1566 – St. Augustine, Florida, was established.
1635 – The oldest public school in the United States, the Boston Public Latin School, was founded.
1741 – Andrew Bradford of Pennsylvania published the first American magazine. Titled “The American Magazine, or A Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies.” Bradford introduced his American Magazine just days before Benjamin Franklin founded his periodical called General Magazine in Philadelphia. Bradford’s survived 3 months while Franklin’s survived for 6 months.
1766 – Pennsylvania agent Benjamin Franklin testifies before Parliament against the Stamp Act. He cites the heavy cost borne by the colonies during the French and Indian War with minimum compensation from England and continuing colonial expenditures on military expeditions against the Natives. Franklin also notes that the colonial assemblies lack sufficient specie to pay for the use of the stamps required in expediting the business of the government. In addition Franklin offers a distinction between internal and external taxation, warns that the use of military power to enforce the Stamp Act might lead to open revolt, and concludes by advocating the repeal of the Stamp Act.
1795 – The University of North Carolina became the first U.S. state university to admit students with the arrival of Hinton James, who was the only student on campus for two weeks.
1819 – In Congress, the Missouri Bill is introduced. It would allow the Missouri Territory to draft a constitution and prepare for statehood. James Talmadge of New York proposes two anti-slavery amendments. One would ban the further introduction of slavery. The other would emancipate the children of slaves in Missouri, born after the admission of the territory as a state, at the age of 25. The amendments pass the House on 17 February, but fail in the Senate on 27 February.
1831 – Union General John Rawlins is born in Galena, Illinois. Rawlins was a close personal aide to General Ulysses S. Grant and was reported to have kept Grant from drinking heavily during the war. Rawlins’ family was originally from Virginia but had settled in Illinois shortly before Rawlins’ birth. When Rawlins was a teenager, his father abandoned the family and headed for the gold fields of California. The younger Rawlins received little formal education, but he studied law and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1854. He became the city attorney in 1857 and became involved in state politics. He was an avid supporter of Senator Stephen Douglas and served as an elector for Douglas in 1860. When the war began, Rawlins became the aide de camp to Grant. He was Grant’s principle staff officer throughout the war, and Grant said that Rawlins was nearly indispensable. Grant was known to be a heavy drinker when he served on the frontier in the 1850s, and there were rumors that he continued to drink during the early stages of the war. Rawlins appears to have been instrumental in keeping Grant from imbibing during the Civil War. After the war, Rawlins served in the west. He helped General Greenville Dodge survey the route for the Union Pacific Railroad, which later became part of the first transcontinental line. For his efforts, the town of Rawlins, Wyoming, was named after him. When Grant became president in 1869, Rawlins became secretary of war. His health declined after taking office, and he died just six months later. Rawlins is buried in Arlington Cemetery.
1833 – William Whedbee Kirkland (d.1915), Brig Gen (Confederate Army), was born.
1847 – General Kearney acts on orders to establish a new government in Monterey while Freemont still acts a governor in Los Angeles.
1854 – Admiral Perry anchors off Yokosuka, Japan to receive Emperor’s reply to treaty proposal. This agreement, forced on the Tokugawa shogunate by Commodore Perry’s menacing “black ships,” ended over two centuries of virtual exclusion (the exception being the Dutch) of foreign traders from the coast of Japan. The intrusion of the U.S. in the first place derived from the ill-treatment accorded American whaling crews when shipwrecked off the coast or landing for provisions or repairs. The treaty fully satisfied the U.S. government’s concerns in this regard but left to the future the equally important matter of opening the country to foreign trade; concluded in 1858 with the signing of the Harris treaty. Perry’s great achievement was widely recognized at the time. Perhaps there is no better praise for this naval veteran of 45 years’ service than the collective memorial sent by the American merchants at Canton to the Commodore in Sept. 1854 on his return trip to the U.S.: “You have conquered the obstinate will of man and, by overturning the cherished policy of an empire, have brought an estranged but culturated people into the family of nations. You have done this without violence, and the world has looked on with admiration to see the barriers of prejudice fall before the flag of our country without the firing of a shot.”
