1647 – Canonicus Grand Chief Sachem of the Narragansett Indian Tribe dies. He was Chief Sachem of the Narragansett Tribe (rivals to the Wampanoag) at the time of the Pilgrims landing in Plymouth.
1738 – George III was born (d.1820). He was the King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1760-1820, and the King of Hanover from 1815-1820. He was responsible for losing the American colonies. He passed the Royal Marriages Act, which made it unlawful for his children to marry without his consent.
1756 – Quakers left the assembly of Pennsylvania.
1789 – The US constitution, enacted as sovereign law, went into effect.
1792 – Captain George Vancouver claims Puget Sound for the Kingdom of Great Britain.
1794 – Congress passed a Neutrality Act that banned Americans from serving in armed forces of foreign powers.
1800 – The White House was completed and President & Mrs. John Adams moved in.
1805 – The US signed a Treaty of Peace and Amity at Tripoli. The US agreed to pay Tripoli $60,000 in war reparations and was in turn absolved of tribute demands. The treaty was ratified by the US on Apr 17, 1806.
1812 – Following Louisiana’s admittance as a U.S. state, the Louisiana Territory is renamed the Missouri Territory.
1825 – General Lafayette, a French officer in the American Revolutionary War, speaks at what would become Lafayette Square, Buffalo, during his visit to the United States.
1855 – Major Henry C. Wayne departs New York aboard the USS Supply to procure camels to establish the U.S. Camel Corps.
1862 – Confederate forces slip out of Fort Pillow, a key stronghold on the Mississippi River, clearing the way for the Union capture of Memphis. Fort Pillow lay south of Island No. 10, the Confederates’ key defense from a Northern assault. Although considered a backup to Island No. 10, Fort Pillow was really a significant fortification in its own right. After a Union campaign captured the island in early April, Fort Pillow was all that stood between the Yankees and Memphis. At the beginning of the war, Union military leaders had concocted the Anaconda Plan, which called for the dismemberment of the Confederacy piece by piece. The first part of the plan involved capturing the Mississippi River through operations from both the north and the Gulf of Mexico. By mid-April, a combined Union land force and naval squadron approached Fort Pillow. Most of the land force, however, had to be diverted to serve in northern Mississippi, so only 1,200 troops remained. Although the land force was too small to take the fort, Yankee ships began a weeks-long bombardment. On May 25, an additional flotilla arrived to step up the pressure on the Confederate bastion. Events in northern Mississippi sealed the fate of Fort Pillow. The Confederates evacuated Corinth on June 4 and fell back to a more defensible position in central Mississippi, leaving Fort Pillow dangerously isolated in Union-held territory, with no support from the southeast. On June 4, the Rebel garrison slipped away from the fort, destroying what cannons and provisions they could not carry with them. That set the stage for the capture of Memphis on June 6.
1862 – President Lincoln, with Secretaries Stanton and Chase on board, proceeded to Hampton Roads on steamer Miami to personally direct the stalled Peninsular Campaign. The following day, Lincoln informed Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough: “I shall be found either at General Wool’s [Fort Monroe] or on board the Miami.” The President directed gunboat operations in the James River and the bombardment of Sewell’s Point by the blockading squadron in the five days he acted as Commander-in-Chief in the field.
1863 – Joint Army-Navy expedition including U.S.S. Commodore Morris, Lieutenant Commander Gillis; U.S.S. Commodore Jones, Lieutenant Commander John G. Mitchell; Army gunboat Smith Briggs, and transport Winnissimet with 400 troops embarked, ascended the Mattapony River for the purpose of destroying a foundry above Walkerton, Virginia, where Confederate ordnance was being manufactured. The troops were landed at Walkerton and marched to the Ayletts area where the machinery, a flour mill, and a large quantity of grain were destroyed. Reembarking the troops and captured livestock, the force fell down river as the gunboats “dropped shells into many deserted houses and completely scoured the banks, and sweeping all the points on the river.
