American Lives

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Saturday, January 31, 2004

Americans in History: January 31

1763: The Boston Post-Boy reported that a man and a woman convicted of fraud were sentenced to the pillory, "with a Paper on each of their Breasts and the words A CHEAT wrote in Capitals thereon..."

1779: In Georgia, Lt Archibald Campbell's British forces took Augusta.

1848: Col John Frémont was found guilty of mutiny and insubordination at his court-martial.

1863: The ironclads CSS Palmetto State and CSS Chicora inflicted damage on a number of Union vessels, giving Charleston temporary relief from the blockade.

1864: Knowing they would not survive the winter otherwise, Delgadito persuaded hundreds of Navajos to surrender to US forces.

1885: Abott Lawrence Rotch and Willard Gerrish moved into the newly-built Blue Hill meteorological observatory near Boston.

1890: Refusing to pay high freight costs, Arizona's Empire Ranch began a cattle drive to California.

1905: Equitable Life heir James Hazen Hyde threw a lavish costume ball at a New York City hotel, which quickly led to his downfall.

1945: Pvt Eddie Slovik was the only US soldier since the Civil War executed for desertion, shot by an American firing squad in France.

1948: Fannie Salter, keeper of Turkey Point Light on Chesapeake Bay, retired from active service; she was the last of the women keepers employed by US lighthouses for 150 years.

1954: Howard Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio, jumped to his death from a hotel window, driven to despair by constant lawsuits with RCA over his patents.

1957: After colliding with a USAF jet fighter over the San Fernando Valley, a Douglas DC-7B airliner crashed in Pacoima, CA, throwing flaming wreckage across a school playground.

1968: In the Tet Offensive, VC commandos seized the US embassy at Saigon, and there were fierce battles for the Tan Son Nhut and Bien Hoa airbases, and at Long Binh.

1970: Pfc Raymond Clausen earned the Medal of Honor while rescuing members of a platoon who had strayed onto a minefield while attacking enemy positions.

1993: Armed guerrillas kidnapped three American missionaries from the village of Púcuro in Panama.

Egghead 11:39 AM - [Link]
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Friday, January 30, 2004
Americans in History: January 30

1704: The governor of Louisiana was informed that the Pelican was on its way with a cargo of young women.

1712: During the Tuscarora War, South Carolina settlers and Indian allies attacked a fort built by Tuscorora and Coree Indians.

1798: During an aurgument in the House of Representatives, Matthew Lyon of Vermont spat in the face of Roger Griswold of Connecticut; a more violent assault soon followed.

1815: After the destruction of its library during the war, Congress agreed to buy Thomas Jefferson's library to begin rebuilding its collection.

1835: Andrew Jackson survived the first assassination attempt on an American president when both of his attacker's pistols misfired.

1838: Seminole leader Osceola died while imprisoned at Fort Moultrie.

1846: Rancho Santa Rosa, consisting of 47,815 acres, was granted to Juan Moreno by the last Mexican governor of California.

1862: The Union's first ironclad warship, the USS Monitor, was launched at Greenpoint, NY.

1887: In San Francisco, Thomas Baldwin made his first parachute jump from a hot air balloon.

1900: William Goebel was shot the day before being sworn in as governor of Kentucky; he died after serving three days of his term.

1910: Construction began on the Los Angeles Motordome, the first board-track auto speedway, at Playa del Rey, CA.

1917: The first known jazz record was cut: "Darktown Strutter's Ball" by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

1925: Floyd Collins got stuck inside Sand Cave in Kentucky; he died two weeks later, still trapped despite the efforts of miners, the National Guard and the Red Cross.

1938: President Roosevelt established the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

1945: On Luzon, the Cabanatuan prison camp was liberated by the 6th Ranger Battalion.

1962: Two members of the Flying Wallendas' high-wire act were killed during a performance in Detroit.

1968: The Tet Offensive was launched with coordinated attacks against US-ARVN positions in more than 100 locations across South Vietnam; shock attacks by VC commandos were followed by waves of supporting troops.

2001: Ronald Sander, one of five American oil workers kidnapped months earlier, was executed in Ecuador; the others were released after $13 million in ransom was paid by oil companies.

