1730 – Joseph Hewes, US merchant (Declaration of Independence signer), was born.
1737 – John Hancock (d.1793), American statesman, was born.
1775 – The Georgia Colony adopts a revised version of the Continental Association which mandates a nonimportation policy and a trade embargo against Britain to force a repeal of the Coercive Acts of 1774.
1800 – Edward Rutledge (50), US attorney (signed Declaration of Independence), died.
1845 – US Congress decided all national elections would be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The law was signed by Pres. John Tyler.
1863 – Confederate General John Bell Hood is officially removed as commander of the Army of Tennessee. He had requested the removal a few weeks before; the action closed a sad chapter in the history of the Army of Tennessee. A Kentucky native, Hood attended West Point and graduated in 1853. He served in the frontier army until the outbreak of the Civil War. Hood resigned his commission and became a colonel commanding the 4th Texas Infantry. Hood’s unit was sent to the Army of Northern Virginia, where it fought during the Peninsular Campaign of 1862. Hood, now a brigadier general, built a reputation as an aggressive field commander. He distinguished himself during the Seven Days’ battle in June, and was given command of a division. His counterattack at Antietam in September may have saved Robert E. Lee’s army from total destruction. After being severely wounded at Gettysburg in July 1863, Hood was transferred to the Army of Tennessee. He was soon wounded again, losing a leg at Chickamauga in September. Hood was promoted to corps commander for the Atlanta campaign of 1864, and was elevated to commander of the army upon the removal of Joseph Johnston in July. Over the next five months, Hood presided over the near destruction of that great Confederate army. He unsuccessfully attacked General William T. Sherman’s army three times near Atlanta, relinquished the city after a month-long siege, then took his army back to Tennessee in the fall to draw Sherman away from the deep South. Sherman dispatched part of his army to Tennessee, and Hood lost two disastrous battles at Franklin and Nashville in November and December 1864. There were about 65,000 soldiers in the Army of Tennessee when Hood assumed command in July. On January 1, a generous assessment would count 18,000 men in the army. The Confederate Army of Tennessee was no longer a viable fighting force.
1865 – Battle of City Point, VA (James River, Trent’s Reach). The Confederate James River squadron sortied from Richmond in hopes of disrupting Grant’s supply line and raising the siege of Petersburg. The result was almost a non-battle, as the squadron had a comic propensity to run aground as they came down the river. One ship would run aground; another ship would come up to help and ground itself in the process, etc. The delays in getting back underway forfeited the advantage of surprise, allowing the dilatory Union squadron commander to come up and, in combination with shore batteries, chase the Confederates back up the river.
1870 – 173 Blackfoot, including 140 women and children, were killed in Montana by US Army. Declaring he did not care whether or not it was the rebellious band of Indians he had been searching for, Colonel Eugene Baker orders his men to attack a sleeping camp of peaceful Blackfeet along the Marias River in northern Montana. The previous fall, Malcolm Clarke, an influential Montana rancher, had accused a Blackfeet warrior named Owl Child of stealing some of his horses; he punished the proud brave with a brutal whipping. In retribution, Owl Child and several allies murdered Clarke and his son at their home near Helena, and then fled north to join a band of rebellious Blackfeet under the leadership of Mountain Chief. Outraged and frightened, Montanans demanded that Owl Child and his followers be punished, and the government responded by ordering the forces garrisoned under Major Eugene Baker at Fort Ellis (near modern-day Bozeman, Montana) to strike back. Strengthening his cavalry units with two infantry groups from Fort Shaw near Great Falls, Baker led his troops out into sub-zero winter weather and headed north in search of Mountain Chief’s band. Soldiers later reported that Baker drank a great deal throughout the march. On January 22, Baker discovered an Indian village along the Marias River, and, postponing his attack until the following morning, spent the evening drinking heavily. At daybreak on the morning of January 23, 1870, Baker ordered his men to surround the camp in preparation for attack. As the darkness faded, Baker’s scout, Joe Kipp, recognized that the painted designs on the buffalo-skin lodges were those of a peaceful band of Blackfeet led by Heavy Runner. Mountain Chief and Owl Child, Kipp quickly realized, must have gotten wind of the approaching soldiers and moved their winter camp elsewhere. Kipp rushed to tell Baker that they had the wrong Indians, but Baker reportedly replied, “That makes no difference, one band or another of them; they are all Piegans [Blackfeet] and we will attack them.” Baker then ordered a sergeant to shoot Kipp if he tried to warn the sleeping camp of Blackfeet and gave the command to attack. Baker’s soldiers began blindly firing into the village, catching the peaceful Indians utterly unaware and defenseless. By the time the brutal attack was over, Baker and his men had, by the best estimate, murdered 37 men, 90 women, and 50 children. Knocking down lodges with frightened survivors inside, the soldiers set them on fire, burnt some of the Blackfeet alive, and then burned the band’s meager supplies of food for the winter. Baker initially captured about 140 women and children as prisoners to take back to Fort Ellis, but when he discovered many were ill with smallpox, he abandoned them to face the deadly winter without food or shelter. When word of the Baker Massacre (now known as the Marias Massacre) reached the east, many Americans were outraged. One angry congressman denounced Baker, saying “civilization shudders at horrors like this.” Baker’s superiors, however, supported his actions, as did the people of Montana, with one journalist calling Baker’s critics “namby-pamby, sniffling old maid sentimentalists.” Neither Baker nor his men faced a court martial or any other disciplinary actions. However, the public outrage over the massacre did derail the growing movement to transfer control of Indian affairs from the Department of Interior to the War Department–President Ulysses S. Grant decreed that henceforth all Indian agents would be civilians rather than soldiers.
