1735 – John Adams, second president of the United States (1797-1801), was born in Braintree (Quincy), Mass. In three remarkable careers as a foe of British oppression and champion of independence (1761 77), as an American diplomat in Europe (1778 88), and as the first vice-president (1789 97) and then the second president of the United States (1797 1801) John Adams was a founder of the United States. Perhaps equally important, however, was the life of his mind and spirit; in a pungent diary, vivid letters, learned tracts, and patriotic speeches he revealed himself as a quintessential Puritan, patriarch of an illustrious family, tough-minded philosopher of the republic, sage, and sometimes a vain, stubborn, and vitriolic partisan. John Adams was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Mass. in a small saltbox house still standing and open to visitors. His father, John Adams, a deacon and a fifth-generation Massachusetts farmer, and his mother, the former Suzanna Boylston, were, their son wrote, “both fond of reading”; so they resolved to give bookishly inclined John a good education. He became the first of his family to go to college when he entered Harvard in 1751. There, and in six further years of intensive reading while he taught school and studied law in Worcester and Boston, he mastered the technicalities of his profession and the literature and learning of his day. By 1762, when he began 14 years of increasingly successful legal practice, he was well informed, ambitious, and public spirited. His most notable good fortune, however, occurred in 1764 when he married Abigail Smith (see Adams, Abigail). John Adams’s marriage of 54 years to this wise, learned, strong-willed, passionate, and patriotic woman began the brilliant phase of Adams family history that produced their son John Quincy Adams, his son Charles Francis Adams, his sons Henry Adams and Brooks Adams, and numerous other distinguished progeny. In 1761, John Adams began to think and write and act against British measures that he believed infringed on colonial liberties. He soon became a leader among Massachusetts radicals. Although he early committed himself to independence as an unwelcome last resort, Adams’s innate conservatism made him determined in 1770 that the British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre receive a fair hearing. He defended the soldiers at their trial. He also spoke out repeatedly against mob violence and other signs of social disintegration. In 1774 76, Adams was a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. His speeches and writings (especially a newspaper series signed “Novanglus” in 1775) articulating the colonial cause and his brilliant championing of American rights in Congress caused Thomas Jefferson to call him the “Colossus of Independence.” Adams helped draft the Declaration of Independence, secured its unanimous adoption in Congress, and wrote his wife on July 3, 1776, that “the most memorable Epoch in the History of America has begun.” After 18 months of toil in committee and on the floor of Congress managing the American Revolution, Adams crossed the Atlantic to be an American commissioner to France. The termination of this mission after less than a year in Paris allowed him to return home long enough to take a leading role in drafting the new Massachusetts constitution. He sailed again for Europe, accompanied by two of his sons, in November 1779 as a commissioner to seek peace with Britain. After quarrels in Paris with Benjamin Franklin and French officials, he left for the Netherlands, where he secured Dutch recognition of American independence. He returned to Paris in October 1782 to insist on American rights (especially to fish on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland) in the negotiations that led to Britain’s recognition of the independence of the United States in the Treaty of Paris of Sept. 3, 1783. For two more years Adams helped Franklin and Jefferson negotiate treaties of friendship and commerce with numerous foreign powers. Then, appointed the first U.S. minister to Britain, Adams presented his credentials to George III in 1785, noting his pride in “having the distinguished honor to be the first [ex-colonial subject] to stand in your Majesty’s royal presence in a diplomatic character.” When he returned to the United States in 1788, Adams was greeted by his countrymen as one of the heroes of independence and was promptly elected vice-president under the new Constitution. This post, regarded by Adams as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived,” left him time to work out his increasingly sober views of republican government. In Europe he had been impressed with both the unsuitability of self-government for masses of destitute, ignorant people, and the usefulness, in evoking patriotism and in maintaining order, of the pomp and ceremony of monarchy. He was thus appalled, but not surprised, at the riotous French Revolution and emphasized the need for dignity, ritual, and authority in a republic such as the United States. He also supported the efforts of George Washington to give the presidency an almost regal quality and to extend executive power, and he agreed with Alexander Hamilton on most of the latter’s fiscal plans. He never accepted, however, the “high” Federalist biases toward commercial growth and government by “the rich, the well-born, and the