1862 – The four day Battle of Fort Donelson, Tennessee, begins. After capturing Fort Henry on February 6, 1862, Grant advanced cross-country to invest Fort Donelson. The original garrison of the two forts was about 2,500 men, and Albert Johnston had dispatched about 12,000 reinforcements from Bowling Green, KY, under John Floyd to bolster the defense. A few men also arrived from Columbus, the western end of the Confederate defensive line. Grant had wanted to move fast, to prevent reinforcements arriving at all, but wretched weather (rain before and during his operations ruined the roads) delayed him and the Confederate troops arrived safely. Fort Donelson was a much stronger work than Fort Henry, larger, with a stronger garrison, about 100 feet above the river (so it had plunging fire on ships), and on a ridge which narrowed routes for infantry attack. The Confederates had a strong line on the next ridge outwards from the fort, with each of the Generals commanding a sector while Floyd (the senior) also had overall command. Grant deployed two divisions in line, with a third arriving. On the 12th, despite orders not to, McClernand had one of his brigades probe the Confederate defenses. They charged two or three times and found the defenses strong and well manned: Union losses were heavy. Grant had intended simply to surround the fort and have the Navy batter it into submission.
1865 – The Confederacy approved the recruitment of slaves as soldiers, as long as the approval of their owners was gained.
1887 – Alvin York, famed US soldier with 25 kills in WW I, was born.
1891 – David Dixon Porter (77), US rear admiral (Union), died.
1913 – Naval Radio Station, Arlington, VA begins operations.
1920 – The League of Nations recognized the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.
1923 – Chuck Yeager is born. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager grew up in Myra, on the Mud River in West Virgina. His dirt-poor youth was filled with hillbilly themes that sound romantic today, but probably weren’t much fun at the time: making moonshine, eating cornmeal mush three times a day, shooting squirels for dinner, chasing rats out of the kitchen, going barefoot all summer, butchering hogs, and stealing watermelons. At an early age Chuck could do well at anything requiring manual dexterity or math: ping-pong, shooting, auto mechanics. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps when he graduated from Hamlin High School in 1941, and became an airplane mechanic. He hated flying, after throwing up his first time in the air. But when the chance came to become a “Flying Sergeant,” with three stripes and no K.P., he applied, and was accepted. His good cordination, mechanical abilities, and excellent memory enabled him to impress his instructors in flight training. Assigned to the 363rd Fighter Squadron, of the 357th Fighter Group, he moved up to P-39s with the squadron at Tonopah, Nevada. The 357th FG shipped out for Europe in winter of 1943-44, and began operations in February, 1944, the first P-51 equipped unit in the Eighth Air Force. Yeager shot down his first Messerschmitt on his seventh mission (one of the early Mustang missions over Berlin), and the next day, March 5, three FW-190s caught him and shot him down. He bailed out over occupied France, being careful to delay pulling his ripcord until he had fallen far enough to avoid getting strafed by the German fighters. Ike decided to allow Yeager to return to combat in the summer of 1944, which he did with a vengence, now flying a P-51D nicknamed Gorgeous Glennis, gaudily decorated in the red-and-yellow trim of the 357th. At first, the pickings were slim, as the German fliers seemed to be laying low. He flew in a four plane division with Bud Anderson and Don Bochkay, two other double aces. On September 18, he flew in support of the Market Garden glider drops over Arnhem, but couldn’t do much to stop the appalling slaughter of the C-47s. By this time, he had been promoted to Lieutenant, a commissioned officer. Yeager became an ‘ace-in-a-day’ on October 12, leading a bomber escort over Bremen. As he closed in on one Bf-109, the pilot broke left and collided with his wingman; both bailed out, giving Yeager credit for two victories without firing a shot. In a sharp dogfight, Yeager’s vision, flying skills, and gunnery gave him three more quick kills. He flew his last “combat” mission in January, 14 1945. After WW2, Chuck Yeager was assigned to be a test pilot at Muroc Field in California. The Army had developed a small, bullet-shaped aircraft, the Bell X-1, to challenge the sound barrier. A civilian pilot, Slick Goodlin, had taken the Bell X-1 to .7 