1774 – Britain passed the second Coercive Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, which revoked the Massachusetts colonial charter and removed certain democratic elements of the government. The upper legislative house would be appointed by the crown, as would sheriffs who, in turn, would appoint juries. Additionally, the Massachusetts Government Act placed restrictions on the number of town meetings that could be held.
1776 – Juan Bautista de Anza, one of the great western pathfinders of the 18th century, arrives at the future site of San Francisco with 247 colonists. Though little known among Americans because of his Spanish origins, Anza’s accomplishments as a western trailblazer merit comparison with those of Lewis and Clark, John Fremont, and Kit Carson. Born and raised in Mexico, Anza joined the army when he was 17 and became a captain seven years later. He excelled as a military leader, displaying tactical genius in numerous battles with the Apache Indians. In 1772, Anza made his first major exploratory mission, leading an arduous but successful expedition northwest to the Pacific Coast. Anza’s expedition established the first successful overland connections between the Mexican State of Sonora and northern California. Impressed by this accomplishment, the Mexican viceroy commissioned Anza to return to California and establish a permanent settlement along the Pacific Coast at San Francisco Bay. Although seagoing Spanish explorers had sailed along the northern California coast during the 16th and 17th centuries, the amazing natural harbor of San Francisco Bay was only discovered in 1769. The Spanish immediately recognized the strategic importance of the bay, though it would be seven years before they finally dispatched Anza to establish a claim there. Anza and 247 colonists arrived at the future site of San Francisco on this day in 1776. Anza established a presidio, or military fort, on the tip of the San Francisco peninsula. Six months later, a Spanish Franciscan priest founded a mission near the presidio that he named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi-in Spanish, San Francisco de Asiacutes. The most northerly outpost of the Spanish Empire in America, San Francisco remained an isolated and quiet settlement for more than half a century after Anza founded the first settlement. It was not until the 1830s that an expansionist United States began to realize the commercial potential of the magnificent natural harbor. In the wake of the Mexican War, the U.S. took possession of California in 1848, though San Francisco was still only a small town of 900 at that time. With the discovery of gold that year at Sutter’s Fort, however, San Francisco boomed. By 1852, San Francisco was home to more than 36,000 people. The founder of San Francisco did not live to see it flourish. After establishing the San Francisco presidio, Anza returned to Mexico. In 1777, he was appointed governor of New Mexico, where he eventually negotiated a critical peace treaty with Commanche Indians, who agreed to join the Spanish in making war on the Apache. In declining health, Anza retired as governor in 1786 and returned to Sonora. He died two years later, still only in his early 50s and remembered as one of greatest trailblazers and soldiers in Spain’s northern borderlands.
1800 – Essex becomes first U.S. Navy vessel to pass Cape of Good Hope.
1814 – HMS Phoebe and Cherub capture USS Essex off Valparaiso, Chile. Before capture, Essex had captured 24 British prizes during the War of 1812. Two-thirds of Essex’s crew is killed but 13-year old Midshipman David Farragut survives.
1818 – Wade Hampton, Confederate general in the American Civil War, is born in Charleston, South Carolina. He was a member of one of the richest families in the antebellum South. He owned and operated many plantations in Mississippi and South Carolina. Hampton served in the General Assembly as a Representative from 1852-1857 and a Senator from 1858-1861. He resigned from the Senate to accept a colonel’s commission in the Confederate Army. He received many promotions, rising to Lieutenant General in 1865. Hampton evacuated Columbia in 1865 when General Sherman entered the city. In the 1876 elections for Governor, Hampton defeated Daniel Chamberlain by 1,134 votes. However, a conflict arose between the Democrats and the Republicans and Chamberlain protested the results. Chamberlain took the oath of office but the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hampton. Hampton was barred from the Statehouse by federal troops until April 10, 1877. Hampton was reelected in 1878 as Governor. He resigned to become a United States Senator and served two terms. Hampton married Frances Smith Preston and they had 5 children. When she died, he married Mary Singleton McDuffie and had 4 more children.1834 – The nasty battle over the Second Bank of the United States took another turn on this day in 1834, as the Senate voted to censure President Andrew Jackson for abusing his authority and meddling with the bank’s finances. In particular, the resolution, introduced by Jackson’s archenemy Henry Clay, took the President to task for removing funds from the bank in the fall of 1833. An ardent supporter of states’ rights, Jackson, along with help from Treasury Secretary Robert Taney, who was also censured by the Senate, transferred chunks of the money from the national bank to state institutions. Though Jackson claimed that the transfer was a response to the bank’s putatively partisan position during the 1832 elections, he was seemingly making a bald-faced play to kill the bank. Following the censure, the pugnacious president marshaled his forces and attempted to overturn the Senate’s ruling. Though his initial efforts were rebuffed, Jackson eventually won the day. Thanks in large part to Senator Thomas Hart Benton, the censure was stripped from the Senate records in early 1837. More importantly, Jackson successfully blocked the bank from renewing its charter. Defeated bank leader Nelson Biddle instead opted to obtain a state banking license from Pennsylvania.
