1637 – King Charles of England handed over the American colony of Massachusetts to Sir Fernando Gorges, one of the founders of the Council of New England.
1664 – 4 British ships arrived in Boston to drive the Dutch out of NY.
1836 – A band of Seminole Indians attacked and burned the Cape Florida lighthouse.
1851 – Sioux Indians and US signed the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux.
1862 – General Henry W. Halleck assumes the role of general-in-chief of all Union forces in an effort to better coordinate the overall Union war effort, which is floundering. A native of New York, Halleck graduated from West Point in 1839. He showed such promise that he was allowed the rare privilege of teaching while still a student at the academy. He served during the Mexican-American War, became involved in California politics, and was a railroad president before the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1861, Halleck was appointed major general. Placed in charge of the Department of the Missouri, his work brought quick results. He quickly organized the forces in Missouri into effective units and kept Missouri in the Union. Halleck’s duties were soon expanded, and the department was renamed the Department of the Mississippi. He showed great strategic vision in planning campaigns from his St. Louis headquarters, but was less successful when he took to the field—as he did during the Corinth campaign, in which the Confederates escaped his much larger Yankee force. Lincoln recognized Halleck’s abilities and brought him to Washington as general-in-chief. Under his direction, Union successes continued in the west, but Halleck was unable to orchestrate any progress in Virginia or to enact an overall strategic vision to defeat the Confederates. He bickered with various commanders of the Army of the Potomac, such as George B. McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker, and George Meade. His abrasive personality did not endear him to the press or his subordinates. In 1864, President Lincoln moved Halleck to a higher position as chief of staff for the army while appointing General Ulysses S. Grant general-in-chief, but this was really in recognition of the fact that Halleck failed to effectively direct the armies. Freed from the burden of strategic planning, Halleck’s new role allowed him to utilize his bureaucratic talents. Nicknamed “Old Brains” for his organizational efficiency, Halleck effectively supplied Grant’s campaign against Robert E. Lee in 1864. Halleck remained in the army until his death in 1872. Despite his shortcomings as a strategic planner, his organizational skills contributed significantly to the Union victory.
1863 – Bill Anderson and his Confederate Bushwackers gutted the railway station at Renick, Missouri.
1864 – Army transport B.M. Runyan, with some 500 military and civilian passengers on board, sank in the Mississippi River near Skipwith’s Landing, Mississippi, after hitting a snag. U.S.S. Prairie Bird, Acting Master Thomas Burns, rescued 350 survivors and salvaged part of the cargo. Rescue and humanitarian operations have been a continuing naval mission throughout our history.
1865 – William Booth founded the Salvation Army.
1868 – The 14th Amendment was ratified, granting citizenship to African Americans. It gave freed slaves full citizenship and equal protection under the laws, however it did not spell out the extent of integration with white America.
1885 – Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union forces at the end of the Civil War and the 18th president of the United States, died in Mount McGregor, N.Y., at age 63. He had just completed the final revisions to his memoirs, which were published as a 2 volume set by Mark Twain. His tomb was placed in the largest mausoleum in the US on a bluff over the Hudson River.
1914 – Austria-Hungary delivers an ultimatum to Serbia after several meetings with German’s Kaiser Wilhelm II and his advisors, who back Austria-Hungary’s actions. The demands of the ultimatum would, if agreed, destroy Serbia as an independent state. Austria-Hungary demands a reply within 48 hours.
1940 – German bombers began the “Blitz,” the all-night air raids on London.
1940 – The British Purchasing Mission in the United States reaches agreement that it will be allowed to buy up 40 percent of the United States’ production of aircraft.
1942 – US Secretary of State Hull urges the formation of an international peace keeping organization by the United Nations after the war.
1943 – Americans occupy Trapani and Marsala. On the north coast, US forces reach Termini Imerese.
1944 – Elements of the US 4th Corps (part of US 5th Army) penetrate the outskirts of Pisa but are only able to occupy the area south of the Arno River.
1944 – On Guam, American marines on the northern beachhead reach Point Adelup. On the southern beachhead, the marines cross the neck of the Orote Peninsula, thereby cutting off the main Japanese airfield on the island.
1944 – Elements of the 3dMarDiv completed the occupation of Cabras Island, Tinian, Marianas.
1945 – Marshal Philippe Petain, the former head of state of Vichy France, is put on trial at the Palais de Justice in Paris. The trail is suspended twice, during the day, because of disorder. Paul Reynaud, the former president of the council of ministers, accused Petain of plotting to betray France in 1940. Petain, who is 89, was a hero of France during the Great War, but collaborated with Nazi Germany during the Second World War. He challenged the competence of the court to try him.