1863 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee continues to mobilize his army for an invasion of Pennsylvania by sending Richard Ewell’s corps toward the Shenandoah Valley.
1864 – With Gen. Sherman again flanking them, Confederates under General Joseph Johnston retreated to the mountains before Marietta, Georgia.
1876 – A mere 83 hours after leaving New York City, the Transcontinental Express train arrives in San Francisco. That any human being could travel across the entire nation in less than four days was inconceivable to previous generations of Americans. During the early 19th century, when Thomas Jefferson first dreamed of an American nation stretching from “sea to shining sea,” it took the president 10 days to travel the 225 miles from Monticello to Philadelphia via carriage. Even with frequent changing of horses, the 100-mile journey from New York to Philadelphia demanded two days hard travel in a light stagecoach. At such speeds, the coasts of the continent-wide American nation were months apart. How could such a vast country ever hope to remain united? As early as 1802, Jefferson had some glimmer of an answer. “The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam,” he predicted, “[to a carriage on wheels] will make a great change in the situation of man.” Though Jefferson never saw a train in his lifetime, he had glimpsed the future with the idea. Within half a century, America would have more railroads than any other nation in the world. By 1869, the first transcontinental line linking the coasts was completed. Suddenly, a journey that had previously taken months using horses could be made in less than a week. Five days after the transcontinental railroad was completed, daily passenger service over the rails began. The speed and comfort offered by rail travel was so astonishing that many Americans could scarcely believe it, and popular magazines wrote glowing accounts of the amazing journey. For the wealthy, a trip on the transcontinental railroad was a luxurious experience. First-class passengers rode in beautifully appointed cars with plush velvet seats that converted into snug sleeping berths. The finer amenities included steam heat, fresh linen daily, and gracious porters who catered to their every whim. For an extra $4 a day, the wealthy traveler could opt to take the weekly Pacific Hotel Express, which offered first-class dining on board. As one happy passenger wrote, “The rarest and richest of all my journeying through life is this three-thousand miles by rail.” The trip was a good deal less speedy and comfortable for passengers unwilling or unable to pay the premium fares. Whereas most of the first-class passengers traveled the transcontinental line for business or pleasure, the third-class occupants were often emigrants hoping to make a new start in the West. A third-class ticket could be purchased for only $40–less than half the price of the first-class fare. At this low rate, the traveler received no luxuries. Their cars, fitted with rows of narrow wooden benches, were congested, noisy, and uncomfortable. The railroad often attached the coach cars to freight cars that were constantly shunted aside to make way for the express trains. Consequently, the third-class traveler’s journey west might take 10 or more days. Even under these trying conditions, few travelers complained. Even 10 days spent sitting on a hard bench seat was preferable to six months walking alongside a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail. Railroad promotions, however, naturally focused on the speedy express trains. The arrival of the Transcontinental Express train in San Francisco on this day in 1876 was widely celebrated in the newspapers and magazines of the day. With this new express service, a businessman could leave New York City on Monday morning, spend 83 hours in relaxing comfort, and arrive refreshed and ready for work in San Francisco by Thursday evening. The powerful agent of steam had effectively shrunk a vast nation to a manageable size.