1845 – Mexico dropped diplomatic relations with US.
1846 – US troops commanded by General Zachary Taylor move onto the left bank of the Rio Grande River, considered Mexican territory.
1848 – USS Supply reaches the Bay of Acre, anchoring under Mount Carmel near the village of Haifa, during expedition to explore the Dead Sea and the River Jordan.
1862 – Union forces stop the Confederate invasion of New Mexico territory when they turn the Rebels back at Glorieta Pass. This action was part of the broader movement by the Confederates to capture New Mexico and other parts of the West. This would secure territory that the Rebels thought was rightfully theirs but had been denied them by political compromises made before the Civil War. Furthermore, the cash-strapped Confederacy could use western mines to fill their treasury. From San Antonio, the Rebels moved into southern New Mexico (which included Arizona) and captured the towns of Mesilla, Doýa Ana, and Tucson. General Henry H. Sibley, with 3,000 troops, now moved north against the Federal stronghold at Fort Craig on the Rio Grande. Sibley’s force collided with Union troops at Val Verde near Fort Craig on February 21, but the Yankees were unable to stop the invasion. Sibley left parts of his army to occupy Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and the rest of the troops headed east of Santa Fe along the Pecos River. Their next target was the Union garrison at Fort Union, an outpost on the other side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. At Pigeon’s Ranch near Glorieta Pass, they encountered a Yankee force of 1,300 Colorado volunteers under Colonel John Slough. The battle began at 11:00 a.m., and the Federal force was thrown back before taking cover among the adobe buildings of Pigeon’s Ranch. A Confederate attack late in the afternoon pushed the Union troops further down the pass, but nightfall halted the advance. Union troops snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when Major John Chivington led an attack on the Confederate supply train, burning 90 wagons and killing 800 animals. With their supplies destroyed, the Confederates had to withdraw to Santa Fe. They lost 36 men killed, 70 wounded, and 25 captured. The Union army lost 38 killed, 64 wounded, and 20 captured. After a week in Santa Fe, the Rebels withdrew down the Rio Grande. By June, the Yankees controlled New Mexico again. The Confederates did not return for the rest of the war.
1863 – U.S.S. Diana, Acting Master Thomas L. Peterson, reconnoitering the Atchafalaya River, Louisiana, with troops embarked, was attacked by Confederate sharpshooters and fieldpieces. In action that lasted almost 3 hours, casualties were heavy, Diana’s ”tiller ropes were shot away, the engines disabled, and she finally drifted ashore when it was impossible to fight or defend her longer, and she ultimately surrendered to the enemy.”
1864 – A gunfight erupted in Charleston, Illinois between Union soldiers and Civil War opponents known as ‘Copperheads.’ In easterm Illinois, many Democrats were pro-southern while the Republicans were uniformly pro-Union. Disturbances had occurred earlier in the area, and Copperheads had been killed in Mattoon and Paris. In March, 1863, at Charleston there had been a highly controversial trial of Union deserters. On the day of the riot a large crowd had gathered here for a Democratic rally. Union soldiers were in town on leave. Drinking and fighting led to gunfire. Nine men killed and twelve wounded before troops arrived from Mattoon and quelled the disturbance. Five are killed and twenty wounded.
1870 – 129 Marines seized and destroyed illicit distilleries in “Irishtown” (Brooklyn), New York.
1885 – The Salvation Army was officially organized in the U.S.
1898 – The Supreme Court ruled that a child born in the United States to Chinese immigrants was a U.S. citizen, and therefore could not be deported under the Chinese Exclusion Act.
1918 – Marines were placed under the command of French Marshall Foch in WW I.
1933 – German Reichstag conferred dictatorial powers on Hitler.
