1493 – Christopher Columbus set sail from Cadiz, Spain, with a flotilla of 17 ships on his second voyage to the Western Hemisphere.
1513 – Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Spanish explorer, crossed the Isthmus of Panama and claimed the Pacific Ocean for Spain. He was named governor of Panama and the Pacific by King Ferdinand. In 2004 Hugh Thomas authored “Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire from Columbus to Magellan.”
1639 – The 1st printing press in America began operating.
1775 – British troops captured Ethan Allen, the hero of Ticonderoga, when he and a handful of Americans led an attack on Montreal, Canada. The Battle of Longue-Pointe was an attempt by Ethan Allen and a small force of American and Quebec militia to capture Montreal from British forces early in the American Revolutionary War. Allen, who had been instructed only to raise militia forces among the local inhabitants, had long had thoughts of taking the lightly defended city. When he reached the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River with about 110 men, he seized the opportunity to try. Major John Brown, who Allen claimed was supposed to provide additional forces, did not appear as they had planned, isolating Allen and his men on the north side of the river. British General Guy Carleton sent a force composed mostly of Quebec militia in response to news of Allen’s crossing of the St. Lawrence. This force cut off Allen’s escape route, and eventually surrounded and captured Allen and a number of his men. Carleton eventually abandoned Montreal, which fell without battle to Continental Army forces on November 13. Allen was sent first to England and then New York City as a prisoner, and was eventually exchanged in 1778.
1775 – Colonel Benedict Arnold led a force of 1,100 Continental Army troops on an expedition from Cambridge, Massachusetts to the gates of Quebec City. Part of a two-pronged invasion of the British Province of Quebec, his expedition passed through the wilderness of what is now Maine. The other expedition, led by Richard Montgomery, invaded Quebec from Lake Champlain. Unanticipated problems beset the expedition as soon as it left the last significant colonial outposts in Maine. The portages up the Kennebec River proved grueling, and the boats frequently leaked, ruining gunpowder and spoiling food supplies. More than a third of the men turned back before reaching the height of land between the Kennebec and Chaudière rivers. The areas on either side of the height of land were swampy tangles of lakes and streams, and the traversal was made more difficult by bad weather and inaccurate maps. Many of the troops lacked experience handling boats in white water, which led to the destruction of more boats and supplies in the descent to the Saint Lawrence River via the fast-flowing Chaudière. By the time Arnold reached the French settlements above the Saint Lawrence River in November, his force was reduced to 600 starving men. They had traveled about 350 miles (560 km) through poorly charted wilderness, twice the distance they had expected to cover. Assisted by the local French-speaking Canadiens, Arnold’s troops crossed the Saint Lawrence on November 13 and 14 and attempted to put Quebec City under siege. Failing in this, they withdrew to Point-aux-Trembles until Montgomery arrived to lead an unsuccessful attack on the city. Arnold was rewarded for his effort in leading the expedition with a promotion to brigadier general.
1777 – English general William Howe conquered Philadelphia.
1780 – American General Benedict Arnold joined the British.
1789 – The first Congress of the United States approves 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and sends them to the states for ratification. The amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved for the states and the people. Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification process that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to approve the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would immediately be adopted. In December 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal. Of the two amendments not ratified, the first concerned the population system of representation, while the second prohibited laws varying the payment of congressional members from taking effect until an election intervened. The first of these two amendments was never ratified, while the second was finally ratified more than 200 years later, in 1992.
1804 – The 12th Amendment was ratified. The Twelfth Amendment (Amendment XII) to the United States Constitution provides the procedure for electing the President and Vice President. It replaced Article II, Section 1, Clause 3, which provided the original procedure by which the Electoral College functioned. Problems with the original procedure arose in the elections of 1796 and 1800. The Twelfth Amendment refined the process whereby a President and a Vice President are elected by the electors of the Electoral College. The amendment was proposed by the Congress on December 9, 1803.
1804 – The Teton Sioux (a subdivision of the Lakota) demand one of the boats from the Lewis and Clark Expedition as a toll for allowing the expedition to move further upriver.
1861 – Secretary of US Navy authorized the enlistment of slaves.
1861 – U.S.S. Jacob Bell, Lieutenant Edward P. McCrea, and U.S.S. Seminole, Lieutenant Charles S. Norton, engaged Confederate battery at Freestone Point, Virginia.