1896 – At approximately 1:30 a.m., Henry Ford test-drove his Quadricycle, the first automobile he ever designed or drove. Ford was working at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit at the time that he began building the Quadricycle. He had reportedly seen an article on the gasoline engine in American Machinist while in the company of friend and fellow engineer, Charles King. In King’s recollection Ford claimed, “I want to build one of these.” Ford employed the help of his friends in the Detroit engineering community to build an internal combustion engine on his kitchen table. It’s important to note to what extent Ford was a visionary and an organizer. He was an engineer, of course, but he didn’t by any means accomplish his engineering feats alone. Men like King, along with a whole slew of other engineers, volunteered their time to Ford’s projects. King provided Ford with a whole crew of workers who worked in the makeshift machine shop Ford had constructed in his garage behind his Bagley Avenue residence in Detroit. Ford even convinced his neighbor, Felix Julian, to donate his half of the shed to the cause. King was building his own vehicle at the time, and actually preempted Ford in testing the horseless carriage in March of 1896. Ford followed King’s carriage’s test run on his bicycle. Ford did make one major innovation in building his first vehicle: he decided not to attach an engine to an existing carriage, but rather to construct a four-wheel body based on the principles of bicycle manufacturing. Ford completed his “Quadricycle” early in the morning on this day in 1896. He couldn’t wait to test the invention. Only one of his associates, Jim Bishop, was present at the time of the vehicle’s completion. In all of his enthusiasm in getting the car together, Ford failed to consider that his contraption was wider than the doors of the shed in which he built it. He and Bishop set upon the door and adjacent walls with axes in order to hack an entrance sufficient for the Quadricycle. The 500-pound, two-cylinder vehicle came to life in the alley behind Ford’s house. Ford drove it down Bagley Avenue to Grand River Avenue, to Washington Boulevard, when the Quadricycle stopped. Bishop and Ford pushed the automobile to the Edison plant, where they replaced a nut and spring that had come loose. The next month, Henry drove his vehicle to his father’s farm to show it off. His father apparently walked around it cautiously. Later he expressed his doubts to one of his neighbors: “John and William (Henry’s brothers) are all right, but Henry worries me. He doesn’t seem to settle down, and I don’t know what’s going to become of him.” Maybe he’ll become the most powerful citizen in the country!
1911 – Gold was discovered in Alaska’s Indian Creek.
1917 – American men begin registering for the draft.
1918 – General Erich Ludendorff calls off his twin offensives, Bluecher and Yorck, which began on 27 May. Although his assault units have advanced to a maximum depth of 20 miles over a 30 mile line they have run out of steam. He is also facing increasingly strong counterattacks from French and , newly arrived, US forces.
1919 – US marines invaded Costa Rica.
1934 – USS Ranger, first ship designed from the keel up as a carrier, is commissioned at Norfolk, VA.
1939 – During what became known as the “Voyage of the Damned,” the SS St. Louis, carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees from Germany, was turned away from the Florida coast. Also denied permission to dock in Cuba, the ship eventually returned to Europe. The passengers were divided among England, France, Belgium and Holland and a number of the refugees later died in Nazi concentration camps. By 2003 efforts to track their fates identified 935 out of the 937 passengers. Some 260 ended in Nazi killing centers.
1942 – Japanese Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, commander of the fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor, launches a raid on Midway Island with almost the entirety of the Japanese navy. As part of a strategy to widen its sphere of influence and conquest, the Japanese set their sights on an island group in the central Pacific, Midway, as well as the Aleutians, off the coast of Alaska. They were also hoping to draw the badly wounded U.S. navy into a battle, determined to finish it off. The American naval forces were depleted: The damaged carrier Yorktown had to be repaired in a mere three days, to be used along with the Enterprise and Hornet, all that was left in the way of aircraft carriers after the bombing at Pearl Harbor. On the morning of June 4, Admiral Nagumo launched his first strike with 108 aircraft, and did significant damage to U.S. installations at Midway. The Americans struck back time and again at Japanese ships, but accomplished little real damage, losing 65 of their own aircraft in their initial attempts. But Nagumo underestimated the tenacity of both Admiral Chester Nimitz and Admiral Raymond Spruance, commanders of the American forces. He also miscalculated tactically by ordering a second wave of bombers to finish off what he thought was only a remnant of American resistance (the U.S. forces had been able to conceal their position because of reconnaissance that anticipated the Midway strike) before his first wave had sufficient opportunity to rearm. A fifth major engagement by 55 U.S. dive-bombers took full advantage of Nagumo’s confused strategy, and sunk three of the four Japanese carriers, all cluttered with aircraft and fuel trying to launch another attack against what they now realized-too late–was a much larger American naval force than expected. A fourth Japanese carrier, the Hiryu was crippled, but not before its aircraft finished off the noble American Yorktown. The attack on Midway was an unmitigated disaster for the Japanese, resulting in the loss of 322 aircraft and 3,500 men. They were forced to withdraw from the area before attempting even a landing on the island they sought to conquer.
