1746 – Thomas Heyward, soldier, signed Declaration of Independence, was born.
1863 – Confederate John Mosby began a series of attacks against General Meade’s Army of the Potomac as it tried to pursue General Robert E. Lee in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby was known as “The Gray Ghost.” The rather ordinary looking Mosby led his Partisan Rangers in guerilla warfare operations that continually confounded Union commanders in the Piedmont region of Virginia. Learn more about Mosby‘s Confederacy in Faquier and Loudoun counties.
1863 – Under the command of Lieutenant Commander English, U.S.S. Beauregard and Oleander and boats from U.S.S. Sagamore and Para attacked New Smyrna, Florida. After shelling the town, the Union force “captured one sloop loaded with cotton, one schooner not laden; caused them to destroy several vessels, some of which were loaded with cotton and about ready to sail. They burned large quantities of it on shore. . . . Landed a strong force, destroyed all the buildings that had been occupied by troops.” The Union Navy’s capability to strike swiftly and effectively at any point on the South’s sea perimeter kept the Confederacy off balance.
1864 – Confederates under General John Bell Hood make a third attempt to break General William T. Sherman’s hold on Atlanta. Like the first two, this attack failed, destroying the Confederate Army of Tennessee’s offensive capabilities. Hood had replaced Joseph Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee on July 18, 1864, because Johnston had failed to keep Sherman away from Atlanta. Upon assuming command of the army, Hood quickly scrapped Johnston’s defensive strategy and attacked Sherman, first on July 20 at Peachtree Creek, and then on July 22 at the Battle of Atlanta. Both failed, but that did not deter Hood from making another attempt to break the Union hold on the important Southern city. When Sherman sent General Oliver O. Howard southeast of Atlanta to cut the Macon and Western Railroad, one of the remaining supply lines, Hood sent Stephen D. Lee’s corps to block the move. Lee attacked at Ezra Church, but the battle did not go as planned for the Confederates. Instead of striking the Union flank, Lee’s corps hit the Union center, where the Yankee troops were positioned behind barricades made from logs and pews taken from the church. Throughout the afternoon, Lee made several attacks on the Union lines. Each was turned back, and Lee was not able to get around the Union flank. The battle was costly for an army that was already outnumbered. Lee lost 3,000 men to the Union’s 630. More important, Hood lost his offensive capability. For the next month, he could do no more than sit in trenches around Atlanta and wait for Sherman to deal him the knockout blow.
1864 – Large side-wheel double-enders U.S.S. Mendota, Commander Nichols, and U.S.S. Agawam, temporarily commanded by Lieutenant George Dewey, shelled Confederate positions across Four Mile Creek, on the James River. Action was in support of Union moves to clear the area and restore full Northern use of the river at that Point.
1866 – Metric system became a legal measurement system in US.
1868 – Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution. Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts, where new state governments, based on universal manhood suffrage, were to be established. Thus began the period known as Radical Reconstruction, which saw the 14th Amendment, which had been passed by Congress in 1866, ratified in July 1868. The amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of African American citizenship by stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside.” The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the “equal protection of the laws.” In the decades after its adoption, the equal protection clause was cited by a number of African American activists who argued that racial segregation denied them the equal protection of law. However, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that states could constitutionally provide segregated facilities for African Americans, so long as they were equal to those afforded white persons. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which announced federal toleration of the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
1868 – Pres. Johnson signed the Burlingame Treaty. It was negotiated by Anson Burlingame, who represented the interests of China, and committed the US to a policy of noninterference in Chinese affairs. It also established commercial ties and provided unrestricted immigration of Chinese to the US.
1896 – The city of Miami, Fla., was incorporated.
1898 – Spain, through the offices of the French embassy in Washington, D.C., requested peace terms in its war with the United States.
1914 – Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia at noon.
1914 – The British government orders its warships to their various war bases. The main force, the Home Fleet, begins to assemble at its anchorages in Scapa Flow in the Orkneys off the northeast coast of Scotland from where it can dominate the North Sea and block the German fleet’s access to the world’s oceans.
1915 – US forces invaded Haiti and stayed until 1924.
1916 – Navy establishes a Code and Signal Section which initially worked against German ciphers and tested the security of communications during U.S. naval training maneuvers.
1918 – Marine Corps BGen John A. Lejeune assumed command of the 2d U.S. Army Division in France.
1920 – Revolutionary and bandit Pancho Villa surrendered to the Mexican government.
