1804 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition officially began as the Corps of Discovery departed from St. Charles, Missouri.
1807 – A grand jury indicts former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr on a charge of treason.
1843 – A massive wagon train, made up of 1,000 settlers and 1,000 head of cattle, sets off down the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri. Known as the “Great Emigration,” the expedition came two years after the first modest party of settlers made the long, overland journey to Oregon. After leaving Independence, the giant wagon train followed the Sante Fe Trail for some 40 miles and then turned northwest to the Platte River, which it followed along its northern route to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. From there, it traveled on to the Rocky Mountains, which it passed through by way of the broad, level South Pass that led to the basin of the Colorado River. The travelers then went southwest to Fort Bridger, northwest across a divide to Fort Hall on the Snake River, and on to Fort Boise, where they gained supplies for the difficult journey over the Blue Mountains and into Oregon. The Great Emigration finally arrived in October, completing the 2,000-mile journey from Independence in five months. In the next year, four more wagon trains made the journey, and in 1845 the number of emigrants who used the Oregon Trail exceeded 3,000. Travel along the trail gradually declined with the advent of the railroads, and the route was finally abandoned in the 1870s.
1856 – Southern Congressman Preston Brooks savagely beats Northern Senator Charles Sumner in the halls of Congress as tensions rise over the expansion of slavery. When the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was passed, popular sovereignty was applied within the two new territories and people were given the right to decide the slave issue by vote. Because the act nullified the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the debate over slavery intensified. Northerners were incensed that slavery could again resurface in an area where it had been banned for over 30 years. When violence broke out in Kansas Territory, the issue became central in Congress. On May 19, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, an ardent abolitionist, began a two-day speech on the Senate floor in which he decried the “crime against Kansas” and blasted three of his colleagues by name, one of which—South Carolina Senator Andrew P. Butler—was elderly, sick, and absent from the proceedings. Butler’s cousin, Representative Preston Brooks, who had a history of violence, took it upon himself to defend the honor of his kin. Wielding the cane he used for injuries he incurred in a duel over a political debate in 1840, Brooks entered the Senate chamber and attacked Sumner at his desk, which was bolted to the floor. Sumner’s legs were pinned by the desk so he could not escape the savage beating. It was not until other congressmen subdued Brooks that Sumner finally escaped. Brooks became an instant hero in the South, and supporters sent him many replacement canes. He was vilified in the North and became a symbol of the stereotypically inflexible, uncompromising representative of the slave power. The incident exemplified the growing hostility between the two camps in the prewar years. Sumner did not return to the Senate for three years while he recovered.
1863 – The US War Dept. established the Bureau of Colored Troops.
1863 – U.S. Grant’s second attack on Vicksburg, Miss., failed and a siege began.
1863 – Siege of Port Hudson: Union forces begin to lay siege to the Confederate-controlled Port Hudson, Louisiana.
1864 – Battle of North Anna River, VA.
1864 – After ten weeks, the Union Army’s Red River Campaign ends with the Union unable to achieve any of its objectives.
1871 – The U.S. Army issues an order for abandonment of Fort Kearny in Nebraska.
1872 – U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signs the Amnesty Act into law restoring full civil and political rights to all but about 500 Confederate sympathizers.
1882 – Commodore Shufeldt signs commerce treaty opening Korea to U.S. trade.
1906 – The Wright brothers are granted U.S. patent number 821,393 for their “Flying-Machine”.
1912 – First Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham, the first Marine officer to be assigned to “duty in connection with aviation” by Major General Commandant William P. Biddle. Cunningham reported for aviation training at the Naval Aviation Camp at Annapolis, Maryland, and Marine aviation had its official beginning.
1939 – Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini signed a “Pact of Steel” committing Germany and Italy to a military alliance forming the Axis powers.
1942 – President Roosevelt orders the Selective Service registration of all male Americans residents who reach the age of 18 or 19 before June 30th or has reached the age of 20 since December 31, 1941. This fifth registration will generate 3.1 million new names. The same day he warns against a flood of optimism (in the wake of the Doolittle Raid of April 18th) and says it will be a long war.
1942 – Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox enlists in the United States Marine Corps as a flight instructor.
