January This Month in History

New Year’s Day – The most celebrated holiday around the world.

January 1, 1502 – Portuguese explorers landed at Guanabara Bay on the coast of South America and named it Rio de Janeiro (River of January). Rio de Janeiro is currently Brazil’s second largest city.

January 1, 1660 – Samuel Pepys began his famous diary in which he chronicled life in London including the Great Plague of 1664-65 and the Great Fire of 1666.

January 1, 1776 – During the American Revolution, George Washington unveiled the Grand Union Flag, the first national flag in America.

January 1, 1801 – Ireland was added to Great Britain by an Act of Union thus creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

January 1, 1863 – The Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the states rebelling against the Union.

January 1, 1877 – Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.

January 1, 1892 – Ellis Island in New York Harbor opened. Over 20 million new arrivals to America were processed until its closing in 1954.

January 1, 1901 – The Commonwealth of Australia was founded as six former British colonies became six states with Edmund Barton as the first prime minister.

January 1, 1915 – During World War I, the British Battleship Formidable was hit by a torpedo in the English Channel, killing 547 crewmen.

January 1, 1942 – Twenty six countries signed the Declaration of the United Nations, in Washington, D.C., reaffirming their opposition to the Axis powers and confirming that no single nation would make a separate peace.

January 1, 1958 – The EEC (European Economic Community) known as the Common Market was formed by Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands in order to remove trade barriers and coordinate trade policies.

January 1, 1959 – Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba after leading a revolution that drove out Dictator Fulgencio Batista. Castro then established a Communist dictatorship.

January 1, 1973 – Britain, Ireland and Denmark became members of the Common Market (EEC).

January 1, 1975 – During the Watergate scandal, former top aides to President Nixon including former Attorney General John Mitchell, Domestic Affairs Advisor John Ehrlichman and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, were found guilty of obstruction of justice.

January 1, 1979 – China and the U.S. established diplomatic relations, 30 years after the foundation of the People’s Republic.

January 1, 1993 – Czechoslovakia broke into separate Czech and Slovak republics.

January 1, 1999 – Eleven European nations began using a new single European currency, the Euro, for electronic financial and business transactions. Participating countries included; Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

Birthday – American Patriot Paul Revere (1735-1818) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Best known for his ride on the night of April 18, 1775, warning Americans of British plans to raid Lexington and Concord.

Birthday – Betsy Ross (1752-1836) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a seamstress credited with helping to originate and sew the Stars and Stripes flag of America in 1776.

January 2

January 2, 1905 – The Russians surrendered to the Japanese after the Battle of Port Arthur during the Russian-Japanese War. A peace conference was later held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with President Theodore Roosevelt serving as a mediator. In September of 1905, the Russians agreed to the Treaty of Portsmouth yielding Port Arthur and the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan. Russia also agreed to evacuate Manchuria and recognize Japan’s interests in Korea.

January 2, 1942 – During World War II in the Pacific, the Japanese captured the Philippines capital of Manila and the nearby air base at Cavite.

January 2, 1960 – In Washington, D.C., Senator John F. Kennedy announced his intention to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

January 3

January 3, 1777 – During the American Revolution, General George Washington defeated the British at Princeton and drove them back toward New Brunswick. Washington then established winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. During the long harsh winter, Washington’s army shrank to about a thousand men as enlistments expired and deserters fled.

January 3, 1924 – British Egyptologist Howard Carter found the sarcophagus of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor after several years of searching.

January 3, 1946 – An Englishman known during World War II as “Lord Haw Haw” (William Joyce) was hanged for treason in London. Joyce had broadcast Nazi propaganda via radio from Germany to Britain during the war.

January 3, 1959 – Alaska was admitted as the 49th U.S. state with a land mass almost one-fifth the size of the lower 48 states together.

January 3, 1961 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba two years after Communist dictator Fidel Castro had seized power and just weeks before John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the next president.

January 3, 1990 – Manuel Noriega, the deposed leader of Panama, surrendered to American authorities on charges of drug trafficking after spending 10 days hiding in the Vatican embassy following the U.S. invasion of Panama.

January 3, 1993 – President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the Start-II (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) Treaty, eliminating about two-thirds of each country’s long range nuclear weapons.

January 4

January 4, 1790 – President George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address.

January 4, 1974 – President Richard Nixon rejected subpoenas from the Senate Watergate Committee seeking audio tapes and related documents.

Birthday – Louis Braille (1809-1852) was born in France. Blinded as a boy, he later invented a reading system for the blind using punch marks in paper.

Birthday – Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) was born in New York. She became the first American Catholic Saint in 1975.

January 5 Return to Top of Page

January 5, 1919 – German Communists in Berlin led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht attempted to take over the government by seizing a number of buildings. However, ten days later, they were both assassinated by German soldiers.

January 5, 1919 – The German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) was founded by Anton Drexler in Munich. Adolf Hitler became member No. 7 and changed the name in April of 1920 to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) commonly shortened to Nazi or Nazi Party.

January 5, 1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first female governor inaugurated in the U.S.

January 5, 1968 – Alexander Dubcek became first secretary of Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party. He introduced liberal reforms known as “Communism with a human face” which resulted in Soviet Russian troops invading Prague to crack down.

January 5, 1972 – President Richard Nixon signed a bill approving $5.5 billion over six years to build and test the NASA space shuttle.

January 5, 1976 – In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot announced a new constitution which legalized the Communist government and renamed the country as Kampuchea. During the reign of Pol Pot, over 1 million persons died in “the killing fields” as he forced people out of the cities into the countryside to create an idyllic agrarian society. Educated and professional city people were especially targeted for murder and were almost completely annihilated. In January of 1979, the Pol Pot was overthrown by Cambodian rebels and Vietnamese troops.

Birthday – King Juan Carlos I of Spain was born in Rome on January 5, 1938. He was chosen by Francisco Franco to inherit his right-wing dictatorship and was sworn in as King on November 22, 1975, two days after Franco’s death. The new King then announced his intention to mold Spain into a broadly based democratic society.

January 6

January 6, 1066 – Harold, Earl of Wessex, was crowned King of England following the death of his brother-in-law Edward the Confessor. Harold II was England’s last Anglo-Saxon king. In October of 1066, Harold met the invading army of William the Conqueror at Hastings and died on the field of battle.

January 6, 1941 – President Franklin Roosevelt delivered his State of the Union address to Congress asking for support for the lend-lease program aiding Allies fighting the Axis powers. Roosevelt also defined four essential freedoms worth defending; freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

January 6, 1990 – Poland’s Communist Party disbanded and then reorganized as the Social Democratic Party, an opposition party to Solidarity.

Birthday – Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was born in France. After a series of mystic visitations by saints, she inspired French troops to break the British siege at Orleans and win several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) between France and Britain. She was eventually captured and sold to the British who tried her for heresy and burned her at the stake. In 1920, Joan of Arc was canonized a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

January 7

January 7, 1714 – A patent was issued for the first typewriter designed by British inventor Henry Mill “for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another, as in writing.”

January 7, 1782 – The first U.S. commercial bank opened as the Bank of North America in Philadelphia.

January 7, 1989 – Emperor Hirohito of Japan died after a long illness. He had ruled for 62 years and was succeeded by his son, Crown Prince Akihito.

January 7, 1999 – The first presidential impeachment trial in 130 years began as members of the U.S. Senate were sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist to decide whether President Clinton should be removed from office. House prosecutors had delivered two articles of impeachment charging Clinton with perjury and obstruction of justice.

Birthday – Millard Fillmore (1800-1874) the 13th U.S. President was born in a log cabin in Cayuga County, New York. He was a Whig who became president upon the sudden death of Zachary Taylor in 1850 from cholera. Best remembered for signing five bills concerning slavery known as the Compromise of 1850 which temporarily prevented civil war in the U.S. He was not re-nominated by his party.

January 8

January 8, 1798 – The 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, preventing lawsuits against a state by anyone from another state or foreign nation.

January 8, 1815 – The Battle of New Orleans occurred as General Andrew Jackson and American troops defended themselves against a British attack, inflicting over 2,000 casualties. Both sides in this battle were unaware that peace had been declared two weeks earlier with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812.

January 8, 1918 – Amid the ongoing World War in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson proposed his Fourteen Points, calling for a reduction of arms, self determination for governments, and the creation of a League of Nations, all intended to serve as a basis for resolving the conflict and establishing a lasting peace in Europe.

January 8, 1959 – Charles de Gaulle took office as the first president of France’s Fifth Republic. De Gaulle had led the Free French government in exile during Nazi occupation. Following the war, he advocated a strong presidency to balance the powerful National Assembly. He was chosen to head the new government following years of political instability in which no French government was able to stay in power for more than a few months. On this day in 1966, he took office for a second term.

January 8, 1964 – President Lyndon Johnson declared War on Poverty during his State of the Union message before Congress.

January 8, 1982 – The American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) Company was broken up as a result of an antitrust suit. AT&T gave up 22 local Bell system companies, opening the U.S. telephone system to competition.

January 8, 1987 – The Dow Jones industrial average first topped the 2,000 mark.

Birthday – Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was born in Tupelo, Mississippi.

January 9  

January 9, 1960 – With the first blast of dynamite, construction work began on the Aswan High Dam across the Nile River in southern Egypt. One third of the project’s billion-dollar cost was underwritten by Soviet Russia. The dam created Lake Nasser, one of the world’s largest reservoirs, at nearly 2,000 square miles and irrigated over 100,000 acres of surrounding desert. The dam was opened in January of 1971 by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and President Nikolai Podgorny of the Soviet Union.

Birthday – Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) the 37th U.S. President, was born in Yorba Linda, California. He served as vice president under Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953-61, then made an unsuccessful run for the presidency, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy. Nixon ran for governor of California in 1962 and lost. He then told reporters he was leaving politics. However, he re-emerged in 1968 and ran a successful presidential campaign against Hubert Humphrey. He won re-election by a landslide in 1972, but resigned two years later amid impeachment proceedings resulting from the Watergate scandal.

Birthday – Carrie Lane Chapman (1859-1947) was born in Ripon, Wisconsin. She was the women’s rights pioneer who founded the National League of Women Voters in 1919.

January 10 Return to Top of Page

January 10, 1776Common Sense, a fifty page pamphlet by Thomas Paine, was published. It sold over 500,000 copies in America and Europe, influencing, among others, the authors of the Declaration of Independence.

January 10, 1861 – Florida became the third state to secede from the Union in events leading up to the American Civil War.

January 10, 1863 – The world’s first underground railway service opened in London, the Metropolitan line between Paddington and Farringdon.

January 10, 1878 – An Amendment granting women the right to vote was introduced in Congress by Senator A.A. Sargent of California. The amendment didn’t pass until 1920, forty-two years later.

January 10, 1912 – The flying boat airplane, invented by Glenn Curtiss, made its first flight at Hammondsport, New York.

January 10, 1920 – The League of Nations officially came into existence with the goal of resolving international disputes, reducing armaments, and preventing future wars. The first Assembly gathered in Geneva ten months later with 41 nations represented. More than 20 nations later joined, however, the U.S. did not join due to a lack of support for the League in Congress.

January 10, 1922 – Arthur Griffith was elected president of the newly formed Irish Free State.

January 10, 1946 – The first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly took place in London with delegates from 51 countries. The U.N. superseded its predecessor, the League of Nations.

January 10, 1984 – The U.S. and Vatican established full diplomatic relations after a break of 116 years.

January 11

January 11, 1861 – Alabama seceded from the Union in events leading to up the American Civil War.

January 11, 1964 – The U.S. Surgeon General declared cigarettes may be hazardous to health, the first such official government report.

January 11, 1990 – In Lithuania, 200,000 persons demanded political independence from Soviet Russia after Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, publicly warned that separatism could lead to tragedy. Independence was achieved in September of 1991, three months before the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.

Birthday – Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was born in the British West Indies. He was a founder of the United States who favored a strong central government and co-authored the Federalist Papers, a series of essays in defense of the new Constitution. He was selected by George Washington to be the first Secretary of the Treasury. He died from a gunshot wound received during a duel with Aaron Burr.

January 12

January 12, 1879 – In Southern Africa, the Zulu War began between the British and the natives of Zululand, ultimately resulting in the destruction of the Zulu Empire.

January 12, 1932 – Hattie W. Caraway, a Democrat from Arkansas, was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill the term of her deceased husband. Later in the year, she became the first woman elected to the Senate.

January 12, 1990 – Romania outlawed the Communist Party following the overthrow of Dictator Nicolae Ceauescu who had ruled for 24 years.

January 12, 1991 – Congress authorized President George Bush to use military force against Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait.

January 12, 1996 – The first joint American-Russian military operation since World War II occurred as Russian troops arrived to aid in peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia.

January 12, 1999 – President Bill Clinton sent a check for $850,000 to Paula Jones officially ending the sensational sexual harassment legal case that ultimately endangered his presidency. The president withdrew $375,000 from his and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s personal funds and got the remaining $475,000 from an insurance policy. The lawsuit had exposed the president’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and resulted in investigations by Independent Counsel Ken Starr that led to Clinton’s impeachment by the House of Representatives and subsequent trial in the Senate.

Birthday – John Winthrop (1588-1649) was born in Suffolk, England. In 1630, he joined a group of Puritans emigrating to America and became the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, establishing a colony on the peninsula of Shawmut, which became Boston.

Birthday – Irish orator, politician and philosopher Edmund Burke (1729-1797) was born in Dublin. Best known for his essays and pamphlets including Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770), On American Taxation (1774), On Conciliation with the Colonies (1775) andReflections on the Revolution in France (1790).

Birthday – American statesman and patriot John Hancock (1737-1793) was born in Braintree, Massachusetts. He was elected president of the Second Continental Congress in 1775, was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, and went on to become the first elected governor of Massachusetts.

January 13

January 13, 1893 – The British Independent Labor Party was founded with James Keir Hardie as its leader.

January 13, 1898 – French author Emile Zola published J’Accuse, a letter accusing the French government of a cover-up in the Alfred Dreyfus case. Dreyfus had been convicted of treason for selling military secrets to the Germans and had been sent to Devil’s Island. As a result of Zola’s letter and subsequent trail, Dreyfus was completely vindicated.

January 13, 1935 – The population of the Saar region bordering France and Germany voted for incorporation into Hitler’s Reich. The 737 square-mile area with its valuable coal deposits had been under French control following Germany’s defeat in World War I.

January 13, 1990 – Douglas Wilder of Virginia became the first African American governor in the U.S. as he took the oath of office in Richmond.

Birthday – Author Horatio Alger (1834-1899) was born in Revere, Massachusetts. He wrote over 100 books for boys, many featuring “rags to riches” themes of poor boys triumphing over life’s obstacles.

January 14

January 14-23, 1943 – President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met at Casablanca in Morocco to work on strategy during World War II. At the conclusion of the conference, Roosevelt and Churchill held a joint news conference at which Roosevelt surprisingly announced that peace would come “by the total elimination of German and Japanese war power. That means the unconditional surrender of Germany, Italy and Japan.”

Birthday – Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) was born in Norwich, Connecticut. He was the American Revolutionary War hero who turned traitor, sending information to the British in exchange for money. After obtaining command of West Point in 1780, he conspired to turn over the garrison to the British. However, his plans were discovered and he fled to British headquarters in New York. After the war, he lived in England.

Birthday – Philosopher-physician Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) was born in Upper Alsace, Germany. He served as a medical missionary in Africa and received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of the brotherhood of all nations.

Birthday – American film pioneer Hal Roach (1892-1992) was born in Elmira, New York. His output included nearly 1,000 movies of all lengths, including the classic Laurel and Hardy comedies.

January 15 Return to Top of Page

January 15, 69 A.D. – Roman Emperor Servius Sulpicius Galba was assassinated by the Praetorian guard in the Roman Forum. He had succeeded Emperor Nero.

January 15, 1535 – Henry VIII became Supreme Head of the Church in England as a result of the Act of Supremacy following his break with Rome.

January 15, 1559 – Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, was crowned as Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey.

January 15, 1870 – The first use of a donkey to symbolize the Democratic Party in America appeared in a cartoon in Harper’s Weekly, criticizing former secretary of war Edwin Stanton with the caption, “A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion.”

January 15, 1973 – Golda Meir became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit the Pope.

Birthday – Martin Luther King (1929-1968) was born in Atlanta, Georgia. As an African American civil rights leader he spoke eloquently and stressed nonviolent methods to achieve equality. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. In 1983, the third Monday in January was designated a legal holiday in the U.S. to celebrate his birthday.

January 16

January 16, 1547 – Ivan the Terrible had himself officially crowned as the first Russian Czar (Caesar) although he had already ruled Russia since 1533. His reign lasted until 1584 and brought much needed reforms including a new legal code and cultural development. However, during his reign he instituted a campaign of terror against the Russian nobility and had over 3,000 persons put to death. He also killed his own son during a fit of rage.

January 16, 1979 – The Shah of Iran departed his country amid mass demonstrations and the revolt of Islamic fundamentalists led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Shah had ruled Iran since 1941 and had unsuccessfully attempted to westernize its culture.

January 16, 1991 – The war against Iraq began as Allied aircraft conducted a major raid against Iraqi air defenses. The air raid on Baghdad was broadcast live to a global audience by CNN correspondents as operation Desert Shield became Desert Storm.

January 16, 1992 – The twelve-year civil war in El Salvador ended with the signing of a peace treaty in Mexico City. The conflict had claimed over 75,000 lives.

Birthday – French industrialist Andre Michelin (1853-1931) was born in Paris. He started the Michelin Tire Company in 1888, pioneering the use of pneumatic tires on autos.

January 17

January 17, 1773 – The ship Resolution, sailing under Captain James Cook, became the first vessel to cross the Antarctic Circle.

January 17, 1945 – During World War II, Warsaw, Poland, was liberated by Soviet Russian troops.

January 17, 1966 – A Hydrogen bomb accident occurred over Palomares, Spain, as an American B-52 jet collided with its refueling plane. Eight crewmen were killed and the bomber then released its H-bomb into the Atlantic.

Birthday – Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Considered the Elder Statesman of the American Revolution, he displayed multiple talents as a printer, author, publisher, philosopher, scientist, diplomat and philanthropist. He signed both the Declaration of Independence and the new U.S. Constitution.

Birthday – Muhammad Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky, January 17, 1942 (as Cassius Clay). At age 22 in 1964, he knocked out Sonny Liston to win the world heavyweight boxing championship, shouting out “I shook up the world!” After converting to the Muslim religion, the boxing superstar became an outspoken conscientious objector (on religious grounds) to America’s escalating involvement in the Vietnam War and refused military duty upon being drafted. As a result, he was stripped of his boxing title, banned from boxing, and subsequently jailed. After a long legal battle, his conviction was reversed and he regained the championship in 1974 by defeating George Foreman. In the early 1980s, after retiring from boxing, Ali revealed his new struggle with Parkinson’s disease. However, he has remained active, devoting himself to various philanthropic and humanitarian causes.

January 18

January 18, 1966 – Robert Clifton Weaver was sworn in as the first African American cabinet member in U.S. history, becoming President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Birthday – American orator and politician Daniel Webster (1782-1852) was born in Salisbury, New Hampshire. “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!” he stated in the U.S. Senate in 1830 in response to Southern Senators who contended that individual states had the right to refuse to obey Congress.

January 19

January 19, 1966 – Indira Gandhi was elected prime minister of India in succession to Lal Shastri who had died eight days earlier. She served until 1975 and later from 1980 to 1984, when she was assassinated by her own bodyguards as she walked to her office. Her only surviving son, Rajiv, became the next prime minister. In 1991, he was assassinated while campaigning for reelection

January 19, 1983 – Former Gestapo official Klaus Barbie, known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” was arrested in Bolivia, South America. He was responsible for deporting Jewish children from Lyon to Auschwitz where they were gassed. He also murdered French Resistance leader Jean Moulin and tortured others. He was exposed by Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, extradited in 1987, then convicted by the French and died while in prison.

Birthday – Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) military leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was the son of a Revolutionary War hero, a graduate of West Point and served in the U.S. Army for 25 years preceding the Civil War. At the outbreak of hostilities, he was offered command of the Union Army, but declined and instead accepted command of the military and naval forces of Virginia.

Birthday – Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) poet and writer of mystery and suspense tales, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His works include; The Fall of the House of Usher, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, The Murders in the Rue Morgue and his famous poem The Raven.

January 20 Return to Top of Page

January 20, 1649 – At the conclusion of the English Civil War, King Charles I was brought before a high court of justice at Westminster Hall on charges of treason. The Civil War had been fought over whether the King’s power was absolute or was limited by the powers of Parliament. Oliver Cromwell had led the Parliamentary forces to victory over the Royals. In the trial that followed, Charles was found guilty and condemned as “a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and public enemy” and was beheaded several days later in front of Whitehall Palace in London.

January 20, 1936 – King George V of England died at age 71. The grandson of Queen Victoria, he had reigned since 1910. He renamed his line as the House of Windsor, breaking his association with the family’s German line of descent. He was succeeded by his son King Edward VIII who abdicated in December and was succeeded by George VI.

January 20, 1942 – During the Holocaust, Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler’s second in command of the SS, convened the Wannsee Conference in Berlin with 15 top Nazi bureaucrats to coordinate the Final Solution (Endlösung) in which the Nazis would attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe, an estimated 11 million persons.

January 20, 1945 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated to an unprecedented fourth term as president of the United States. He had served since 1933.

January 20, 1981 – Ronald Reagan became president of the United States at the age of 69, the oldest president to take office. During his inauguration celebrations, he announced that 52 American hostages that had been seized in the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, were being released after 444 days in captivity.

January 20, 1996 – Yasir Arafat became the first democratically-elected leader of the Palestinian people with 88.1 percent of the vote.

January 21

January 21, 1793 – In the aftermath of the French Revolution, King Louis XVI of France was guillotined on the charge of conspiring with foreign countries for the invasion of France. During the Revolution, the King had attempted to flee to Austria for assistance. Ten months later, his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, was also guillotined.

January 21, 1924 – Soviet Russian leader Vladimir Lenin died of a brain hemorrhage. He led the Bolsheviks to victory over the Czar in the October Revolution of 1917 and had then established the world’s first Communist government. Lenin’s body was placed in a tomb in Red Square in Moscow and was a much venerated national shrine until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

January 21, 1954 – The USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, was launched at Groton, Connecticut.

January 21, 1976 – The Concorde supersonic jet began passenger service with flights from London to Bahrain and Paris to Rio de Janeiro, cruising at twice the speed of sound (Mach 2) at an altitude up to 60,000 feet.

Birthday – Ethan Allen (1738-1789) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. He was a hero of theAmerican Revolution who led the small force that captured Fort Ticonderoga in New York without bloodshed in 1775. The fort contained much needed supplies and ammunition.

Birthday – Confederate Army General “Stonewall” Jackson (1824-1863) was born in Clarksburg, Virginia (as Thomas Jonathan Jackson). He was a West Point graduate who served in the Mexican War then resigned to teach at the Virginia Military Institute. He sided with the South and became a Brigadier General, earning his nickname at the first battle of Bull Run as his troops held firm while others wavered. “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall,” a fellow general commented. He was shot in 1863 by a Confederate lookout who had mistaken him in the dark. “I have lost my right arm,” lamented General Lee upon his death.

January 22

January 22, 1901 – Queen Victoria of England died after reigning for 64 years, the longest reign in British history, during which England had become the most powerful empire in the world.

January 22, 1905 – Five hundred protesting Russian workers were killed by the troops of Czar Nicholas II in St. Petersburg. The event became known as “Bloody Sunday” and marked the beginning of the violent revolutionary movement of 1905 which ultimately failed. A second revolutionary movement in 1917 succeeded and the Czar abdicated.

January 22, 1943 – During World War II in the Pacific, Japanese resistance ended in New Guinea, resulting in the first land victory of the war for Allied forces.

January 22, 1973 – Abortion became legal in the U.S. as the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of Roe vs. Wade striking down local state laws restricting abortions in the first six months of pregnancy. In more recent rulings (1989 and 1992) the Court upheld the power of individual states to impose some restrictions.

Birthday – British essayist, philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was born in London. Best known for his philosophical works concerning the acquisition of knowledge; Novum Organum and The Advancement of Learning.

January 23

January 23, 1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell was awarded her MD by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York, thus becoming America’s first woman doctor.

January 23, 1907 – Charles Curtis of Kansas became the first person of Native American ancestry to serve in the U.S Senate. He later served as vice president under President Herbert Hoover from 1929-33.

January 23, 1937 – In Moscow, 17 leading Communists went on trial, accused of participating in a plot engineered by Leon Trotsky to overthrow Stalin’s regime and assassinate its leaders. After a seven-day trial, 13 of them were sentenced to death. Trotsky fled to Mexico where he was assassinated in 1940.

January 23, 1943 – In North Africa, British forces under General Bernard Montgomery captured Tripoli in Libya.

