On This Day, Nov. 23. 1976 – Jerry Lee Lewis Arrested at the Gates of Graceland

  1976 – Police arrested Jerry Lee Lewis outside the gates of Graceland after he showed up for the second time in 24 hours and made a scene by shouting, waving a pistol and demanding to see Elvis Presley. In the early hours of November 22, 1976, Harold Loyd, the presiding guard on duty at Graceland, was greeted by an unexpected visitor, Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee, accompanied by his wife, pulled up to the mansion’s front gate in his new Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. He asked Loyd if he could see Elvis, but was told that the King was asleep. Lewis politely thanked Loyd and drove away without incident. Later that morning, at 9:30 a.m., Lewis flipped his Rolls while rounding the corner at Peterson Lake and Powell Road in Collierville. The police report on the incident stated that the Breathalyzer test yielded negligible results, but that Lewis was obviously...

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On This Day, Nov. 22, 1963 – The Death of a President

1963 – President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.  On November 21, the president and first lady departed on Air Force One for the two-day, five-city tour of Texas. President Kennedy was aware that a feud among party leaders in Texas could jeopardize his chances of carrying the state in 1964, and one of his aims for the trip was to bring Democrats together. He also knew that a relatively small but vocal group of extremists was contributing to the political tensions in Texas and would likely make its presence felt — particularly in Dallas, where U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson had been physically attacked a month earlier after making a speech there. Nonetheless, JFK seemed to relish the prospect of leaving Washington, getting out among the people and into the political fray. On Nov. 22, his procession left the...

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On This Day, Nov. 21, 1979 – Protesters Attack and Burn US Embassy in Islamabad

1979 – The US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was attacked by a mob that set the building afire and killed two Americans. The five-hour siege began as an organised student protest outside the locked gates of the embassy compound. But the demonstration grew violent as protesters pulled down part of the outer wall and broke into the compound itself. Gunfire broke out, and a marine, who was standing on the roof of the building, was shot. As the protesters began smashing windows and setting fire to the building, more than 100 embassy staff took refuge in a steel-lined and windowless vault on an upstairs floor. Those trapped in the room included US diplomats, Pakistani staff members and a visiting journalist from Time magazine. Ambassador Arthur W Hummel Jr., was outside the building when the attack began. Staff inside were able to contact him, and it was Hummel who raised...

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On This Day, Nov. 20, 1977 – Anwar Sadat Addresses Israeli Parliament

1977 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to address Israel’s parliament. In his eleven years as president, he changed Egypt’s trajectory, departing from many of the political, and economic tenets of Nasserism, re-instituting a multi-party system, and launching the Infitah economic policy. He led Egypt in the October War of 1973 to regain Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967, making him a hero in Egypt and, for a time, the wider Arab World. Afterwards, he engaged in negotiations with Israel, culminating in the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty; this won him and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin the Nobel Peace Prize. His address to the Israeli Knesset, Sadat said: “I come to you today on solid ground, to shape a new life, to establish peace. We all, on this land, the land of God; we all, Muslims, Christians and Jews,...

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On This Day, Nov. 19, 1863 – Lincoln Delivers the Gettysburg Address

1863 – President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address as he dedicated a national cemetery at the site of the Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania. Before Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address, Edward Everett gave a long speech. He droned on for 2 hours comparing the Civil War soldiers to Greek gods. In comparison, Lincoln’s speech lasted only 2 minutes. Because it was very short compared to the other speaker, there was silence from the audience afterward. Some said it was because they were not sure that he was done, but others said that the crowd was in awe of what was said. His speech was brief, to the point, and poetic yet understandable. It is a classic piece with famous lines now recognized by people worldwide. “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the...

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On This Day, Nov. 18, 1903 – Treaty With Panama Gives US Right to Build Canal

1903 – The U.S. and Panama signed a treaty that granted the U.S. rights to build the Panama Canal. Following heated debate over the location of the proposed canal, on June 19, 1902, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of building the canal through Panama. Within 6 months, Secretary of State John Hay signed a treaty with Colombian Foreign Minister Tomás Herrán (at the time, Panama was a province of Columbia) to build the new canal. The financial terms were unacceptable to Colombia’s congress, and it rejected the offer. President Teddy Roosevelt responded by dispatching U.S. warships to Panama City (on the Pacific) and Colón (on the Atlantic) in support of Panamanian independence. Colombian troops were unable to negotiate the jungles of the Darien Strait and Panama declared independence on November 3, 1903. The newly declared Republic of Panama immediately named Philippe Bunau-Varilla (a French engineer who had been...