1943 – Admiral Dontiz orders all U-boat patrols in the north Atlantic to break off operations against the convoys. The submarine losses have grown too high. This decision effectively ends the battle of the Atlantic with an Allied victory. Some boats are moved south to the Caribbean and to waters off the Azores.
1944 – US 5th Army forces continue to advance. The US 2nd Corps (Keyes) advances north along the coast and Route 7. The French Expeditionary Corps captures Pico. There is continued heavy German resistance in the Liri Valley.
1944 – An American submarine detects the concentration of the Japanese fleet around Tawitawi.
1944 – Japanese forces attack US positions around Aitape. American forces make some withdrawals.
1944 – U.S. and British aircraft begin a systematic bombing raid on railroads in Germany and other parts of northern Europe, called Operation Chattanooga Choo-Choo. The operation is a success; Germany is forced to scramble for laborers, including foreign slave laborers, to repair the widespread damage exacted on its railway network.
1945 – Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsfuhrer SS, is captured by a British patrol at Bremervorde, near Hamburg. He initially claimed to be a rural policeman named Heinrich Hitzinger but under interrogation he removed the black eye patch he was wearing and put on his familiar glasses before admitting his true identity.
1945 – President Truman reports to Congress on the Lend-Lease program. He announces that up to March 1945, Britain had received supplies worth $12,775,000,000 and the Soviets $8,409,000,000. Reverse Lend-Lease, mostly from Britain has been worth almost $5,000,000,000 in the same period.
1945 – On Okinawa, American forces enter Yonabaru and capture Conical Hill. Heavy rains begin that hamper offensive operations for the coming weeks.
1945 – Elements of the US 24th Division reach Tambongan on Mindanao.
1945 – Operation Paperclip begins. United States Army Major Robert B. Staver recommends that the U.S. evacuate German scientists and engineers to help in the development of rocket technology.
1947 – In an effort to fight the spread of Communism, the U.S. President Harry S. Truman signs an act into law that will later be called the Truman Doctrine. The act grants $400 million in military and economic aid to Turkey and Greece, each battling an internal Communist movement.
1947 – The 1st US ballistic missile was fired.
1952 – Major General William K. Harrison succeeded Admiral C. Turner Joy as Senior U.N. Command Delegate for armistice negotiations.
1958 – Naval aircraft F4D-1 Sky Ray sets five world speed-to-climb records.
1959 – Two US Air Force jets collided near Ocean Station ECHO, patrolled at that time by the CGC Mendota. A U.S. Air Force weather plane spotted both pilots in the water and, within two hours of collision, the Mendota rescued them.
1964 – In a major speech before the American Law Institute in Washington, Secretary of State Rusk explicitly accuses North Vietnam of initiating and directing the aggression in South Vietnam. US withdrawal, says Rusk, ‘would mean not only grievous losses to the free world in Southeast and Southern Asia but a drastic loss of confidence in the will and capacity of the free world.’ he concluded: “There is a simple prescription for peace– leave your neighbors alone.”
1964 – Thailand mobilizes its border provinces against incursions by the Pathet Lao and agrees to the use of bases by the US Air Force for reconnaissance, search and rescue, and attacks against the Pathet Lao. By the end of the year, 75 US aircraft will be stationed in Thailand.
1965 – US intelligence confirms that the Soviet Union is building anti-aircraft missile sites in and around Hanoi, and more of them than expected.
1966 – In a television interview, US Air Forde Secretary Harold Brown reveals that President Johnson is opposed to widening the air war in North Vietnam because such a move would not completely cut off North-South movement and it might prompt Chinese intervention.
1967 – CGC Barataria conducted the first fire-support mission for the newly created Coast Guard Squadron Three in Vietnam. This force initiallyconsisted of five 311-footers used to support Market Time operations.
1967 – New York City reaches agreement to purchase Brooklyn Navy Yard, ending 166 years of construction and repair of naval vessels.
1968 – The nuclear-powered submarine the USS Scorpion sinks with 99 men aboard 400 miles southwest of the Azores.
