1683 – The 1st settlers from Germany to US left aboard the ship Concord.
1701 – Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac established Fort Ponchartrain for France on the future site of the city of Detroit, Michigan, in an attempt to halt the advance of the English into the western Great Lakes region.
1758 – George Washington was admitted to Virginia House of Burgesses.
1763 – Ottawa Chief Pontiac led an uprising in the wild, distant lands that would one day become Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
1766 – At Fort Ontario, Canada, Ottawa chief Pontiac and William Johnson signed a peace agreement.
1813 – Sailing Master Elijah Mix attempts to blow up British warship Plantagenet with a torpedo (mine) near Cape Henry, Virginia.
1832 – Benjamin Bonneville, an inept fur trader who some speculate may have actually been a spy, leads the first wagon train to cross the Rocky Mountains at Wyoming’s South Pass. The motivations for Bonneville’s western expeditions have always remained somewhat mysterious. A native of France, Bonneville came to the United States in 1803 at the age of seven. He later graduated from West Point, and he served at frontier posts in Arkansas, Texas, and Indian Territory. According to one view, Bonneville simply observed the rapid growth of the western fur trade at these posts and conceived a bold plan to mount his own fur trading expedition. However, others suggest Bonneville’s true goal for the expedition may have been to serve as a Far Western spy for the U.S. government. The circumstances of Bonneville’s entry into the fur business were indeed somewhat odd. Despite his complete lack of experience as a mountain man, a group of Manhattan businessmen agreed to back his expedition with ample funds. It was also strange that a career military man should ask for, and quickly receive, a two-year leave of absence from the army to pursue a strictly commercial adventure. Bonneville began his expedition in May 1832, and that summer he and his men built an imposing trading post along Wyoming’s Green River. Bonneville proved to be an incompetent fur trader, yet he seemed unconcerned about making a profit. By contrast, he seemed very interested in exploring the vast territory. Shortly after arriving in Wyoming, he mounted an expedition to the Columbia River country of Oregon, although he was well aware that the powerful British-owned Hudson’s Bay Company dominated the region. On this day in 1832, Bonneville led 110 men and 20 wagons across South Pass, the first-ever wagon crossing of that critical route connecting the existing United States to the northwest region of the continent. During the next two decades, thousands of American settlers would take their wagons across South Pass as they followed the Oregon Trail. In 1835, Bonneville returned to Washington, where President Andrew Jackson personally oversaw his reinstatement as a captain in the army. Some historians speculate that Bonneville might have actually been a spy for a U.S. government, which was eager to collect information on the British strength in the Northwest. No historical records have ever been found to substantiate this speculation, though, and it is possible that Bonneville was simply an inept fur trader whose dreams exceeded his grasp.
1847 – After 17 months and many miles of travel, Brigham Young leads 148 Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Gazing over the parched earth of the remote location, Young declared, “This is the place,” and the pioneers began preparations for the thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow. Seeking religious and political freedom, the Mormons began planning their great migration from the east after the murder of Joseph Smith, the Christian sect’s founder and first leader. Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, in 1805. In 1827, he declared that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni, who showed him an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American prophet named Mormon in the fifth century A.D., told the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next few years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ–later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–in Fayette, New York. The religion rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticized for its unorthodox practices, which included polygamy. In 1844, the threat of mob violence prompted Smith to call out a militia in the Mormon town of Nauvoo, Illinois. He was charged with treason by Illinois authorities and imprisoned with his brother Hyrum in the Carthage city jail. On June 27, 1844, an anti-Mormon mob with blackened faces stormed in and murdered the brothers. Two years later, Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, led an exodus of persecuted Mormons from Nauvoo along the western wagon trails in search of a sanctuary in “a place on this earth that nobody else wants.” The expedition, more than 10,000 pioneers strong, set up camp in present-day western Iowa while Young led a vanguard company across the Rocky Mountains to investigate Utah’s Great Salt Lake Valley, an arid and isolated spot devoid of human presence. On July 22, 1947, most of the party