Mach, when Yeager started to fly it. He pushed the small plane up to .8, .85, and then to .9 Mach. The date of Oct. 14, 1947 was set for the attempt to do Mach 1. Only a slight problem developed. Two nights before, after an evening at Pancho’s, Chuck and Glennis went out horseback riding, Chuck was thrown, and broke two ribs on his right side. He couldn’t have reported this to the Army doctors; they might have given the flight to someone else. So Yeager taped up his ribs and did his best to keep up appearances. On the day of the flight, it became apparent that, with his injured right side, he wouldn’t be able to shut the door of the Bell X-1. In the plane’s tiny cockpit; he could only use his (useless) right hand. He confessed his problem to Ridley, the flight engineer. In a stroke of genius, Ridley sawed off a short piece of broomstick handle; using it with his left hand, Yeager was able to get enough leverage to slam the door shut. And that day, Chuck Yeager became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound. Through the 1950’s and 60’s, Yeager continued his successful career as an Air Force officer and test pilot. One of the planes he tested in 1963 was the NF-104, an F-104 with a rocket over the tailpipe, an airplane which theoretically could climb to over 120,000 feet. Yeager made the first three flights of the NF-104. On the fourth, he planned to exceed the magic 100,000 foot level. He cut in the rocket boosters at 60,000 feet and it roared upwards. He gets up to 104,000 feet before trouble set in. The NF-104’s nose wouldn’t go down. It went into a flat spin and tumbled down uncontrollably. At 21,000 feet, Yeager desperately popped the tail parachute rig, which briefly righted the attitude of the plane. But the nose promptly rose back up and the NF-104 began spinning again. It was hopeless. At 7,000 feet Yeager ejected. He got tangled up with his seat and leftover rocket fuel, which burnt him horribly. He hit the ground in great pain and his face blackened and burned, but standing upright with his chute rolled up and his helmet in his arm when the rescue helicopter arrived. He went to Vietnam as commander of the 405th Fighter Wing in 1966 and flew 127 combat missions, and eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier General. In February 1968, he took command of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., and in February 1968, led its deployment to Korea during the Pueblo crisis. In July 1969, he became vice commander of the 17th Air Force, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and then, in January 1971, he was assigned as U.S. defense representative to Pakistan. On June 1, 1973, he commenced his final active duty assignment as director of the AF Safety and Inspection Center at Norton Air Force Base, Calif. After a 34-year military career, he retired on March 1, 1975. At the time of his retirement, he had flown more than 10,000 hours in more than 330 different types and models of aircraft. In 1986, Yeager was appointed to the Presidential Commission investigating the Challenger accident.
1929 – Congress passes the Cruiser Act authorizing the construction of 19 new cruisers and 1 aircraft carrier.
1936 – The first social security checks were put in the mail.
1942 – The official cancellation of Operation Sea Lion– the invasion of Britain — is announced. Previously it had merely been postponed.
1943 – The U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was formed. On June 7, 1946, Commandant of the Marine Corps General Alexander A. Vandegrift approved the retention of a small number of women on active duty. They would serve as a trained nucleus for possible mobilization emergencies. The demobilization of the Marine Corps Womens Reserve, 17,640 enlisted and 820 officers, was to be completed by Sept. 1, 1946. Of the 20,000 women who joined the Marine Corps during World War II, only 1,000 remained in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve by July 1, 1946. Colonel Ruth Cheney Streeter recommended the position of director of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve be strengthened and placed directly under the office of the commandant. On June 12, 1948, Congress passed legislation giving women regular military status, placing them on a par with their male counterparts in the U.S. armed forces.
1945 – First naval units enter Manila Bay since 1942. US Navy forces begin operations in Manila Bay, clearing minefields and shelling landing grounds. Corregidor is bombarded. In the ground fighting, the US 11th Airborne Division takes Cavite and completes the capture of Nichols Field.
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).
