1769 – An expedition led by Gaspar de Portolà establishes a base in California and sets out to find the Port of Monterey (now Monterey, California).
1771 – Father Junipero Serra founded the Mission San Antonio de Padua in California.
1798 – The Sedition Act, the last of four pieces of legislation known as the Alien and Sedition Acts, was passed by Congress, making it unlawful to write, publish, or utter false or malicious statements about the U.S. president and the U.S. government, among other things. Violations were made punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a fine of $2,000.
1798 – 1st direct federal tax in US states took effect on dwellings, land and slaves.
1813 – LT John M. Gamble was the first marine to command a ship in battle (prize vessel Greenwich in capture of British whaler Seringapatam).
1825 – The visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to America in 1824-1825 was in every sense a triumphal procession. The 2nd Battalion, 11th New York Artillery, was one of many militia turned out to welcome him. This unit decided to adopt the title “National Guard” in honor of Lafayette’s command of the Garde Nationale de Paris during the French Revolution. The 11th Battalion, later designated as the 7th Regiment, was prominent in the line of march on the occasion of Lafayette’s final passage through New York en route home to France. Taking note of the troops named for his old command he alighted from his carriage walked down the line clasping each officer by the hand as he proceeded. The 7th New York, with its designation “National Guard” went on to become one of the most famous of all Guard units well into the 20th century. Its nickname has come to represent all American militia for more than century.
1853 – Commodore Matthew Perry met with Prince Toda and Prince Ido at ceremony at Kurihama, Japan, and presented a letter from former Pres. Fillmore to Emperor Osahito requesting trade relations.
1861 – Union troops tried to force a crossing at Seneca Falls on the Potomac, northwest of Washington but were repulsed by the Confederates. A company of the Louisiana Tiger Rifles helped defend the line.
1861 – Gen McDowell advanced toward Fairfax Courthouse, VA, with 40,000 troops.
1861 – Naval Engagement at Wilmington, NC. USS Daylight established a blockade.
1862 – Congress passed an act stating that: ” . . . the spirit ration in the Navy of the United States shall forever cease, and . . . no distilled spiritous liquors shall be admitted on board vessels of war, except as medical stores . . . there shall be allowed and paid to each person in the Navy now entitled to the ration, five cents per day in commutation and lieu thereof, which shall be in addition to their present pay.” Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox and officers generally held that it was in the Navy’s best interest to abolish the spirit ration.
1863 – Naval forces under Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, including U.S.S. Sangamon, Lehigh, Mahaska, Morse, Commodore Barney, Commodore Jones, Shokokon, and Seymour, captured Fort Powhatan on the James River, Virginia. Acting on orders from Secretary Welles to threaten Richmond and assist mili-tary movements in the vicinity, Lee reported: “We destroyed two magazines . . . and twenty platforms for gun carriages today.” The last Confederate defense below Chaffin’s and Drewry’s Bluff had fallen.
1864 – Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest suffers his biggest defeat when Union General Andrew J. Smith routs his force in Tupelo, Mississippi. The battle came just a month after the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads, in which Forrest engineered a brilliant victory over a larger Union force from Memphis that was designed to keep him from threatening General William T. Sherman’s supply lines in Tennessee. Hoping to neutralize Forrest, Sherman sent Smith’s expedition to destroy Forrest and his cavalry. Smith left LaGrange, Tennessee, on June 22 with 14,000 troops. Forrest and his cavalry were part of a 10,000-man force commanded by General Stephen Lee, but Forrest and Lee shared command responsibilities. Forrest’s strategy at Tupelo was similar to his tactics at the Battle of West Point, Mississippi, five months earlier. In both battles, Forrest used part of his force to entice the Yankees into a trap. The plan worked well at West Point, but in Tupelo Smith did not take the bait. Instead of driving right at Forrest, Smith dug his troops in around Tupelo. Lee and Forrest were uneasy about attacking the Yankees, but they agreed to try to drive Smith out of Mississippi. The assault began on the morning of July 14. Smith’s Union troops were in an ideal position for fending off an attack. The Confederates had to fight uphill across nearly a mile of open terrain. Lee struck one flank and Forrest struck the other. Poor communication ruined the Rebels’ coordination, and after three hours they had not breached the Union line. Although Lee was the ranking Confederate, he had offered Forrest command of the battle. Forrest declined, but assigning blame for the defeat is difficult. Union losses stood at 674, while Forrest and Lee lost over 1,300 soldiers. Despite the Union victory, the overly cautious Smith had lost an opportunity to completely destroy Forrest and Lee’s army. He had not counterattacked, and the Confederates maintained a dangerous force in Mississippi.
