On This Day in History

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 19, 1982 – DeLorean Arrested for Drug Dealing

Maverick automobile executive John DeLorean is arrested in a Los Angeles, California, airport motel with a briefcase containing $24 million dollars worth of cocaine. According to authorities, DeLorean was attempting to make a mammoth drug deal in order to rescue his financially ailing company, the DeLorean Motor Company. As a young man, John DeLorean worked in the engineering department of Pontiac, where he developed the classic muscle car of the 1960s, the GTO. He moved on to become the youngest-ever general manager of Chevrolet and was soon hobnobbing with Hollywood stars. He dumped his first wife to marry Kelly Harmon, a 20-year-old model, only to divorce again and marry jet-setter Cristina Ferrare. When DeLorean took to wearing bell-bottoms and had plastic surgery on his face, his new style did not find favor with the bigwigs at General Motors, and he was forced out in 1973. He later blasted GM...

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On This Day, Oct 18, 1977 – Mr. October Hits Three Homers in Three Swings

On October 18, 1977, in the sixth game of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson hits three home runs in a row off of three consecutive pitches from three different pitchers. Only the great Babe Ruth had ever hit three homers in a single World Series game (and he did it twice, once in 1926 and once in 1928) —but he didn’t do it on consecutive pitches or even consecutive at-bats. Jackson’s amazing home-run streak helped the Yankees win the game and the series, the team’s first since 1962. During his pre-game batting practice, Jackson was unstoppable: He stepped to the plate and immediately knocked three pitches high into Yankee Stadium’s third-tier seats. Then he smacked the next one hard into the rear wall of the right-field bleachers. Jackson kept on pounding homers into the stands—so many that backup catcher Fran...

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On This Day, Oct 17, 1931 – Capone Goes to Prison

On this day in 1931, gangster Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion and fined $80,000, signaling the downfall of one of the most notorious criminals of the 1920s and 1930s. Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899 to Italian immigrants. He was expelled from school at 14, joined a gang and earned his nickname “Scarface” after being sliced across the cheek during a fight. By 1920, Capone had moved to Chicago, where he was soon helping to run crime boss Johnny Torrio’s illegal enterprises, which included alcohol-smuggling, gambling and prostitution. Torrio retired in 1925 after an attempt on his life and Capone, known for his cunning and brutality, was put in charge of the organization. Prohibition, which outlawed the brewing and distribution of alcohol and lasted from 1920 to 1933, proved extremely lucrative for bootleggers and gangsters like Capone,...

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On This Day, Oct 16, 1854 – Lincoln Speaks Out Against Slavery

On this day in 1854, an obscure lawyer and Congressional hopeful from the state of Illinois named Abraham Lincoln delivers a speech regarding the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which Congress had passed five months earlier. In his speech, the future president denounced the act and outlined his views on slavery, which he called “immoral.” Under the terms of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, two new territories—Kansas and Nebraska—would be allowed into the Union and each territory’s citizens would be given the power to determine whether slavery would be allowed within the territory’s borders. It was believed that the act would set a precedent for determining the legality of slavery in other new territories. Controversy over the act influenced political races across the country that fall. Abolitionists, like Lincoln, hoped to convince lawmakers in the new territories to reject slavery. Lincoln, who was practicing law at the time, campaigned on behalf of abolitionist Republicans...

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On This Day, Oct 15, 1991 – Thomas Confirmed to the Supreme Court

After a bitter confirmation hearing, the U.S. Senate votes 52 to 48 to confirm Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. In July 1991, Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court, announced his retirement after 34 years. President George Bush quickly nominated Clarence Thomas, a 43-year-old African-American judge known for his conservative beliefs, to fill the seat. Thomas had been chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during the Reagan administration, and in 1990 Bush had appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals. As the confirmation hearings for Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination got underway, he evaded controversy over his conservative views on issues such as abortion by refusing to state a clear political position. He seemed headed for an easy confirmation until Anita Hill, a former aide, stepped forward and accused him of sexual harassment. Hill, who had served as an aide to...

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On This Day, Oct 14, 1944 – The ‘Desert Fox’ Commits Suicide

On this day in 1944, German Gen. Erwin Rommel, nicknamed “the Desert Fox,” is given the option of facing a public trial for treason, as a co-conspirator in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, or taking cyanide. He chooses the latter. Rommel was born in 1891 in Wurttenberg, Germany, the son of a teacher. Although not descended from military men, the newly unified German empire made it fashionable to choose a military career, which young Rommel did, becoming an officer cadet. During World War I, he showed himself to be a natural leader with unnatural courage, fighting in France, Romania, and Italy. Following the war, he pursued a teaching career in German military academies, writing a textbook, Infantry Attacks, that was well regarded. At the outbreak of World War II, Rommel was given command of the troops that guarded Hitler’s headquarters, a disappointment for a man used to fighting...

