1782 – Charleston, SC, was evacuated by British.
1799 – George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old. George Washington was born in 1732 to a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His first direct military experience came as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when he led a small expedition against the French in the Ohio River valley on behalf of the governor of Virginia. Two years later, Washington took command of the defenses of the western Virginian frontier during the French and Indian War. After the war’s fighting moved elsewhere, he resigned from his military post, returned to a planter’s life, and took a seat in Virginia’s House of Burgesses. During the next two decades, Washington openly opposed the escalating British taxation and repression of the American colonies. In 1774, he represented Virginia at the Continental Congress. After the American Revolution erupted in 1775, Washington was nominated to be commander in chief of the newly established Continental Army. Some in the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, thinking other candidates were better equipped for the post, but he was ultimately chosen because as a Virginian his leadership helped bind the Southern colonies more closely to the rebellion in New England. With his inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers, General Washington led an effective war of harassment against British forces in America while encouraging the intervention of the French into the conflict on behalf of the colonists. On October 19, 1781, with the surrender of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ massive British army at Yorktown, Virginia, General Washington had defeated one of the most powerful nations on earth. After the war, the victorious general retired to his estate at Mount Vernon, but in 1787 he heeded his nation’s call and returned to politics to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The drafters created the office of president with him in mind, and in February 1789 Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States. 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, making 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 reelected 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.”
1814 – The steamboat Enterprise, designed by keelboat captain Henry Miller Shreve, arrived in New Orleans with guns and ammunition for Gen. Jackson. It was immediately commandeered for military service.
1814 – A British squadron captures U.S. gunboats in Battle of Lake Borgne, LA. The Battle of Lake Borgne was a naval battle between the Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the American South theatre of the War of 1812. It occurred on Lake Borgne and was part of the British advance on New Orleans.
1819 – Alabama was admitted as the 22nd state, making 11 slave states and 11 free states. Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. At 1,300 miles (2,100 km), Alabama has one of the longest navigable inland waterways in the nation.
1836 – The Toledo War (1835–36), also known as the Michigan–Ohio War, was the almost bloodless boundary dispute between the U.S. state of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan. Originating from conflicting state and federal legislation passed between 1787 and 1805, the dispute resulted from poor understanding of geographical features of the Great Lakes at the time. Varying interpretations of the law caused the governments of Ohio and Michigan to both claim sovereignty over a 468-square-mile (1,210 km2) region along the border, now known as the Toledo Strip. When Michigan petitioned for statehood in 1835, it sought to include the disputed territory within its boundaries; Ohio’s congressional delegation was in turn able to stall Michigan’s admission to the Union. Beginning in 1835, both sides passed legislation attempting to force the other side’s capitulation. Ohio’s governor Robert Lucas and Michigan’s 24-year-old “Boy Governor” Stevens T. Mason were both unwilling to cede jurisdiction of the Strip, so they raised militias and helped institute criminal penalties for citizens submitting to the others authority. The militias were mobilized and sent to positions on opposite sides of the Maumee River near Toledo, but besides mutual taunting there was little interaction between the two forces. The single military confrontation of the “war” ended with a report of shots being fired into the air, incurring no casualties. During the summer of 1836, Congress proposed a compromise whereby Michigan gave up its claim to the strip in exchange for its statehood and approximately three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula. The compromise was considered a poor outcome for Michigan; nearly all of the Upper Peninsula was still Indian territory at the time. Voters in a state convention in September soundly rejected the proposal. In December 1836, the Michigan government, facing a dire financial crisis and pressure from Congress and President Andrew Jackson, called another convention (called the “Frost-bitten Convention”) which accepted the compromise that resolved the Toledo War. The later discovery of copper and iron deposits and the plentiful timber in the Upper Peninsula more than offset Michigan’s economic loss in surrendering Toledo.
1854 – Congress authorized appointment of first lifeboat station keepers at $200 per year each and superintendents for Long Island and New Jersey serving under Secretary of Treasury who “may also establish such stations at such lighthouses, as, in his judgment, he shall deem best.”