able.” Although his own presidency (1797 1801) was a troubled one, Adams made uniquely important contributions during his term as chief executive. He managed orderly transitions of power at both the beginning and the end of his administration, and he gave the government stability by continuing most of the practices established under Washington. The major crisis he faced, however, arose from strained relations with revolutionary France. When, in the so-called XYZ Affair (1797 98), American peace commissioners returned from Paris with lurid stories of deceit and bribery, Adams called for an assertion of national pride, built up the armed forces, and even accepted the Alien and Sedition Acts as emergency national security measures. With his opponents (led by Jefferson) charging oppression and some of his own Federalist Party (led by Hamilton) urging war and conquest, Adams kept his nerve and, when the opportunity arose, dispatched another peace commission to France. This defused the crisis and led in 1800 to an agreement with France that ended the so-called Quasi-War. Nonetheless, deserted by Hamilton and other Federalists who disapproved of his independent course, and attacked by the Jeffersonian Republicans as a vain monarchist, Adams was forced out of office after one term. When he and Abigail returned to Massachusetts, they moved into a comfortable but unpretentious house in Quincy (it is known today and open to visitors as the Adams National Historic Site) they had bought 12 years before. There, tending to his fields, visiting with neighbors, and enjoying his family, John Adams lived for 25 years as a sage and national patriarch. Of his numerous correspondences, the cherished 14-year (1812 26) one with Jefferson became a literary legacy to the nation. Although the debilitations of old age and the death of his beloved Abigail in 1818 troubled his last years, his mind remained sharp and his spirit buoyant until the end. Like Jefferson, he died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Ninety years old at his death, Adams was revered by his countrymen not only as one of the founding fathers but also as a plain, honest man who personified the best of what the nation could hope of its citizens and leaders.
1775 – Congress authorizes four, by adding two to the pair authorized on 13 october, vessels for the defense of the United Colonies one to carry twenty guns, the other thirty-six, and increasing the membership of the Marine Committee to eleven.
1799 – William Balch becomes Navy’s first commissioned Chaplain.
1831 – In Southampton County, Virginia, escaped slave Nat Turner is captured and arrested for leading the bloodiest slave rebellion in United States history.
1862 – Dr. Richard Gatling patented a machine gun. The Gatling Gun consisted of six barrels mounted in a revolving frame. A later version with ten barrels, fired 320 rounds a minute. The United States Army purchased these guns in 1865 and over the next few years most major armies in Europe purchased the gun. In 1870 Gatling opened a new factory in Hartford, Connecticut to produce his gun. He continued to improve the Gatling Gun and by 1882 it could fire up to 1,200 rounds per minute. However, sales of the gun declined after Hiram Maxim began producing his automatic Maxim Machine Gun. As well as guns, Gatling manufactured machines for sowing and breaking hemp, a steam power and a marine steam ram.
1862 – Union General Ormsby MacKnight Mitchell, commander of the Department of the South, dies at Beaufort, South Carolina. Born in Kentucky in 1809, Mitchell grew up in Lebanon, Ohio. He attended West Point and graduated in 1829 along with future Confederate leaders Joseph Johnston and Robert E. Lee. He excelled at mathematics and graduated 15th out of a class of 56 cadets. Mitchell taught at West Point before becoming a surveyor on the Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad. He served another stint in the military when he went to St. Augustine, Florida, but he found his true calling when he accepted a professorship at Cincinnati College in 1836. He soon gained wide acclaim as a lecturer on astronomy. His lecture tours in the United States and Europe helped fund the Cincinnati Observatory, which he directed when it opened in 1845. When the war erupted in 1861, Mitchell used his West Point education as a brigadier general in the Army of the Ohio under General Don Carlos Buell and participated in operations in Kentucky and Tennessee in 1862. Mitchell also directed raids into northern Alabama, capturing Huntsville in April 1862. Mitchell was a critic of the “soft war,” or limited approach, of many northern generals, and his actions made him a target of conservative northern newspapers. Advocating a tougher stance against Southern civilians and the institution of slavery, he confiscated the property of prominent Confederates and protected slaves who escaped to his lines well before the practice was mandated by Federal policy. In July 1862 he was named commander of the Department of the South. He moved to headquarters on the Sea Islands of South Carolina, where he oversaw the building of schools and homes for slaves in the captured territory. This movement, begun by his predecessor, General David Hunter, is considered the first experiment in the reconstruction of the South. However, Mitchell’s death from yellow fever cut short his participation in the experiment.