reached the Great Salt Lake, but Young, delayed by illness, did not arrive until July 24. Upon viewing the land, he immediately confirmed the valley to be the new homeland of the Latter-day Saints. Within days, Young and his companions began building the future Salt Lake City at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. Later that year, Young rejoined the main body of pioneers in Iowa, who named him president and prophet of the church. Having formally inherited the authority of Joseph Smith, he led thousands of more Mormons to the Great Salt Lake in 1848. Other large waves of Mormon pioneers followed. By 1852, 16,000 Mormons had come to the valley, some in wagons and some dragging handcarts. After early difficulties, Salt Lake City began to flourish. By 1869, 80,000 Mormons had made the trek to their promised land. In 1850, President Millard Fillmore named Brigham Young the first governor of the U.S. territory of Utah, and the territory enjoyed relative autonomy for several years. Relations became strained, however, when reports reached Washington that Mormon leaders were disregarding federal law and had publicly sanctioned the practice of polygamy. In 1857, President James Buchanan removed Young, who had 20 wives, from his position as governor and sent U.S. Army troops to Utah to establish federal authority. Young died in Salt Lake City in 1877 and was succeeded by John Taylor as president of the church. Tensions between the territory of Utah and the federal government continued until Wilford Woodruff, the new president of the Mormon church, issued his Manifesto in 1890, renouncing the traditional practice of polygamy and reducing the domination of the church over Utah communities. Six years later, the territory of Utah entered the Union as the 45th state.
1861 – Act “to provide for the temporary increase of the Navy” passed by Congress; gave President authority to take vessels into the Navy and appoint officers for them, to any extent deemed necessary; this con¬firmed action that had been taken by President Lincoln since April.
1862 – Rear Admiral Farragut’s fleet departed its station below Vicksburg, as the falling water level of the river and sickness among his ships’ crews necessitated withdrawal to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Farragut’s return to the lower Mississippi made abundantly clear the strategic significance of Vicksburg for, although the Navy held the vast majority of the river, Confederate control of Vicksburg enabled the South to continue to get some supplies for her armies in the East from Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. To prevent as much of this as possible, Rear Admiral Davis and Major General Samuel R. Curtis provided for combined Army-Navy expeditions along the banks of the Mississippi from Helena, Arkansas, to Vicksburg. Though supplies continued to move across the river, this action prevented the Confederates from maintaining and reinforcing batteries at strategic points, an important factor in the following year’s operations.
1862 – Martin Van Buren (79), the eighth president of the United States, died in Kinderhook, N.Y.
1863 – Battle at Battle Mountain, Virginia.
1863 – Rear Admiral Dahlgren’s ironclads and gunboats, including U.S.S. New Ironsides, Weehauken, Patapsco, Montauk, Catskill, Nantucket, Paul Jones, Ottawa, Seneca, and Dai Ching, bombarded Fort Wagner in support of Army operations ashore. Dahlgren reported the effort a success, noting that the ship’s fire “silenced the guns of Wagner and drove its garrison to shelter. This enabled our army to progress with the works which they had advanced during the night and to arm them.” The Admiral added in his diary that “General Gillmore telegraphed that his operation had suc-ceeded, and thanked me for the very efficient fire of the vessels.” The next day, learning from Gillmore that a Confederate offensive was planned for the 26th, Dahlgren quickly brought his forces afloat into action once again. Issuing detailed instructions to prevent an attack, Dahlgren added: “The enemy must not obtain the advantage he seeks, nor attempt it with impunity.”
1863 – Because of the French occupation of Mexico City some 6 weeks before and the apparently hostile attitude of Emperor Napoleon III toward the United States. General Banks at New Orleans was ordered to prepare an expedition to Texas. For some time Secretary Welles had advocated a similar move in order to halt the extensive blockade running via Matamoras and the legally neutral Rio Grande River. ”The use of the Rio Grande to evade the blockade,” he recorded in his diary, “and the establishment of regular lines of steamers to Matamoras did not disturb some of our people, but certain movements and recent givings-out of the French have alarmed Seward, who says Louis Napoleon is making an effort to get Texas; he therefore urges the immediate occupation of Galveston and also some other point.” The expedition could take two routes: striking by amphibious assault along the Texas coast, or via the Red River into the interior. In either case, a joint Army-Navy assault would be necessary. The expedition, after a beginning marked by delays and frustrations, got underway early in 1864.