1943 – Zoot suit riots took place in LA. Rioting servicemen conduct “search and destroy” raids on Mexican Americans in the downtown area — whether their victims are wearing zoot suits or not. The servicemen employ twenty taxis to look for zoot suiters.
1944 – The U-505 became the first enemy submarine captured by the U.S. Navy under Admiral Dan Gallery. The keel for the U-505 was laid on June 12, 1940. It launched from Hamburg the following year. During its career, the U-505 gained the unwelcome but lucky distinction of being the most heavily damaged U-boat to manage to return to port. Under the command of Harald Lange, the boat was attacked by an American task group led by the USS Guadalcanal. Crewmen from the destroyer escort USS Pillsbury managed to capture the U-505 before the submariners could in scuttle her. This represented the first time since 1815 that the US Navy captured an enemy warship on the high seas (the capture remained a secret). After the war, Navy plans to scuttle the U-boat in a gunnery exercise were themselves scrapped when the president of Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry voiced interest and a plan to use the entire submarine as part of an exhibit. The U-505 was dedicated as a permanent exhibit and war memorial at the museum on September 25, 1954.
1944 – The U.S. Fifth Army entered Rome, beginning the liberation of the Italian capital during World War II.
1944 – The Allied Expeditionary Force convoys, bound for Normandy, are called back to port because of poor weather conditions expected for June 5th. Eisenhower decides, however, that the invasion can take place on June 6th. The poor weather has also encouraged the German defenders in occupied France. Rommel, commanding Army Group B, decides to go to Germany for his wife’s birthday on June 6th and to meet with Hitler. Other German commanders in the Normandy area are at a training exercise in Brittany.
1945 – On Okinawa, two regiments of US 6th Marine Division make landings on the Oroku peninsula in an attempt to outflank Japanese defensive positions. However, many of the Japanese troops formerly in the Shuri Line have withdrawn to the Oroku peninsula. General Buckner, commanding US 10th Army, reduces the frontage of the US 3rd Amphibious Corps, which has suffered the greatest losses, and increases the frontage of the US 24th Corps.
1945 – US, Russia, England & France agreed to split occupied Germany.
1947 – The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Labor Management Relations Act also known as the Taft-Hartley Act. It provided for an 80-day injunction against strikes that endangered public health and safety.
1951 – Eighth Army opened its forward command post in Seoul. The echelon at Taegu was designated at Eighth Army Main.
1953 – The communists launched nine stiff counterattacks to halt U.N. forces advancing on the logistical complexes of the Chorwon-Kumhwa-Pyonggang triangle.
1953 – An atomic bomb test explosion took place at Yucca Flats, Nevada, equivalent to 50,000 tons of TNT. This was double the 1945 blast over Hiroshima.
1961 – President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union, meeting in Vienna, strike a bargain to support a neutral and independent Laos. Laos had been the scene of an ongoing communist insurgency by the Pathet Lao guerrillas. In July 1959, the North Vietnamese Politburo had formed Group 959 to furnish weapons and supplies to the Pathet Lao. By 1960, the Pathet Lao was threatening the survival of the Royal Lao government. On January 19, 1961, when President Eisenhower was about to leave office, he told Kennedy that Laos “was the key to the entire area of Southeast Asia.” Kennedy considered intervening in Laos with U.S. combat troops, but decided against it. Nevertheless, the American president did not want to lose Laos to the communists. Kennedy was prepared to accept neutrality for Laos as a solution. Eventually a 14-nation conference would convene in Geneva and an agreement was signed in July 1962, proclaiming Laos neutral. This took care of the situation in Laos for the time being, but both the communists and the United States soon ignored the declared neutrality of the area.
