1731 – Robert Treat Paine, Declaration of Independence signer, was born. Robert Treat Paine (March 11, 1731 – May 11, 1814) was a Massachusetts lawyer and politician, and a representative of Massachusetts to the Continental Congress. He served as the state’s first attorney general, and served as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court.
1778 – Marines participated the action when the Continental Navy frigate BOSTON, enroute to France, sighted, engaged, and captured the British merchant ship MARTHA. As the drum of the BOSTON beat to arms, John Adams seized a musket and joined the Marines on deck until the frigate’s captain, Samuel Tucker, sent him below for safety.
1783 – George Washington forbids the unauthorized meeting of officers called for in the anonymous Newburgh Address and suggests a regular meeting of officers to discuss grievances to be held 15 March.
1811 – Ned Ludd led a group of workers in a wild protest against mechanization. Members of the organized bands of craftsmen who rioted against automation in 19th century England were known as Luddites and also “Ludds.” The movement, reputedly named after Ned Ludd, began near Nottingham as craftsman destroyed textile machinery that was eliminating their jobs. By the following year, Luddites were active in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Leicestershire. Although the Luddites opposed violence towards people (a position which allowed for a modicum of public support), government crackdowns included mass shootings, hangings and deportation to the colonies. It took 14,000 British soldiers to quell the rebellion. The movement effectively died in 1813 apart from a brief resurgence of Luddite sentiment in 1816 following the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
1813 – President Madison formally accepts the offer of Czar Alexander to mediate between Great Britain and the United States. The British, however, reject the Czar’s offer.
1824 – The U.S. War Department created the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A lifelong friend and trusted aide of Ulysses S. Grant, Ely Parker rose to the top in two worlds, that of his native Seneca Indian tribe and the white man’s world at large. He went on to become the first Indian to lead the Bureau.
1853 – Marines from the USS Cyane landed at San Juan del Norte, Nicaragua to protect American lives and interests during political disturbances. Cornelius Vanderbilt, the North American millionaire, recognizing the potential value of a canal route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, felt that the best site for such a canal was across Nicaragua. He began transporting people (especially those prospecting for gold in the western U.S.) across Nicaragua using stagecoach and boats in 1851.
1861 – In Montgomery, Alabama, delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas adopt the Permanent Constitution of the Confederate States of America. The constitution resembled the Constitution of the United States, even repeating much of its language, but was actually more comparable to the Articles of Confederation–the initial post-Revolutionary War U.S. constitution–in its delegation of extensive powers to the states. The constitution also contained substantial differences from the U.S. Constitution in its protection of slavery, which was “recognized and protected” in slave states and territories. However, in congruence with U.S. policy since the beginning of the 19th century, the foreign slave trade was prohibited. The constitution provided for six-year terms for the president and vice president, and the president was ineligible for successive terms. Although a presidential item veto was granted, the power of the central Confederate government was sharply limited by its dependence on state consent for the use of any funds and resources. Although Britain and France both briefly considered entering the Civil War on the side of the South, the Confederate States of America, which survived until April 1865, never won foreign recognition as an independent government.
1862 – Landing party from U.S.S. Wabash, Commander C. R. P. Rodgers, occupied St. Augustine, Florida, which had been evacuated by Confederate troops in the face of the naval threat.
1862 – Two Confederate gunboats under construction at the head of Pensacola Bay were burned by Confederate military authorities to prevent their falling into Northern hands in the event of the anticipated move against Pensacola by Union naval forces.
1862 – President Lincoln issues War Order No. 3, a measure making several changes at the top of the Union command structure. He created three departments, placing Henry Halleck in charge of the west, John C. Fremont in command of troops in the Appalachian region, and George McClellan in the east. The most significant change in the order removed McClellan from his post as General-in-Chief of all Union armies, though McClellan retained command of the Army of the Potomac, the most important Union force. He had assumed leadership of that army after it was defeated at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. He quickly installed an efficient command structure and began training an effective fighting force. Three months later, Lincoln elevated McClellan to General-in-Chief. The relationship between Lincoln and his commanding officer, however, was strained at best and contentious at worst. The arrogant McClellan was contemptuous of the president and he often ignored Lincoln’s communications or kept information from him. McClellan was stretched thin as General-in-Chief, and even he recognized this fact. He was bothered by the demotion, but he wrote to Lincoln that he would “work just as cheerfully as ever before, and…no consideration of self will in any manner interfere with the discharge of my public duties.” For McClellan, this was a rare show of grace and deference towards Lincoln. The move allowed McClellan to spend more time planning his upcoming campaign against the Confederate capital at Richmond. For a time, there was no General-in-Chief, and the three regional commanders reported to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The post did not stay empty for long, though, as Halleck was elevated to General-in-Chief five months later.
