1492 – Spain gives Christopher Columbus his commission of exploration.
1494 – Christopher Columbus arrived in Guantanamo Bay on his 2nd voyage to the Americas.
1629 – John Endecott became governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1789 – In New York City, George Washington, the great military leader of the American Revolution, is inaugurated as the first president of the United States. In February 1789, all 69 presidential electors unanimously chose Washington to be the first U.S. president. In March, the new U.S. constitution officially took effect, and in April Congress formally sent word to Washington that he had won the presidency. He borrowed money to pay off his debts in Virginia and traveled to New York. On April 30, he came across the Hudson River in a specially built and decorated barge. The inaugural ceremony was performed on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street, and a large crowd cheered after he took the oath of office. The president then retired indoors to read Congress his inaugural address, a quiet speech in which he spoke of “the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” The evening celebration was opened and closed by 13 skyrockets and 13 cannons. As president, Washington sought to unite the nation and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. Of his presidency, he said, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent.” He successfully implemented executive authority, made good use of brilliant politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his cabinet, and quieted fears of presidential tyranny. In 1792, he was unanimously re-elected but four years later refused a third term. In 1797, he finally began a long-awaited retirement at his estate in Virginia. He died two years later. His friend Henry Lee provided a famous eulogy for the father of the United States: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
1798 – Congress established the Department of the Navy on this date in 1798, however, the United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on 13 October 1775 by authorizing the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America. In 1972 Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized recognition of the 13 October 1775 date as the Navy’s “official” birthday.
1803 – During the early moments of the nineteenth century, the United States government wheeled and dealed its way into what is generally regarded as the “greatest land bargain” in the nation’s history, the Louisiana Purchase. The deal, which was dated April 30, 1803, though it was in fact signed on May 2, had been in the works since the spring of 1802. It was then that President Thomas Jefferson had learned of Spain’s decision to quietly transfer Spanish Louisiana to the French; fearful of the strategic and commercial implications of the Spanish swap, Jefferson ordered Robert Livingston, the U.S. minister in Paris, to broker a deal with the French either for a slice of land on the lower Mississippi or a “guarantee” of unmolested transport for U.S. ships. Negotiations dragged on for months, but took a crucial turn when Spanish and U.S. trade relations collapsed in the fall of 1802. With Spain now barring American merchant ships from transferring goods at the port in New Orleans, Jefferson set his sights on purchasing a far larger chunk of land. In early 1803, James Monroe headed to Paris to broker Jefferson’s deal. With France teetering on the brink of war with Great Britain, and mindful not only of the fiscal repercussions of such a conflict, but of the possibility of a renewed U.S.-English alliance, Napoleon’s negotiators acceded to a deal to sell the whole of Louisiana. All told, the Louisiana Purchase cost the U.S. $15 million: $11.25 million was earmarked for the land deal, while the remaining $3.75 million covered France’s outstanding debts to America. Thus, for the prime price of 3 cents an acre, the United States bought 828,000-square miles of land, which effectively doubled the size of the young nation.
1812 – The Territory of Orleans becomes the 18th U.S. state under the name Louisiana. Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its capital is Baton Rouge. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties. Much of the state’s lands were formed from sediment washed down the Mississippi River, leaving enormous deltas and vast areas of coastal marsh and swamp. The two “Deltas” are located in Monroe, the parish seat of Ouachita Parish, Shreveport, the parish seat of Caddo Parish, and Alexandria, the parish seat of Rapides Parish, for the small Delta, and Monroe, Lake Charles, and New Orleans for the large Delta. They are referred to as Deltas because they form a perfect triangle shape when the points are lined up. These contain a rich southern biota; typical examples include birds such as ibis and egrets. There are also many species of tree frogs, and fish such as sturgeon and paddlefish. In more elevated areas, fire is a natural process in the landscape, and has produced extensive areas of longleaf pine forest and wet savannas. These support an exceptionally large number of plant species, including many species of orchids and carnivorous plants. Some Louisiana urban environments have a multicultural, multilingual heritage, being so strongly influenced by a mixture of 18th-century French, Spanish, Native American, and African cultures that they are considered to be exceptional in the US. Before the American purchase of the territory in 1803, the current Louisiana State had been both a French colony and a Spanish one. In addition, colonists imported numerous African slaves as laborers in the 18th century. Many came from peoples of the same region of West Africa, thus concentrating their culture. In the post-Civil War environment, Anglo-Americans increased the pressure for Anglicization, and in 1915, English was made the only official language of the state. Louisiana has more Native American tribes than any other southern state, including four that are federally recognized, ten that are state recognized, and four that have not yet received recognition.