1964 – As a result of the report to President Johnson, Defense Secretary McNamara orders the US Army to take ‘immediate action…to improve the effectiveness and readiness status of its materiel prestocked for possible use in Southeast Asia.’ Specifically, he orders the Army to augment stocks at Korat, Thailand, near the Laotian border, to support potential combat operations by a US Army infantry brigade.
1965 – Maj. Gen. Lewis Walt takes command of the 3rd Marine Division from Maj. Gen. William Collins. Walt was concurrently named Commander of the III Amphibious Force (III MAF), the first corps-level Marine Corps headquarters in history. As such, Walt was in command of two Marine divisions and responsible for I Corps Tactical Zone, the northernmost region of South Vietnam, which bordered the Demilitarized Zone. His command also included serving as Chief of Naval Forces Vietnam, as well as being Senior Adviser to the commander of South Vietnam’s I Corps, who was responsible for the security of the northern portion of South Vietnam. After supervising the U.S. and South Vietnamese build up in that region from 1965 to 1967, General Walt returned to the United States and later served as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. He retired from active service on February 1, 1971.
1972 – Seymour Hersh further reports that a massacre at Mykhe 4, two miles from Mylai, was perpetrated by Bruno Company, Task Force barker, Americal Division on 16 March 1968–the same day as Myali. No prosecutions have been made because of lack of evidence. The Peers Report acknowledges that ‘a large number of non-combatants were killed during the search of the hamlet.’
1973 – The US Senate approves a bill to block funds for any US military activities in Indochina and the House of Representatives concurs. Nixon and Kissinger lobby to postpone the ban until 15 August, to enable continued bombing of Cambodia.
1986 – Jonathan Pollard pleads guilty to espionage for selling top secret United States military intelligence to Israel.
1987 – Jonathan Pollard pleads guilty to espionage for selling top-secret U.S. military intelligence information to Israel. The former Navy intelligence analyst sold enough classified documents to fill a medium-sized room. Pollard was arrested in November 1985 after authorities learned that he had been meeting with Israeli agents every two weeks for the last year. He was paid approximately $50,000 for the highly sensitive documents and expected to receive as much as $300,000 in a secret Swiss bank account. The top-secret information included satellite photos and data on Soviet weapons. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison while his wife Anne received a five-year sentence for being an accessory to the crimes. The discovery of his betrayal put a chill on the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Viewing the U.S. as its ally, Israel believed that the information should have been passed along anyway. But the fact that some Israeli agents remained in high positions despite their involvement in the espionage angered the United States. Israel has since stuck by Pollard. During peace negotiations mediated by President Clinton in the late 1990s, the nation has made Pollard’s release from prison a key point. However, the United States has declined to work out such a deal.
1987 – The congressional Iran-Contra committees voted to grant limited immunity to former National Security Council aide Oliver L. North, following an appeal by independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh to reject immunity.
1989 – Chinese troops storm through Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing, killing and arresting thousands of pro-democracy protesters. The brutal Chinese government assault on the protesters shocked the West and brought denunciations and sanctions from the United States. In May 1989, nearly a million Chinese, mostly young students, crowded into central Beijing to protest for greater democracy and call for the resignations of Chinese Communist Party leaders deemed too repressive. For nearly three weeks, the protesters kept up daily vigils, and marched and chanted. Western reporters captured much of the drama for television and newspaper audiences in the United States and Europe. On June 4, 1989, however, Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. Turmoil ensued, as tens of thousands of the young students tried to escape the rampaging Chinese forces. Other protesters fought back, stoning the attacking troops and overturning and setting fire to military vehicles. Reporters and Western diplomats on the scene estimated that at least 300, and perhaps thousands, of the protesters had been killed and as many as 10,000 were arrested. The savagery of the Chinese government’s attack shocked both its allies and Cold War enemies. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared that he was saddened by the events in China. He said he hoped that the government would adopt his own domestic reform program and begin to democratize the Chinese political system. In the United States, editorialists and members of Congress denounced the Tiananmen Square massacre and pressed for President George Bush to punish the Chinese government. A little more than three weeks later, the U.S. Congress voted to impose economic sanctions against the People’s Republic of China in response to the brutal violation of human rights.