1909 – RMS Republic, a passenger ship of the White Star Line, becomes the first ship to use the CQD distress signal after colliding with another ship, the SS Florida, off the Massachusetts coastline, an event that kills six people. The Republic sinks the next day. Florida came about to rescue Republic’s complement, and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service cutter Gresham responded to the distress signal as well. Passengers were distributed between the two ships, with Florida taking the bulk of them, but with 900 Italian immigrants already on board, this left the ship dangerously overloaded. The White Star liner Baltic, commanded by Captain J. B. Ranson, also responded to the CQD call, but due to the persistent fog, it was not until the evening that Baltic was able to locate the drifting Republic. Once on-scene, the rescued passengers were transferred from Gresham and Florida to Baltic. Because of the damage to Florida, that ship’s immigrant passengers were also transferred to Baltic, but a riot nearly broke out when they had to wait until first-class Republic passengers were transferred. Once everyone was on board, Baltic sailed for New York.
1920 – The Dutch government refused demands from the victorious Allies to hand over Kaiser Wilhelm II, the dethroned German monarch who had fled to the Netherlands.
1940 – Britain and France warn that they will attack German shipping encountered by their navies in the Pan-American neutral zone.
1941 – Charles A. Lindbergh, a national hero since his nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Lend-Lease policy-and suggests that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Hitler. Lindbergh was born in 1902 in Detroit. His father was a member of the House of Representatives. Lindbergh’s interest in aviation led him to flying school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and later brought him work running stunt-flying tours and as an airmail pilot. While regularly flying a route from St. Louis to Chicago, he decided to try to become the first pilot to fly alone nonstop from New York to Paris. He obtained the necessary financial backing from a group of businessmen, and on May 21, 1927, after a flight that lasted slightly over 33 hours, Lindbergh landed his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, in Paris. He won worldwide fame along with his $25,000 prize. In March 1932, Lindbergh made headlines again, but this time because of the kidnapping of his two-year-old son. The baby was later found dead, and the man convicted of the crime, Bruno Hauptmann, was executed. To flee unwanted publicity, Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow, daughter of U.S. ambassador Dwight Morrow, moved to Europe. During the mid-1930s, Lindbergh became familiar with German advances in aviation and warned his U.S. counterparts of Germany’s growing air superiority. But Lindbergh also became enamored of much of the German national “revitalization” he encountered, and allowed himself to be decorated by Hitler’s government, which drew tremendous criticism back home. Upon Lindbergh’s return to the States, he agitated for neutrality with Germany, and testified before Congress in opposition to the Lend-Lease policy, which offered cash and military aid to countries friendly to the United States in their war effort against the Axis powers. His public denunciation of “the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt Administration” as instigators of American intervention in the war, as well as comments that smacked of anti-Semitism, lost him the support of other isolationists. When, in 1941, President Roosevelt denounced Lindbergh publicly, the aviator resigned from the Air Corps Reserve. He eventually contributed to the war effort, though, flying 50 combat missions over the Pacific. His participation in the war, along with his promotion to brigadier general of the Air Force Reserve in 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a popular Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Spirit of St. Louis,, and a movie based on his exploits all worked to redeem him in the public’s eyes.
