1639 – In Hartford, Connecticut, the first constitution in the American colonies, the “Fundamental Orders,” is adopted by representatives of Wethersfield, Windsor, and Hartford. The Dutch discovered the Connecticut River in 1614, but English Puritans from Massachusetts largely accomplished European settlement of the region. During the 1630s, they flocked to the Connecticut valley from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and in 1638 representatives from the three major Puritan settlements in Connecticut met to set up a unified government for the new colony. Roger Ludlow, a lawyer, wrote much of the Fundamental Orders, and presented a binding and compact frame of government that put the welfare of the community above that of individuals. It was also the first written constitution in the world to declare the modern idea that “the foundation of authority is in the free consent of the people.” In 1662, the Charter of Connecticut superseded the Fundamental Orders; though the majority of the original document’s laws and statutes remained in force until 1818.
1741 – Benedict Arnold was born in Norwich, Connecticut; died in London, England, 14 June, 1801. His ancestor, William Arnold (born in Leamington, Warwickshire, in 1587), came to Providence in 1636, and was associated with Roger Williams as one of the fifty-four proprietors in the first settlement of Rhode island. His son Benedict moved to Newport, and was governor of the colony from 1663 to 1666, 1669 to 1672, 1677 to 1678, when he died. His son Benedict was a member of the assembly in 1695. His son Benedict, third of that name, moved to Norwich in 1730; was cooper, ship-owner, and sea-captain, town surveyor, collector, assessor, and selectman. He married, 8 Nov., 1733, Hannah, daughter of John Waterman, widow of Absalom King. Of their six children, only Benedict and Hannah lived to grow up. Benedict received a respectable school education, including some knowledge of Latin. He was romantic and adventurous, excessively proud and sensitive, governed rather by impulse than by principle. He was noted for physical strength and beauty, as well as for bravery. He possessed immense capacity both for good and for evil, and circumstances developed him in both directions. At the age of fifteen he ran away from home and enlisted in the Connecticut army, marching to Albany and Lake George to resist the French invasion; but, getting weary of discipline, he deserted and made his way home alone through the wilderness. He was employed in a drug shop at Norwich until 1762, when he moved to New Haven and established himself in business as druggist and bookseller. He acquired a considerable property, and engaged in the West India trade, sometimes commanding his own ships, as his father had done. He also carried on trade with Canada, and often visited Quebec. On 22 Feb., 1767, he married Margaret, daughter of Samuel Mansfield. They had three sons, Benedict, Richard, and Henry. She died 19 June, 1775. On one of his voyages, being at Honduras, he fought a duel with a British sea-captain who called him a “Damn Yankee”; the captain was wounded and apologized. He occasionally visited England. At noon of 20 April, 1775, the news of the Battle of Lexington reached New Haven, and Arnold, who was captain of the governor’s guards, about 60 in number, assembled them on the college green and offered to lead them to Boston. Gen. Wooster thought he had better wait for regular orders, and the selectmen refused to supply ammunition; but, upon Arnold’s threatening’ to break into the magazine, the selectmen yielded and furnished the ammunition, and the company marched to Cambridge. Arnold immediately proposed the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and the plan was approved by Dr. Warren, chairman of the Committee of Safety. Arnold was commissioned as colonel by the provincial congress of Massachusetts, and directed to raise 400 men in the western counties and surprise the forts. The same scheme had been entertained in Connecticut, and troops from that colony and from Berkshire, with a number of “Green Mountain Boys,” had already started for the lakes under command of Ethan Allen. On meeting them Arnold claimed the command, but when it was refused he joined the expedition as a volunteer and entered Ticonderoga side by side with Allen. A few days later Arnold captured St. John’s. Massachusetts asked Connecticut to put him in command of these posts, but Connecticut preferred Allen. Arnold returned to Cambridge early in July, proposed to Washington the expedition against Quebec by way of the Kennebec and Chaudiere rivers, and was placed in command of 1,100 men and started from Cambridge 11 Sept. The enterprise, which was as difficult and dangerous as Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps, was conducted with consummate ability, but was nearly ruined by the misconduct of Col. Enos, who deserted and returned to Massachusetts with 200 men and the