January 23, 1968 – The American ship USS Pueblo was seized by North Koreans in the Sea of Japan amid claims the Navy ship was spying. The ship was confiscated and its crew held in captivity until December, with one fatality.

Birthday – Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948) was born in Riga, Latvia. He developed a new way of film making utilizing artistic montages (a series of arbitrary images) to deliver an emotional impact. Prior to him, most film makers showed scenes in strictly chronological sequences. His classic films include Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky, and Ivan the Terrible.

January 24

January 24, 41 AD– Roman Emperor Caligula was assassinated at the Palatine Games by his own guard after a reign of just four years, noted for his madness and cruelty including arbitrary murder.

January 24, 1848 – The California gold rush began with the accidental discovery of the precious metal near Coloma during construction of a Sutter’s sawmill. An announcement by President Polk later in the year caused a national sensation and resulted in a flood of “Forty-niners” seeking wealth.

January 24, 1895 – Hawaii’s monarchy ended as Queen Liliuokalani was forced to abdicate. Hawaii was then annexed by the U.S. And remained a territory until statehood was granted in 1959.

January 24, 1965 – Winston Churchill (1874-1965) died. He had been Britain’s wartime prime minister whose courageous leadership and defiant rhetoric had fortified the British during their long struggle against Hitler’s Germany. “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” he stated upon becoming prime minister at the beginning of the war. He called Hitler’s Reich a “monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.” Following the war, he coined the term “Iron Curtain” to describe the barrier between areas in Eastern Europe under Soviet Russia’s control and the free West.

January 24, 1972 – Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi was discovered on Guam after he had spent 28 years hiding out in the jungle not knowing World War II had long since ended.

January 25 Return to Top of Page

January 25, 1533 – King Henry VIII married his second wife, Anne Boleyn, in defiance of Pope Clement who had refused to annul his first marriage. The King later broke all ties with Rome and became Supreme Head of the Church of England.

January 25, 1579 – Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Friesland, Groningen and Overyssel formed the (Protestant) Dutch Republic with the signing of the Union of Utrecht to defend their rights against Catholic Spain.

January 25, 1947 – Gangster Al Capone, who once controlled organized crime in Chicago, died in Miami at age 48 from syphilis.

January 25, 1959 – An American Airlines Boeing 707 made the first scheduled transcontinental U.S. flight, traveling from California to New York.

January 25, 1961 – President John F. Kennedy conducted the first live televised presidential news conference, five days after taking office.

January 25, 1971 – In Uganda, a military coup led by Idi Amin deposed President Milton Obote. Amin then ruled as president-dictator until 1979 when he was ousted by Tanzanian soldiers and Ugandan nationalists. During his reign, Amin expelled all Asians from Uganda, and ordered the execution of more than 300,000 tribal Ugandans.

Birthday – Scientist Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was born in Lismore, Ireland. He formulated Boyle’s Law concerning the volume and pressure of gases.

January 26

January 26, 1788 – The British established a settlement at Sydney Harbor in Australia as 11 ships with 778 convicts arrived, setting up a penal colony to relieve overcrowded prisons in England.

January 26, 1943 – Nazis began using Hitler Youths to operate anti-aircraft batteries in Germany following heavy Allied bombing of Berlin and other cities.

January 26, 1994 – Romania became the first former Cold War foe to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

January 26, 1998 – President Bill Clinton made an emphatic denial of charges that he had a sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky and had advised her to lie about it. “…I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky…”

Birthday – Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was born on a military base in Little Rock, Arkansas. He commanded Allied forces during World War II in the Pacific. In 1942, he uttered one of the most famous phrases of the war, “I shall return,” when forced to leave the Philippines due to the unchecked Japanese advance. In 1950, after war broke out in Korea, he became commander of the United Nations forces. However, disagreements with President Harry Truman over war policy resulted in his dismissal by Truman in April 1951. MacArthur then appeared before Congress and announced his retirement, declaring, “Old soldiers never die – they just fade away.”

January 27

January 27, 1943 – The U.S. 8th Air Force conducted the first all-American bombing raid on Germany as 55 bombers targeted Wilhelmshaven, losing three planes while claiming to have shot down 22 German fighters. The success of this first mission encouraged U.S. military planners to begin regular daylight bombing raids, which eventually resulted in high casualty rates for the American crewmen involved.

January 27, 1944 – Russian Army General Govorov announced the lifting of the Nazi blockade of Leningrad. During the 900-day siege, an estimated one million Russian civilians inside the city died of disease, starvation and relentless German shelling.

January 27, 1945 – The Russian Army liberated Auschwitz death camp near Krakow in Poland, where the Nazis had systematically murdered an estimated 2,000,000 persons, including 1,500,000 Jews.

January 27, 1967 – Three American astronauts were killed as a fire erupted inside Apollo 1 during a launch simulation test at Cape Kennedy, Florida.

January 27, 1973 – U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War ended as North Vietnamese and American representatives signed an agreement in Paris. The U.S. agreed to remove all remaining troops within 60 days thus ending the longest war in American history. Over 58,000 Americans had been killed, 300,000 wounded and 2,500 declared missing. A total of 566 prisoners-of-war had been held by the North Vietnamese during the war, with 55 reported deaths.

Birthday – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was born in Salzburg, Austria. From the age of five, through his untimely death at age 35, this musical genius created over 600 compositions including 16 operas, 41 symphonies, 27 piano and five violin concerti, 25 string quartets, 19 masses, and many other works.

Birthday – British novelist Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) was born in Daresbury, Cheshire, England (as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Best known for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. He also lectured in mathematics and was a pioneering photographer.

Birthday – Labor leader Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) was born in London. He emigrated to America at age 13, worked in a cigar factory, eventually becoming head of the Cigar Workers’ Union. He later brought together several national unions under the name American Federation of Labor and became its first president.

Birthday – German Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) was born. He was a grandson of England’s Queen Victoria and ruled Germany from 1888 through World War I. Although he had military training, he left conduct of the war mainly in the hands of Generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich von Ludendorff. In 1918, amid the defeat of Germany, he abdicated and fled to the Netherlands where he lived in seclusion until his death. He was given a military funeral by Hitler.

January 28

January 28, 1547 – King Henry VIII of England died and was succeeded by his son, Edward VI. Henry had ruled since 1509 and had broken all ties with the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of divorce. He married a total of six times. Edward VI was the son of his third wife, Jane Seymour. Edward became king at age 10, but died of tuberculosis at age 16. He was followed by his half-sister, Mary.

January 28, 1871 – The Franco-Prussian War ended as Paris surrendered to the Germans after a four month siege. Peace terms imposed on the French included yielding the greater part of Alsace and Lorraine to the Germans and a $1 billion fine. German troops also outraged the French by marching triumphantly through the streets of Paris causing enmity between the two nations which lasted for decades.

January 28, 1915 – The U.S. Coast Guard was created by an Act of Congress, combining the Life Saving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service.

January 28, 1935 – Iceland became the first country to legalize abortion.

January 28, 1963 – African American student Harvey Gantt entered Clemson College in South Carolina, the last state to hold out against integration.

January 28, 1986 – The U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 74 seconds into its flight, killing seven persons, including Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who was to be the first ordinary citizen in space.

Birthday – Explorer Henry Stanley (1841-1904) was born in Wales. As a newspaper correspondent for the New York Herald, he was given the challenging assignment of finding missionary-explorer David Livingston in Africa. Upon locating Livingston near Lake Tanganyika in 1871 after an exhausting search, Stanley simply asked, “Dr. Livingston, I presume?”

January 29

January 29, 1891 – Hawaii proclaimed Liliuokalani as its queen. Renowned for her song Aloha Oe, she had a reign of only four years until she was forced to abdicate in 1895 under pressure from powerful businessmen.

January 29, 1916 – During World War I, the first aerial bombings of Paris by German zeppelins took place.

January 29, 1919 – The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Prohibition Amendment) was ratified. For nearly 14 years, until December 5, 1933, the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages were illegal in the United States. The Amendment had the unexpected result of causing enormous growth of organized crime which provided bootleg liquor to thirsty Americans.

BirthdayCommon Sense author Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was born in Thetford, England. His pamphlet, published in 1776, provided inspiration to undecided Americans that a new nation, independent from Britain, might eventually become “…an asylum for mankind!” He served in the Continental Army and observed the hardships of American troops fighting the world’s most powerful army. He then published The Crisis series pamphlets which began by stating, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” He refused to accept the profits from his writings and wound up destitute after the Revolution.

Birthday – William McKinley (1843-1901) the 25th U.S. President was born in Niles, Ohio. He was elected in 1896 and re-elected in 1900. Early in his second term, on September 6, 1901, he was shot and mortally wounded by an anarchist at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and died eight days later.

Birthday – Russian playwright Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) was born in Taganrog, Russia. His works included Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.

January 30

January 30, 1649 – King Charles I of England was beheaded for treason by order of Parliament under the direction of Oliver Cromwell, leader of the Puritan Revolution.

January 30, 1835 – President Andrew Jackson survived the first assassination attempt on a U.S. President. While leaving the House of Representatives Chamber, an insane would-be assassin fired two pistol shots at him, however both pistols misfired and the president was unharmed.

January 30, 1933 – Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg. Hitler went on to become the sole leader of Nazi Germany. He then waged a war of expansion in Europe, precipitating the deaths of an estimated 50 million persons through military conflict and through the Holocaust in which the Nazis attempted to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe.

January 30, 1948 – Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi, India, by a religious fanatic. Gandhi had ended British rule in India through nonviolent resistance. “Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being,” he had stated in 1926.

January 30, 1968 – Beginning of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam as North Vietnamese troops attacked 36 provincial capitals and 5 major cities in South Vietnam, including an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Saigon and the presidential palace. Although U.S. forces eventually fended off the massive surprise attack and achieved a military victory, Tet became a propaganda victory for the Vietnamese due in part to graphic news reports on television which helped turn U.S. public opinion against continuation of the war.

January 30, 1972 – In Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 13 Roman Catholics were killed by British troops during a banned civil rights march. The event became known as Bloody Sunday.

January 30, 1973 – During the Watergate scandal, Gordon Liddy and James McCord were convicted of burglary, wire-tapping and attempted bugging of the Democratic headquarters inside the Watergate building in Washington, D.C.

January 30, 1992 – Argentina allowed access to numerous files of Nazis who had fled to South America from Germany after World War II, thus aiding the hunt for Nazi war criminals.

Birthday – Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) the 32nd U.S. President was born in Hyde Park, New York. Despite crippling polio, he led America out of the Great Depression and through World War II and is widely considered to be one of America’s three greatest presidents (along with Washington and Lincoln). “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries is in danger,” he stated in 1939.

January 31

January 31, 1943 – German troops surrendered at Stalingrad, marking the first big defeat of Hitler’s armies in World War II. During the Battle of Stalingrad, 160,000 Germans were killed and 90,000 taken prisoner, including the commander, Friedrich von Paulus, the first German field marshal ever to surrender. The captured Germans were forced to march to Siberia, with few ever returning to Germany.

January 31, 1945 – Eddie Slovik, a 24-year-old U.S. Army private, was executed by a firing squad after being sentenced to death for desertion, the first such occurrence in the U.S. Army since the Civil War.

Birthday – Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) was born in Cairo, Georgia. He was the first African American to play professional baseball. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 to 1956, was chosen as the National League’s most valuable player in 1949 and elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

February This Month in History

February 1, 1960 – In Greensboro, North Carolina, four African American students sat down and ordered coffee at a lunch counter inside a Woolworth’s store. They were refused service, but did not leave. Instead, they waited all day. The scene was repeated over the next few days, with protests spreading to other southern states, resulting in the eventual arrest of over 1,600 persons for participating in sit-ins.

February 1, 2003 – Sixteen minutes before it was scheduled to land, the Space Shuttle Columbiabroke apart in flight over west Texas, killing all seven crew members. The accident may have resulted from damage caused during liftoff when a piece of insulating foam from the external fuel tank broke off, piercing a hole in the shuttle’s left wing that allowed hot gases to penetrate the wing upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. This was the second space shuttle lost in flight. In January 1986, Challenger exploded during liftoff.

Birthday – Hattie Caraway (1878-1950) the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, was born in Bakersville, Tennessee. Her husband became the U.S. Senator from Arkansas. Following his death in 1931, she filled the remainder of his term, then was elected herself, serving a total of 14 years.

Birthday – Hollywood director John Ford (1895-1973) was born in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Known for The Grapes of Wrath and The Searchers, he also served in World War II as chief of the Photographic Unit of OSS, and earned two Academy Awards for documentaries made during the war.

February 2

February 2, 1848 – The war between the U.S. and Mexico ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In exchange for $15 million, the U.S. acquired the areas encompassing parts or all of present day California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas. The treaty was ratified on March 10, 1848.

February 2, 1990 – In South Africa, the 30-year-old ban on the African National Congress was lifted by President F.W. de Klerk, who also promised to free Nelson Mandela and remove restrictions on political opposition groups.

Birthday – Irish novelist and poet James Joyce (1882-1941) was born in Dublin, Ireland. His works include; Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finegan’s Wake.

February 3

February 3, 1865 – A four-hour peace conference occurred between President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens at Hampton Roads, Virginia. The meeting was unsuccessful as President Lincoln insisted there could be no armistice until the Confederates acknowledged Federal authority. The Confederates wanted an armistice first. Thus the Civil Warcontinued.

February 3, 1870 – The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing the right of citizens to vote, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

February 3, 1913 – The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting Congress the authority to collect income taxes.

February 3, 1943 – An extraordinary act of heroism occurred in the icy waters off Greenland after the U.S. Army transport ship Dorchester was hit by a German torpedo and began to sink rapidly. When it became apparent there were not enough life jackets, four U.S. Army chaplains on board removed theirs, handed them to frightened young soldiers, and chose to go down with the ship while praying.

Birthday – The first female physician in the U.S., Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was born near Bristol, England. As a girl, her family moved to New York State. She was awarded her MD by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York, in 1849. She then established a hospital in New York City run by an all-female staff. She was also active in training women to be nurses for service in the American Civil War.

Birthday – American artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was born in New York City. Best known for depicting ordinary scenes from small town American life for the covers ofSaturday Evening Post magazine.

February 4

February 4, 1861 – Apache Chief Cochise was arrested in Arizona by the U.S. Army for raiding a ranch. Cochise then escaped and declared war, beginning the period known as the Apache Wars, which lasted 25 years.

February 4, 1985 – Twenty countries in the United Nations signed a document entitled “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

Birthday – Thaddeus Kosciusko (1746-1817) was born in Poland. He served in the American Revolution, building the first fortifications at West Point. He then returned to Poland and fought against a Russian invasion.

Birthday – Aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974) was born in Detroit, Michigan. He made the first non-stop solo flight from New York to Paris, May 20-21, 1927.

February 5 Return to Top of Page

February 5, 1917 – The new constitution of Mexico, allowing for sweeping social changes, was adopted.

February 6

February 6, 1788 – Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the new U.S. Constitution, by a vote of 187 to 168.

February 6, 1933 – The 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted. It set the date for the Presidential Inauguration as January 20th, instead of the old date of March 4th. It also sets January 3rd as the official opening date of Congress.

February 6, 1952 – King George VI of England died. Upon his death, his daughter Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Her actual coronation took place on June 2, 1953.

Birthday – Aaron Burr (1756-1836) was born in Newark, New Jersey. In 1804, Vice President Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel over Hamilton’s negative remarks and mortally wounded him. Burr was later tried for treason over allegations he was planning to invade Mexico as part of a scheme to establish his own empire in the Southwest, but was acquitted.

Birthday – Legendary baseball player George Herman “Babe” Ruth (1895-1948) was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Ruth held or shared 60 Major League records, including pitching 29 consecutive scoreless innings and hitting 714 home runs.

Birthday – Ronald Reagan, (1911-2004) the 40th U.S. President, was born in Tampico, Illinois. Reagan spent 30 years as an entertainer in radio, film, and television before becoming governor of California in 1966. Elected to the White House in 1980, he survived an assassination attempt and became the most popular president since Franklin Roosevelt.

February 7

February 7, 1795 – The 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting the powers of the Federal Judiciary over the states by prohibiting Federal lawsuits against individual states.

Birthday – Thomas More (1478-1535) was born in London, England. He was a lawyer, scholar, and held the title Lord Chancellor of England. As a devout Catholic, he refused to acknowledge the divorce of King Henry VIII from Queen Catherine, thereby refusing to acknowledge the King’s religious supremacy. He was charged with treason, found guilty and beheaded in 1535, with his head then displayed from Tower Bridge. Four hundred years later, in 1935, he was canonized by Pope Pius XI.

Birthday – British novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was born in Portsmouth, England. He examined social inequalities through his works including; David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, andNicholas Nickleby. In 1843, he wrote A Christmas Carol in just a few weeks, an enormously popular work even today.

Birthday – American social critic and novelist Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) was born in Sauk Center, Minnesota. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930. His works include; Main Street,Babbit, and It Can’t Happen Here.

February 8

February 8, 1587 – Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, was beheaded at Fotheringhay, England, after 19 years as a prisoner of Queen Elizabeth I. She became entangled in the complex political events surrounding the Protestant Reformation in England and was charged with complicity in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth.

February 8, 1910 – The Boy Scouts of America was founded by William Boyce in Washington, D.C., modeled after the British Boy Scouts.

Birthday – Union Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) was born in Lancaster, Ohio.

February 9

February 9, 1943 – During World War II in the Pacific, U.S. troops captured Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands after six months of battle, with 9,000 Japanese and 2,000 Americans killed.

Birthday – William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) the 9th U.S. President was born in Berkeley, Virginia. He took office on March 4, 1841 and died only 32 days later after developing pneumonia from the cold weather during his inaugural ceremonies.

February 10 Return to Top of Page

February 10, 1942 – The first Medal of Honor during World War II was awarded to 2nd Lt. Alexander Nininger (posthumously) for heroism during the Battle of Bataan.

February 10, 1967 – The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, clarifying the procedures for presidential succession in the event of the disability of a sitting president.

February 11

February 11th – Celebrated in Japan as the founding date of the Japanese nation, which occurred with the accession to the throne of the first Emperor, Jimmu, in 660 BC.

February 11, 1929 – Italian dictator Benito Mussolini granted political independence to Vatican City and recognized the sovereignty of the Pope (Holy See) over the area, measuring about 110 acres.

February 11, 1990 – In South Africa, Nelson Mandela, at age 71, was released from prison after serving 27 years of a life sentence on charges of attempting to overthrow the apartheid government. In April 1994, he was elected president in the first all-race elections.

February 11, 2011 – In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak resigned amid a massive protest calling for his ouster. Thousands of young Egyptians and others had protested non-stop for 18 days in Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere. Mubarak had ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years, functioning as a virtual dictator.

Birthday – American inventor Thomas Edison (1847-1931) was born in Milan, Ohio. Throughout his lifetime he acquired over 1,200 patents including the incandescent bulb, phonograph and movie camera. Best known for his quote, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

February 12

February 12, 1999 – The impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in the U.S. Senate ended. With the whole world watching via television, Senators stood up one by one during the final roll call to vote “guilty” or “not guilty.” On Article 1 (charging Clinton with perjury) 55 senators, including 10 Republicans and all 45 Democrats voted not guilty. On Article 2 (charging Clinton with obstruction of justice) the Senate split evenly, 50 for and 50 against the President. With the necessary two-thirds majority not having been achieved, President Clinton was thus acquitted on both charges and served out the remainder of his term of office lasting through January 20, 2001.

Birthday – Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) the 16th U.S. President was born in Hardin County, Kentucky. He led the nation through the tumultuous Civil War, freed the slaves, composed the Gettysburg Address, and established Thanksgiving.

Birthday – Author and naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was born in Shrewsbury, England. Best known for his work Origin of the Species concerning the theory of evolution.

February 13

February 13, 1635 – Boston Latin School, the first tax-payer supported (public) school in America was established in Boston, Massachusetts.

February 13, 1945 – During World War II in Europe, British and American planes began massive bombing raids on Dresden, Germany. A four-day firestorm erupted that was visible for 200 miles and engulfed the historic old city, killing an estimated 135,000 German civilians.

Birthday – American artist Grant Wood (1892-1942) was born near Anamosa, Iowa. Best known for his painting American Gothic featuring a farm couple.

February 14

February 14th – Celebrated as (Saint) Valentine’s Day around the world, now one of the most widely observed unofficial holidays in which romantic greeting cards and gifts are exchanged.

February 14, 1849 – Photographer Mathew Brady took the first photograph of a U.S. President in office, James Polk.

February 14, 1929 – The St. Valentine’s Day massacre occurred in Chicago as seven members of the Bugs Moran gang were gunned down by five of Al Capone’s mobsters posing as police.

February 15 Return to Top of Page

February 15, 1898 – In Havana, the U.S. Battleship Maine was blown up while at anchor and quickly sank with 260 crew members lost. The incident inflamed public opinion in the U.S., resulting in a declaration of war against Spain on April 25, 1898, amid cries of “Remember the Maine!”

February 15, 1933 – An assassination attempt on newly elected U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt occurred in Miami, Florida. A spectator deflected the gunman’s aim. As a result, Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak was shot and killed instead. The gunman, an Italian immigrant, was captured and later sentenced to death.

February 15, 1989 – Soviet Russia completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan after nine years of unsuccessful involvement in the civil war between Muslim rebel groups and the Russian-backed Afghan government. Over 15,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the fighting.

Birthday – Astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was born in Pisa, Italy. He was the first astronomer to use a telescope and advanced the theory that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system.

Birthday – Inventor Cyrus McCormick (1809-1884) was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He invented the horse-drawn mechanical reaper, a machine that freed farmers from hard labor and contributed to the development and cultivation of vast areas of the American Great Plains.

Birthday – Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) was born in Adams, Massachusetts. A pioneer in women’s rights, she worked tirelessly for woman’s suffrage (right to vote) and in 1872 was arrested after voting (illegally) in the presidential election. She was commemorated in 1979 with the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, thus became the first American woman to have her image on a U.S. coin.

February 16

Birthday – Entertainer and politician Sonny Bono (1935-1998) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Following a career as a popular singer, he became mayor of Palm Springs, California, then became a Republican congressman, serving until his accidental death from a skiing mishap.

February 17

February 17, 1865 – During the American Civil War, Fort Sumter in South Carolina was returned to the Union after nearly a year and a half under Confederate control. The fort had been the scene of the first shots of the war.

February 17, 1909 – Apache Chief Geronimo (1829-1909) died while in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He had led a small group of warriors on raids throughout Arizona and New Mexico. Caught once, he escaped. The U.S. Army then sent 5,000 men to recapture him.

February 18

Birthday – American politician Wendell Willkie (1892-1944) was born in Elwood, Illinois. He was the Republican nominee for president in 1940, running against Franklin D. Roosevelt.

February 19

February 19, 1942 – Internment of Japanese Americans began after President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order requiring those living on the Pacific coast to report for relocation. Over 110,000 persons therefore shut down their businesses, sold off their property, quit school and moved inland to the relocation centers.

Birthday – Astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) was born in Torun, Poland. Considered the founder of modern astronomy, he theorized that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system.

February 20 Return to Top of Page

February 20, 1943 – German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel broke through American lines at Kasserine Pass in North Africa as inexperienced U.S. Troops lost their first major battle of World War II in Europe, with 1,000 Americans killed.

February 20, 1962 – Astronaut John Glenn became the first American launched into orbit. Traveling aboard the “Friendship 7” spacecraft, Glenn reached an altitude of 162 miles (260 kilometers) and completed three orbits in a flight lasting just under five hours. Glenn was the third American in space, preceded by Alan Shepard and Virgil “Gus” Grissom who had each completed short sub-orbital flights. All of them had been preceded by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who was the first human in space, completing one orbit on April 12, 1961 – a feat that intensified the already ongoing Space Race between the Russians and Americans. Glenn’s successful flight showed the Americans had caught up and was followed in September 1962 by President John F. Kennedy’sopen call to land an American on the moon before the decade’s end.

February 21

February 21, 1965 – Former Black Muslim leader Malcolm X (1925-1965) was shot and killed while delivering a speech in a ballroom in New York City.

February 21, 1972 – President Richard Nixon arrived in China for historic meetings with Chairman Mao Tse-tung and Premier Chou En-lai.

February 21, 1994 – CIA agent Aldrich Ames was arrested on charges he spied for the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991.

February 22

February 22, 1956 – In Montgomery, Alabama, 80 participants in the three-month-old bus boycott voluntarily gave themselves up for arrest after an ultimatum from white city leaders. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were among those arrested. Later in 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court mandated desegregation of the buses.

Birthday – George Washington (1732-1799) was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He served as commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and became the first U.S. President.

February 23

February 23, 1942 – During World War II, the first attack on the U.S. mainland occurred as a Japanese submarine shelled an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing minor damage.

February 23, 1991 – In Desert Storm, the Allied ground offensive began after a devastating month-long air campaign targeting Iraqi troops in both Iraq and Kuwait.