1923 – Best known today for his inadvertent role in the death of Sitting Bull, the prominent Indian agent James McLaughlin dies in Washington, D.C. Unlike some Indian agents of the later 19th century, McLaughlin genuinely liked and respected his charges. His wife was half Sioux, and she taught her husband to speak her native language reasonably well. In 1871, this valuable skill won McLaughlin a position at the Devils Lake Indian Agency in Dakota Territory and he eventually became the chief agent. At Devils Lake, McLaughlin gained a reputation for fair and sympathetic treatment of Indians. His appreciation for Indians was strictly limited, however. Like most Indian agents of the day, McLaughlin believed that his mission was to “civilize” the Indians by forcing them to adopt white ways. McLaughlin viewed traditional Indian practices like the Sun Dance and buffalo hunting as obstacles to the inevitable assimilation of the Native Americans into white society. Thus, while he worked hard to improve Indian living conditions, he simultaneously tried to stamp out their culture by promoting the use of English and the adoption of sedentary farming. In 1881, McLaughlin was transferred to the larger Sioux reservation at Standing Rock, South Dakota. Two years later, the great Sioux Chief Sitting Bull was assigned to the reservation. McLaughlin worried about Sitting Bull. The chief was infamous for his role in the defeat of Custer’s 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. He was also among the last of the Sioux to accept confinement to a reservation, and his disdain for white ways was well known. For several years, McLaughlin and Sitting Bull enjoyed a strained but peaceful relationship. In 1890, however, a popular religious movement known as the Ghost Dance swept through the Standing Rock reservation. The Ghost Dancers believed that an apocalyptic day was approaching when all whites would be wiped out, the buffalo would return, and the Indians could return to their traditional ways. McLaughlin wrongly suspected that Sitting Bull was a leader of the Ghost Dance movement. In December 1890, he ordered the arrest of the old chief, believing this might calm the tense situation on the reservation. Unfortunately, during the arrest, a fight broke out and McLaughlin’s policemen killed Sitting Bull. The murder only exacerbated the climate of fear and mistrust, which contributed to the tragic massacre of 146 Indians by U.S. soldiers at Wounded Knee later that month. In 1895, McLaughlin moved to Washington, D.C., where he became an inspector for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He eventually became familiar with Indians all around the nation, leading him to write a 1910 memoir entitled, My Friend the Indian. He died in Washington in 1923 at the age of 81 and was buried at the South Dakota reservation town that bears his name.
1926 – Team of scientists from Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and Carnegie Institution determine height of the Ionosphere through use of radio pulse transmitter developed by NRL.
1931 – Congress made “The Star-Spangled Banner” our 2nd national anthem.
1932 – During the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover orders the U.S. Army under General Douglas MacArthur to evict by force the Bonus Marchers from the nation’s capital. Two months before, the so-called “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group of some 1,000 World War I veterans seeking cash payments for their veterans’ bonus certificates, had arrived in Washington, D.C. Most of the marchers were unemployed veterans in desperate financial straits. In June, other veteran groups spontaneously made their way to the nation’s capital, swelling the Bonus Marchers to nearly 20,000 strong. Camping in vacant government buildings and in open fields made available by District of Columbia Police Chief Pelham D. Glassford, they demanded passage of the veterans’ payment bill introduced by Representative Wright Patman. While awaiting a vote on the issue, the veterans conducted themselves in an orderly and peaceful fashion, and on June 15 the Patman bill passed in the House of Representatives. However, two days later, its defeat in the Senate infuriated the marchers, who refused to return home. In an increasingly tense situation, the federal government provided money for the protesters’ trip home, but 2,000 refused the offer and continued to protest. On July 28, President Herbert Hoover ordered the army to evict them forcibly. General MacArthur’s men set their camps on fire, and the veterans were driven from the city. Hoover, increasingly regarded as insensitive to the needs of the nation’s many poor, was much criticized by the public and press for the severity of his response.
1941 – Japanese forces begin to occupy bases in southern Indochina. It is clear that the main use for such bases would be in an invasion of Malyasia, the East Indies or the Philippines.
1941 – American and British assets in Japan are frozen in retaliation for similar measures in the USA and UK on July 26th. Japanese assets in the Dutch East Indies are frozen and the oil deals cancelled.
1942 – Coast Guard J4F Widgeon, CG tail number V-214, piloted by Chief Aviation Pilot Henry White and carrying crewman RM1c Henderson Boggs, attacked a surfaced German submarine off the coast of Louisiana with a single depth charge. After the war, the US Navy credited V-214 with sinking the Nazi sub U-166. White was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Boggs was awarded the Air Medal. Nevertheless the U-166 was later learned to have been sunk a few days earlier by a Navy patrol craft. White had actually attacked the U-171, which reported in her war diary as having been attacked by an unidentified aircraft in the very location that White reported attacking a U-boat. The U-171 escaped with no damage.
1943 – President Roosevelt announced the end of coffee rationing.