1942 – Japanese troops land at Rabaul in New Britain, at Balikpapan in Borneo, near Kavieng on New Ireland and on Bougainville in the Solomons.
1943 – On Guadalcanal, American forces begin to make rapid gains because of the Japanese withdrawal toward the Cape Esperance positions. The Americans fail to realize the significance. The Gifu strongpoint falls.
1943 – World War II: Australian and American forces finally defeat the Japanese army in Papua.
1944 – There are now about 50,000 Allied troops concentrated in the Anzio beachhead. General Lucas commands. German resistance is light but the Allied forces advance slowly. Meanwhile, Kesselring believes it is possible to maintain the Gustav Line defenses at the same time as containing the Anzio landings. The commander of the German 10th Army, von Vietinghoff favors a withdrawal from the southern defensive line. The German High Command allots German reserves from France, northern Italy and the Balkans as well as the German 14th Army headquarters to organize defenses around Anzio. Within a week a total of 8 German divisions are concentrated in the area.
1945 – In the Philippines, elements of US 14th Corps take Bamban in their continuing southward attacks and almost reach Clark Field.
1945 – St. Vith falls to the attack of tank units from US 18th Corps. The German forces are falling back over the River Our from throughout the Ardennes salient but are losing heavily to Allied air attacks.
1948 – The Soviets refused UN entry into North Korea to administer elections. The surrender of Japan was inevitable after the United States dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima in August of 1945. Stalin was waiting for just such an opportunity where the Soviets could enter the war against Japan while incurring minimal loss, and so it was no surprise when he declared war against Japan after the U.S. dropped the second atom bomb. Upon Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, Soviet military forces swept through Manchuria and North Korea taking over Japanese control over these provinces. The United States reacted in alarm when she realized the potential danger of having the strategic Korean peninsula controlled by communist forces. President Truman proposed a joint occupation of Korea by the two powers where the Soviets would occupied the territory north of the 38 parallel, while the U.S. would controle the area south of the line. Initially, it was the intention of both sides to establish a stable and unified Korea in order to withdraw their military forces from the area. However, neither the Soviet Union or the U.S. wanted the peninsula to fall into the other’s hand. In short, the Soviets and the U.S. desired to withdraw their military and resources out of Korea, but they also wanted to leave behind a nation that was favorable to each’s ideology; the Soviets desired a Communist Korea whereas the U.S. wanted a democratic nation to be established. And so the roots of division were laid from the very onset of Korea’s liberation. During the period of civil turmoil of 1945- 1946, there were many different leftist factions vying for power. It was during this time that the Soviets helped establish Kim Il Sung, a product of the Soviet military machine, as the leading political figure in the north. In the south an entirely different story unfolded. During this time, a korean patriot named Syngman Rhee began to acquire political power among the conservative elitists in South Korea. His dogmatic advocacy for Korea’s full independence often caused friction between him and U.S. officials. But due to Rhee’s strong stance against communism, and because of his commitment to maintaining civil order during these turbulent times, the US had no other choice but to give support to Rhee. Therefore, with U.S. support and the use of strong arm tactics, Syngman Rhee eventually positioned himself has the dominant political leader in South Korea by 1947. Although two different political governments had emerged in Korea by 1947, the fact that they were still only provisional governments gave the korean people hope for a possible unification. Up until this time, nationalists from both the North and South continued their efforts to negotiate a unification treaty, however, irreconcilable differences between the U.S. and the Soviet Union prevented any such goal. Eventually, the U.S. concluded that the chasm that existed between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in establishing a unified Korea was insurmountable and so they pressured the United Nations to allow for a general election in Korea. Suspicious of foul play by the U.S., the Soviets refused to allow the election to be held in North Korea.
1951 – Thirty-three F-84s of the U.S. Air Force’s 27th Fighter-Escort Wing engaged 30 MiG-15s in a dogfight over the skies of Sinuiju. In less than a minute Captains Allen McGuire and William Slaughter each destroyed a MiG while First Lieutenant Jacob Kratt scored two kills, the first double MiG kill of the war.
1951 – U.S. First Marine Division elements attacked guerrilla concentrations in the vicinity of Andong.
1953 – The U.S. Air Force’s 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing flew the last F-51 Mustang mission of the war.
