1784– Zachary Taylor, the 12th president of the United States (1849-1850), was born at Montebello, Orange County, Va. Embarking on a military career in 1808, Taylor fought in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, and the Seminole War, meanwhile holding garrison jobs on the frontier or desk jobs in Washington. A brigadier general as a result of his victory over the Seminoles at Lake Okeechobee (1837), Taylor held a succession of Southwestern commands and in 1846 established a base on the Rio Grande, where his forces engaged in hostilities that precipitated the war with Mexico. He captured Monterrey in Sept. 1846 and, disregarding Polk’s orders to stay on the defensive, defeated Santa Anna at Buena Vista in Feb. 1847, ending the war in the northern provinces. Though Taylor had never cast a vote for president, his party affiliations were Whiggish and his availability was increased by his difficulties with Polk. He was elected president over the Democrat Lewis Cass. During the revival of the slavery controversy, which was to result in the Compromise of 1850, Taylor began to take an increasingly firm stand against appeasing the South; but he died in Washington on July 9, 1850, during the fight over the Compromise. He married Margaret Mackall Smith in 1810. His bluff and simple soldierly qualities won him the name Old Rough and Ready.
1832– South Carolina passed an Ordinance of Nullification. The US government had enacted a tariff. South Carolina nullified it and threatened to secede. Pres. Jackson threatened armed force on his home state but a compromise was devised by Henry Clay that ducked the central problem. South Carolina and other southern states were upset when Congress passed the Tariff of 1828 which Southerners dubbed the “Tariff of Abominations.” Southerners saw the tariff as protecting Northern industry at the expense of the South, and as unconstitutionally expanding the powers of the federal government. Many Southerners was not satisfied when Congress lowered tariffs slightly in 1832. In response, South CarolinaÌs state legislature passed laws nullifying the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 and forbidding the collection of the tariffs in South Carolina. South Carolina also threatened to secede ¬ to withdraw from the United States ¬ if its stance on the tariff was not respected.
1835– Texas Rangers, a mounted police force, was authorized by the Texas Provisional Government. Rangers served primarily as volunteers since government offers of payment rarely materialized. In 1835, as the movement for Texas independence was about to boil over, a council of colonial Texas representatives created a “Corps of Rangers” to protect the frontier from hostile Indians. For the first time, their pay was officially set at $1.25 a day and they were to elect their own officers. They were also required to furnish their own arms, mounts, and equipment. The corps was commanded by R.M. “three-legged” Williamson (so nicknamed because he had a wooden leg to support a crippled limb) and led by Captains William Arrington, Issac Burleson and John J. Tumlinson. Settlers rebelled against the Mexican government in 1836 over violations of their rights and the suspension of immigration from the U.S and Europe. The Texas Rangers played an important but little known role in this conflict. They covered the retreat of civilians from dictator Santa Ana’s army in the famous “Runaway Scrape,” harassed columns of Mexican troops and provided valuable intelligence to the Texas Army. The only men to ride in response to Col. William B. Travis’ last minute plea to defend the Alamo were Rangers who fought, and died, in the cause of Texas freedom.
1852 – Commodore Matthew Perry sails from Norfolk, VA, to negotiate a treaty with Japan for friendship and commerce.
1861 – Landing party from U.S.S. Flag, Commander J. Rodgers, U.S.S. Augusta, Pocahontas, Seneca, and Savan¬nah, took possession of the Tybee Island, Savannah Harbor. “This abandonment of Tybee Island,” Du Pont reported, “is due to the terror inspired by the bombardment of Forts Walker and Beauregard, and is a direct fruit of the victory of the 7th [capture of Port Royal Sound].”
1862 – U.S.S. Monticello, Lieutenant Commander Braine, destroyed two Confederate salt works near Little River Inlet, North Carolina.