1935 – Goddard used gyroscopes to control a rocket.
1940 – Sumner Welles, Under-Secretary of State, reports to Roosevelt about his mission to the belligerent countries in Europe.
1942 – A British ship, the HMS Capbeltown, a Lend-Lease American destroyer, which was specifically rammed into a German occupied dry-dock in France, exploded, knocking the area out of action for the German battleship Tirpitz.
1945 – Stalin receives a personal telegram from General Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force) giving details of his order of battle and saying that he intends to send the main weight of his advance across southern Germany and Austria. The main thrust is to be toward Erfurt and Leipzig and a secondary effort is to go for Nuremberg, Regensburg and Linz. The British protest the signal sent to Stalin, suggesting that decisions of such importance should not be taken by Eisenhower alone and that he also overstepping the authority in communicating directly with the Soviets. Both Churchill and the British Chiefs of Staff would prefer the advance to be directed on Berlin as had been the plan up to now for the political value of this move. However, President Roosevelt, weakened by his illness, leaves most military decisions to General Marshall and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Marshall confirms his support for Eisenhower in response to the British protest.
1945 – Marburg is taken by US 3rd Corps (part of US 1st Army) which has made a rapid advance from the Remagen bridgehead.
1945 – US naval forces, including TF58 and TF52, continue air strikes on Okinawa while TF54 continues bombarding the island. Japanese Kamikaze and submarine attacks continue.
1946 – The State Department releases the so-called Acheson-Lilienthal Report, which outlines a plan for international control of atomic energy. The report represented an attempt by the United States to maintain its superiority in the field of atomic weapons while also trying to avoid a costly and dangerous arms race with the Soviet Union. The March 1946 report had been instigated by a rather hastily assembled proposal put forward by Secretary of State James Byrnes at the Moscow Conference in December 1945. Byrnes presented a hazy plan for some sort of United Nations control of atomic energy; Soviet leader Joseph Stalin agreed to the idea. President Harry S. Truman was livid when he learned of Byrnes’s proposal. By the time of the meeting in Moscow, Truman had come to the conclusion that the Soviets were dangerous adversaries who must be met with force. Giving up America’s nuclear monopoly was not appealing. Nevertheless, he ordered the Department of State to put together a preliminary plan, assuming that America had such a huge head start in atomic power that the Soviets could never really catch up. In addition, perhaps an international body could help avert a potentially dangerous arms race with the Soviets. Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, administrator of the Tennessee Valley Authority David Lilienthal, and others hammered out a proposal by March 1946. The Acheson-Lilienthal Report suggested that an international body-such as the United Nations-have control over atomic materials and the means of producing nuclear energy. Information on atomic energy would be shared, research facilities would be divided among the nations involved, and the international body would conduct inspections. In the meantime, while this organization was being established, the United States would maintain its atomic monopoly. In June 1946, Truman selected businessman Bernard Baruch to present the plan at the United Nations. Baruch, however, changed many of the key points of the plan and insisted that the United States would have an ultimate veto power on any issues arising in connection with the plan. The Soviets quickly rejected the idea so the vote was never held in the United Nations. The United States and the Soviet Union would go their own ways in developing their nuclear arsenals. In 1949, the Soviets exploded an atomic device and the nuclear arms race was on.
1953 – The Chinese agreed to the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners proposed by U.N. Forces Commander General Mark Clark and further proposed that prisoners unwilling to be repatriated be transferred to a neutral state.
1953 – U.S. Air Force Colonel James K. Johnson, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, became the 29th ace of the Korean War.
1961 – A U.S. national intelligence estimate prepared for President John F. Kennedy declares that South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and the Republic of Vietnam are facing an extremely critical situation. As evidence, the reports cites that more than half of the rural region surrounding Saigon is under communist control and points to a barely failed coup against Diem the preceding November. Not only were Diem’s forces losing to the Viet Cong on the battlefield, the report alleged that he had not effectively dealt with the discontent among a large segment of South Vietnamese society, which had given rise to the coup against him. The report questioned Diem’s ability to rally the people against the communists. Kennedy wondered what to do about Diem, who was staunchly anticommunist but did not have a lot of credibility with the South Vietnamese people because he was Catholic while the country was predominantly Buddhist. Kennedy and his advisers tried to convince Diem to put in place land reform and other measures that might build popular support, but Diem steadfastly refused to make any meaningful concessions to his opponents. He was assassinated in November 1963 during a coup by a group of South Vietnamese generals.