greater part of the provisions. After frightful hardships, to which 200 more men succumbed, on 13 Nov., the little army climbed the heights of Abraham. As Arnold’s force was insufficient to storm the city, and the garrison would not come out to fight, he was obliged to await the arrival of Montgomery, who had just taken Montreal. In the great assault of 31 Dec., in which Montgomery was slain, Arnold received a wound in the leg. For his gallantry he was now made brigadier-general. He kept up the siege of Quebec till the following April, when Wooster arrived and took command. Arnold was put in command of Montreal. The British, being now heavily reinforced, were able to drive the Americans from Canada, and early in June Arnold effected a junction with Gates at Ticonderoga. During the summer he was busily occupied in building a fleet with which to oppose and delay the advance of the British up Lake Champlain. On 11 Oct. he fought a terrible naval battle near Valcour Island, in which he was defeated by the overwhelming superiority of the enemy in number of ships and men; but he brought away part of his flotilla and all his surviving troops in safety to Ticonderoga, and his resistance had been so obstinate that it discouraged Gen. Carleton, who retired to Montreal for the winter. This relief of Ticonderoga made it possible to send 3,000 men from the northern army to the aid of Washington, and thus enabled that commander to strike his great blows at Trenton and Princeton. Among Allen’s men concerned in the capture of Ticonderoga in the preceding year was Lieut. John Brown, of Pittsfield, who on that occasion had some difficulty with Arnold. Brown now brought charges against Arnold of malfeasance while in command at Montreal, with reference to exactions of private property for the use of the army. The charges were investigated by the board of war, which pronounced them “cruel and groundless” and entirely exonerated Arnold, and the report was confirmed by congress. Nevertheless, some members of the congress found common ground in hostility toward Arnold. Gates had already begun to intrigue against General Schuyler, and Charles Lee had done his best to ruin Washington. The cabal or faction that afterward took its name from Conway was already forming. Arnold was conspicuous as an intimate friend of Schuyler and Washington, and their enemies began by striking at him. This petty persecution of the commander-in-chief by slighting and insulting his favorite officers was kept up until the last year of the war, and such men as Greene, Morgan, and Stark were almost driven from the service by it. On 19 Feb., 1777, congress appointed five new major-generals–Stirling, Mifflin, St. Claire, Stephen, and Lincoln–thus passing over Arnold, who was the senior brigadier. None of these officers had rendered services at all comparable to his, and, coming as it did so soon after his heroic conduct on Lake Champlain, this action of congress naturally incensed him. He behaved very well, however, and expressed his willingness to serve under the men lately his juniors, while at the same time he requested congress to restore him to his relative rank. The last week in April 2,000 British troops under Gov. Tryon invaded Connecticut and destroyed the military stores at Danbury. They were opposed by Wooster with 600 men, and a skirmish ensued, in which that general was slain. By this time Arnold, who was at New Haven, on a visit to his family, arrived on the scene with several hundred militia, and there was a desperate fight at Ridgefield, in which Arnold had two horses shot from under him. The British were driven to their ships, and narrowly escaped capture. Arnold was now promoted to the rank of major-general and presented by congress with a fine horse, but his relative rank was not restored. While he was at Philadelphia inquiring into the reasons for the injustice that had been done him, the country was thrown into consternation by the news of Burgoyne’s advance and the fall of Ticonderoga. At Washington’s suggestion, Arnold again joined the northern army, and by a brilliant stratagem dispersed the army of St. Leger, which, in cooperation with Burgoyne, was coming down the Mohawk valley, and had laid siege to Fort Stanwix. After Schuyler had been superseded by Gates, Arnold was placed in command of the left wing of the army on Bemis heights. In the battle of 19 Sept., at Freeman’s farm, he frustrated Burgoyne’s attempt to turn the American left, and held the enemy at bay till nightfall. If properly reinforced by Gates, he would probably have inflicted a crushing defeat upon Burgoyne. But Gates, who had already begun to dislike him as a friend of Schuyler, was enraged by his criticisms on the battle of Freeman’s farm, and sought to wreak his spite by withdrawing from his division some of its best troops. This gave rise to a fierce quarrel. Arnold asked permission to return to Philadelphia, and Gates granted it. But many officers, knowing