1559 – Spanish explorer de Luna entered Pensacola Bay, Florida.
1607 – The Popham expedition reached the Sagadahoc River in the northeastern North America (Maine), and settled there.
1720 – The Spanish military Villasur expedition is wiped out by Pawnee and Otoe warriors near present-day Columbus, Nebraska.
1756 – French commander Louis Montcalm took Fort Oswego, New England, from the British.
1765 – Massachusetts colonists challenged British rule by an Elm (Liberty Tree).
1784 – On Kodiak Island, Grigory Shelikhov, a Russian fur trader, founds Three Saints Bay, the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska. The European discovery of Alaska came in 1741, when a Russian expedition led by Danish navigator Vitus Bering sighted the Alaskan mainland. Russian hunters were soon making incursions into Alaska, and the native Aleut population suffered greatly after being exposed to foreign diseases. The Three Saints Bay colony was founded on Kodiak Island in 1784, and Shelikhov lived there for two years with his wife and 200 men. From Three Saints Bay, the Alaskan mainland was explored, and other fur-trade centers were established. In 1786, Shelikhov returned to Russia and in 1790 dispatched Aleksandr Baranov to manage his affairs in Russia. Baranov established the Russian American Company and in 1799 was granted a monopoly over Alaska. Baranov extended the Russian trade far down the west coast of North America and in 1812, after several unsuccessful attempts, founded a settlement in Northern California near Bodega Bay. British and American trading vessels soon disputed Russia’s claims to the northwest coast of America, and the Russians retreated north to the present southern border of Alaska. Russian interests in Alaska gradually declined, and after the Crimean War in the 1850s, a nearly bankrupt Russia sought to dispose of the territory altogether. The czarist government first approached the United States about selling the territory during the administration of President James Buchanan, but negotiations were stalled by the outbreak of the American Civil War. After the war, Secretary of State William H. Seward, a supporter of territorial expansion, was eager to acquire the tremendous landmass of Alaska, one-fifth the size of the rest of the United States. On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward signed a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska for $7.2 million. Despite the bargain price of roughly two cents an acre, the Alaskan purchase was ridiculed in Congress and in the press as “Seward’s folly,” “Seward’s icebox,” and President Andrew Johnson’s “polar bear garden.” In April 1867, the Senate ratified the treaty by a margin of just one vote. Despite a slow start in settlement by Americans from the continental United States, the discovery of gold in 1898 brought a rapid influx of people to the territory. Alaska, rich in natural resources, has been contributing to American prosperity ever since. On January 3, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation admitting the territory of Alaska into the Union as the 49th state.
1812 – Marines help to capture British sloop “Alert” during the War of 1812.
1813 – British warship Pelican attacked and captured US war brigantine Argus.
1824 – General Lafayette returned to US.
1842 – The Second Seminole War ended and the Seminoles were moved from Florida to Oklahoma.
1848 – The Oregon Territory was established.
1861 – Martial Law was declared at St. Louis, MI.
1862 – U.S.S. Pocahontas, Lieutenant George B. Balch, and steam tug Treaty, Acting Lieutenant Baxter, on an expedition up the Black River from Georgetown, South Carolina, exchanged fire with Confederate troops at close range along both banks of the river for a distance of 20 miles in an unsuccessful attempt to capture steamer Nina.
1862 – Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith begins an invasion of Kentucky as part of a Confederate plan to draw the Yankee army of General Don Carlos Buell away from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to raise support for the Southern cause in Kentucky. Smith led 10,000 troops out of Knoxville, Tennessee, on August 14 and moved toward the Cumberland Gap—the first step in the Confederate invasion of Kentucky. After a Federal force evacuated the pass in the face of the invasion, Smith continued north. On August 30, he encountered a more significant force at Richmond, Kentucky. In a decisive battle, the Confederates routed the Yankees and captured most of the 6,000-man army. The Confederates occupied Lexington a few days later. General Braxton Bragg, who moved into Kentucky from Chattanooga, routed a small Union force and sat on Buell’s supply line. He later linked to Smith’s force. In September, Buell followed the Confederates northward. The major encounter in the campaign would come on October 8, when Buell would defeat Bragg’s army at Perryville, Kentucky. After Perryville, Bragg and Smith retreated back to Tennessee. They succeeded in drawing Buell away from Chattanooga, but they lost the contest for Kentucky.