1864 – Acting Master George R. Durand, U.S.S. Paul Jones, was captured while making an attempt in Ossabaw Sound, Georgia, to destroy C.S.S. Water Witch,’ a former Union ship which had been taken in June, 1864. Durand concealing himself and his men by day and moving by night, made his way toward the prize steamer only to be discovered and captured by a Confederate patrol.
1864 – Screw steamer U.S.S. Pequot, Lieutenant Commander Quackenbush, and converted ferryboat U.S.S. Commodore Morris, Acting Master Robert G. Lee, engaged Confederate batteries in the vicinity of Malvern Hill, James River, Virginia, for four hours, sustaining no serious damage. Two days later the batteries opened on U.S.S. Mendota, Commander Nichols, Pequot, and Commo-dore Morris. Mendota, a double-ender, sustained minor damage and several casualties. Presence of the battery below Four Mile Creek temporarily closed the navigation of the James River.
1864 – Gold was discovered in Helena, Mont. Four prospectors discovered gold in a small stream they called “Last Chance.” This marked the birth of Helena, future capital of Montana.
1877 – The Baltimore rail workers’ anger at their bosses finally bubbled over on this day in 1877 when members of various rail unions walked off the job to agitate for higher pay and fairer work conditions. By the summer of 1877, the long-simmering tensions between labor and management were set to come to a boil. The “Panic of 1873” lingered well into the decade, depressing the workers’ standard of living and take-home pay. Some of America’s corporate leaders exacerbated the situation, slashing their employee’s salaries in the name of maintaining profit margins. These problems were particularly pronounced on the nation’s rail lines, most notably the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, where laborers had suffered through two pay cuts since the start of the Panic. Over the ensuing week, workers managed to seize the local railroad station. Panicky officials for the company responded by calling in the Maryland militia to break the strike. The presence of the militia hardly eased the situation, however, and on July 20, they opened fire on a crowd of strikers, killing nine of the workers. Along with sparking four days of riots in Baltimore, the deaths of the rail strikers unleashed a torrent of labor activity: workers at other rail lines, as well as in other industries, called massive sympathy strikes, some of which were also marred by violence between strikers and State troopers. In the end, this summer of strikes had mixed results: while the wave of walkouts helped refuel the once-flagging labor movement, some workers–most notably the strikers at the Baltimore and Ohio company–were cowed into signing agreements that did little, if anything, to help their plight.
1882 – Sailors and Marines from 4 U.S. ships land to help restore order at Alexandria, Egypt.
1900 – Armies of the Eight-Nation Alliance capture Tientsin during the Boxer Rebellion.
1911 – Harry Atwood, an exhibition pilot for the Wright Brothers lands his airplane at the South Lawn of the White House. He is later awarded a Gold medal from U.S. President William Howard Taft for this feat.
1913 – Gerald Ford, 41st vice-president and 38th president of the United States, was born as Leslie King, Jr. in Omaha, Nebraska, and achieved his highest prominence as the 38th president of the Untied States. He became president upon Richard Nixon’s resignation from office. Gerald Rudolph Ford was age two when his mother divorced his father and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. She remarried Gerald Ford, Sr., who adopted the young boy and gave him his name. Ford assumed the presidency on August 9, 1974, upon the resignation of Richard M. Nixon.
1914 – 1st patent for liquid-fueled rocket design was granted to Dr. R. Goddard.