1962 – The U.S. Air Force announced research into the use of lasers to intercept missiles and satellites.
1967 – UN Sec. General U Thant made public proposals for peace in Vietnam.
1968 – The U.S. lost its first aircraft in Vietnam. An F-111 vanished in a combat mission over North Vietnam. Republic Aircraft’s F-105 Thunderchief, better known as the ‘Thud,’ was the Air Force’s war-horse in Vietnam.
1969 – Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States and one of the most highly regarded American generals of World War II, dies in Washington, D.C., at the age of 78. Born in Denison, Texas, in 1890, Eisenhower graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1915, and after World War I he steadily rose in the peacetime ranks of the U.S. Army. After the U.S. entrance into World War II, he was appointed commanding general of the European theater of operations and oversaw U.S. troops massing in Great Britain. In 1942, Eisenhower, who had never commanded troops in the field, was put in charge of Operation Torch, the Anglo-American landings in Morocco and Algeria. As supreme commander of a mixed force of Allied nationalities, services, and equipment, Eisenhower designed a system of unified command and rapidly won the respect of his British and Canadian subordinates. From North Africa, he successfully directed the invasions of Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy, and in January 1944 was appointed supreme Allied commander of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of northwestern Europe. Although Eisenhower left much of the specific planning for the actual Allied landing in the hands of his capable staff, such as British Field Marshall Montgomery, he served as a brilliant organizer and administrator both before and after the successful invasion. After the war, he briefly served as president of Columbia University before returning to military service in 1951 as supreme commander of the combined land and air forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Pressure on Eisenhower to run for U.S. president was great, however, and in the spring of 1952 he relinquished his NATO command to run for president on the Republican ticket. In November 1952, “Ike” won a resounding victory in the presidential elections and in 1956 was reelected in a landslide. A popular president, he oversaw a period of great economic growth in the United States and deftly navigated the country through increasing Cold War tension on the world stage. In 1961, he retired with his wife, Mamie Doud Eisenhower, to his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He died in 1969 and was buried on a family plot in Abilene, Kansas.
1979 – At 4 a.m. the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat. The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was built in 1974 on a sandbar on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from the state capitol in Harrisburg. In 1978, a second state-of-the-art reactor began operating on Three Mile Island, which was lauded for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of energy crises. After the cooling water began to drain out of the broken pressure valve on the morning of March 28, 1979, emergency cooling pumps automatically went into operation. Left alone, these safety devices would have prevented the development of a larger crisis. However, human operators in the control room misread confusing and contradictory readings and shut off the emergency water system. The reactor was also shut down, but residual heat from the fission process was still being released. By early morning, the core had heated to over 4,000 degrees, just 1,000 degrees short of meltdown. In the meltdown scenario, the core melts, and deadly radiation drifts across the countryside, fatally sickening a potentially great number of people. As the plant operators struggled to understand what had happened, the contaminated water was releasing radioactive gases throughout the plant. The radiation levels, though not immediately life-threatening, were dangerous, and the core cooked further as the contaminated water was contained and precautions were taken to protect the operators. Shortly after 8 a.m., word of the accident leaked to the outside world. The plant’s parent company, Metropolitan Edison, downplayed the crisis and claimed that no radiation had been detected off plant grounds, but the same day inspectors detected slightly increased levels of radiation nearby as a result of the contaminated water leak. Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh considered calling an evacuation. Finally, at about 8 p.m., plant operators realized they needed to get water moving through the core again and restarted the pumps. The temperature began to drop, and pressure in the reactor was reduced. The reactor had come within less than an hour of a complete meltdown. More than half the core was destroyed or molten, but it had not broken its protective shell, and no radiation was escaping. The crisis was apparently over. Two days later, however, on March 30, a bubble of highly flammable hydrogen gas was discovered within the reactor building. The bubble of gas was created two days before when exposed core materials reacted with super-heated steam. On March 28, some of this gas had exploded, releasing a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere. At that time, plant operators had not registered the explosion, which sounded like a ventilation door closing. After the radiation leak was discovered on March 30, residents were advised to stay indoors. Experts were uncertain if the hydrogen bubble would create further meltdown or possibly a giant explosion, and as a precaution Governor Thornburgh advised “pregnant women and pre-school age children to leave the area within a five-mile radius of the Three Mile Island facility until further notice.” This led to the panic the governor had hoped to avoid; within days, more than 100,000 people had fled surrounding towns. On April 1, President Jimmy Carter arrived at Three Mile Island to inspect the plant. Carter, a trained nuclear engineer, had helped dismantle a damaged Canadian nuclear reactor while serving in the U.S. Navy. His visit achieved its aim of calming local residents and the nation. That afternoon, experts agreed that the hydrogen bubble was not in danger of exploding. Slowly, the hydrogen was bled from the system as the reactor cooled. At the height of the crisis, plant workers were exposed to unhealthy levels of radiation, but no one outside Three Mile Island had their health adversely affected by the accident. Nonetheless, the incident greatly eroded the public’s faith in nuclear power. The unharmed Unit-1 reactor at Three Mile Island, which was shut down during the crisis, did not resume operation until 1985. Cleanup continued on Unit-2 until 1990, but it was too damaged to be rendered usable again. In the more than two decades since the accident at Three Mile Island, not a single new nuclear power plant has been ordered in the United States.
