1633 – The tobacco laws of Virginia were codified, limiting tobacco production to reduce dependence on a single-crop economy.
1780 – The British fleet carrying General Clinton’s 8,000-man army arrives from New York off Charleston, South Carolina.
1790 – In the Royal Exchange Building on New York City’s Broad Street, the Supreme Court of the United States meets for the first time, with Chief Justice John Jay of New York presiding. The U.S. Supreme Court was established by Article Three of the U.S. Constitution, which took effect in March 1789. The Constitution granted the Supreme Court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws, especially those in which constitutionality was at issue. The court was also designated to rule on cases concerning treaties of the United States, foreign diplomats, admiralty practice, and maritime jurisdiction. In September 1789, the Judiciary Act was passed, implementing Article Three by providing for six justices who would serve on the court for life. The same day, President George Washington appointed John Jay to preside as chief justice, and John Rutledge of South Carolina, William Cushing of Massachusetts, John Blair of Virginia, Robert Harrison of Maryland, and James Wilson of Pennsylvania to serve as associate justices. Two days later, all six appointments were confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The Supreme Court later grew into arguably the most powerful judicial body in the world in terms of its central place in the U.S. political order. In times of constitutional crisis, for better or worse, it always played a definitive role in resolving the great issues of the time.
1800 – In the undeclared naval war with France, the USS Constellation engages in a decisive battle with the French vessel La Vengeance.
1809 – In the winter of 1807, the U.S. was thrust into the middle of the Napoleonic wars, as the British and French hassled American merchant ships in hopes of gaining a strategic edge in their ongoing battles. However, in an attempt to keep the nation out of another bloody and costly conflict, President Thomas Jefferson quickly pushed the Embargo Act through the legislative chain. But, the legislation, which effectively sealed U.S. ports, backfired: intended as a nonviolent, fiscal response to the British and French attacks, the act instead served to aid foreign merchants at the expense of American interests. Mercantilists in New England and New York suffered mightily and, in some instances, resorted to smuggling and other underhanded tactics to elude the crippling grip of the Embargo Act. In January of 1809, the Federal government passed the Enforcement Act, which called for severe penalties against illegal trading. Infuriated by the latest round of legislation, anti-embargo forces mounted a strong drive to nullify the acts. On February 1, Massachusetts Senator Thomas Pickering stepped into the fray and convened an assembly in New England that demanded the demise of the Embargo Act. An ardent Federalist, as well as a strong British ally and staunch opponent of Jefferson’s policies, Pickering helped force the president’s hand. With but a few days remaining in his second term, Jefferson signed the Non-Intercourse Act on March 1, 1809; the legislation reopened U.S. ports, save for trading with the British and French.
1861 – A furious Governor Sam Houston stormed out of a legislative session upon learning that Texas had voted 167-7 to secede from the Union. Texas Texas becomes the seventh state to secede from the Union when a state convention votes 166 to 8 in favor of the measure. The Texans who voted to leave the Union did so over the objections of their governor, Sam Houston. The hero of the Texas War for Independence was in his third term as the state’s chief executive; a staunch Unionist, his election seemed to indicate that Texas did not share the rising secessionist sentiments of the other southern states. But events in the year following Houston’s election swayed many Texans to the secessionist cause. John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in October 1859 raised the specter of a massive slave insurrection, and the ascendant Republican Party made many Texans uneasy about continuing in the Union. After Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency, pressure mounted on Houston to call a convention so that Texas could consider secession. He did so reluctantly in January, and he sat in silence on February 1 as the convention voted overwhelmingly in favor of secession. Houston grumbled that Texans were “stilling the voice of reason,” and he predicted an “ignoble defeat” for the South. Texas’ move completed the first round of secession. Seven states–South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas–left the Union before Lincoln took office. Four states–Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas– waited until the formal start of the war with the firing on Ft. Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina, before deciding to leave the Union. The remaining slave states–Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri–never mustered the necessary majority for secession.