1818 – Congress authorized use of “land and naval forces of the United States to compel any foreign ship to depart United States in all cases in which, by the laws of nations or the treaties of the United States, they ought not to remain within the United States.” This was the basis of neutrality enforcement.
1832 – All commissions of naval officers in Revenue Cutter Service revoked. Vacancies filled by promotion for first time.
1860 – Navajo Indians attacked Fort Defiance (Canby).
1861 – President Lincoln ordered Federal Troops to evacuate Indian Territory.
1863 – Major General Grant ferried his troops across the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg to commence the work of isolating Vicksburg from reinforcements.
1864 – Work began on the Dams along the Red River which would allow Union General Nathaniel Banks’ troops to sail over the rapids above Alexandria, Louisiana.
1864 – Union troops under General Frederick Steele fight off a Confederate army under General Edmund Kirby Smith as the Yankees retreat towards Little Rock, Arkansas. Jenkin’s Ferry came at the end of a major Union offensive in Arkansas. While a Federal force under General Nathaniel Banks moved up the Red River in Louisiana towards Shreveport, Steele led his troops from Little Rock into southwestern Arkansas. The combined effort promised to secure northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas for the Union before the armies moved west to invade Texas. In April, however, the plans ran afoul when Banks was defeated at Mansfield, Louisiana, and Steele found himself dangerously low on supplies. Steele occupied Camden, Arkansas, on April 15. Over the next ten days, Steele lost more than 400 supply wagons and 2,500 troops at the Battles of Poison Springs and Mark’s Mills. Now, Steele was surrounded by hostile armies and running low on food. He headed back to Little Rock with Smith in hot pursuit. A heavy rain began to fall, lasting for nearly a day and bringing Steele’s retreat to a grinding halt. At Jenkin’s Ferry on April 30, Smith attacked Steele as the Yankees were trying to cross the flooded Saline River. General Samuel Rice directed the Union defense, and his men held off a series of Rebel attacks before Rice was mortally wounded. Fighting in knee-deep water, the Confederates could not penetrate the Union lines. Steele was able to remove his force across the Saline River. He destroyed the pontoon bridge and left Smith on the other side of the river before escaping to Little Rock. The Union suffered 700 men killed, wounded, and missing out of 4,000, while the Confederates lost about 1,000 out of 8,000. Some of the Rebel dead included wounded troops who were killed by members of the 2nd Kansas Colored regiment, exacting a measure of revenge for dozens of comrades from the 1st Kansas Colored murdered on the battlefield at Poison Springs. When it was over, Smith and the Confederates controlled the field but they had failed to destroy Steele’s army.
1865 – Gen Sherman’s “Haines’s Bluff” at Snyder’s Mill, Virginia.
1865 – The eight suspects in the Lincoln assassination plot who had been imprisoned on monitors U.S.S. Montauk and Saugus were transferred to the Arsenal Penitentiary, located in the compound of what is today Fort McNair. This was also the site of their trial by a military tribunal which returned its verdict on 30 June 1865. Three of the eight, along with Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, were hanged in the prison yard of the penitentiary on 7 July-Lewis Paine who made the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Secretary of State Seward; George A. Atzerodt who had been designated by Booth to murder Vice President Johnson; and David E. Herold who had accompanied Booth in his escape from the city. Michael O’Laughlin and Samuel B. Arnold, boyhood friends of Booth and conspirators in the actor’s earlier plans to abduct President Lincoln and in his later plans to assassinate the government’s top officials, were sentenced to life in prison. Another accomplice, Edward Spangler, stagehand at the Ford Theater was sentenced to six years in prison. The remaining two of the eight who had been incarcerated on the monitors-Ernest Hartman Richter, a cousin of Atzerodt, and Joao Celestino, a Portuguese sea captain were released without being brought to trial.