1863– Union troops capture Lookout Mountain southwest of Chattanooga as they begin to break the Confederate siege of the city. In the “battle above the clouds,” the Yankees scaled the slopes of the mountain on the periphery of the Chattanooga lines. For nearly two months since the Battle of Chickamauga, the Confederates, commanded by General Braxton Bragg, had pinned the Union army inside Chattanooga. They were not able to surround the city, though, and occupied Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge to the south and east of the city instead. In late October, arriving to take command, General Ulysses S. Grant immediately began to form an offensive. On October 27, Union troops attacked Brown’s Ferry southwest of Chattanooga and opened the Tennessee River to boats that brought much needed supplies to the besieged Yankees. On November 23, Grant began to attack the center of the lines around the city. Lookout Mountain lay on the Union’s far right, and the action there commenced on November 24. General Joseph Hooker commanded this wing, and his men advanced toward the fog-covered peak. Hooker did not plan to attack the entire mountain that day, thinking the granite crags would be difficult to overcome. The fog covered the Union advance, however, and Hooker’s men climbed relatively easily. The Confederates had overestimated the advantages offered by the mountain, and only 1,200 Rebels faced nearly 12,000 attacking Yankees. Artillery proved of little use, as the hill was so steep that the attackers could not even be seen until they appeared near the summit. Bragg did not send reinforcements because the Union attack against the Confederate center was more threatening than the sideshow around Lookout Mountain. The Confederates abandoned the mountain by late afternoon. The next day, the Unions launched a devastating attack against Missionary Ridge and successfully broke the Confederate lines around Chattanooga.
1863 – Under cover of U.S.S. Pawnee, Commander Balch, and U.S.S. Marblehead, Lieutenant Commander Richard W. Meade, Jr., Army troops commenced sinking piles as obstructions in the Stono River above Legareville, South Carolina. The troops, protected by Marblehead, had landed the day before. The naval force remained on station at the request of Brigadier General Schimmelfennig to preclude a possible Confederate attack.
1871– The National Rifle Association was incorporated in NYC, and its first president named: Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” according to a magazine editorial written by Church. After being granted a charter by the state of New York on November 17, 1871, the NRA was founded. Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who was also the former governor of Rhode Island and a U.S. Senator, became the fledgling NRA’s first president.
1932 – The FBI Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory officially opens in Washington, D.C. The lab, which was chosen because it had the necessary sink, operated out of a single room and had only one full-time employee, Agent Charles Appel. Agent Appel began with a borrowed microscope and a pseudo-scientific device called a helixometer. The helixometer purportedly assisted investigators with gun barrel examinations, but it was actually more for show than function. In fact, J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, provided the lab with very few resources and used the “cutting-edge lab” primarily as a public relations tool. But by 1938, the FBI lab added polygraph machines and started conducting controversial lie detection tests as part of its investigations. In its early days, the FBI Crime Lab worked on about 200 pieces of evidence a year. By the 1990s, that number multiplied to approximately 200,000. Currently, the FBI Crime Lab obtains 600 new pieces of criminal evidence everyday.
1941 – The United States extends Lend-Lease to the Free French Forces.
1943 – Japanese forces mount a small attack on the American divisions on Bougainville. The US marines hold.
1943 – The USS Liscome Bay is torpedoed near Tarawa and sinks, killing 650 men.
1944– 111 U.S. B-29 Superfortress bombers raid Tokyo for the first time since Capt. Jimmy Doolittle’s raid in 1942. Their target: the Nakajima aircraft engine works. Fall 1944 saw the sustained strategic bombing of Japan. It began with a reconnaissance flight over Tokyo by Tokyo Rose, a Superfortress B-29 bomber piloted by Capt. Ralph D. Steakley, who grabbed over 700 photographs of the bomb sites in 35 minutes. Next, starting the first week of November, came a string of B-29 raids, dropping hundreds of tons of high explosives on Iwo Jima, in order to keep the Japanese fighters stationed there on the ground and useless for a counteroffensive. Then came Tokyo. The awesome raid, composed of 111 Superfortress four-engine bombers, was led by Gen. Emmett “Rosie” O’Donnell, piloting Dauntless Dotty. Press cameramen on site captured the takeoffs of the first mass raid on the Japanese capital ever for posterity. Unfortunately, even with the use of radar, overcast skies and bad weather proved an insurmountable obstacle at 30,000 feet: Despite the barrage of bombs that were dropped, fewer than 50 hit the main target, the Nakajima Aircraft Works, doing little damage. The upside was that at such a great height, the B-29s were protected from counter-attack; only one was shot down. One Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded as a result of the raid. It went to Captain Steakley.
1944 – The US 3rd Army captures crossings over the Saar River, about 25 miles north of Saarbrucken. To the south, the French 2nd Division (an element of US 7th Army) takes Strasbourg.