1995 – French General Bernard Janvier, supreme UN military commander in the former Yugoslavia, met with Bosnian Serb military commander, Ratko Mladic. He pleaded for the release of UN captives and offered to halt future NATO air attacks. Shortly after Yasushi Akashi publicly affirmed that the UN would abide by peacekeeping principles – shorthand for no more air attacks.
1996 – US and French officials signed a secret agreement to share nuclear weapons information and facilitate joint work between scientists.
1996 – NATO foreign ministers approved plans to shift focus toward intervention in small regional conflicts and away from containing Russia, its primary focus for 47 years.
1997 – In a unanimous vote, the United Nations Security Council renews for another 180-day period its “oil-for-food” initiative with Iraq. Under the resolution, Iraq may sell $2 billion worth of oil to buy food, medicine and other necessities to alleviate civilian suffering under the sanctions imposed when it invaded Kuwait in 1990.
1998 – In Denver a federal judge sentenced Terry Nichols to life in prison without parole for conspiring in 1995 to bomb the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
1998 – Americans aboard the shuttle Discovery arrived at the Russian space station Mir to pick up U.S. astronaut Andrew Thomas, who’d spent four months in orbit.
1999 – NATO commanders met with Yugoslav army officers in Macedonia to arrange for the withdrawal of some 40,000 Serbian troops from Kosovo.
2000 – Pres. Clinton and Pres. Putin agreed to each dispose 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium and to establish a military center in Moscow for US and Russian officers to share early warning data on missile and space launches. Clinton then answered questions from the public at the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
2000 – NASA directed the $670 million crippled Compton Gamma Ray Observatory into a suicide plunge into the Pacific Ocean in a controlled re-entry to avoid debris over populated areas.
2001 – US Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld had virtually cut off all Pentagon contacts with the Chinese armed forces in displeasure over the spy plane incident. Rumsfeld announced that he had given limited permission to resume military-to-military contacts with China due to the progress in the resolution of the spy plane incident.
2002 – Pres. Bush said the CIA and FBI had failed to communicate adequately before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks; Congress began extraordinary closed-door hearings into intelligence lapses.
2003 – In Afghanistan 40 Taliban suspects were killed in one of the deadliest exchanges between Taliban and government troops since the hardline religious regime was overthrown in late 2001. 7 government soldiers also died in the nine hours of fighting in three villages north of Spinboldak, near the border with Pakistan.
2003 – A UN-backed war crimes court indicted Liberian Pres. Charles Taylor, accusing him of “the greatest responsibility” in the vicious 10-year civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone.
2004 – In southern Afghanistan U.S. troops and warplanes attacked Taliban rebels besieging a remote checkpoint. Eight militants were killed.
2004 – American and Shiite militia forces agreed to withdraw from the holy cities of Najaf and Kufa and turn over security to Iraqi police.
2007 – The United States government arrests ten people, including former Laotian Army general Vang Pao, on charges of organizing a plot to overthrow the Laotian government.
2007 – A military judge dismisses terrorism-related charges against, Omar Khadr, a Canadian Guantanamo Bay detainee charged with killing a United States Army soldier, Sgt. Christopher Speer, in Afghanistan.
2010 – Falcon 9 Flight 1 is the maiden flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40.
2013 – The United States expands its military presence in Jordan, sending a Patriot missile battery and an undeclared number of F-16 fighters to the area.
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