1862 – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was first published in “Atlantic Monthly” as an anonymous poem. The lyric was the work of Julia Ward Howe and was based on chapter 63 of the Old Testament’s Book of Isaiah. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” soon became the most popular Union marching song of the Civil War and is still being sung and to the tune of a song titled, “John Brown’s Body”. Julia Ward Howe (b.1819-1908) was an influential social reformer and wife of fellow reformer and educator Samuel Gridley Howe. She was prominent in the anti-slavery movement, woman‘s suffrage, prison reform and the international peace movements. Julia Ward Howe was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Fine Arts and Letters in 1908. Ralph Waldo Emerson, said: “I honor the author of ‘The Battle Hymn’ … she was born in the city of New York. I could well wish she were a native of Massachusetts. We have no such poetess in New England.”
1863 – Ironclad U.S.S. Montauk, Commander Worden, with U.S.S. Seneca, Wissahickon, Dawn, and mortar schooner C. P. Williams, again tested the defenses of Fort McAllister described by Rear Admiral Du Pont as “rather a thorn in my flesh.” On the 28th of January, Worden had learned, through “a contraband,” the position of the obstructions and torpedoes which bad effectively blocked his way in the assault of 27 January. “This information,” Worden reported,” with the aid of the contraband, whom I took on board, enabled me to take up a position nearer the fort in the next attack. . . ” Ammunition supplies replenished, Montauk moved to within 600 yards of McAllister in the early morning; the gunboats took a position one and three-quarters miles below the fort. Worden opened fire at 7:45 a.m., and reported at ”7:53 a.m. our turret was hit for the first time during this action at which time the enemy were working their guns with rapidity and precision. The Confederate fire was concentrated on the ironclad, which took some 48 hits in the 4-hour engagement. Colonel Robert H. Anderson, commanding Fort McAllister, paid tribute to the accuracy of the naval gunfire: ”The enemy fired steadily and with remarkable precision. Their fire was terrible. Their mortar fire was unusually fine, a large number of their shells bursting directly over the battery. The ironclad’s fire was principally directed at the VIII- inch columbiad, and the parapet in front of this gun was so badly breached as to leave the gun entirely exposed.” General Beauregard added: ”For hours the most formidable vessel of her class hurled missiles of the heaviest caliber ever used in modern warfare at the weak parapet of the battery, which was almost demolished; but, standing at their guns, as became men fighting for homes, for honor, and for independence’. the garrison replied with such effect as to cripple and beat back their adversary, clad though in impenetrable armor and armed with XV and XI inch guns, supported by mortar boats whose practice was of uncommon precision.1865 – Lincoln’s home state of Illinois became the first to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery throughout the United States. President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, but it had not effectively abolished slavery in all of the states–it did not apply to slave-holding border states that had remained with the Union during the Civil War. After the war, the sentiment about blacks was mixed even among anti-slavery Americans: some considered Lincoln’s address too conservative and pushed for black suffrage, arguing that blacks would remain oppressed by their former owners if they did not have the power to vote. After the amendment was passed, the Freedmen’s Bureau was created to help blacks with the problems they would encounter while trying to acquire jobs, education and land of their own.
1893 – The US Minister to Hawaii, at the request of Pres. Dole, placed the Provisional Government under formal US protection and raised the US flag over Hawaii.
1865 – A boat expedition from U.S.S. Midnight, Acting Master John C. Wells, landed and destroyed salt works “of 13,615 boiling capacity” at St. Andrews Bay, Florida. The making of salt from sea water became a major industry in Florida during the Civil War as salt was a critical commodity in the Confederate war effort. Large quantities were needed for preserving meat, fish, butter, and other perishable foods, as well as for curing hides. Federal warships continuously destroyed salt works along the coasts of Florida. The expedition led by Wells was the finale in the Union Navy’s effective restriction of this vital Confederate industry.
1865 – President Abraham Lincoln signs the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
1906 – 1st federal penitentiary building completed in Leavenworth, Kansas.