1871 – Apaches in Arizona surrendered to white and Mexican adventurers; 144 died. The Camp Grant massacre was an attack on Pinal and Aravaipa Apaches who surrendered to the United States Army at Camp Grant, Arizona, along the San Pedro River. The massacre led to a series of battles and campaigns fought between the Americans, the Apache, and their Yavapai allies, which continued into 1875, the most notable being General George Crook’s Tonto Basin Campaign of 1872 and 1873. On the afternoon of April 28, six Americans, 48 Mexicans, and 92 O’odham gathered along Rillito Creek and set off on a march to Aravaipa Canyon; one of the Americans was William S. Oury, the brother of Granville Henderson Oury. At dawn on Sunday, April 30, they surrounded the Apache camp. The O’odham were the main fighters, while the Americans and Mexicans picked off Apaches who tried to escape. Most of the Apache men were off hunting in the mountains. All but eight of the corpses were women and children. Twenty-nine children had been captured and were sold into slavery in Mexico by the Tohono O’odham and the Mexicans themselves. A total of 144 Aravaipas and Pinals had been killed and mutilated, nearly all of them scalped. Lieutenant Whitman searched for the wounded, found only one woman, buried the bodies, and dispatched interpreters into the mountains to find the Apache men and assure them his soldiers had not participated in the “vile transaction”. The following evening, the surviving Aravaipas began trickling back to Camp Grant. Within a week of the slaughter, a local businessman, William Hopkins Tonge, wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs stating, “The Indians at the time of the massacre being so taken by surprise and considering themselves perfectly safe with scarcely any arms, those that could get away ran for the mountains.” He was the first person to refer to what had taken place as a massacre. The military and the Eastern press called it a massacre, so President Grant informed Governor A.P.K. Safford that if the perpetrators were not brought to trial, he would place Arizona under martial law. In October 1871, a Tucson grand jury indicted 100 of the assailants with 108 counts of murder. The trial, two months later, focused solely on Apache depredations; it took the jury just 19 minutes to pronounce a verdict of not guilty. Western Apache groups soon left their farms and gathering places near Tucson in fear of subsequent attacks. As pioneer families arrived and settled in the area, Apaches were never able to regain hold of much of their ancestral lands in the San Pedro River Valley. Many groups of Apaches joined up with the Yavapais in Tonto Basin, and from there, a guerilla war began which lasted until 1875.
1875 – The first Gold Life Saving Medal ever awarded was presented to Captain Lucien M. Clemens of the U.S. Life-Saving Service in Marblehead, Ohio, who was captain of one of the first life saving stations on the Great Lakes. Medals were also given to his brothers, Al and Hubbard. They rescued six crew and a female cook from the sinking schooner Consuelo in an open rowboat.
1889 – Washington’s inauguration became the first U.S. national holiday.
1894 – Coxey’s Army reaches Washington, D.C. to protest the unemployment caused by the Panic of 1893. Coxey’s Army was a protest march by unemployed workers from the United States, led by Ohio businessman Jacob Coxey. They marched on Washington D.C. in 1894, the second year of a four-year economic depression that was the worst in United States history to that time. Officially named the Army of the Commonwealth in Christ, its nickname came from its leader and was more enduring. It was the first significant popular protest march on Washington and the expression “Enough food to feed Coxey’s Army” originates from this march.
1900 – Hawaii was organized as a U.S. territory. After William McKinley won the presidential election in 1896, Hawaii’s annexation to the U.S. was part of the agenda. McKinley was open to persuasion by U.S. expansionists and by annexationists from Hawaiʻi. He met with three annexationists from Hawaii: Lorrin Thurston, Francis March Hatch and William Ansel Kinney. After negotiations, in June 1897, Secretary of State John Sherman agreed to a treaty of annexation with these representatives of the Republic of Hawaii. The treaty was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. Instead, despite the opposition of a majority of Native Hawaiians, the Newlands Resolution was used to annex the Republic to the United States and it became the Territory of Hawaii. The Newlands Resolution was passed by the House June 15, 1898, by a vote of 209 to 91, and by the Senate on July 6, 1898, by a vote of 42 to 21. In 1900, Hawaii was granted self-governance and retained ʻIolani Palace as the territorial capitol building. Despite several attempts to become a state, Hawaii remained a territory for sixty years. Plantation owners and key capitalists, who maintained control through financial institutions, or “factors”, known as the “Big Five”, found territorial status convenient, enabling them to continue importing cheap foreign labor; such immigration was prohibited in various states.
1943 – As part of a deception plan for the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky), the British submarine Seraph releases a corpse into the sea off the Spanish port of Huelva hoping it will be picked up and the papers carried passed on to the Germans. The body purports to be that of a Major Martin of the Royal Marines and he is carrying letters from General Nye, Vice-Chief of the British General Staff, and Admiral Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, to Eisenhower, Alexander and Cunningham referring to Allied plans for an invasion of Greece. The Germans do receive the information and it contributes to their lack of appreciation of the true Allied strategy.
