. The assassination attempt set off a wave of reprisals by the Bolsheviks against the Social Revolutionaries and other political opponents. Thousands were executed as Russia fell deeper into civil war.

“Vladimir Lenin shot.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Aug 2008, 02:41 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5303.

First African American in space

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Guion S. Bluford becomes the first African American to travel into space when the space shuttle Challenger lifts off on its third mission. It was the first night launch of a space shuttle, and many people stayed up late to watch the spacecraft roar up from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 2:32 a.m.

“First African American in space.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Aug 2008, 02:50 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5304.

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12
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-12-2008: The Berlin Wall

East Germany begins construction of the Berlin Wall

In an effort to stem the tide of refugees attempting to leave East Berlin, the communist government of East Germany begins building the Berlin Wall to divide East and West Berlin. Construction of the wall caused a short-term crisis in U.S.-Soviet bloc relations, and the wall itself came to symbolize the Cold War.

Throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s, thousands of people from East Berlin crossed over into West Berlin to reunite with families and escape communist repression. In an effort to stop that outflow, the government of East Germany, on the night of August 12, 1961, began to seal off all points of entrance into West Berlin from East Berlin by stringing barbed wire and posting sentries. In the days and weeks to come, construction of a concrete block wall began, complete with sentry towers and minefields around it. The Berlin Wall succeeded in completely sealing off the two sections of Berlin. The U.S. government responded angrily. Commanders of U.S. troops in West Berlin even began to make plans to bulldoze the wall, but gave up on the idea when the Soviets moved armored units into position to protect it. The West German government was furious with America’s lack of action, but President John F. Kennedy believed that “A wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” In an attempt to reassure the West Germans that the United States was not abandoning them, Kennedy traveled to the Berlin Wall in June 1963, and famously declared, “Ich bin ein Berliner!” (“I am a Berliner!”). Since the word “Berliner” was commonly referred to as a jelly doughnut throughout most of Germany, Kennedy’s improper use of German grammar was also translated as “I am a jelly doughnut.” However, due to the context of his speech, Kennedy’s intended meaning that he stood together with West Berlin in its rivalry with communist East Berlin and the German Democratic Republic was understood by the German people.

In the years to come, the Berlin Wall became a physical symbol of the Cold War. The stark division between communist East Berlin and democratic West Berlin served as the subject for numerous editorials and speeches in the United States, while the Soviet bloc characterized the wall as a necessary protection against the degrading and immoral influences of decadent Western culture and capitalism. During the lifetime of the wall, nearly 80 people were killed trying to escape from East to West Berlin. In late 1989, with communist governments falling throughout Eastern Europe, the Berlin Wall was finally opened and then demolished. For many observers, this action was the signal that the Cold War was finally coming to an end.

“East Germany begins construction of the Berlin Wall.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Aug 2008, 11:51 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2757.

 

On This Day

1656 – “King Phillip’s War” came to an end with the killing of Indian chief King Phillip. The war between the Indians and the Europeans lasted for two years.

1865 – Disinfectant was used for the first time during surgery by Joseph Lister.

1867 – U.S. President Andrew Johnson sparked a move to impeach him when he defied Congress by suspending Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

1877 – Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and made the first sound recording.

1898 – Hawaii was annexed by the U.S. Hawaii was later given territorial status and was given Statehood in 1959.

1898 – The Spanish-American War was ended with the signing of the peace protocol. The U.S. acquired Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Hawaii was also annexed.

1944 – Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was killed with his co-pilot when their Navy plane exploded over England. Joseph Kennedy was the oldest son of Joseph and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

1953 – The Soviet Union secretly tested its first hydrogen bomb.

1960 – The balloon satellite Echo One was launched by the U.S. from Cape Canaveral, FL. It was the first communications satellite.

1981 – IBM unveiled its first PC.

1988 – “The Last Temptation of Christ” opened.

1990 – The first U.S. casualty occurred during the Persian Gulf crisis when Air Force Staff Sergeant John Campisi died after being hit by a military truck.

1992 – The U.S., Canada, and Mexico announced that the North American Free Trade Agreement had been created after 14 months of negotiations.

 

 

Hitler institutes the Mother’s Cross

On this day in 1938, Adolf Hitler institutes the Mother’s Cross, to encourage German women to have more children, to be awarded each year on August 12, Hitler’s mother’s birthday.

The German Reich needed a robust and growing population and encouraged couples to have large families. It started such encouragement early. Once members of the distaff wing of the Hitler Youth movement, the League of German Girls, turned 18, they became eligible for a branch called Faith and Beauty, which trained these girls in the art of becoming ideal mothers. One component of that ideal was fecundity. And so each year, in honor of his beloved mother, Klara, and in memory of her birthday, a gold medal was awarded to women with seven children, a silver to women with six, and a bronze to women with five.

“Hitler institutes the Mother’s Cross.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Aug 2008, 11:52 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=6548.

Soviets test “Layer-Cake” bomb

Less than one year after the United States tested its first hydrogen bomb, the Soviets detonate a 400-kiloton device in Kazakhstan. The explosive power was 30 times that of the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and the mushroom cloud produced by it stretched five miles into the sky. Known as the “Layer Cake,” the bomb was fueled by layers of uranium and lithium deuteride, a hydrogen isotope. The Soviet bomb was smaller and more portable than the American hydrogen bomb, so its development once again upped the ante in the dangerous nuclear arms race between the Cold War superpowers.