1863 – General Beauregard ordered Lieutenant Dixon, CSA, to proceed with submarine H. L. Hunley to the mouth of Charleston harbor and “sink and destroy any vessel of the enemy with which he can come in conflict.” The General directed that “such assistance- as may he practicable” he rendered to Lieutenant Dixon.
1863 – President Lincoln announces a grant of amnesty for Mrs. Emilie Todd Helm, Mary Lincoln’s half sister and the widow of a Confederate general. The pardon was one of the first under Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which he had announced less than a week before. The plan was the president’s blueprint for the reintegration of the South into the Union. Part of the plan allowed for former Confederates to be granted amnesty if they took an oath to the United States. The option was open to all but the highest officials of the Confederacy. Emilie Todd Helm was the wife of Benjamin Helm, who, like the Lincolns, was a Kentucky native. Lincoln was said to be a great admirer of Helm, a West Point and Harvard graduate. Lincoln had offered Helm a position in the U.S. Army, but Helm opted to join the Confederates instead. Helm led a group of Kentuckians known as the “Orphan Brigade,” since they could not return to their Union-held native state during the war. Helm was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.After her husband’s death, Helm made her way through Union lines to Washington. She stayed in the White House and the Lincolns tried to keep her visit a secret. General Daniel Sickles, who had been wounded at Gettysburg five months prior, told Lincoln that he should not have a rebel in his house. Lincoln replied, “General Sickles, my wife and I are in the habit of choosing our own guests. We do not need from our friends either advice or assistance in the matter.” After Lincoln granted her pardon, Emilie Helm returned to Kentucky.
1863 – Gen. James Longstreet attacked Union troops at Bean’s Station, Tenn.
1864 – Union gunboats supporting General Sherman aided in the capture of Forts Beaulieu and Rosedew in Ossabaw Sound, Georgia, the outer defenses of Savannah. Wooden steamer U.S.S. Winona, Lieutenant Commander Dana, U.S.S. Sonoma, Lieutenant Commander Scott, and mortar gunboats shelled the forts until they were abandoned by the defenders on 21 December. Winona’s log recorded on that date: “At 10:05 saw the American Ensign flying on Fort Beaulieu. Ships cheered; captain left in the gig and proceeded up to the fort.”
1896 – James H. Doolittle, American Air Force general, was born. He commanded the first bombing mission over Japan. His Tokyo raid was a great boost for American war morale.
1902 – The Commercial Pacific Cable Company lays the first Pacific telegraph cable, from San Francisco to Honolulu.
1903 – The Wright brothers make their first attempt to fly with the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. With the help of men from the nearby government life-saving station (today’s Coast Guard), the Wrights moved the Flyer and its launching rail to the incline of a nearby sand dune, Big Kill Devil Hill, intending to make a gravity-assisted takeoff. The brothers tossed a coin to decide who would get the first chance at piloting, and Wilbur won. The airplane left the rail, but Wilbur pulled up too sharply, stalled, and came down in about three seconds with minor damage. Repairs after the abortive first flight took three days.
1916 – People of Denmark voted to sell Danish West Indies to United States for $25 million.
1939 – League of Nations, the international peacekeeping organization formed at the end of World War I, expels the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in response to the Soviets’ invasion of Finland on October 30. Although the League of Nations was more or less the brainchild of President Woodrow Wilson, the United States, which was to have sat on the Executive Council, never joined. Isolationists in the Senate–put off by America’s intervention in World War I, which they felt was more of a European civil war than a true world war–prevented American participation. While the League was born with the exalted mission of preventing another “Great War,” it proved ineffectual, being unable to protect China from a Japanese invasion or Ethiopia from an Italian one. The League was also useless in reacting to German remilitarization, which was a violation of the Treaty of Versailles, the document that formally set the peace terms for the end of World War I. Germany and Japan voluntarily withdrew from the League in 1933, and Italy left in 1937. The true imperial designs of the Soviet Union soon became apparent with its occupation of eastern Poland in September of 1939, ostensibly with the intention of protecting Russian “blood brothers,” Ukrainians and Byelorussians, who were supposedly menaced by the Poles. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were then terrorized into signing “mutual assistance” pacts, primarily one-sided agreements that gave the USSR air and naval bases in those countries. But the invasion of Finland, where no provocation or pact could credibly be adduced to justify the aggression, resulted in worldwide reaction. President Roosevelt, although an “ally” of the USSR, condemned the invasion, causing the Soviets to withdraw from the New York World’s Fair. And finally, the League of Nations, drawing almost its last breath, expelled it.