that a decisive battle was imminent, and feeling no confidence in Gates, entreated Arnold to remain, and he did so. Gates issued no order directly superseding him, but took command of the left wing in person, giving the right wing to Lincoln. At the critical moment of the decisive battle of 7 Oct., Arnold rushed upon the field without orders, and in a series of magnificent charges broke through the British lines and put them to flight. The credit of this great victory, which secured for us the alliance with France, is due chiefly to Arnold, and in a less degree to Morgan. Gates was not on the field, and deserves no credit whatever. Just at the close of the battle Arnold was severely wounded in the leg that had been hurt at Quebec. He was carried on a litter to Albany, and remained there disabled until spring. On 20 Jan., 1778, he received from congress an antedated commission restoring him to his original seniority in the army. On 19 June, as he was still too lame for field service, Washington put him in command of Philadelphia, which the British had just evacuated. The Tory sentiment in that city was strong, and had been strengthened by disgust at the alliance with France, a feeling which Arnold seems to have shared. He soon became engaged to a Tory lady, Margaret, daughter of Edward Shippen, afterward chief justice of Pennsylvania. She was celebrated for her beauty, wit, and nobility of character. During the next two years Arnold associated much with the Tories, and his views of public affairs were no doubt influenced by this association. He lived extravagantly, and became involved in debt. He got into quarrels with many persons, especially with Joseph Reed, president of the executive council of the state. These troubles wrought upon him until he made up his mind to resign his commission, obtain a grant of land in central New York, settle it with some of his old soldiers, and end his days in rural seclusion. His request was favorably entertained by the New York legislature, but a long list of charges now brought against him by Reed drove the scheme from his mind. The charges were investigated by a committee of congress, and on all those that affected his integrity he was acquitted. Two charges — first, of having once in a hurry granted a pass in which some due forms were overlooked, and, secondly, of having once used some public wagons, which were standing idle, for saving private property in danger from the enemy–were proved against him; but the committee thought these things too trivial to notice, and recommended an unqualified verdict of acquittal. Arnold then, considering himself vindicated, resigned his command of Philadelphia. But as Reed now represented that further evidence was forthcoming, congress referred the matter to another committee, which shirked the responsibility through fear of offending Pennsylvania, and handed the affair over to a court-martial. Arnold clamored for a speedy trial, but Reed succeeded in delaying it several months under pretence of collecting evidence. On 26 Jan., 1780, the court-martial rendered its verdict, which agreed in every particular with that of the committee of congress; but for the two trivial charges proved against Arnold, it was decided that he should receive a reprimand from the commander-in-chief. Washington, who considered Arnold the victim of persecution, couched the reprimand in such terms as to convert it into eulogy, and soon afterward offered Arnold the highest command under himself in the northern army for the next campaign. But Arnold in an evil hour had allowed himself to be persuaded into the course that has blackened his name forever. Three years had elapsed since Saratoga, and the fortunes of the Americans, instead of improving, had grown worse and worse. France had as yet done but little for us, our southern army had been annihilated, our paper money had become worthless, our credit abroad had hardly begun to exist. Even Washington wrote that “he had almost ceased to hope.” The army, clad in rags, half-starved and unpaid, was nearly ripe for the mutiny that broke out a few months later, and desertions to the British lines averaged more than 100 a month. The spirit of desertion now seized upon Arnold, with whom the British commander had for some time tampered through the mediation of John Andre and an American loyalist, Beverley Robinson. Stung by the injustice he had suffered, and influenced by historic surroundings, Arnold made up his mind to play a part like that which Gen. Monk had played in the restoration of Charles II. to the British throne. By putting the British in possession of the Hudson river, he would give them all that they had sought to obtain by the campaigns of 1776-’77; and the American cause would thus become so hopeless that an opportunity would be offered for negotiation. Arnold was assured that Lord North would renew the liberal terms already offered in 1778, which conceded everything that the Americans had