1682 – Duke James of York gave Delaware to William Penn.
1781 – A small force of Pennsylvania militia is ambushed and overwhelmed by an American Indian group, which forces George Rogers Clark to abandon his attempt to attack Detroit.
1814 – On the 19th of August British Major – General Robert Ross had landed his troops and started marching up the Patuxent River, with Rear – Admiral George Cockburn and a naval division of light vessels in support. On the third day, Commodore Joshua Barney, U.S.N. had to destroy his own flotilla of gunboats to prevent them from being captured; he then withdrew his 400 seamen to defend the road leading from the village of Bladensburg to Washington. Brigadier – General Winder was in charge of the troops here. There were 120 dragoons and about 300 regular infantry as well as 1,500 militia. On August 24th, almost 5,000 additional American militia started to arrive on the battlefield that General Winder had selected to be on the Washington side of the village. The American defensive position looked impressive; they were formed up in two lines on the heights. The advanced U.S. forces occupied a fortified house, and Marine artillery covered the bridge that the British would have to cross. Many of the militia are poorly trained and armed and their officers are lacking leadership skills. The British open the engagement by unleashing their secret weapon, Congreve rockets. Though highly inaccurate (no American was reportedly injured by one) they caused great noise and smoke, creating panic in the militia ranks. Almost as soon as the British infantry started their assault, some militia routed off the field. However some units, like the 5th Regiment of Infantry, Maryland Militia (today the 175th Infantry) and the Hartford Dragoon’s fought a delaying action long enough to cover the retreat of other troops. The British entered Washington with no further problem this evening and burned government buildings including the White House and Capital. Commodore Barney and his seamen and Marines attempted to make a real fight of it until ordered by their badly wounded commander to withdraw to avoid being captured. The U.S. cannon took its toll on the advancing British troops and cut large holes in the British lines crossing the bridge. But the British kept on advancing filling in the ranks where soldiers fell. The charging British had 64 killed and 185 wounded while the U.S. forces lost 10 men killed and 12 wounded at what became known as “The Bladenburg Races” After a few hours rest the British formed up and continued on toward Washington
1814 – British forces under General Robert Ross overwhelm American militiamen at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland, and march unopposed into Washington, D.C. Most congressmen and officials fled the nation’s capital as soon as word came of the American defeat, but President James Madison and his wife, Dolley, escaped just before the invaders arrived. Earlier in the day, President Madison had been present at the Battle of Bladensburg and had at one point actually taken command of one of the few remaining American batteries, thus becoming the first and only president to exercise in actual battle his authority as commander in chief. The British army entered Washington in the late afternoon, and General Ross and British officers dined that night at the deserted White House. Meanwhile, the British troops, ecstatic that they had captured their enemy’s capital, began setting the city aflame in revenge for the burning of Canadian government buildings by U.S. troops earlier in the war. The White House, a number of federal buildings, and several private homes were destroyed. The still uncompleted Capitol building was also set on fire, and the House of Representatives and the Library of Congress were gutted before a torrential downpour doused the flames. On August 26, General Ross, realizing his untenable hold on the capital area, ordered a withdrawal from Washington. The next day, President Madison returned to a smoking and charred Washington and vowed to rebuild the city. James Hoban, the original architect of the White House, completed reconstruction of the executive mansion in 1817.
1816 – The Treaty of St. Louis of 1816 was signed by Ninian Edwards, William Clark, and Auguste Chouteau for the United States and representatives of the Council of Three Fires (united tribes of Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi) residing on the Illinois and Milwaukee rivers. Despite the name, the treaty was conducted at Portage des Sioux, Missouri, located immediately north of St. Louis, Missouri. By signing the treaty, the tribes, their chiefs, and their warriors relinquished all right, claim, and title to land previously ceded to the United States by the Sac and Fox tribes on November 3, 1804 (see, 1804 Treaty, above), By signing, the united tribes also ceded a 20 mile strip of land to the United States, which connected Chicago and Lake Michigan with the Illinois River. In 1848, the Illinois and Michigan Canal was built on the ceded land and, in 1900, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
1828 – Confederate General George Hume “Maryland” Steuart is born in Baltimore, Maryland. Steuart attended West Point and graduated in 1844. He served in various capacities in Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska, and he was part of General Albert S. Johnston’s expedition against the Mormons in Utah. Steuart resigned his commission after the firing on Fort Sumter in April 1861, because he anticipated that his native state would follow the other Southern states that had already seceded from the Union, and he was appointed major general of the Maryland volunteers who supported secession. When Maryland did not secede, Steuart accepted a commission as lieutenant colonel in the Confederate army. He earned his nickname from his close association with troops from Maryland. Steuart became colonel when his regiment commander was promoted to brigadier general. He fought at the First Battle of Bull Run and in the spring of 1862 he was promoted to command a brigade. Steuart’s force served on General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s brilliant 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign, and he fought at Gettysburg with Richard Ewell’s corps, where his brigade participated in the unsuccessful attacks against Culp’s Hill. Steuart was also part of the 1864 campaign in Virginia between Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee. At Spotsylvania Court House in May, he and his entire brigade were captured when Union forces overran the Bloody Angle. He was exchanged in August, and received command of a brigade in George Pickett’s division. Steuart remained with the Army of Northern Virginia until the surrender at Appomattox Court House. After the war, Steuart returned to Maryland, where he farmed and remained active in Confederate veterans’ groups until his death in 1903.