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On This Day, Nov. 17, 1968 – Oakland Raiders, NY Jets Get Tackled by Little Mountain Girl

1968 – NBC cut away from the final minutes of a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game to begin a TV special, “Heidi,” on schedule. In the late 1960s, few professional football games took longer than two and a half hours to play, and the Jets–Raiders three-hour television time slot was thought to be adequate. However, in this instance, a high-scoring contest between the two bitter American Football League rivals, together with a number of injuries and penalties, caused the game to run long. Although NBC executives had originally ordered that Heidi must begin on time, as 7 p.m. approached, and it became clear the exciting game would run long, they decided to postpone the start of the film and continue football coverage. However, when they tried to call the studio to implement their decision, they were unable to get through because so many members of the public were calling NBC...

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On This Day, Nov. 9, 1938 – Jews Face ‘Night of Broken Glass’

1938 – Nazi troops and sympathizers destroyed and looted 7,500 Jewish businesses, burned 267 synagogues, killed 91 Jews, and rounded up over 25,000 Jewish men in an event that became known as Kristallnacht or “Night of Broken Glass.” The pretext for the pogroms was the shooting in Paris on November 7 of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by a Polish-Jewish student, Herschel Grynszpan. News of Rath’s death on November 9 reached Adolf Hitler in Munich, Germany, where he was celebrating the anniversary of the abortive 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. There, Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, after conferring with Hitler, harangued a gathering of old storm troopers, urging violent reprisals staged to appear as “spontaneous demonstrations.” Telephone orders from Munich triggered pogroms throughout Germany, which then included Austria. Just before midnight on November 9, Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller sent a telegram to all police units informing them that “in...

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On This Day, Nov. 8, 1923 – Hitler Launches Failed Beer Hall Putsch

1923 – Adolf Hitler made his first attempt at seizing power in Germany with a failed coup in Munich that came to be known as the “Beer-Hall Putsch.” On November 8–9, 1923, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party led a coalition group in an attempted coup d’état which came to be known as the Beer Hall Putsch. They began at the Bürgerbräu Keller in the Bavarian city of Munich, aiming to seize control of the state government, march on Berlin, and overthrow the German federal government. In its place, they sought to establish a new government to oversee the creation of a unified Greater German Reich where citizenship would be based on race. Although the putsch failed — and Bavarian authorities were able to prosecute nine participants, including Hitler — the leaders ultimately redefined it as a heroic effort to save the nation. Once they launched the putsch, however,...

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On This Day, Nov. 7, 1637 – Religious Leader Anne Hutchinson Banished from Massachusetts

1637 – Anne Hutchinson, the first female religious leader in the American colonies, was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for heresy. Anne and William Hutchinson, with their growing family — eventually, fifteen children — several times a year made the 25-mile journey to attend the church served by the minister John Cotton, a Puritan. Anne Hutchinson came to consider John Cotton her spiritual mentor. In 1633, Cotton’s preaching was banned by the Established Church and he emigrated to America’s Massachusetts Bay. he and her husband and their other children left England for Massachusetts the next year. The family spent several weeks with a minister in England, William Bartholomew, while waiting for their ship, and Anne Hutchinson shocked him with her claims of direct divine revelations. She claimed direct revelations again on board the Griffin, in talking to another minister, Zachariah Symmes. Symmes and Bartholomew reported their concerns upon...

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On This Day, Nov. 6, 1860 – Abraham Lincoln Elected President

1860 – Abraham Lincoln was elected to be the sixteenth president of the United States after securing the Republican Party presidential nomination as a moderate from a swing state. With very little support in the slave states, Lincoln swept the North and was elected president in 1860. His election prompted seven southern slave states to form the Confederacy before he took office. “It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that ‘resolves’ and ‘ordinances’ to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances. I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon...

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On This Day, Nov. 5, 1605 – Guy Fawkes Arrested in Gunpowder Plot

1605 – In November 1605, the infamous Gunpowder Plot took place in which some Catholics, most famously Guy Fawkes,  plotted to blow up James I, the first of the Stuart kings of England. The story is remembered each November 5th when ‘Guys’ are burned in a celebration known as “Bonfire Night”. The story appears to be very simple. Catholics in England had expected James to be more tolerant of them. In fact, he had proved to be the opposite and had ordered all Catholic priests to leave England. This so angered some Catholics that they decided to kill James and put his daughter Elizabeth on the throne ensuring that she was a Catholic. This led to a plot to kill not only the king of England, James, but also everyone sitting in the Houses of Parliament at the same time as James was there when he opened Parliament on...

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On This Day, Nov. 4, 1979 – Iranian ‘Students’ Sieze US Embassy

1979 – An angry mob of some 300 to 500 Iranian “students” who called themselves “Imam’s Disciples,” laid siege to the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran, to capture and hold hostage 66 U.S. citizens and diplomats. Although women and African-Americans were released a short time later, 51 hostages remained imprisoned for 444 days with another individual released because of illness midway through the ordeal. President Jimmy Carter immediately imposed economic sanctions and applied diplomatic pressure to expedite negotiations for the release of the hostages. First, Carter cancelled oil imports from Iran, then he expelled a number of Iranians from the U.S., followed by freezing about $8 billion of Iranian assets in the U.S. Upon the death of the shah in July (which neutralized one demand) and the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September (necessitating weapons acquisition), Iran became more amenable to reopening negotiations for the hostages’ release. In the...