1943 – On New Georgia the American attack continues. The present objective is Horseshoe Hill. Two Japanese destroyers are sunk by aircraft near Rabaul.
1943 – The Japanese evacuate most of their garrison on Kiska Island with being detected by American forces.
1943 – Nicosia is captured by American troops and Agira is taken by Canadians.
1944 – The first objective of “Operation Cobra” is reached by elements of US 1st Army. The US 4th Armored Division enters Coutances.
1944 – On Guam, American marines occupy much of the Orote Peninsula. Other US forces take Mount Chachao and Mount Alutom in the continuing effort to link up the beachheads.
1944 – LTJG Clarence Samuels became the first African-American to command a “major” Coast Guard vessel since Michael Healy and the first to achieve command of a Coast Guard vessel “during wartime” when he assumed command of the Light Vessel No. 115 on 28 July 1944.
1945 – Premier Suzuki holds a press conference in which he says that the government of Japan will “take no notice” of the Potsdam Declaration. While it is possible that the wording he used was intended to mean “make no comment on for the moment,” it is clear that the Japanese government does not intend to surrender immediately and unconditionally, which is the implicit expectation of the Allied declaration.
1945 – Some 2000 Allied planes bomb Kure, Kobe and targets in the Inland Sea. The air strikes sink the Japanese aircraft carrier Amagi, the old cruiser Izumo, the light cruiser Oyodo and a destroyer.
1945 – In a ringing declaration indicating that America’s pre-World War II isolation was truly at an end, the U.S. Senate approves the charter establishing the United Nations. In the years to come, the United Nations would be the scene of some of the most memorable Cold War confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1919, following the close of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson implored the U.S. Senate to approve the charter for the League of Nations. Postwar isolationism and partisan politics killed U.S. participation in the League, however. In July 1945, with World War II coming to a close, the U.S. Senate indicated the sea change in American attitudes toward U.S. involvement in world affairs by approving the charter for the United Nations by a vote of 89 to 2. President Harry S. Truman was delighted with the vote, declaring, “The action of the Senate substantially advances the cause of world peace.” Acting Secretary of State Joseph Grew also applauded the Senate’s action, noting, “Millions of men, women and children have died because nations took to the naked sword instead of the conference table to settle their differences.” The U.N. charter would provide the “foundation and cornerstone on which the international organization to keep the peace will be built.” Once the charter had been ratified by a majority of the 50 nations that hammered out the charter in June 1945, the U.S. Senate formally approved U.S. participation in the United Nations in December 1945. Whether the United Nations became a “foundation and cornerstone” of world peace in the years that followed is debatable, but it was certainly the scene of several notable Cold War confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1950, with the Russians absent from the U.N. Security Council, the United States pushed through a resolution providing U.N. military assistance to South Korea in the Korean War. And in one memorable moment, during a speech denouncing Western imperialism in 1960, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev took off one of his shoes and pounded his table with it to make his point.
1945 – The Japanese attack American ships around Okinawa, in response to the Allied strikes on Japan. The American destroyer Callaghan is sunk by a Japanese suicide plane. It is the last ship to be destroyed by a Kamikaze attack.
1945 – The Potsdam conference resumes. The new British prime minister, Atlee, and foreign secretary, Bevin, arrive in Potsdam to resume the conference with American and Soviet leaders.
1945 – A twin-engine U.S. Army B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building between the 78th and 79th floors and killed 14  people. The plane’s propellers severed elevator cables and sent one on a 38-story fall in which the operator survived.
1952 – Vice Admiral J. J. Clark, commander of the 7th Fleet, authorized the destroyer USS Orleck to assume the classification “DTS” – “Destroyer, Train Smasher” – after the Orleck destroyed a North Korean train with gunfire.
1959 – In preparation for statehood, Hawaiians voted to send the first Chinese-American, Hiram L. Fong, to the Senate and the first Japanese-American, Daniel K. Inouye, Medal of Honor recipient, to the House of Representatives. Hiram Fong served 3 terms.
1961 – Scott E. Parazynski, MD, astronaut, was born in Little Rock, Ark.
1962 – Mariner I, launched to Mars, fell into the Atlantic Ocean.
1964 – Ranger 7 was launched toward the Moon. It sent back 4308 TV pictures.
1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson announces that he has ordered an increase in U.S. military forces in Vietnam, from the present 75,000 to 125,000. Johnson also said that he would order additional increases if necessary. He pointed out that to fill the increase in military manpower needs, the monthly draft calls would be raised from 17,000 to 35,000. At the same time, Johnson reaffirmed U.S. readiness to seek a negotiated end to the war, and appealed to the United Nations and any of its member states to help further this goal. There was an immediate reaction throughout the world to this latest escalation, with communist leaders attacking Johnson for his decision to send more troops to Vietnam. Most members of Congress were reported to favor Johnson’s decision, while most U.S. state governors, convening for their annual conference, also supported a resolution backing Johnson. This decision to send more troops was regarded as a major turning point, as it effectively guaranteed U.S. military leaders a blank check to pursue the war.
