On This Day, July 27, 1974 – House Judiciary Committee Recommends Nixon Impeachment

1974 – The House Judiciary Committee recommends that America’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon, be impeached and removed from office. The impeachment proceedings resulted from a series of political scandals involving the Nixon administration that came to be collectively known as Watergate. The Watergate scandal first came to light following a break-in on June 17, 1972, at the Democratic Party’s national headquarters in the Watergate apartment-hotel complex in Washington, D.C. A group of men linked to the White House were later arrested and charged with the crime. Nixon denied any involvement with the break-in, but several of his staff members were eventually implicated in an illegal cover-up and forced to resign. Subsequent government investigations revealed “dirty tricks” political campaigning by the Committee to Re-Elect the President, along with a White House “enemies list.” In July 1973, one of Nixon’s former staff members revealed the existence of secretly taped conversations...

Read More...


On This Day, July 19, 1799 – French Soldier Discovers the Rosetta Stone

1799 – During Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovers a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria. The irregularly shaped stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years. When Napoleon, an emperor known for his enlightened view of education, art and culture, invaded Egypt in 1798, he took along a group of scholars and told them to seize all important cultural artifacts for...

Read More...


On This Day, July 18, 1940 – Franklin Roosevelt Nominated for Third Term

1940 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America’s 32nd president, is nominated for an unprecedented third term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms. Roosevelt was born January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, and went on to serve as a New York state senator from 1911 to 1913, assistant secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920 and governor of New York from 1929 to 1932. In 1932, he defeated incumbent Herbert Hoover to be elected president for the first time. During his first term, Roosevelt enacted his New Deal social programs, which were aimed at lifting America out of the Great Depression. In 1936, he won his second term in office by defeating Kansas governor Alf Landon in a landslide. On July 18, 1940, Roosevelt...

Read More...


On This Day, July 17, 1985 – Oliver North Testifies on Iran-Contra

1987 – Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and rear Admiral John Poindexter begin testifying to Congress at the “Iran-Contra” hearings. In 1985, while Iran and Iraq were at war, Iran made a secret request to buy weapons from the United States. Ronald Reagan had become frustrated at his inability to secure the release of the seven American hostages being held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. As president, Reagan felt that “he had the duty to bring those Americans home,” and he convinced himself that he was not negotiating with terrorists. While shipping arms to Iran violated the embargo, dealing with terrorists violated Reagan’s campaign promise never to do so. While probing the question of the arms-for-hostages deal, Attorney General Edwin Meese discovered that only $12 million of the $30 million the Iranians reportedly paid had reached government coffers. Then-unknown Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council explained the...

Read More...


On This Day, July 16, 1945 – US Explodes World’s First Atomic Bomb

1945 – At 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy Department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt supporting the theory that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential as a basis for a weapon of mass destruction. In February 1940, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the War Department took a more active interest, and limits on...

Read More...


On This Day, July 15, 1942 – WW II Pilots Start Flying ‘the Hump’

1942 – The first supply flight from India to China over “the Hump” was carried to help China’s war effort. Heavily loaded transports began their runs to China after lifting off from hot, muggy airfields in India’s eastern jungles, then struggled upward for altitude to clear the towering Himalayas. A direct route to Kunming, China, took four hours, at an average altitude of about sixteen thousand feet, and placed aircraft over areas within range of Japanese fighters. The crews characteristically flew a dogleg to the north to escape enemy airplanes, even though the path stretched fuel reserves to the limit and required an operational altitude of twenty thousand feet to clear most of the Himalayan peaks. In addition to the changeable weather high over the Himalayas, pilots flew across virtually impenetrable jungles on both sides of the menacing mountain ranges.  Over the Indian jungles, in particular, fliers had to...

Read More...


On This Day, July 14, 1789 – Les Révolutionnaires Français Tempête la Bastille

1789 – Parisian revolutionaries and mutinous troops storm and dismantle the Bastille, a royal fortress that had come to symbolize the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchs. This dramatic action signaled the beginning of the French Revolution, a decade of political turmoil and terror in which King Louis XVI was overthrown and tens of thousands of people, including the king and his wife Marie Antoinette, were executed. The Bastille was originally constructed in 1370 as a bastide, or “fortification,” to protect the walled city of Paris from English attack. It was later made into an independent stronghold, and its name – bastide – was corrupted to Bastille. The Bastille was first used as a state prison in the 17th century, and its cells were reserved for upper-class felons, political troublemakers, and spies. Most prisoners there were imprisoned without a trial under direct orders of the king. Standing 100 feet tall and surrounded...

Read More...