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On This Day, Nov. 3, 1507 – DiVinci Commissioned to Paint the Mona Lisa

1507 – Leonardo DaVinci was commissioned to paint the Mona Lisa. There has been much speculation and debate regarding the identity of the portrait’s sitter. Scholars and historians have posited numerous interpretations, including that she is Lisa del Giocondo (née Gherardini), the wife of the Florentine merchant Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo, hence the alternative title to the work, La Gioconda. That identity was first suggested in 1550 by artist biographer Giorgio Vasari. Another theory was that the model may have been Leonardo’s mother, Caterina. That interpretation was put forth by, among others, Sigmund Freud, who seemed to think that the Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile emerged from a — perhaps unconscious — memory of Caterina’s smile. A third suggestion was that the painting was, in fact, Leonardo’s self-portrait, given the resemblance between the sitter’s and the artist’s facial features. Some scholars suggested that disguising himself as a woman was...

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On This Day, Oct. 26, 1951 – Winston Churchill Returns to Power

1951 – Winston Churchill again became the prime minister of Great Britain. Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician and author, best known as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. After becoming an MP, Churchill began a lucrative speaking tour, where he could command a high price for his speeches. In 1904, he made a dramatic shift, leaving the Conservative Party and joining the Liberal Party. He was later often called a ‘class traitor’ by some Conservative colleagues. Churchill disagreed with an increasing amount of Conservative policies, including tariff protection. Churchill also had more empathy for improving the lot of the working class and helping the poor. Churchill proved an adept war leader. His speeches became famous and proved an important rallying cry for a country which stood alone through...

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On This Day, Oct. 25, 1854 – Light Brigade Rides into Fame and Death

Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volley’d & thunder’d; Storm’d at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred. 1854 – The Charge of the Light Brigade took place during the Crimean War. The British were winning the Battle of Balaclava when Lord James Cardigan received an order to attack the Russians. Lord Raglan, overall commander of the British forces, had intended to send the Light Brigade to pursue and harry a retreating Russian artillery battery, a task well suited to light cavalry. Due to miscommunication in the chain of command, the Light Brigade was instead sent on a frontal assault against a different artillery battery, one well-prepared with excellent fields of defensive fire. Although the Light Brigade reached the battery under withering direct fire...

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On This Day, Oct. 24, 1929 – Black Thursday Marks the Start of Stock Market Slide

1929 – In the U.S., investors dumped more than 13 million shares on the stock market. The day is known as “Black Thursday.” The day itself wasn’t so bad. On October 24th, 1929, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at 305.85 (Yes, you read that right. The Dow didn’t even reach 1,000 until November 14, 1972.) It fell 11% during intra-day trading, but closed just 2% down, at 299.47% by the end of the day. But Wall Street moguls were alarmed. The stock market had already fallen nearly 20% since its record high close of 381.2 on September 3, 1929. Even worse, trading volume was 12.9 million shares, or three times the normal amount. The next day, the three leading banks (Morgan Bank, Chase National Bank, and National City Bank of New York) bought stocks to restore confidence in the markets. What made Black Thursday such a bad day...

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On This Day, Oct. 23, 1956 – Hungarian Citizens Revolt Against Soviet Rule

1956 – Hungarian citizens began an uprising against Soviet occupation. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the government of the Hungarian People’s Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies. Though leaderless it was the first major threat to Soviet control since the USSR’s forces drove out the Nazis at the end of World War II and occupied Eastern Europe. The revolt began as a student demonstration, which attracted thousands as they marched through central Budapest to the Parliament building, calling out on the streets using a van with loudspeakers via Radio Free Europe. When the students were fired on, one student died and was wrapped in a flag and held above the crowd. This was the start of the revolution. As the news spread, disorder and violence erupted throughout the capital. The revolt spread quickly across Hungary and the government collapsed. Thousands organised into militias, battling...

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On This Day, Oct. 22, 1962 – President Kennedy Announces Blockade of Cuba

1962 – President John F. Kennedy went on radio and television to inform the United States about his order to send U.S. forces to blockade Cuba. The blockade was in response to the discovery of Soviet missile bases on the island. On Oct. 22, 1962, that threat of nuclear war suddenly became real when President Kennedy came on television that evening to tell the nation the Soviet Union was building sites in Cuba for launching medium-range missiles at the U.S. He announced that U.S. Navy warships would begin a blockade of Cuba the following day. All U.S. military forces were placed on alert at DEFCON 3 with the exception of the Strategic Air Command, which was placed on DEFCON 2, defined as “nuclear war is imminent.” DEFCON 2 is the second highest military alert level, and this is the only time it has been activated. After Kennedy’s announcement, Soviet...

