1775 – George Washington arrived in Boston and took over as commander-in-chief of the new Continental Army.
1776 – Congress passed Lee’s resolution that “these united Colonies are, and of right, ought to be, Free and Independent States,” and then spent two days over the wording of Jefferson’s document.
1777 – Vermont became the 1st American colony to abolish slavery.
1809 – Alarmed by the growing encroachment of whites squatting on Native American lands, the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh calls on all Indians to unite and resist. Born around 1768 near Springfield, Ohio, Tecumseh early won notice as a brave warrior. He fought in battles between the Shawnee and the white Kentuckians, who were invading the Ohio River Valley territory. After the Americans won several important battles in the mid-1790s, Tecumseh reluctantly relocated westward but remained an implacable foe of the white men and their ways. By the early 19th century, many Shawnee and other Ohio Valley Indians were becoming increasingly dependent on trading with the Americans for guns, cloth, and metal goods. Tecumseh spoke out against such dependence and called for a return to traditional Indian ways. He was even more alarmed by the continuing encroachment of white settlers illegally settling on the already diminished government-recognized land holdings of the Shawnee and other tribes. The American government, however, was reluctant to take action against its own citizens to protect the rights of the Ohio Valley Indians. On this day in 1809, Tecumseh began a concerted campaign to persuade the Indians of the Old Northwest and Deep South to unite and resist. Together, Tecumseh argued, the various tribes had enough strength to stop the whites from taking further land. Heartened by this message of hope, Indians from as far away as Florida and Minnesota heeded Tecumseh’s call. By 1810, he had organized the Ohio Valley Confederacy, which united Indians from the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Winnebago, Menominee, Ottawa, and Wyandot nations. For several years, Tecumseh’s Indian Confederacy successfully delayed further white settlement in the region. In 1811, however, the future president William Henry Harrison led an attack on the confederacy’s base on the Tippecanoe River. At the time, Tecumseh was in the South attempting to convince more tribes to join his movement. Although the battle of Tippecanoe was close, Harrison finally won out and destroyed much of Tecumseh’s army. When the War of 1812 began the following year, Tecumseh immediately marshaled what remained of his army to aid the British. Commissioned a brigadier general, he proved an effective ally and played a key role in the British capture of Detroit and other battles. When the tide of war turned in the American favor, Tecumseh’s fortunes went down with those of the British. On October 5, 1813, he was killed during Battle of the Thames. His Ohio Valley Confederacy and vision of Indian unity died with him.
1862 – Lincoln signed an act granting land for state agricultural colleges.
1862 – Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough’s fleet covered the withdrawal of General McClellan’s army after a furious battle with Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee at Malvern Hill. Dependent on the Navy for his movement to Harrison’s Landing, chosen by McClellan at Com-modore J. Rodgers recommendation because it was so situated that gunboats could protect both flanks of his army, the General acknowledged the decisive role played by the Navy in enabling his troops to withdraw with a minimum loss: “Commodore Rodgers placed his gunboats so as to protect our flanks and to command the approaches from Richmond . . . During the whole battle Commodore Rodgers added greatly to the discomfiture of the enemy by throwing shell among his reserve and advancing columns.” The Washington National Intelligencer of 7 July described the gunboats’ part in the action at Malvern Hill: “About five o’clock in the after-noon the gunboats Galena, Aroostook, and Jacob Bell opened from Turkey Island Bend, in the James River, with shot and shell from their immense guns. The previous roar of field artillery seemed as faint as the rattle of musketry in comparison with these monsters of ordnance that literally shook the water and strained the air. . . . They fired about three times a minute, frequently a broadside at a time, and the immense hull of the Galena careened as she delivered her complement of iron and flame. The fire went on . . . making music to the ears of our tired men. . . . Confederate] ranks seemed slow to close up when the naval thunder had torn them apart. . . During the engagement at White Oak Swamp, too, the Intelligencer reported, the gunboats “are entitled to the most unbounded credit. They came into action just at the right time, and did first rate service.” The Navy continued to safeguard the supply line until the Army of the Potomac was evacuated to northern Virginia in August, bringing to a close the unsuccessful Peninsular Campaign.