Egghead 10:44 AM - [Link]
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Thursday, January 29, 2004
American in History: January 29

1675: The body of John Sassamon, a Christian Indian educated at Harvard, was found under the ice of Assawompset Pond west of Plymouth.

1822: William Becknell, founder of the Santa Fe Trail, returned to Franklin, MO, after his first trading expedition to the West.

1837: While hunting in the Yellowstone country, trapper Osborne Russell and his party were surprised by a group of Blackfoot warriors.

1863: In the Bear River Massacre, Gen Patrick Connor and 300 California volunteers attacked a Northern Shoshone camp near the Idaho-Utah line.

1891: During the Great Panhandle Indian Scare in Texas, long after the Plains tribes were confined to reservations, settlers barricaded themselves and sent out runners with news of an impending Indian attack, which turned out to be a false alarm.

1896: In Chicago, homeopathic physician Emil Grubbe was the first to use radiation treatment on a cancer patient.

1907: A compulsory sterilization bill, requiring eugenic sterilization for "defective" people, was introduced in the Indiana legislature.

1912: During the Bread & Roses Strike in Lawrence, MA, a policeman shot and killed Anna LoPizzo.

1917: Margaret Sanger's trial on obscenity charges began with a courtroom full of socialites and Brownsville women who had visited her birth control clinic.

1929: The Seeing Eye was incorporated in Nashville to train guide dogs for the blind.

1937: In the Flint Sit-Down Strike, General Motors asked for an injunction to order strikers out of the plants, but the judge owned $150,000 worth of GM stock and his order was publicly derided.

1942: The US attorney general began establishing prohibited zones, forbidden to all German, Italian and Japanese aliens, who were soon evacuated from their homes and businesses in those areas.

1942: The Coast Guard cutter Alexander Hamilton was torpedoed by a German sub off Iceland, with 26 crewmen lost.

1945: Sgt Leonard Funk earned the Medal of Honor near Holzheim, Belgium, when he encountered a group of Germans holding American troopers prisoner.

1945: Stalag Luft III was evacuated to prevent the Russian Army from liberating more than 10,000 American and British airmen being held there.

1951: A reinforced patrol sent to investigate the Twin Tunnels was ambushed by North Korean forces at Sinchon.

1968: While being extracted by helicopter from Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia, Sgt Charlie White fell from a rope harness into a bamboo thicket and was never seen again.

1969: F-4 Phantom pilot Maj William Campbell and navigator Capt Robert Holton were shot down near the Mu Gia Pass area of Laos.

Egghead 12:36 PM - [Link]
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Americans in History: January 28

1832: Lydia Maria Child's first piece, "Stand From Under," was published in William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist weekly, The Liberator.

1854: Miners attacked a peaceful Indian village on the Coquille River in Oregon.

1870: In New Mexico, Lucien Maxwell sold the Maxwell Land Grant to foreign investors for $1.35 million; consisting of more than 1.7 million acres, it was the largest tract of privately-owned land in the Western Hemisphere.

1870: The City of Boston, en route to Liverpool, was last seen at Halifax before she vanished at sea with nearly 200 passengers and crew aboard.

1887: Snowflakes "as large as milk pans" fell across parts of Montana; the biggest flake allegedly measured 15 x 8 inches.

1891: In the Murder Steer Incident, Fine Gilliland shot and killed cattleman Henry Harrison Powe near Leoncita Springs, TX, in a dispute over an unbranded calf.

1899 At Keokuk Falls, a whiskey town in Indian Territory, a saloon advertised in the local paper that 188 proof alcohol was "always on hand."

1908: Social reformer and author Julia Ward Howe was the first woman elected to the National Institute of Arts & Letters.

1930: Producer Leon Schlesinger picked up a group of unemployed Disney cartoonists and made a deal with Warner Brothers to produce cartoon shorts, which ran under the banners of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.

1943: B-26 bomber pilot Lt Herschel Davis, stationed in Algeria, began keeping a diary of his wartime experiences.

1945: When his platoon came under fire by a German tank near Herresbach, Belgium, Lt James Megellas stopped the tank with two well-thrown grenades into an open hatch.