1968 – Xuan Thuy, chief North Vietnamese delegate to the peace talks, declares that negotiations will remain deadlocked until the US unconditionally terminates all bombing raids on North Vietnam. Ambassador Harriman replies that a bombing halt must be accompanied by mutual troop withdrawals along the DMZ, but Thuy rejects the proposal, charging that it is the US that has violated the buffer zone.
1969 – In Phubai, South Vietnam, Major General Melvin Zais, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, says his orders were ‘to destroy enemy forces’ in the Ashau valley and Apbia mountain form 10-20 May and says that he did not have any orders to reduce casualties by avoiding battles. Apbia mountain has been dubbed ‘Hamburger Hill’ due to high casualties on both sides. The US military command in Saigon states that the recent battle for Apbia mountain is an integral part of the policy of ‘maximum pressure’ that it has been pursuing for the last six months and confirms that no orders have been received from President Nixon to modify the basic strategy.
1969 – The lunar module of Apollo 10 separated from the command module and flew to within nine miles of the moon’s surface in a dress rehearsal for the first lunar landing.
1970 – The White House announces the US is prepared to continue air cover, if needed, for South Vietnamese forces that are considered almost certain to remain in Cambodia after US troops are withdrawn.
1972 – President Richard Nixon arrives in Moscow for a summit with Soviet leaders. Although it was Nixon’s first visit to the Soviet Union as president, he had visited Moscow once before–as U.S. vice president. As Eisenhower’s vice president, Nixon made frequent official trips abroad, including a 1959 trip to Moscow to tour the Soviet capital and to attend the U.S. Trade and Cultural Fair in Sokolniki Park. Soon after Vice President Nixon arrived in July 1959, he opened an informal debate with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev about the merits and disadvantages of their governments’ political and economic systems. Known as the “Kitchen Debate” because of a particularly heated exchange between Khrushchev and Nixon that occurred in the kitchen of a model U.S. home at the American fair, the dialogue was a defining moment in the Cold War. Nixon’s second visit to Moscow in May 1972, this time as president, was for a more conciliatory purpose. During a week of summit meetings with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and other Soviet officials, the United States and the USSR reached a number of agreements, including one that laid the groundwork for a joint space flight in 1975. On May 26, Nixon and Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT), the most significant of the agreements reached during the summit. The treaty limited the United States and the USSR to 200 antiballistic missiles each, which were to be divided between two defensive systems. President Nixon returned to the United States on May 30.
1973 – President Nixon confessed his role in the Watergate cover-up.
1985 – US sailor Michael L. Walker (22), member of Walker family spy ring, was arrested for spying for USSR.
1990 – Microsoft released Windows 3.0.
1993 – The United States, Russia, France, Britain and Spain agreed to enforce safe areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but stopped short of endorsing President Clinton’s proposal to use military force.
1994 – A worldwide trade embargo against Haiti went into effect to punish Haiti’s military rulers for not reinstating the country’s ousted elected leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
1996 – Iraq reached an agreement with the UN to sell $2 billion in oil for 180 days to buy food and medicine.
1996 – Amnesty International reported that Iraqi doctors were forced to cut off the ears of alleged deserters and that Kenyan doctors were pressured to ignore evidence of torture.
1997 – Kelly Flinn, the Air Force’s first female bomber pilot certified for combat, accepted a general discharge, thereby avoiding court-martial on charges of lying, adultery and disobeying an order.
1998 – A joint peacekeeping force was set up by 7 European nations to maintain peace in Kosovo. Deputy defense ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Romania and Turkey signed on after meeting in Tirana. Slovenia and the US signed on as observers.
2001 – Ethnic Albanian rebels in southern Serbia began laying aside their weapons for collection by NATO.
2003 – NASA released the 1st photo of Earth taken from Mars, 86 million miles away. The record distance was a 1990 shot by Voyager 1 from 4 billion miles.
2003 – The UN Security Council overwhelmingly approved an end to 13-year-old sanctions against Iraq and gave the United States and Britain a mandate to run and rebuild the country.
2012 – After months of delays, American company SpaceX successfully launches its unmanned Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, beginning a test mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
2014 – The chairman of the House Veteran Affairs Committee says his group has received information “that will make what has already come out look like kindergarten stuff.” He does not elaborate.
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