1863 – General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia attacks General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac at both Culp’s Hill and Little Round Top, but fails to move the Yankees from their positions. On the north end of the line, or the Union’s right flank, Confederates from General Richard Ewell’s corps struggled up Culp’s Hill, which was steep and heavily wooded, before being turned back by heavy Union fire. But the most significant action was on the south end of the Union line. General James Longstreet’s corps launched an attack against the Yankees, but only after a delay that allowed additional Union troops to arrive and position themselves along Cemetery Ridge. Many people later blamed Longstreet for the Confederates’ eventual defeat. Still, the Confederates had a chance to destroy the Union left flank when General Daniel Sickles moved his corps, against Meade’s orders, from their position on the ridge to open ground around the Peach Orchard. This move separated Sickles’ force from the rest of the Union army, and Longstreet attacked. Although the Confederates were able to take the Peach Orchard, they were repulsed by Yankee opposition at Little Round Top. Some of the fiercest fighting took place on this day, and both armies suffered heavy casualties. Lee’s army regrouped that evening and planned for one last assault against the Union center on July 3. That attack, Pickett’s charge, would represent the high tide of Confederate fortunes.
1864 – Gen. Early and Confederate forces reached Winchester.
1864 – Congress passes the Wade-Davis Bill, requiring a majority of a seceded state’s white citizens to take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution and guarantee black equality, but President Abraham Lincoln pocket vetoes the harsh plan for dealing with the defeated Confederate states.
1881 – Only four months into his administration, President James A. Garfield is shot as he walks through a railroad waiting room in Washington, D.C. His assailant, Charles J. Guiteau, was a disgruntled and perhaps insane office seeker who had unsuccessfully sought an appointment to the U.S. consul in Paris. The president was shot in the back and the arm, and Guiteau was arrested. Garfield, mortally ill, was treated in Washington and then taken to the seashore at Elberon, New Jersey, where he attempted to recuperate with his family. During this time, Vice President Chester A. Arthur served as acting president. On September 19, 1881, after 80 days, President Garfield died of blood poisoning. The following day, Arthur was inaugurated as the 21st president of the United States. Garfield had three funerals: one in Elberon; another in Washington, where his body rested in state in the Capitol for three days; and a third in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was buried. Charles Guiteau’s murder trial began in November, and in January 1882 he was found guilty and sentenced to death. In June 1882, he was hanged at his jail in Washington.
1915 – A bomb planted by a German professor from Harvard University, Erich Muenter, destroys a reception room in the Senate. The Senate had been out of session since the previous March and was not due to reconvene until December, Muenter headed for the Senate Chamber. Finding the chamber doors locked, he decided that the adjacent Senate Reception Room would serve his purposes. He worked quickly, placing his deadly package under the Senate’s telephone switchboard, whose operator had left for the holiday weekend. After setting the timing mechanism for a few minutes before midnight to minimize casualties, he walked to Union Station and purchased a ticket for the midnight train to New York City. At 20 minutes before midnight, as he watched from the station, a thunderous explosion rocked the Capitol. The blast nearly knocked Capitol police officer Frank Jones from his chair at the Senate wing’s east front entrance. Ten minutes earlier, the lucky Jones had closed a window next to the switchboard. A 30-year police veteran, the officer harbored a common fear that one day the Capitol dome would fall into the rotunda. For a few frantic moments, he believed that day had come. Jones then entered the Reception Room and observed its devastation—a shattered mirror, broken window glass, smashed chandeliers, and pulverized plaster from the frescoed ceiling. In a letter to the Washington Evening Star, published after the blast, Muenter attempted to explain his outrageous act. Writing under an assumed name, he hoped that the detonation would “make enough noise to be heard above the voices that clamor for war. This explosion is an exclamation point in my appeal for peace.” The former German professor was particularly angry with American financiers who were aiding Great Britain against Germany in World War I, despite this country’s official neutrality in that conflict. Arriving in New York City early the next morning, Muenter headed for the Long Island estate of J. P. Morgan, Jr. Morgan’s company served as Great Britain’s principal U.S. purchasing agent for munitions and other war supplies. When Morgan came to the door, Muenter pulled a pistol, shot him, and fled. The financier’s wounds proved superficial and the gunman was soon captured. In jail, on 6 July, Muenter took his own life.
1923 – Commissioning of Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC.
1926 – The U.S. Army Air Corps was created by Congress.
1926 – The Distinguished Flying Cross was established in the Air Corps Act (Act of Congress, Public Law No. 446, 69th Congress). This act provided for award “to any person, while serving in any capacity with the Air Corps of the Army of the United States, including the National Guard and the Organized Reserves, or with the United States Navy, since the 6th day of April 1917, has distinguished, or who, after the approval of this Act, distinguishes himself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”
1926 – An Act of Congress (Public Law 446-69th Congress (44 Stat. 780)) which established the Soldier’s Medal for acts of heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. The Secretary of War directed that the Quartermaster General prepare and submit appropriate designs of the Soldier’s Medal per letter signed by The Adjutant General dated 11 August 1926.