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On This Day, Oct 13, 1943 – Italy Declares War on Germany

On this day in 1943, the government of Italy declares war on its former Axis partner Germany and joins the battle on the side of the Allies. With Mussolini deposed from power and the collapse of the fascist government in July, Gen. Pietro Badoglio, Mussolini’s former chief of staff and the man who had assumed power in the Duce’s stead by request of King Victor Emanuel, began negotiating with General Eisenhower regarding a conditional surrender of Italy to the Allies. It became a fact on September 8, with the new Italian government allowing the Allies to land in Salerno, in southern Italy, in its quest to beat the Germans back up the peninsula. The Germans too snapped into action. Ever since Mussolini began to falter, Hitler had been making plans to invade Italy to keep the Allies from gaining a foothold that would situate them within easy reach of...

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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, Oct 5, 1986 – Iran-Contra Scandal Unravels

Eugene Hasenfus is captured by troops of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua after the plane in which he is flying is shot down; two others on the plane die in the crash. Under questioning, Hasenfus confessed that he was shipping military supplies into Nicaragua for use by the Contras, an anti-Sandinista force that had been created and funded by the United States. Most dramatically, he claimed that operation was really run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The news of Hasenfus’s revelations caused quite a stir in the United States. Congress, reacting to complaints about corruption and brutality against the Contras, had passed the Boland Amendment in 1984, specifically forbidding the CIA or any other U.S. agency from supporting the Contras. President Ronald Reagan, who saw the Sandinista government in Nicaragua as a puppet of the Soviet Union, had secured U.S. funding for the Contras in 1981 and...

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On This Day, Oct 4, 1988 – Jim Bakker Indicted on Federal Charges

Televangelist Jim Bakker is indicted on federal charges of mail and wire fraud and of conspiring to defraud the public. The case against the founder of Praise the Lord (PTL) Ministries and three of his aides exploded in the press when it was revealed that Bakker had sex with former church secretary Jessica Hahn. On December 6, 1980, Bakker and Hahn had a sexual encounter in a Florida hotel room. Although they each told different stories of what had happened, Bakker eventually paid Hahn over $350,000 to remain silent. When the arrangement became public, the scandal helped to bring down the entire PTL ministry. Hahn, who claimed that she didn’t want to be in the spotlight, became an overnight celebrity. She posed for Playboy magazine, wrote a book about her relationship with Bakker, and even briefly lived in the Playboy mansion. Hahn, a radio announcer in Phoenix, Arizona, at...

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On This Day, Oct 3, 1994 – O.J. Simpson Acquitted

At the end of a sensational trial, former football star O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the brutal 1994 double murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. In the epic 252-day trial, Simpson’s “dream team” of lawyers employed creative and controversial methods to convince jurors that Simpson’s guilt had not been proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” thus surmounting what the prosecution called a “mountain of evidence” implicating him as the murderer. Orenthal James Simpson–a Heisman Trophy winner, star running back with the Buffalo Bills, and popular television personality–married Nicole Brown in 1985. He reportedly regularly abused his wife and in 1989 pleaded no contest to a charge of spousal battery. In 1992, she left him and filed for divorce. On the night of June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were stabbed and slashed to death in the front yard of Mrs....

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On This Day, Oct 2, 1985 – Hollywood Icon Rock Hudson Dies of AIDS

On this day in 1985, actor Rock Hudson, 59, becomes the first major U.S. celebrity to die of complications from AIDS. Hudson’s death raised public awareness of the epidemic, which until that time had been ignored by many in the mainstream as a “gay plague.” Hudson, born Leroy Harold Scherer Jr., on November 17, 1925, in Winnetka, Illinois, was a Hollywood heartthrob whose career in movies and TV spanned nearly three decades. With leading-man good looks, Hudson starred in numerous dramas and romantic comedies in the 1950s and 60s, including Magnificent Obsession, Giant and Pillow Talk. In the 1970s, he found success on the small screen with such series as McMillan and Wife.  To protect his macho image, Hudson’s off-screen life as a gay man was kept secret from the public. In 1984, while working on the TV show Dynasty, Hudson was diagnosed with AIDS. On July 25, 1985,...

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On This Day, Oct 1, 1946 – Nazi War Criminals Sentenced at Nuremberg

On October 1, 1946, 12 high-ranking Nazis are sentenced to death by the International War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg. Among those condemned to death by hanging were Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi minister of foreign affairs; Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of the German air force; and Wilhelm Frick, minister of the interior. Seven others, including Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s former deputy, were given prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life. Three others were acquitted. The trial, which had lasted nearly 10 months, was conducted by an international tribunal made up of representatives from the United States, the USSR, France, and Great Britain. It was the first trial of its kind in history, and the defendants faced charges ranging from crimes against peace to crimes of war and crimes against humanity. On October 16, 10 of the architects of Nazi policy were hanged one by one....

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