1943 – The Germans retake Djebel Bou Aoukaz, Tunisia. Farther north, the Americans gain a foothold on Hill 609.
1944 – The 8th and 9th US Army Air Forces and Royal Air Force Bomber Command began to fly sorties into France and the Low Countries in preparation for the Allied Expeditionary Force landing on Jun 6.
1944 – US Task Force 58 (Admiral Mitscher) raids the Japanese base at Truk for a second day. Over the two days, the Japanese lose 93 aircraft out of a total 104 while the Americans lose 35 planes. Meanwhile, American Admiral Oldendorf leads a force of 9 cruisers and 8 destroyers to bombard targets in the Sawatan Islands, southeast of Truk.
1945 – US troops attacked at the Elbe.
1945 – 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.
1945 – On Okinawa, Japanese counterattacks and infiltration attempts along the Shuri Line area are defeated. There is heavy fighting in the Maeda and Kochi Ridge positions. The US 1st Marine and 77th Divisions replace the US 27th and 96th Divisions in the line.
1945 – The preparatory bombardment of targets in the Tarakan area in the northeast of the island of Borneo continues. A small American landing force goes ashore on the island of Sadan.
1951 – U.N. Forces, having withdrawn to a new defense line, halted the Chinese offensive north of Seoul and the Han River.
1951 – Far East Air Forces accumulated 1,277 sorties, the largest number to date. Fifth Air Force accounted for a record breaking 960 of them.
1952 – The destroyers USS Maddox and Laffey participated in the most protracted gun duel of the Korean War as the engaged enemy shore batteries in Wonsan Harbor. Heavy coastal artillery fire was received, but neither of the two U.S. ships was damaged.
1964 – Secretary of State Rusk flies to Ottawa, Canada, to make secret arrangements with J. Blair Seaborn, Canada’s new representative on the International Control Commission. Seaborn has a scheduled visit to Hanoi in June and Rusk asks him to convey to the North Vietnamese Government and offer of US economic aid if it calls off its forces and support for the Vietcong.
1965 – The Joint Chiefs present a detailed plan for deploying 48,000 US and 5250 third-country troops in Vietnam. This is more than the numbers agreed to in the earlier Honoloulu conference.
1968 – The US embassy releases a report that during the Tet Offensive in Hue, the NVA and Vietcong executed more than 1000 civilians and buried them in mass graves. 19 such grave sites have recently been uncovered.
1968 – U.S. Marines attacked a division of North Vietnamese in the village of Dai Do.
1969 – US troops in Vietnam peaked at 543,000. Over 33,000 had already been killed.
1969 – Prince Sihanouk withdraws his assent to the resumption of diplomatic relations with the US over the US stand on the status of a group of offshore islands, including Dao Phu Duoc, claimed by both Cambodia and South Vietnam.
1970 – President Nixon makes a nationally televised speech to announce his decision to send US troops into Cambodia to destroy Communist sanctuaries and supply bases. The announced objective is the “Fishhook area,” 50 miles northwest to Saigon, which is believed to be a ‘key control center” for the enemy and its ‘headquarters for the entire Communist military operation in South Vietnam.’ Nixon denies an intent to occupy Cambodian territory. Nixon argues that ‘plaintive diplomatic protests’ no longer are sufficient since they would only destroy American credibility in the areas of the world ‘where only the power of the United States deters aggression.’ Nixon warns that ‘if, when the chips are down, the world’s most powerful nation, the United States of America, acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world.’
1972 – The North Vietnamese launched an invasion of the South.
1973 – President Nixon announced the resignations of his aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, along with Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and White House counsel John Dean.