1947– Congress voted to cite the Hollywood Ten, who opposed the HUAC hearings, as “unfriendly witnesses” for contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about alleged Communist influence in the movie industry. At the same time 50 top Hollywood executives convened and decided to discharge or suspend the Hollywood Ten until acquittal or declaration that they were not Communists. Among the ten were director Edward Dmytrak, who later recanted and gave names of suspected Communists, Lester Cole, and writer Ring Lardner Jr. Lester Cole later wrote “Hollywood Red.”
1950– UN troops began an assault with the intent to end the Korean War by Christmas.
1961– The UN adopted bans on nuclear arms over American protest.
1963 – At 12:20 p.m., in the basement of the Dallas police station, Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is shot to death by Jack Ruby, a Dallas strip club owner. On November 22, President Kennedy was fatally shot while riding in an open-car motorcade through the streets of downtown Dallas. Less than an hour after the shooting, Lee Harvey Oswald killed a policeman who questioned him on the street. Thirty minutes after that, he was arrested in a movie theater by police. Oswald was formally arraigned on November 23 for the murders of President Kennedy and Officer J.D. Tippit. On November 24, Oswald was brought to the basement of the Dallas police headquarters on his way to a more secure county jail. A crowd of police and press with live television cameras rolling gathered to witness his departure. As Oswald came into the room, Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd and fatally wounded him with a single shot from a concealed .38 revolver. Ruby, who was immediately detained, claimed that rage at Kennedy’s murder was the motive for his action. Some called him a hero, but he was nonetheless charged with first-degree murder. Jack Ruby, originally known as Jacob Rubenstein, operated strip joints and dance halls in Dallas and had minor connections to organized crime. He also had a relationship with a number of Dallas policemen, which amounted to various favors in exchange for leniency in their monitoring of his establishments. He features prominently in Kennedy-assassination theories, and many believe he killed Oswald to keep him from revealing a larger conspiracy. In his trial, Ruby denied the allegation and pleaded innocent on the grounds that his great grief over Kennedy’s murder had caused him to suffer “psychomotor epilepsy” and shoot Oswald unconsciously. The jury found him guilty of the “murder with malice” of Oswald and sentenced him to die. In October 1966, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the decision on the grounds of improper admission of testimony and the fact that Ruby could not have received a fair trial in Dallas at the time. In January 1967, while awaiting a new trial, to be held in Wichita Falls, Ruby died of lung cancer in a Dallas hospital. The official Warren Commission report of 1964 concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy, either domestic or international, to assassinate President Kennedy. Despite its seemingly firm conclusions, the report failed to silence conspiracy theories surrounding the event, and in 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The committee’s findings, as with those of the Warren Commission, continue to be widely disputed.
1963 – Two days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson confirms the U.S. intention to continue military and economic support to South Vietnam. He instructed Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, in Washington for consultations following South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem’s assassination, to communicate his intention to the new South Vietnamese leadership. Johnson’s first decision about Vietnam was effectively to continue Kennedy’s policy.
1964 – USS Princeton (LPH-5) completes 7-days of humanitarian relief to South Vietnam which suffered damage from typhoon and floods.
1965 – U.S. casualty statistics reflect the intensified fighting in the Ia Drang Valley and other parts of the Central Highlands. In their first significant contacts, U.S. forces and North Vietnamese regulars fought a series of major battles in the Highlands that led to high casualties for both sides. A record 240 American soldiers were killed and another 470 were wounded during the previous week. These figures were a portent of things to come–U.S. and North Vietnamese forces began to engage each other on a regular basis shortly thereafter.
1967– Cambodian triple agent Inchin Lam was murdered. Special Forces Captain John J. McCarthy was accused and later tried for the murder in a court in Vietnam.
1969– U.S. Army officials announce 1st Lt. William Calley will be court-martialed for the premeditated murder of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. In Washington, Army Secretary Stanley Resor and Army Chief of Staff William C. Westmoreland announced the appointment of Lt. Gen. William R. Peers to “explore the nature and scope” of the original investigation of the My Lai slayings in April 1968. The initial probe, conducted by the unit involved in the affair, concluded that no massacre occurred and that no further action was warranted. The My Lai Massacre took place in March 1968, when between 200 and 500 South Vietnamese civilians were murdered by U.S. soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division. During a sweep of a cluster of hamlets, the U.S. soldiers, particularly those from Calley’s first platoon, indiscriminately shot people as they ran from their huts. They then systematically rounded up the survivors, allegedly leading them to a ditch where Calley gave the order to “finish them off.” After an investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Division, 14 were charged with crimes. All eventually had their charges dismissed or were acquitted, except Calley, who was found guilty of murdering 22 civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was reduced twice and he was paroled in November 1974.
