1770 – The British government moved to mollify outraged colonists by repealing almost all of the Townshend Acts. Initially passed in the summer of 1767, the Townshend Acts were the British government’s fiscal and political play to maintain its power over the American colonies. The bills, named after their sponsor, Charles Townshend, not only suspended America’s uppity body of representatives, but also levied a controversial package of revenue taxes, including duties on paint, paper and tea. While English leaders viewed colonial control as a historically justified stance, Americans were of a far different mind: they believed the acts smacked of undue meddling. This sent the colonies into a heated, and sometimes violent, frenzy of protest. America’s outrage eventually prompted the British to roll back all of the acts and revenue duties, save for the now infamous tea tax.
1776 – With the Halifax Resolves, the North Carolina Provincial Congress authorizes its Congressional delegation to vote for independence from Britain. The adoption of the resolution was the first official action in the American Colonies calling for independence from Great Britain during the American Revolution. The Halifax Resolves helped pave the way for the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence less than three months later.
1782 – The British navy won its only naval engagement against the colonists in the American Revolution at the Battle of Les Saintes in the West Indies off Dominica. A British fleet beat the French.
1808 – Subsistence for Army officers fixed at 20 cents per ration, later that year applied to all officers of the revenue cutters.
1811 – First U.S. colonists on Pacific coast arrived at Cape Disappointment, Washington.
1844 – Texas became a US territory.
1858 – Salt Lake City offers an uneasy welcome to Alfred Cummings, its first non-Mormon governor, which signals the end of the so-called “Utah War.” The Mormon acceptance of a gentile governor came after more than a year of tensions and military threats between the U.S. government and Brigham Young’s Utah theocracy. Sometimes referred to as the Utah War, this little-known conflict arose out of fundamental questions about the autonomy of the Mormon-controlled territory of Utah. Was Utah an American state or an independent nation? Could the Mormon Church maintain its tight controls over the political and economic fate of the territory while still abiding by the laws and dictates of the United States? When James Buchanan became president in March 1857, he was determined to assert federal control over Utah Territory, where most of the residents were Mormons. Buchanan dispatched a brigade of 2,500 infantry and artillery troops for Salt Lake City under the command of the infamous General William (“Squaw Killer”) Harney, who had a reputation for harsh methods. The troops were to establish a federal garrison in Utah and provide support for the new non-Mormon Utah Governor Alfred Cummings, who had been appointed by Buchanan to replace Young. Buchanan failed to fully inform Young of his intentions. As rumors spread of an impending American invasion, Young and other Mormon leaders reacted with alarm. Fearing the approaching federal army was actually just an armed mob similar to those that had previously driven the Mormons from Missouri and Illinois, Young was determined to make a stand. He mobilized the Mormon’s huge militia, the Nauvoo Legion, and ordered it to implement a scorched earth policy in the Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City to deprive the federal army of necessary forage and supplies. Meanwhile, Mormon citizens began manufacturing arms and ammunition in preparation for war. Much to the embarrassment of the Buchanan administration, severe weather and the Nauvoo Legion’s scorched earth tactics initially stymied the federal troops. After a hard winter spent at the burnt out shell of Fort Bridger, the American force prepared to make another attempt to push through the Wasatch Mountains and down into Salt Lake. By this time, Young was ready for peace, but he remained so distrustful that he ordered some 30,000 people to abandon Salt Lake and other northern settlements and make an unnecessary retreat southward. When Cummings finally arrived in Salt Lake on this day in 1858, the city was nearly deserted. Young peacefully relinquished the governorship and all of his other governmental roles, agreeing to become solely the spiritual leader of Utah Mormons. In exchange, Buchanan gave all Utah residents a blanket pardon for any involvement in the conflict. Several months later, two brigades of American soldiers established Camp Floyd south of Salt Lake City, the largest garrison in the nation until the Civil War. With the threat of a bloody conflict diminished, Mormon refugees began returning to their homes. Though tensions between the Mormons and the federal government continued for decades, the Utah War ended the dream of a Mormon state geographically and politically separated from nonbelievers. Henceforth, Utah Territory was clearly a part of the American union, and it was granted full statehood in 1896.