1960 – The bathyscaphe USS Trieste breaks a depth record by descending to 10,911 meters (35,797 ft) in the Pacific Ocean. Trieste is a Swiss-designed, Italian-built deep-diving research bathyscaphe, which with her crew of two reached a record maximum depth of about 10,911 metres (35,797 ft), in the deepest known part of the Earth’s oceans, the Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench near Guam in the Pacific. On 23 January 1960, Jacques Piccard (son of the boat’s designer Auguste Piccard) and US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh achieved the goal of Project Nekton. Trieste was the first manned vessel to have reached the bottom of the Challenger Deep.
1964 – The 24th amendment to the Constitution, eliminating the poll tax in federal elections, was ratified.
1968 – The U.S. intelligence-gathering ship Pueblo is seized by North Korean naval vessels and charged with spying and violating North Korean territorial waters. Negotiations to free the 83-man crew of the U.S. ship dragged on for nearly a year, damaging the credibility of and confidence in the foreign policy of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. The capture of the ship and internment of its crew by North Korea was loudly protested by the Johnson administration. The U.S. government vehemently denied that North Korea’s territorial waters had been violated and argued the ship was merely performing routine intelligence gathering duties in the Sea of Japan. Some U.S. officials, including Johnson himself, were convinced that the seizure was part of a larger communist-bloc offensive, since exactly one week later, communist forces in South Vietnam launched the Tet Offensive, the largest attack of the Vietnam War. Despite this, however, the Johnson administration took a restrained stance toward the incident. Fully occupied with the Tet Offensive, Johnson resorted to quieter diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in North Korea. In December 1968, the commander of the Pueblo, Capt. Lloyd Bucher, grudgingly signed a confession indicating that his ship was spying on North Korea prior to its capture. With this propaganda victory in hand, the North Koreans turned the crew and captain (including one crewman who had died) over to the United States. The Pueblo incident was a blow to the Johnson administration’s credibility, as the president seemed powerless to free the captured crew and ship. Combined with the public’s perception–in the wake of the Tet Offensive–that the Vietnam War was being lost, the Pueblo incident resulted in a serious faltering of Johnson’s popularity with the American people. The crewmen’s reports about their horrific treatment at the hands of the North Koreans during their 11 months in captivity further incensed American citizens, many of whom believed that Johnson should have taken more aggressive action to free the captive Americans.
1969 – NASA unveiled a moon-landing craft.
1973 – President Nixon announces that Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the chief North Vietnamese negotiator, have initialled a peace agreement in Paris “to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.” Kissinger and Tho had been conducting secret negotiations since 1969. After the South Vietnamese had blunted the massive North Vietnamese invasion launched in the spring of 1972, Kissinger and the North Vietnamese had finally made some progress on reaching a negotiated end to the war. However, a recalcitrant South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu had inserted several demands into to the negotiations that caused the North Vietnamese negotiators to walk out of the talks with Kissinger on December 13. President Nixon issued an ultimatum to Hanoi to send its representatives back to the conference table within 72 hours “or else.” The North Vietnamese rejected Nixon’s demand and the president ordered Operation Linebacker II, a full-scale air campaign against the Hanoi area. This operation was the most concentrated air offensive of the war. During the 11 days of the attack, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bomber sorties dropped roughly 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over the densely populated area between Hanoi and Haiphong. On December 28, after 11 days of intensive bombing, the North Vietnamese agreed to return to the talks. When the negotiators met again in early January, they quickly worked out a settlement. Under the terms of the agreement, which became known as the Paris Peace Accords, a cease-fire would begin at 8 a.m., January 28, Saigon time (7 p.m., January 27, Eastern Standard Time). In addition, all prisoners of war were to be released within 60 days and in turn, all U.S. and other foreign troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam within 60 days. With respect to the political situation in South Vietnam, the Accords called for a National Council of Reconciliation and Concord, with representatives from both South Vietnamese sides (Saigon and the National Liberation Front) to oversee negotiations and organize elections for a new government. The actual document was entitled “An Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” and it was formally signed on January 27.
1986 – U.S. began maneuvers off the Libyan coast. Following Libyan involvement in murderous attacks at the El Al counters at the Vienna and Rome airports in 1985, and after a considerable portion of Libya’s involvement in international terrorism had become public knowledge, U.S. President Reagan, in January 1986, ordered all economic ties with Libya severed and Libyan assets in the U.S. frozen. Reagan also called upon other countries to join the economic boycott against Libya. U.S. concentrated troops from the Sixth Fleet in the Gulf of Sidra opposite Libya. A series of terrorist attacks will lead the U.S. to take retaliatory military action in April 1986, American planes will attack government and military installations in Benghazi and Tripoli.