1862 – U.S.S. Kensington, Acting Master Crocker, U.S.S. Rachel Seaman, Acting Master Hooper, and mortar schooner Henry Janes, Acting Master Lewis Pennington, bombarded Confederate batteries at Sabine Pass, Texas. The action was broken off when the defending troops evacuated the fort, having spiked the guns. Though Sabine City surrendered to Acting Master Crocker the next day and a force under Acting Master Hooper severed communications between Sabine Pass and Taylor’s Bayou by burning the railroad bridge and seized the mails on 27 September, the expedition sent by Rear Admiral Farragut could not occupy the area because there were no troops available for that purpose. As Rear Admiral Farragut noted some three months later, “It takes too much force to hold the places for me to take any more, or my outside fleet will be too much reduced to keep up the blockade and keep the river open” – the two primary missions of the squadron.
1864 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis meets with General John Bell Hood at Hood’s Palmetto, Georgia, headquarters to discuss the recent misfortunes of the Army of Tennessee. Since Hood had assumed command of the army in July, he had launched an unsuccessful series of attacks on Union General William T. Sherman’s forces, endured a month-long siege in Atlanta, and was finally forced to abandon the city. Now, Davis journeyed to Georgia to shore up the sagging morale of his leader and troops. The most pressing problem was dissent within the Confederate command. Leading generals began feuding and pointing fingers to assign blame for the disastrous Atlanta campaign. Hood blamed General William Hardee, commander of one of Hood’s three corps, for the loss of Atlanta, and Hardee demanded removal from Hood’s authority. After conferring with Hood, Davis reassigned Hardee to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Even though Hardee was the most able corps commander, Davis personally selected Hood to command the Army of Tennessee in July, and refused to admit his mistake. Unfortunately for the Confederates, Hood invaded Tennessee in the late fall, and by Christmas he saw his once-grand army virtually destroyed. On his return trip to Richmond, Davis gave a speech at Columbia, South Carolina, in which he gushed about Hood’s prospects. In doing so, he let slip important information, saying that Hood’s eye was set “upon a point far beyond that where he was assailed by the enemy.” Sherman read the quote in a newspaper a few days later and guessed, correctly, that Hood intended to move back into Tennessee to cut Sherman’s supply lines. Sherman planned his fall strategy accordingly, sending part of his army to deal with Hood while he took the rest across Georgia.
1890 – President Benjamin Harrison signed a measure establishing Sequoia National Park. Sequoia National Park, the nation’s 2nd oldest, was created by Congress. The army was assigned park patrol duty.
1915 – Battle of Petit Rivers, Haiti.
1919 – Pres. Wilson collapsed in Pueblo, Colorado. An ailing President Woodrow Wilson was faced with the possibility that the Senate might not ratify the Versailles Treaty ending World War I without substantial changes. Wilson embarked on a grueling railroad tour of America to sway public opinion in favor of his version of the Treaty, delivering 40 speeches in less than a week. He warned America that without the Treaty, “there will be another world war” within a single generation. He was rushed back to a White House sickroom but there suffered a stroke on October 2. For the five weeks Wilson’s life was in danger, his doctor and Mrs. Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, kept the president isolated, but did not declare him unfit to perform his presidential duties. By November 1, Wilson once again governed the country, although he was left partially paralyzed, weak and demoralized. In March 1920, the Senate finally rejected the Treaty of Versailles.
1941 – In first successful U.S. Navy escort of convoys during World War II, Navy escort turn over HX-150 to British escorts at the Mid-Ocean Meeting Point. All ships reach port safely.
1942 – Camp Pendleton was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1943 – A Lend-Lease agreement is signed by American and Free French representatives.
1943 – The Japanese begin to evacuate the garrison on the island of Kolombangara.
1944 – On Peleliu, US forces employing flamethrowers and tanks advance in the north of the island toward Mount Amiangal. On Angaur, pockets of Japanese resistance persist near Lake Salome.
1945 – The Allied Control Commission issued a proclamation announcing additional requirements of Germany. Field Marshal Montgomery, General Eisenhower, Marshal Zhukov and General Koenig sign the 3000 word document. Among the points of the declaration is that the NSDAP and all German armed forces are declared illegal. Meanwhile, secret German OKW documents dated August 17, 1940 which deal with the plan to invade Britain (code named Operation Sealion) are discovered by the Allies.
1948 – Iva Toguri D’Aquino (b.1916), a Japanese-American suspected of being wartime radio propagandist “Tokyo Rose,” arrived in SF aboard the General Hodges and was taken away by FBI agents. On Sep 9, 1949, she was found guilty of speaking into a microphone concerning the loss of US ships. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. She was released in 1956 and pardoned by Pres. Ford in 1977.