1909 – U.S. troops left Cuba after installing Jose Miguel Gomez as president.
1915 – The government of Germany agrees to permit an unrestricted submarine warfare campaign. Ships, even those of neutral countries, can now be sunk without warning. On 4 February the Germans announce a submarine blockade of Britain to begin on the 18th. All vessels bound for Britain are deemed legitimate targets.
1917 – Admiral Tirpitz (1849-1930) announced that Germany would attack all shipping in the North Atlantic with its feared U-Boats.
1923 – Fascists Voluntary Militia formed in Italy under Mussolini.
1940 – The Chinese Communist Mao Tse-tung calls for the US to stand firm against Japan.
1941 – There is a major reorganization of the US Navy. It is now to be formed in three fleets, the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Asiatic. Admiral King is appointed to command the new Atlantic Fleet. There is to be a significant strengthening of the forces in the Atlantic.
1942 – U.S. Navy conducts Marshalls-Gilberts raids, the first offensive action by the United States against Japanese forces in the Pacific Theater. These were tactical airstrikes and naval artillery attacks by United States Navy aircraft carrier and other warship forces against Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) garrisons in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. The Japanese garrisons were under the overall command of Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue, commander of the 4th Fleet. Japanese aircraft in the islands belonged to the IJN’s 24th Air Flotilla under Rear Admiral Eiji Gotō. The U.S. warship forces were under the overall command of Vice Admiral William Halsey, Jr. The raids were carried out by two separate U.S. carrier task forces. Aircraft from Task Force 17 (TF 17), commanded by Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher and centered on the carrier USS Yorktown, attacked Jaluit, Mili, and Makin (Butaritari) islands. The Yorktown aircraft inflicted moderate damage to the Japanese naval installations on the islands and destroyed three aircraft. Seven Yorktown aircraft were lost, as well as a floatplane from one of TF 17’s cruisers. Aircraft from TF 8, commanded by Halsey and centered on the carrier USS Enterprise, struck Kwajalein, Wotje, and Taroa. At the same time, cruisers and destroyers bombarded Wotje and Taroa. The strikes inflicted light to moderate damage on the three islands’ naval garrisons, sank three small warships and damaged several others, including the light cruiser Katori, and destroyed 15 Japanese aircraft. The heavy cruiser USS Chester was hit and slightly damaged by a Japanese aerial bomb, and six Enterprise aircraft were lost. TFs 8 and 17 retired from the area immediately upon completion of the raids.
1942 – Coast Guard enlistees after this date were restricted to enlistment in the USCG Reserve. This was done to prevent having too many enlistees in the service at war’s end.
1942 – Voice of America, the official external radio and television service of the United States government, begins broadcasting with programs aimed at areas controlled by the Axis powers.
1943 – One of America’s most decorated military units of World War II, the 442d Regimental Combat Team, made up almost entirely of Japanese-Americans, was authorized.
1943 – Japanese forces on Guadalcanal Island, defeated by Marines, start to withdraw after the Japanese emperor finally gives them permission. On July 6, 1942, the Japanese landed on Guadalcanal Island, part of the Solomon Islands chain, and began constructing an airfield. In response, the U.S. launched Operation Watchtower, in which American troops landed on five islands within the Solomon chain, including Guadalcanal. The landings on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tananbogo met with much initial opposition from the Japanese defenders, despite the fact that the landings took the Japanese by surprise because bad weather had grounded their scouting aircraft. “I have never heard or read of this kind of fighting,” wrote one American major general on the scene. “These people refuse to surrender.” The Americans who landed on Guadalcanal had an easier time of it, at least initially. More than 11,000 Marines landed, but 24 hours passed before the Japanese manning the garrison knew what had happened. The U.S. forces quickly met their main objective of taking the airfield, and the outnumbered Japanese troops temporarily retreated. Japanese reinforcements were landed, though, and fierce hand-to-hand jungle fighting ensued. The Americans were at a particular disadvantage because they were assaulted from both sea and air, but when the U.S. Navy supplied reinforcement troops, the Americans gained the advantage. By February 1943, the Japanese retreated on secret orders of their emperor. In fact, the Japanese retreat was so stealthy that the Americans did not even know it had taken place until they stumbled upon abandoned positions, empty boats, and discarded supplies. In total, the Japanese lost more than 25,000 men compared with a loss of 1,600 by the Americans. Each side lost 24 warships.