1945 – Hundreds of British bombers loaded with incendiaries and high-explosive bombs descend on Dresden, a historic city located in eastern Germany. Before the massive air raid of February 1945 it had not suffered a major Allied attack. By February 15, the city was a smoldering ruin and an unknown number of civilians–somewhere between 35,000 and 135,000–were dead. At Yalta. Churchill and Roosevelt, promised Stalin the bombing campaign against eastern Germany in preparation for the advancing Soviet forces would continue. Before World War II, Dresden was called “the Florence of the Elbe” and was regarded as one the world’s most beautiful cities for its architecture and museums. Although no German city remained isolated from Hitler’s war machine, Dresden’s contribution to the war effort was minimal compared with other German cities. In February 1945, refugees fleeing the Russian advance in the east took refuge there. As Hitler had thrown much of his surviving forces into a defense of Berlin in the north, city defenses were minimal, and the Russians would have had little trouble capturing Dresden. It seemed an unlikely target for a major Allied air attack. On the night of February 13, hundreds of RAF bombers descended on Dresden in two waves, dropping their lethal cargo indiscriminately over the city. The city’s air defenses were so weak that only six Lancaster bombers were shot down. By the morning, some 800 British bombers had dropped 1,478 tons of high-explosive bombs and 1,182 tons of incendiaries on Dresden, creating a great firestorm that destroyed most of the city and killed numerous civilians. Later that day, as survivors made their way out of the smoldering city, over 300 U.S. bombers began bombing Dresden’s railways, bridges, and transportation facilities, killing thousands more. On February 15, another 200 U.S. bombers continued their assault on the city’s infrastructure. All told, the bombers of the U.S. Eighth Air Force dropped 954 tons of high-explosive bombs and 294 tons of incendiaries on Dresden. Later, the Eighth Air Force would drop 2,800 more tons of bombs on Dresden in three other attacks before the war’s end. The Allies claimed that by bombing Dresden, they were disrupting important lines of communication that would have hindered the Soviet offensive. Because there were an unknown number of refugees in Dresden at the time of the Allied attack, it is impossible to know exactly how many civilians perished. After the war, investigators from various countries, and with varying political motives, calculated the number of civilians killed to be as little as 8,000 to more than 200,000. Estimates today range from 35,000 to 135,000.
1951 – At the Battle of Chipyong-ni, in Korea, U.N. troops contain the Chinese forces’ offensive in a four-day battle. Three CCF divisions surrounded UN troops, including members of the U.S. 23rd Regimental Combat Team and the French Battalion, at a crucial road junction at Chipyong-ni in central Korea. Twenty C-119s dropped supplies at night over a zone marked by burning gasoline-soaked rags. The surrounded troops held out until relieved by a friendly armored column. The 315th AD airlifted more than 800 sick and wounded U.S. troops from forward airstrips such as that at Wonju to Taegu and Pusan. This airlift used so many C-47s that they were not available for other airlift demands.
1953 – Senator Joseph McCarthy states that President Eisenhower’s foreign policy is being subverted by the Voice of America radio network.
1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson decides to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam that he and his advisers have been contemplating for a year. Earlier in the month, the president had ordered Operation Flaming Dart in response to communist attacks on U.S. installations in South Vietnam. These retaliatory raids did not have the desired effect of causing the North Vietnamese to cease support of Viet Cong forces in South Vietnam, and out of frustration, Johnson turned to a more extensive use of airpower. Called Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing campaign was designed to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of North Vietnam and slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. The first Rolling Thunder mission took place on March 2, 1965, when 100 U.S. Air Force and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) planes struck the Xom Bang ammunition dump 100 miles southeast of Hanoi. In July 1966, Rolling Thunder was expanded to include North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities, and in the spring of 1967, it was further expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi-Haiphong area.Operation Rolling Thunder was closely controlled by the White House and at times targets were personally selected by President Johnson. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson, under increasing domestic political pressure, halted it on October 31, 1968.
1968 – As an emergency measure in response to the 1968 communist Tet Offensive, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara approves the deployment of 10,500 troops to cope with threats of a second offensive. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had argued against dispatching any reinforcements at the time because it would seriously deplete the strategic reserve, immediately sent McNamara a memorandum asking that 46,300 reservists and former servicemen be activated. Not wanting to test public opinion on what would no doubt be a controversial move, Johnson consigned the issue of the reservists to “study.” Ultimately, he decided against a large-scale activation of the reserve forces.
1968 – Operation Coronado XI begins in Mekong Delta.1971 – 12,000 South Vietnamese troops crossed into Laos.
1972 – “1776” closed at 46th St Theater NYC after 1,217 performances.
1972 – Enemy attacks, in Vietnam, declined for the third day as the U.S. continued its intensive bombing strategy.
1989 – The judge in the Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North sent the jury home amid a continuing disagreement between the prosecution and defense over protecting classified materials.