1864 – Confederate General Joe Wheeler besieged Dalton, Georgia.
1864 – A Federal assault continued for a 2nd day of battle at Deep Bottom Run, Virginia.
1866 – SECNAV establishes Naval Gun Factory at Washington Navy Yard
1870 – David [James] Glasgow Farragut (b.1801), US admiral, died.
1900 – During the Boxer Rebellion, an international force featuring British, Russian, American, Japanese, French, and German troops relieves the Chinese capital of Peking after fighting its way 80 miles from the port of Tientsin. The Chinese nationalists besieging Peking’s diplomatic quarter were crushed, and the Boxer Rebellion effectively came to an end. By the end of the 19th century, the Western powers and Japan had forced China’s ruling Ch’ing dynasty to accept wide foreign control over the country’s economic affairs. In the Opium Wars, popular rebellions, and the Sino-Japanese War, China had fought to resist the foreigners, but it lacked a modernized military and millions died. In 1898, Tz’u Hsi, the dowager empress, gained control of the Chinese government in a conservative coup against the Emperor Kuang-hsu, her adoptive son and an advocate of reforms. Tz’u Hsi had previously served as ruler of China in various regencies and was deeply anti-foreign in her ideology. In 1899, her court began to secretly support the anti-foreign rebels known as the I Ho Ch’uan, or the “Righteous and Harmonious Fists.” The I Ho Ch’uan was a secret society formed with the original goal of expelling the foreigners and overthrowing the Ch’ing dynasty. The group practiced a ritualistic form of martial arts that they believed gave them supernatural powers and made them impervious to bullets. After witnessing these fighting displays, Westerners named members of the society “Boxers.” Most Boxers came from northern China, where natural calamities and foreign aggression in the late 1890s had ruined the economy. The ranks of the I Ho Ch’uan swelled with embittered peasants who directed their anger against Christian converts and foreign missionaries, whom they saw as a threat to their traditional ways and blamed for their misery. After the dowager empress returned to power, the Boxers pushed for an alliance with the imperial court against the foreigners. Tz’u Hsi gave her tacit support to their growing violence against the Westerners and their institutions, and some officials incorporated the Boxers into local militias. Open attacks on missionaries and Chinese Christians began in late 1899, and by May 1900 bands of Boxers had begun gathering in the countryside around Peking. In spite of threats by the foreign powers, the empress dowager began openly supporting the Boxers. In early June, an international relief force of 2,000 soldiers was dispatched by Western and Japanese authorities from the port of Tientsin to Peking. The empress dowager ordered Imperial forces to block the advance of the foreigners, and the relief force was turned back. Meanwhile, the Peking-Tientsin railway line and other railroads were destroyed by the Chinese. On June 13, the Boxers, now some 140,000 strong, moved into Peking and began burning churches and foreign residences. On June 17, the foreign powers seized forts between Tientsin and Peking, and the next day Tz’u Hsi called on all Chinese to attack foreigners. On June 20, the German ambassador Baron von Ketteler was killed and the boxers began besieging the foreign legations in the diplomatic quarter of the Chinese capital. As the foreign powers organized a multinational force to crush the rebellion, the siege of the Peking legations stretched into weeks, and the diplomats, their families, and guards suffered through hunger and degrading conditions as they fought desperately to keep the Boxers at bay. Eventually, an expedition of 19,000 multinational troops pushed their way to Peking after fighting two major battles against the Boxers. On August 14, the eight-nation allied relief force captured Peking and liberated the legations. The foreign troops looted the city and routed the Boxers, while the empress and her court fled to the north. The victorious powers began work on a peace settlement. Due to mutual jealousies between the nations, it was agreed that China would not be partitioned further, and in September 1901 the Peking Protocol was signed, formally ending the Boxer Rebellion. By the terms of agreement, the foreign nations received extremely favorable commercial treaties with China, foreign troops were permanently stationed in Peking, and China was forced to pay $333 million as penalty for its rebellion. China was effectively a subject nation. The Boxers had failed to expel the foreigners, but their rebellion set the stage for the successful Chinese revolutions of the 20th century.