“Soviets test “Layer-Cake” bomb.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Aug 2008, 12:02 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5255.

11
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-11-08: Alexander Hamilton

Burr slays Hamilton in duel

In a duel held in Weehawken, New Jersey, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist and the chief architect of America’s political economy, died the following day.

Alexander Hamilton, born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, came to the American colonies in 1773 as a poor immigrant. (There is some controversy as to the year of his birth, but it was either 1755 or 1757.) In 1776, he joined the Continental Army in the American Revolution, and his relentless energy and remarkable intelligence brought him to the attention of General George Washington, who took him on as an aid. Ten years later, Hamilton served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and he led the fight to win ratification of the final document, which created the kind of strong, centralized government that he favored. In 1789, he was appointed the first secretary of the treasury by President Washington, and during the next six years he crafted a sophisticated monetary policy that saved the young U.S. government from collapse. With the emergence of political parties, Hamilton was regarded as a leader of the Federalists.

Aaron Burr, born into a prestigious New Jersey family in 1756, was also intellectually gifted, and he graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) at the age of 17. He joined the Continental Army in 1775 and distinguished himself during the Patriot attack on Quebec. A masterful politician, he was elected to the New State Assembly in 1783 and later served as state attorney. In 1790, he defeated Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law in a race for the U.S. Senate.

“Burr slays Hamilton in duel.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 01:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6955.

1533 – Henry VIII, who divorced his wife and became head of the church of England, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church by Pope Clement VII.

1786 – Morocco agreed to stop attacking American ships in the Mediterranean for a payment of $10,000.

1798 – The U.S. Marine Corps was formally re-established by “An Act for Establishing a Marine Corps” passed by the U.S. Congress. The act also created the U.S. Marine Band. The Marines were first commissioned by the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775.

1864 – In the U.S., Confederate forces led by Gen. Jubal Early began an invasion of Washington, DC. They turned back the next day.

1955 – The U.S. Air Force Academy was dedicated in Colorado Springs, CO, at Lowry Air Base.

1972 – U.S. forces broke the 95-day siege at An Loc in Vietnam.

1977 – The Medal of Freedom was awarded posthumously to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a White House ceremony.

1979 – The abandoned U.S. space station Skylab returned to Earth. It burned up in the atmosphere and showered debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.

1980 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the release of hostage Richard Queen due to illness. Queen was flown to Zurich, Switzerland. Queen had been taken hostage with 62 other Americans at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.

1995 – Full diplomatic relations were established between the United States and Vietnam.

1998 – U.S. Air Force Lt. Michael Blassie, a casualty of the Vietnam War, was laid to rest near his Missouri home. He had been positively identified from his remains that had been enshrined in the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, VA.

 

Battle of Rich Mountain

On this day, Union troops under General George B. McClellan score another major victory in the struggle for western Virginia at the Battle of Rich Mountain. The Yankee success secured the region and ensured the eventual creation of West Virginia.

Western Virginia was a crucial battleground in the early months of the war. The population of the region was deeply divided over the issue of secession, and western Virginia was also a vital east-west link for the Union because the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran through its mountains.

After McClellan scored a series of small victories in western Virginia in June and early July, Confederate General Robert Garnett and Colonel John Pegram positioned their forces at Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill to block two key roads and keep McClellan from penetrating any further east. McClellan crafted a plan to feign an attack against Garnett at Laurel Hill while he sent the bulk of his force against Pegram at Rich Mountain.

Part of McClellan’s force, led by General William Rosecrans, followed a rugged mountain path to swing around behind the Rebels’ left flank. McClellan had promised to attack the Confederate front when he heard gunfire from Rosecrans’s direction. After a difficult march through a drenching rain, Rosecrans struck the Confederate wing. It took several attempts, but he was finally able to drive the Confederates from their position. McClellan shelled the Rebel position, but did not make the expected assault. Each side suffered around 70 casualties.

Pegram was forced to abandon his position, but Rosecrans was blocking his escape route. Two days later, he surrendered his force of 555. Although McClellan became a Union hero as a result of this victory, most historians agree that Rosecrans deserved the credit. Nonetheless, McClellan was on his way to becoming the commander of the Army of the Potomac.

“Battle of Rich Mountain.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 02:00 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2242.

Soviets agree to hand over power in West Berlin

Fulfilling agreements reached at various wartime conferences, the Soviet Union promises to hand power over to British and U.S. forces in West Berlin. Although the division of Berlin (and of Germany as a whole) into zones of occupation was seen as a temporary postwar expedient, the dividing lines quickly became permanent. The divided city of Berlin became a symbol for Cold War tensions.

“Soviets agree to hand over power in West Berlin.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 02:01 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2725.

Thieu challenges NLF to participate in free elections

South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, in a televised speech, makes a “comprehensive offer” for a political settlement. He challenged the National Liberation Front to participate in free elections organized by a joint electoral commission and supervised by an international body. Following the speech, South Vietnamese Foreign Minister Tran Chanh Thanh, seeking to clarify the Thieu proposal, said communists could never participate in elections in South Vietnam “as communists” nor have any role in organizing elections–only by the South Vietnamese government could organize the elections.

“Thieu challenges NLF to participate in free elections.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 02:05 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1960.

“I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value”

 Alexander Hamilton quotes

I never expect to see a perfect work from an imperfect man.
Alexander Hamilton




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