1950 – U.S. Marines and infantry pushed across the Han River into Seoul. The infantry crossing came after an airlift had brought heavy reinforcements to Kimpo Airfield.
1957 – Under escort from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, nine black students enter all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Three weeks earlier, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus had surrounded the school with National Guard troops to prevent its federal court-ordered racial integration. After a tense standoff, President Dwight D. Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent 1,000 army paratroopers to Little Rock to enforce the court order. On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial segregation in educational facilities was unconstitutional. Five days later, the Little Rock School Board issued a statement saying it would comply with the decision when the Supreme Court outlined the method and time frame in which desegregation should be implemented. Arkansas was at the time among the more progressive Southern states in regard to racial issues. The University of Arkansas School of Law was integrated in 1949, and the Little Rock Public Library in 1951. Even before the Supreme Court ordered integration to proceed “with all deliberate speed,” the Little Rock School Board in 1955 unanimously adopted a plan of integration to begin in 1957 at the high school level. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed suit, arguing the plan was too gradual, but a federal judge dismissed the suit, saying that the school board was acting in “utmost good faith.” Meanwhile, Little Rock’s public buses were desegregated. By 1957, seven out of Arkansas’ eight state universities were integrated. In the spring of 1957, there were 517 black students who lived in the Central High School district. Eighty expressed an interest in attending Central in the fall, and they were interviewed by the Little Rock School Board, which narrowed down the number of candidates to 17. Eight of those students later decided to remain at all-black Horace Mann High School, leaving the “Little Rock Nine” to forge their way into Little Rock’s premier high school. In August 1957, the newly formed Mother’s League of Central High School won a temporary injunction from the county chancellor to block integration of the school, charging that it “could lead to violence.” Federal District Judge Ronald Davies nullified the injunction on August 30. On September 2, Governor Orval Faubus–a staunch segregationist–called out the Arkansas National Guard to surround Central High School and prevent integration, ostensibly to prevent the bloodshed he claimed desegregation would cause. The next day, Judge Davies ordered integrated classes to begin on September 4. That morning, 100 armed National Guard troops encircled Central High School. A mob of 400 white civilians gathered and turned ugly when the black students began to arrive, shouting racial epithets and threatening the teenagers with violence. The National Guard troops refused to let the black students pass and used their clubs to control the crowd. One of the nine, 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford, was surrounded by the mob, which threatened to lynch her. She was finally led to safety by a sympathetic white woman. Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Mann condemned Faubus’ decision to call out the National Guard, but the governor defended his action, reiterating that he did so to prevent violence. The governor also stated that integration would occur in Little Rock when and if a majority of people chose to support it. Faubus’ defiance of Judge Davies’ court order was the first major test of Brown v. Board of Education and the biggest challenge of the federal government’s authority over the states since the Reconstruction Era. The standoff continued, and on September 20 Judge Davies ruled that Faubus had used the troops to prevent integration, not to preserve law and order as he claimed. Faubus had no choice but to withdraw the National Guard troops. Authority over the explosive situation was put in the hands of the Little Rock Police Department. On September 23, as a mob of 1,000 whites milled around outside Central High School, the nine black students managed to gain access to a side door. However, the mob became unruly when it learned the black students were inside, and the police evacuated them out of fear for their safety. That evening, President Eisenhower issued a special proclamation calling for opponents of the federal court order to “cease and desist.” On September 24, Little Rock’s mayor sent a telegram to the president asking him to send troops to maintain order and complete the integration process. Eisenhower immediately federalized the Arkansas National Guard and approved the deployment of U.S. troops to Little Rock. That evening, from the White House, the president delivered a nationally televised address in which he explained that he had taken the action to defend the rule of law and prevent “mob rule” and “anarchy.” On September 25, the Little Rock Nine entered the school under heavily armed guard. Troops remained at Central High School throughout the school year, but still the black students were subjected to verbal and physical assaults from a faction of white students. Melba Patillo, one of the nine, had acid thrown in her eyes, and Elizabeth Eckford was pushed down a flight of stairs. The three male students in the group were subjected to more conventional beatings. Minnijean Brown was suspended after dumping a bowl of chili over the head of a taunting white student. She was later suspended for the rest of the year after continuing to fight back. The other eight students consistently turned the other cheek. On May 27, 1958, Ernest Green, the only senior in the group, became the first black to graduate from Central High School. Governor Faubus continued to fight the school board’s integration plan, and in September 1958 he ordered Little Rock’s three high schools closed rather than permit integration. Many Little Rock students lost a year of education as the legal fight over desegregation continued. In 1959, a federal court struck down Faubus’ school-closing law, and in August 1959 Little Rock’s white high schools opened a month early with black students in attendance. All grades in Little Rock public schools were finally integrated in 1972.