1857 – The Panic of 1857, a financial panic in the United States caused by the declining international economy and over-expansion of the domestic economy, began. Because of the interconnectedness of the world economy by the time of the 1850s, the financial crisis that began in late 1857 was the first world-wide economic crisis. In Britain, the Palmerston government circumvented the requirements of the Peel Banking Act of 1844, which required gold and silver reserves to back up the amount of money in circulation. This circumvention set off the Panic in Britain. The sinking of the SS Central America contributed to the panic of 1857, as New York banks were awaiting a much needed shipment of gold; not recovering financially until after the civil war. Beginning in September 1857, the financial downturn did not last long; however, a proper recovery was not seen until the American Civil War.
1862 – The C.S.S. Alabama was commissioned at sea off Portugal’s Azore Islands, beginning a career that would see over 60 Union merchant vessels sunk or destroyed by the Confederate raider. The ship was built in secret in the in Liverpool shipyards, and a diplomatic crisis between the US government and Britain ensued when the Union uncovered the ship’s birth place.
1863 – General Dabney H. Maury, CSA, reported: “The submarine boat sent to Charleston found that there was not enough water under the Ironsides for her to pass below her keel; therefore they have decided to affix a spike to the bow of the boat, to drive the spike into the Ironsides, then to back out, and by a string to explode the torpedo which was to be attached to the spike.” N. F. Hunley had originally been provided with a floating copper cylinder torpedo with flaring triggers which she could tow some 200 feet astern. The submarine would dive beneath the target ship, surface on the other side, and continue on course until the torpedo struck the ship and exploded. When the method proved unworkable, a spare torpedo containing 90 pounds of powder was affixed to the bow. A volunteer crew commanded by Lieutenant Payne, CSN, of C.S.S. Chicora took charge of H. L. Hunley in the next few days.
1891 – Thomas Edison patents the motion picture camera.
1894 – Congress passed the first graduated income tax law, which was declared unconstitutional the next year. It imposed a 2% tax on incomes over $4000.
1909 – Workers started pouring concrete for Panama Canal.
1912 – US passed an anti-gag law giving federal employees the right to petition government.
1912 – By an act of Congress, Alaska was given a territorial legislature of two houses.
1912 – Launching of USS Jupiter, first electrically propelled Navy ship. This collier will later be converted in to the first US Aircraft Carrier, the USS Langly.
1942 – The Battle of the Eastern Solomons. US Task Force 61, commanded by Admiral Fletcher is comprised of the American aircraft carriers Saratoga, Enterprise and Wasp. The Japanese split their forces into two, Admiral Nagumo commanding the Zuikaku and Shokaku and Admiral Hara, the Ryujo. Both forces are attempting to cover the ferrying of supplies to the respective forces on Guadalcanal. American scout planes discover the Ryujo and Admiral Fletcher dispatches a strike force. When the other two Japanese carriers are sighted, he attempts to redirect the attack, but most of his planes do not receive the new orders and proceed to sink the Ryujo. Admiral Nagumo’s planes find the USS Enterprise inflicting damage, however planes can still land on the carrier. Both carrier groups disengage at the end of the day without a clear result.