1937 – CGC Itasca, while conducting re-supply operations in the Central Pacific, made the last-known radio contact with Amelia Earhart and her co-pilot Fred Noonan. Itasca later joined the Navy-directed search for the aircraft. The search was finally called off on 17 July with no trace of the aircraft having been found.
1941 – The US authorities very soon know of a Japanese determination to attempt to seize bases in Indonesia even if it should precipitate war through their code-breaking service which has managed to work out the key to the major Japanese diplomatic code and some other minor operational codes. The information gained from the diplomatic code is circulated under the code name Magic.
1943 – The American buildup on Rendova Island continues but the Japanese garrison continues to resist. During the night a Japanese naval force bombards the American positions with little effect.
1943 – The U.S. Army Air Corps 99th Fighter Squadron, the first of the all-black Tuskegee Airmen to see combat, had been based in Africa for four months when they were assigned to escort 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers on a routine mission over Sicilian targets. Lieutenant Charles B. Hall of Brazil, Indiana became the first Tuskegee Airman to score a confirmed kill when he shot down a German fighter plane.
1944 – There are Allied landing on Numfoor Island. About 7100 troops, including elements of the US 168th Infantry Division and Australian forces, under the command of US General Patrick establish a beachhead on the north coast near Kamiri Airfield. There is no Japanese resistance. Admiral Fechteler commands the naval support with US Task Force 74 and TF75 providing escort and a preliminary bombardment. On Biak Island, remnants of the Japanese force continue to resist.
1944 – On Saipan, American forces conduct a general advance. Garapan village is overrun.
1944 – As part of Operation Gardening, the British and American strategy to lay mines in the Danube River by dropping them from the air, American aircraft also drop bombs and leaflets on German-occupied Budapest. Hungarian oil refineries and storage tanks, important to the German war machine, were destroyed by the American air raid. Along with this fire from the sky, leaflets threatening “punishment” for those responsible for the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the gas chambers at Auschwitz were also dropped on Budapest. The U.S. government wanted the SS and Hitler to know it was watching. Admiral Miklas Horthy, regent and virtual dictator of Hungary, vehemently anticommunist and afraid of Russian domination, had aligned his country with Hitler, despite the fact that he little admired him. But he, too, demanded that the deportations cease, especially since special pleas had begun pouring in from around the world upon the testimonies of four escaped Auschwitz prisoners about the atrocities there. Hitler, fearing a Hungarian rebellion, stopped the deportations on July 8. Horthy would eventually try to extricate himself from the war altogether-only to be kidnapped by Hitler’s agents and consequently forced to abdicate. One day after the deportations stopped, a Swedish businessman, Raoul Wallenberg, having convinced the Swedish Foreign Ministry to send him to the Hungarian capital on a diplomatic passport, arrived in Budapest with 630 visas for Hungarian Jews, prepared to take them to Sweden to save them from further deportations.
1945 – The submarine USS Barb fires rockets on Kaihyo Island, off the east coast of Karafuto (Sakhalin) Island. It is the first American underwater craft to fire rockets in shore bombardment. Meanwhile, Japanese sources report that only 200,000 people remain in Tokyo. All others have been evacuated to safer areas. The Japanese claim that some 5 million civilians have been killed or wounded by American fire-bombs.
1946 – Establishment of VX-3 to evaluate adaptability of helicopters to naval purposes.
1947 – Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov walks out of a meeting with representatives of the British and French governments, signaling the Soviet Union’s rejection of the Marshall Plan. Molotov’s action indicated that Cold War frictions between the United States and Russia were intensifying. On June 4, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave a speech in which he announced that the United States was willing to offer economic assistance to the war-torn nations of Europe to help in their recovery. The Marshall Plan, as this program came to be known, eventually provided billions of dollars to European nations and helped stave off economic disaster in many of them. The Soviet reaction to Marshall’s speech was a stony silence. However, Foreign Minister Molotov agreed to a meeting on June 27 with his British and French counterparts to discuss the European reaction to the American offer. Molotov immediately made clear the Soviet objections to the Marshall Plan. First, it would include economic assistance to Germany, and the Russians could not tolerate such aid to the enemy that had so recently devastated the Soviet Union. Second, Molotov was adamant in demanding that the Soviet Union have complete control and freedom of action over any Marshall Plan funds Germany might receive. Finally, the Foreign Minister wanted to know precisely how much money the United States would give to each nation. When it became clear that the French and British representatives did not share his objections, Molotov stormed out of the meeting on July 2. In the following weeks, the Soviet Union pressured its Eastern European allies to reject all Marshall Plan assistance. That pressure was successful and none of the Soviet satellites participated in the Marshall Plan. The Soviet press claimed that the American program was “a plan for interference in the domestic affairs of other countries.” The United States ignored the Soviet action and, in 1948, officially established the Marshall Plan and began providing funds to other European nations. Publicly, U.S. officials argued that the Soviet stance was another indication that Russia intended to isolate Eastern Europe from the West and enforce its communist and totalitarian doctrines in that region. From the Soviet perspective, however, its refusal to participate in the Marshall Plan indicated its desire to remain free from American “economic imperialism” and domination.