1957 – In project Stratoscope, Office of Naval Research obtains sharp photographs of sun’s corona from first balloon-borne telescope camera.
1959 – A US Navy P5M seaplane that had ditched off the Oregon coast was located through radio contact by a U.S. Coast Guard UF-1G Albatross aircraft. After sighting 10 survivors in two rafts 110 miles off shore, the Albatross crew directed the CGC Yocona to the scene, where a successful night rescue was made.
1969 – Senator Charles Goodell (a maverick Republican from New York) proposes legislation that would require the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam by the end of 1970, and bar the use of congressionally appropriated funds after December 1, 1970, for maintaining U.S. military personnel in Vietnam. The legislation failed to pass, but it was followed by 10 similar proposals over the next three weeks by legislators including Senators Jacob Javits, Frank Church, and Mark Hatfield. Nixon had temporarily silenced his critics earlier in the month by announcing a new troop withdrawal and a reduction in the draft call for the next two months, but many of those who opposed him in Congress felt that Nixon had ignored an opportunity to push for peace in Vietnam when Ho Chi Minh had died on September 1.
1973 – The three-man crew of the U.S. space laboratory Skylab Two splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean after spending 59 days in orbit.
1989 – President Bush, addressing the U.N. General Assembly, offered to slash American stocks of chemical weapons by more than 80 percent, provided the Soviets did the same.
1990 – In a videotaped message to Americans, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein warned that if President Bush launched a war against his country, “it would not be up to him to end it.”
1990 – The UN Security Council voted 14-to-1 to impose Resolution 677 an air embargo against Iraq. Cuba cast the lone dissenting vote.
1992 – The Mars Observer blasted off on a $980 million mission to the red planet. The probe disappeared just before entering Martian orbit in August 1993. The Mars Observer spacecraft, also known as the Mars Geoscience/Climatology Orbiter, was a 1,018-kilogram (2,244 lb) robotic space probe launched by NASA on September 25, 1992 to study the Martian surface, atmosphere, climate and magnetic field. During the interplanetary cruise phase, communication with the spacecraft was lost on August 21, 1993, 3 days prior to orbital insertion.
1993 – Three U.S. soldiers in Somalia were killed when their helicopter was downed by a rocket-propelled grenade.
1996 – NATO generals were ordered to prepare plans for an extension of allied military force in Bosnia beyond the Dec. 20 deadline.
1997 – The space shuttle Atlantis was launched and astronaut David Wolf scheduled to replace Michael Foale on the Mir space station.
1998 – Douglas Groat, a former CIA covert operator, was sentenced to 5 years in prison after admitting that he attempted to extort $1 million from the agency with threats to disclose how the US intercepts foreign communications.
2001 – The US campaign against terrorism was renamed “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
2001 – Naseer Ahmed Mujahed, Osama bin Laden’s military chief, faxed a statement to news agencies that said: “Wherever there are Americans and Jews, they will be targeted.”
2001 – Interpol issued a bulletin for the arrest of Ayman al-Zawahri (50), an Egyptian surgeon believed to be Osama bin Laden’s closest al Qaeda associate in Afghanistan.
2001 – Nato agreed to keep troops in Macedonia beyond the Sep 26 expiration of its mission.
2002 – US military C-130s and U.S. troops landed in Ivory Coast to rescue Americans in the West African nation’s deadliest-ever uprising.
2003 – A mortar blast, fired by insurgents, tore through a market in Baqouba, Iraq, killing nine civilians and injuring more than a dozen others.
2003 – Aquila al-Hashimi (50), the first member of Iraq’s American-picked Governing Council to be targeted for assassination, died, five days after she was shot in an ambush.
2004 – Afghan security forces killed a senior Taliban commander and two of his comrades in southern Afghanistan. Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar, a former inmate at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, died in the gunbattle.
2004 – US warplanes, tanks and artillery units struck the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. Five mortar shells struck the Iraqi Oil Ministry headquarters in Baghdad.
2004 – An Internet posting claimed that an al-Qaida-linked group has killed British hostage Kenneth Bigley.
2009 – U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a joint TV appearance for a G-20 summit, accused Iran of building a secret nuclear enrichment facility.
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