1864 – Confederate General Jubal Early defeats Union troops under General George Crook to keep the Shenandoah Valley clear of Yankees. On June 13, 1864, General Robert E. Lee sent Early north from Petersburg to clear the Shenandoah of Union troops and relieve pressure on his own beleaguered force. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had been pinned in Petersburg after a bloody six-week campaign with General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac. The campaign mimicked that of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s in 1862, when the Confederates successfully relieved pressure on Richmond and held off several Union armies in the Valley. Early moved into Maryland in July and even threatened Washington before moving back up the Potomac and into the valley with Yankee troops in pursuit. On July 23, Early’s troops engaged the Union force under Crook near Kernstown, with no clear victory for either side. The next day, Early struck Crook with his entire force and found the Federals in a vulnerable position. The Yankees were routed and fled back down the valley. Early’s victory led to significant changes in the Union approach to the Shenandoah Valley. President Abraham Lincoln urged Grant to secure the area once and for all. Grant sent General Philip Sheridan to command the district in early August, and in the fall Sheridan dealt a series of defeats to Early and pacified the valley.
1864 – Confederate guerrillas captured and burned steamer Kingston, which had run aground the preceding day between Smith’s Point and Windmill Point on the Virginia shore of Chesapeake Bay.
1866 – Tennessee became the first state to be readmitted to the Union after the Civil War.
1870 – The 1st trans-US rail service began.
1897 – African-American soldiers of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps arrived in St. Louis, Mo., after completing a 40-day bike ride from Missoula, Montana.
1929 – President Hoover proclaimed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which renounced war as an instrument of foreign policy.
1936 – CGC Cayuga was ordered to San Sebastian, Spain as the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War necessitated the evacuation of U.S. citizens. While on this deployment the U.S. ambassador to Spain and his staff came on board and the ship then served as the U.S. embassy in Spain.
1938 – Instant coffee was invented. Nestle came up with the first instant coffee after 8 years of experiments.
1941 – The U.S. government denounced Japanese actions in Indochina.
1943 – The US 45th Division (OKARNG) captures Cefalu and Castelbouno, on the northern coast. Inland, American units advance on Nicosia.
1943 – The U.S. submarine Tinosa fired 15 torpedoes at a lone Japanese merchant ship, but none detonated.
1943 – British bombers raid Hamburg, Germany, by night in Operation Gomorrah, while Americans bomb it by day in its own “Blitz Week.” Britain had suffered the deaths of 167 civilians as a result of German bombing raids in July. Now the tables were going to turn. The evening of July 24 saw British aircraft drop 2,300 tons of incendiary bombs on Hamburg in just a few hours. The explosive power was the equivalent of what German bombers had dropped on London in their five most destructive raids. More than 1,500 German civilians were killed in that first British raid. Britain lost only 12 aircraft in this raid (791 flew), thanks to a new radar-jamming device called “Window,” which consisted of strips of aluminum foil dropped by the bombers en route to their target. These Window strips confused German radar, which mistook the strips for dozens and dozens of aircraft, diverting them from the trajectory of the actual bombers. To make matters worse for Germany, the U.S. Eighth Air Force began a more comprehensive bombing run of northern Germany, which included two raids on Hamburg during daylight hours. British attacks on Hamburg continued until November of that year. Although the percentage of British bombers lost increased with each raid as the Germans became more adept at distinguishing between Window diversions and actual bombers, Operation Gomorrah proved devastating to Hamburg-not to mention German morale. When it was over, 17,000 bomber sorties dropped more than 9,000 tons of explosives, killing more than 30,000 people and destroying 280,000 buildings, including industrial and munitions plants. The effect on Hitler, too, was significant. He refused to visit the burned-out cities, as the ruins bespoke nothing but the end of the war for him. Diary entries of high German officials from this period describe a similar despair, as they sought to come to terms with defeat.
1944 – Attacks of “Operation Cobra” by US 1st Army forces are scheduled to begin but are postponed due to poor weather and the consequent lack of air support.