demanded in 1775. By rendering a cardinal service to the British, he might hope to attain a position of such eminence as to conduct these negotiations, end the war, and restore America to her old allegiance, with her freedom from parliamentary control guaranteed. In order to realize these ambitious dreams, Arnold resorted to the blackest treachery. In July, 1780, he sought and obtained command of West Point in order to surrender it to the enemy. When his scheme was detected by the timely capture of Andre, he fled to the British at New York, a disgraced and hated traitor. Instead of getting control of affairs, like Gen. Monk, he had sold himself cheaply, receiving a brigadier-general’s place in the British army and a paltry sum of money. In the spring of 1781 he conducted a plundering expedition into Virginia. In September of the same year he was sent to attack New London, in order to divert Washington from his southward march against Cornwallis. In the following winter he went with his wife to London, where he was well received by the king and the Tories, but frowned upon by the Whigs. In 1787 he moved to St. John’s, New Brunswick, and entered into mercantile business with his sons Richard and Henry. In 1791 he returned to London and settled there permanently. In 1792 he fought a bloodless duel with the earl of Landerdale, for a remark which the latter had made about him in tile House of Lords. His last years were embittered by remorse.
1766 – The English Parliament convenes and immediately begins to reconsider the repercussions of the Stamp Act. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Greenville advocates enforcement of the act by military force, while William Pitt supports the repeal of the Stamp Act, citing the principle of taxation without representation.
1784 – The United States ratified a peace treaty with England, the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War.
1860 -Unable to agree on anything else, the Committee of Thirty Three submits a proposed constitutional amendment protecting slavery in all areas where it already existed. The proposed measure was not enough to stem the tide of seceding states. After the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln as president in November 1860, the states of the south began to talk of secession. The Republican Party was committed to restricting slavery in the western territories, and southerners feared an eventual campaign to eradicate the institution entirely from the country. As the new administration prepared to take over, attempts were made by many politicians in Washington to alleviate southern fears. The House of Representatives appointed the Committee of Thirty Three, one from each state, to investigate avenues of compromise that would keep the South from seceding. Most of the compromises involved the Republicans forfeiting their plan to keep slavery out of the western territories. This was, however, the entire reason for the existence of the party. As a result, many northern Congressmen would not agree to any such move. Finally, on January 14, committee chair Thomas Corwin of Ohio submitted a plan calling for an amendment to protect slavery, enforce the fugitive slave laws, and repeal state personal liberty laws. In the 1850s, the South was increasingly concerned with slaves escaping to the North; the personal liberty laws made it difficult to get slaves back, and this was a motivating factor behind secession. South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama had already seceded by the time Corwin made his proposal. The plan died, and the nation continued on the road to war.
1861 – Union troops garrison Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida. In reaction to Florida’s secession, Capt. John Brannon occupied the fort, placing it in Union hands. Key West was an important outpost for the Union because numerous blockade-running ships were detained at Key West harbor and guarded by Fort Taylor’s cannons. The 10-inch Rodman and Columbiad cannons at the fort had a range of three miles. This was an impressive deterrent to the Confederate navy, preventing them from attempting to take the fort or the island of Key West. Proving to be a severe loss for the South, Fort Taylor remained in Union hands throughout the Civil War. By the time the three-story fort was finally finished in 1866 (21 years after it was begun), there were many impressive features included. Items such as sanitary facilities flushed by the tide and a desalination plant which produced drinking water from the sea were available as early as 1861. A total of 198 guns and a large supply of ammunition were on hand to secure the fort.
1864 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis writes to General Joseph E. Johnson, observing that troops may need to be sent to Alabama or Mississippi.
1861 – Union forces under General William T. Sherman occupy Meridian, Mississippi. His forces destroy supplies, bridges and railroads.