1861 – The American Civil War begins when Confederates fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The fort had been the source of tension between the Union and Confederacy for several months. After South Carolina seceded, the state demanded the fort be turned over but Union officials refused. A supply ship, the “Star of the West,” tried to reach Fort Sumter on January 9, but the shore batteries opened fire and drove it away. For both sides, Sumter was a symbol of sovereignty. The Union could not allow it to fall to the Confederates, although throughout the Deep South other federal installations had been seized. For South Carolinians, secession meant little if the Yankees still held the stronghold. The issue hung in the air when Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office on March 4, stating in his inauguration address: “You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors.” Lincoln did not try to send reinforcements but he did send in food. This way, Lincoln could characterize the operation as a humanitarian mission, bringing, in his words, “food for hungry men.” He sent word to the Confederates in Charleston of his intentions on April 6. The Confederate Congress at Montgomery, Alabama, had decided on February 15 that Sumter and other forts must be acquired “either by negotiation or force.” Negotiation, it seemed, had failed. The Confederates demanded surrender of the fort, but Major Robert Anderson, commander of Fort Sumter, refused. At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, the Confederate guns opened fire. For thirty-three hours, the shore batteries lobbed 4,000 shells in the direction of the fort. Finally, the garrison inside the battered fort raised the white flag. No one on either side had been killed, although two Union soldiers died when the departing soldiers fired a gun salute, and some cartridges exploded prematurely. It was a nearly bloodless beginning to America’s bloodiest war.
1861 – Revenue cutter Harriet Lane fires first shot from a naval vessel in the Civil War across the bow of the merchant vessel Nashville when she attempted to enter Charleston Harbor.
1862 – Union volunteers led by James J. Andrews stole a Confederate train near Marietta, Ga., but were later caught. This episode inspired the Buster Keaton comedy “The General.” The Great Locomotive Chase or Andrews’ Raid was a military raid in northern Georgia during the American Civil War. Volunteers from the Union Army, led by civilian scout James J. Andrews, commandeered a train and took it northward toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, doing as much damage as possible to the vital Western and Atlantic Railroad (W&A) line from Atlanta to Chattanooga as they went. They were pursued by Confederate forces at first on foot, and later on a succession of locomotives. Because the Union men had cut the telegraph wires, the Confederates could not send warnings ahead to forces along the railway. Confederates eventually captured the raiders and executed some quickly as spies, including Andrews; some others were able to flee. Some of the raiders were the first to be awarded the Medal of Honor by the US Congress for their actions. As a civilian, Andrews was not eligible.
1864 – During the American Civil War, Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederate raiders attack the isolated Union garrison at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, overlooking the Mississippi River. The fort, an important part of the Confederate river defense system, was captured by federal forces in 1862. Of the 500-strong Union garrison defending the fort, more than half the soldiers were African-Americans. After an initial bombardment, General Forrest asked for the garrison’s surrender. The Union commander refused, and Forrest’s 1,500 cavalry troopers easily stormed and captured the fort, suffering only moderate casualties. However, the extremely high proportion of Union casualties–231 killed and more than 100 seriously wounded–raised questions about the Confederates’ conduct after the battle. Union survivors’ accounts, later supported by a federal investigation, concluded that African-American troops were massacred by Forrest’s men after surrendering. Southern accounts disputed these findings, and controversy over the battle continues today. The enlistment of African-Americans into the Union army began after the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and by the war’s end 180,000 African Americans had fought in the Union army and 10,000 in the navy.
1865 – Three days after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, the city surrendered to the Union army to avoid destruction after Union victories at nearby Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely.
1869 – North Carolina legislature passed an anti-Klan Law.
1900 – An Act of Congress (31 Stat. L., 77, 80) extended the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse Service to the noncontiguous territory, of Puerto Rico and adjacent American waters.
1911 – LT Theodore Ellyson qualifies as first naval aviator.
1916 – American cavalrymen and Mexican bandit troops clashed at Parrel, Mexico.
1918 – Marines of the 4th Brigade suffered their first gas attack on the night and early morning hours of 12-13 April when the Germans bombarded the 74th Company, 6th Marines near Verdun with mustard gas. Nine Marine officers and 305 enlisted Marines were gassed and evacuated, and 30 Marines died from the effects of the gas shells which hit in the middle of the reserve area cantonments in which they were sleeping.