1882 – William F. “Bull” Halsey, Jr., American admiral, was born. He played an instrumental role in the defeat of Japan during World War II. William Halsey, the son of a naval captain, was born in New Jersey. He attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and graduated in 1904 (43/62) and joined the United States Navy. Halsey won the Navy Cross during the First World War while commanding destroyer patrol forces in the Atlantic. After the war he served as a naval attaché in Germany, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Halsey, who learnt to fly in 1935, became one of the country’s leading exponents of naval air power. He commanded the aircraft carrier Saratoga for two years before becoming head of the Pensacola Naval Air Station in 1937. The following year he was given the responsibility of training air squadrons for the new carriers, Enterprise and Yorktown. In June 1940 he was promoted to vice admiral. Fortunately for Halsey he was at sea at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Serving under Admiral Chester Nimitz Halsey led the task force that attacked Japanese positions in the Gilbert Islands. In April 1943 he helped organized the air attacks on Tokyo. A nervous skin disease meant that Halsey missed the battle of Midway and Raymond Spruance led the task force that inflicted considerable damage on the Japanese Navy. Promoted to admiral in November, 1942, Halsey took control of naval operations during the Guadalcanal campaign (12th-13th November, 1942) and sunk two Japanese battleships, two destroyers and six transport ships for the loss of two cruisers and four destroyers. The following year he took command of the South Pacific Force. Working closely with General Douglas MacArthur Halsey developed what became known as his island hopping tactics. This strategy involved amphibious landings on vulnerable islands, therefore bypassing Japanese troop concentrations on fortified islands. This had the advantage of avoiding frontal assaults and thus reducing the number of American casualties. In the Leyte Gulf campaign Halsey had the task of supporting the landing of troops and to destroy the main Japanese fleet. On 24th October 1944 Halsey fell into a Japanese trap when he headed north with all 64 ships to attack Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa . He left the San Bernardino Strait unprotected and only the actions of Vice-Admiral Thomas Kinkaid and the 7th Fleet prevented a military disaster. Halsey’s fleet were twice hit by typhoons in December 1944 and June 1945 and this led to the loss of several ships and many lives. At the subsequent enquiry he was criticized for taking inappropriate action in both cases. At the end of the Pacific War Halsey’s flagship, Missouri, was used for the signing of the Japanese surrender on 2nd September 1945. Three months later Halsey was promoted to admiral of the fleet. After retiring from the US Navy in April 1947, Halsey was a director of several large companies. William Halsey died in Pasadina, California on 16th August 1959
1918 – Germany sent a note to the U.S.A. stating Armistice terms are being awaited.
1922 – Mussolini sent his black shirts into Rome and formed a government. The Fascist takeover was almost without bloodshed.
1939 – German U boat failed in an attack of English battleship Nelson with Winston Churchill, Dudley Pound and Charles Forbes aboard.
1941 – President Roosevelt, determined to keep the United States out of the war while helping those allies already mired in it, approves $1 billion in Lend-Lease loans to the Soviet Union. The terms: no interest and repayment did not have to start until five years after the war was over. The Lend-Lease program was devised by President Roosevelt and passed by Congress on March 11, 1941. Originally, it was meant to aid Great Britain in its war effort against the Germans by giving the chief executive the power to “sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of” any military resources the president deemed ultimately in the interest of the defense of the United States. The reasoning was: If a neighbor was successful in defending his home, the security of your home was enhanced. Although the Soviet Union had already been the recipient of American military weapons, and now had been promised $1 billion in financial aid, formal approval to extend the Lend-Lease program to the USSR had to be given by Congress. Anticommunist feeling meant much heated debate, but Congress finally gave its approval to the extension on November 7. By the end of the war, more than $50 billion in funds, weapons, aircraft, and ships had been distributed to 44 countries. 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.
1943 – The US 5th Army captures Mondragone on the west coast after penetrating the German Barbara Line defenses in the area. Other elements of the army, further inland, continue their advance.
1944 – Last transport for Auschwitz arrived in Birkenau.
1944 – On land around the Leyte Gulf, troops of US 7th Infantry Division (part of US 24th Corps) take Dagami. As sea, two carriers are badly damaged by Kamikaze attacks as the ships of US Task Force 38 begin to withdraw toward Ulithi.
1945 – The U.S. government announced the end of shoe rationing.