1891 -General Nelson Miles, commander of the U.S. Army troops in South Dakota, reports that the rebellious Sioux are finally returning to their reservation following the bloody massacre at Wounded Knee. Since the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, Miles fought to force resistant Indians all across the nation to give up their traditional ways and accept life on government-controlled reservations. His winter campaign in 1876-77 used force and diplomacy to win the surrender of many of the remnants of the Sioux and Cheyenne Indian party, including Crazy Horse and his followers, that had destroyed Custer’s forces in Montana. In 1877, Miles intercepted Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce people as they attempted to flee to Canada and Miles forced them to surrender. A decade later, he played a key role in convincing the last rebellious Apache warrior, Geronimo, to accept confinement on a Florida reservation. By 1890, Miles had good reason to believe that he had succeeded in bringing an end to the last remnants of Indian resistance in the United States. Therefore, it was with growing alarm and consternation that he received reports of the Ghost Dance movement among his old enemy, the Sioux, on their reservations in South Dakota. Primarily a spiritual movement, many Anglo-Americans felt threatened by the Ghost Dance because it promised that if the Sioux returned to their traditional ways their white oppressors would be eliminated. As commander of the vast military division of the Missouri, Miles was responsible for any threat posed by the Ghost Dance movement. He reacted by concentrating his troops near the Sioux reservation in South Dakota to maintain control of the situation while simultaneously working to find a peaceful way to diffuse the growing tensions. Unfortunately, Miles’ decision to order the arrest of the old Sioux leader, Sitting Bull, only exacerbated the situation when it resulted in the respected chief’s death. News of Sitting Bulls’ death fanned the fears of some Sioux that the army was preparing to wipe them out in a massive campaign of genocide. Hundreds fled the reservation, and Miles dutifully dispatched troops to bring them back. When the 7th Cavalry under Colonel James Forsyth attempted to disarm one band of Sioux near Wounded Knee on December 19, 1890, a brutal massacre erupted, which left nearly 150 Indians dead, many of them women and children. Had he actually been present at Wounded Knee that day (Miles commanded these events from his headquarters in Rapid City), the general might well have been able to resolve the confrontation peacefully. Miles viewed Wounded Knee as a foolish and avoidable blunder. Trying to salvage the situation, Miles increased both his military and diplomatic pressures. On January 14, 1891, the Sioux submitted to his authority and returned to their reservation. Nearly a quarter century after the Battle of Little Bighorn, the general had crushed the last significant Indian uprising in American history.
1895 – Employees of the trolley railroad in Brooklyn, New York go on strike. Riots ensue which are eventually suppressed by the New York and Brooklyn militias.
1911 – The USS Arkansas, the largest U.S. battleship, is launched from the yards of the New York Shipbuilding Company. A 26,000 ton Wyoming class battleship, she was built at Camden, New Jersey. Commissioned in September 1912, she spent her first seven years of service with the Atlantic Fleet. In 1913, Arkansas cruised in the Mediterranean, and in 1914 she participated in the U.S. intervention in Mexico. During July-December 1918, she operated with the British Grand Fleet as World War I approached and reached its conclusion. Transiting the Panama Canal in July 1919, Arkansas joined the Pacific Fleet, remaining there for two years before returning to the Atlantic. She carried Naval Academy midshipmen on cruises to Europe in 1923 and 1924, and to the west coast in 1925. After the latter voyage, the battleship underwent extensive modernization, receiving new oil-fired boilers, additional deck armor and a changed appearance, with only one smokestack and “basket” mast in place of the previous two of each. Through the next two decades, Arkansas primarily served in the Atlantic area, making annual Midshipmen’s cruises to Europe in 1929-31 and 1934-37. In 1932-34, she operated along the west coast on training operations, a mission that largely occupied her through the 1930s. After war broke out in Europe in 1939, Arkansas continued her training duties, and, as relations with Germany deteriorated, took part in “operations short of war”. In the summer of 1941, she escorted occupation forces to Iceland and was present when President Roosevelt met Prime Minister Churchill at the Atlantic Charter Conference. Once the United States formally entered the war in December 1941, Arkansas was employed escorting Atlantic convoys, as well as continuing her training work. An overhaul in March-June 1942 again changed her appearance, with a new tripod foremast replacing the previous “basket” type. Her combat experience began in June 1944, when she used her twelve-inch guns to support the Normandy invasion and in bombardments of German defenses at Cherbourg. In August, she participated in the invasion of Southern France. Arkansas went to the Pacific in November 1944 and crossed the ocean to the war zone early in the next year. In February-May 1945, she supported the conquests of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Once Japan had surrended, she transported veterans home from bases in the Pacific. By now thoroughly obsolete, the old battleship was assigned a final mission, to serve as a target ship for atomic bomb tests at Bikini, in the Marshalls. She survived the initial test, an air-burst, but was anchored in close proximity to the bomb used in the 25 July 1946 underwater shot. Arkansas was engulfed in the column of water driven up by the powerful blast and quickly sank. She remains on the bottom of Bikini Atoll to this day.