1934 – The U.S. Auto-Lite Strike begins, culminating in a five-day melee between Ohio National Guard troops and 6,000 strikers and picketers. The Toledo Auto-Lite strike was a strike by a federal labor union of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) against the Electric Auto-Lite company of Toledo, Ohio, to June 3, 1934. The strike is notable for a five-day running battle between strikers and the Ohio National Guard. Known as the “Battle of Toledo,” the clash left two strikers dead and more than 200 injured. The strike is regarded by many labor historians as one of the three most important strikes in U.S. history. The enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act on June 16, 1933, had led to widespread union organizing in the United States. On March 4, the four automotive unions voted to strike unless management recognized their union, instituted a 20 percent wage increase and reinstated all workers fired for union activity. AFL President, William Green, committed to labor peace and fearful that the unions were too weak to withstand a strike, attempted to persuade them to rescind the strike notice. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, worried that an auto strike would harm the chances for economic recovery during the Great Depression, offered to negotiate a settlement. Roosevelt ordered the National Labor Board to hear the workers’ grievances, and the unions postponed the strike. Federal Labor Union 18384 had been organized differently than other automotive unions. It was a multi-employer union, and its members belonged not only to the Electric Auto-Lite Company but also to the Bingham Stamping and Tool Company and the Logan Gear Company (both subsidiaries of Electric Auto-Lite) as well as the Spicer Manufacturing Company. Because of this diverse membership, workers at one employer could strike and the union would remain financially solvent. This encouraged militancy among it’s members, and on February 23, 1934, the Auto-Lite members engaged in a recognition strike and attempted to win a 10 percent wage increase. Nearly all members at Auto-Lite walked out. The strike lasted only five days. The employees returned to work after management agreed to a 5 percent wage increase and to negotiate a contract by April 1, 1934. These negotiation broke down and the union struck again. This time only a quarter of members walked out–the strike was collapsing. The American Workers Party immediately entered the strike on the union’s behalf. The American Workers Party (AWP) had been formed in 1933 from the Conference for Progressive Labor Action by A.J. Muste, a Dutch minister and Marxist. A courtroom melee of injunctions, violations, and arrests would follow for better than a month.
1944 – The U.S. Twentieth Air Force was activated to begin the strategic bombing of Japan. 1945 – While on a vacation in Warm Springs, Georgia, President Roosevelt suffers a stroke and dies. His death marked a critical turning point in U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, as his successor, Harry S. Truman, decided to take a tougher stance with the Russians. By April 1945, Roosevelt had been elected president of the United States four times and had served for over 12 years. He had seen the United States through some of its darkest days, from the depths of the Great Depression through the toughest times of World War II. In early 1945, shortly after being sworn in for his fourth term as president, Roosevelt was on the verge of leading his nation to triumph in the Second World War. Germany teetered on the brink of defeat, and the Japanese empire was crumbling under the blows of the American military. In February 1945, Roosevelt traveled to Yalta in the Soviet Union to meet with Russian leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to discuss the postwar world. Roosevelt returned from these intense meetings drawn and sick. He vacationed in Warm Springs, Georgia, but the rest did not lead to recuperation. On April 12, 1945, he suffered a massive stroke and died. Roosevelt left a controversial legacy in terms of U.S.-Soviet relations. Critics charged that the president had been “soft” on the communists and naive in dealing with Stalin. The meetings at Yalta, they claimed, resulted in a “sellout” that left the Soviets in control of Eastern Europe and half of Germany. Roosevelt’s defenders responded that he made the best of difficult circumstances. He kept the Grand Alliance between the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain intact long enough to defeat Germany. As for Eastern Europe and Germany, there was little Roosevelt could have done, since the Red Army occupied those areas. Roosevelt’s successor, Harry S. Truman, decided that a “tougher” policy toward the Soviets was in order, and he began to press the Russians on a number of issues. By 1947, relations between the two former allies had nearly reached the breaking point and the Cold War was in full swing.
1945 – US 9th Army forces cross the Elbe River near Magdeburg, while in the rear of their advance, Brunswick falls. Troops of the US 3rd Army take Erfurt. In the south, French units (Part of US 7th Army) take Baden Baden. To the rear, the Ruhr pocket has been further reduced by the capture of Essen by American attacks.
1945 – Japanese Kamikaze attacks achieve hits on several of the radar picket ships as well as 2 battleships and 8 other vessels. USS Mannert L. Abele, a destroyer, is sunk by a Japanese Baka rocket-propelled piloted missile. The picket destroyer patrols, which provide the radar early warning of Kamikaze strikes, are vulnerable but give American fighter aircraft time to intercept the suicide planes. British carriers attack Sakashima Gunto. On Okinawa, fighting continues on the Motobu Peninsula, in the north, and around Kakazu, in the south, along the Japanese held Shuri Line but US 10th Army forces make little ground in these areas.
1951 – The largest jet battle in the history of aviation was fought over Sinuiji when 115 F-84s and F-86s, escorting 32 B-29 Superfortresses, engaged 80 MiG-15s and destroyed 46 of them.