1863 – Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant gave up their preparations to take Vicksburg after failing to pass Fort Pemberton, north of Vicksburg.
1863 – A naval engagement occurred between the CSS Alabama and the USS Hatteras. CSS Alabama was a screw sloop-of-war built for the Confederacy in 1862 by John Laird Sons and Company, Liverpool, England. Launched as Enrica, it was fitted out as a cruiser and commissioned 24 August 1862 as CSS Alabama. Under Captain Raphael Semmes, Alabama spent the next two months capturing and burning ships in the North Atlantic and intercepting American grain ships bound for Europe. Continuing the path of destruction through the West Indies, Alabama sank USS Hatteras along the Texas coast and captured her crew.
1865 – General Sherman and his forces occupied Fayetteville, N.C. The Civil War was in its final weeks when a strong 60,000-man force, under the command of Union General William T. Sherman, marched in through the Carolinas, capturing town after town. They overcame the Confederate soldiers led by General Joseph E. Johnston. The Union Army captured and destroyed the Confederate arsenal, a building where weapons were made and stored, in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
1865 – Lieutenant Commander George W. Young, senior officer present off Wilmington, led a naval force consisting of U.S.S. Eolus and boat crews from U.S.S. Maratanza, Lenapee, and Nyack up the Cape Fear River to Fayetteville. The expedition rendezvoused with General Sherman’s army.
1867 – Acquiescing to the will of Congress, President Andrew Johnson appoints commanders for the five military districts carved out by the First Reconstruction Act; 20,000 troops, including black militia, are sent South. Under their protection over 70,000 blacks and 6,000 whites are registered to vote. Many of the whites are landless people who have been prevented from voting in previous years. Coalitions of blacks and southern whites, “scalawags” as they are called, elect representatives sensitive to their needs. With the army also come thousands of northerners , some to help and some to help themselves. These become know as “carpetbaggers” since many seem to have all of their possession in large cheap bags, often made of carpet. In spite of corruption that plays a large part in the post-war years, much food, shelter and technical help will be provided.
1916 – USS Nevada (BB-36) is commissioned as the first US Navy “super-dreadnought”. USS Nevada (BB-36), the second United States Navy ship to be named after the 36th state, was the lead ship of the two Nevada-class battleships; her sister ship was Oklahoma. Launched in 1914, the Nevada was a leap forward in dreadnought technology; four of her new features would be included on almost every subsequent US battleship: triple gun turrets, oil in place of coal for fuel, geared steam turbines for greater range, and the “all or nothing” armor principle. These features made Nevada the first US Navy “super-dreadnought”. Nevada served in both World Wars: during the last few months of World War I, Nevada was based in Bantry Bay, Ireland, to protect the supply convoys that were sailing to and from Great Britain. In World War II, she was one of the battleships trapped when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She was the only battleship to get underway during the attack, making the ship “the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal and depressing morning” for the United States. Still, she was hit by one torpedo and at least six bombs while steaming away from Battleship Row, forcing her to be beached. Subsequently salvaged and modernized at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Nevada served as a convoy escort in the Atlantic and as a fire-support ship in four amphibious assaults: the Normandy Landings and the invasions of Southern France, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. At the end of World War II, the Navy decided that Nevada was too old to be retained, so they assigned her to be a target ship in the atomic experiments that were going to be conducted at Bikini Atoll in July 1946 (Operation Crossroads). After being hit by the blast from the first atomic bomb, Able, she was still afloat but heavily damaged and radioactive. She was decommissioned on 29 August 1946 and sunk during naval gunfire practice on 31 July 1948.
1918 – The first case of Spanish flu occurs, the start of a devastating worldwide pandemic.
1940 – The government lifts its arms embargo to allow Britain and France to buy some P40 fighter planes.
1941 – The Lend-Lease Bill becomes law when signed by President Roosevelt. Important amendments have been made by Congress. A time limit has been placed on the operation of the act — until June 1943 — but a motion originally passed in the House forbidding US warships to give convoy protection to foreign ships has been defeated. Also to be allowed are transfers of ships to other countries solely on the presidential authority without reference to Congress. Lend-Lease is not an entirely disinterested act. Britain is compelled to go on paying cash for as long as this is possible (meaning British assets in the US must be sold below their true value) and it is forbidden to export anything containing materials supplied under Lend-Lease, nor can items wholly produced in Britain be exported if equivalent items are being supplied under Lend-Lease. By early 1941, the Germans had made significant inroads in their campaign to conquer Europe, which put U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in something of a bind. Although he increasingly wanted to aid Great Britain in the war effort against what he perceived as the “unholy alliance” of the Axis powers, Rooseveltýs actions were constrained by public opinion. Sizable pockets of the country considered the nation’s involvement in World War I to have been a mistake, and thus hewed to the belief that the U.S. should stay neutral in the face of the mounting crisis in Europe. Roosevelt devised a fiscal and barter-based solution to this problem, which he laid out in a fireside chat in 1940; the U.S. would serve as “the great arsenal of democracy” and thus provide Great Britain with the money and military machinery necessary to battle back the Axis. Roosevelt called on Congress to rapidly pass lend-lease legislation that would sanction this system. Legislators heeded the president’s words and shot the bill through the Senate and House. On March 11, Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act into law, paving the way for an initial aid package worth roughly $7 billion. Although the U.S. soon chucked its neutral stance and entered the war, the Lend-Lease program kept pumping until 1946. All told, the U.S. funneled $50.6 billion worth of Lend-Lease aid to the Allies during the war, the majority of which went to Britain and the U.S.S.R. After the war, the Lend-Lease program morphed into the Marshall Plan, which allocated funds for the revitalization of “friendly” democratic nations-even if they were former enemies.