1920 – Caco insurrectionists were defeated in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
1940 – Eighteen members of the pro-Nazi Bund organization are arrested for conspiracy.
1942 – The United States and Great Britain agree to have the British Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. Joint Chiefs work together, either through meetings or representatives, to advise the leaders of both nations on military policy during the war. During the Arcadia Conference, which began on December 22, 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, D.C., to discuss a unified Anglo-American war strategy and a future peace. Toward this end, the Combined Chiefs of Staff was created. The British Chiefs of Staff, composed of the three service heads (army, navy, air force), and their U.S. counterparts, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were made into one office, with the Combined Staff Planners and the Combined Secretariat offering administrative support.
1942 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered all U.S. aliens to register with the government.
1942 – A small group of Japanese reinforcements lands near Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal, to prepare positions in that area to cover the planned evacuation.
1943 – Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt meet in Casablanca, Morocco, along with the Combined Chiefs of Staff, to discuss strategy and study the next phase of the war. This meeting marked the first time an American president left American soil during wartime. Participants also included leaders of the French government-in-exile, Gen. Charles de Gaulle and Gen. Henri Giraud, who were assured of a postwar united France. The success of the North Africa invasion, which resulted in the defeat of Vichy French forces, compelled President Roosevelt to meet with Prime Minister Churchill (Joseph Stalin, president and dictator of the USSR, declined an invitation to attend) to confer on how best to push forward an end to the war. Top priority was given to destroying German U-boat patrols in the Atlantic and launching combined bombing missions. Most important, in a controversial declaration, they announced that the Allies would accept only unconditional surrender from the Axis powers, a decision that caused consternation on all sides as too extreme and allowing too little room for political maneuvering. The meeting was kept secret–even by newspapers that knew about it–until the participants left Morocco on January 27.
1943 – World War II: Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the first President of the United States to travel by airplane while in office when he travels from Miami to Morocco to meet with Winston Churchill.
1944 – On New Britain, the fighting around the Cape Gloucester bridgehead continues. While the Japanese can score no positive success, they do manage to hold up the US advance.
1944 – The major rail unions accept terms suggested by President Roosevelt, avoiding a threatened strike. The railroads have, in fact, been run under the authority of Secretary of War Stimson since 27 December. They will be returned to private ownershipand operation on 18 January.
1945 – The US 1st Army achieves an advance 2 miles toward St. Vith in continuing attacks. British forces attacking southward from Laroche link up with elements of US 3rd Army advancing northwest from Bastogne
1945 – The US 8th Air Force resumes strategic operations after a month-long pause caused by the Battle of the Bulge. Some 600 B-17 and B-24 bombers strike oil targets and encounter heavy resistance from Luftwaffe fighters.
1950 – Ho Chi Minh declares that the only true legal government is his Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The Soviet Union and China extend recognition, and China will start supplying the Vietminh with modern weapons.
1951 – Chinese Communist forces reached their furthest extent of advance into South Korea with the capture of Wonju.
1953 – Fifth Air Force F-86 Sabres destroyed eight MiG-15s, the most since Sept. 4, 1952. Fighters and light bombers continued to pound Sinanju while B-29s hit the rail yard at Chonguyong-ni and an ore processing area at Kajanbaeji.