1947 – Congress approved Public Law 219 which provided for the integration of the personnel of the former Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation into the regular military organization of the Coast Guard. This was effected during Fiscal Year 1948, “and the Service thus had a single unified organization to carry forward the correlated duty which prior to 1939 were divided among three different Federal agencies the Coast Guard, Lighthouse Service, and Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation.”
1947 – First Navy all jet squadron (VF-17A) receives its first aircraft (FH).
1948 – USS Putnum (DD-757) evacuates U.N. team from Haifa, Israel and becomes first U.S. Navy ship to fly the U.N. flag.
1950 – USS Boxer sets record crossing of Pacific to bring aircraft, troops, and supplies to Korea at start of the Conflict.
1950 – Units from the 2d Marine Division prepared to move from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Camp Pendleton, Calif., to join the 1st Marine Division.
1951 – General Henri-Philippe Petain, French national hero of World War I, who was convicted of collaboration with the German occupiers of his country during World War II and sentenced to life in prison, dies. He is 95. A graduate of Saint-Cyr Military Academy, Petain served as a second lieutenant in the Alpine regiment, where he developed a reputation for camaraderie with the average foot soldier. He then went on to a controversial teaching career at the War College, where he propounded theories that were in direct conflict with commonly held ideas, especially his contention that a strong defense was the key to victory, not the “always be on the attack” strategy common to the French military at the time. During World War I, General Petain distinguished himself at the Battle of Verdun, during which he successfully repulsed German attacks on the fortress city. He was an inspiration to his troops and successfully squelched near mutinies within the army after disastrous offensives led by General Robert-Georges Nivelle. Petain regained the confidence-and loyalty–of those soldiers when he was named Nivelle’s successor, improving their living conditions and initiating open communication between command and troops. After the outbreak of World War II, Petain was named vice premier by Premier Paul Reynaud. As Germany began to overrun more French territory, the French Cabinet became desperate. Reynaud continued to hold out hope, refusing to ask for an armistice, especially now that France had received assurance from Britain that the two would fight as one, and that Britain would continue to fight the Germans even if France were completely overtaken. But others in the government were despondent and wanted to sue for peace. Reynaud resigned in protest. Petain then formed a new government and asked the Germans for an armistice–in effect, surrendering. The man who had become a legendary war hero for successfully fighting off a German attack on French soil was now surrendering to Hitler. In the city of Vichy, the French Senate and Chamber of Deputies conferred on the 84-year-old general the title of “Chief of State,” making him a virtual dictator-although one controlled by Berlin. Petain believed that he could negotiate a better deal for his country– for example, obtaining the release of prisoners of war–by cooperating, or, as some would say, appeasing, the Germans. When Paris was finally liberated by General Charles de Gaulle in 1944, Petain fled to Germany. He was brought back after the war to stand trial for his double-dealing ways. He was sentenced to death, which was then commuted to life in solitary confinement. He died at 95 in a prison fortress. Ironically, the man responsible for saving his life was De Gaulle. He and Petain had fought in the same unit in World War I. Petain’s bravery during that world war had not been forgotten.
1956 – The Bell X-2 rocket plane set a world aircraft speed record of 3,050 kph.
1958 – USS Nautilus (SSN-571) departs Pearl Harbor for first submerged transit of North Pole.
1959 – Vice President Richard M. Nixon flew to Moscow to open the US Trade and Cultural Fair in Sokolniki Park, organized as a goodwill gesture by the USSR.
1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson, in the course of discussions about what to do concerning the deteriorating situation in Vietnam, is told by some that he should give the American public all the facts, ask for an increase in taxes, mobilize the reserves, and declare a state of national emergency in the United States. Johnson rejected this approach, and informed his staff that he wanted any decisions implemented in a “low-key manner” in order to avoid an abrupt challenge to the communists, and to avoid undue concern and excitement in Congress and in domestic public opinion. During these discussions, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara urged the president to “expand promptly and substantially” the U.S. military presence in South Vietnam. Johnson, not wanting to “lose” Vietnam to the communists, ultimately accepted McNamara’s recommendation and authorized a total of 44 U.S. battalions in South Vietnam, which led to a massive escalation of the war.