1947 – An object crashed near Roswell, N.M. The Army Air Force later insisted it was a weather balloon, but eyewitness accounts gave rise to speculation it might have been an alien spacecraft.
1950 – USS Juneau and 2 British ships sink 5 of 6 attacking North Korean torpedo boats and gunboats. This is the only significant naval engagement of the Korean War.
1950 – The Royal Australian Air Force 77 Squadron began flying F-51 Mustang missions in Korea.
1951 – The U.S. 3rd Infantry Division launched Operation DOUGHNUT, a series of attacks directed against hills in the Iron Triangle.
1957 – The Seawolf, the 1st submarine powered by liquid metal cooled reactor, was completed.
1957 – Grayback, the 1st submarine designed to fire guided missiles, was launched.
1959 – Wendy B. Lawrence, USN Lt Commander, astronaut, was born in Jacksonville, Fla.
1961 – Hanoi captures at least three members of Lansdale’s US-trained First Observation Group when their US C-47 aircraft goes down, whether by enemy fire or due to engine trouble remains unknown.
1964 – At a joint news conference, Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen (Illinois) and House Republican leader Charles Halleck (Indiana) say that the Vietnam War will be a campaign issue because “Johnson’s indecision has made it one.” President Lyndon B. Johnson had assumed office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Kennedy had supported Ngo Dinh Diem, the president of South Vietnam, who was assassinated during a coup just before Kennedy was killed. The deaths of both Diem and Kennedy provided an opportunity for the new administration to undertake a reassessment of U.S. policy toward Vietnam, but this was not done. Johnson, who desperately wanted to push a set of social reforms called the Great Society, was instead forced to focus on the deteriorating situation in South Vietnam. Caught in a dilemma, he later wrote: “If I…let the communists take over South Vietnam, then I would be seen as a coward and my nation would be seen as an appeaser and we would both find it impossible to accomplish anything for anybody anywhere in the entire globe.” Faced with having to do something about Vietnam, Johnson vacillated as he and his advisers attempted to devise a viable course of action. The situation changed in August 1964 when North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked U.S. destroyers off the coast of North Vietnam. What became known as the Tonkin Gulf incident led to the passage of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which passed 416 to 0 in the House, and 88 to 2 in the Senate. This resolution, which gave the president approval to “take all necessary measures to repel an armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression,” provided the legal basis for President Johnson to initiate a major commitment of U.S. troops to South Vietnam, which ultimately totaled more than 540,000 by 1968.
1967 – The U.S. Marine Corps launched Operation Buffalo in response to the North Vietnamese Army’s efforts to seize the Marine base at Con Thien.
1967 – During Operation Bear Claw, Seventh Fleet Amphibious Force conducts helicopter assault 12 miles inland at Con Thien.
1993 – Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, some of whose followers were accused in the bombing of the World Trade Center, surrendered to immigration officials in New York City.
1996 – US federal officials announced the arrest of 12 members of a militia unit, called Viper Militia, that had planned to bomb government offices in the Phoenix area. On Dec 19 two members pleaded guilty to explosives and weapons charges. On Dec 27 three more members pleaded guilty.
1997 – The US began a round of underground nuclear weapons-related tests in Nevada.
1997 – A federal judge in New York ruled that the military policy, “don’t ask, don’t tell,” is unconstitutional and only serves to cater to the biases of many heterosexuals.
1998 – Apologizing to viewers and Vietnam veterans for “serious faults” in its reporting, Cable News Network retracted a story alleging U.S. commandos had used nerve gas to kill American defectors during the war.
2002 – Philippine Vice President Teofisto Guingona resigned as foreign minister, settling but perhaps not ending a public row with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over U.S. military exercises in the south of the country.
2014 – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the new Islamic State, said that Muslims should unite to capture Rome in order to “own the world”. He called on Muslims the world over to unite behind him as their leader.
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