Birthday – African American educator and leader W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Birthday – Historian William L. Shirer (1904-1993) was born in Chicago, Illinois. As a news reporter stationed in Europe, he witnessed the rise of Adolf Hitler and reported on the surrender of France. Following the war he wrote the first major history of Nazi Germany, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

February 24

February 24, 1582 – Pope Gregory XIII corrected mistakes on the Julian calendar by dropping 10 days and directing that the day after October 4, 1582 would be October 15th. The Gregorian, or New Style calendar, was then adopted by Catholic countries, followed gradually by Protestant and other nations.

February 24, 1867 – The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson. The vote followed bitter opposition by the Radical Republicans in Congress toward Johnson’s reconstruction policies in the South. However, the effort to remove him failed in the Senate by just one vote.

Birthday – Admiral Chester Nimitz (1885-1966) was born in Fredericksburg, Texas. He commanded Allied naval, land and air forces in the South Pacific during World War II, and signed the Japanese surrender document on September 2, 1945.

February 25 Return to Top of Page

Birthday – Millicent Fenwick (1910-1992) was born in New York City. She championed liberal causes, serving as a member of the U.N. General Assembly and as a U.S. Congresswoman.

February 26

February 26, 1848 – The Communist Manifesto pamphlet was published by two young socialists, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It advocated the abolition of all private property and a system in which workers own all means of production, land, factories and machinery.

February 26, 1994 – Political foes of Russian President Boris Yeltsin were freed by a general amnesty granted by the new Russian Parliament.

Birthday – American frontiersman “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917) was born in Scott County, Indiana. He claimed to have killed over 4,000 buffalo within 17 months. He became world famous through his Wild West show which traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe for 30 years.

February 27

February 27, 1950 – The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting the president to two terms or a maximum of ten years in office.

February 27, 1991 – In Desert Storm, the 100-hour ground war ended as Allied troops entered Kuwait just four days after launching their offensive against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces.

Birthday – American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was born in Portland, Maine. Best known for Paul Revere’s Ride, The Song of Hiawatha, and The Wreck of the Hesperus.

February 28

February 28, 1844 – During a demonstration of naval fire power, one of the guns aboard the USSPrinceton exploded, killing several top U.S. government officials on the steamer ship, and narrowly missed killing President John Tyler.

February 28, 1986 – Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (1927-1986) was assassinated in Stockholm while exiting a movie theater with his wife.

February 28, 1994 – NATO conducted its first combat action in its 45 year history as four Bosnian Serb jets were shot down by American fighters in a no-fly zone.

March This Month in History

March 1, 1781 – Formal ratification of the Articles of Confederation was announced by Congress. Under the Articles, Congress was the sole governing body of the new American national government, consisting of the 13 original states. The Articles remained in effect through theRevolutionary War until 1789, when the current U.S. Constitution was adopted.

March 1, 1932 – The 20-month-old son of aviation pioneer Charles A. Lindbergh was kidnapped from his home in Hopewell, New Jersey. The Lindberghs then paid a $50,000 ransom. However, on May 12, the boy’s body was found in a wooded area a few miles from the house.

March 1, 1961 – President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps, an organization sending young American volunteers to developing countries to assist with health care, education and other basic human needs.

March 1, 1974 – Seven former high-ranking officials of the Nixon White House were indicted for conspiring to obstruct the investigation into the Watergate break-in. Among those indicted; former chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, former top aide John Ehrlichman, and former attorney general John Mitchell.

Birthday – American band leader Glenn Miller (1904-1944) was born in Carilinda, Iowa. His music gained enormous popularity during the 1940’s through recordings such as Moonlight Serenade and String of Pearls. On December 15, 1944, his plane disappeared over the English Channel while en route to Paris where he was scheduled to perform.

March 2

March 2, 1943 – During World War II in the Pacific, a Japanese convoy was attacked by 137 American bombers as the Battle of Bismarck Sea began. The convoy included eight destroyers and eight transports carrying 7,000 Japanese soldiers heading toward New Guinea. Four destroyers and all eight transports were sunk, resulting in 3,500 Japanese drowned, ending Japanese efforts to send reinforcements to New Guinea.

Birthday – American soldier and politician Sam Houston (1793-1863) was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia. As a teenager he ran away and joined the Cherokee Indians who accepted him as a member of their tribe. He later served as a Congressman and Governor of Tennessee. In 1832, he became commander of the Texan army in the War for Texan Independence, defeating the larger Mexican army in 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto. He then served as Senator and Governor of the new state of Texas but was removed in 1861 after refusing to swear allegiance to the Confederacy.

March 3

March 3, 1913 – A women’s suffrage march in Washington D.C. was attacked by angry onlookers while police stood by. The march occurred the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Many of the 5,000 women participating were spat upon and struck in the face as a near riot ensued. Secretary of War Henry Stimson then ordered soldiers from Fort Myer to restore order.

Birthday – Railroad car builder George Pullman (1831-1897) was born in Brocton, New York. He improved railroad sleeping accommodations, developing the folding upper berth and lower berth designs. His company went on to become the biggest railroad car building organization in the world.

Birthday – Telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Bell and his father were involved in teaching deaf persons to speak. Bell developed an interest in the vibrating membrane as a method of electrically transmitting sounds. His very first sentence spoken on the newly invented telephone on March 10, 1876, was to his assistant, “Mister Watson, come here, I want you.”

March 4

March 4, 1681 – King Charles II of England granted a huge tract of land in the New World to William Penn to settle an outstanding debt. The area later became Pennsylvania.

March 4, 1789 – The first meeting of the new Congress under the new U.S. Constitution took place in New York City.

March 4, 1830 – Former President John Quincy Adams returned to Congress as a representative from Massachusetts. He was the first ex-president ever to return to the House and served eight consecutive terms.

March 4, 1933 – Newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office and delivered his first inaugural address attempting to restore public confidence during the Great Depression, stating, “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” His cabinet appointments included the first woman to a Cabinet post, Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins.

Birthday – Revolutionary war hero Casimir Pulaski (1747-1779) was born in Poland. Before aiding in the American Revolution, he was a military leader in Poland’s struggle against Imperial Russia. He joined the Americans in 1777 and fought alongside General Washington at Brandywine, then served at Germantown and Valley Forge. He was mortally wounded during a heroic charge in the Siege of Savannah, Georgia.

Birthday – American football legend Knute Rockne (1888-1931) was born in Voss, Norway. He coached the Notre Dame Football team for 13 seasons, amassing an overall record of 105 wins, 12 losses and 5 ties. He became famous for his locker room pep talks and the saying, “Win one for the Gipper.” He was killed in an airplane crash on March 31, 1931, in Kansas.

March 5 Return to Top of Page

March 5, 1770 – The Boston Massacre occurred as a group of rowdy Americans harassed British soldiers who then opened fire, killing five and injuring six. The first man killed was Crispus Attucks, an African American. British Captain Thomas Preston and eight of his men were arrested and charged with murder. Their trial took place in October, with colonial lawyer John Adams defending the British. Captain Preston and six of his men were acquitted. Two others were found guilty of manslaughter, branded, then released.

March 5, 1868 – The U.S. Senate convened as a court to hear charges against President Andrew Johnson during impeachment proceedings. The House of Representatives had already voted to impeach the President. The vote followed bitter opposition by the Radical Republicans in Congress to Johnson’s reconstruction policies in the South. However, the effort to remove him failed in the Senate by just one vote and he remained in office.

March 5, 1933 – Amid a steadily worsening economic situation, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed a four-day “Bank Holiday” to stop panic withdrawals by the public and the possible collapse of the American banking system.

March 5, 1946 – The “Iron Curtain” speech was delivered by Winston Churchill at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Churchill used the term to describe the boundary in Europe between free countries of the West and nations of Eastern Europe under Soviet Russia’s control.

March 6

March 6, 1836 – Fort Alamo fell to Mexican troops led by General Santa Anna. The Mexicans had begun the siege of the Texas fort on February 23rd, ending it with the killing of the last defender. “Remember the Alamo” became a rallying cry for Texans who went on to defeat Santa Anna in the Battle of San Jacinto in April.

Birthday – Renaissance genius Michelangelo (1475-1564) was born in Caprese, Italy. He was a painter, sculptor, architect, poet and visionary best known for his fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and his sculptures David and The Pieta.

March 7

Birthday – Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785) was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He was the state’s colonial governor and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

March 8

March 8, 1863 – During the American Civil War, Confederate Colonel John Mosby, leader of Mosby’s Rangers, captured Union General E.H. Stoughton at his headquarters in Fairfax County Courthouse, Virginia.

March 9

March 9, 1864 – Ulysses S. Grant was commissioned as a Lieutenant General and became commander of the Union armies.

Birthday – Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512) was born in Florence, Italy. He explored South America and the Amazon River, believing he had discovered a new continent. In 1507, a German mapmaker first referred to the lands discovered in the New World as America.

Birthday – Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968) was born in Gzhatsk, Russia. On April 12, 1961, he became the first human in space, orbiting in a capsule 187 miles above the Earth’s surface in a flight lasting 108 minutes. His space flight caused a worldwide sensation and marked the beginning of the space race as the U.S. worked to catch up to the Russians and launch an American into space. President John F. Kennedy later asserted the U.S. would land a man on the moon before the end of the 1960’s.

March 10 Return to Top of Page

March 10, 1862 – The first issue of U.S. government paper money occurred as $5, $10 and $20 bills began circulation.

March 10, 1880 – The Salvation Army was founded in the United States. The social service organization was first founded in England by William Booth and operates today in 90 countries.

Birthday – Politician and playwright Claire Boothe Luce (1903-1987) was born in New York City. She served in the House of Representatives from 1943 to 1947 and then became the first woman appointed as U.S. ambassador to a major country (Italy).

March 11

March 11, 1918 – The ‘Spanish’ influenza first reached America as 107 soldiers become sick at Fort Riley, Kansas. One quarter of the U.S. population eventually became ill from the deadly virus, resulting in 500,000 deaths. The death toll worldwide approached 22 million by the end of 1920.

March 11, 1941 – During World War II, the Lend-Lease program began allowing Britain to receive American weapons, machines, raw materials, training and repair services. Ships, planes, guns and shells, along with food, clothing and metals went to the embattled British while American warships began patrolling the North Atlantic and U.S troops were stationed in Greenland and Iceland. “We must be the great arsenal of democracy,” President Roosevelt declared concerning the fight against Hitler’s Germany. The initial appropriation was $7 Billion, but by 1946 the figure reached $50 Billion in aid from the U.S. to its Allies.

Birthday – British prime minster and statesman Harold Wilson (1916-1995) was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. As a young boy he once posed for a photo in front of 10 Downing Street, the residence he occupied 40 years later as head of the Labour government.

March 12

March 12, 1609 – The island of Bermuda was colonized by the British after a ship on its way to Virginia was wrecked on the reefs.

March 12, 1888 – The Great Blizzard of ’88 struck the northeastern U.S. The storm lasted 36 hours with snowfall totaling over 40 inches in New York City where over 400 persons died from the surprise storm.

March 12, 1938 – Nazis invaded Austria, then absorbed the country into Hitler’s Reich.

March 12, 1994 – The Church of England ordained 32 women as its first female priests. In protest, 700 male clergy members and thousands of church members left the church and joined the Roman Catholic Church which does not allow women priests.

March 12, 1999 – Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic became full-fledged members of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) less than ten years after exchanging communist rule for democracy and ending their Cold War military alliances with Soviet Russia.

Birthday – The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) was born in Salonika, Greece. Following World War I, he led the Turkish revolution and became Turkey’s first president.

March 13

March 13, 1943 – A plot to kill Hitler by German army officers failed as a bomb planted aboard his plane failed to explode due to a faulty detonator.

Birthday – Scientist and clergyman Joseph Priestly (1733-1804) was born in Yorkshire, England. He discovered oxygen and advanced the religious theory of Unitarianism.

March 14

Birthday – Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was born in Ulm, Germany. His theory of relativity led to new ways of thinking about time, space, matter and energy. He received a Nobel Prize in 1921 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1933 where he was an outspoken critic of Nazi Germany. Believing the Nazis might develop an atomic bomb, he warned President Roosevelt and urged the development of the U.S. Atomic bomb.

Birthday – The first female dentist, Lucy Hobbs (1833-1910) was born in New York state. She received her degree in 1866 from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery and was a women’s rights advocate.

March 15 Return to Top of Page

March 15, 44 B.C. – Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Senate chamber in Rome by Brutus and fellow conspirators. After first trying to defend himself against the murderous onslaught, Caesar saw Brutus with a knife and asked “Et tu, Brute?” (You too, Brutus?) Caesar then gave up the struggle and was stabbed to death.

Birthday – Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) the 7th U.S. President was born in a log cabin in Waxhaw, South Carolina. As a boy he volunteered to serve in the American Revolution. Captured by the British, he refused an order to clean an officer’s boots and was slashed by his sword. Jackson later gained fame as a hero during the War of 1812. In politics he helped form the new Democratic Party and became the first man from an impoverished background to be elected President, serving from 1829 to 1837.

March 16

March 16, 1968 – During the Vietnam War, the My Lai Massacre occurred as American soldiers of Charlie Company murdered 504 Vietnamese men, women, and children. Twenty-five U.S. Army officers were later charged with complicity in the massacre and subsequent cover-up, but only one was convicted, and later pardoned by President Richard Nixon.

March 16, 1968 – New York Senator Robert Kennedy announced his intention to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Birthday – James Madison (1751-1836) the 4th U.S. President was born in Port Conway, Virginia. He played an important role in the formation of the new U.S. Constitution following the American Revolutionary War. During the War of 1812, President Madison was forced to flee Washington, D.C,. while the British attacked and burned the White House and other important public buildings.

March 17

March 17th – Celebrated as Saint Patrick’s Day commemorating the patron saint of Ireland.

March 17, 1776 – Early in the American Revolutionary War the British completed their evacuation of Boston following a successful siege conducted by Patriots. The event is still commemorated in Boston as Evacuation Day.

Birthday – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney (1777-1864) was born in Calvert County, Maryland. He became the 5th Chief Justice in 1836, best known for the Dred Scott decision.

March 18

March 18, 1974 – The five-month-old Arab oil embargo against the U.S. was lifted. The embargo was in retaliation for American support of Israel during the Yom Kipper War of 1973 in which Egypt and Syria suffered a crushing defeat. In the U.S., the resulting embargo had caused long lines at gas stations as prices soared 300 percent amid shortages and a government ban on Sunday gas sales.

Birthday – Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) the 22nd and 24th U.S. president was born in Caldwell, New Jersey. He was the only president to serve two nonconsecutive terms and was also the only president to be married in the White House.

March 19

March 19, 2003 – The United States launched an attack against Iraq to topple dictator Saddam Hussein from power. The attack commenced with aerial strikes against military sites, followed the next day by an invasion of southern Iraq by U.S. and British ground troops. The troops made rapid progress northward and conquered the country’s capital, Baghdad, just 21 days later, ending the rule of Saddam.

Birthday – William Bradford (1589-1657) was born in Yorkshire, England. He sailed aboard theMayflower during its 66-day voyage from Plymouth, England to Massachusetts in 1620. The small ship carried over 100 passengers and a crew of 30. It was originally bound for Virginia but landed far north on Cape Cod. The Mayflower Compact was then drawn up as a form of government. Bradford became the first governor of the new Plymouth Colony, serving a total of 30 years, and was largely responsible for its success.

Birthday – Explorer and medical missionary David Livingstone (1813-1873) was born in Blantyre, Scotland. He arrived at Cape Town, Africa, in 1841 and began extensive missionary explorations, often traveling into areas that had never seen a white man. In his later years, he sought the source of the Nile River. He also became the subject of the famous search by news correspondent Henry Stanley who located him in 1871 near Lake Tanganyika in Africa after a difficult search and simply asked, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

BirthdayWyatt Earp (1848-1929) was born in Monmouth, Illinois. He became a legendary figure in the Wild West as a lawman and gunfighter, best known for the shootout at the O.K. Corral in 1881, in which the Earp brothers (Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan) fought and defeated the Ike Clanton gang.

Birthday – American politician William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) was born in Salem, Illinois. He was defeated three times as a candidate for the presidency. He advocated a “free silver” monetary standard through unlimited coinage of silver rather than the gold standard. During a speech at the 1896 Democratic convention he electrified the delegates, stating, “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!” In 1925, he was the successful prosecutor in the Scopes ‘monkey’ trial in which a teacher was convicted of violating Tennessee’s Anti-Evolution Bill forbidding the teaching of the theory of evolution. However, he died just 5 days after the verdict.

March 20 Return to Top of Page

March 20, 1995 – A nerve gas attack occurred on the Tokyo subway system during rush hour resulting in 12 persons killed and 5,000 injured. Japanese authorities later arrest the leader and members of a Japanese religious cult suspected in the attack.

Birthday – American psychologist B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) was born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. He pioneered theories of behaviorism and developed the Skinner box, a controlled environment for studying behavior.

March 21

March 21, 1918 – During World War I, the Second Battle of the Somme began as German General Erich von Ludendorff launched an all-out drive to win the war. The battle began with a five-hour artillery barrage followed by a rush of German troops. The offensive lasted until April 6th and resulted in the Germans gaining about 35 miles of territory. Allied and German casualty figures for both battles approached 500,000.

March 21, 1943 – A suicide/assassination plot by German Army officers against Hitler failed as the conspirators were unable to locate a short fuse for the bomb which was to be carried in the coat pocket of General von Gersdorff to ceremonies Hitler was attending.

Birthday – Organist and composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was born in Eissenach, Germany. His output included thousands of compositions, many used in churches. Among his best known works; The Brandenburg Concertos for orchestra, The Well-Tempered Clavier for keyboard, the St. John and St. Matthew passions, and the Mass in B Minor.

March 22

March 22, 1972 – The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the U.S. Senate and then sent to the states for ratification. The ERA, as it became known, prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender, stating, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” and that “the Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Although 22 of the required 38 states quickly ratified the Amendment, opposition arose over concerns that women would be subject to the draft and combat duty, along with other legal concerns. The ERA eventually failed (by 3 states) to achieve ratification despite an extension of the deadline to June 1982.

March 23

March 23, 1775 – Patrick Henry ignited the American Revolution with a speech before the Virginia convention in Richmond, stating, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

March 24

March 24, 1934 – The Philippine Islands in the South Pacific were granted independence by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after nearly 50 years of American control.

March 24, 1989 – One of the largest oil spills in U.S. history occurred as the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound off Alaska, resulting in 11 million gallons of oil leaking into the natural habitat over a stretch of 45 miles.

Birthday – Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was born (as Erik Weisz) in Budapest, Hungary. He came to the U.S. with his family as an infant and lived in New York City. He began as a Coney Island magician, then became a world famous escape artist, known for escaping from chains, handcuffs, straightjackets, locked boxes and milk cans filled with water. He died on Halloween 1926 from a burst appendix and was buried in Queens, NY.

March 25 Return to Top of Page

March 25, 1807 – The British Parliament abolished the slave trade following a long campaign against it by Quakers and others.

March 25, 1911 – A raging fire erupted inside a garment factory in New York City killing 123 young women employed as low-paid seamstresses, along with 23 men. The fast-spreading flames engulfed the 8th and 9th floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in lower Manhattan in just a few minutes. About 50 of the victims had jumped to their deaths rather than perish from the flames. The sensational tragedy spurred national interest concerning the rights of mostly-immigrant women workers of the New York garment industry who labored long hours six or seven days a week in cramped, dangerous conditions for about $5 weekly pay.

March 26

March 26, 1979 – The Camp David Accord ended 30 years of warfare between Israel and Egypt. Prime Minster Menachem Begin of Israel and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed the treaty of mutual recognition and peace, fostered by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

March 26, 1992 – Soviet Cosmonaut Serge Krikalev returned to a new country (Russia) after spending 313 days on board the Mir Space Station. During his stay in space, the Soviet Union (USSR) collapsed and became the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Birthday – American playwright Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was born in Columbus, Mississippi. His works featured Southern settings and include; The Glass Menagerie, Night of the Iguana, and two Pulitzer Prize winning plays, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof .

March 27

March 27, 1977 – The worst accident in the history of civil aviation occurred as two Boeing 747 jets collided on the ground in the Canary Islands, resulting in 570 deaths.

March 28

March 28, 1979 – Near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident occurred in which uranium in the reactor core overheated due to the failure of a cooling valve. A pressure relief valve then stuck causing the water level to plummet, threatening a catastrophic nuclear meltdown. The accident resulted in the release of radioactive steam into the atmosphere, and created a storm of controversy over the necessity and safety of nuclear power plants.

March 29

March 29, 1979 – In the U.S. Congress, the House Select Committee on Assassinations released its final report regarding the killings of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy.

Birthday – John Tyler (1790-1862) the 10th U.S. President was born in Charles City County, Virginia. He became president upon the death of William H. Harrison and served from 1841 to 1845. In 1861, Tyler was elected to the Confederate Congress, but died before being seated.

March 30

March 30, 1981 – Newly elected President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest while walking toward his limousine in Washington, D.C., following a speech inside a hotel. The president was then rushed into surgery to remove a 22-caliber bullet from his left lung. “I should have ducked,” Reagan joked. Three others were also hit including Reagan’s Press Secretary, James Brady, who was shot in the forehead but survived. The president soon recovered from the surgery and returned to his duties.

Birthday – Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was born in Groot Zundert, Holland. He was a Postimpressionist painter, generally considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt. During his short (10-year) painting career he produced over 800 oil paintings and 700 drawings, but sold only one during his lifetime. In 1987, the sale of his painting Irises brought $53.9 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art up to that time. During his life, Van Gogh suffered from despair and bouts of mental illness, at one point cutting off part of his own left ear. He committed suicide in 1890 by gunshot.

March 31

March 31, 1933 – The Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC, was founded. Unemployed men and youths were organized into quasi-military formations and worked outdoors in national parks and forests.

March 31, 1968 – President Lyndon Johnson made a surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election as a result of the Vietnam conflict.

March 31, 1991 – The Soviet Republic of Georgia, birthplace of Josef Stalin, voted to declare its independence from Soviet Russia, after similar votes by Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Following the vote in Georgia, Russian troops were dispatched from Moscow under a state of emergency.

Birthday – Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was born in Rohrau, Austria. Considered the father of the symphony and the string quartet, his works include 107 symphonies, 50 divertimenti, 84 string quartets, 58 piano sonatas, and 13 masses. Based in Vienna, Mozart was his friend and Beethoven was a pupil.

Birthday – Boxing champion Jack Johnson (1878-1946) was born in Galveston, Texas. He was the first African American to win the heavyweight boxing title.

April This Month in History

April 1, 1865 – During the American Civil War, Confederate troops of General George Pickett were defeated and cut off at Five Forks, Virginia. This sealed the fate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s armies at Petersburg and Richmond and hastened the end of the war

April 1, 1998 – A federal judge in Little Rock, Arkansas, dismissed a sexual harassment case against President Bill Clinton, stating the case had no “genuine issues” worthy of trial. Although President Clinton had denied any wrongdoing, a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 1997 allowed the case to proceed, thereby establishing a precedent allowing sitting presidents to be sued for personal conduct that allegedly occurred before taking office.

April 2

April 2, 1513 – Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon sighted Florida and claimed it for the Spanish Crown after landing at the site of present day St. Augustine, now the oldest city in the continental U.S.

April 2, 1792 – Congress established the first U.S. Mint at Philadelphia.

April 2, 1863 – A bread riot occurred in the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, as angry people demanded bread from a bakery wagon then wrecked nearby shops. The mob dispersed only after Confederate President Jefferson Davis made a personal plea and threatened to use force.

April 2, 1865 – General Robert E. Lee informed Confederate President Jefferson Davis that he must evacuate the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. Davis and his cabinet then fled by train.

April 2, 1982 – The beginning of the Falkland Islands War as troops from Argentina invaded and occupied the British colony located near the tip of South America. The British retaliated and defeated the Argentineans on June 15, 1982, after ten weeks of combat, with about 1,000 lives lost.

Birthday – Fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was born in Odense, Denmark. He created 168 fairy tales for children including the classics The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen and The Nightingale.

Birthday – French writer Emile Zola (1840-1902) was born in Paris. His works included a series of 20 books known as the Rougon-Macquart Novels in which he defined men and women as products of heredity and environment, portraying them as victims of their own passions and circumstances of birth. In his later years, he became involved in resolving the Dreyfus affair, a political-military scandal in which Captain Alfred Dreyfus had been wrongly accused of selling military secrets to the Germans was sent to Devil’s Island.

April 3

April 3, 1860 – In the American West, the Pony Express service began as the first rider departed St. Joseph, Missouri. For $5 an ounce, letters were delivered 2,000 miles to California within ten days. The famed Pony Express riders each rode from 75 to 100 miles before handing the letters off to the next rider. A total of 190 way stations were located about 15 miles apart. The service lasted less than two years, ending upon the completion of the overland telegraph.