1962 – Avoiding a Cold War showdown, the United States and the Soviet Union sign an agreement guaranteeing a free and neutral Laos. While the agreement ended the “official” roles of both nations in the Laotian civil war, covert assistance from both Russia and the United States continued to exacerbate the conflict in Laos for the next decade. Laos had been a French colony since 1893. During the 1930s and World War II, an independence movement began to grow in the small nation, as did a communist movement known as the Pathet Lao. After France granted Laos conditional independence in 1949, the Pathet Lao began a civil war against the pro-French Laotian government. In 1954, after the devastating defeat of French troops at the hands of Vietnamese independence forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu, an international conference attempted to deal with the situations in Southeast Asia. The 1954 Laos decision stated that the Pathet Lao would be confined to two remote provinces of Laos, and that national elections would be held in two years to settle all political questions. In fact, the conference did nothing to stop the civil war in Laos. The Pathet Lao, largely funded and armed with Russian money and weapons funneled through communist North Vietnam, continued its attacks. In response, the U.S. became heavily involved in providing covert assistance to the Laotian government. Despite the U.S. assistance, the communist Pathet Lao appeared on its way to victory by 1961. President John F. Kennedy issued a thinly veiled threat of direct U.S. intervention in Laos if the Soviet Union did not cease its assistance to the communist revolutionaries. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, perhaps realizing that the stakes were becoming much too high in a nation of only peripheral interest to Russia, agreed to a cease-fire in April 1961. At a conference in Geneva in July 1962, the United States and Russia agreed to mutually guarantee a free and neutral Laos. The 1962 agreement also accomplished very little. American intelligence sources indicated that North Vietnam continued to funnel large amounts of Soviet aid into Laos. In response, the United States began a “secret war,” using the CIA to arm and train an anticommunist force in Laos. In a matter of months, more than 30,000 Laotians, mostly from remote hill tribes, were being used to carry out guerrilla operations against the Pathet Lao. The U.S. operation was unsuccessful, however. In 1975, shortly after victory of communist North Vietnam over South Vietnam, the Pathet Lao took control in Laos, where a communist government continues to be in power to this day.
1967 – In the early morning hours of July 23, 1967, one of the worst riots in U.S. history breaks out on 12th Street in the heart of Detroit’s predominantly African American inner city. By the time it was quelled four days later by 7,000 National Guard and U.S. Army troops, 43 people were dead, 342 injured, and nearly 1,400 buildings had been burned. By the summer of 1967, the predominantly African American neighborhood of Virginia Park was ready to explode. Some 60,000 poor people were crammed into the neighborhood’s 460 acres, living in squalor in divided and sub-divided apartments. The Detroit Police Department, which had only about 50 African Americans at the time, was viewed as a white occupying army. The only other whites seen in the neighborhood commuted from the suburbs to run their stores on 12th Street. At night, 12th Street was a center of Detroit inner-city nightlife, both legal and illegal. At the corner of 12th and Clairmount, William Scott operated an illegal after-hours club on weekends out of the office of the United Community League for Civic Action, a civil rights group. The police vice squad often raided establishments like this on 12th Street, and at 3:35 a.m. on Sunday morning, July 23, they moved against Scott’s club. That night, the establishment was hosting a party for several veterans, including two servicemen recently returned from Vietnam, and the bar’s patrons were reluctant to leave. Out in the street, a crowd began to gather as police waited for paddy wagons to take the 85 patrons away. Tensions between area blacks and police were high at the time, partly because of a rumor (later proved to be untrue) that police had shot and killed a black prostitute two days before. Then a rumor began to circulate that the vice squad had beaten one of the women being arrested. An hour passed before the last prisoner was taken away, and by then about 200 onlookers lined the street. A bottle crashed into the street. The remaining police ignored it, but then more bottles were thrown, including one through the window of a patrol car. The police fled as a riot erupted. Within an hour, thousands of people had spilled out onto the street. Looting began on 12th Street, and some whites arrived to join in. Around 6:30 a.m., the first fire broke out, and soon much of the street was set ablaze. By midmorning, every policeman and fireman in Detroit was called to duty. On 12th Street, 600,000 officers fought to control a mob of 3,000. Firemen were attacked as they tried to battle the flames. Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanaugh asked Michigan Governor George Romney to send in the state police, but these 300 more officers could not keep the riot from spreading to a 100-block area around Virginia Park. The National Guard was called in shortly after but didn’t arrive until evening. By the end of the day, more than 1,000 were arrested, but still the riot kept growing. Five people were dead. On Monday, 16 people were killed, most by police or guardsmen. Snipers fired at firemen, and fire hoses were cut. Governor Romney asked President Lyndon Johnson to send in U.S. troops. Nearly 2,000 army paratroopers arrived on Tuesday and began patrolling the street in tanks and armored carriers. Ten more people died that day, and 12 more on Wednesday. On Thursday, July 27, order was finally restored. More than 7,000 people were arrested during the four days of rioting. A total of 43 were killed. Some 1,700 stores were looted and nearly 1,400 buildings burned, causing $50 million in property damage. Some 5,000 people were left homeless. The so-called 12th Street Riot was the worst U.S. riot in 100 years, occurring during a period of numerous riots in America. A report by the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, appointed by President Johnson, identified more than 150 riots or major disorders between 1965 and 1968. In 1967 alone, 83 people were killed and 1,800 were injured–the majority of them African Americans–and property valued at more than $100 million was damaged, looted, or destroyed.