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On This Day, Oct. 21, 1957 – Elvis Rocks the Jailhouse

1957 – “Jailhouse Rock“, the Elvis Presley film, premiered. Some of the characters named in the song are real people. Shifty Henry was a well-known L.A. musician, not a criminal. The Purple Gang was a real mob. “Sad Sack” was a U.S. Army nickname in World War II for a loser, which also became the name of a popular comic strip and comic book character. Gender studies say that the song is also known for “its famous reference to homoerotics behind bars”. Indeed, according to Garry Mulholland, ” ‘Jailhouse Rock’ was always a queer lyric, in both senses. According to Rolling Stone, Leiber and Stoller’s “theme song for Presley’s third movie was decidedly silly, the kind of tongue-in-cheek goof they had come up with for The Coasters. The King, however, sang it as straight rock & roll, overlooking the jokes in the lyrics (like the suggestion of gay romance:...

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On This Day, Oct. 20, 1935 – Mao’s Long March Arrives in Hanoi

1935 – Mao Zedong arrived in Hanoi after his Long March that took just over a year. He then set up the Chinese Communist Headquarters. The Long March came about when the Chinese Communists had to flee a concerted Guomingdang attack that had been ordered by Chiang Kai-shek. The Guomindang was advised by the German general, Hans von Seeckt. who advised Chiang Kai-shek to have 500,000 Guomindang troops surrounded Jiangxi in an attempt to strangulate the Communists. Seeckt wanted a war of attrition but with minimal contact with the Communists as Seeckt wanted to starve them out rather engage in combat with them. Seeckt was a skilled soldier and his strategy worked very well. His ‘slow-but-sure’ process lead to the area controlled by the Communists shrinking quite rapidly. Within 12 months, the Communists had lost 50% of the territory they had controlled in 1933 and 60,000 Communist soldiers (the...

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On This Day, Oct. 12, 1960 – Krushchev Lets His Shoe Do the Talking

1960 – In one of the most surreal moments in the history of the Cold War, Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev removes his shoe and pounds a table with it in protest against a speech critical of Soviet policy in Eastern Europe during a dispute at a U.N. General Assembly. During a debate over a Russian resolution decrying colonialism, a representative of the government of the Philippines charged the Soviets with employing a double standard, pointing to their domination of Eastern Europe as an example of the colonialism they were criticizing in their resolution. In response, Khrushchev took off one of his shoes and began to furiously pound the table. The chaotic scene finally ended when General Assembly President Frederick Boland (Ireland) broke his gavel calling the meeting to order, but not before the image of Khrushchev as a hotheaded buffoon was indelibly etched into America’s collective memory. 1492 –...

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On This Day, Oct. 11, 2002 – Jimmy Carter Wins Nobel Peace Prize

On this day in 2002, former President Jimmy Carter wins the Nobel Peace Prize “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia, served one term as U.S. president between 1977 and 1981. One of his key achievements as president was mediating the peace talks between Israel and Egypt in 1978. The Nobel Committee had wanted to give Carter (1924- ) the prize that year for his efforts, along with Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin, but was prevented from doing so by a technicality–he had not been nominated by the official deadline. After he left office, Carter and his wife Rosalynn created the Atlanta-based Carter Center in 1982 to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering. Since 1984, they have worked with Habitat for Humanity to build homes and raise...

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On This Day, Oct. 10, 1959 – Pan Am Announces Plans for Gloabal Service

1959 – Pan American World Airways announced the beginning of the first global airline service. Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal and largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until its collapse on December 4, 1991. Founded in 1927 as a scheduled air mail and passenger service operating between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba, the airline became a major company credited with many innovations that shaped the international airline industry, including the widespread use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerized reservation systems. It was also a founding member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global airline industry association. Identified by its blue globe logo, the use of the word “Clipper” in aircraft names and call signs, and the white pilot uniform caps, the airline was a cultural icon of the 20th century. In an era dominated...

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On This Day, Oct. 9, 1635 – Rhode Island Founder Roger Williams Banished from Massachusetts

1635 – Puritan minister Roger Williams was found guilty of spreading “newe & dangerous opinions” and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Like many of those who came to Plymouth Colony in the 1620s and ’30s, he was a Separatist, who believed that Puritans must break with the Church of England. His Separatism as well as his unorthodox ideas on freedom of worship got him into trouble with church officials, and he fled England to avoid arrest. Before leaving England in 1630, Williams had seen heretics whipped, imprisoned, and burned at the stake. He called for religious freedom, a serious threat to the social order, and avoided arrest only by fleeing to Boston. Once in Massachusetts, he began preaching religious tolerance. The colony’s leaders agreed with the English authorities that this was nothing less than “Satan’s Policy.” They denounced his views and forced him out of the colony. He...