1990 – At a conference in Ottawa, the United States and its European allies forged agreement with the Soviet Union and East Germany on a two-stage formula to reunite Germany.
1991 – Two Coast Guard HU-25A Falcon jets from Air Station Cape Cod, equipped with AIREYE technology depart for Saudi Arabia for the Inter-agency oil spill assessment team use. They were accompanied in flight by two C-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater carrying parts and deployment packages.
1995 – The Hague War Crimes Tribunal indicted 21 Serbs for atrocities against Croats and Muslims interned in a Bosnian prison camp. Zeljko Meakic, Bosnian Serb police officer, was charged with commanding the Serb Omarska camp in northwest Bosnia. Dusan Tadic, Bosnian Serb cafe owner, was charged for visiting Serb-run camps to beat and kill non-Serb inmates.
1997 – Discovery’s astronauts hauled the Hubble Space Telescope aboard the shuttle for a one billion mile tune up to allow it to peer even deeper into the far reaches of the universe.
1999 – Pres. Clinton announced that he would send some 4,000 troops to Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping force if warring Serbs and ethnic Albanians reached a political settlement.
2001 – In Hawaii 2 Army Blackhawk helicopters crashed and 6 soldiers were killed.
2002 – Pres. Bush welcomed Pres. Musharraf to the White House. Musharraf sought a revival of arms deals and relaxed tariffs on textiles. The Bush administration agreed to $142 million in trade benefits.
2002 – John Walker Lindh pleaded innocent in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to conspiring to kill Americans and supporting the Taliban and terrorist organizations.
2002 – In Pakistan Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (28), Islamic militant, said he believed WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl was dead. Sheikh said Pearl was shot and killed during a failed escape attempt on Jan 31.
2002 – In Yemen Sameer Mohammed Ahmed al-Hada (25), an al Qaeda fugitive, died as troops closed in and a hand grenade exploded in his hand. Family members were also linked to al-Qaeda.
2002 – Iraq says that it will not allow United Nations arms inspectors to return to Iraq. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan states, “There is no need for the spies of the [U.N.] inspection teams to return to Iraq since Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction.” The United States has hinted that actions may be taken against the Iraqi government if U.N. arms inspectors are not allowed to return.
2003 – American Special Forces were reported to be in various parts of Iraq for what seemed to be the initial phases of a ground war.
2003 – US and British warplanes have struck an Iraqi surface-to-surface missile system located near Basra in southern Iraq that had been moved into striking range of US troops in Kuwait for the second time in two days.
2003 – A team of international missile experts conclude that an Iraqi ballistic missile program is in clear violation of UN mandates prohibiting Iraq from building medium and long-range missiles.
2003 – An investigative panel found that superheated air almost certainly seeped through a breach in space shuttle Columbia’s left wing and possibly its wheel compartment during the craft’s fiery descent, resulting in the deaths of all seven astronauts.
2004 – In Qatar Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev (51), Chechnya’s exiled former president, was assassinated when a bomb blew apart his car as he left a mosque with his teenage son (13). He was wanted by Russia for terrorism and ties to al-Qaida.
2004 – It was reported that police in Mauritania had arrested of five suspected members of Afghanistan’s Taliban movement.
2005 – Results from Iraq’s elections were released and showed that majority Shiite Muslims won 48% of the votes, giving the long-oppressed group significant power but not enough to form a government on its own.
2006 – Saddam Hussein is forced to attend the latest session of his trial, wearing a traditional Islamic robe rather than his usual crisp suit, as he shouted “Down with Bush.”
2008 – The United States Senate passes legislation to ban the Central Intelligence Agency from using certain interrogation methods including waterboarding, while at the same time still declining to define ‘torture’.
2010 – Operation Moshtarak, the first coalition operation lead by Afghan forces, to take out a Taliban stronghold near the village of Marjah, began. Involving 15,000 US, British, and Afghan troops, it is the largest joint operation since the 2001 invasion.
2011 – For the first time in more than 100 years the Umatilla, an American Indian tribe, are able to hunt and harvest a bison just outside Yellowstone National Park, restoring a centuries-old tradition guaranteed by a treaty signed in 1855.
2014 – Afghanistan releases 65 prisoners from the Parwan Detention Facility despite concerns by the United States that the men were responsible for attacks on NATO and Afghan forces.
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