1950 – The First Marine Division was ordered to replace the entire South Korean I Corps at the Chosin Reservoir area.
1950 – General Douglas McArthur ordered a combined Marine and Army outfit to cross the 38th parallel and “mop up” remaining North Korean soldiers. 12,000 Marines found themselves surrounded by 8 Chinese divisions. The marines lost 4,000 men and the Chinese lost 37,500.
1953 – Gen. George C. Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Albert Schweitzer received his 1952 Peace Prize.
1953 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally approves National Security Council Paper No. 162/2 (NSC 162/2). The top secret document made clear that America’s nuclear arsenal must be maintained and expanded to meet the communist threat. It also made clear the connection between military spending and a sound American economy. The paper began by warning that the Soviet Union already possessed sufficient atomic weapons and delivery capabilities to inflict a “crippling blow to our industrial base and our continued ability to prosecute a war.” While in the short-term such action by the Soviets seemed unlikely, this did not mean that the United States could afford to slacken its efforts to stockpile “sufficient atomic weapons.” In specific situations, the United States should “make clear to the USSR and Communist China…its intention to react with military force against any aggression by Soviet bloc armed forces.” Nuclear weapons should be “as available for use as other weapons.” NSC 162/2 indicated the growing reliance of the United States on its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to communist aggression during the Eisenhower years. It also suggested that concerns were being raised about the ability of the American economy to support both a booming domestic standard of living and massive military expenditures. Its approval by the President was a definite sign of his so-called “New Look” foreign policy that depended on more cost efficient nuclear weapons to fight the Cold War.
1954 – US Armed Forces ended segregation of races. The Truman desegregation order of 1948 is finally, fully implemented.
1961 – The most powerful nuclear weapon the world has seen was detonated by the Soviet Union. Tsar Bomba was 1,400 times Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined and ten times the entire combined fire power expended in WWII.The resulting fireball had a radius of nearly 10,000 vertical feet and its 210,000 foot tall mushroom cloud reached into the stratosphere. The light generated by the reaction could be seen from over a 1,000 km and the force of its explosion registered a 5.0 on the Richter scale. The shock wave generated air pressures topping 300 PSI, circled the Earth thrice, and cracked windows 900 km away in Norway and Finland. Buildings in the abandoned town of Severny 55 km away were leveled—all of them—and upon later inspection, ground zero was reportedly the texture of a skating rink. As one observer recalled, “The clouds beneath the aircraft and in the distance were lit up by the powerful flash. The sea of light spread under the hatch and even clouds began to glow and became transparent. At that moment, our aircraft emerged from between two cloud layers and down below in the gap a huge bright orange ball was emerging. The ball was powerful and arrogant like Jupiter. Slowly and silently it crept upwards…. Having broken through the thick layer of clouds it kept growing. It seemed to suck the whole earth into it. The spectacle was fantastic, unreal, supernatural.” This utter destruction is only half of what the Tsar Bomba was capable of. It was designed and built to deliver a staggering 100 megaton payload. The Tsar was supposed to utilize fast-fissioning uranium tampers on the second and third stages of the bomb, which would have allowed for a bigger reaction and subsequent energy release. However, just before the test was to take place, Soviet leadership ordered the tampers swapped out with lead replacements in order to prevent nuclear fallout from reaching populated areas of the USSR. These lead tampers cut the bomb’s yield by 50 percent but they also eliminated 97 percent of the resulting fallout. As such the Tsar Bomba, the largest, most destructively powerful device ever built by man also holds the notable distinction of being the relatively “cleanest” nuclear weapon ever tested. Luckily, that record was only important for two years until the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty which brought an end to above-ground nuclear weapons tests.
1965 – Just miles from Da Nang, U.S. Marines repel an intense attack by successive waves of Viet Cong troops and kill 56 guerrillas. A search of the dead uncovered a sketch of Marine positions written on the body of a 13-year-old Vietnamese boy who had been selling drinks to the Marines the previous day. This incident was indicative of the nature of a war in which even the most seemingly innocent child could be the enemy. There were many other instances where South Vietnamese civilians that worked on or near U.S. bases provided information to and participated in attacks alongside the enemy. Also on this day: Two U.S. planes accidentally bomb a friendly South Vietnamese village, killing 48 civilians and wounding 55 others. An American civic action team was immediately dispatched to the scene, and a later investigation disclosed that a map-reading error by South Vietnamese officers was responsible. Also on this day: In New York City, military veterans lead a parade in support of government policy in Vietnam. Led by five recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, 25,000 people march in support of America’s action in Vietnam.