1986 – The U.S. Senate passed a $100 million aid package for the Nicaraguan contras.
1990 – British customs officials announced they had foiled an attempt to supply Iraq with 40 American-made devices for triggering nuclear weapons, following an 18-month investigation by U.S. and British authorities.
1991 – Fire seriously damaged the US Embassy in Moscow.
1993 – The last A-6E Intruder departed from Marine Corps service. Marine All Weather Attack Squadron 332 transferred the last Marine A-6E to St. Augustine, Florida, and prepared for the squadron’s transition to the F/A-18D and eventual movement from Cherry Point to Beaufort, South Carolina.
1996 – Congress passed the line-item veto, giving the president power to cut government spending by scrapping specific programs.
1996 – The space shuttle Atlantis astronauts said goodbye to the crew of Russia’s space station Mir and then flew away, leaving Shannon Lucid behind for a five-month stay in orbit.
1997 – The UN Security Council agreed to send a multinational force to Albania to protect the delivery of humanitarian aid.
1998 – It was reported that the US government conducted a series of “sub-critical” underground explosions involving radioactive plutonium in a sealed chamber 960 feet below ground at the Los Alamos National Lab.
1999 – NATO broadened its attacks on Yugoslavia to target Serb military forces in Kosovo in the fifth straight night of airstrikes. UN officials reported that some 500,000 ethnic Albanians had fled Kosovo. NATO officials raised the possibility of using ground troops in Yugoslavia as low-level strikes against tanks began. It was feared that anger over the war would spill over to Bosnia.
2000 – Jordan with US intelligence help indicted 28 followers of Osama bin Laden for plotting attacks against American tourists in Dec.
2002 – A US diplomat, reportedly the CIA station chief, was pulled from Belgrade following accusations that he was receiving military secrets.
2002 – US Air Force Staff Sergeant Timothy Woodland was convicted in a Japanese court and sentenced to nearly three years in prison for raping a woman on the southern island of Okinawa.
2002 – A US Navy helicopter crashed on Split Mountain in the Sequoia National Forest and 2 crew members were killed.
2002 – In Pakistan police in Faisalabad and Lahore seized over 40 suspects in the Islamabad bombing. At least 2 suspects were killed in Faisalabad. Abu Zubaydah, a top al Qaeda commander, was among those arrested.
2003 – In the 10th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom the biggest bombs dropped on Baghdad so far, two 4,700-pound “bunker busters,” struck a communications tower. In the south, Iraqi fighters defending the besieged city of Basra fired on hundreds of civilians trying to flee. The British supply ship Sir Galahad docked at the port of Umm Qasr. The Bush administration said fighting might not be over for months.
2003 – The UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan for a year.
2004 – U.S. overseer of Iraq, Paul Bremer, ordered the 60-day closure of Al-Hawza, a newspaper published by Muqtada al-Sadr’s group, on the charges of inciting violence against the occupation. The next day thousands of Iraqis rallied outside the offices of Al-Hawza in support of the newspaper.
2009 – Space Shuttle Discovery lands at the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, United States. STS-119 (ISS assembly flight 15A) was a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS) which was flown by Space Shuttle Discovery during March 2009. It delivered and assembled the fourth starboard Integrated Truss Segment (S6), and the fourth set of solar arrays and batteries to the station.
2012 – The United States suspends planned food aid to North Korea, after the latter plans to launch a rocket next month.
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