1945: A US Navy PB4Y-1 Liberator, the Queen Bee, was shot down over the sea near Taiwan; five of the crew died and six were taken prisoner.

1958: Brooklyn Dodger Roy Campanella's career ended when he was paralyzed in a car wreck.

1964: The Soviets shot down a USAF T-39 that strayed into East German airspace; the three crewmen aboard were killed.

1970: After an F-105 with two crewmen aboard was shot down near the North Vietnam-Laos border, a helicopter with a crew of six went to the scene and was shot down as well.

1973: A month before his release, Capt Jim Thompson was moved to the Hanoi Hilton; captured in March 1964, he was the longest-held POW of any war in US history.

Egghead 11:30 AM - [Link]
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Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Americans in History: January 27

1513: The first African slaves were imported to Puerto Rico.

1631: Gov John Winthrop led an expedition inland along the Charles River to plan a public road westward from Boston.

1766: The threat of mob action convinced Gov James Wright of Georgia to pull stamped paper out of circulation.

1781: A 600-man force commanded by Gen Robert Howe surrounded the New Jersey mutineers at their Pompton encampment; two of the leaders were tried and executed on the spot.

1814: In the battle of Calabee Creek in Alabama, 1,300 Red Stick warriors surprised Gen John Floyd's men at Camp Defiance.

1818: Samuel Morse arrived in Charleston, SC, and set up shop as a portrait painter; some years later, he became involved with telegraphy.

1831: Edgar Allan Poe, hoping to get kicked out of West Point, refused to attend classes or church.

1839: Rev Caleb Smith Ives reported the organization of Christ Church at Matagorda, the first Episcopal church in Texas.

1863: In Georgia, the ironclad USS Montauk was tested against Confederate batteries at Fort McAllister; Rear Admiral Samuel DuPont wrote afterward: "The monitor was struck some thirteen or fourteen times, which would have sunk a gunboat easily, but did no injury whatever..."

1865: The riverboat Eclipse, transporting the 9th Indiana Battery and other Union troops, exploded on the Tennessee River.

1913: Silk workers went on strike at Paterson, NJ.

1913: Jim Thorpe was stripped of his Olympic gold medals because he had been paid to play minor league baseball.

1942: The USS Gudgeon was the first American submarine to sink an enemy vessel, the Japanese sub I-173.

1943: The US freighter Cape Decision was sunk while en route from Charleston, SC, to Sierra Leone, while the Charles C Pinckney was torpedoed near the Azores with numerous casualties.

1943: The first US Eighth Air Force mission over Germany was a bomber raid against U-boat construction yards at Wilhelmshaven.

1945: The evacuation of Stalag Luft III began as the Russian Army approached; 10,000 American and British POWs began a forced march through snow and freezing temperatures.

1945: Navigator Hap Halloran was taken prisoner after his B-29 was shot down over Tokyo.

1958: Charles Starkweather got his car stuck in the mud near August Meyer's farm in Nebraska.

1967: SP4 Donald Evans earned the Medal of Honor while giving aid to wounded soldiers under fire at Dau Tieng.

1967: A flash fire during a practice session killed Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee.

Egghead 11:06 AM - [Link]
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Monday, January 26, 2004
Americans in History: January 26

1611: Charles de Biencourt sailed from France aboard the Grace de Dieu, returning to Acadia with Jesuits, settlers and supplies.

1654: About 150 Sephardim families fled Recife, Brazil; 23 of the refugees soon settled at New Amsterdam and established the oldest Jewish community in North America, Shearith Israel.

1674: As governor-general of New France, Comte Louis de Frontenac arrested Francois Marie Perrot, the governor of Montreal, for encouraging his men to become coureurs des bois.

1679: The keel of the 44-ton Le Griffon, the first ship built on the Great Lakes, was laid near Niagara Falls.

1696: Rev Joseph Lord and a group of colonists from Dorchester, MA, settled on the Ashley River near Charleston, SC.

1767: Charlotta, a utopian community, was settled in Florida by Denys Rolle and 40 English immigrants.