1973 – Pres Nixon refused to release Watergate tapes of conversations in the White House relevant to the Watergate investigation.
1973 – Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace, died in Zurich, Switzerland at the age of 82. Known as a race-car driver before World War I, he became America’s premier flying ace during the war and returned home to a hero’s welcome. Declining offers from the aviation industry and even Hollywood, Rickenbacker decided to lend his name to a car company, although he played a negligible role in the company’s management and eventually resigned his position there. Without his high-flying name behind the product, Rickenbacker Motors crashed and burned. Later he and several associates bought Eastern Airlines in 1938 and guided it to become one of the most profitable airlines in the postwar era.
1977 – A jury in Washington, D.C., convicted 12 Hanafi Muslims of charges stemming from the hostage siege at three buildings the previous March.
1988 – Iran accused Iraq of pushing deep into Iranian territory and using chemical weapons. At Halabja an Iraqi chemical attack killed thousands and in 1999 was still causing genetic damage and deaths.
1990 – Unconfirmed reports indicate that as many as 30,000 Iraqi troops have been moved to the border with Kuwait.
1993 – Sarah Deal becomes first female Marine selected for naval aviation training.
1993 – Army Chief of Staff authorizes 10th Mountain Division soldiers to wear the combat patch, shoulder sleeve insignia-former wartime service and overseas service bar for service in Somalia.
1994 – Space shuttle Columbia returned to Earth after a 15-day mission which included experiments on the effects of weightlessness on aquatic animals.
1997 – The US and Venezuela signed an agreement to allow authorities of both countries to board boats of each others flags if suspected of carrying drugs.
1997 – In Serbia Slobodan Milosevic was sworn in as president of Yugoslavia and crowds reacted by throwing shoes at his motorcade, symbolizing the young people who have left Serbia due to his regime.
1998 – It was reported that Congress made the Air Force buy more C-130 transport aircraft against its wishes. Since 1978 only 5 of 256 C-130s sent to the Air National Guard and Air Reserve were requested by the Air Force. The planes were built in Georgia.
1998 – In response to U.S. opposition to the August pricing plan for Iraqi crude oil, Iraq offers the United Nations a revised pricing mechanism for Iraq’s August oil exports. The revised pricing formula adjusts the price of Kirkuk and Basrah Light for the European, U.S. and Asian markets.
1999 – The 3-day Woodstock ’99 music festival began at the decommissioned Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY, with some 225,000 people. The $35-38 million production ended in chaos with hundreds of concertgoers burning fires, looting and vandalizing.
1999 – In Colombia a US anti-narcotics reconnaissance airplane crashed with 5 US Army personnel and 2 Colombians.
1999 – Russia ended a 4-month boycott on contacts with NATO.
2001 – The US Pentagon shut down public access to its web sites due to a computer worm called the Code Red worm. It defaced web sites with the words “Hacked by Chinese.”
2003 – A new audiotape, purported to be of toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, was broadcast by an Arab satellite station. It called on former soldiers to rise up against the American occupation.
2003 – Iran acknowledged that it was holding senior al Qaeda figures, but would not identify them.
2004 – President Bush froze the assets of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, his family and top aides and accused them of undermining the country’s transition to democracy.
2004 – Gunmen in Mosul attacked a retired Iraqi general as he headed to a mosque to pray, killing him and another man. Maj. Gen. Salim Majeed Blesh (58) had worked for the former U.S. occupation government.
2004 – Iraqi insurgents in Baghdad kidnapped Muhammad Mamdouh Qutb, a 3rd ranking official of the Egyptian Embassy.
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