1972 – In response to Soviet accusations that the United States had conducted a two-month bombing campaign intentionally to destroy the dikes and dams of the Tonkin Delta in North Vietnam, a CIA report is made public by the Nixon administration. The report revealed that U.S. bombing at 12 locations had in fact caused accidental minor damage to North Vietnam’s dikes, but the damage was unintentional and the dikes were not the intended targets of the bombings. The nearly 2,000 miles of dikes on the Tonkin plain, and more than 2,000 along the sea, made civilized life possible in the Red River Delta. Had the dikes been intentionally targeted, their destruction would have destroyed centuries of patient work and caused the drowning or starvation of hundreds of thousands of peasants. Bombing the dikes had been advocated by some U.S. strategists since the beginning of U.S. involvement in the war, but had been rejected outright by U.S. presidents sitting during the war as an act of terrorism.
1973 – Launch of Skylab 3, the second manned mission to the first U.S. manned space station, was piloted by MAJ Jack R. Lousma, USMC with CAPT Alan L. Bean, USN as the Commander of the mission and former Navy electronics officer, Owen K. Garriott as Science Pilot. The mission lasted 59 days, 11 hours and included 858 Earth orbits. Recovery by USS New Orleans (LPH-11).
1986 – NASA released the transcript from doomed Challenger. Pilot Michael Smith could be heard saying, “Uh-oh!” as spacecraft disintegrated.
1987 – Attorney General Edwin Meese told the congressional Iran-Contra committees that President Reagan was “quite surprised” the previous November when Meese told him about the diversion of Iran arms-sales profits for use by the Contra rebels.
1991 – President Bush warned Iraq it would be making “an enormous mistake” if it failed to disclose its nuclear weapons program to United Nations inspectors.
1992 – Iraq opened its Agricultural Ministry to U.N. weapons experts after a three-week standoff.
1993 – President Clinton declared himself ready to provide air power to protect peacekeepers in Bosnia if he received a request from the United Nations.
1995 – Guard members of the “Sinai Battalion” return home having completed their six month tour of peace keeping duty along the border between Israel and Egypt. The battalion, which included 401 Guard volunteers from 24 states, was part of the on-going Multinational Force established by the 1978 Peace Accords ending the war between the two nations. The Regular Army commander of the Force praised them as the “best prepared U.S. battalion to rotate to the Sinai.”
1996 – Federal investigators reported “very good leads” in the hunt for the Olympic bomber, a day after the explosion in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. President Clinton, addressing a veterans convention in New Orleans, called on Congress to pass expanded anti-terrorism measures.
1999 – Defense Sec. William Cohen announced that NATO commander Army Gen’l. Wesley Clark would be replaced by Air Force Gen’l. Joseph Ralston.
1999 – In Afghanistan Taliban fighters launched an offensive to crush warlord Ahmed Shah Massood following weeks of preparations.
2001 – US Sec. of State Colin Powell met with China’s Pres. Zemin and reached agreement to restart a formal dialogue with the US on human rights and weapons proliferation.
2001 – Samir Ait Mohamed (32) was detained in Vancouver on immigration charges. On Nov 15 he was arrested on US charges for plotting to bomb the Los Angeles airport during millennium festivities.
2001 – Jamal Beghal (36), a French-Algerian, was arrested in Dubai, UAR, with a false French passport while traveling to Europe from Afghanistan. He was extradited to France in Sep 30. He told police of a plans to bomb the US Embassy in Paris on orders from Abu Zubaydah, a top bin Laden lieutenant.
2002 – Aircraft from U.S.-British air patrols over southern Iraq bombed an Iraqi communications site, the sixth strike this month in retaliation for what the Pentagon says were hostile actions by Iraq.
2003 – In Saudi Arabia 6 suspected terrorists were killed in a firefight with Saudi police, who raided a farm where they were hiding out. Two police also were killed.
2004 – A bomb exploded in a mosque where Afghans were registering for upcoming elections, killing six people including two U.N. staffers.
2004 – A suicide car bomb exploded on a downtown boulevard in Baqouba, shredding a bus full of passengers and nearby shops and killing at least 68 people, almost all Iraqi civilians.
2004 – A fierce battle between insurgents and Iraqi soldiers fighting alongside multinational forces in the south-central city of Suwariyah left 7 Iraqi soldiers and 35 insurgents dead.
2009 – Australia withdrew its combat forces as the Australian military presence in Iraq ended, per an agreement with the Iraqi government.
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