1970 – Fighting in the five northern-most provinces of Vietnam comes to a virtual halt as the worst monsoon rains in six years strikes the region. The resultant floods killed 293 people and left more than 200,000 homeless.
1985 – The launch of the space shuttle “Challenger” was witnessed by schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. This was the first Space Shuttle mission largely financed and operated by another nation, West Germany. It was also the first Space Shuttle flight to carry a crew of eight. The primary mission was to operate a series of experiments, almost all related to functions in microgravity, in Spacelab D-1, the fourth flight of a Spacelab. Two other mission assignments were to deploy the Global Low Orbiting Message Relay Satellite (GLOMR) out of a Getaway Special canister in the cargo bay, and operate five materials processing experiments mounted in the cargo bay on a separate device called the German Unique Support Structure.
1987 – President Reagan announced that Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev would visit Washington in December for a summit, during which the two leaders would sign a treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
1990 – The Iraqi News Agency quoted Saddam Hussein as saying Iraq was making final preparations for war, and that he expected an attack by the United States and its allies within days.
1990 – In the Persian Gulf, ten American sailors died when a steam pipe ruptured aboard the USS “Iwo Jima”; in Saudi Arabia, a Marine was killed in an accident while driving in the desert.
1992 – Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence E. Walsh released an excerpt of notes taken by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in January 1986 which suggested then-Vice President Bush was fully aware of the Reagan administration’s arms-for-hostages deal with Iran. (Bush said despite the notes, he was not aware until December 1986 that the arrangement was an actual arms-for-hostages swap.)
1993 – Martin Fettman, America’s first veterinarian in space, chopped the heads off six rats and performed the world’s first animal dissections in space, aboard the shuttle Columbia.
1993 – A United Nations deadline for ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to return to power passed with the country’s military still in control.
1997 – Al-Sha’if tribesmen kidnapped a US businessman near Sanaa, Yemen. The tribesmen sought the release of two fellow tribesmen who were arrested on smuggling charges and several public works projects they claim the government promised them. They released the hostage on 27 November.
1998 – Four abortion clinics in 3 states, Indian, Kentucky and Tennessee, received letters claiming to contain anthrax bacteria. The letters were tested and found to be free of anthrax.
2000 – Astronauts Bill Shephard of the US and Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev of Russia blasted off for the Int’l. Space Station for a 4-month stay.
2001 – NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey snapped its first picture of Mars, one week after the spacecraft safely arrived in orbit around the Red Planet.
2001 – The Pentagon reported that a small number of US ground forces were operating in northern Afghanistan.
2001 – Yasser al-Siri, an Egyptian activist, was charged in London in connection with the assassination in Afghanistan of Ahmed Shah Massood, a Northern Alliance leader.
2001 – In the Philippines Marvin Deonzon (27) was arrested following the weekend bomb attack. Deonzon claimed to be part of the al Qaeda network and warned of another 40 bombs planted around Zamboanga.
2001 – Ukraine destroyed its last nuclear missile silo, fulfilling a pledge to give up the vast nuclear arsenal it had inherited after the breakup of the former Soviet Union.
2002 – Allied warplanes bombed Iraqi defense systems in the northern no-fly zone over Iraq after being fired upon during routine patrols.
2002 – In Belarus authorities reported the discovery of a mass grave on a military base at Slutsk with the remains of up to 12,000 people killed during World War II. Some 800,000 Jew of Belarus were killed by Nazis.
2002 – Senior Sinn Fein-IRA figure Martin McGuinness declared his war has ended in a documentary broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corp.
2003 – The US and 29 other countries pledged $18.4 million to create a new war crimes court in Bosnia that will lighten the load at the U.N. tribunal in the Netherlands.
2004 – The US Army extended Iraq tours by 2 months for some 6,500 soldiers.
2005 – The rebuilt Dresden Frauenkirche (destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II) is reconsecrated after a thirteen-year rebuilding project.
2006 – Specialist Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie, an Iraqi American United States Army soldier currently listed as missing in action in Iraq, is reported to have married an Iraqi citizen, against U.S. military regulations.
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