1944 – The V Amphibious Corps, commanded by Major General Harry Schmidt, landed on Tinian, in the Mariana Islands. The following morning, the 2d and 4th Marine Divisions began a shoulder-to-shoulder southward sweep of the island. Organized enemy resistance faded within a week, and on 1 August, MajGen Schmidt declared the island secure. Coast Guard-manned transports that participated included USS Cambria and Cavalier.
1945 – At Potsdam, President Truman informs Stalin that a new and powerful weapon is now available for use against Japan but does not elaborate on the kind of weapon. He also authorizes the use of atomic bombs on Japan. Stalin is believed to be aware of the atomic bomb project, through the Soviet espionage network in the United States.
1945 – British and American carriers continue attacks. There are 15 American and 4 British carriers available for air operations against targets in the Inland Sea area, including the naval base at Kure and Kobe. Some 1600 planes are engaged. In addition, there is an Allied naval bombardment during the night (July 24-25) aimed at Kushimoto and Shionomisaki. It is estimated that more than 100 Japanese ships are sunk.
1945 – The Osaka-Nagoya area, the second largest population center in Japan, is bombed by 600 B-29 Superfortress bombers.
1950 – The U.S. Fifth Air Force relocated from Japan to Korea.
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.
1952 – Pres. Truman commuted Oscar Collazo’s death sentence to life imprisonment. On the same day he signed an act enlarging the self-government of Puerto Rico.
1958 – Jack Kilby (1923-2005) of Texas Instruments came up with the idea for creating the 1st integrated circuit on a piece of silicon. By September 12 he made a working prototype.
1959 – During the grand opening ceremony of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev engage in a heated debate about capitalism and communism in the middle of a model kitchen set up for the fair. The so-called “kitchen debate” became one of the most famous episodes of the Cold War. In late 1958, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to set up national exhibitions in each other’s nation as part of their new emphasis on cultural exchanges. The Soviet exhibition opened in New York City in June 1959; the U.S. exhibition opened in Sokolniki Park in Moscow in July. On July 24, before the Moscow exhibition was officially opened to the public, Vice President Nixon served as a host for a visit by Soviet leader Khrushchev. As Nixon led Khrushchev through the American exhibition, the Soviet leader’s famous temper began to flare. When Nixon demonstrated some new American color television sets, Khrushchev launched into an attack on the so-called “Captive Nations Resolution” passed by the U.S. Congress just days before. The resolution condemned the Soviet control of the “captive” peoples of Eastern Europe and asked all Americans to pray for their deliverance. After denouncing the resolution, Khrushchev then sneered at the U.S. technology on display, proclaiming that the Soviet Union would have the same sort of gadgets and appliances within a few years. Nixon, never one to shy away from a debate, goaded Khrushchev by stating that the Russian leader should “not be afraid of ideas. After all, you don’t know everything.” The Soviet leader snapped at Nixon, “You don’t know anything about communism–except fear of it.” With a small army of reporters and photographers following them, Nixon and Khrushchev continued their argument in the kitchen of a model home built in the exhibition. With their voices rising and fingers pointing, the two men went at each other. Nixon suggested that Khrushchev’s constant threats of using nuclear missiles could lead to war, and he chided the Soviet for constantly interrupting him while he was speaking. Taking these words as a threat, Khrushchev warned of “very bad consequences.” Perhaps feeling that the exchange had gone too far, the Soviet leader then noted that he simply wanted “peace with all other nations, especially America.” Nixon rather sheepishly stated that he had not “been a very good host.” The “kitchen debate” was front-page news in the United States the next day. For a few moments, in the confines of a “modern” kitchen, the diplomatic gloves had come off and America and the Soviet Union had verbally jousted over which system was superior–communism or capitalism. As with so many Cold War battles, however, there was no clear winner–except perhaps for the U.S. media, which had a field day with the dramatic encounter.
1961 – A US commercial plane was hijacked to Cuba and began a trend.
1964 – A race riot took place in Rochester, New York, and 4 people were killed. Violence and looting in Rochester spanned a period of approximately sixty hours, resulting in four deaths, at least 350 injuries, over 800 arrests, and property damage totalling more than a million dollars. The National Guard was called in to keep the peace. The riot was precipitated by the arrest of an allegedly drunk and disorderly African- American man at a Joseph Avenue street dance.