1908 – There was a race riot in Springfield, Illinois.
1912 – The JUSTIN, carrying a US battalion of 354 men and its equipment, arrived at Corinto, Nicaragua, and anchored near the Annapolis. US forces remained until 1925 in support of the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier.
1937 – China declared war on Japan. The beginning of air-to-air combat of the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II in general, when 6 Imperial Japanese Mitsubishi G3M bombers are shot down by the Nationalist Chinese Air Force while raiding Chinese air bases.
1940 – Sir Henry Tizard heads a British scientific mission to the United States, carrying with him details of all of Britain’s most advanced thinking in several vital fields. There are ideas on jet engines, explosives, gun turrets and above all a little device called the cavity magnetron. This valve is vital for the development of more advanced types of radar, including the versions used in proximity fuses later and the types working on centimetric wavelengths which will be vital at sea in the U-boat war. The US Official History will later describe this collection as the “most valuable cargo ever brought to our shores.”
1941 – The Atlantic Charter was created in 1941. It was a joint declaration of peace aims and a statement of principles by US Pres. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill that renounced aggression.
1942 – Dwight D. Eisenhower was named the Anglo-American commander for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa.
1943 – American and British forces converge on Randazzo and capture it. Allied advances are making rapid progress now.
1943 – New draft regulations come into force. There is a revised list of reserved occupations and having dependents are now deciding factors in deferments.
1944 – The US federal government allowed the manufacture of certain domestic appliances, such as electric ranges and vacuum cleaners, to resume on a limited basis.
1944 – US 15th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) begins to advance eastward from Argentan toward Dreux. Elements of US 1st Army move into position at Argentan. In Brittany, forces of US 3rd Army clear German resistance from most of St. Malo except for the ancient citadel in the port area.
1945 – At a government meeting with Emperor Hirohito, the emperor states that the war should end. He records a radio message to the Japanese people saying that they must “bear the unbearable.” During the night, begining about 2300 hours, a group of army officers lead forces number over 1000 in an attempt to steal the recording and prevent it being broadcast but fail to overcome the guards at the Imperial Palace. Coup leader, Major Kenji Hatanaka, who killed the commander of the imperial guard, commits suicide after its failure. The Japanese decision to surrender is transmitted to the Allies.
1945 – In the last air raid of the war, during the night (August 14-15) US B-29 Superfortress bombers strike Kumagaya and Isezaki, northwest of Tokyo, and Akita-Aradi oil refinery.
1945 – The American War Production Board removes all restrictions on the production of automobiles in the United States. Meanwhile, General Douglas MacArthur is appointed supreme Allied commander to accept the Japanese surrender. An immediate suspension of hostilities is ordered and Japan is ordered to end fighting by all its forces on all fronts immediately.
1964 – Hanoi is reported to be holding air-raid drills for fear of more U.S. attacks in the wake of the Pierce Arrow retaliatory raids that had been flown in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The North Vietnamese government urged all civilians with nonessential posts to leave the city. In ground action, ARVN troops ambushed a Viet Cong unit south of Saigon. Meanwhile, Viet Cong guerrillas attacked three hamlets in the Vinh Binh Province along the coast in the Mekong Delta. A U.S. helicopter crashed 50 miles northwest of Saigon, killing three U.S. airmen.