April 3, 1865 – The Confederate capital of Richmond surrendered to Union forces after the withdrawal of General Robert E. Lee’s troops.

April 3, 1944 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 that African Americans can not be barred from voting in the Texas Democratic primaries. The Court stated that discrimination against blacks violates the 15th Amendment and that political parties are not private associations.

April 3, 1948 – President Harry S. Truman signed the European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan, intended to stop the spread of Communism and restore the economies of European countries devastated by World War II. Over four years, the program distributed $12 billion to the nations of Western Europe. The program was first proposed by Secretary of State George C. Marshall during a historic speech at Harvard University on June 5, 1947.

April 3, 1995 – Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to preside over the Court, sitting in for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist who was out of town.

Birthday – American writer Washington Irving (1783-1859) was born in New York City. His works include; Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and historical biographies such as the Life of Washington.

Birthday – Tammany Hall ‘Boss’ William M. Tweed (1823-1878) was born in New York City. From 1851 to 1871, his ‘Tweed Ring’ of political corruption looted millions from New York City, bringing the city to the verge of bankruptcy. Methods included padding city bills by 85 percent and writing checks to non-existent persons and companies. His power was broken after a series of critical editorial cartoons by Thomas Nast were published in Harper’s Weekly magazine. Tweed was arrested and convicted on charges of larceny and forgery. He died in prison.

April 4

April 4, 1887 – The first woman mayor was elected in the U.S. as Susanna M. Salter became mayor of Argonia, Kansas.

April 4, 1949 – Twelve nations signed the treaty creating NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The nations united for common military defense against the threat of expansion by Soviet Russia into Western Europe.

April 4, 1968 – Civil Rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee. As head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he had championed non-violent resistance to end racial oppression and had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He is best remembered for his I Have a Dream speech delivered at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington. That march and King’s other efforts helped the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1986, Congress established the third Monday in January as a national holiday in his honor.

Birthday – American social reformer Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) was born in Hampden, Maine. She founded a home for girls in Boston while only in her teens and later crusaded for humane conditions in jails and insane asylums. During the American Civil War, she was superintendent of women nurses.

Birthday – Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (1884-1943) was born in Nagaoko, Honshu. He was the main strategist behind the failed Japanese attack on Midway Island in June of 1942, which turned the course of the war against Japan. He was killed on April 18, 1943, after Americans intercepted radio reports of his whereabouts and shot down his plane.

April 5 Return to Top of Page

April 5, 1986 – A bomb exploded at a popular discotheque frequented by American military personnel in West Berlin, killing two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman. American intelligence analysts attributed the attack to Muammar Qaddafi of Libya. Nine days later, President Ronald Reagan ordered a retaliatory air strike against Libya.

Birthday – African American educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia. Freed by the Civil War, he taught himself the alphabet and eventually graduated from an agricultural institute. In June of 1881, he was asked to become the principal of a new training school for blacks at Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee Institute began in single building with 30 students but through his efforts grew into a modern university.

April 6

April 6, 1896 – After a break of 1500 years, the first Olympics of the modern era was held in Athens, Greece.

April 6, 1917 – Following a vote by Congress approving a declaration of war, the U.S. enteredWorld War I in Europe.

April 6, 1994 – The beginning of genocide in Rwanda as a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down. They had been meeting to discuss ways of ending ethnic rivalries between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. After their deaths, Rwanda descended into chaos, resulting in genocidal conflict between the tribes. Over 500,000 persons were killed with two million fleeing the country.

Birthday – Renaissance artist Raphael (1483-1520) was born in Urbino, Italy. He created some of the world’s greatest masterpieces including 300 pictures with a Madonna theme. He died on his 37th birthday in Rome.

April 7

April 7, 1712 – In New York City, 27 black slaves rebelled, shooting nine whites as they attempted to put out a fire started by the slaves. The state militia was called out to capture the rebels. Twenty one of the slaves were executed and six committed suicide.

April 8

April 8th – Among Buddhists, celebrated as the birthday of Buddha (563-483 B.C.). An estimated 350 millions persons currently profess the Buddhist faith.

April 8, 1952 – President Harry S. Truman seized control of America’s steel mills to prevent a shutdown by strikers. However, on April 29th, the seizure was ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court. Workers immediately began a strike lasting 53 days, ending it when they received a 16-cents per-hour wage increase and additional benefits.

April 8, 1913 – The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified requiring direct popular election of U.S. senators. Previously, they had been chosen by state legislatures.

April 8, 1990 – Ryan White died at age 18 of complications from AIDS. As a young boy, White, a hemophiliac, contracted the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome from a blood transfusion. At age ten, he was banned from school. He then moved with his mother to Cicero, Indiana, where he was accepted by the students. As his plight was publicized, he gained international celebrity status and helped promote understanding of the dreaded disease.

April 9

April 9, 1865 – After over 500,000 American deaths, the Civil War effectively ended as General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in the village of Appomattox Court House. The surrender occurred in the home of Wilmer McLean. Terms of the surrender, written by General Grant, allowed Confederates to keep their horses and return home. Officers were allowed to keep their swords and side arms.

April 9, 1866 – Despite a veto by President Andrew Johnson, the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 was passed by Congress granting blacks the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship.

Birthday – African American actor and singer Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was born in Princeton, New Jersey. Best known for his performance in The Emperor Jones, he also enjoyed a long run on Broadway in Shakespeare’s Othello. In 1950, amid ongoing anti-Communist hysteria, Robeson was denied a U.S. passport after refusing to sign an affidavit on whether he had ever been a member of the Communist Party.

April 10 Return to Top of Page

April 10, 1942 – During World War II in the Pacific, the Bataan Death March began as American and Filipino prisoners were forced on a six-day march from an airfield on Bataan to a camp near Cabanatuan. Some 76,000 Allied POWs including 12,000 Americans were forced to walk 60 miles under a blazing sun without food or water to the POW camp, resulting in over 5,000 American deaths.

April 10, 1945 – The Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald was liberated by U.S. troops. Located near Weimar in Germany, Buchenwald was established in July 1937 to hold criminals and was one of the first major concentration camps. It later included Jews and homosexuals and was used as a slave labor center for nearby German companies. Of a total of 238,980 Buchenwald inmates, 56,545 perished. Following its liberation, Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and other top U.S. commanders visited the sub-camp at Ohrdruf. U.S. Troops also forced German civilians from nearby towns into the camp to view the carnage.

April 10, 1998 – Politicians in Northern Ireland reached an agreement aimed at ending 30 years of violence which had claimed over 3,400 lives. Under the agreement, Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland would govern together in a new 108-member Belfast assembly, thus ending 26 years of ”direct rule” from London.

Birthday – Publisher Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) was born in Budapest, Hungary. He came to America in 1864 and fought briefly in the Civil War for the Union. He then began a remarkable career in journalism and publishing. His newspapers included the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and theNew York World. He also endowed the journalism school at Columbia University and established a fund for the Pulitzer Prizes, awarded annually for excellence in journalism.

April 11

April 11, 1968 – A week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The law prohibited discrimination in housing, protected civil rights workers and expanded the rights of Native Americans.

April 11, 1970 – Apollo 13 was launched from Cape Kennedy at 2:13 p.m. Fifty-six hours into the flight an oxygen tank exploded in the service module. Astronaut John L. Swigert saw a warning light that accompanied the bang and said, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” Swigert, James A. Lovell and Fred W. Haise then transferred into the lunar module, using it as a “lifeboat” and began a perilous return trip to Earth, splashing down safely on April 17th.

April 11, 1983 – Harold Washington became the first African American mayor of Chicago, receiving 51 percent of the vote. Re-elected in 1987, he suffered a fatal heart attack at his office seven months later.

Birthday – American orator Edward Everett (1794-1865) was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1863, at the dedication of the Gettysburg Battlefield, he delivered the main address, lasting two hours. He was then followed by President Abraham Lincoln who spoke for about two minutes delivering the Gettysburg Address.

April 12

April 12, 1861 – The American Civil War began as Confederate troops under the command of General Pierre Beauregard opened fire at 4:30 a.m. on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

April 12, 1945 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt died suddenly at Warm Springs, Georgia, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He had been President since March 4, 1933, elected to four consecutive terms and had guided America out of the Great Depression and through World War II.

April 12, 1961Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. He traveled aboard the Soviet spacecraft Vostok I to an altitude of 187 miles (301 kilometers) above the earth and completed a single orbit in a flight lasting 108 minutes. The spectacular Russian success intensified the already ongoing Space Race between the Russians and Americans. Twenty-three days later, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. This was followed in 1962 by President Kennedy’s open call to land an American on the moon before the decade’s end.

April 12, 1981 – The first space shuttle flight occurred with the launching of Columbia with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen aboard. Columbia spent 54 hours in space, making 36 orbits, then landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

April 13

Birthday – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was born in Albermarle County, Virginia. He was an author, inventor, lawyer, politician, architect, and one of the finest minds of the 1700’s. He authored the American Declaration of Independence and later served as the 3rd U.S. President from 1801 to 1809. He died on July 4, 1826, the same day as his old friend and one-time political rival John Adams.

April 14

April 14, 1775 – In Philadelphia, the first abolitionist society in American was founded as the “Society for the relief of free Negroes unlawfully held in bondage.”‘

April 14, 1828 – The first dictionary of American-style English was published by Noah Webster as the American Dictionary of the English Language.

April 14, 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln was shot and mortally wounded while watching a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington. He was taken to a nearby house and died the following morning at 7:22 a.m.

April 14, 1986 – U.S. warplanes, on orders from President Ronald Reagan, bombed the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi in retaliation for the April 5th terrorist bombing of a discotheque in West Berlin in which two American soldiers were killed. Among the 37 person killed in the air raid was the infant daughter of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya’s head of state.

April 15 Return to Top of Page

April 15, 1817 – The first American school for the deaf was founded by Thomas H. Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc in Hartford, Connecticut.

April 15, 1912 – In the icy waters off Newfoundland, the luxury liner Titanic with 2,224 persons on board sank at 2:27 a.m. after striking an iceberg just before midnight. Over 1,500 persons drowned while 700 were rescued by the liner Carpathia which arrived about two hours afterTitanic went down.

April 16

April 16, 1862 – Congress abolished slavery in the District of Columbia and appropriated $1 million to compensate owners of freed slaves.

April 16, 1995 – Iqbal Masih, a young boy from Pakistan who spoke out against child labor, was shot to death. At age four, he had been sold into servitude as a carpet weaver and spent the next six years shackled to a loom. At age ten, he escaped and began speaking out, attracting worldwide attention as a featured speaker during an international labor conference in Sweden.

Birthday – American aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) was born in Millville, Indiana. On December 17, 1903, along with his brother Orville, the Wright brothers made the first successful flight of a motor driven aircraft. It flew for 12 seconds and traveled 120 feet. By 1905, they had built a plane that could stay airborne for half an hour, performing figure eights and other aerial maneuvers. Wilbur died of Typhoid fever in May 1912.

Birthday – Film comedian Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) was born in London. He began in vaudeville and was discovered by American film producer Mack Sennett. He then went to Hollywood to make silent movies, developing the funny ‘Little Tramp’ film character. Chaplin’s classics include The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights and Modern Times. In 1940, he made The Great Dictator poking fun at Adolf Hitler, who bore a resemblance to Chaplin. In his later years, Chaplin had a falling out with Americans, but returned in 1972 to receive a special Academy Award. In 1975, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

April 17

April 17, 1961 – A U.S.-backed attempt to overthrow Premier Fidel Castro of Cuba failed disastrously in what became known as the Bay of Pigs fiasco. About 1,400 anti-Castro exiles invaded the island’s southern coast along the Bay of Pigs but were overrun by 20,000 Cuban soldiers and jailed. Trained and guided by the U.S., the exiles had expected support from U.S. military aircraft and help from anti-Castro insurgents on the island. Instead, due to a series of mishaps, they had fended for themselves with no support. The failed invasion heightened Cold War tensions between Cuba’s political ally, Soviet Russia, and the fledgling administration of President John F. Kennedy. The following year, the Russians brazenly installed nuclear missiles in Cuba resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

April 17, 1989 – The Polish labor union Solidarity was granted legal status after nearly a decade of struggle, paving the way for the downfall of the Polish Communist Party. In the elections that followed, Solidarity candidates won 99 out of 100 parliamentary seats and eventually forced the acceptance of a Solidarity government led by Lech Walesa.

Birthday – American financier John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan (1837-1913) was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He displayed extraordinary management skills, reorganizing and consolidating a number of failing companies to make them profitable. His extensive interests included banking, steel, railroads and art collecting. In 1895, he aided the failing U.S. Treasury by carrying out a private bond sale among fellow financiers to replenish the treasury.

April 18

April 18, 1775 – The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes occurred as the two men rode out of Boston about 10 p.m. to warn patriots at Lexington and Concord of the approaching British.

April 18, 1906 – The San Francisco Earthquake struck at 5:13 a.m., followed by a massive fire from overturned wood stoves and broken gas pipes. The fire raged uncontrollably for three days resulting in the destruction of over 10,000 acres of property and 4,000 lives lost.

April 18, 1942 – The first air raid on mainland Japan during World War II occurred as General James Doolittle led a squadron of B-25 bombers taking off from the carrier Hornet to bomb Tokyo and three other cities. Damage was minimal, but the raid boosted Allied morale following years of unchecked Japanese military advances.

April 18, 1982 – Queen Elizabeth II of England signed the Canada Constitution Act of 1982 replacing the British North America Act of 1867, providing Canada with a new set of fundamental laws and civil rights.

Birthday – American attorney Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) was born in Kinsman, Ohio. He championed unpopular causes, and is best known for the Scopes ‘monkey trial’ in which he defended a teacher who taught the theory of evolution.

April 19

April 19, 1775 – At dawn in Massachusetts, about 70 armed militiamen stood face to face on Lexington Green with a British advance guard unit. An unordered ‘shot heard around the world’ began the American Revolution. A volley of British rifle fire was followed by a charge with bayonets leaving eight Americans dead and ten wounded.

April 19, 1943 – Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto staged an armed revolt against Nazi SS troops attempting to forcibly deport them to death camps.

April 19, 1989 – Forty-seven U.S. sailors were killed by an explosion in a gun turret on the USSIowa during gunnery exercises in the waters off Puerto Rico.

April 19, 1993 – At Waco, Texas, the compound of the Branch Davidian religious cult burned to the ground with 82 persons inside, including 17 children. The fire erupted after federal agents battered buildings in the compound with armored vehicles following a 51-day standoff.

April 19, 1995 – At 9:02 a.m., a massive car-bomb explosion destroyed the entire side of a nine story federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 persons, including 19 children inside a day care center. A decorated Gulf War veteran was later convicted for the attack.

April 20 Return to Top of Page

April 20, 1914 – Miners in Ludlow, Colorado, were attacked by National Guardsmen paid by the mining company. The miners were seeking recognition of their United Mine Workers Union. Five men and a boy were killed by machine gun fire while 11 children and two women burned to death as the miners’ tent colony was destroyed.

April 20, 1999 – The deadliest school shooting in U.S. history occurred in Littleton, Colorado, as two students armed with guns and explosives stormed into Columbine High School at lunch time then killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded more than 20 other persons before killing themselves.

Birthday – Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria. As leader of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, he waged a war of expansion in Europe, precipitating the deaths of an estimated 50 million persons through military conflict and through the Holocaust in which the Nazis attempted to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe.

April 21

April 21, 1836 – The Battle of San Jacinto between Texans led by Sam Houston and Mexican forces led by Santa Anna took place near present day Houston. The Texans decisively defeated the Mexican forces thereby achieving independence.

April 21, 1918 – During World War I, the Red Baron (Manfred von Richtofen) was shot down and killed during the Battle of the Somme. He was credited with 80 kills in less than two years, flying a red Fokker triplane. British pilots recovered his body and buried him with full military honors.

April 22

April 22, 1864 – “In God We Trust” was included on all newly minted U.S. coins by an Act of Congress.

April 22, 1889 – The Oklahoma land rush began at noon with a single gunshot signaling the start of a mad dash by thousands of settlers. The were seeking to claim part of nearly two million acres made available by the federal government. The land originally belonged to Creek and Seminole Indian tribes.

Birthday – Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) was born in Simbirsk, Russia. He led the Russian Revolution of October 1917 which toppled Czar Nicholas and paved the way for a harsh Communist regime. Following his death in 1924, his body was embalmed and placed on display in Moscow’s Red Square, becoming a shrine that was visited by millions during the years of the Soviet Union.

April 23

April 23rd – Established by Israel’s Knesset as Holocaust Day in remembrance of the estimated six million Jews killed by Nazis.

Birthday – William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born at Stratford-on-Avon, England. Renowned as the most influential writer in the English language, he created 36 plays and 154 sonnets, including Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice.

Birthday – James Buchanan (1791-1868) the 15th U.S. President was born in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania. He was the only life-long bachelor to occupy the White House, serving just one term from 1857 to 1861.

April 24

April 24, 1800 – The Library of Congress was established in Washington, D.C. It is America’s oldest federal cultural institution and the world’s largest library. Among the 145 million items in its collections are more than 33 million books, 3 million recordings, 12.5 million photographs, 5.3 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music and 63 million manuscripts. About 10,000 new items are added each day.

April 24, 1915 – In Asia Minor during World War I, the first modern-era genocide began with the deportation of Armenian leaders from Constantinople and subsequent massacre by Young Turks. In May, deportations of all Armenians and mass murder by Turks began, resulting in the complete elimination of the Armenians from the Ottoman Empire and all of the historic Armenian homelands. Estimates vary from 800,000 to over 2,000,000 Armenians murdered.

April 25 Return to Top of Page

April 25, 1967 – The first law legalizing abortion was signed by Colorado Governor John Love, allowing abortions in cases in which a panel of three doctors unanimously agreed.

Birthday – Radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was born in Bologna, Italy. He pioneered the use of wireless telegraphy in the 1890’s. By 1921, Marconi’s invention had been developed into wireless telephony (voice radio).

April 26

April 26, 1937 – During the Spanish Civil War, the ancient town of Guernica was attacked by German warplanes. After destroying the town in a three hour bombing raid, the planes machine-gunned fleeing civilians.

April 26, 1944 – Federal troops seized the Chicago offices of Montgomery Ward and removed its chairman after his refusal to obey President Roosevelt’s order to recognize a CIO union. The seizure ended when unions won an election to represent the company’s workers.

April 26, 1986 – At the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, an explosion caused a meltdown of the nuclear fuel and spread a radioactive cloud into the atmosphere, eventually covering most of Europe. A 300-square-mile area around the plant was evacuated. Thirty one persons were reported to have died while an additional thousand cases of cancer from radiation were expected. The plant was then encased in a solid concrete tomb to prevent the release of further radiation.

April 26, 1994 – Multiracial elections were held for the first time in the history of South Africa. With approximately 18 million blacks voting, Nelson Mandela was elected president and F.W. de Klerk vice president.

Birthday – American artist and naturalist John J. Audubon (1785-1851) was born in Haiti. He drew life-like illustrations of the birds of North America.

Birthday – Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) was born in Hertfors, Connecticut. He helped design some of the most famous parks in America including Central Park in New York, the Emerald Necklace series of connecting parks in Boston, and Yosemite National Park.

Birthday – Nazi Rudolf Hess (1894-1987) was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He was Deputy Führer of Nazi Germany and a member of Hitler’s inner circle. On May 10, 1941, he made a surprise solo flight and parachuted into Scotland intending to negotiate peace with the British. However, the British promptly arrested him and confined him for the duration. Following the war, he was taken to Nuremberg and put on trial with other top Nazis. He died in captivity in 1987, the last of the major Nuremberg war criminals.

April 27

April 27, 1865 – On the Mississippi River, the worst steamship disaster in U.S. history occurred as an explosion aboard the Sultana killed nearly 2,000 passengers, mostly Union solders who had been prisoners of war and were returning home.

Birthday – Telegraph inventor Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872) was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He developed the idea of an electromagnetic telegraph in the 1830’s and tapped out his first message “What hath God wrought?” in 1844 on the first telegraph line, running from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore. The construction of the first telegraph line was funded by Congress ($30,000) after Morse failed to get any other financial backing. After Western Union was founded in 1856, telegraph lines were quickly strung from coast to coast in America.

Birthday – Civil War General and 18th U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio. During the war, he earned the nickname “Unconditional Surrender” Grant and was given command of the Union armies. He served as President from 1869 to 1877 in an administration plagued by scandal. He then went on to write his memoirs and died in 1885, just days after its completion.

April 28

April 28, 1789 – On board the British ship Bounty, Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against Captain William Bligh, setting him and 18 loyal crew members adrift in a 23-foot open boat. Bligh survived a 47-day voyage sailing over 3,600 miles before landing on a small island. Christian sailed the Bounty back to Tahiti, eventually settling on Pitcairn Island and burning the ship.

April 28, 1945 – Twenty-three years of Fascist rule in Italy ended abruptly as Italian partisans shot former Dictator Benito Mussolini. Other leaders of the Fascist Party and friends of Mussolini were also killed along with his mistress, Clara Petacci. Their bodies were then hung upside down and pelted with stones by jeering crowds in Milan.

Birthday – James Monroe (1758-1831) the 5th U.S. President was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He served two terms from 1817 to 1825 and is best known for the Monroe Doctrine which declared the U.S. would not permit any European nation to extend its holdings or use armed force in North or South America.

April 29

April 29, 1992 – Riots erupted in Los Angeles following the announcement that a jury in Simi Valley, California, had failed to convict four Los Angeles police officers accused in the videotaped beating of an African American man.

Birthday – American publisher William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) was born in San Francisco. The son of a gold miner, in 1887 he dropped out of Harvard to take control of the failing San Francisco Examiner which his father had purchased. He saved the Examiner, then went to New York and bought the New York Morning Journal to compete with Joseph Pulitzer. Hearst’s sensational style of “yellow” journalism sold unprecedented numbers of newspapers and included promoting a war with Cuba in 1897-98. He expanded into other cities and into magazine publishing, books and films. He also served in Congress and nearly became mayor of New York City.

Birthday – Japan’s Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989) was born in Tokyo. In 1926, he became the 124th in a long line of monarchs and then presided over wartime Japan which was led by militarist Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. Following the dropping of two atomic bombs by the U.S., he made a radio address urging his people to stop fighting. After the war, he remained the symbolic head of state in Japan’s new parliamentary government. In 1946, he renounced his divinity and then pursued his interest in marine biology, becoming a recognized authority in the subject.

April 30

April 30, 1789 – George Washington became the first U.S. President as he was administered the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York City.

April 30, 1948 – Palestinian Jews declared their independence from British rule and established the new state of Israel. The country soon became a destination for tens of thousands of Nazi Holocaust survivors and a strong U.S. ally.

April 30, 1967 – Boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his world heavyweight boxing championship after refusing to be inducted into the American military. He had claimed religious exemption.

May This Month in History

May 1st Observed as May Day, a holiday and spring festival since ancient times, also observed in socialist countries as a workers’ holiday or Labor Day.

May 1, 1707 – Great Britain was formed from a union between England and Scotland. The union included Wales which had already been part of England since the 1500’s. The United Kingdom today consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

May 1, 1960 – An American U-2 spy plane flying at 60,000 feet was shot down over Sverdlovsk in central Russia on the eve of a summit meeting between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet Russia’s Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The sensational incident caused a cancellation of the meeting and heightened existing Cold War tensions. The pilot, CIA agent Francis Gary Powers, survived the crash, and was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Russian court. Two years later he was released to America in exchange for an imprisoned Soviet spy. On his return to America, Powers encountered a hostile public which apparently believed he should not have allowed himself to be captured alive. He died in a helicopter crash in 1977.

May 1, 2004 – Eight former Communist nations and two Mediterranean countries joined the European Union (EU) marking its largest-ever expansion. The new members included Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, along with the island of Malta and the Greek portion of the island of Cyprus. They joined 15 countries already in the EU, representing in all 450 million persons.

Birthday – Irish-born American labor leader Mary ‘Mother’ Jones (1830-1930) was born in County Cork, Ireland. She endured misfortune early in life as her husband and four children died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1867. She also lost all of her belongings in the Chicago Fire of 1871. She then devoted herself to organizing and advancing the cause of Labor, using the slogan, “Join the Union, boys.” She also sought to prohibit child labor. She remained active until the very end, giving her last speech on her 100th birthday.

Birthday – World War II General Mark Clark (1896-1984) was born in Madison Barracks, New York. He commanded the U.S. Fifth Army which invaded Italy in September of 1943, fighting a long and brutal campaign against stubborn German opposition.

Birthday – African American Olympic athlete Archie Williams (1915-1993) was born in Oakland, California. Williams, along with Jesse Owens, defeated German athletes at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and helped debunk Adolf Hitler’s theory of Aryan racial superiority. Williams won a gold medal in the 400-meter race. After the Olympics, he went on to earn a mechanical engineering degree from the University of California-Berkeley but faced discrimination and wound up digging ditches. He later became an airplane pilot and trained Tuskegee Institute pilots including the black air corp of World War II.