1960 – Elvis Presley was promoted to Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
1964 – Lt. Gen. William Westmoreland is appointed deputy to Gen. Paul Harkins, chief of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). It was generally accepted that Westmoreland would soon replace Harkins, whose insistently optimistic views on the progress of the war had increasingly come under criticism. On June 20, 1964, Harkins departed and Westmoreland did assume command of MACV. His initial task was to provide military advice and assistance to the government of South Vietnam. However, with the commitment of U.S. ground troops, General Westmoreland assumed the added responsibility of commanding America’s armed forces in combat in Vietnam. One of the Vietnam War’s most controversial figures, Westmoreland received many honors (including being named Time Man of the Year in 1965) when the fighting was going well, but many Americans blamed him for the problems in Vietnam when the war turned sour. Having provided continually optimistic reports about the war, Westmoreland came under particularly heavy criticism in 1968, when the communists launched the massive surprise Tet Offensive on January 30. In July 1968, Westmoreland was appointed Chief of Staff of the Army, and General Creighton W. Abrams Jr. replaced him as commander of MACV.
1968 – U.S. joint-service Operation Niagara is launched to support the U.S. Marine base at Khe Sanh. The Khe Sanh base was the westernmost anchor of a series of combat bases and strongholds that stretched from the Cua Viet River on the coast of the South China Sea westward along Route 9 to the Laotian border. Intelligence sources revealed that the North Vietnamese Army was beginning to build up its forces in the area surrounding Khe Sanh. Operation Niagara was a joint U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps air campaign launched in support of the marines manning the base. Using sensors installed along the nearby DMZ and reconnaissance flights to pinpoint targets, 24,000 tactical fighter-bomber sorties and 2,700 B-52 strategic bomber sorties were flown between the start of the operation and March 31, 1968, when it was terminated. This airpower played a major role in the successful defense of Khe Sanh when it came under attack on January 21 and was subsequently besieged for 66 days until finally broken on April 7.
1969 – 25 crew members of the U.S. aircraft carrier Enterprise were killed and 85 injured in an explosion that ripped through the ship off Hawaii.
1980 – In a diplomatic rebuke to the Soviet Union, the U.N. General Assembly votes 104 to 18 to “deplore” the Russian intervention in Afghanistan. The resolution also requested the “immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan.” The immense margin of victory for the resolution indicated the worldwide disapproval for the December 1979 Soviet invasion and installation of a pro-communist puppet regime in Afghanistan. The General Assembly’s resolution had no direct impact on the Soviet Union’s actions. Russia had earlier vetoed a similar resolution introduced in the Security Council. However, the size of the General Assembly vote and the nations that voted for the resolution indicated that Cold War world politics might be changing. Non-aligned nations (nations in the United Nations that claimed “non-alignment” with either the West or the communist bloc) and other Third World nations voted 78 to 9 in favor of the resolution (28 others abstained or were absent). Even the fiery rhetoric of the Cuban delegate (Cuba presided over the non-aligned nations) failed to sway many voters to defeat the proposal. “We know,” he declared, “the historic role of the Soviet Union and of United States imperialism.” Several representatives from Asian, African, and Latin American nations-nations that had traditionally maintained a more or less neutral attitude toward the East-West conflict-did condemn the Soviet action in Afghanistan. The resolution was a victory for U.S. diplomats, who had been pushing for a statement from the international organization denouncing the Soviet invasion. The successful and overwhelming passage of the resolution indicated that Cold War alignments were perhaps undergoing an important and far-reaching alteration. Many of the so-called non-aligned nations and Third World countries were appalled by the Soviet action and drew closer to the United States. With the Cold War itself destined to last another decade, U.S. relations with such nations would take on more significance than ever before.
1991 – With time running out before a United Nations deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, Iraq’s National Assembly voted to give President Saddam Hussein full authority over the Persian Gulf crisis.
1992 – Historic Mideast peace talks continued in Washington, with Israel and Jordan holding their first-ever formal negotiations, and the Israelis continuing exchanges with Palestinian representatives.