1939 – The German liner Columbus (33,000 t) leaves Vera Cruz in an attempt to run home. The American cruiser Tuscaloosa shadows the ship, while on neutrality patrol, and broadcast its location on open radio.
1941 – US Treasury Sec. Henry Morgenthau asked his assistant Harry Dexter White to prepare a paper outlining the possibilities for coordinated monetary arrangements between the US and its allies. White’s proposal said the primary goal should be to stabilize the exchange rates of the Allied countries to encourage the flow of capital. The later led to the establishment of the gold standard at Bretton Woods, N.H., in 1944.
1941 – U.S. Marines made a stand in battle for Wake Island. Wake Island defenders were left with one aircraft surviving Japanese attacks.
1942 – Japanese reinforcement land about 30 miles west of Gona and begin marching toward the Australian flank. In Buna, the American’s take the village, but the Japanese still hold the well fortified Government Station.
1944 – Congress established the rank of General of Army, the 5-star General.
1944 – Rank of Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy (five star admiral) is established. It is interesting to note that each of these officers followed a differently patterned naval career. Only eight years of seniority separated them. They served as younger officers when the Navy was making its expansion in aviation and submarine development. One of these officers was essentially a destroyer officer and aviator with only one short tour ashore in Washington. One was a submariner with European training in diesel propulsion, a big ship sailor with shore cruises in Washington including Chief of Naval Personnel. One had almost all his sea duty in big ships and with the exception of one tour, all shore duty in Washington, including being chief of two bureaus. Only one had a seagoing career in the surface, submarine and aviation branches of the service with shore tours including the head of the Postgraduate School and the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. Three served as Chiefs of Naval Operations. The Navy’s Fleet Admirals were: William Daniel Leahy, Ernest Joseph King, Chester William Nimitz, and William Frederick Halsey, Jr.
1944 – The former NYK liner Oryoku Maru left Manila with 1619 American POWs packed in the holds. U.S. Navy planes from the “Hornet” attacked, causing the Hell Ship to sink the following day. Only 200 of the men survived.
1944 – US 3rd Army continues advancing east of Sarreguemines while US 9st Army reaches the Roer River bank.
1944 – US Task Force 38 (Admiral McCain) launches air strikes on airfields throughout Luzon. TF38 includes 13 carriers, 8 battleships and numerous cruisers and destroyers. The attacks are in support of the American landing on Mindoro.
1945 – Captain Sue S. Dauser receives the first Distinguished Service Medal awarded to a nurse.
1946 – The United Nations General Assembly voted to establish the U.N. headquarters in New York City. The UN adopted a disarmament resolution prohibiting the A-Bomb.
1950 – The Navy announced the successful withdrawal of U.N. forces from Chinnampo. Approximately 7,000 soldiers and civilian refugees were evacuated from the Pyongyang area.
1952 – President-elect Eisenhower announced a new policy of firmness in dealing with the communists on his return from Korea.
1958 – The United States, Britain and France rejected Soviet demands that they withdraw their troops from West Berlin and agreed to liquidate the Allied occupation in West Berlin.
1960 – A U.S. B-52 bomber set a 10,000 mile non-stop record without refueling.