1965 – The advance units of the Seventh Marines land at Chu Lai, bringing U.S. Marine strength in South Vietnam to four regiments and four air groups. The Marines were given the responsibility of conducting operations in southern I Corps and northern II Corps, just south of the Demilitarized Zone. Hanoi Radio broadcasted an appeal to American troops, particularly African Americans, to “get out.” This was purportedly a message from an American defector from the Korean War living in Peking. In South Korea, the National Assembly approved sending troops to fight in South Vietnam; in exchange for sending one combat division to Vietnam, the United States agreed to equip five South Korean divisions.
1973 – After several days of intense bombing in support of Lon Nol’s forces fighting the communist Khmer Rouge in the area around Phnom Penh, Operations Arc Light and Freedom Deal end as the United States ceases bombing Cambodia at midnight. This was in accordance with June Congressional legislation passed in June and ended 12 years of combat activity in Indochina. President Nixon denounced Congress for cutting off the funding for further bombing operations, saying that it had undermined the “prospects for world peace.” The United States continued unarmed reconnaissance flights and military aid to Cambodia, but ultimately the Khmer Rouge prevailed in 1975.
1974 – Congress authorized US citizens to own gold.
1984 – IBM releases PC DOS version 3.0.
1990 – Interrupting his vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine, President Bush returned to Washington, where he told reporters he saw no hope for a diplomatic solution to the Persian Gulf crisis, at least until economic sanctions forced Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.
1990 – Advance elements of the 1st MEF and 7th MEB arrived in Saudi Arabia, joining other U.N. forces against possible Iraqi aggression.
1991 – Freed American hostage Edward Tracy returned to the United States, arriving in Boston, where he was reunited with his sister, Maria Lambert.
1992 – The White House announced that the Pentagon would begin emergency airlifts of food to Somalia to alleviate mass deaths by starvation.
1994 – Space telescope Hubble photographed Uranus with rings.
1994 – Carlos the Jackal was captured in Khartoum, Sudan.
1995 – Shannon Faulkner officially became the first female cadet in the history of The Citadel, South Carolina’s state military college. She quit the school less than a week later, citing the stress of her court fight, and her isolation among the male cadets.
1997 – An unrepentant Timothy McVeigh was formally sentenced to death for the Oklahoma City bombing.
2000 – NATO peacekeepers shut down the Serb-run Trepca smelter at Zvecan, Kosovo, due to environmental pollution.
2001 – US warplanes attacked an Iraqi air defense system modernized with fiber optics by Chinese technicians.
2001 – Helios, a remote-controlled, solar powered NASA plane, reached a record 96,500 feet.
2001 – In Macedonia Albanian guerrillas agreed to disarm under NATO supervision and the government agreed to extend amnesty for the fighters.
2002 – Aircraft from the U.S.-British coalition patrolling southern Iraq bombed two Iraqi air defense sites.
2003 – Dozens of American troops landed at Liberia’s main airport, increasing the U.S. presence to boost West African peacekeepers, as rebels began withdrawing from Monrovia. A “quick reaction” force of 150 combat troops were sent to back up Nigerian peacekeepers.
2003 – The UN Security Council approved a resolution welcoming the Iraqi Governing Council and created a mission to oversee UN efforts to help rebuild the country and establish a democratic government.
2004 – In western Afghanistan rival militias clashed, reportedly killing 21 people. Eight militiamen, including two commanders, were killed when fighting erupted between two rival warlords over control of a western district.
2004 – U.S. warplanes bombed the Sunni city of Samarrah. Iraqi hospital officials said several people died, while the U.S. military said 50 militants were killed.
2007 – The deadliest single attack of the whole war occurred. Nearly 800 civilians were killed by a series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks on the northern Iraqi settlement of Kahtaniya. More than 100 homes and shops were destroyed in the blasts. U.S. officials blamed al-Qaeda. The targeted villagers belonged to the non-Muslim Yazidi ethnic minority. The attack may have represented the latest in a feud that erupted earlier that year when members of the Yazidi community stoned to death a teenage girl called Du’a Khalil Aswad accused of dating a Sunni Arab man and converting to Islam. The killing of the girl was recorded on camera-mobiles and the video was uploaded onto the internet.
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