1941 – Lend-Lease and the Coast Guard: All 10 Lake-class cutters were transferred to the Royal Navy under the program. Two were lost in action against German forces. These 250-foot cutters had been designed by the Coast Guard and featured a slightly raked stem and a cruiser stern. Their innovative turbine-electric drive power plant was developed by Coast Guard Captain Quincy B. Newman. These were the first ships to have alternating current, synchronous motor for propulsion–the whole ship ran off the main turbine. The auxiliary generators were tied into the main generator electrically, after sufficient speed was attained. At that point, no steam was required to drive the turbines on the auxiliary generators. The propulsion plant achieved remarkable efficiency.
1942 – After struggling against great odds to save the Philippines from Japanese conquest, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur abandons the island fortress of Corregidor under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt. Left behind at Corregidor and on the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino troops, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive. After leaving Corregidor, MacArthur and his family traveled by boat 560 miles to the Philippine island of Mindanao, braving mines, rough seas, and the Japanese Navy. At the end of the hair-raising 35-hour journey, MacArthur told the boat commander, John D. Bulkeley, “You’ve taken me out of the jaws of death, and I won’t forget it.” On March 17, the general and his family boarded a B-17 Flying Fortress for Northern Australia. He then took another aircraft and a long train ride down to Melbourne. During this journey, he was informed that there were far fewer Allied troops in Australia than he had hoped. Relief of his forces trapped in the Philippines would not be forthcoming. Deeply disappointed, he issued a statement to the press in which he promised his men and the people of the Philippines, “I shall return.” The promise would become his mantra during the next two and a half years, and he would repeat it often in public appearances. For his valiant defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and celebrated as “America’s First Soldier.” Put in command of Allied forces in the Southwestern Pacific, his first duty was conducting the defense of Australia. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Bataan fell in April, and the 70,000 American and Filipino soldiers captured there were forced to undertake a death march in which at least 7,000 perished. Then, in May, Corregidor surrendered, and 15,000 more Americans and Filipinos were captured. The Philippines–MacArthur’s adopted home–were lost, and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had no immediate plans for their liberation. After the U.S. victory at the Battle of Midway in June 1942, most Allied resources in the Pacific went to U.S. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who as commander of the Pacific Fleet planned a more direct route to Japan than via the Philippines. Unperturbed, MacArthur launched a major offensive in New Guinea, winning a string of victories with his limited forces. By September 1944, he was poised to launch an invasion of the Philippines, but he needed the support of Nimitz’s Pacific Fleet. After a period of indecision about whether to invade the Philippines or Formosa, the Joint Chiefs put their support behind MacArthur’s plan, which logistically could be carried out sooner than a Formosa invasion. On October 20, 1944, a few hours after his troops landed, MacArthur waded ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte. That day, he made a radio broadcast in which he declared, “People of the Philippines, I have returned!” In January 1945, his forces invaded the main Philippine island of Luzon. In February, Japanese forces at Bataan were cut off, and Corregidor was captured. Manila, the Philippine capital, fell in March, and in June MacArthur announced his offensive operations on Luzon to be at an end; although scattered Japanese resistance continued until the end of the war in August. Only one-third of the men MacArthur left behind on March 11, 1942, survived to see his return. “I’m a little late,” he told them, “but we finally came.”
1942 – 1st deportation train left Paris for the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
1942 – American General Stillwell takes command of the Chinese 5th and 6th Armies (actually size of European army divisions). His first action is to concentrate forces around Mandalay and in the Shan States.
1943 – The Americans extend the Lend-Lease agreements by one year. The value of the agreements, up to the end of February 1943, is reported to be $9,632,000,000.
1944 – In central Burma, Chindit forces are disrupting Japanese communications with their forces facing American General Stilwell’s Sino-American forces.
1944 – Reconnaissance forces land on Manus Island and Butjo Luo, where the Japanese garrison resists.