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On this Day, Oct. 8, 1957 – Brooklyn Dodgers Announce Move to LA

1957 – The Brooklyn Baseball Club announced that it had accepted a deal to move the Dodgers to Los Angeles. When the decade started, the Dodgers had a new president, Walter O’Malley, who was originally appointed as the club’s attorney in 1941. In October of 1950, O’Malley became president and chief stockholder of the Dodgers, a position he would hold for 20 years. As the 1957 season rolled around, the team on the field was overshadowed by the publicity of the team’s possible move to the West Coast. Since the early part of the decade, O’Malley had wanted to build a more modern stadium for his ballclub in Brooklyn. New York officials were unable to come up with a suitable site. On October 8, 1957, O’Malley announced that after 68 seasons in Brooklyn, the Dodgers would be moving to Los Angeles. In a move to bring baseball to all...

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On This Day, Oct. 7, 1950 – Chinese Troops Turn Tide in Korean War

1950 – The U.S.-led U.N. forces crossed the 38th Parallel and entered North Korea. China in November proved their threat to enter the war by sending several hundred thousand troops over the border into North Korea. In retrospect the events on the battlefield in late October and early November 1950 were harbingers of disaster ahead. They had been foreshadowed by ominous “signals” from China, signals relayed to the United States through Indian diplomatic channels. The Chinese, it was reported, would not tolerate a U.S. presence so close to their borders and would send troops to Korea if any UN forces other than ROK elements crossed the 38th Parallel. With the United States seeking to isolate Communist China diplomatically, there were very few ways to verify these warnings. While aware of some of the dangers, U.S. diplomats and intelligence personnel, especially General Douglas MacArthur, discounted the risks. The best time...

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On This Day, Oct. 6, 1955 – Army Breaks the Sex Barrier for Nurses

1955 – The Army commissions its first male nurse. On the 10th of August 1949, Mrs. Frances P. Bolton introduced legislature H.R. 9398 to provide for the appointment of male citizens as nurses in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Rapidly, a change in the character and nature of correspondence between significant actors of this period can be discerned. From August 1949 until 1955, government, military and civilian parties debated the commissioning of male nurses. During this time, bills were routinely introduced to Congress. Data supporting the need for an expanded manpower pool was submitted to the appropriations committee and to the armed services for expansion of the Army Nurse Corps through the use of the male nurse. After several series of legislature, on August 9th, 1955, President Eisenhower signed the Bolton Act, which provided commissions for qualified male nurses in the reserve corps of the armed forces services. After...

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On This Day, Sept. 28, 1995 – PLO and Israel Transfer West Bank, Gaza Control

1995 – Yasser Arafat of the PLO and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed an accord that finally transferred control of the West Bank. The Olso Accord of 1993 provided for the creation of a Palestinian interim self-government, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The Palestinian Authority would have responsibility for the administration of the territory under its control. The Accords also called for the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. It was anticipated that this arrangement would last for a five-year interim period during which a permanent agreement would be negotiated (beginning no later than May 1996). Remaining issues such as Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, security and borders would be part of the “permanent status negotiations” during this period. 1066 – England was invaded by William the Conqueror who claimed the English throne. 1781 – During the Revolutionary War, American...

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On This Day, Sept. 27, 1973 – VP Spiro T. Agnew Vows Not to Resign

1973 – U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew said he would not resign after he pled “no contest” to a charge of tax evasion. He did resign on October 10th. In 1973, Agnew was investigated by the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Maryland, on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy. He was charged with having accepted bribes totaling more than $100,000 while holding office as Baltimore County Executive, Governor of Maryland, and later Vice President. On October 10 that same year, Agnew was allowed to plead no contest to a single charge that he had failed to report $29,500 of income received in 1967, with the condition that he resign the office of Vice President. Nixon later replaced Agnew by appointing House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to the office of Vice President. Agnew was the second Vice President in United States history to resign, the...

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On This Day, Sept. 26, 1960 – Nixon and Kennedy Square Off on TV

1960 – The first televised debate between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy took place in Chicago, IL. The Kennedy-Nixon debates not only had a major impact on the election’s outcome, but ushered in a new era in which crafting a public image and taking advantage of media exposure became essential ingredients of a successful political campaign. They also heralded the central role television has continued to play in the democratic process. Nixon took a major hit in August when a reporter asked President Dwight D. Eisenhower to name some of his vice president’s contributions. Exhausted and irritated after a long press conference, Eisenhower replied, “If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don’t remember.” (While the remark was intended as a self-deprecating reference to the president’s own mental fatigue, the Democrats promptly used it in a television commercial that ended with...