On This Day, July 12, 1943 – Soviets Stop Nazi Advance at Kursk

1943 – One of the greatest clashes of armor in military history takes place as the German offensive against the Russian fortification at Kursk, a Russian railway and industrial center, is stopped in a devastating battle, marking the turning point in the Eastern front in the Russians’ favor. The Germans had been driven from Kursk, a key communications center between north and south, back in February. By March, the Russians had created a salient, a defensive fortification, just west of Kursk in order to prevent another attempt by the Germans to advance farther south in Russia. In June, the German invaders launched an air attack against Kursk; on the ground, Operation Cottbus was launched, ostensibly dedicated to destroying Russian partisan activity, but in reality resulting in the wholesale slaughter of Russian civilians, among whom Soviet partisan fighters had been hiding. The Russians responded with air raids against German troop...

Read More...


On This Day, July 8, 1776 – The Liberty Bell Rings Out for Freedom

1776 – A 2,000-pound copper-and-tin bell now known as the “Liberty Bell” rings out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Four days earlier, the historic document had been adopted by delegates to the Continental Congress, but the bell did not ring to announce the issuing of the document until the Declaration of Independence returned from the printer on July 8. In 1751, to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s original constitution, the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly ordered the bell to be constructed. After being cracked during a test, and then recast twice, the bell was hung from the State House steeple in June 1753. Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George...

Read More...


On this Day, July 6, 1957 – John Lennon Meets Paul McCartney

1957 – The front-page headline of the Liverpool Evening Express on July 6, read “MERSEYSIDE SIZZLES,” in reference to the heat wave then gripping not just northern England, but all of Europe. The same headline could well have been used over a story that received no coverage at all that day: The story of the first encounter between two Liverpool teenagers named John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Like the personal and professional relationship it would lead to, their historic first meeting was a highly charged combination of excitement, rivalry and mutual respect. It’s easy to assume that John and Paul would eventually have met on some other day had a mutual friend not chosen that hot and humid Saturday to make the introduction. But as much as they had in common, the two boys lived in different neighborhoods, went to different schools and were nearly two years apart in...

Read More...


On This Day, July 5, 1954 – Elvis Enters the Recording Studio

1954 – Elvis Presley’s first commercial recording session took place in Memphis, TN. He recorded “That’s All Right (Mama)” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” A first-edition pressing of  “That’s All Right (Mama) now fetches about $91,000 at auction. 1806 – A Spanish army repelled the British during their attempt to retake Buenos Aires, Argentina. 1811 – Venezuela became the first South American country to declare independence from Spain. 1814 – U.S. troops under Jacob Brown defeated a superior British force at Chippewa, Canada. 1830 – France occupied the North African city of Algiers. 1832 – The German government began curtailing freedom of the press after German Democrats advocate a revolt against Austrian rule. 1839 – British naval forces bombarded Dingai on Zhoushan Island in China and then occupied it. 1863 – U.S. Federal troops occupied Vicksburg, MS, and distributed supplies to the citizens. 1865 – William Booth founded the Salvation Army...

Read More...


On This Day, July 4, 1826 – Thomas Jefferson, John Adams Die Within Hours of Each Other

1826 – Former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams die on the same day within five hours of each other. Jefferson and Adams were the last surviving members of the original American revolutionaries who had stood up to the British empire and forged a new political system in the former colonies. However, while they both believed in democracy and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their opinions on how to achieve these ideals diverged over time. Adams preceded Jefferson as president (1797-1800); it was during this time that their ideas about policy-making became as distinct as their personalities. The irascible and hot-tempered Adams was a firm believer in a strong centralized government, while the erudite and gentile Jefferson believed federal government should take a more hands-off approach and defer to individual states’ rights. As Adams’ vice president, Jefferson was so horrified by what he considered to be Adams’...

Read More...


On This Day, July 3, 1981 – AP Runs First Reports of AIDS

1981 – The Associated Press ran its first story about two rare illnesses afflicting homosexual men. One of the diseases was later named AIDS. From 1981 through 1987, the average life expectancy for people diagnosed with AIDS was 18 months. The family members, loved ones, and health care professionals who witnessed, died, or survived the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States experienced an unimaginable holocaust. Hundreds of young people died each week. It was a time and system that lacked the medical, ethical, technical, and spiritual resources to soften the blow of so many young people dying of so mysterious an illness. Since 1981 and as of January 2005, about 1.1 million HIV/AIDS cases had been diagnosed and reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), HIV infections are increasing more rapidly among women,...

Read More...