May 2

May 2, 2011 – U.S. Special Operations Forces killed Osama bin Laden during a raid on his secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The raid marked the culmination of a decade-long manhunt for the elusive leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization based in the Middle East. Bin Laden had ordered the coordinated aerial attacks of September 11th, 2001, in which four American passenger jets were hijacked then crashed, killing nearly 3,000 persons. Two jets had struck and subsequently collapsed the 110-story Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, while another struck the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. A fourth jet also headed toward Washington had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania as passengers attempted to overpower the hijackers on board.

Birthday – Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) was born in Carpino, Italy (as Gioacchino Pecci). He was elected Pope in 1878 at age 67 and lived to govern the church another 25 years, laying the foundation for modernization of Church attitudes toward a rapidly industrializing and changing world.

May 3

Birthday – Italian writer and statesman Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was born in Florence, Italy. He offered a blunt, realistic view of human nature and power in his works The Prince andDiscourses on Livy.

Birthday – Golda Meir (1898-1978) was born in Kiev, Russia. She was one of the founders of the modern state of Israel and served as prime minister from 1969 to 1974.

May 4

May 4, 1494 – During his second journey of exploration in the New World, Christopher Columbus discovered Jamaica.

May 4, 1886 – The Haymarket Square Riot occurred in Chicago after 180 police officers advanced on 1,300 persons gathered in the square listening to speeches of labor activists and anarchists. A bomb was thrown. Seven policemen were killed and over 50 wounded. Four anarchists were then charged with conspiracy to kill, convicted and hanged while another committed suicide in jail. Three others were given lengthy jail terms.

May 4, 1970 – At Kent State University, four students – Allison Krause, 19; Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20; Jeffrey Glenn Miller, 20; and William K. Schroeder, 19 – were killed by National Guardsmen who opened fire on a crowd of 1,000 students protesting President Richard Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia. Eleven others were wounded. The shootings set off tumultuous campus demonstrations across America resulting in the temporary closing of over 450 colleges and universities.

May 5 Return to Top of Page

May 5th – Celebrated in Mexico as Cinco de Mayo, a national holiday in remembrance of the Battle of Puebla in 1862, in which Mexican troops under General Ignacio Zaragoza, outnumbered three to one, defeated the invading French forces of Napoleon III.

May 5, 1865 – Decoration Day was first observed in the U.S., with the tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves from the Civil War with flowers. The observance date was later moved to May 30th and included American graves from World War I and World War II, and became better known as Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May, thus creating a three-day holiday weekend.

May 5, 1893 – The Wall Street Crash of 1893 began as stock prices fell dramatically. By the end of the year, 600 banks closed and several big railroads were in receivership. Another 15,000 businesses went bankrupt amid 20 percent unemployment. It was the worst economic crisis in U.S. history up to that time.

May 5, 1961Alan Shepard became the first American in space. He piloted the spacecraftFreedom 7 during a 15-minute 28-second suborbital flight that reached an altitude of 116 miles (186 kilometers) above the earth. Shepard’s success occurred 23 days after the Russians had launched the first-ever human in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, during an era of intense technological competition between the Russians and Americans called the Space Race.

Birthday – Communism founder Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born in Treves, Germany. He co-authored Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto, advocating the abolition of all private property and a system in which workers own all the means of production, land, factories and machinery.

Birthday – Pioneering American journalist Nellie Bly (1867-1922) was born in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania (as Elizabeth Cochrane). She was a social reformer and human rights advocate who once posed as an inmate in an insane asylum to expose inhumane conditions. She is best known for her 1889-90 tour around the world in 72 days, beating by eight days the time of Phileas Fogg, fictional hero of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days.

May 6

May 6, 1527 – The Renaissance ended with the Sack of Rome by German troops as part of an ongoing conflict between the Hapsburg Empire and the French Monarchy. German troops killed over 4,000 Romans, imprisoned the Pope, and looted works of art and libraries. An entire year passed before order could be restored in Rome.

May 6, 1937 – The German airship Hindenburg burst into flames at 7:20 p.m. as it neared the mooring mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey, following a trans-Atlantic voyage. Thirty six of the 97 passengers and crew were killed. The inferno was caught on film and also witnessed by a commentator who broke down amid the emotional impact and exclaimed, “Oh, the humanity!” The accident effectively ended commercial airship traffic.

Birthday – Psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was born in Freiberg, Moravia. His theories became the foundation for treating psychiatric disorders by psychoanalysis and offered some of the first workable cures for mental disorders.

Birthday – Explorer Robert E. Peary (1856-1920) was born in Cresson, Pennsylvania. He organized and led eight Arctic expeditions and reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909. In another expedition, he proved Greenland is an island. He also proved the polar ice cap extends beyond 82° north latitude, and discovered the Melville meteorite.

May 7

May 7, 1915 – The British passenger ship Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland, losing 1,198 of its 1,924 passengers, including 114 Americans. The attack hastened neutral America’s entry into World War I.

May 7, 1945 – In a small red brick schoolhouse in Reims, Germany, General Alfred Jodl signed the unconditional surrender of all German fighting forces thus ending World War II in Europe. Russian, American, British and French ranking officers observed the signing of the document which became effective at one minute past midnight on May 9th. Jodl was then ushered in to see Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who curtly asked Jodl if he fully understood the document. Eisenhower then informed Jodl that he would be held personally responsible for any deviation from the terms of the surrender. Jodl was then ushered away.

May 7, 1954 – The French Indochina War ended with the fall of Dien Bien Phu, in a stunning victory by the Vietnamese over French colonial forces in northern Vietnam. The country was then in divided in half at the 17th parallel, with South Vietnam created in 1955.

May 7, 1992 – The 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, prohibiting Congress from giving itself pay raises.

Birthday – Composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was born in Hamburg, Germany. He composed over 300 songs and numerous orchestral, choral, piano, and chamber works, including his German Requiem commemorating the death of his mother.

Birthday – American poet Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) was born in Glencoe, Illinois. He was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes, and was also a playwright, editor, lawyer, professor, farmer, and served as Librarian of Congress from 1939 to 1944.

May 8

May 8, 1942 – During World War II in the Pacific, the Battle of the Coral Sea began in which Japan would suffer its first defeat of the war. The battle, fought off New Guinea, marked the first time in history that two opposing naval forces fought by only using aircraft without the opposing ships ever sighting each other.

May 8, 1945 – A second German surrender ceremony was held in Berlin. Soviet Russia’s leaderJosef Stalin had refused to recognize the German surrender document signed a day earlier at Reims. This time, German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signed the surrender document which declared, as did the first, that hostilities would end as of 12:01 a.m. on May 9th.

Birthday – International Red Cross founder and Nobel Prize winner Henri Dunant (1828-1910) was born in Geneva, Switzerland. He was also a founder of the YMCA and organized the Geneva Conventions of 1863 and 1864.

Birthday – Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) the 33rd U.S. President was born in Lamar, Missouri. He became president upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in April 1945. Two weeks after becoming president he was informed of the top secret Atomic bomb project. In the war against Japan, an Allied invasion of Japan was being planned which would cost a minimum of 250,000 American lives. Truman then authorized the dropping of the bomb. On August 6, 1945, the first bomb exploded over Hiroshima, followed by a second bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th. The next day, Japan sued for peace. Truman served as President until January of 1953. He was the last of only nine U.S. Presidents who did not attend college. His straightforward, honest, no-nonsense style earned him the nickname, “Give ’em hell, Harry.”

May 9

May 9th – Victory Day in Russia, a national holiday commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany during the “Great Patriotic War” (World War II) honoring the 20 million Russians who died in the war.

May 9, 1862 – During the American Civil War, General David Hunter, Union commander of the Department of the South, issued orders freeing the slaves in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. He did so without congressional or presidential approval. The orders were countermanded by President Abraham Lincoln ten days later.

Birthday – Abolitionist leader John Brown (1800-1859) was born in Torrington, Connecticut. He led an attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry in October of 1859, to secure weapons for his “army of emancipation” to liberate slaves. Inside the arsenal, Brown and his followers held 60 hostages and managed to hold out against the local militia but finally surrendered to U.S. Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Ten of Brown’s men, including two of his sons, were killed. Brown was taken prisoner. He was convicted by the Commonwealth of Virginia of treason, murder, and inciting slaves to rebellion, and hanged on December 2, 1859.

May 10 Return to Top of Page

May 10, 1869 – The newly constructed tracks of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways were first linked at Promontory Point, Utah. A golden spike was driven by Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific, to celebrate the linkage. It is said that he missed the spike on his first swing which brought roars of laughter from men who had driven thousands upon thousands of spikes themselves.

May 10, 1889 – A riot erupted outside the Astor Place Opera House in New York as British actor William Charles Macready performed inside. Angry crowds revolted against dress requirements for admission and against Macready’s public statements on the vulgarity of American life. The mob then shattered theater windows. Troops were called out and ordered to fire, killing 22 and wounding 26.

May 10, 1994 – Former political prisoner Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president of South Africa. Mandela had won the first free election in South Africa despite attempts by various political foes to deter the outcome.

May 11

May 11, 1862 – To prevent its capture by Union forces advancing in Virginia, the Confederate Ironclad Merrimac was destroyed by the Confederate Navy. In March, the Merrimac had foughtthe Union Ironclad Monitor to a draw. Naval warfare was thus changed forever, making wooden ships obsolete.

May 11, 1969 – During the Vietnam War, the Battle of “Hamburger Hill” began. While attempting to seize the Dong Ap Bia Mountain, U.S. troops repeatedly scaled the hill over a 10-day period and engaged in bloody hand-to-hand combat with the North Vietnamese. After finally securing the objective, American military staff decided to abandon the position, which the North Vietnamese retook shortly thereafter. The battle highlighted the futility of the overall American military strategy.

Birthday – Songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was born (as Israel Isidore Baline) in Tyumen, Russia. At the age of four, Berlin moved with his family to New York City and later began singing in saloons and on street corners to help his family following the death of his father. Although he could not read or write musical notation, he became one of America’s greatest songwriters, best known for songs such as God Bless America, White Christmas, There’s No Business Like Show Business, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Puttin’ On the Ritz, and Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.

Birthday – Modern dance pioneer Martha Graham (1893-1991) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her dance career at age 22 in the Greenwich Village Follies. She later incorporated primal emotions and ancient rituals in her works, bringing a new psychological depth to modern dance. In a career spanning 70 years, she created 180 dance works. She performed until the age of 75.

May 12

May 12, 1937 – George VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey in London, following the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII. King George reigned until his death in 1952. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth, the current reigning monarch.

May 12, 1949 – Soviet Russia lifted its blockade of Berlin. The blockade began on June 24, 1948 and resulted in the Berlin airlift. For 462 days – from June 26, 1948, until September 30, 1949, American and British planes flew about 278,000 flights, delivering 2.3 million tons of food, coal and medical supplies to two million isolated West Berliners. A plane landed in Berlin every minute from 11 Allied staging areas in West Germany. The planes were nicknamed ”candy bombers” after pilots began tossing sweets to children. They also flew out millions of dollars worth of products manufactured in West Berlin.

Birthday – British nurse and public health activist Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was born in Florence, Italy. She volunteered to aid British troops in Turkey where she improved hospital sanitary conditions and greatly reduced the death rate for wounded and sick soldiers. She received worldwide acclaim for her unselfish devotion to nursing, contributed to the development of modern nursing procedures, and emphasized the dignity of nursing as a profession for women.

May 13

May 13, 1846 – At the request of President James K. Polk, Congress declared war on Mexico. The controversial struggle eventually cost the lives of 11,300 U.S. soldiers and resulted in the annexation of lands that became parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and Colorado. The war ended in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

May 13, 1943 – During World War II in North Africa, over 250,000 Germans and Italians surrendered in the last few days of the Tunis campaign. British General Harold Alexander then telegraphed news of the victory to Winston Churchill, who was in Washington attending a war conference. The victory re-opened Allied shipping lanes in the Mediterranean.

May 13, 1981 – Pope John Paul II was shot twice at close range while riding in an open automobile in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Two other persons were also wounded. An escaped terrorist, already under sentence of death for the murder of a Turkish journalist, was immediately arrested and was later convicted of attempted murder. The Pope recovered and later held a private meeting with the would-be assassin and then publicly forgave him.

May 14

May 14, 1607 – The first permanent English settlement in America was established at Jamestown, Virginia, by a group of royally chartered Virginia Company settlers from Plymouth, England.

May 14, 1804 – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed St. Louis on their expedition to explore the Northwest. They arrived at the Pacific coast of Oregon in November of 1805 and returned to St. Louis in September of 1806, completing a journey of about 6,000 miles.

May 14, 1796 – Smallpox vaccine was developed by Dr. Edward Jenner, a physician in rural England. He coined the term vaccination for the new procedure of injecting a milder form of the disease into healthy persons resulting in immunity. Within 18 months, 12,000 persons in England had been vaccinated and the number of smallpox deaths dropped by two-thirds.

May 14, 1942 – During World War II, an Act of Congress allowed women to enlist for noncombat duties in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), the Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES), Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), and Semper Paratus Always Ready Service (SPARS), the Women’s Reserve of the Marine Corp.

Birthday – German physicist Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736) was born in Danzig, Germany. He introduced the use of mercury in thermometers and greatly improved their accuracy. His name is now attached to one of the major temperature measurement scales.

Birthday – British landscape and portrait painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) was born in Sudbury, Suffolk, England. Among his best known works: The Blue Boy, The Watering Place andThe Market Cart.

May 15 Return to Top of Page

May 15, 1972 – George Wallace was shot while campaigning for the presidency in Laurel, Maryland. As a result, Wallace was permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

May 16

May 16, 1862 – During the American Civil War, Union General Benjamin Butler, military governor of New Orleans, issued his “Woman Order” declaring that any Southern woman showing disrespect for Union soldiers or the U.S. would be regarded as a woman of the town, or prostitute. This and other controversial acts by Butler set the stage for his dismissal as military governor in December 1862.

May 17

May 17, 1792 – Two dozen merchants and brokers established the New York Stock Exchange. In good weather they operated under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street. In bad weather they moved inside to a coffeehouse to conduct business.

May 17, 1875 – The first Kentucky Derby horse race took place at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

May 17, 1954 – In Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that segregation of public schools “solely on the basis of race” denies black children “equal educational opportunity” even though “physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factors may have been equal. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Thurgood Marshall had argued the case before the Court. He went to become the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.

May 18

May 18, 1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte became Emperor of France, snatching the crown from the hands of Pope Pius VII during the actual coronation ceremony, and then crowning himself.

May 18, 1980 – Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in southwestern Washington State spewing steam and ash over 11 miles into the sky. This was the first major eruption since 1857.

May 18, 1998 – In one of the biggest antitrust lawsuits of the 20th century, American software giant Microsoft Corporation was sued by the U.S. Federal government and 20 state governments charging the company with using unfair tactics to crush competition and restrict choices for consumers. The lawsuits alleged Microsoft used illegal practices to deny personal computer owners the benefits of a free and competitive market and also alleged Microsoft extended its monopoly on operating systems to “develop a chokehold” on the Internet browser software market.

Birthday – Hollywood director Frank Capra (1897-1991) was born in Palermo, Sicily. His quintessential American films were affectionate portrayals of the common man and examined the strengths and foibles of American democracy. Best known for It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), It Happened One Night (1934) and You Can’t Take It with You(1938).

Birthday – Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) was born (as Karol Wojtyla) in Wadowice, Poland. In 1978, he became 264th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, the first non-Italian elected in 456 years and the first Polish Pope.

May 19

May 19, 1943 – During World War II in Europe, Royal Air Force bombers successfully attacked dams in the German Ruhr Valley using innovative ball-shaped bouncing bombs that skipped along the water and exploded against the dams. The dams had provided drinking water for 4 million persons and supplied 75% of the electrical power for industry in the area.

Birthday – Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) was born in the central Vietnamese village of Kim Lien (as Nguyen That Thanh). In 1930, he organized the Indo-Chinese Communist party and later adopted the name Ho Chi Minh, meaning “he who enlightens.” In 1945, he proclaimed the independence of Vietnam and served as president of North Vietnam from 1945 to 1969. He led the longest and most costly war during the 20th Century against the French and later the Americans. On April 29, 1975, six years after his death, the last Americans left South Vietnam. The next day the city of Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

Birthday – Black nationalist and civil rights activist Malcolm X (1925-1965) was born in Omaha, Nebraska (as Malcolm Little). While in prison he adopted the Islamic religion and after his release in 1952, changed his name to Malcolm X and worked for the Nation of Islam. He later made a pilgrimage to Mecca and became an orthodox Muslim. He was assassinated while addressing a meeting in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21, 1965.

Birthday – African American playwright Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) was born in Chicago, Illinois. She is best known for A Raisin in the Sun (1959) a play dealing with prejudice and black pride. The play was the first stage production written by a black woman to appear on Broadway. She died of cancer at the age of 34. A book of her writings entitled To Be Young, Gifted, and Black was published posthumously.

May 20 Return to Top of Page

May 20, 325 A.D. – The Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council of Catholic Church was called by Constantine I, first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire. With nearly 300 bishops in attendance at Nicaea in Asia Minor, the council condemned Arianism which denied Christ’s divinity, formulated the Nicene Creed and fixed the date of Easter.

May 20, 1862 – President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act opening millions of acres of government owned land in the West to “homesteaders” who could acquire up to 160 acres by living on the land and cultivating it for five years, paying just $1.25 per acre.

May 20, 1927 – Charles Lindbergh, a 25-year-old aviator, took off at 7:52 a.m. from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, in the Spirit of St. Louis attempting to win a $25,000 prize for the first solo nonstop flight between New York City and Paris. Thirty-three hours later, after a 3,600 mile journey, he landed at Le Bourget, Paris, earning the nickname “Lucky Lindy” and becoming an instant worldwide hero.

May 20, 1932 – Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. She departed Newfoundland, Canada, at 7 p.m. and landed near Londonderry, Ireland, completing a 2,026-mile flight in about 13 hours. Five years later, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, she disappeared while trying to fly her twin-engine plane around the equator.

Birthday – Founder of modern Zionism Theodore Herzl (1860-1904) was born in Budapest, Hungary. He advocated the establishment of a new land for the Jews rather than assimilation into various, historically anti-Semitic, countries and cultures.

May 21

May 21, 1881 – The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton. The organization today provides volunteer disaster relief in the U.S. and abroad. Community services include collecting and distributing donated blood, and teaching health and safety classes.

May 21, 1991 – Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in the midst of a re-election campaign, killed by a bomb hidden in a bouquet of flowers. He had served as prime minister from 1984 to 1989, succeeding his mother, Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984.

Birthday – Russian physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989) was born in Moscow. Although he helped construct the first atomic and hydrogen bombs for Soviet Russia, he later denounced the Soviet government and was exiled from 1980 to 1986. He was instrumental in formulating the political reform concept called perestroika and in encouraging glasnost (openness) in restrictive communist countries.

May 22

May 22, 1972 – President Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit Moscow. Four days later, Nixon and Soviet Russia’s leader Leonid Brezhnev signed a pact pledging to freeze nuclear arsenals at current levels.

May 22, 1947 – Congress approved the Truman Doctrine, assuring U.S. support for Greece and Turkey to prevent the spread of Communism.

Birthday – German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was born in Leipzig, Germany. He made revolutionary changes in the structure of opera and is best known for The Ring of the Nibelung, a series of operas based on old German myths which include: Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Siegfried, and Gõtterdammerung.

Birthday – Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born at Edinburgh, Scotland. He was also deeply interested in and lectured on spiritualism.

Birthday – Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) was born in Dorking, England. Considered one of the most influential actors of the 20th Century, he was honored with nine Academy Award nominations, three Oscars, five Emmy awards, and a host of other awards. His repertoire included most of the major Shakespearean roles, and films such as The Entertainer, Rebecca, Pride and Prejudice, The Boys from Brazil, Marathon Man and Wuthering Heights. He was knighted in 1947 and made a peer of the throne in 1970.

May 23

Birthday – Journalist Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) was born in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. She became the first American woman to serve as a foreign correspondent, reporting for the New York Tribune. Her book Women in the Nineteenth Century, published in 1845, is considered the first feminist statement by an American writer, and brought her international acclaim. Sailing from Italy to the U.S. in 1850, she died, along with her husband and infant son, in a shipwreck off Fire Island, New York.

Birthday – The first American female attorney Arabella Mansfield (1846-1911) was born near Burlington, Iowa (as Belle Aurelia Babb). She was certified in 1869 as an attorney and admitted to the Iowa bar, but never practiced law. Instead she chose a career as a college educator and administrator. She was also instrumental in the founding of the Iowa Suffrage Society in 1870.

May 24

May 24, 1844 – Telegraph inventor Samuel Morse sent the first official telegraph message, “What hath God wrought?” from the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to Baltimore.

May 24, 1881 – A boating disaster occurred in Canada when Victoria, a small, double-decked stern-wheeler carrying over 600 passengers on the Thames River keeled over then sank, killing 182 persons.

May 25 Return to Top of Page

May 25, 1787 – The Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia with delegates from seven states forming a quorum.

May 25, 1994 – After 20 years in exile, Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to his homeland. He had been expelled from Soviet Russia in 1974 after his three-volume work exposing the Soviet prison camp system, The Gulag Archipelago, was published in the West.

Birthday – American author and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His works include: Nature (1836), Essays, First Series (1841), Essays, Second Series (1844), Poems (1847, 1865), Representative Men (1850), English Traits (1856), The Conduct of Life (1860), and Society and Solitude (1870).

May 26

May 26, 1940 – The Dunkirk evacuation began in order to save the British Expeditionary Forcetrapped by advancing German armies on the northern coast of France. Boats and vessels of all shapes and sizes ferried 200,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian soldiers across the English Channel by June 2nd.

Birthday – Interpretive dancer Isadora Duncan (1878-1927) was born in San Francisco. She revolutionized the entire concept of dance by developing a free-form style and rebelled against tradition, performing barefoot in a loose fitting tunic. She experienced worldwide acclaim as well as personal tragedy. Her two children drowned, her marriage failed, and she met a bizarre death in 1927 when a scarf she was wearing caught in the wheel of the open car in which she was riding, strangling her.

Birthday – Actor, singer Al Jolson (1886-1950) was born in St. Petersburg, Russia (as Asa Yoelson). One of the premier American vaudeville entertainers of his day, he appeared in the first motion picture with full sound, The Jazz Singer, in 1927.

May 27

May 27, 1937 – In San Francisco, 200,000 people celebrated the grand opening of the Golden Gate Bridge by strolling across it.

Birthday – Legendary Wild West figure Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876) was born in Troy Grove, Illinois. He was a frontiersman, lawman, legendary marksman, army scout and gambler. On August 2, 1876, he was shot dead during a poker game by a drunk in the Number Ten saloon inDeadwood, in the Dakota Territory. In his hand he held a pair of eights and a pair of aces which became known as the ‘dead man’s hand.’

Birthday – American politician Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978) was born in Wallace, South Dakota. Humphrey was a mainstay of liberal Democratic politics, championed civil rights, and was considered by political friends and foes alike to be a truly decent man. He served as vice president under Lyndon Johnson. In 1968, Humphrey was the Democratic candidate for president, but lost to Republican Richard Nixon in a very close race.

May 28

May 28, 1961 – Amnesty International was founded by London lawyer Peter Berenson. He read about the arrest of a group of students in Portugal then launched a one-year campaign to free them called Appeal for Amnesty. Today Amnesty International has over a million members in 150 countries working to free prisoners of conscience, stop torture and the death penalty, and guarantee human rights for women.

Birthday – William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806) was born at Hayes, Kent, England. Following in his father’s footsteps, he became British prime minister at age 24 and served from 1783 to 1801 and again from 1804 to 1806. Pitt was influenced by Adam Smith’s economic theories and reduced Britain’s large national debt brought on by the American Revolution.

Birthday – All-around athlete Jim Thorpe (1888-1953) was born near Prague, Oklahoma. He won the pentathlon and decathlon events at the 1912 Olympic Games and also played professional baseball and football.

May 29

May 29, 1453 – The city of Constantinople was captured by the Turks, who renamed it Istanbul. This marked the end of the Byzantine Empire as Istanbul became the capital of the Ottoman Empire.

May 29, 1660 – The English monarchy was restored with Charles II on the throne after several years of a Commonwealth under Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.

May 29, 1787 – At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia the Virginia Plan was proposed calling for a new government consisting of a legislature with two houses, an executive chosen by the legislature and a judicial branch.

May 29, 1865 – Following the American Civil War, President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation granting general amnesty to Confederates. The amnesty excluded high ranking Confederates and large property owners, who had to apply individually to the President for a pardon. Following an oath of allegiance, all former property rights, except slaves, were returned to the former owners.