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On This Day, Sept. 25, 1957 – The Little Rock Nine Enter School

1957 – 300 U.S. Army troops stood guard as nine black students were escorted to class at Central High School in Little Rock, AR. The Little Rock Nine were a group of African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas and unruly white mobs. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance. The nicknamed “Little Rock Nine” consisted of Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas (1942–2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1942), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942),...

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On This Day, Sept. 23, 1952 – Richard Nixon Delivers the Checkers Speech

1952 – Richard Nixon gave his “Checkers Speech”. At the time he was a candidate for vice-president. The Checkers speech or Fund speech was an address made on September 23, 1952 by the Republican vice presidential candidate, California Senator Richard Nixon. Nixon had been accused of improprieties relating to a fund established by his backers to reimburse him for his political expenses. With his place on the Republican ticket in doubt, he flew to Los Angeles and delivered a half-hour television address in which he defended himself, attacked his opponents, and urged the audience to contact the Republican National Committee (RNC) to tell it whether he should remain on the ticket. During the speech, he stated that regardless of what anyone said, he intended to keep one gift: a black-and-white dog who had been named Checkers by the Nixon children, thus giving the address its popular name. Nixon’s speech...

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On This Day, Sept. 22, 1961 – JFK Signs Act Establishing the Peace Corps

1961 – President John F. Kennedy signed a congressional act that established the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps program was an outgrowth of the Cold War. President Kennedy pointed out that the Soviet Union “had hundreds of men and women, scientists, physicists, teachers, engineers, doctors, and nurses . . . prepared to spend their lives abroad in the service of world communism.” The United States had no such program, and Kennedy wanted to involve Americans more actively in the cause of global democracy, peace, development, and freedom. A few days after he took office, Kennedy asked his brother-in-law, R. Sargent Shriver, to direct a Peace Corps Task Force. Shriver was known for his ability to identify and motivate creative, visionary leaders, and he led the group to quickly shape the organization. After a month of intense dialogue and debate among task force members, Shriver outlined seven steps to forming the Peace...

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On This Day, Sept. 14, 1901 – William McKinley Dies of Gunshot Wound

1901 – U.S. President William McKinley died of gunshot wounds inflicted by an assassin. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, at age 42, succeeded him. On September 6, 1901, while standing in a receiving line at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, McKinley was approached by Leon Czolgosz, a Polish-American anarchist carrying a concealed .32 revolver in a handkerchief. Drawing his weapon, Czolgosz shot McKinley twice at close range. One bullet deflected off a suit button, but the other entered his stomach, passed through the kidneys, and lodged in his back. When he was operated on, doctors failed to find the bullet, and gangrene soon spread throughout his body. McKinley died eight days later. Czolgosz was convicted of murder and executed soon after the shooting. As president, McKinley became known–controversially–as a protector of big businesses, which enjoyed unprecedented growth during his administration. He advocated the protective tariff as a way of shielding...

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On This Day, Sept. 13, 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith Elected to US Senate

1948 – Margaret Chase Smith was elected to the Senate and became the first woman to serve in both houses of the U.S. Congress. Margaret Chase Smith was born in Skowhegan, Maine, on December 14, 1897. Her entry into politics came through the career of Clyde Smith, the man she married in 1930. Clyde was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1936; Margaret served as his secretary. When Clyde died in 1940, Margaret succeeded her husband. After four terms in the House, she won election to the United States Senate in 1948. In so doing, she became the first woman elected to both houses of Congress. Senator Smith came to national attention on June 1, 1950, when she became the first member of the Senate to denounce the tactics used by colleague Joseph McCarthy in his anticommunist crusade. Following her “Declaration of Conscience” speech, some pundits speculated...

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On This Day, Sept. 12, 1938 – Adolph Hitler Calls for Freedom of Sudetland Germans

1938 – In a move very similar to the present Russia/Ukraine tensions and the calls for a referendum by Vladimir Putin, Adolf Hitler demanded self-determination for the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia. Having secured anschluss with Austria, Hitler turned his attention to the Sudetenland, a western region of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by German-speakers. Czechoslovakia was itself a relatively new nation, carved out of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire by the Treaty of St Germain (September 1919). But Hitler had no respect for this treaty or for Czechoslovakian sovereignty. He began claiming ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland were being persecuted by Prague. A small but vocal pro-Nazi group in the Sudetenland, led by Konrad Henlein, echoed these grievances, though most were exaggerated or fabricated. In April 1938 Henlein’s party demanded political autonomy for the Sudetenland. Through mid-1938 they organised terrorist attacks against Czechoslovakian government troops and facilities. Hitler, in an ominous speech...