1944 – American operations against the Kwajalein Atoll continue. On Roi US forces are mopping up. There is heavy fighting on Namur. US Task Force 52 (Admiral Turner) provides naval support for the landing of the 7th Infantry Division (General Corlett) on Kwajalein. Here, the Americans overrun a third of island, despite heavy Japanese resistance.
1944 – The forces of US 5th Army continue operations against the German defenses of the Gustav Line. The 34th Division gains some ground north of Cassino, around Monte Maiola.
1945 – The US 6th Corps from 7th Army crosses the river Moder and advances to Oberhofen.
1945 – The American advance on all fronts is slowed by fierce Japanese resistance. US 1st Corps is heavily engaged near Rosario and San Jose while US 11th Corps is struggling to make more ground across the neck of the Bataan Peninsula.
1945 – American USAAF B-24 and B-29 bombers raid Iwo Jima in preparation for the landings later in the month. They drop a daily average of 450 tons of bombs over the course of 15 days (6800 tons).
1946 – A press conference for what is considered the first computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC), was held at the University of Pennsylvania. The machine took up an entire room, weighed 30 tons and used more than 18,000 vacuum tubes to perform functions such as counting to 5,000 in one second. ENIAC, costing $450,000, was designed by the U.S. Army during World War II to make artillery calculations. The development of ENIAC paved the way for modern computer technology–but even today’s average calculator possesses more computing power than ENIAC did. John Mauchley and John “Pres” Eckert supervised the project.
1951 – The third A-bomb tests were telecast for the 1st time and completed in the desert of Nevada.
1951 – Alfred Krupp & 28 other German war criminals were freed.
1951 – By a vote of 44 to 7, the United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution condemning the communist government of the People’s Republic of China for acts of aggression in Korea. It was the first time since the United Nations formed in 1945 that it had condemned a nation as an aggressor. In June 1950, communist forces from North Korea invaded South Korea in an attempt to unify the nation, which had been divided in 1945 when Soviet troops occupied the northern portion of the country and U.S. troops the southern in order to accept the surrender of Japanese forces in Korea. In late 1950, hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops crossed into North Korea to do battle with U.S. forces, which had earlier driven the invading North Korean forces out of South Korea. By 1951, the United States was deeply involved in Korea, having committed thousands of troops and millions of dollars in aid to South Korea. The General Assembly vote followed unsuccessful attempts by the U.S. delegation to the United Nations to have the Security Council take action against the Chinese. Exercising his nation’s veto power, the Soviet representative on the Security Council consistently blocked the U.S. effort. (The United States, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and Nationalist China had absolute veto power of any Security Council proposal.) Turning to the General Assembly, the U.S. delegation called for the United Nations to condemn communist China as an aggressor in Korea. The final vote fell largely along ideological lines, with the communist bloc nations of the Soviet Union, Byelorussia, Ukraine, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, joined by neutralists Burma and India, voting against the resolution. Despite the votes against it, the resolution passed, declaring that China was “engaged in aggression in Korea,” and asked that it “cause its forces and nationals in Korea to cease hostilities against the United Nations forces and to withdraw from Korea.” The action was largely symbolic, because many nations-including some that voted for the resolution-were reluctant to take more forceful action against the People’s Republic of China for fear that the conflict in Korea would escalate. While economic and political sanctions could have been brought against China, the United Nations decided to take no further action. The Korean War dragged on for two more bloody years, finally ending in a stalemate and cease-fire in 1953. By that time, over 50,000 U.S. troops had died in the conflict.