1945 – The American carrier, Randolph, is damaged in a Japanese Kamikaze attack on the Pacific Fleet base at Ulithi Atoll.
1951 – The first 51 U.S. Korean War dead left Yokohama for burial in the United States.
1953 – F.M. Adams became the 1st US commissioned woman army doctor.
1954 – The U.S. Army charged that Wisconsin Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy and his subcommittee’s chief counsel, Roy Cohn, had exerted pressure to obtain favored treatment for Pvt. G. David Schine, a former consultant to the subcommittee. The confrontation culminated in the famous Senate Army-McCarthy hearings.
1958 – A B-47 bomber accidentally drops a nuclear weapon over Mars Bluff, South Carolina. The conventional explosive trigger detonates, leaving a crater 75 feet wide and 35 feet deep.
1960 – Pioneer 5 was launched into solar orbit between Earth & Venus.
1965 – Market Time patrols begin off South Vietnam coast. The American navy began inspecting Vietnamese junks in hopes of ending arms smuggling to the South.
1967 – U.S. 1st Infantry Division troops engage in one of the heaviest battles of Operation Junction City. The fierce fighting resulted in 210 reported North Vietnamese casualties. Operation Junction City was an effort to smash the communist stronghold in Tay Ninh Province and surrounding areas along the Cambodian border northwest of Saigon. The purpose of the operation was to drive the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops away from populated areas and into the open, where superior American firepower could be more effectively used. Junction City was the largest operation of the war to date, involving more than 25,000 troops. The first day’s operation was supported by 575 aircraft sorties, a record number for a single day in South Vietnam. The operation was marked by one of the largest airmobile assaults in history when 240 troop-carrying helicopters descended on the battlefield. In one of the few airborne operations of the war, 778 “Sky Soldiers” parachuted into the Junction City area of operations 28 miles north of Tay Ninh City. There were 2,728 enemy casualties by the end of the operation on March 17.
1973 – An FBI agent was shot at Wounded Knee in South Dakota.
1977 – More than 130 hostages held in Washington, D.C., by Hanafi Muslims were freed after ambassadors from three Islamic nations joined the negotiations.
1980 – UN commission leaves Iran without having seen US hostages.
1982 – Protesting his innocence, Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr., D-N.J., resigned after 23 years in the Senate, rather than face expulsion in the wake of his ABSCAM conviction.
1992 – Members of the U.N. Security Council accused Iraq of playing a game of “cheat and retreat” from its promises to disarm and respect its people’s human rights. Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz lashed back, saying his country was complying with Gulf War cease-fire resolutions.
1993 – North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in a harsh rebuff of Western demands to open suspected nuclear weapons development sites for inspection. It later suspended its withdrawal.
1999 – The US Rodman naval base in Panama was transferred to Panama.
1999 – The House voted 219-191 to conditionally support President Clinton’s plan to send U.S. troops to Kosovo if a peace agreement was reached.
2002 – Pres. Bush outlines a “second stage of the war on terror” in an address that marked the 6-months since the Sep 11 terrorist attacks.
2002 – It was reported that the US CIA and State Dept. was interviewing former Iraqi generals for a possible overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
2003 – A US Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Fort Drum, NY, and 11 of 13 soldiers were killed.
2003 – Kofi Annan said military action against Iraq without support of the UN security council would be out of conformity with the UN charter. The US and Britain considered a short extension past March 17, but rejected a 45-day deadline backed by 6 council members.
2003 – UN observers leave positions in Iraq’s demilitarised zone near Kuwait.
2003 – The US military reports that US warplanes have bombed a mobile radar for a surface-to-air missile system in Iraq’s western desert.
2003 – Iraq destroyed more Al Samoud 2 missiles raising the total destroyed to 52 of some 100.
2004 – In Madrid, Spain, a series of bombs hidden in backpacks exploded in quick succession at 3 stations, blowing apart four commuter trains and killing 202 people and wounding over 1,450. Spanish leaders were quick to accuse Basque terrorists but a shadowy group claimed responsibility in the name of al-Qaida. The toll was later adjusted to 190 dead.
2008 – Admiral William Fallon resigns as Commander of the U.S. Central Command due to reports in Esquire Magazine of disagreement with President George W. Bush over the administration’s policy with Iran.
2008 – The Space Shuttle Endeavour launches from Kennedy Space Center carrying the crew of STS-123, the Japanese Experiment Module, and Dextre. The ship will rendezvous with the International Space Station.
2012 – United States Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales murdered sixteen civilians and wounded six others in the Panjwayi District of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Nine of his victims were children, and eleven of the dead were from the same family. Some of the corpses were partially burned. Bales was taken into custody later that morning when he told authorities, “I did it”. On August 23, 2013, a jury at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Fort Lewis, Washington sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
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