Birthday – American revolutionary leader Patrick Henry (1736-1799) was born in Studley, Virginia. He is best remembered for his speech in 1775 declaring: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

Birthday – German historian Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) was born in Blankenburg-am-Harz, Germany. He authored the influential book The Decline of the West which argued that civilizations rise and fall in regular cycles.

Birthday – John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) the 35th U.S. President was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was the youngest man ever elected to the presidency and the first Roman Catholic. He was assassinated in Dallas, November 22, 1963, the fourth President to killed by an assassin.

May 30

May 30, 1783 – The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first daily newspaper published in America.

May 30, 1922 – The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated. The Memorial was designed by architect Henry Bacon and features a compelling statue of “Seated Lincoln” by sculptor Daniel Chester French.

May 30, 1943 – During World War II in the Pacific, the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska were retaken by the U.S. 7th Infantry Division. The battle began on May 12 when an American force of 11,000 landed on Attu. In three weeks of fighting U.S. casualties numbered 552 killed and 1,140 wounded. Japanese killed numbered 2,352, with only 28 taken prisoner, as 500 chose suicide rather than be captured.

Birthday – Founder of the Russian empire Peter the Great (1672-1725) was born near Moscow. He vastly increased the power of the Russian monarchy and turned his backward country into a major power in the Western world. Among his accomplishments, he completely overhauled the government and the Greek Orthodox Church as well as the military system and tax structure. He built St. Petersburg, established printing presses and published translations of foreign books, modernized the calendar, simplified the Russian alphabet and introduced Arabic numerals. He died at age 52 and was succeeded by his wife Catherine.

May 31

May 31, 1862 – During the American Civil War, the Battle of Seven Pines occurred as Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army attacked Union General George McClellan’s troops in front of Richmond Virginia and nearly defeated them. Johnston was badly wounded. Confederate General Robert E. Lee then assumed command, replacing the wounded Johnston. Lee renamed his force the Army of Northern Virginia.

May 31, 1889 – Over 2,300 persons were killed in the Johnstown flood in Pennsylvania. Heavy rains throughout May caused the Connemaugh River Dam to burst sending a wall of water 75 feet high pouring down upon the city.

Birthday – American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was born in Long Island, New York. His poem Leaves of Grass is considered an American classic. His poetry celebrated modern life and took on subjects considered taboo at the time.

June This Month in History

Birthday – Founder of Utah and patriarch of the Mormon church Brigham Young (1801-1877) was born in Whittingham, Vermont. Called the “American Moses,” he led thousands of religious followers across the wilderness to settle over 300 towns in the West, including Salt Lake City, Utah.

Birthday – Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) was born in Los Angeles (as Norma Jean Mortensen). Following an unstable childhood spent in foster homes and orphanages, she landed a job as a photographer’s model which led to a movie career. She later married baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. Beneath her glamorous movie star looks she was fragile and insecure and eventually succumbed to the pressures of Hollywood life. She died in Los Angeles from an overdose of sleeping pills on August 5, 1962. Best known for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), The Seven Year Itch (1955), Bus Stop (1956), Some Like It Hot (1959), and The Misfits (1961).

June 2

Birthday – Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) was born in Paris. He was a military leader, governor-general, and author, whose acts of extreme cruelty and violence resulted in the term sadism being created from his name to describe gratification in inflicting pain.

June 3

June 3, 1937 – The Duke of Windsor married Wallis Warfield Simpson in Monts, France. As King Edward VIII, he had abdicated the British throne in December of 1936 amid tremendous controversy to marry Simpson, an American who had been divorced. Following the wedding, the couple lived in France and had minimal contact with the British Royal family. The Duke died in Paris on May 28, 1972, and was buried near Windsor Castle in England.

June 3, 1972 – Sally Jan Priesand was ordained a rabbi thus becoming the first woman rabbi in the U.S. She then became an assistant rabbi at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City.

June 3, 1989 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, died. On February 1, 1979, after 15 years in exile, he had staged a triumphant return to Iran which led to the downfall of the Shah. Khomeini then reorganized the government on Islamic principles. On November 11, 1979, a group of students loyal to Khomeini seized 66 hostages in the American Embassy in Teheran after the former Shah had entered the U.S. for medical treatment. Thus began an international political crisis lasting until January 20, 1981, when they were released.

Birthday – Confederate president Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) was born at Todd County, Kentucky. After the Southern states formed the Confederacy in 1861, he hoped to be named commander of the Confederate military forces but was instead chosen to be president, serving until 1865. Following the Civil War, he was imprisoned but never brought to trial. He died at age 81 in New Orleans.

June 4

June 4, 1944 – During World War II in Europe, Rome was liberated by the U.S. 5th Army, led by General Mark Clark. Rome had been declared an open city by German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring amid Allied concerns the Germans might stage a Stalingrad-style defense that would devastate the historic ‘Eternal’ city.

June 4, 1972 – An express train packed with more than 600 people rammed into a stalled train at full speed in the main station of Jessore, Bangladesh, killing 76 and injuring over 500 persons.

June 4, 1989 – The Chinese government ordered its troops to open fire on unarmed protesters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The protest had started on April 16 as about 1,000 students marched to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, a pro-reform leader within the Chinese government. Despite government warnings, pro-reform and pro-democracy demonstrations continued for a month drawing ever-larger crowds of young people, eventually totaling over a million persons. On May 13, three thousand students began an eight-day hunger strike. The government imposed martial law on May 20 and brought in troops. On June 2, in their first clash with the People’s Army, demonstrators turned back an advance of unarmed troops. However, in the pre-dawn hours of June 4, the People’s Army, using tanks, machine-guns, clubs and tear gas, opened fire on the unarmed protesters. Armored personnel carriers then rolled into the square crushing students still sleeping in their tents. The Chinese government later claimed only 300 died in the attack. U.S. estimates put the toll at over 3,000. Following the massacre, over 1,600 demonstrators were rounded up and jailed, with 27 being executed.

Birthday – King George III (1738-1820) was born. He ruled England for 60 years from 1760 to 1820 and was the British King against whom the American Revolution was directed.

June 5 Return to Top of Page

June 5, 1783 – The first sustained flight occurred as a hot-air balloon was launched at Annonay, France, by brothers Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier. Their 33-foot-diameter globe aerostatique ascended about 6,000 feet. In September, they repeated the experiment for King Louis XVI, using a sheep, rooster and duck as the balloon’s passengers.

June 5, 1968 – Robert F. Kennedy was shot and mortally wounded while leaving the Hotel Ambassador in Los Angeles. The shooting occurred after a celebration of Kennedy’s victory in the California presidential primary. He died at 1:44 a.m., June 6, at age 42, leaving behind his wife Ethel and eleven children, the last one born after his death. President John F. Kennedy had named his brother and campaign manager, Robert Francis Kennedy, to the post of U.S. Attorney General in 1961. Robert served as the president’s closest confidant. After the assassination of JFK, Robert remained as Attorney General until 1964, when he resigned to make a successful run for the U.S. Senate from New York. Allied with the plight of the poor and disadvantaged in America, he spoke out against racial discrimination, economic injustice and the Vietnam War. In March of 1968, he had announced his candidacy for the presidency. And with the win in California, appeared headed for the nomination.

Birthday – Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790) was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. He wrote An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, published in 1776. The book described the workings of a market economy and established him as one of the most influential figures in the development of modern economic theory.

Birthday – British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) was born in Cambridge, England. He wrote The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money in 1936, stating his ideas about government responsibility and commitment to maintaining high employment. He claimed that business investors and governments, not consumers, were the source of business cycle shifts.

June 6

June 6, 1872 – Pioneering feminist Susan B. Anthony was fined for voting in a presidential election at Rochester, New York. After voting rights had been granted to African American males by the 15th Amendment, she attempted to extend the same rights to women. She led a group of women that voted illegally, to test their status as citizens. She was arrested, tried and sentenced to pay $100, which she refused. Following her death in 1906 after five decades of tireless work, the Democratic and Republican parties both endorsed women’s right to vote. In August of 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was finally ratified, allowing women to vote.

June 6, 1944 – D-Day, the largest amphibious landing in history, began in the early-morning hours as Allied forces landed in Normandy on the northern coast of France. Operation Overlord took months of planning and involved 1,527,000 soldiers in 47 Allied divisions along with 4,400 ships and landing craft, and 11,000 aircraft. The Germans had about 60 divisions spread along France and the Low Countries. American forces landed on two western beaches, Utah and Omaha, while British and Canadian troops landed farther east on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. By the end of the day 150,000 Allied soldiers and their accompanying vehicles had landed with 15,000 killed and wounded.

June 6, 1978 – By a vote of almost two to one, California voters approved Proposition 13, an amendment to the state constitution severely limiting property tax rates.

Birthday – American patriot Nathan Hale (1755-1776) was born in Coventry, Connecticut. During the American Revolution, he volunteered for a dangerous spy mission in Long Island and was captured by the British on the night of September 21, 1776. Brought before British General William Howe, Hale admitted he was an American officer. Howe ordered him to be hanged the following morning. As Hale mounted the gallows he uttered, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

June 7

June 7, 1965 – The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut law banning contraception. InGriswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to privacy, including freedom from government intrusion into matters of birth control.

Birthday – French painter Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was born in Paris. He worked as a stockbroker, then became a painter in middle age. He left Paris and moved to Tahiti where he developed an interest in primitive art. Among his best known paintings; Vision After the Sermon(1888), When Shall We Be Married? (1892), Holiday (1896), and Two Tahitian Women (1899). His style using broad, flat tones and bold colors, inspired artists such as Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse, and the young Pablo Picasso.

June 8

June 8, 1874 – Apache leader Cochise died on the Chiricahua Reservation in southeastern Arizona. After a peace treaty had been broken by the U.S. Army in 1861, he waged war against settlers and soldiers, forcing them to withdraw from southern Arizona. In 1862, he became principal chief of the Apaches. He and 200 followers avoided capture by hiding in the Dragoon Mountains. In June of 1871, Army General George Crook assumed command in Arizona and managed to win the allegiance of many Apaches. Cochise then surrendered. He disappeared briefly in the spring of 1872, but returned and settled on the reservation where he died.

Birthday – American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He designed about 1,000 structures and is considered the most influential architect of his time. He became the leader of a style known as the Prairie School featuring houses with low-pitched roofs and extended lines that blend into the landscape. He once wrote, “No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other.”

June 9

June 9, 1898 – The British signed a 99-year lease for Hong Kong, located on the southeastern coast of China. Hong Kong, consisting of an area measuring 400 square miles, was administered as a British Crown Colony until July 1, 1997, when its sovereignty reverted to the People’s Republic of China.

Birthday – Composer and lyricist Cole Porter (1893-1964) was born in Peru, Indiana. He published his first song The Bobolink Waltz at the age of ten. His Broadway career was launched in 1928 when five of his songs were used in the musical play Let’s Do It. Among his many contributions to the Broadway stage; Fifty Million Frenchmen, The Gay Divorcee, Anything Goes, Leave It to Me, Du Barry Was a Lady, Something for the Boys, Kiss Me Kate, Can Can and Silk Stockings.

June 10 Return to Top of Page

June 10, 1652 – In Massachusetts, silversmith John Hull opened the first mint in America, in defiance of English colonial law. The first coin issued was the Pine Tree Shilling, designed by Hull.

June 10, 1942 – In one of the most infamous single acts of World War II in Europe, all 172 men and boys over age 16 in the Czech village of Lidice were shot by Nazis in reprisal for the assassination of SS leader Reinhard Heydrich. The women were deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp where most died. Ninety young children were sent to the concentration camp at Gneisenau, with some later taken to Nazi orphanages if they were German looking. The village was then completely leveled until not a trace remained.

Birthday – African American actress Hattie McDaniel (1889-1952) was born in Wichita, Kansas. She won an Academy Award in 1940 for her role as ‘Mammy’ in Gone with the Wind.

Birthday – Judy Garland (1922-1969) was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota (as Frances Gumm). She is best remembered for her portrayal of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939) and other films including Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and Easter Parade (1948). She became one of the most popular concert performers of the 1950s and ’60s and broke box-office records in New York City and London. She was found dead of an overdose of sleeping pills in London on June 22, 1969.

June 11

June 11, 1991 – Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted, spewing ash into the air, visible over 60 miles. The surrounding areas were covered with ash and mud created by rainstorms. Nearby U.S. military bases were also damaged.

June 11, 1994 – After 49 years, the Soviet military occupation of East Germany ended. At one time there had been 337,800 Soviet troops stationed in Germany. Over 300,000 Russians died during World War II in the Battle for Berlin.

Birthday – German composer Georg Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was born in Munich. His best known works include; Till Eulenspiegel (1895), Also Sprach Zarathustra (1896) and Don Quixote(1898).

Birthday – American feminist and politician Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973) was born in Missoula, Montana. She was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She was a reformer and a pacifist and was the only member of Congress to vote against a declaration of war against Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.

Birthday – Undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) was born in Ste-Andre-de-Cubzac, France. In 1943, he helped invent the first underwater breathing apparatus, called the Aqualung. He is best known for his Emmy Award winning television series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, which premiered in the U.S. in 1968.

Birthday – American football coach Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1959, he became head coach of the Green Bay Packers, winning five NFL titles and two Super Bowls in nine seasons. He is generally regarded as the greatest coach and the finest motivator in football history. He retired in 1968, but was lured back to coach the Washington Redskins. He contracted cancer after coaching the Redskins for just one season and died September 3, 1970, in Washington, D.C.

June 12

June 12, 1898 – The Philippines declared their independence from Spain. The islands were named after King Philip II. Once freed from Spain, the islands were then invaded and occupied by U.S. forces. They became an American colony and remained so until after World War II.

June 12, 1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi, by a rifle bullet from an ambush. He had been active in seeking integration of schools and voter registration for African Americans in the South. Widespread public outrage following his death led President John F. Kennedy to propose a comprehensive Civil Rights law. Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Birthday – George Bush, the 41st U.S. President, was born in Milton, Massachusetts, June 12, 1924. During World War II, he became the youngest pilot in the U.S. Navy. Following the war, he co-founded a Texas oil equipment manufacturing company. He then entered politics, serving in a variety of roles including in the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, as U.S. liaison to China, C.I.A. director, and two terms as vice-president under Ronald Reagan. Elected to the presidency in 1988, President Bush is best remembered for forging a successful multinational military alliance following the invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army. However, following the defeat of Iraq, Bush was beset by domestic problems in the U.S. which resulted in a significant drop in popularity and his loss in the 1992 election to Bill Clinton.

Birthday – Anne Frank (1929-1945) was born in Frankfurt, Germany. She is perhaps the best known victim of the Nazi Holocaust. Anne and her family moved from Germany to Amsterdam to flee Nazi persecution, then went into hiding in a small attic after Holland was invaded by Nazis. Anne, a girl on the verge of womanhood, was unable to go outside for any reason. In 1942, she began a diary to cope with the boredom, fear, annoyances, and loneliness of captivity. Her family’s hiding place was eventually discovered and Anne and her family were deported to Nazi concentration camps. She contracted typhus and died at Bergen-Belsen in 1945. After the war, her father published her diary, which inspired the world, revealing a young woman who had managed to remain hopeful, despite it all.

June 13

June 13, 1971 – The New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers, a collection of top secret documents exposing U.S. strategy in the Vietnam War.

June 13, 1966 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled (5-4) in the case of Miranda v. Arizona that an accused person must be apprised of certain rights before police questioning including the right to remain silent, the right to know that anything said can be used against the individual in court, and the right to have a defense attorney present during interrogation. American police officers now routinely read prisoners their ‘Miranda’ (constitutional) rights before questioning.

Birthday – Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet and dramatist William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Dublin, Ireland. Among his plays; The Countess Cathleen (1892) and Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902).

Birthday – American Army General Winfield Scott (1786-1866) was born in Petersburg, Virginia. Nicknamed “Old Fuss and Feathers” because of his formality, he served in three wars; the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the American Civil War. He was also nominated for the presidency by the Whig party in 1852 but was defeated by Franklin Pierce.

June 14

June 14, 1775 – The first U.S. Military service, the Continental Army consisting of six companies of riflemen, was established by the Second Continental Congress. The next day, George Washington was appointed by a unanimous vote to command the army.

June 14, 1777 – John Adams introduced a resolution before Congress mandating a United States flag, stating, “…that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.” This anniversary is celebrated each year in the U.S. as Flag Day.

June 14, 1922 – Warren G. Harding became the first U.S. President to broadcast a message over the radio. The event was the dedication of the Francis Scott Key Memorial in Baltimore.

June 14, 1951 – Univac 1, the world’s first commercial electronic computer was unveiled in Philadelphia. It was installed at the Census Bureau and utilized a magnetic tape unit as a buffer memory.

Birthday – Photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White (1906-1971) was born in New York City. In 1936, she became one of four original staff photographers for Life Magazine. She was the first woman to become an accredited war correspondent during World War II. She covered the Italian campaign, the siege of Moscow and the American crossing of the Rhine into Germany. Her photographs of Nazi concentration camps stunned the world. She later photographed Mahatma Gandhi and covered the migration of millions of people after the Indian subcontinent was subdivided. She also served as a war correspondent during the Korean War. Her best known book was a study of rural poverty in the American South, You Have Seen Their Faces (1937).

Birthday – American writer Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. She wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an anti-slavery novel containing vivid descriptions of the sufferings and oppression of African Americans. The book provoked a storm of protest and inflamed people in the North against slavery in the South. The names of two characters from the novel have become part of the English language – the slave, Uncle Tom, and the villainous slave owner, Simon Legree. During the Civil War, as Harriet Beecher Stowe was introduced to President Abraham Lincoln, he reportedly said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.”

Birthday – American editor and compiler John Bartlett (1820-1905) was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Although he had little formal education, he created Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, one of the most-used reference works of the English language, which today contains 22,000 entries.

Birthday – German psychiatrist and pathologist Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915) was born in Markbreit am Mainz, Germany. In 1907, he published an article first describing ‘Alzheimers,’ a degenerative disease, usually beginning at age 40-60, affecting nerve cells of the brain and leading to severe memory impairment and progressive loss of mental faculties.

June 15 Return to Top of Page

June 15, 1215 – King John set his seal to Magna Carta, the first charter of British liberties, guaranteeing basic rights that have since become the foundation of modern democracies around the world.

Birthday – Pianist and composer Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was born in Bergen, Norway. He incorporated the rhythms and melodies of Norwegian folk music into his songs and instrumentals including Piano Concerto in A Minor, Peer Gynt Suite, Norwegian Peasant Dance, and Ich liebe Dich.

June 16

June 16, 1963 – Valentina Tereshkova, 26, became the first woman in space as her Soviet spacecraft, Vostok 6, took off from the Tyuratam launch site. She manually controlled the spacecraft completing 48 orbits in 71 hours before landing safely.

Birthday – Film comedian Stan Laurel (1890-1965) was born in Ulverston, England. He teamed up with Oliver Hardy as Laurel & Hardy delighting audiences for more than 30 years.

Birthday – American author and photographer John Griffin (1920-1980) was born in Dallas, Texas. He darkened his white skin using chemicals and ultraviolet light, then kept a journal on his experiences while posing as an African American traveling through the deep South. The journal was published as the book, Black Like Me.

June 17

June 17, 1972 – Following a seemingly routine burglary, five men were arrested at the National Democratic Headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. However, subsequent investigations revealed the burglars were actually agents hired by the Committee for the Re-election of President Richard Nixon. A long chain of events then followed in which the president and top aides became involved in an extensive cover-up of this and other White House sanctioned illegal activities, eventually leading to the resignation of President Nixon on August 9, 1974.

Birthday – Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was born near St. Petersburg. Among his best known works, the ballets The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring(1913), and the choral work Symphony of Psalms (1930).

June 18

June 18, 1812 – After much debate, the U.S. Senate voted 19 to 13 in favor of a declaration of war against Great Britain, prompted by Britain’s violation of America’s rights on the high seas and British incitement of Indian warfare on the Western frontier. The next day, President James Madison officially proclaimed the U.S. to be in a state of war. The War of 1812 lasted over two years and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium on December 24, 1814.

June 18, 1815 – On the fields near Waterloo in central Belgium, 72,000 French troops, led by Napoleon, suffered a crushing military defeat from a combined Allied army of 113,000 British, Dutch, Belgian, and Prussian troops. Thus ended 23 years of warfare between France and the other powers of Europe. Napoleon was then sent into exile on the island of St. Helena off the coast of Africa. On May 5, 1821, the former vain-glorious Emperor died alone on the tiny island, abandoned by everyone.

June 18, 1983 – Dr. Sally Ride, a 32-year-old physicist and pilot, became the first American woman in space, beginning a six-day mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger, launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Birthday – British explorer George Mallory (1886-1924) was born in Mobberley, Cheshire, England. When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, he simply answered, “Because it is there.” He disappeared while climbing through the mists toward its summit on the morning of June 8, 1924. His body, perfectly preserved due to the cold conditions, was discovered by climbers in 1999, just 600 meters (2,030 feet) from the summit.

June 19

June 19, 1953 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by electrocution at Sing Sing Prison in New York. They had been found guilty of providing vital information on the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union during 1944-45. They were the first U.S. civilians to be sentenced to death for espionage and were also the only married couple ever executed together in the U.S.

Birthday – Baseball great Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) was born in New York City. He played in 2,130 consecutive games and seven World Series for the New York Yankees and had a lifetime batting average of .340. He contracted the degenerative muscle disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now called ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease,’ and died on June 2, 1941.

June 20  Return to Top of Page

June 20, 1782 – The U.S. Congress officially adopted the Great Seal of the United States of America.

Birthday – American military hero and actor Audie Murphy (1924-1971) was born in Kingston, Texas. He was the most decorated American soldier of World War II, awarded 37 medals and decorations, including the Medal of Honor for single-handedly turning back a German infantry company by climbing on a burning U.S. tank destroyer and firing its .50-cal. machine gun, killing 50 Germans. He later became an actor in western and war movies and made 45 films including;The Red Badge of Courage (1951), Destry (1954), and To Hell and Back (1955), based on his autobiography. He died May 28, 1971, in a plane crash near Roanoke, Virginia.

June 21

June 21, 1964 – Three white civil rights workers – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – left Meridian, Mississippi, at 9 a.m. to investigate a church burning. They were expected back by 4 p.m. When they failed to return, a search was begun. Their murdered bodies were discovered on August 4th.

Birthday – French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was born in Paris. Dubbed the “father of existentialism,” in 1964, he rejected the Nobel Prize for Literature when it was awarded to him.

Birthday – Britain’s Prince William (William Arthur Philip Louis) was born in London, June 21, 1982.

June 22

June 22, 1918 – A Michigan Central Railroad troop train struck the rear of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train in Ivanhoe, Indiana. Fifty-three circus performers were killed. Of the circus animals not killed, most were maimed and had to be destroyed. The performers, of whom only three could be identified, were buried in a mass grave.

June 22, 1941 – Starting at 3:15 am, some 3.2 million German soldiers plunged headlong into Russia across an 1800-mile front, in a major turing point of World War II. At 7 am that morning, a proclamation from Hitler to the German people announced, “At this moment a march is taking place that, for its extent, compares with the greatest the world has ever seen…”

June 23

June 23, 1865 – The last formal surrender of Confederate troops occurred as Cherokee leader and Confederate Brigadier General Watie surrendered his battalion comprised of American Indians in the Oklahoma Territory.

June 24

June 24, 1948 – Soviet Russia began a blockade of Berlin. Two days later the Allies responded with an emergency airlift to relieve two million isolated West Berliners. During the Berlin Airlift, American and British planes flew about 278,000 flights, delivering 2.3 million tons of food, coal and medical supplies. A plane landed in Berlin every minute from eleven Allied staging areas in West Germany. The Russians lifted their blockade of Berlin on May 12, 1949, however the airlift continued until September 30th.

June 24, 2010 – Labor Party deputy Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister. She was born in Wales and had moved to Australia as a child. She worked as a lawyer before entering politics.

Birthday – Boxing champ Jack Dempsey (1895-1983) was born in Manassa, Colorado. Dubbed “The Manassa Mauler,” he reigned as world heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926. Following his boxing career, he became a successful New York restaurant operator.

June 25 Return to Top of Page

June 25, 1862 – During the American Civil War, the Seven Days Campaign began as Confederate General Robert E. Lee launched a series of assaults to prevent a Union attack on Richmond, Virginia. The Campaign included battles at Oak Grove, Gaine’s Mills, Garnett’s Farm, Golding’s Farm, Savage’s Station, White Oak Swamp and Malvern Hill, resulting in over 36,000 casualties on both sides. Despite losing the final assault at Malvern Hill, the Confederates succeeded in preventing the Union Army from taking Richmond.

June 25, 1876 – General George A. Custer, leading 250 men, attacked an encampment of Sioux Indians near Little Bighorn River in Montana. Custer and his men were then attacked by 2000-4000 Indian braves. Only one scout and a single horse survived ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ on the Little Bighorn Battlefield. News of the humiliating defeat infuriated Americans and led to all out war. Within a year, the Sioux Indians were a broken and defeated nation.