1942 – U.S. forces continue to deliver crushing blows to the Japanese, sinking the aircraft carrier Ryuho in the Battle of the East Solomon Islands. Key to the Americans’ success in this battle was the work of coastwatchers, a group of volunteers whose job it is to report on Japanese ship and aircraft movement. The Marines had landed on Guadalcanal, on the Solomon Islands, on August 7. This was the first American offensive maneuver of the war and would deliver the first real defeat to the Japanese. On August 23, coastwatchers, comprised mostly of Australian and New Zealander volunteers, hidden throughout the Solomon and Bismarck islands and protected by anti-Japanese natives, spotted heavy Japanese reinforcements headed for Guadalcanal. The coastwatchers alerted three U.S. carriers that were within 100 miles of Guadalcanal, which then raced to the scene to intercept the Japanese. By the time the Battle of the Eastern Solomons was over, the Japanese lost a light carrier, a destroyer, and a submarine and the Ryuho. The Americans suffered damage to the USS Enterprise, the most decorated carrier of the war; the Enterprise would see action again, though, in the American landings on Okinawa in 1945. As for the coastwatchers, Vice Adm. William F. Halsey said, “The coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal, and Guadalcanal saved the Pacific.”
1944 – The French 4th Armored Division (Leclerc), part of the US 5th Corps, reaches the outskirts of Paris as renewed fighting takes place within the city, between German forces and French resistance members.
1944 – Elements of the US 7th Army advancing northeast along the coast capture Cannes. In the advance northward, Grenoble is occupied while forces moving west take Arles on the Rhone River, south of Avignon.
1945 – The last Cadillac-built M-24 tank was produced on this day, ending the company’s World War II effort. Civilian auto production virtually ceased after the attack on Pearl Harbor, as the U.S. automotive industry turned to war production. Between 1940 and 1945, automotive firms made almost $29 billion worth of military materials, including jeeps, trucks, machine guns, carbines, tanks, helmets, and aerial bombs.
1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty went into effect.
1950 – The U.S. 2nd Infantry Division relieved the 24th Infantry Division on line along the Pusan Perimeter after weeks of continuous combat.
1954 – Congress passes the Communist Control Act in response to the growing anticommunist hysteria in the United States. Though full of ominous language, many found the purpose of the act unclear. In 1954, the Red Scare still raged in the United States. Although Senator Joseph McCarthy, the most famous of the “red hunters” in America, had been disgraced earlier in the summer of 1954 when he tried to prove that communists were in the U.S. Army, most Americans still believed that communists were at work in their country. Responding to this fear, Congress passed the Communist Control Act in August 1954. The act declared that, “The Communist Party of the United States, though purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States.” The act went on to charge that the party’s “role as the agency of a hostile foreign power renders its existence a clear and continuing danger to the security of the United States.” The conclusion seemed inescapable: “The Communist Party should be outlawed.” Indeed, that is what many people at the time believed the Communist Control Act accomplished. A careful reading of the act, however, indicates that the reality was a bit fuzzier. In 1950, Congress passed the Internal Security Act. In many respects, it was merely a version of the Communist Control Act passed four years later. It used the same language to condemn communism and the Communist Party of the United States, and established penalties for anyone belonging to a group calling for the violent overthrow of the American government. However, it very specifically noted that mere membership in the Communist Party, or affiliated organizations, was not in and of itself sufficient cause for arrest or penalty. The 1954 act went one step further by removing the “rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies created under the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States” from the Communist Party. The Communist Control Act made it clear that “nothing in this section shall be construed as amending the Internal Security Act of 1950.” Thus, while the Communist Control Act may have declared that the Communist Party should be outlawed, the act itself did not take this decisive step. In the years to come, the Communist Party of the United States continued to exist, although the U.S. government used legislation such as the Communist Control Act to harass Communist Party members. More ominously, the government also used such acts to investigate and harass numerous other organizations that were deemed to have communist “leanings.” These included the American Civil Liberties Union, labor unions, and the NAACP. By the mid-to-late 1960s, however, the Red Scare had run its course and a more liberal Supreme Court began to chip away at the immense tangle of anticommunist legislation that had been passed during the 1940s and 1950s. Today, the Communist Party of the United States continues to exist and regularly runs candidates for local, state, and national elections.
1959 – Three days after Hawaiian statehood, Hiram L. Fong was sworn in as the first Chinese-American U.S. Senator while Daniel K. Inouye was sworn in as the first Japanese-American U.S. Representative.
1960 – USS Bexar (APA-237) deploys to Pangahan Province in response to emergency request for aid from the Province’s governor.
1963 – A policy decision reaches Lodge from Washington that Diem must be given a chance to remove his brother Nhu, but will himself have to go if he does not. Lodge is advised to pass this on to Diem’s generals, in effect assuring them of support for a coup against Diem if he does not remove Nhu.