1951 – The 1st Marine Air Wing flew its first night close-air support mission of the war using intersecting searchlight beams to mark enemy targets.
1955 – The polio vaccine, developed by Dr. Jonas Salk, is declared safe and effective.
1961 – Douglas MacArthur was offered baseball commissioner position but declined.
1961 – Walt W. Rostow, senior White House specialist on Southeast Asia and a principal architect of U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine, delivers a memorandum to President John F. Kennedy asserting that the time has come for “gearing up the whole Vietnam operation.” Rostow’s proposals, almost all of which eventually became policy, included: a visit to Vietnam by the vice president; increasing the number of American Special Forces; increasing funds for South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem; and “persuading Diem to move more rapidly to broaden the base of his government, as well as to decrease its centralization and improve its efficiency.”
1962 – U.S. Navy demonstrates new landing craft with retractable hydrofoils, LCVP (H).
1966 – 1st B-52 bombing on North Vietnam took place.
1966 – Multi-Bn operation NEVADA started south of Chu Lai, RVN.
1975 – In Cambodia, the U.S. ambassador and his staff leave Phnom Penh when the U.S. Navy conducts its evacuation effort, Operation Eagle. On April 3, 1975, as the communist Khmer Rouge forces closed in for the final assault on the capital city, U.S. forces were put on alert for the impending embassy evacuation. An 11-man Marine element flew into the city to prepare for the arrival of the U.S. evacuation helicopters. On April 10, U.S. Ambassador Gunther Dean asked Washington that the evacuation begin no later than April 12. At 8:50 a.m. on April 12, an Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service HH-53 landed a four-man Air Force combat control team to coordinate the operation. Three minutes later, it guided in a Marine Corps helicopter with the first element of the Marine security force. Marine and Air Force helicopters then carried 276 evacuees–including 82 Americans, 159 Cambodians, and 35 foreign nationals–to the safety of U.S. Navy assault carriers in the Gulf of Thailand. By 10 a.m., the Marine contingency force, the advance 11-man element, and the combat control team had been evacuated without any casualties. On April 16, the Lon Nol government surrendered to the Khmer Rouge, ending five years of war. With the surrender, the victorious Khmer Rouge evacuated Phnom Penh and set about to reorder Cambodian society, which resulted in a killing spree and the notorious “killing fields.” Eventually, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were murdered or died from exhaustion, hunger, and disease.
1979 – LT(jg) Beverly Kelley assumes command of the USCGC Cape Newagen, becoming the first woman to command a U.S. warship.
1981 – The space shuttle Columbia is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, becoming the first reusable manned spacecraft to travel into space. Piloted by astronauts Robert L. Crippen and John W. Young, the Columbia undertook a 54-hour space flight of 36 orbits before successfully touching down at California’s Edwards Air Force Base on April 14. On September 17, 1976, NASA publicly unveiled its first space shuttle, the Enterprise, during a ceremony in Palmdale, California. Development of the aircraft-like spacecraft cost almost $10 billion and took nearly a decade. In 1977, the Enterprise became the first space shuttle to fly freely when it was lifted to a height of 25,000 feet by a Boeing 747 airplane and then released, gliding back to Edwards Air Force Base on its own accord. Regular flights of the space shuttle began on April 12, 1981, with the launching of Columbia. Launched by two solid-rocket boosters and an external tank, only the aircraft-like shuttle entered into orbit around Earth. When the mission was completed, the shuttle fired engines to reduce speed and, after descending through the atmosphere, landed like a glider. Early shuttles took satellite equipment into space and carried out various scientific experiments. On January 28, 1986, NASA and the space shuttle program suffered a major setback when the Challenger exploded 74 seconds after takeoff and all seven people aboard were killed. In September 1988, space shuttle flights resumed with the successful launching of the Discovery. Since then, the space shuttle has carried out numerous important missions, such as the repair and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope and the construction and manning of the International Space Station. To date, there have been more than 100 space shuttle flights.
1983 – Following the establishment of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service in 1947, the Army began to develop further its own aviation assets (light planes and rotary wing aircraft) in support of ground operations. The Korean War gave this drive impetus, and the war in Vietnam saw its fruition, as Army aviation units performed a variety of missions, including reconnaissance, transport, and fire support. After the war in Vietnam, the role of armed helicopters as tank destroyers received new emphasis. In recognition of the growing importance of aviation in Army doctrine and operations, Aviation became a separate branch on April 12, 1983, and a full member of the Army’s combined arms team.