On This Day, July 2, 1964 – LBJ Signs Landmark Civil Rights Act

1964 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the historic Civil Rights Act in a nationally televised ceremony at the White House. In the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The 10 years that followed saw great strides for the African-American civil rights movement, as non-violent demonstrations won thousands of supporters to the cause. Memorable landmarks in the struggle included the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955–sparked by the refusal of Alabama resident Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a city bus to a white woman–and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech at a rally of hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., in 1963. As the strength of the civil rights movement grew, John F. Kennedy made passage of a new civil rights bill one of the platforms...

Read More...


On This Day, July 1, 1867 – Canada Celebrates its Independence

1867 – Canada became an independent dominion. Canada Day is celebrated on 1st July, the official independence day of Canada. The day commemorates the founding of the Canadian federal government by the British North America Act of 1 July, 1867. As the independence day of Canada, this day is observed as a national holiday throughout the country. Prior to 1982, Canada Day was known as Dominion Day and Confederation Day. The name was changed to Canada Day on 27 October, 1982 by an act of parliament. This day of national importance celebrates the union of the British colonies of the Upper and Lower Canada into a single dominion under the name of Canada on 1st July 1867. In the year 2014 the country will celebrate its 146th Canada Day anniversary. 1847 – The U.S. Post Office issued its first adhesive stamps. 1862 – Congress established the Bureau of Internal...

Read More...


On This Day, June 30, 1934 – Hitler Launches the Night of the Long Knives

1934 – Adolf Hitler purged the Nazi Party by destroying the SA and bringing to power the SS in the “Night of the Long Knives.” By 1934 Adolf Hitler appeared to have complete control over Nazi Germany, but like most dictators, he constantly feared that he might be ousted by others who wanted his power. To protect himself from a possible coup, Hitler used the tactic of divide and rule and encouraged other leaders such as Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler and Ernst Röhm to compete with each other for senior positions. One of the consequences of this policy was that these men developed a dislike for each other. Röhm was particularly hated because as leader of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) he had tremendous power and had the potential to remove any one of his competitors. Goering and Himmler asked Reinhard Heydrich to assemble a dossier on Röhm....

Read More...


On This Day, June 29, 1967 – Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty

1972 – In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules by a vote of 5-4 that capital punishment, as it is currently employed on the state and federal level, is unconstitutional. The majority held that, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states employed execution in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. It was the first time that the nation’s highest court had ruled against capital punishment. However, because the Supreme Court suggested new legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again, such as the development of standardized guidelines for juries that decide sentences, it was not an outright victory for opponents of the death penalty. In 1976, with 66 percent of Americans still supporting capital punishment, the Supreme Court acknowledged progress made in jury guidelines and reinstated the death penalty under...

Read More...


On This Day, June 27, 1844 – Mormon Founder Joseph Smith Killed by Illinois Mob

1844 – Joseph Smith, the founder and leader of the Mormon religion, is murdered along with his brother Hyrum when an anti-Mormon mob breaks into a jail where they are being held in Carthage, Illinois. Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni who spoke to him of an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next six years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ – later known as the Church of Jesus Christ...

Read More...


On This Day, June 26, 1948 – The Berlin Airlift Begins

1948 – U.S. and British pilots begin delivering food and supplies by airplane to Berlin after the city is isolated by a Soviet Union blockade. When World War II ended in 1945, defeated Germany was divided into Soviet, American, British and French zones of occupation. The city of Berlin, though located within the Soviet zone of occupation, was also split into four sectors, with the Allies taking the western part of the city and the Soviets the eastern. In June 1948, Josef Stalin’s government attempted to consolidate control of the city by cutting off all land and sea routes to West Berlin in order to pressure the Allies to evacuate. As a result, beginning on June 24 the western section of Berlin and its 2 million people were deprived of food, heating fuel and other crucial supplies. Though some in U.S. President Harry S. Truman’s administration called for a...

Read More...


On This Day, June 23, 1940 – Adolph Hitler Tours Paris

1940 –In his first and only visit to Paris, Adolph Hitler made Napoleon’s tomb among the sites to see. “That was the greatest and finest moment of my life,” he said upon leaving. Comparisons between the Fuhrer and Napoleon have been made many times: They were both foreigners to the countries they ruled (Napoleon was Italian, Hitler was Austrian); both planned invasions of Russia while preparing invasions of England; both captured the Russian city of Vilna on June 24; both had photographic memories; both were under 5 feet 9 inches tall, among other coincidences. As a tribute to the French emperor, Hitler ordered that the remains of Napoleon’s son be moved from Vienna to lie beside his father. But Hitler being Hitler, he came to do more than gawk at the tourist attractions. He ordered the destruction of two World War I monuments: one to General Charles Mangin, a...

Read More...