June 25, 1950 – The Korean War began as North Korean troops, led by Russian-built tanks, crossed the 38th parallel and launched a full scale invasion of South Korea. Five days later, U.S. ground forces entered the conflict, which lasted until July 27, 1953, when an armistice was signed at Panmunjom, formally dividing the country at the 38th parallel into North and South Korea.

June 25, 1990 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that it was unconstitutional for any state to require, without providing other options, a minor to notify both parents before obtaining an abortion.

June 25, 1991 – Following the collapse of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe, the republics of Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia. Ethnic rivalries between Serbians and Croatians soon erupted. In 1992, fighting erupted in Bosnia-Herzegovina between Serbians and ethnic Muslims. A campaign of terrorism and genocide, termed ‘ethnic cleansing,’ was started by the Serbs against the Muslims. At least two million people became refugees, and about 200,000 were missing and presumed dead. Violence in the region raged on through 1995 despite economic sanctions and the efforts of U.N. peacekeeping forces in the area.

Birthday – British satirist George Orwell (1903-1950) was born at Montihari in Bengal (as Eric Arthur Blair). He is best known for two works of fiction Animal Farm (1944), and 1984 (1949).

June 26

June 26, 1893 – Illinois Gov. John P. Altgeld issued a controversial pardon for three anarchists convicted after the Haymarket Riot. The riot had occurred in Chicago in May of 1886, after 180 police officers advanced on 1,300 persons listening to speeches by labor activists and anarchists. A bomb was thrown. Seven police were killed and over 50 wounded. Four anarchists were then charged with conspiracy to kill, convicted and hanged while another committed suicide in jail. Three others were given lengthy jail terms, then pardoned by Gov. Altgeld in a move that likely cost him his political career.

June 26, 1945 – The United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco by 50 nations. The Charter was ratified on October 24, 1945.

Birthday – American author Pearl Buck (1892-1973) was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia. She became a noted authority on China and wrote books including The Good Earth which revealed the mysterious Chinese culture to Western readers. She received a Nobel Prize in 1938 for her many books.

Birthday – Champion athlete Mildred “Babe” Didrikson (1914-1952) was born in Port Arthur, Texas. Nicknamed after baseball legend Babe Ruth, she won two gold medals at the 1932 Olympics, setting world records in the javelin throw and high hurdle. She then took up golf, winning the 1946 U.S. Women’s Amateur Tournament. In 1947, she won 17 straight golf championships and became the first American winner of the British Ladies’ Amateur Tournament. As a pro golfer, she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1950 and 1954. She also excelled in softball, baseball, swimming, figure skating, billiards, and even football. In 1950, she was named ‘woman athlete of the first half of the 20th century’ by the Associated Press. She died of cancer at age 42.

June 27

Birthday – American musician Mildred J. Hill (1859-1916) was born in Louisville, Kentucky. She composed the melody for what is now the world’s most often sung song, Happy Birthday to You.

June 28

June 28, 1862 – During the American Civil War, the siege of the Confederate city of Vicksburg began as Admiral David Farragut succeeded in taking a fleet past the Mississippi River stronghold. The siege continued over a year.

June 28, 1914 – Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Crown Prince of Austria and his wife were assassinated at Sarajevo, touching off a conflict between the Austro-Hungarian government and Serbia that escalated into World War I.

June 28, 1919 – The signing of the Treaty of Versailles formally ended World War I. According to the terms, Germany was assessed sole blame for the war, forced give up Alsace-Lorraine and overseas colonies, and pay reparations of $15 Billion. The treaty also prohibited German rearmament.

Birthday – Flemish painter and diplomat Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was born in Siegen, Westphalia, Germany. Regarded as the greatest of Flemish painters, he was considered the master artist of his day. He was also skilled in science and politics and spoke seven languages. Among his masterpieces; Le Coup de Lance and The Descent from the Cross.

Birthday – Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was born in Geneva, Switzerland. His book The Social Contract stated that no laws are binding unless agreed upon by the people, a concept that deeply affected the French. In his novel Emile he challenged harsh child-rearing methods of his day and argued that young people should be given freedom to enjoy sunlight, exercise and play. “Man is born free,” he wrote in The Social Contract, “and everywhere he is in chains.”

Birthday – German-American physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer (1906-1972) was born in Kattowitz, Germany. She participated in the secret Manhattan Project, the building of the first atomic bomb. She later became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize, sharing the 1963 prize for physics for works explaining atomic nuclei, known as the nuclear shell theory.

June 29

June 29, 1972 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that capital punishment was a violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibiting “cruel and unusual punishment.” The decision spared the lives of 600 individuals then sitting on death row. Four years later, in another ruling, the Court reversed itself and determined the death penalty was not cruel and unusual punishment. On October 4, 1976, the ban was lifted on the death penalty in cases involving murder.

Birthday – Social worker Julia Lathrop (1858-1932) was born in Rockford, Illinois. She fought to establish child labor laws and was instrumental in establishing the first juvenile court in the U.S. In 1912, President Taft named her to head the newly created Children’s Bureau. In 1925, she became a member of the Child Welfare Committee of the League of Nations.

Birthday – American surgeon William Mayo (1861-1939) was born in LeSeuer, Minnesota. He was one of the Mayo brothers, pioneers of the concept of the group clinic, bringing together specialists from a number of medical fields to better perform diagnoses and treatment. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, became an internationally known medical center.

June 30

June 30, 1971 – The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted, granting the right to vote in all federal, state and local elections to American citizens 18 years or older. The U.S. thus gained an additional 11 million voters. The minimum voting age in most states had been 21.

June 30, 1997 – In Hong Kong, the flag of the British Crown Colony was officially lowered at midnight and replaced by a new flag representing China’s sovereignty and the official transfer of power.

July This Month in History

July 1st – Canada Day, a national holiday in Canada, formerly known as Dominion Day, commemorating the confederation of Upper and Lower Canada and some of the Maritime Provinces into the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

July 1, 1862 – President Abraham Lincoln signed the first income tax bill, levying a 3% income tax on annual incomes of $600-$10,000 and a 5% tax on incomes over $10,000. Also on this day, the Bureau of Internal Revenue was established by an Act of Congress.

July 1, 1863 – Beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.

July 1, 1893 – President Grover Cleveland underwent secret cancer surgery aboard a yacht owned by his friend, Commodore E.C. Benedict. The surgery was performed on a cancerous growth in his mouth. The entire left side of his jaw was removed along with a small portion of his soft palate. A second, smaller operation was performed on July 17th. Cleveland was then fitted with a rubber prosthesis which he wore until his death in 1908. The secrecy was intended to prevent panic among the public during the economic depression of 1893.

July 2

July 2, 1776 – The Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the following resolution, originally introduced on June 7, by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia: “Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.”

July 2, 1788 – Congress announced the United States Constitution had been ratified by the required nine states and that a committee had been appointed to make preparations for the new American government.

July 2, 1881 – President James A. Garfield was shot and mortally wounded as he entered a railway station in Washington, D.C. He died on September 19th.

July 2, 1917 – A race riot occurred in St. Louis, Missouri, resulting in an estimated 75 African Americans killed and hundreds injured. To protest the violence against blacks, W.E.B. DuBois and James Weldon Johnson later led a silent march down Fifth Avenue in New York.

July 2, 1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race in public accommodations, publicly owned or operated facilities, employment and union membership and in voter registration. The Act allowed for cutoff of Federal funds in places where discrimination remained.

Birthday – The first African American on the U.S. Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Nominated by President Johnson, he began his 24-year career on the High Court in 1967.

July 3

July 3, 1775 – During the American Revolution, George Washington took command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts.

July 3, 1976 – The raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda occurred as an Israeli commando unit rescued 103 hostages on a hijacked Air France airliner. The jet had been en route from Tel Aviv to Paris when it was hijacked by pro-Palestinian guerrillas. Three hostages, seven hijackers and twenty Ugandan soldiers were killed during the rescue.

July 3, 1988 – Iran Air Flight 655 was destroyed while flying over the Persian Gulf after the U.S. Navy Warship Vincennes fired two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 290 passengers aboard. A subsequent U.S. military inquiry cited stress related human failure for the mistaken identification of the civilian airbus as an enemy F-14 fighter jet.

July 4

July 4, 1776 – The Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress.

July 4, 1863– Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, surrendered to General Grant and the Army of the West after a six week siege. With the Union in control of the Mississippi, the Confederacy was effectively split in two, cut off from its western allies.

July 4, 1882 – The “Last Great Buffalo Hunt” began on Indian reservation lands near Hettinger, North Dakota as 2,000 Teton Sioux Indians in full hunting regalia killed about 5,000 buffalo. By this time, most of the estimated 60-75 million buffalo in America had been killed by white hunters who usually took the hides and left the meat to rot. By 1883, the last of the free-ranging buffalo were gone.

Birthday – Novelist and short-story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was born in Salem, Massachusetts. His works included; The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance.

Birthday – Song writer Stephen Foster (1826-1864) was born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. Among his nearly 200 songs were; Oh! Susanna, Camptown Races, Swanee River, Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, and Beautiful Dreamer. He died in poverty at Bellevue Hospital in New York.

Birthday – Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) the 30th U.S. President was born in Plymouth, Vermont. He became President on August 3, 1923, after the death of Warren G. Harding. In 1924, Coolidge was elected President but did not run for re-election in 1928.

July 5 Return to Top of Page

July 5, 1775– The Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition expressing hope for a reconciliation with Britain. However, King George III refused even to look at the petition and instead issued a proclamation declaring the colonists to be in a state of open rebellion.

Birthday – Civil War Admiral David Farragut (1801-1870) was born near Knoxville, Tennessee. He is best remembered for his yelling “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” during an attack on his fleet by the Confederates.

Birthday – Promoter and showman P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) was born in Bethel, Connecticut. His American Museum opened in 1842, exhibiting unusual acts such as the Feejee Mermaid, Siamese Twins Chang and Eng, and General Tom Thumb. In 1871, Barnum opened “The Greatest Show on Earth” in Brooklyn, New York. He later merged with rival J.A. Bailey to form the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Birthday – Cecil J. Rhodes (1853-1902) was born at Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. As a South African millionaire and politician, he was said to have once controlled 90 percent of the world’s diamond production. His will established the Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford University for young scholars aged 18-25. Rhodesia was also named for him.

July 6

July 6, 1885 – Louis Pasteur gave the first successful anti-rabies inoculation to a boy who had been bitten by an infected dog.

Birthday – Revolutionary War Naval Officer John Paul Jones (1747-1792) was born in Kirkbean, Scotland. He is best remembered for responding “I have not yet begun to fight!” to British opponents seeking his surrender during a naval battle.

July 7

July 7, 1898 – President William McKinley signed a resolution annexing Hawaii. In 1900, Congress made Hawaii an incorporated territory of the U.S., which it remained until becoming a state in 1959.

Birthday – Baseball pitcher Leroy R. (Satchel) Paige (1906-1982) was born in Mobile, Alabama. Following a career in the Negro Leagues, he became, at age 42, the first African American pitcher in the American League. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

July 8

July 8, 1776 – The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence occurred as Colonel John Nixon read it to an assembled crowd in Philadelphia.

July 8, 1943 – During the Nazi occupation of France, Resistance leader Jean Moulin died following his arrest and subsequent torture by the Gestapo. He had been sent by the Allies into France in 1942 to unite the fledgling Underground movement. In June of 1943, he was arrested in Lyon, tortured for eleven days but betrayed no one. He died aboard a train while being transferred to a concentration camp.

Birthday – Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979) was born in Bar Harbor, Maine. He served as Governor of New York from 1958 to 1973. He became vice-president under Gerald Ford in 1974, serving until January 20, 1977.

July 9

July 9, 1868 – The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The Amendment defined U.S. citizenship and prohibited individual States from abridging the rights of any American citizen without due process and equal protection under the law. The Amendment also barred individuals involved in rebellion against the U.S. from holding public office.

July 10  Return to Top of Page

July 10, 1943 – The Allied invasion of Italy began with an attack on the island of Sicily. The British entry into Syracuse was the first Allied success in Europe. General Dwight D. Eisenhowerlabeled the invasion “the first page in the liberation of the European Continent.”

July 10, 1973 – The Bahamas gained their independence after 250 years as a British Crown Colony.

July 10, 1991 – Boris Yeltsin took the oath of office, becoming the first popularly elected president in Russia’s thousand-year history.

Birthday – Theologian and founder of Presbyterianism, John Calvin (1509-1564) was born in Noyon, France.

Birthday – American artist James Whistler (1834-1903) was born in Lowell, Mass. He is best remembered for his portrait Whistler’s Mother.

Birthday – French author Marcel Proust (1871-1922) was born near Paris. “Happiness,” he wrote in The Past Recaptured, “is beneficial for the body but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”

Birthday – Tennis player Arthur Ashe (1943-1993) was born in Richmond, Virginia. He won a total of 33 titles including the U.S. men’s singles championship and U.S. Open in 1968 and the men’s singles at Wimbledon in 1975. As a pioneering African American athlete, he fought against racism and stereotyping and was arrested numerous times while protesting. In 1992, he announced he had likely contracted HIV through a transfusion during heart surgery. He then began a $5 million fundraising effort on behalf of the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and campaigned for public awareness regarding the dreaded disease. He died from pneumonia in New York, February 6, 1993.

July 11

Birthday – John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) the 6th U.S. President, and son of the 2nd President,John Adams, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts. After serving just one term as President, he served 17 years as a member of Congress. He died in 1848 while in the House of Representatives in the same room in which he had taken the presidential Oath of Office. He was the the first president whose father had also been president.

July 12

July 12, 1943 – During World War II, in the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history took place outside the small village of Prohorovka, Russia. About nine hundred Russian tanks attacked an equal number of German tanks fighting at close range. When Hitler ordered a cease-fire, 300 German tanks remained strewn over the battlefield.

July 12, 1994 – Germany’s Constitutional Court ended the ban on sending German troops to fight outside the country. The ban had been in effect since the end of World War II. The ruling allowed German troops to join in United Nations and NATO peace-keeping missions. On July 14, German military units marched in Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, the first appearance of German troops there since World War II.

Birthday – British pottery designer Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) was born in Burslem, Staffordshire, England.

Birthday – American philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was born in Concord, Massachusetts. At Walden Pond he wrote, “I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.”

July 13

July 13, 1787 – Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance establishing formal procedures for transforming territories into states. It provided for the eventual establishment of three to five states in the area north of the Ohio River, to be considered equal with the original 13. The Ordinance included a Bill of Rights that guaranteed freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury, public education and a ban on slavery in the Northwest.

July 14

July 14, 1789 – The fall of the Bastille occurred at the beginning of the French Revolution.

July 14, 1791 – In England, the Birmingham riot occurred on the second anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. Mob rule lasted for three days, targeting controversial scientist and theologian Joseph Priestly’s home and laboratory as well as the homes of his friends. Priestly, who had expressed support for the American and French revolutions, fled to London with his family and later moved to America.

Birthday – American folk singer and social activist Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) was born in Okemah, Oklahoma. Best known for This Land Is Your Land, Union Maid, and Hard Traveling.

Birthday – Gerald R. Ford, the 38th U.S. President was born in Omaha, Nebraska, July 14, 1913 (as Leslie King). In 1973, he was appointed vice president following the resignation of Spiro T. Agnew. He became president on August 9, 1974, following the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. He was the first non-elected vice president and non-elected president of the U.S.

July 15 Return to Top of Page

July 15, 1918 – During the Battle of the Marne in World War I, German General Erich Ludendorff launched Germany’s fifth, and last, offensive to break through the Chateau-Thierry salient. However, the Germans were stopped by American, British and Italian divisions. On July 18, General Foch, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied troops, launched a massive counter-offensive. The Germans began a retreat lasting four months until they requested an armistice in November.

Birthday – Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) was born in Leiden, Holland. Best known for The Night Watch and many portraits and self portraits.

Birthday – The first American saint, Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917) was born in Lombardy, Italy. She was the founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and established Catholic schools, orphanages, convents and hospitals. She was canonized, July 7, 1946, by Pope Pius XII.

July 16

July 16, 1769 – San Diego was founded as the mission San Diego de Alcala by Father Junipero Serra.

July 16, 1945 – The experimental Atomic bomb “Fat Boy” was set off at 5:30 a.m. in the desert of New Mexico desert, creating a mushroom cloud rising 41,000 ft. The bomb emitted heat three times the temperature of the interior of the sun and wiped out all plant and animal life within a mile.

July 16, 1969 – The Apollo 11 Lunar landing mission began with a liftoff from Kennedy Space Center at 9:37 a.m.

July 16, 1999 – A small plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. took off at 8:38 p.m. from Fairfield, New Jersey, heading toward Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. His wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister Lauren were passengers on the 200 mile trip. The plane was expected to arrive about 10 p.m. but disappeared off radar at 9:40 p.m. Five days later, July 21, following an extensive search, the bodies were recovered from the plane wreckage in 116 feet of water roughly 7 miles off Martha’s Vineyard. The next day, following an autopsy, the cremated remains of John F. Kennedy, 38, his wife Carolyn, 33, and her sister Lauren, 34, were scattered at sea from a U.S. Navy ship, with family members present, not far from where the plane had crashed.

Birthday – British portrait painter Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) was born in Plympton, Devon, England.

Birthday – Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) was born near Concord, New Hampshire.

Birthday – African American journalist and anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was born to slaves at Holly Springs, Missouri. Following the Civil War, as lynchings became prevalent, Wells traveled extensively, founding anti-lynching societies and black women’s clubs.

Birthday – Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (1872-1928) was born near Oslo. He was the first to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean via the Northwest Passage. He discovered the South Pole in 1911 and flew over the North Pole in a dirigible in 1926. In June 1928, he flew from Norway to rescue survivors of an Italian Arctic expedition, but his plane vanished.

July 17

July 17, 1918 – In the Russian town of Ekaterinburg in Siberia, former Czar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their five children were brutally murdered by Bolsheviks.

July 17, 1996 – TWA Flight 800 departed Kennedy International Airport in New York bound for Paris but exploded in mid-air 12 minutes after takeoff, apparently the result of a mechanical failure. The Boeing 747 jet crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island about 8:45 p.m. All 212 passengers and 17 crew members on board were killed.

Birthday – Puerto Rican patriot Luis Munoz-Rivera (1859-1916) was born in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. He worked tirelessly to attain self-government for his homeland.

July 18

July 18, 1947 – President Harry Truman signed an Executive Order determining the line of succession if the president becomes incapacitated or dies in office. Following the vice president, the speaker of the house and president of the Senate are next in succession. This became the 25thAmendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on February 10, 1967.

Birthday – American politician Samuel Hayakawa (1906-1992) was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is remembered as the college president who climbed atop a sound truck at San Francisco State College in 1968 during student protests, then disconnected the wires thus silencing the demonstrators. This made him popular among conservatives including California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Hayakawa became a Republican and was elected in 1976 to the U.S. Senate, serving just one term. In 1986, he led the successful California initiative to declare English the state’s official language.

Birthday – Nelson Mandela was born the son of a Tembu tribal chieftain on July 18, 1918, at Qunu, near Umtata, in South Africa. He became a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944, eventually becoming deputy national president in 1952. In 1964, he was convicted for sabotage as a result of his participation in the struggle against apartheid. He spent the next 28 years in jail, but remained a symbol of hope to South Africa’s non-white majority. Released in 1990, he was elected was elected President of South Africa in 1994 in the first election in which all races participated.

July 19

July 19-20, 1848 – A women’s rights convention was held at Seneca Falls, New York. Topics discussed included voting rights, property rights and divorce. The convention marked the beginning of an organized women’s rights movement in the U.S.

July 19, 1863 – During the American Civil War, Union troops made a second attempt to capture Fort Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina. The attack was led by the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who was killed along with half of the 600 men in the regiment. This battle marked the first use of black Union troops in the war.

Birthday – French impressionist painter Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was born in Paris. Best known for his paintings of dancers in motion.

July 20 Return to Top of Page

July 20, 1715 – The Riot Act took effect in Britain. If a dozen or more persons were disturbing the peace, an authority was required to command silence and read the following, “Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the king.” Any persons who failed to obey within one hour were to be arrested.

July 20, 1954 – An agreement was signed in Geneva, Switzerland, ending hostilities between French forces in Vietnam and the People’s Army of Vietnam.

July 20, 1969 – A global audience watched on television as Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrongtook his first step onto the moon. As he stepped onto the moon’s surface he proclaimed, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – inadvertently omitting an “a” before “man” and slightly changing the meaning.

Birthday – Explorer Edmund Hillary was born in Auckland, New Zealand, July 20, 1919. In 1953, he became first to ascend Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world at 29,023 ft.

July 21

July 21, 1898 – Guam was ceded to the United States by Spain.

Birthday – Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was born in Oak Park, Illinois. His works included;The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952). Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954, he wrote little afterward, became ill and shot himself to death on July 2, 1961.

Birthday – University professor and author Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Best known for stating, “The medium is the message,” regarding modern mass communication.

July 22

July 22, 1934 – Bank robber John Dillinger (1902-1934) was shot and killed by FBI agents as he left Chicago’s Biograph Movie Theater after watching the film Manhattan Melodrama starring Clark Gable and Myrna Loy. Dillinger was the first criminal labeled by the FBI as “Public Enemy No. 1.” After spending nine years (1924-1933) in prison, Dillinger went on a deadly crime spree, traveling through the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. He was reportedly betrayed by the “Lady in Red.”

July 23

July 23, 1952 – Egyptian army officers launched a revolution changing Egypt from a monarchy to a republic.

July 24

July 24, 1943 – During World War II in Europe, the Royal Air Force conducted Operation Gomorrah, raiding Hamburg, while tossing bales of aluminum foil strips overboard to cause German radar screens to see a blizzard of false echoes. As a result, only twelve of 791 Allied bombers involved were shot down.

July 24, 1945 – At the conclusion of the Potsdam Conference in Germany, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and China’s representatives issued a demand for unconditional Japanese surrender. The Japanese, unaware the demand was backed up by an Atomic bomb, rejected the Potsdam Declaration on July 26.

Birthday – “The Liberator” Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He is known as the George Washington of South America for his efforts to liberate six nations: Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia from the rule of Spain.

Birthday – French playwright and novelist Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) was born in Villers-Cotterets, France. His works included The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

Birthday – American pilot Amelia Earhart (1898-1937) was born in Atchison, Kansas. She became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and to fly solo from Hawaii to California. She perished during a flight from New Guinea to Howland Island over the Pacific Ocean on July 3, 1937.

July 25 Return to Top of Page

July 25, 1898 – During the Spanish-American War, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico, which was then a Spanish colony. In 1917, Puerto Ricans became American citizens and Puerto Rico became an unincorporated territory of the U.S. Partial self-government was granted in 1947 allowing citizens to elect their own governor. In 1951, Puerto Ricans wrote their own constitution and elected a non-voting commissioner to represent them in Washington.

July 25, 1909 – The world’s first international overseas airplane flight was achieved by Louis Bleriot in a small monoplane. After asking, “Where is England?” he took off from France and landed in England near Dover, where he was greeted by British police.

July 25, 1943 – Mussolini was deposed just two weeks after the Allied attack on Sicily. The Fascist Grand Council met for the first time since December of 1939 then took a confidence vote resulting in Mussolini being ousted from office and placed under arrest. King Victor Emmanuel of Italy then ordered Marshal Pietro Badoglio to form a new government.

July 25, 1956 – The Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria sank after colliding with the Swedish linerStockholm on its way to New York. Nearby ships came to the rescue, saving 1,634 people, including the captain and the crew, before the ship went down.

July 26

July 26, 1944 – The U.S. Army began desegregating its training camp facilities. Black platoons were then assigned to white companies in a first step toward battlefield integration. However, the official order integrating the armed forces didn’t come until July 26, 1948, signed by PresidentHarry Truman.

July 26, 1945 – The U.S. Cruiser Indianapolis arrived at Tinian Island in the Marianas with an unassembled Atomic bomb, met by scientists ready to complete the assembly.

July 26, 1953 – The beginning of Fidel Castro’s revolutionary “26th of July Movement.” In 1959, Castro led the rebellion that drove out dictator Fulgencio Batista. Although he once declared that Cuba would never again be ruled by a dictator, Castro’s government became a Communist dictatorship.

Birthday – Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born in Dublin, Ireland.

July 27

July 27, 1953 – The Korean War ended with the signing of an armistice by U.S. and North Korean delegates at Panmunjom, Korea. The war had lasted just over three years.

July 28

July 28, 1932 – The Bonus March eviction in Washington, D.C., occurred as U.S. Army troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower and Major George S. Patton, attacked and burned the encampments of unemployed World War I veterans. About 15,000 veterans had marched on Washington, demanding payment of a war bonus they had been promised. After two months’ encampment in Washington’s Anacostia Flats, forced eviction of the bonus marchers by the U.S. Army was ordered by President Herbert Hoover.