1968 – France became the world’s fifth thermonuclear power as it exploded a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific.
1969 – Peru nationalized US oil interests.
1969 – Company A of the Third Battalion, 196th Light Infantry Brigade refuses the order of its commander, Lieutenant Eugene Schurtz, Jr., to continue an attack that had been launched to reach a downed helicopter shot down in the Que Son valley, 30 miles south of Da Nang. The unit had been in fierce combat for five days against entrenched North Vietnamese forces and had taken heavy casualties. Schurtz called his battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Bacon, and informed him that his men had refused to follow his order to move out because they had “simply had enough” and that they were “broken.” The unit eventually moved out when Bacon sent his executive officer and a sergeant to give Schurtz’s troops “a pep talk,” but when they reached the downed helicopter on August 25, they found all eight men aboard dead. Schurtz was relieved of his command and transferred to another assignment in the division. Neither he nor his men were disciplined. This case of “combat refusal,” as the Army described it, was reported widely in U.S. newspapers.
1970 – U.S. B-52s carry out heavy bombing raids along the DMZ. In the United States, a radical protest group calling themselves the New Year’s Gang, a cover for or faction of the Weather Underground, blew up in the Army Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin Army Mathematics Research Center in Madison. A graduate student who was working late was killed in the blast. The center, which reportedly was involved in war research, had been a focus for protest in the past, but previously protests had all been nonviolent.
1987 – A military jury in Quantico, Va., sentenced Marine Sgt. Clayton Lonetree to 30 years in prison for disclosing U.S. secrets to the Soviet Union. The sentence was later reduced; with additional time off for good behavior, Lonetree ended up serving eight years in a military prison.
1989 – Voyager II passed within three thousand miles of Neptune sending back striking photographs.
1990 – Iraqi troops surrounded foreign missions in Kuwait.
1990 – Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev sent a message to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein warning the Persian Gulf situation was “extremely dangerous.”
1993 – NASA’s Mars Observer, which was supposed to map the surface of Mars, was declared lost.
1995 – Harry Wu, Chinese human rights activist and writer, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Chinese law and then expelled from China. China expelled Harry Wu, hours after convicting him of spying.
1996 – Four women began two days of academic orientation at The Citadel; they were the first female cadets admitted to the South Carolina military school since Shannon Faulkner.
1998 – The United States and Britain agreed to allow two Libyan suspects in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 to be tried by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.
1998 – In Egypt Abu Nidal was captured after crossing the border from Libya. He had split from the PLO in 1974 and was responsible for terrorist bombings in 1985 at the Rome and Vienna airports and a 1986 hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 as well as a number of assassinations of PLO figures. Egypt denied the report of Nidal’s capture.
2000 – Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz says “Iraq will not cooperate”with UNMOVIC, the body created by the United Nations to replace the former UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM). UNMOVIC is headed by Hans Blix ,a Swedish diplomat and arms control expert. Under the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1284 creating UNMOVIC, U.N. economic sanctions could be lifted if Iraq fulfills various conditions, including cooperation with UNMOVIC.
2001 – The United States decides to support a modified British proposal to tighten procedures for pricing Iraqi crude oil. According to reports, Iraq is attempting to price its oil at artificially low levels, and favouring buyers willing to pay surcharges to secret accounts, thereby circumventing United Nations control over Iraqi oil revenue. Britain had proposed that the U.N. and Iraq set prices every 10 days, instead of the current 30days, to make it more difficult for Iraq to exploit fluctuations in the market.
2002 – In the Canary Islands over a dozen beaked whales beached themselves following NATO exercises that involved a cluster of warships and submarines. 9 of the whales washed ashore dead and showed lesions in the brain and hearing system, consistent with acoustic impact.
2003 – Public power went out in Kabul, Afghanistan, due to lack of water in the local reservoirs. Return of power was not expected until Dec.
2003 – A 150-strong US Marine force ended an 11-day sortie and headed back to warships off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia.
2004 – In Iraq a car bomb killed at least 2 people in Baghdad. In Najaf US forces intensified fighting against rebels loyal to al-Sadr.
2006 – The International Astronomical Union (IAU) redefines the term “planet” such that Pluto is now considered a dwarf planet.
2104 – The British Ambassador to the US apologizes after a British Embassy tweet: “Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the burning of the White house. Only sparkers this time!” The Twitter message was complete with a photo of a Whitehouse cake with the mentioned sparklers surrounding it.
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