1991 – After some 12,000 sorties in the Gulf War, General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said allied forces had achieved air superiority, and would focus air fire on Iraqi ground forces around Kuwait.
1991 – Iraqi military forces deliberately create a huge oil spill in the Persian Gulf, the largest oil spill on record. U.S. officials term the spill an act of “environmental terrorism.”
1996 – The US Army disclosed that it had 30,000 tons of chemical weapons stored in Utah, Alabama, Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas, Colorado and Oregon.
1998 – A judge in Fairfax, Va., sentenced Mir Aimal Kasi to death for an assault rifle attack outside CIA headquarters in 1993 that killed two men and wounded three other people. Kasi was executed November 2002.
1999 – US jets attacked 2 Iraqi surface-to-air missile batteries after encountering anti-aircraft fire and MiG jets in the southern no-fly zone.
2002 – US authorities raised the reward for information leading to the arrest of the anthrax perpetrator to $2.5 million.
2002 – US soldiers captured 27 Taliban fighters in Hazar Qadam, north of Kandahar. Gov. Jan Muhammad Khan later said that 60 people were killed and denied that any were Taliban or al Qaeda fighters. US military later acknowledged that some of the dead may have been allies. The captives were released Feb 6 and reported that they had been beaten and abused.
2002 – John Walker Lindh, a U.S.-born Taliban fighter, was returned to the United States to face criminal charges that he’d conspired to kill fellow Americans.
2002 – Daniel Pearl, Wall Street Journal reporter, was kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan, by the “National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty.” A deadline to kill him was extended a day pending 4 demands that included: the return of Pakistanis in Cuba; access to lawyers for Pakistani detainees in the US; the return of a former Taliban ambassador; and the release of F-16 jets purchased by Pakistan in the 1980s. Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh became the chief suspect. Pearl was later murdered.
2003 – In Texas 2 military helicopters collided and 4 marine reservists were killed.
2003 – The government of Kuwait said a Kuwaiti had confessed to the Jan. 21 shootings of two U.S. defense workers in Kuwait.
2003 – Final communication between Earth and Pioneer 10. Pioneer 10 (originally designated Pioneer F), an American space probe, weighing 258 kilograms, completed the first mission to the planet Jupiter. Thereafter, Pioneer 10 became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. This space exploration project was conducted by the NASA Ames Research Center in California, and the space probe was manufactured by TRW. Pioneer 10 was assembled around a hexagonal bus with a 2.74 meter diameter parabolic dish high-gain antenna, and the spacecraft was spin stabilized around the axis of the antenna. Its electric power was supplied by four radioisotope thermoelectric generators that provided a combined 155 watts at launch. Pioneer 10 was launched on March 3, 1972, by an Atlas-Centaur expendable vehicle from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Between July 15, 1972, and February 15, 1973, it became the first spacecraft to traverse the asteroid belt. Photography of Jupiter began November 6, 1973, at a range of 25,000,000 km, and a total of about 500 images were transmitted. The closest approach to the planet was on December 4, 1973, at a range of 132,252 km. During the mission, the on-board instruments were used to study the asteroid belt, the environment around Jupiter, the solar wind, cosmic rays, and eventually the far reaches of the solar system and heliosphere. Radio communications were lost with Pioneer 10 because of the loss of electric power for its radio transmitter, with the probe at a distance of 12 billion kilometers (80 AU) from Earth.
2004 – US District Judge in LA, Aubrey Collins, ruled that a part of the Patriot Act, that makes it a crime to give expert advice to foreign terrorist organizations, was unconstitutional.
2004 – It was reported that Halliburton told the Pentagon that 2 employees took kickbacks at up to $6 million from a Kuwaiti-based company for supplying US troops in Iraq.
2004 – The World Economic Forum began in Davos, Switzerland. The war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism dominated the Forum as the US appealed for cooperation on both issues and the U.N. chief warned that an overly narrow focus could worsen global tensions.
2005 – In the ongoing dispute between the United States and Venezuela, the US tried to veto a sale of Embraer airplanes to Venezuela. Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim branded the US attempted veto as “indefensible nonsense”. The US recently failed to block a large sale of Spanish military equipment to Venezuela.
2007 – In the State of the Union Address, Bush announced “deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq”.
2013 – The United States Armed Forces overturns its ban on women serving in combat, reversing a 1994 rule, and potentially clearing the way for women to serve in front-line units and elite commando forces.
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