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On This Day, Sept 11, 2012 – Four Die in Attack on Benghazi Consulate

2012 – Terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were brutally murdered and ten others were injured. News of the attacks spreads against the backdrop of two other major stories: protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. presidential campaign. The Cairo protests, which took place just hours before the attack in Benghazi, were sparked by anger over an anti-Muslim video made in the United States. In the following days, angry demonstrations are held at U.S. diplomatic missions throughout the Muslim world. Initial reports from journalists in Libya also link the Benghazi attack to the video, and remarks from U.S. officials seem to lay blame there as well. On Sept. 12, President Barack Obama says in his Rose Garden remarks about the attack: “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of...

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On This Day, Sept. 10, 1963 – Alabama Standoff Ends as Blacks Enter School

1963 – Twenty black students entered public schools in Alabama at the end of a standoff between federal authorities and Alabama governor George C. Wallace. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision regarding the case called Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the plaintiffs charged that the education of black children in separate public schools from their white counterparts was unconstitutional. Brown v. Board of Education meant that the University of Alabama had to be desegregated. In the years following, hundreds of African-Americans applied for admission, but all were denied. The University worked with police to find any disqualifying qualities, or when this failed, intimidated the applicants. But in 1963, three African-Americans with perfect qualifications — Vivian Malone Jones, Dave McGlathery and James Hood—applied, refusing to be intimidated. In early June a federal district judge ordered that they...

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On This Day, Sept. 9, 1957 – Eisenhower Signs New Civil Rights Law

1957 – The first civil rights bill to pass Congress since Reconstruction was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower. The act initiated a greater federal role in protecting the rights of African Americans and other minorities. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 did not create new rights, but it increased protection of voting rights and laid the foundation for federal enforcement of civil rights law by creating the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice, a Civil Rights Commission within the executive branch, and expanding federal enforcement authority to include civil lawsuits. Although many of the more violent forms of racial oppression had been reduced by the 1950s, in the South state law was often used to prevent African Americans from exercising their civil rights. To register to vote, for example, many states required that applicants take a voter qualification test. The questions on the test were...

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On This Day. Sept. 8, 1935 – Sen. Huey P. Long Shot and Mortally Wounded

1935 – U.S. Senator Huey P. Long, of Louisiana  was shot and mortally wounded. During the era of the Great Depression, Long was a larger-than-life politician who gained national attention as Louisiana’s “Kingfish” — a nickname he gave himself. Long was a high school drop-out who taught himself law and became a member of the Louisiana bar in 1915. In 1918 he moved to Shreveport and began a political career as a lively opponent of corporate wealth and privilege, targeting giants such as John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. From 1928 until 1932, Long served as Louisiana’s governor and launched an ambitious and successful program of public works. Long also ruled over a statewide political machine whose corrupt methods caused critics to regard him as a demagogue and political thug. While still governor, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930; preferring to stay on as governor for a...

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On This Day, Aug 31, 1980 – Gdansk Shipyard Strike Comes to an End

1980 – Poland’s Solidarity labor movement was born with an agreement signed in Gdansk that ended a 17-day strike. Established in September of 1980 at the Gdansk shipyards, Solidarity was an independent labor union instrumental in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, and the primary catalyst that would transform Poland from a repressive communist satellite to the EU member democracy it is today. The Solidarity movement received international attention, spreading anti-communist ideas and inspiring political action throughout the rest of the Communist Bloc, and its influence in the eventual fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe cannot be understated or dismissed. Solidarity’s cohesion and initial success, like that of other dissident movements, was not created overnight, nor the result of any specific event or grievance. Rather, the emergence of Solidarity as a political force in Poland was spurred by governmental and economic difficulties that had continued to deepen...

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On This Day, Aug. 30, 1965 – Thurgood Marshall Becomes First Black on Supreme Court

  1965 – Thurgood Marshall was confirmed by the Senate as a Supreme Court justice. Marshall was the first black justice to sit on the Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) was a U.S. Supreme Court justice and civil rights advocate. Marshall earned an important place in American history on the basis of two accomplishments. First, as legal counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), he guided the litigation that destroyed the legal underpinnings of Jim Crow segregation. Second, as an associate justice of the Supreme Court – the nation’s first black justice – he crafted a distinctive jurisprudence marked by uncompromising liberalism, unusual attentiveness to practical considerations beyond the formalities of law, and an indefatigable willingness to dissent. Marshall was an outspoken liberal on a court dominated by conservatives. In his twenty-four year tenure, he voted to uphold gender and racial affirmative action policies in every...