1969– HS-4 from USS Hornet (CVS-12) recovers Apollo 12’s all-Navy crew of astronauts, Commanders Richard Gordon, Charles Conrad, and Alan Bean, after moon landing by Conrad and Bean.
1979– U.S. admitted that thousands of troops in Vietnam were exposed to the toxic Agent Orange.
1985– The hijacking of an EgyptAir jetliner parked on the ground in Malta ended violently as Egyptian commandos stormed the plane. Fifty-eight people died in the raid, in addition to two others killed by the hijackers. Ali Rezaq of the Abu Nidal terrorist group was imprisoned in Malta for 7 years and then released. The US FBI apprehended him in Nigeria in 1993 and he was convicted by a US federal jury in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison.
1987– The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to scrap shorter- and medium-range missiles in the first superpower treaty to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons.
1990– President Bush returned home from an eight-day tour of Europe and the Middle East, during which he’d lobbied foreign leaders on behalf of his Persian Gulf policy.
1991– The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off from Cape Canaveral with six astronauts and a military satellite. Launch set for November 19 delayed due to malfunctioning redundant inertial measurement unit on Inertial Upper Stage booster attached to Defense Support Program satellite. Unit replaced and tested. Launch reset for November 24, delayed 13 minutes to allow an orbiting spacecraft to pass and to allow external tank liquid oxygen replenishment after minor repairs to valve in the liquid oxygen replenishment system in the mobile launcher platform. Launch Weight: 259,629 lbs. Dedicated Department of Defense mission. Unclassified payload included Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite and attached Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), deployed on flight day one. Cargo bay and middeck payloads: Interim Operational Contamination Monitor(IOCM); Terra Scout; Military Man in Space (M88-1); Air Force Maui Optical System (AMOS); Cosmic Radiation Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM); Shuttle Activation Monitor (SAM); Radiation Monitoring Equipment III (RME III); Visual Function Tester-1 (VFT-1); Ultraviolet Plume Instrument (UVPI). Bioreactor Flow and Particle Trajectory experiment; and Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project, a series of investigations in support of Extended Duration Orbiter.
1992– Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger pleaded innocent to making a false statement in the Iran-Contra affair. However, Weinberger was pardoned by President Bush before the case could come to trial.
1992– Marines lowered the flag at Subic Bay, U.S. Naval Facility, Republic of the Philippines, for the last time during ceremonies to turn over the facility to the government of the Philippines. The withdrawal ended almost a century of U.S. presence in that nation.
1994– Rebel Serbs refused to withdraw from the U.N. designated safe area around Bihac and continued to advance on the city, despite recent NATO air strikes.
1995– Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic promised during a televised address to accept a U-S-brokered peace plan.
1997– It was reported that Iraq continued to withhold access to 63 weapons sites that included 47 presidential compounds.
2000– The U.S. Supreme Court stepped into the bitter, overtime struggle for the White House, agreeing to consider George W. Bush’s appeal whether the extended Florida ballot counting violates federal law.
2000– In Cambodia several dozen gunmen attacked government offices in Phnom Penh. At least 7 people were killed and 12 wounded. Police fought a US-based anti-communist group known as the Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF). 8 were killed and 60 rounded up. 38 people, including 4 American citizens, were later charged with terrorism. In 2002 a court sentenced 20 people to prison terms of 5 years to life for the plotting to overthrow the government.
2000– In Serbia police gave NATO a 72-hour deadline to stop incursions from Kosovo by ethnic Albanian militants.
2001– Hundreds of Taliban fighters surrendered at Kunduz. A few turned out to be suicide bombers, who killed 5-6 Northern Alliance commanders.
2002– In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Iraqi government complained that the small print behind upcoming weapons inspections would give Washington a pretext to attack.
2003– A Virginia jury decided that John Allen Muhammad, convicted of masterminding the 2002 sniper attacks in the Washington DC region, should be executed.
2003– The US-appointed government raided the offices of Al-Arabiya television, banned its broadcasts from Iraq for broadcasting an audiotape a week ago of a voice it said belonged to Saddam Hussein.
2014 – Chuck Hagel resigned as US defense secretary after less than two years in the top post.
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