1784: In a letter to his daughter, Benjamin Franklin expressed regret the bald eagle was selected as a national symbol; his choice had been the turkey, "a much more respectable Bird & withal a true original Native of America."

1828: The 88-ton steamboat Fannie arrived in Columbus, GA, the first to make the journey from the Apalachicola River in the Florida panhandle.

1856: The Battle of Seattle began with an attack, allegedly led by Nisqually chief Leschi, on the white settlement.

1875: Pinkerton agents and local lawmen, hunting Jesse James, killed his young half-brother and seriously injured his mother by throwing an incendiary device into their home.

1882: Charles Boles, aka Black Bart, robbed the Ukiah to Cloverdale stage in northern California.

1901: Temperance crusader Carry Nation arrived in Topeka to smash saloons.

1922: The House passed the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, but it was later defeated in the Senate.

1942: The first group of 1,400 US troops deployed to the UK arrived in Northern Ireland.

1943: The first OSS agents of Detachment 101 parachuted behind Japanese lines in Burma.

1944: The Fair Play Committee was formed by Nisei internees at the Heart Mountain relocation camp who refused to be drafted unless their rights of citizenship were restored.

1944: Tank landing ship LST-422 and infantry landing craft LCI-32 sailed into a minefield and exploded off Anzio; George Butenschoen wrote in his diary: "LST blew up, killing all but about 90 out of 600 some."

1945: Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in US history, earned the Medal of Honor by single-handedly repelling a German attack at Holtzwhir, France.

1969: Edwin Pratt, director of the Seattle Urban League, was shot to death in the doorway of his home.

1970: Lt Everett Alvarez spent his 2,000th day in captivity in Southeast Asia.

Egghead 10:42 AM - [Link]
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Sunday, January 25, 2004
Americans in History: January 25

1692: During King William's War, the settlement of York was virtually destroyed in an Abenaki raid.

1699: Pierre le Moyne's ships dropped anchor off Santa Rosa Island at Pensacola, but the Spanish refused to let them land.

1745: The Massachusetts legislature approved Gov William Shirley's plan to attack the French stronghold at Louisbourg in Nova Scotia.

1782: Gen Anthony Wayne arrived in Georgia and launched a vigorous offensive to run the British out.

1787: During Shays' Rebellion, 2,000 debt-ridden farmers led by Revolutionary War vet Daniel Shays tried to capture the arsenal at Springfield, MA.

1807: The Black Laws were expanded, making it almost impossible for free blacks to live or work in Ohio.

1847: The Mormon Battalion, en route from Santa Fe to San Diego, encountered a party of Luiseno Indians burying victims of the Temecula Massacre.

1869: Pat Garrett left Louisiana to seek his fortune out West.

1876: The Hot Springs Railroad was completed in Arkansas, built by Diamond Jo Reynolds of Chicago so that he wouldn't have to ride the stage.

1879: Exilda la Chapelle, a pedestrienne, began walking for her record-breaking performance in Chicago.

1890: Reporter Nellie Bly of the New York World completed her round-the-world trip in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes.

1894: At Jacksonville, FL, Gentleman Jim Corbett knocked out Charlie Mitchell to retain his heavyweight boxing title.

1916: The Federal Aid Road Act, designed to help states build roads in rural areas, was approved by the House of Representatives.

1926: About 16,000 textile workers went on strike in Passaic, NJ.

1944: At Anzio, a young soldier wrote in his journal: "Awakened 0530...another attack! Bombs close again! Doesn't feel so good being in close quarters, darkness, not knowing how much longer you have!...0830 once again...on shore this time...0900 sky full of our planes. About time!"

1945: POW Henry Henderson wrote in his diary: "While we were along side of the dock [at Shirakawa], a US P-51 fighter/bomber made a bombing run over us...our ship was hit with one bomb, causing the survivors to be moved to another transport."

1945: The US Navy ended its ban on enlisting black women in its nursing corps.

1949: Mildred Gillars, aka Axis Sally, an American who had broadcast Nazi propaganda to Allied troops in Europe, went on trial for war crimes in Washington, DC.

Egghead 4:04 PM - [Link]
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What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
--Ecclesiastes 1:9