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On This Day, Aug. 29, 1966 – The Beatles Play Their Last Concert

1966 – The Beatles ended their fourth American tour at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA. It turned out that the show was their last public concert. Although they made an unannounced live appearance in January 1969 on the rooftop of the Apple building, The Beatles’ final live concert took place on 29 August 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. The Park’s capacity was 42,500, but only 25,000 tickets were sold, leaving large sections of unsold seats. Fans paid between $4.50 and $6.50 for tickets, and The Beatles’ fee was around $90,000. The show’s promoter was local company Tempo Productions. The Beatles took 65% of the gross, the city of San Francisco took 15% of paid admissions and were given 50 free tickets. This arrangement, coupled with low ticket sales and other unexpected expenses resulted in a financial loss for Tempo Productions. The compère was ‘Emperor’ Gene...

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On This Day, Aug. 28, 1963 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Tells America ‘I Have a Dream’

1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at a civil rights rally in Washington, DC. More than 200,000 people attended. King, a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands. Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers....

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On This Day, August 27, 1883 – Krakatau Erupts with Biggest Volcanic Blast in History

1883 – The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history occurs on Krakatau (also called Krakatoa), a small, uninhabited volcanic island located west of Sumatra in Indonesia, on this day in 1883. Heard 3,000 miles away, the explosions threw five cubic miles of earth 50 miles into the air, created 120-foot tsunamis and killed 36,000 people. Krakatau exhibited its first stirrings in more than 200 years on May 20, 1883. A German warship passing by reported a seven-mile high cloud of ash and dust over Krakatau. For the next two months, similar explosions would be witnessed by commercial liners and natives on nearby Java and Sumatra. With little to no idea of the impending catastrophe, the local inhabitants greeted the volcanic activity with festive excitement. On August 26 and August 27, excitement turned to horror as Krakatau literally blew itself apart, setting off a chain of natural disasters that...

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On This Day, Aug. 26, 1920 – Women Finally Get the Right to Vote

1920 – The 19th amendment to the Constitution went into effect. The amendment prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in the voting booth. After years of fighting for equality, women were guaranteed the right to vote. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone were important figures in the women’s rights movement. Suffragettes, or women who campaigned for the right to vote, including Lucy Stone, fought to be protected under the 15th Amendment. Ratified in 1870, the 15th Amendment states that, “The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” “There are two great oceans; in one is the black man and in the other is the woman … I will be thankful in my soul if anybody can get out of the terrible pit,” Stone said. In the end, a woman’s right to vote was not...

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On This Day, Aug. 25, 1916 – Congress Establishes the National Park Service

1916 – The National Park Service was established as part of the Department of the Interior. By 1916, the Interior Department was responsible for 14 national parks and 21 national monuments but had no organization to manage them. Interior secretaries had asked the Army to detail troops to Yellowstone and the California parks for this purpose. Three military engineers and cavalrymen developed park roads and buildings, enforced regulations against hunting, grazing, timber cutting, and vandalism, and did their best to serve the visiting public. Civilian appointees superintended the other parks, while the monuments received minimal custody. Hetch Hetchy highlighted the institutional weakness of the park movement. While utilitarian conservation had become well represented in government by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Forest and Reclamation services, no comparable bureau spoke for park preservation in Washington. Crusading for a national parks bureau, Chicago businessman Stephen T. Mather and Horace M. Albright...

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On This Day, August 24, 79 – Mount Vesuvius Eruption Buries Pompeii

After centuries of dormancy, Mount Vesuvius erupts in southern Italy, devastating the prosperous Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing thousands. The cities, buried under a thick layer of volcanic material and mud, were never rebuilt and largely forgotten in the course of history. In the 18th century, Pompeii and Herculaneum were rediscovered and excavated, providing an unprecedented archaeological record of the everyday life of an ancient civilization, startlingly preserved in sudden death.The ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum thrived near the base of Mount Vesuvius at the Bay of Naples. In the time of the early Roman Empire, 20,000 people lived in Pompeii, including merchants, manufacturers, and farmers who exploited the rich soil of the region with numerous vineyards and orchards. None suspected that the black fertile earth was the legacy of earlier eruptions of Mount Vesuvius. Herculaneum was a city of 5,000 and a favorite summer...

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On This Day, Aug 16, 1896 – Gold Discovered in the Yukon

1896 – While salmon fishing near the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory on this day in 1896, George Carmack reportedly spots nuggets of gold in a creek bed. His lucky discovery sparks the last great gold rush in the American West.Hoping to cash in on reported gold strikes in Alaska, Carmack had traveled there from California in 1881. After running into a dead end, he headed north into the isolated Yukon Territory, just across the Canadian border. In 1896, another prospector, Robert Henderson, told Carmack of finding gold in a tributary of the Klondike River. Carmack headed to the region with two Native American companions, known as Skookum Jim and Tagish Charlie. On August 16, while camping near Rabbit Creek, Carmack reportedly spotted a nugget of gold jutting out from the creek bank. His two companions later agreed that Skookum Jim–Carmack’s brother-in-law–actually made the discovery.Regardless of who spotted the...

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