1993 – Operation Condor Ratchet. 6 UH-60 Blackhawks from the 10th Mountain Division, carrying Alpha Co. 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry, Air-Assaults in and surrounds Abu Airfield next to village of Afgoy, Somalia.
1998 – In a show of support for Richard Butler, chairman of the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approves a statement deploring Iraq’s recent actions to impede inspections by U.N. weapons monitors.
1998 – Iraq begins exporting crude oil under the third phase of the United Nations sponsored “Oil-for-Food” program. First loadings are filling the million barrel tanker White Sea for French oil company Elf Aquitaine. Other companies expected to lift Iraqi crude in January include France’s Total, Italy’s Agip, Russia’s Lukoil, and China’s Sinochem.
1999 – The U.S. proposed the lifting of the U.N. ceilings on the sale of oil in Iraq. The restriction being that the money be used to buy medicine and food for the Iraqi people.
2002 – US warplanes began to seal caves near Khost, Afghanistan.
2003 – Hundreds of American soldiers arrived in Israel for joint maneuvers with anti-missile defenses, aimed at protecting against any Iraqi strikes if the United States attacks Iraq.
2003 – North Korea said that it was running out of patience and warned it was prepared to exercise “options” in its dispute with the United States over its nuclear activities.
2004 – Pres. Bush proposed a new space program that would send humans back to the moon by 2015 and establish a base to Mars and beyond. Bush said he would seek $12 billion for the initial stages of the plan.
2004 – The US Army launched an inquiry into conditions at Abu Ghraib prison a day after photos of abused prisoners were passed up the chain of command.
2004 – A UN agency said Libya has ratified the nuclear test ban treaty. The treaty is 12 nations short of the 44 ratifications needed for it to enter into force. Once it comes into force, the treaty bans any nuclear weapon test explosion in any environment.
2004 – The crew of the CGC Thetis rescued three shrimp fishermen from the fishing vessel Dona Nelly after they were in the water for 45 minutes after their vessel sank 15 miles off the coast of Brownsville, Texas.
2005 – Army SPC Charles Graner Jr., the reputed ringleader of a band of rogue guards at the Abu Ghraib prison, was convicted at Fort Hood, Texas, of abusing Iraqi detainees. He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison.
2005 – The Huygens probe lands on Saturn’s moon Titan near the Xanadu region. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer solar system. It touched down on land, although the possibility that it would touch down in an ocean was also taken into account in its design. The probe was designed to gather data for a few hours in the atmosphere, and possibly a short time at the surface. It continued to send data for about 90 minutes after touchdown. It remains the most distant landing of any man-made craft.
2008 – MESSENGER, a NASA mission, flies by Mercury, the second spacecraft to do so and the first in thirty-three years. MESSENGER (an acronym of MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a robotic NASA spacecraft orbiting the planet Mercury, the first spacecraft ever to do so. The 485-kilogram (1,069 lb) spacecraft was launched aboard a Delta II rocket in August 2004 to study Mercury’s chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field. The instruments carried by MESSENGER were used on a complex series of flybys – the spacecraft flew by Earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury itself three times, allowing it to decelerate relative to Mercury using minimal fuel. When MESSENGER entered orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011, it then reactivated its science instruments on March 24, returning the first photo from Mercury orbit on March 29.
2009 – U.S. Federal Judge Richard J. Leon orders the release of 21-year-old Guantánamo Bay detainee Muhammad Hamid Al Qarani, who was imprisoned in 2002. Release was ordered because the evidence that he was an enemy combatant was mostly limited to statements from two other detainees whose credibility had been called into question by US government staff.
2011 – The Obama administration in the United States eases travel and other restrictions on Cuba.
2011 – The United States Treasury Department says “no” to calls by enraged American politicians to have Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks website added to its economic blacklist or sanctions list like so-called “terrorist groups”. The Treasury Department cites a lack of “evidence at this time”.
2011 – A court in America sentences Abdel Nur of Guyana to 15 years imprisonment after charging him with participation in a plot to blow up fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
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