1951 – The 23rd Regimental Combat Team, of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, engaged the Chinese Communist Forces in the Battle of the Twin Tunnels, killing an estimated 1,300 Chinese. U.S. casualties included 45 killed, four missing and 207 wounded in action.
1955 – Operation Deep Freeze, a research task force, established in Antarctic.
1959 – Texas Instruments requested a patent for the IC (Integrated Circuit).
1958 – Elvis Presley records his last single, “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck,” before joining the army. Elvis had topped the charts eight times since April 1956, when “Heartbreak Hotel” hit No. 1. Drafted in 1958, Elvis enlisted in the army in March that year and served until 1960. When he joined the army, his monthly salary dropped from $100,000 to $78. Fortunately, his manager had already recorded enough material to keep Elvis singles on the charts during most of The King’s army service.
1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson rejected Charles de Gaulle’s plan for a neutral Vietnam.
1964 – U.S. and South Vietnamese naval forces initiate Operation Plan (Oplan) 34A, which calls for raids by South Vietnamese commandos, operating under American orders, against North Vietnamese coastal and island installations. Although American forces were not directly involved in the actual raids, U.S. Navy ships were on station to conduct electronic surveillance and monitor North Vietnamese defense responses under another program called Operation De Soto. The Oplan 34A attacks played a major role in events that led to what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. On August 2, 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats, responding to an Oplan 34A attack by South Vietnamese gunboats against the North Vietnamese island of Hon Me, attacked the destroyer USS Maddox which was conducting a De Soto mission in the area. Two days after the first attack, there was another incident that still remains unclear. The Maddox, joined by destroyer USS C. Turner Joy, engaged what were thought at the time to be more attacking North Vietnamese patrol boats. Although it was questionable whether the second attack actually happened, the incident provided the rationale for retaliatory air attacks against the North Vietnamese and the subsequent Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which became the basis for the initial escalation of the war in Vietnam, and ultimately the insertion of U.S. combat troops into the area.
1967 – Operation Prairie II was begun in Quang Tri province by elements of the 3d Marine Division. During the 46-day search-and-destroy operation which terminated 18 March, 93 Marines and 693 of the enemy were killed.
1968 – U.S. troops drove the North Vietnamese out of Tan Son Nhut airport in Saigon.
1968 – South Vietnam President Nguyen Van Thieu declared martial law.
1968 – During the Vietnam War, Saigon’s police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan executed a Viet Cong officer with a pistol shot to the head in a scene captured in a famous news photograph.
1971 – The three astronauts aboard the Apollo XIV overcame a difficult docking problem but faced a critical test to determine whether they could land on the moon.
1979 – The People’s Republic of China opened its 1st two American Consulates in San Francisco and Houston.
1979 – Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran in triumph after 15 years of exile. The shah and his family had fled the country two weeks before, and jubilant Iranian revolutionaries were eager to establish a fundamentalist Islamic government under Khomeini’s leadership. Born around the turn of the century, Ruhollah Khomeini was the son of an Islamic religious scholar and in his youth memorized the Qur’an. He was a Shiite–the branch of Islam practiced by a majority of Iranians–and soon devoted himself to the formal study of Shia Islam in the city of Qom. A devout cleric, he rose steadily in the informal Shiite hierarchy and attracted many disciples. In 1941, British and Soviet troops occupied Iran and installed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as the second modern shah of Iran. The new shah had close ties with the West, and in 1953 British and U.S. intelligence agents helped him overthrow a popular political rival. Mohammad Reza embraced many Western ideas and in 1963 launched his “White Revolution,” a broad government program that called for the reduction of religious estates in the name of land redistribution, equal rights for women, and other modern reforms. Khomeini, now known by the high Shiite title “ayatollah,” was the first religious leader to openly condemn the shah’s program of westernization. In fiery dispatches from his Faziye Seminary in Qom, Khomeini called for the overthrow of the shah and the establishment of an Islamic state. In 1963, Mohammad Reza imprisoned him, which led to riots, and on November 4, 