1985 – US Olympic Committee endorsed a boycott of Moscow games.
1985 – Sen. Jake Garn of Utah became the first senator to fly in space as the shuttle Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
1991 – Defense Secretary Dick Cheney announced plans to close 31 major US military bases, including Ford Ord in California and Fort Dix in New Jersey.
1991 – Kurdish rebels reported the Iraqi army was attacking guerrillas in northern Iraq.
1993 – Aircraft from USS Theodore Roosevelt and NATO forces begin enforcing the no-fly zone over the Bosnia in Operation Deny Flight; meanwhile, Bosnian Serbs bombarded the besieged eastern town of Srebrenica.
1994 – Canter & Siegel post the first commercial mass Usenet spam. Laurence A. Canter (b. June 24, 1953) and Martha S. Siegel (April 9, 1948 – September 24, 2000) were partners in a husband-and-wife firm of lawyers who posted the first massive commercial Usenet spam. To many people, this event, coming not long after the National Science Foundation lifted its unofficial ban on commercial speech on the Internet, marks the end of the Net’s early period, when the original netiquette could still be enforced. Canter and Siegel were not the first Usenet spammers. The “Green Card” spam was, however, the first commercial Usenet spam, and its unapologetic authors are seen as having set the precedent for the modern global practice of spamming.
1996 – Historian Stanley I. Kutler of the Univ. of Wisconsin won the release of the Nixon White House tapes. The first 200 of 3000 hours that document the Watergate cover-up will be released by November. He started his suit in 1992.
1999 – In Arkansas U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright cited President Clinton for contempt of court, concluding that the president had lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in a deposition in the Paula Jones case.
1999 – NATO allies considered establishing a protectorate to shield Kosovo from Yugoslav forces. Senior commander Gen’l. Wesley Clark asked the Pentagon for 300 more warplanes. NATO bombs hit a train car at a railroad bridge over the Juzna Morava River and 10 were killed and 16 injured.
1999 – NATO bombs destroyed the October 14 heavy machinery manufacturing plant in the Krusevac region of Serbia.
1999 – The U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Peter Burleigh, becomes the first U.S. official to publicly reject a proposal that would allow direct foreign investment in Iraq’s oil sector. The proposal was an attempt to allow Iraq to generate oil revenues closer to the target of $5.26 billion every 180 days under the United Nations oil-for-food program. Burleigh says that, if recent oil price increases of $5 to $6 per barrel are sustained, Iraq could “get to the $5.2 billion level for 6 months” by the end of the year. This would eliminate the need to enact “deep structural”changes in the oil-for-food program.
2001 – Pres. Bush blamed the Chinese for the midair collision of the US spy plane and a Chinese jet and rebuffed demands to end reconnaissance flights off the coast of China.
2001 – The 24 crew members of a U.S. spy plane arrived in Hawaii after being held for 11 days in China.
2003 – The US Congress approved almost $79 billion to pay for the war in Iraq.
2003 – Finance officials from the seven richest industrial countries, meeting in Washington, agreed to support a new UN Security Council resolution as part of a global effort to rebuild Iraq and promised to begin talks on reducing Iraq’s massive foreign debt burden.
2003 – In the 25th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom US officials said 1,200 police and judicial officers will go to Iraq to help restore order. In western Iraq, US forces stopped a busload of men who had $630,000 in cash and a letter offering rewards for killing American soldiers. Baghdad Museum lost some 50,000 artefacts after 48 hours of looting. Unesco later reported 150,000 items lost with a combined value in the billions. It was later reported that losses were minimal and that curators had put away most valuables into vaults before the war began.
2003 – Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi (7 of diamonds), Saddam Hussein’s science adviser, surrendered to US military authorities. He insisted Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and that the invasion was unjustified.
2003 – Rescued POW Jessica Lynch returned to the United States after treatment at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
2003 – North Korea hinted it could accept US demands for multilateral talks to discuss the communist country’s suspected nuclear weapons program.
2004 – Gunfire was largely silenced in the second day of a truce in Fallujah.
2009 – Captain Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama, who was abducted by Somali pirates, is rescued. On April 9, a standoff had begun between the USS Bainbridge and the pirates in the Maersk Alabama’s lifeboat, where they were holding Captain Phillips hostage. Three days later, Navy marksmen opened fire and killed the three pirates on the lifeboat, and Phillips was rescued in good condition. The actual lifeboat in which Captain Phillips was held hostage is now on display at the National Navy SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, FL.
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