1975 – By dawn, communist forces move into Saigon, where they meet only sporadic resistance. The South Vietnamese forces had collapsed under the rapid advancement of the North Vietnamese. The most recent fighting had begun in December 1974, when the North Vietnamese had launched a major attack against the lightly defended province of Phuoc Long, located due north of Saigon along the Cambodian border, overrunning the provincial capital at Phuoc Binh on January 6, 1975. Despite previous presidential promises to provide aid in such a scenario, the United States did nothing. By this time, Nixon had resigned from office and his successor, Gerald Ford, was unable to convince a hostile Congress to make good on Nixon’s earlier promises to rescue Saigon from communist takeover. This situation emboldened the North Vietnamese, who launched a new campaign in March 1975. The South Vietnamese forces fell back in total disarray, and once again, the United States did nothing. The South Vietnamese abandoned Pleiku and Kontum in the Highlands with very little fighting. Then Quang Tri, Hue, and Da Nang fell to the communist onslaught. The North Vietnamese continued to attack south along the coast toward Saigon, defeating the South Vietnamese forces at each encounter. The South Vietnamese 18th Division had fought a valiant battle at Xuan Loc, just to the east of Saigon, destroying three North Vietnamese divisions in the process. However, it proved to be the last battle in the defense of the Republic of South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese forces held out against the attackers until they ran out of tactical air support and weapons, finally abandoning Xuan Loc to the communists on April 21. Having crushed the last major organized opposition before Saigon, the North Vietnamese got into position for the final assault. In Saigon, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu resigned and transferred authority to Vice President Tran Van Huong before fleeing the city on April 25. By April 27, the North Vietnamese had completely encircled Saigon and began to maneuver for a complete takeover. When they attacked at dawn on April 30, they met little resistance. North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace and the war came to an end. North Vietnamese Col. Bui Tin accepted the surrender from Gen. Duong Van Minh, who had taken over after Tran Van Huong spent only one day in power. Tin explained to Minh, “You have nothing to fear. Between Vietnamese there are no victors and no vanquished. Only the Americans have been beaten. If you are patriots, consider this a moment of joy. The war for our country is over.”
1988 – Gen. Manuel Noriega, waving a machete, vowed at a rally to keep fighting U.S. efforts to oust him as Panama’s military ruler.
1990 – Hostage Frank Reed was released by his captives in Lebanon, the second American freed in eight days.
1992 – As rioting in Los Angeles entered its second day, President Bush condemned the violence and said the Justice Department would intensify its investigation of police conduct in the beating of Rodney King.
1995 – President Clinton announced he would end U.S. trade and investment with Iran, denouncing the Tehran government as “inspiration and paymaster to terrorists.”
1998 – The US Senate approved the expansion of NATO to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
1999 – The US State Dept. annual report on terrorism listed Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria as sponsoring terrorism groups.
1999 – NATO undertook over 600 sorties and strikes in Montenegro and Kosovo reportedly killed 13 people.
1999 – In Belgrade, Serbia, a 5.5 earthquake struck. Later in the day Jesse Jackson met with the 3 captured Americans and planned to meet with Pres. Milosevic for their release. In an interview Pres. Milosevic pronounced that his countrymen were willing to died to defend their rights.
2001 – The Soyuz-32, carrying California businessman, multimillionaire Dennis Tito and 2 Russian astronauts, Talgat Musabayev and Yuri Baturin, docked with the Int’l. Space Station. The Soyuz landed in the Kazak steppe on May 6.
2002 – Striking new images from the upgraded Hubble Space Telescope were unveiled.
2002 – A US grand jury indicted Colombia’s rebel FARC army and 6 of its members on charges of murdering 3 Americans.
2002 – North Korea accepted a US invitation on talks to curb its missile program and military exports.
2003 – The U.S. Navy withdrew from its disputed Vieques bombing range in Puerto Rico, prompting celebrations by islanders.
2003 – Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalqam said his government accepted responsibility for the 1998 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
2004 – In Indonesia hundreds of protesters clashed with police as officers re-arrested Abu Bakar Bashir (66), a Muslim cleric accused of heading an al-Qaeda-linked terror network. Muslims and Christians with homemade bombs and military-issue weapons clashed in the eastern city of Ambon, leaving 15 wounded and scores of houses in flames.
2004 – Iraqi troops led by Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh (49), one of Saddam Hussein’s generals, replaced U.S. Marines and raised the Iraqi flag at the entrance to Fallujah under a plan to end the month long siege of the city. A suicide car bomb on the outskirts killed two Americans and wounded six. Saleh was replaced May 3 by Muhammad Latif, a former Iraqi intelligence officer.
2004 – U.S. troops and radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr agreed to a three-day truce in negotiations to end the standoff at Najaf.
2009 – The United Kingdom formally ended combat operations. Prime Minister Gordon Brown characterized the operation in Iraq as a “success story” because of UK troops’ efforts. Britain handed control of Basra to the United States Armed Forces.
2011 – Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, imprisoned by the United States on charges of disclosing government information to the general public, is found competent to stand trial by a “panel of experts.”
2013 – NASA extends its contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency, paying $424 million for the RKA to deliver and receive astronauts shuttled to the ISS thru 2016.
2014 – Top officials at the Phoenix VA falsely deny the existence of a secret appointment waiting list.
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