1965 – In the air war, four F-4C Phantom jets escorting a formation of U.S. bombers on a raid over munitions manufacturing facilities at Kang Chi, 55 miles northwest of Hanoi, are fired at from an unknown launching site. It was the first time the enemy had launched antiaircraft missiles at U.S. aircraft. One plane was destroyed and the other three damaged. The presence of ground-to-air antiaircraft missiles represented a rapidly improving air defense capability for the North Vietnamese. As the war progressed, North Vietnam, supplied by China and the Soviet Union, would fashion a very effective and integrated air defense system that proved to be a formidable challenge to American flyers conducting missions over North Vietnam.
1968 – The 154th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) from Arkansas arrives to begin its duties in patrolling the Sea of Japan. This squadron was one of 11 Air Guard units called to active duty in January 1968 in the partial mobilization prompted by the North Korean seizure of the USS Pueblo and the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam. Combined with the 165th (KY) and 192nd (NV) TRS to form the 123rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, each squadron worked on a rotation basis spending three months each at Itazuke, at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska and patrolling around the entrance of the Panama Canal while stationed at Howard Air Force Base, Panama. At the end of a 90-day tour they rotated to their new assignment. All three squadrons were released from active duty by June 1969.
1969 – Muhammad Ali was convicted on appeal for refusing induction in US Army.
1969 – At 12:51 EDT, Apollo 11, the U.S. spacecraft that had taken the first astronauts to the surface of the moon, safely returns to Earth. The American effort to send astronauts to the moon had its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” Eight years later, on July 16, 1969, the world watched as Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, separated from the command module, where a third astronaut, Michael Collins, remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston a famous message: “The Eagle has landed.” At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. Seventeen minutes later, at 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke the following words to millions listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” A moment later, he stepped off the lunar module’s ladder, becoming the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. Aldrin joined him on the moon’s surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon–July 1969 A.D–We came in peace for all mankind.” At 5:35 p.m., Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:51 p.m. on July 24. There would be five more successful lunar landing missions, and one unplanned lunar swing-by, Apollo 13. The last men to walk on the moon, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972.
1970 – In Laos Capt. Donald Bloodworth and his pilot were lost on a night reconnaissance mission in a F-4D fighter-bomber. Bloodworth’s remains were returned to the US in 1998.
1974 – The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Nixon had to turn over subpoenaed White House tape recordings to the Watergate special prosecutor.
1975 – An “Apollo” spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific, completing a mission which included the first-ever docking with a “Soyuz” capsule from the Soviet Union.
1983 – The Space Shuttle Challenger landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, making Sally Ride the first American woman in space.
1987 – The re-flagged Kuwaiti supertanker Bridgeton was damaged after hitting a mine in the Persian Gulf.
1989 – President Bush said he was “aggrieved” about allegations that veteran U.S. diplomat Felix S. Bloch might have spied for the Soviet Union.
1990 – Iraq, accusing Kuwait of conspiring to harm its economy through oil overproduction, massed tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border. US warships in Persian Gulf were placed on alert.
1993 – In Somalia, two Green Berets are WIA when their HUMVEEs are ambushed.
1998 – A gunman burst past a metal detector at the US Capital and killed 2 policemen, officers Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson, and wounded a visitor. Russell Eugene Weston Jr. (41) was captured after being shot.
2001 – A Chinese court sentenced two U.S. residents to 10 years in prison on charges of spying for Taiwan. China released Gao Zhan and Qin Guangguang two days later.
2003 – The House and Senate intelligence committees issued their final report on the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The report cited blunders, oversights and miscalculations that prevented authorities from stopping the attackers but failed to address these issues in the recommendations it made.
2004 – An online statement by a group representing itself as al-Qaida’s European branch threatened to turn Australia into “pools of blood” if it doesn’t withdraw its troops from Iraq.
2014 – ISIS blew up the Mosque and tomb of the Prophet Yunus (Jonah) in Mosul, with no reported casualties. Residents in the area said that ISIS had erased a piece of Iraqi heritage.
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