1961 – In a public exchange of letters with South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, President John F. Kennedy formally announces that the United States will increase aid to South Vietnam, which would include the expansion of the U.S. troop commitment. Kennedy, concerned with the recent advances made by the communist insurgency movement in South Vietnam wrote, “We shall promptly increase our assistance to your defense effort.” Kennedy’s chief military adviser, Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, and Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Walt W. Rostow had just returned from a fact-finding trip to Saigon and urged the president to increase U.S. economic and military advisory support to Diem. The military support was to include intensive training of local self-defense troops by American military advisers. Additionally, Taylor and Rostow advocated a significant increase in airplanes, helicopters, and support personnel. In a secret appendix to their report, Taylor and Rostow recommended the deployment of 8,000 American combat troops, which could be used to support the South Vietnamese forces in combat operations against the insurgents. To overcome Diem’s resistance to foreign troops–which he saw as a potential Viet Cong propaganda windfall–Taylor and Rostow suggested that the forces were to be called a “flood control team.” Kennedy, who wanted to stop the communists but also wanted to be cautious about the degree of involvement, accepted most of the recommendations, but did not commit U.S. combat troops. In return for the support, Kennedy requested that Diem liberalize his regime and institute land reform and other measures to win the support of his people. Diem initially refused, but consented when he was threatened with a reduction in the promised aid. In the long run, however, his reforms did not go far enough and the increased American aid proved insufficient in stemming the tide of the insurgency. Diem was murdered during a coup by his own generals in November 1963. Shortly thereafter, Kennedy was assassinated. At the time of his death, there were more than 16,000 U.S. advisers in South Vietnam. Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, rapidly escalated the war, which resulted in the commitment of U.S. ground forces and eventually more than 500,000 American troops in Vietnam.
1962 – The U.S. space probe Mariner 2 approached Venus, transmitting information about the planet.
1963 – A US military spokesman in Saigon reports that guerrilla attacks on hamlets, outposts, and patrols in November have resulted in 2,800 government casualties and 2,900 Vietcong losses. The Vietcong have captured enough weapons to arm five 300-man battalions.
1964 – Operation Barrel Roll, the name given to the first phase of the bombing plan approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson on December 1, begins with U.S. planes attacking “targets of opportunity” in northern Laos. This operation was initiated in response to a Pathet Lao offensive in the Plaine des Jarres in north central Laos. The Pathet Lao were communist guerrillas who were fighting to overthrow the Royal Lao government. Operation Barrel Roll was designed to provide air support for the Royal Laotian Army and CIA-trained Hmong (mountain people) irregular forces led by Gen. Vang Pao. In addition to these operations, there was also another part of the war in Laos which was conducted in the eastern part of the country along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which ran out of North Vietnam through Laos and south along the South Vietnamese-Cambodian border. The North Vietnamese used this trail network as the main avenue by which they supplied and reinforced their troops in South Vietnam. Operations Steel Tiger and Tiger Hound were initiated in April and December 1965 respectively to bomb the trail in an intensive and protracted attempt to interdict the massive amounts of men and supplies moving along the corridor. By 1973, when Operations Barrel Roll, Steel Tiger, and Tiger Hound were terminated, Laos had become the most heavily bombed country in the world. During these operations, allied aircraft dropped more than 3 million tons of bombs, three times the amount dropped on North Vietnam. U.S. spending for these bombing campaigns was 10 times that of the Laotian national budget.
1965 – Navy announces completion of 1,272 ft. radio tower at North West Cape, Australia, highest manmade structure in the Southern Hemisphere at that time, as a link in fleet communications.
1967 – Israel submitted to the United Nations a five-year plan to solve the Arab refugee problem conditioned on a general peace settlement between Israel and the Arab states.
1972 – Astronauts Schmitt and Cernan blasted off from the moon to join the command module America in lunar orbit, thus ending America’s manned lunar exploration for the 20th century. Apollo 17 astronauts blasted off from the moon after three days of exploration on lunar surface.
1980 – After four days of meetings, members of NATO warned the Soviets to stay out of the internal affairs of Poland, saying that intervention would effectively destroy the détente between East and West.