July 28, 1943 – During World War II, a firestorm killed 42,000 civilians in Hamburg, Germany. The firestorm occurred after 2,326 tons of bombs and incendiaries were dropped by the Allies.

Birthday – Jackie Kennedy (1929-1994) was born in Southampton, New York (as Jacqueline Lee Bouvier). She was married to John Fitzgerald Kennedy and after his death later married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

July 29

Birthday – Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was born in Dovia, Italy. He ruled Italy from 1922-1943, first as prime minister and then as “Il Duce,” the absolute dictator.

July 30

July 30, 1975 – Former Teamsters Union leader James Hoffa was last seen outside a restaurant near Detroit, Michigan. His 13-year federal prison sentence had been commuted by President Richard M. Nixon in 1971. On December 8, 1982, seven years after his disappearance, an Oakland County judge declared Hoffa officially dead.

Birthday – Automotive pioneer Henry Ford (1863-1947) was born in Dearborn Township, Michigan. He developed an assembly-line production system and introduced a $5-a-day wage for automotive workers. “History is bunk,” he once said.

July 31

July 31, 1776 – During the American Revolution, Francis Salvador became the first Jew to die in the conflict. He had also been the first Jew elected to office in Colonial America, voted a member of the South Carolina Provincial Congress in January 1775.

July 31, 1790 – The U.S. Patent Office first opened its doors. The first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for a new method of making pearlash and potash. The patent was signed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

August This Month in History

August 1, 1838 – Slavery was abolished in Jamaica. It had been introduced by Spanish settlers 300 years earlier in 1509.

August 1, 1944 – Anne Frank penned her last entry into her diary. “[I] keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would like to be, and what I could be, if…there weren’t any other people living in the world.” Three days later, Anne and her family were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Anne died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on March 15, 1945, at age 15.

August 1, 1944 – The Warsaw Uprising began as the Polish Home Army, numbering about 40,000 Polish patriots, began shooting at German troops in the streets. The Nazis then sent eight divisions to battle the Poles, who had hoped for, but did not receive, assistance from the Allies. Two months later, the rebellion was quashed.

BirthdayStar-Spangled Banner author Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) was born in Frederick County, Maryland. After witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry on the night of September 13-14, 1814, he was enthralled to see the American flag still flying over the fort at daybreak. He then wrote the poem originally entitled Defense of Fort McHenry which became the U.S. National Anthem in 1931.

BirthdayMoby Dick author Herman Melville (1819-1891) was born in New York.

August 2

August 2, 1776 – In Philadelphia, most of the 55 members of the Continental Congress signed the parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence.

August 2, 1923 – President Warren G. Harding died suddenly in a hotel in San Francisco while on a Western speaking tour. His administration had been tainted by the Teapot Dome political scandal and his sudden death prompted many unfounded rumors. He was succeeded the next day by Calvin Coolidge.

August 2, 1939 – Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt concerning the possibility of atomic weapons. “A single bomb of this type carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory.” Six years later, on August 6, 1945, the first Atomic Bomb, developed by the U.S., was dropped on the Japanese port of Hiroshima.

August 2, 1990 – The Iraqi army invaded Kuwait amid claims that Kuwait threatened Iraq’s economic existence by overproducing oil and driving prices down on the world market. An Iraqi military government was then installed in Kuwait which was annexed by Iraq on the claim that Kuwait was historically part of Iraq. This resulted in Desert Shield, the massive Allied military buildup, and later the 100-hour war against Iraq, Desert Storm.

August 3

August 3, 1492 – Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three ships, Nina, Pintaand Santa Maria. Seeking a westerly route to the Far East, he instead landed on October 12th in the Bahamas, thinking it was an outlying Japanese island.

Birthday – War correspondent Ernie Pyle (1900-1945) was born in Dana, Indiana. His syndicated column offered sympathetic insights into the experiences of common soldiers during World War II. He received a Pulitzer Prize for his reports of the bombing of London in 1940 and later war reports from Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. He was killed by machine-gun fire near Okinawa in the South Pacific on April 18, 1945.

Birthday – Gray Panthers founder Maggie Kuhn (1905-1995) was born in Buffalo, New York. After she was forced into mandatory retirement at age 65, she founded the Gray Panthers organization to fight age discrimination and succeeded in the banning of mandatory retirement in most professions.

August 4

August 4, 1962 – Apartheid opponent Nelson Mandela was arrested by security police in South Africa. He was then tried and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1964, he was placed on trial for sabotage, high treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government and was sentenced to life in prison. A worldwide campaign to free him began in the 1980s and resulted in his release on February 11, 1990, at age 71 after 27 years in prison. In 1993, Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize with South Africa’s President F.W. de Klerk for their peaceful efforts to bring a nonracial democracy to South Africa. In April 1994, black South Africans voted for the first time in an election that brought Mandela the presidency of South Africa.

August 4, 1964 – Three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were found murdered and buried in an earthen dam outside Philadelphia, Mississippi. They had disappeared on June 21 after being detained by Neshoba County police on charges of speeding. They were participating in the Mississippi Summer Project organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to increase black voter registration. When their car was found burned on June 23, President Lyndon Johnson ordered the FBI to search for the men.

Birthday – Jazz trumpet player Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Known as “Satchmo,” he appeared in many films and is best known for his renditions of It’s a Wonderful World and Hello, Dolly.

Birthday – Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg (1912-1947) was born in Stockholm. During theHolocaust, Wallenberg saved an estimated 33,000 Jews by issuing thousands of protective documents, by securing the release of Jews from deportation trains, death march convoys, labor service brigades, and by establishing the International Ghetto, a network of 31 protected houses. He was detained by Soviet agents on January 17, 1945, and is believed to have died in prison in 1947.

Birthday – Barack Obama the 44th U.S. President was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961. His father was from Kenya, Africa, while his mother was originally from Kansas. Upon completing his college education, young Obama moved to Chicago, becoming active in community affairs. He then attended Harvard Law School, becoming the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990. He returned to Chicago, worked in a law firm, then entered politics. Elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996, he went on to become a U.S. Senator in 2004. Four years later, he successfully challenged former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination and went on to defeat Republican John McCain in the general election, November 4, 2008, thus becoming the first President of African-American origin.

August 5 Return to Top of Page

August 5, 1583 – The first British colony in North America was founded by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, a British navigator and explorer. He sighted the Newfoundland coast and took possession of the area around St. John’s harbor in the name of the Queen. He was later lost at sea in a storm off the Azores on his return trip to England.

August 5, 1861 – President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the first Federal income tax, a 3 percent tax on incomes over $800, as an emergency wartime measure during the Civil War. However, the tax was never actually put into effect.

August 5, 1962 – Film star Marilyn Monroe died at age 36 from an overdose of sleeping pills. She made 29 films during her career and came to symbolize Hollywood glamour.

August 5, 2011Standard & Poor’s credit rating agency downgraded the United States debt from its highest rating of AAA to a lesser AA+ rating, marking the first-ever decline of credit worthiness for the U.S. The agency cited America’s $14 trillion in outstanding debt and ineffective political leadership regarding debt reduction.

Birthday – John Eliot (1604-1690) was born in Hertfordshire, England. Known as the “Apostle to the Indians,” his translation of the Bible into an Indian tongue was the first Bible to be printed in America.

August 6

August 6-10, 1787 – The Great Debate occurred during the Constitutional Convention. Outcomes included the establishment of a four-year term of office for the President, granting Congress the right to regulate foreign trade and interstate commerce, and the appointment of a committee to prepare a final draft of the Constitution.

August 6, 1945 – The first Atomic Bomb was dropped over the center of Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m., by the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay. The bomb detonated about 1,800 ft. above ground, killing over 105,000 persons and destroying the city. Another estimated 100,000 persons later died as a result of radiation effects.

August 6, 1962 – Jamaica achieved independence after centuries of British and Spanish rule. During 150 years of Spanish rule, African slaves were first brought to the island. The British invaded in 1655 and the slave trade greatly expanded during the 1700s. Following the abolition of slavery in the 1830s, Jamaica remained a British colony.

August 6, 1965 – The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Act suspended literacy, knowledge and character tests designed to keep African Americans from voting in the South. It also authorized the appointment of Federal voting examiners and barred discriminatory poll taxes. The Act was renewed by Congress in 1975, 1984 and 1991.

Birthday – British poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England. He was appointed Poet Laureate in succession to William Wordsworth. Memorable poems by Tennyson include Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington and The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Birthday – Penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) was born in Lochfield, Scotland. By accident, he found that mold from soil killed deadly bacteria without injuring human tissue. He received the Nobel Prize in 1954.

August 7

August 7, 1964 – Following an attack on two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam, the U.S. Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, granting President Lyndon B. Johnson authority “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.”

August 7, 1990 – Just five days after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, President George Bush ordered Desert Shield, a massive military buildup to prevent further Iraqi advances.

Birthday – International spy Mata Hari (1876-1917) was born (as Margaret Gertrude Zelle) in Leewarden, Netherlands. Arrested by the French in 1917 as a German spy, she was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. At her execution, she refused a blindfold and instead threw a kiss to the French firing squad.

Birthday – African American statesman and Nobel Prize recipient Ralph J. Bunche (1904-1971) was born in Detroit, Michigan. In 1949, as a mediator for the United Nations, he helped bring an end to hostilities in the war between Israel and the Arab League.

August 8

August 8, 1945 – Soviet Russia declared war on Japan and sent troops into Japanese-held Manchuria.

Birthday – African American explorer Matthew Henson (1866-1955) was born in Charles County, Maryland. He accompanied Robert E. Peary on several Arctic expeditions and reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909.

August 9

August 9, 1945 – The second Atomic bombing of Japan occurred as an American B-29 bomber headed for the city of Kokura, but because of poor visibility then chose a secondary target, Nagasaki. About noon, the bomb detonated killing an estimated 70,000 persons and destroyingabout half the city.

August 9, 1974 – Effective at noon, Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency as a result of the Watergate scandal. Nixon had appeared on television the night before and announced his decisionto the American people. Facing possible impeachment by Congress, he became the only U.S. President ever to resign.

August 10 Return to Top of Page

Birthday – Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) the 31st U.S. President was born in West Branch, Iowa. He was the first President born west of the Mississippi.

August 11

August 11, 1841 – Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, spoke before an audience in the North for the first time. During an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island, he gave a powerful, emotional account of his life as a slave. He was immediately asked to become a full-time lecturer for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society.

August 11-16, 1965 – Six days of riots began in the Watts area of Los Angeles, triggered by an incident between a white member of the California Highway Patrol and an African American motorist. Thirty-four deaths were reported and more than 3,000 people were arrested. Damage to property was listed at $40 million.

BirthdayRoots author Alex Haley (1921-1992) was born in Ithaca, New York. His Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, published in 1976, explored seven generations of his family from its origins in Africa through slavery in America and eventual hard-fought freedom. Roots was translated into 37 languages and also became an eight-part TV miniseries in 1977 which attracted a record American audience and raised awareness concerning the legacy of slavery.

August 12

August 12, 1676 – King Philip’s War ended with the assassination of Metacom, leader of the Pokanokets, a tribe within the Wampanoag Indian Federation. Nicknamed ‘King Philip’ by colonists, he led a Native American uprising against white settlers which resulted in a war that raged for nearly two years, now known as King Philip’s War.

Birthday – Film pioneer Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959) was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts. He produced over 70 major films including Cleopatra, The Ten Commandments, and The Greatest Show on Earth.

August 13

August 13, 1961 – The Berlin Wall came into existence after the East German government closed the border between east and west sectors of Berlin with barbed wire to discourage emigration to the West. The barbed wire was replaced by a 12 foot-high concrete wall eventually extending 103 miles (166 km) around the perimeter of West Berlin. The wall included electrified fences, fortifications, and guard posts. It became a notorious symbol of the Cold War. Presidents Kennedyand Reagan made notable appearances at the wall accompanied by speeches denouncing Communism. The wall was finally opened by an East German governmental decree in November 1989 and torn down by the end of 1990.

Birthday – Women’s rights pioneer Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was born near West Brookfield, Massachusetts. She dedicated her life to the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women and aided in the founding of the American Suffrage Association.

Birthday – Wild West performer Annie Oakley (1860-1926) was born in Darke County, Ohio. Famous for her shooting ability, she joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1885 and was one of the star attractions for 17 years.

Birthday – British film director Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) was born in London. His suspenseful films included classics such as The 39 Steps, Rebecca, Suspicion, Notorious, Rear Window, The Birds, Psycho and Frenzy, in addition to his American TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Birthday – Cuban President Fidel Castro was born in Mayari, Oriente Province, Cuba, August 13, 1927. He led a rebellion in 1959 that drove out Dictator Fulgencio Batista, and remains one of the last outspoken advocates of Communism.

August 14

August 14, 1935 – President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act establishing the system which guarantees pensions to those who retire at age 65. The Social Security system also aids states in providing financial aid to dependent children, the blind and others, as well as administering a system of unemployment insurance.

August 14, 1941 – After three days of secret meetings aboard warships off the coast of Newfoundland, the Atlantic Charter was issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The Charter, a foundation stone for the later establishment of the United Nations, set forth eight goals for the nations of the world, including; the renunciation of all aggression, right to self-government, access to raw materials, freedom from want and fear, freedom of the seas, and disarmament of aggressor nations. By September, fifteen anti-Axis nations signed the Charter.

August 14, 1945 – Following the two Atomic Bomb drops and believing that continuation of the war would only result in further loss of Japanese lives, delegates of Emperor Hirohito accepted Allied surrender terms originally issued at Potsdam on July 26, 1945, with the exception that the Japanese Emperor’s sovereignty would be maintained. Japanese Emperor Hirohito, who had never spoken on radio, then recorded an announcement admitting Japan’s surrender, without actually using the word. The announcement was broadcast via radio to the Japanese people at noon the next day. The formal surrender ceremony occurred later, on September 2, 1945, on board the USSMissouri in Tokyo Bay.

August 14, 1945 – V-J Day, commemorating President Truman’s announcement that Japan had surrendered to the Allies.

August 15 Return to Top of Page

August 15, 1969 – Woodstock began in a field near Yasgur’s Farm at Bethel, New York. The three-day concert featured 24 rock bands and drew a crowd of more than 300,000 young people. The event came to symbolize the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s.

Birthday – French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was born on the island of Corsica. Originally an officer in King Louis’ Army, he rose to become Emperor amid the political chaos that followed the French Revolution. He built a half-million strong Grand Army which utilized newly invented modern tactics and improvisation in battle to sweep across Europe and acquire an empire for France. However, after defeats in Russia and later by the British, he went into exile on the island of St. Helena off the coast of Africa. On May 5, 1821, he died alone on the tiny island abandoned by everyone.

August 16

August 16, 1777 – During the American Revolutionary War, the Battle of Bennington, Vermont, occurred as militiamen from Vermont, aided by Massachusetts troops, wiped out a detachment of 800 German-Hessians sent by British General Burgoyne to seize horses.

August 16, 1780 – The Battle of Camden in South Carolina occurred during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a big defeat for the Americans as forces under General Gates were defeated by troops of British General Charles Cornwallis, resulting in 900 Americans killed and 1,000 captured.

August 16, 1896 – Gold was discovered in Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River in Alaska, resulting in the Great Klondike Gold Rush.

August 16, 1977 – Elvis Presley was pronounced dead at the Memphis Baptist Hospital at 3:30 p.m., at age 42.

Birthday – T.E. Lawrence ‘of Arabia’ (1888-1935) was born in Tremadoc, North Wales. He led an Arab revolt against the Turks during World War I and served as a spy for the British. He was killed in a motorcycle accident at Dorset, England, on May 19, 1935.

Birthday – Israeli leader Menachem Begin (1913-1992) was born in Brest-Litovsk, Poland. He fought for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine in the 1940’s, serving as the leader of a militant Zionist group. In 1977, he became Prime Minister of Israel, and is best known for signing the 1979 Camp David Peace Accord between Israel and Egypt with President Jimmy Carter and President Anwar el Sadat of Egypt.

August 17

August 17, 1943 – During World War II in Europe, the Allies completed the conquest of the island of Sicily after just 38 days. This gave the Allies control of the Mediterranean and also led to the downfall of Benito Mussolini and Italy’s eventual withdrawal from the war. However, the Germans managed to evacuate 39,569 troops, 47 tanks, 94 heavy guns, over 9,000 vehicles and 2,000 tons of ammunition back to the Italian mainland from Sicily.

August 17, 1978 – The first transatlantic balloon trip was completed by three Americans; Max Anderson, Ben Abruzzo, and Larry Newman, all from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Starting from Maine on August 11th, they traveled in Double Eagle II over 3,000 miles in 137 hours, landing about 60 miles west of Paris.

August 17, 1998– Bill Clinton became the first sitting President to give testimony before a grand jury in which he, the President, was the focus of the investigation. This resulted from a sweeping investigation of the President by Independent Counsel Ken Starr as well as a private lawsuit concerning alleged sexual harassment by Clinton before he became President. In the evening, President Clinton appeared on national television and gave a speech admitting he had engaged in an improper relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The admission occurred several months after a much publicized denial.

Birthday – American frontiersman Davy Crockett (1786-1836) was born in Hawkins County, Tennessee. He was a farmer, scout and politician who perished at age 49 during the final heroic defense of the Alamo in Texas.

August 18

August 18, 1920 – The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote.

Birthday – American explorer Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) was born near Charlottesville, Virginia. Along with William Clark, he explored the American West, and in 1805, after a journey of over 18 months, reached the Pacific Ocean.

August 19

August 19, 1934 – In Germany, a plebiscite was held in which 89.9 percent of German voters approved granting Chancellor Adolf Hitler additional powers, including the office of president.

August 19, 1991 – Soviet hard-line Communists staged a coup, temporarily removing Mikhail Gorbachev from power. The coup failed within 72 hours as democratic reformer Boris Yeltsin rallied the Russian people. Yeltsin then became the leading power in the country. The Communist Party was soon banned and by December the Soviet Union itself disintegrated.

Birthday – Aviation pioneer Orville Wright (1871-1948) was born in Dayton, Ohio. In 1903, Orville and his brother Wilbur achieved the world’s first successful sustained and controlled flight of a motor-driven aircraft, following years of experimentation with kites and gliders.

Birthday – Bill Clinton, the 42nd U.S. President was born in Hope, Arkansas, August 19, 1946. He was the first President elected who was not alive during World War II.

August 20 Return to Top of Page

Birthday – Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) the 23rd U.S. President was born in North Bend, Ohio. He was the grandson of William Henry Harrison, the 9th President.

August 21

August 21, 1863 – During the American Civil War, William Quantrill led 450 irregular Confederate raiders on a pre-dawn terrorist raid of Lawrence, Kansas, leaving 150 civilians dead, 30 wounded and much of the town a smoking ruin. In 1862, Quantrill had been denied a Confederate commission by the Confederate Secretary of War, who labeled Quantrill’s notions of war as ‘barbarism.’

August 21, 1959 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation admitting Hawaii to the Union as the 50th state.

August 21, 1983 – Filipino opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., was assassinated at the Manila airport while leaving his plane. Public outcry over the killing ultimately led to the collapse of the government of Ferdinand E. Marcos and the inauguration of Corazon C. Aquino, widow of the slain man, as president.

August 22

August 22, 1986 – Deadly fumes from a volcanic eruption under Lake Nios in Cameroon killed more than 1,500 persons.

Birthday – French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was born in St. Germain-en-Laye, France. His unusual chords, based on the whole-tone scale, laid the groundwork for a new style of music called impressionism.

August 23

August 23, 1927 – Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were electrocuted inside a prison at Charlestown, Massachusetts. They had been convicted of a shoe factory payroll robbery during which the paymaster and a guard had been killed. Following their convictions, all appeals for a new trial had failed, despite the lack of hard evidence and a later admission by a known criminal that he had participated in the robbery with an organized criminal gang. The days and weeks leading up to their execution aroused worldwide protests amid accusations of unfair treatment because they had radical political views and were Italian.

August 24

August 24, 79 A.D. – Vesuvius, an active volcano in southern Italy, erupted and destroyed the cities of Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum.

August 24, 1572 – Thousands of Protestant Huguenots were massacred in Paris and throughout France by Catholics, in what became known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

August 24-25, 1814 – During the War of 1812, Washington, D.C., was invaded by British forces that burned the Capitol, the White House and most other public buildings along with a number of private homes. The burning was in retaliation for the earlier American burning of York (Toronto).

August 25 Return to Top of Page

August 25, 1985 – Samantha Smith died in an airplane crash in Maine. In 1982, the 11-year-old American schoolgirl had written a letter to Soviet Russia’s leader Yuri Andropov asking, “Why do you want to conquer the whole world, or at least our country?” To her surprise, Andropov replied personally to her and offered an all-expense paid trip to the U.S.S.R. She toured Russia for two weeks amid worldwide publicity and came to symbolize American and Russian hopes for peaceful co-existence.

Birthday – American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Considered one of the finest conductors in American music history, his works included West Side Story, On the Town, and the opera Candide.

August 26

August 26, 1883 – One of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions in recorded history occurred on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa. Explosions were heard 2,000 miles away. Tidal waves 120 ft. high killed 36,000 persons on nearby islands, while five cubic miles of earth were blasted into the air up to a height of 50 miles.

Birthday – American inventor Lee De Forest (1873-1961) was born at Council Bluffs, Iowa. He held hundreds of patents for inventions and was also a pioneer in the creation of wireless radio broadcasting and television.

August 27

Birthday – Charles Dawes (1865-1951) was born in Marietta, Ohio. He served as U.S. Vice President from 1925-29, and is best remembered for his “Dawes Plan” for German reparations following World War I. He received the 1925 Nobel Peace Prize.

Birthday – Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) the 36th U.S. President was born near Stonewall, Texas. He ascended to the presidency upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Johnson served until January 20, 1969.

Birthday – Mother Teresa (1910-1997) was born (as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu) in Skopje, Yugoslavia. She founded a religious order of nuns in Calcutta, India, called the Missionaries of Charity and spent her life working to help the poor and sick of India.

August 28

August 28, 1963 – The March on Washington occurred as over 250,000 persons attended a Civil Rights rally in Washington, D.C., at which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his now-famousI Have a Dream speech.

Birthday – German author-philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He is best known for the dramatic poem Faust, completed in 1831.

Birthday – The first American-born Roman Catholic saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) was born (as Elizabeth Ann Bayley) in New York. She founded the first American Catholic religious order, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph. In 1809, she opened an elementary school in Baltimore, marking the beginning of the parochial school system in the U.S.

August 29

August 29, 1792 – In one of the worst maritime disasters, 900 men drowned on the British battleship Royal George. As the ship was being repaired, a gust of wind allowed water to flood into open gun ports. The ship sank within minutes.

August 29, 1991 – Following the unsuccessful coup of August 19-21, the Soviet Communist Party was suspended, thus ending the institution that ruled Soviet Russia for nearly 75 years.

Birthday – Physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He once wrote, “A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” His poem Old Ironsides aroused popular sentiment in the 1830’s which helped to save the historic frigate USS Constitution from destruction.

Birthday – British philosopher and pioneer in modern political thinking, John Locke (1632-1704) was born in Wrington, England. His ideas greatly influenced American colonists, namely that rulers derive their power only from the consent of the governed – and the doctrine that men naturally possess certain rights, the chief being life, liberty, and property.

August 30

BirthdayFrankenstein author Mary Shelley (1797-1851) was born in London.

Birthday – Civil rights leader Roy Wilkins (1901-1981) was born in St. Louis, Missouri. The grandson of a Mississippi slave, he was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

August 31

August 31, 1786 – Shays’ Rebellion began in Massachusetts as ex-Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays led an armed mob. The rebellion prevented the Northampton Court from holding a session in which debtors, mostly poor ex-soldier farmers, were to be tried and likely put in prison. Following this, in September, Shays’ troops prevented Supreme Court sessions at Springfield, Massachusetts. Early in 1787, they attacked the Federal arsenal at Springfield, but were soon routed and fled. Shays was sentenced to death but was pardoned in 1788.

August 31, 1980 – Solidarity, the Polish trade union, was formed at Gdansk, Poland. Led by Lech Walesa, Solidarity opposed Communist rule and was outlawed in 1981. Seven years later, the re-legalization of Solidarity occurred and the government agreed to hold partially free parliamentary elections. Solidarity candidates scored stunning victories in the elections that followed, gaining power in Poland and paving the way for the downfall of Communism there.

August 31, 1997 – Britain’s Princess Diana died at age 36 from massive internal injuries suffered in a high-speed car crash, reportedly after being pursued by photographers. The crash occurred shortly after midnight in Paris inside a tunnel along the Seine River at the Pont de l’Alma bridge, less than a half mile north of the Eiffel Tower. Also killed in the crash were Diana’s companion, Dodi Fayed, 42, and chauffeur Henri Paul. A fourth person in the car, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, was seriously injured.