1964, expelled him from Iran. Khomeini settled in An Najaf, a Shiite holy city across the border in Iraq, and sent home recordings of his sermons that continued to incite his student followers. Breaking precedence with the Shiite tradition that discouraged clerical participation in government, he called for Shiite leaders to govern Iran. In the 1970s, Mohammad Reza further enraged Islamic fundamentalists in Iran by holding an extravagant celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of the pre-Islamic Persian monarchy and replaced the Islamic calendar with a Persian calendar. As discontent grew, the shah became more repressive, and support for Khomeini grew. In 1978, massive anti-shah demonstrations broke out in Iran’s major cities. Dissatisfied members of the lower and middle classes joined the radical students, and Khomeini called for the shah’s immediate overthrow. In December, the army mutinied, and on January 16, 1979, the shah fled. Khomeini arrived in Tehran in triumph on February 1, 1979, and was acclaimed as the leader of the Iranian Revolution. With religious fervor running high, he consolidated his authority and set out to transform Iran into a religious state. On November 4, 1979, the 15th anniversary of his exile, students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took the staff hostage. With Khomeini’s approval, the radicals demanded the return of the shah to Iran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. The shah died in Egypt of cancer in July 1980. In December 1979, a new Iranian constitution was approved, naming Khomeini as Iran’s political and religious leader for life. Under his rule, Iranian women were denied equal rights and required to wear a veil, Western culture was banned, and traditional Islamic law and its often-brutal punishments were reinstated. In suppressing opposition, Khomeini proved as ruthless as the shah, and thousands of political dissidents were executed during his decade of rule. In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran’s oil-producing province of Khuzestan. After initial advances, the Iraqi offense was repulsed. In 1982, Iraq voluntarily withdrew and sought a peace agreement, but Khomeini renewed fighting. Stalemates and the deaths of thousands of young Iranian conscripts in Iraq followed. In 1988, Khomeini finally agreed to a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. After the Ayatollah Khomeini died on June 3, 1989, more than two million anguished mourners attended his funeral. Gradual democratization began in Iran in early the 1990s, culminating in a free election in 1997 in which the moderate reformist Mohammed Khatami was elected president.
1984 – President Reagan orders the withdrawal of US Marines from Beirut. They will be fully withdrawn by 26 February.
1996 – Both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly to rewrite the 61-year-old Communications Act, freeing the exploding television, telephone and home computer industries to jump into each other’s fields.
1998 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls for an increase in the amount of oil Iraq can sell under the U.N.-sponsored oil-for-food program. Annan recommends raising the sales limit from $2.14billion every six months to $5.2 billion.
1998 – Rear Admiral Lillian E. Fishburne becomes the first female African American to be promoted to rear admiral.
1999 – The Morse code SOS was officially retired and replaced by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.
2000 – US House members voted to strengthen military ties with Taiwan with a 341-70 vote in favor of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.
2001 – In Ecuador Ronald Clay Sander (54), an oil technician from Missouri, was found shot to death. He had been kidnapped in October and 7 more hostages were still held.
2002 – Daniel Pearl, American journalist and South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, kidnapped January 23, 2002, is beheaded and mutilated by his captors.
2003 – Space shuttle Columbia broke apart in flames over Texas, killing all 7 astronauts just 16 minutes before they were supposed to glide to ground in Florida. The astronauts included Michael P. Anderson (b.1959), David M. Brown (b.1956), Laurel Clark (b.1962), Kalpana Chawla (b.1962), Rick Husband (b.1957), William C. McCool (b.1961) and Ilan Ramon (b.1954). An explosion in the wheel well under the left wing was later suspected as the cause.
2003 – In Colombia leftist guerrillas freed an American photographer and a British reporter.
2012 – The London Times reports that a secret NATO report claims that the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, is set to regain control over Afghanistan after international forces withdraw from the country.
2013 – A suicide bombing outside the U.S. embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, kills at least two people.
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