1980 – CIA report claims that the Soviet Union delivered nearly $7 billion worth of military assistance to Third World nations in 1979, and made over $8 billion in arms sales during that same year. The study also noted that there were nearly 51,000 communist military advisors in Third World countries. The report indicated that the arms sales increased instability and chances for military conflict. The CIA study portrayed an alarming growth in Soviet military assistance to the Third World, particularly to nations in the Middle East and Africa. According to the report, Syria, Iraq, and South Yemen were the primary recipients of aid to the Middle East while Angola and Ethiopia received most of the arms sold to Africa. Much of this assistance was in the form of sophisticated weapons such as MiG fighter-bombers and surface-to-air missiles. Almost two-thirds of the military advisors were Cubans whom Fidel Castro assigned to Angola. Despite this massive effort, the study concluded that, “Moscow has recruited few adherents to its ideology.” Nevertheless, the economic advantages were significant. Together with an expanded program of economic assistance, Soviet arms sales to the Third World helped open markets and provide hard currency for the Russian economy. Soviet trade with the Third World increased from just over $250 million in 1955 to over $13 billion in 1978. In addition, the Soviets were able to obtain sources for natural gas (Afghanistan), oil (Iraq and Syria), and aluminum (Turkey). The report ended on an ominous note, suggesting that Soviet arms sales to the Third World-particularly to the Middle East-were dangerously increasing instability and the chances for war.
1986 – The experimental aircraft Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world. The trip took nine days.
1988 – In a dramatic policy shift, President Reagan authorized the United States to enter into a “substantive dialogue” with the Palestine Liberation Organization, after chairman Yasser Arafat said he was renouncing “all forms of terrorism.”
1990 – President Bush prodded Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to agree to talks on the Persian Gulf crisis by January third.
1992 – Easing a 17-year trade embargo, the United States allowed its companies to sign contracts in Vietnam.
1994 – Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic asked former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to mediate a lasting peace in Bosnia.
1995 – An agreement for peace in Bosnia, reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, was formally signed. Presidents Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia signed the Bosnian peace treaty in Paris. The agreement divided Bosnia into 2 autonomous territories and granted 51% of Bosnia to the Muslim-Croat federation and 49% to the Serbs. Elections were scheduled and a force of 60,000 Western troops was planned for deployment. A 3-member presidency and a national parliament was also part of the plan.
1997 – Iran’s new president, Mohammad Khatami, called for a dialogue with the people of the United States — a nation reviled by his predecessors as “The Great Satan.”
1999 – In Seattle Ahmed Ressam (32) was arrested after crossing the border at Port Angeles from Canada with a car trunk with over 150 pounds of bomb-making materials that included 200 pounds of urea, timing devices and a bottle of RDX, cyclotrimethylene trinitramine. Canadian authorities later issued an arrest warrant for Abdelmajed Dahoumane for possessing or making explosives. Dahoumane was arrested in Algeria In Oct, 2000. In 2001 Ressam admitted that he planned to detonate a bomb at the LA Int’l. Airport. Mokhtar Haouari provided fake ID and $3,000 to Ressam. Haouari was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2002.
1999 – In Panama former US Pres. Jimmy Carter symbolically turned over the Panama Canal. The official ownership transfer date was Dec 31.
2000 – U.S. businessman Edward Pope was pardoned and released by Russia after being convicted of espionage.
2001 – American and British commandos behind a screen of local Afghan fighters contained the last remnants of al Qaeda forces in the White Mountains of Tora Bora. American Marines occupied Kandahar airport.
2001 – European leaders agreed to send 4,000 troops to Afghanistan.
2002 – Jordanian police announced the arrest of two alleged al-Qaida members in the October killing of American diplomat Laurence Foley.
2003 – In Afghanistan a landmark constitutional convention began with solemn prayers.
2004 – Pres. Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor to Gen. Tommy Franks, Paul Bremer, and George Tenet, for their efforts in the war in Iraq.
2004 – Shootouts erupted between residents of a slum outside Haiti’s capital and UN troops after hundreds of international peacekeepers stormed the stronghold of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in an attempt to control flashpoints of violence. 4 people were killed.
2004 – In Iraq a suicide car bomber killed seven people at a Green Zone checkpoint, the second attack in two days near the same gate.
2006 – The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer warned that al-Qaeda cell operatives were controlling the Islamic Courts Union, the Islamist faction of Somalia rapidly taking control of the southern area of the country. Frazer later announced that the United States has no intention of committing troops to Somalia to root out al-Qaeda.
2008 – Muntadhar al-Zaidi throws his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq.
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