1921 – Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted for the May 5, 1920 killing of a paymaster and guard at a shoe factory in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Many claimed there was unsubstantial evidence and that the two were tried for their radical views rather than any crime. A defense committee secured a stay of their death sentences and the cause of Sacco and Vanzetti grew around the world. In 1927 a commission appointed by the governor of Massachusetts examined the conduct and evidence of the trial and sustained the verdict. Sacco and Vanzetti were put to death in the electric chair on August 23, 1927.
1926 – The first radio-beacon established in Alaska, at Cape Spencer, was placed in commission.
1933 – All German political parties except the Nazi Party were outlawed.
1941 – Vichy French Foreign Legionaries signed an armistice in Damascus, allowing them to join the Free French Foreign Legion.
1943 – The main British and American forces continue to advance evenly along the entire front. American units capture Biscani airfield and Niscemi. British units capture Vizzini.
1944 – The French Expeditionary Corps (part of US 5th Army) captures Poggibonsi.
1944 – Task Force 74 (Commodore Collins) bombards Japanese positions near Aitape, between Yakamul and But.
1945 – Over 1000 US naval aircraft raid Hokkaido and the port of Kamaishi. Also, the American battleships South Dakota, Indiana and Massachusetts, as well as 2 heavy cruisers and 4 destroyers, bombard the Kamaishi steel works in the first naval gunfire directed against the Japanese home islands.
1945 – In Konigsee, General Eisenhower announces the closure of SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) and eases some of the restrictions on private contact between American soldiers and German civilians. The carefully-defined limits to fraternization are part of a scheme prepared by Eisenhower, to be presented as part of an Allied plan for unified control of the country. Fraternization is forbidden in the British Army. Meanwhile, the French flag was formally unfurled today at the summit of the Victory Column in Berlin which commemorates the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.
1946 – Heart Mountain, Wyoming, Japanese-American draft resisters were released from McNeil Island.
1950 – U.S. Marines sail from San Diego for Korean Conflict.
1950 – The week long Battle of Taejon begins. This was an early battle between American and North Korean forces during the Korean War. Forces of the United States Army attempted to defend the headquarters of the 24th Infantry Division. The 24th Infantry Division was overwhelmed by numerically superior forces of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) at the major city and transportation hub of Taejon. The 24th Infantry Division’s regiments were already exhausted from the previous two weeks of delaying actions to stem the advance of the KPA. The entire 24th Division gathered to make a final stand around Taejon, holding a line along the Kum River to the east of the city. Hampered by lack of communication, equipment and shortage of heavy weapons to match KPA firepower, the American forces being outnumbered, ill-equipped and untrained were pushed back from the river bank after several days before fighting an intense urban battle to defend the city. After a fierce three-day struggle, the Americans withdrew. Although they could not hold the city, the 24th Infantry Division achieved a strategic advantage by delaying the North Koreans, providing time for other American divisions to establish a defensive perimeter around Pusan further south. The delay imposed at Taejon probably prevented an American rout during the subsequent Battle of the Pusan Perimeter. During the action the KPA captured Major General William F. Dean, the commander of the 24th Infantry Division, and highest ranking American prisoner during the Korean War.
1952 – Laying of keel of USS Forrestal, the first 59,900 ton aircraft carrier.
1964 – The United States sent 600 more troops to Vietnam.
1964 – U.S. military intelligence publicly charges that North Vietnamese regular army officers command and fight in so-called Viet Cong forces in the northern provinces, where Viet Cong strength had doubled in the past six months. Only the day before, South Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Khanh had referred to the “invasion” by North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces. There would soon be other evidence that North Vietnamese troops were operating in South Vietnam. In August, South Vietnamese officials would claim that two companies from the North Vietnamese army had crossed the Demilitarized Zone in Quang Tri province. A battle ensued, but the North Vietnamese forces were defeated with heavy casualties. It became known later that Hanoi had ordered its forces to begin infiltrating to the South. This marked a major change in the tempo and scope of the war in South Vietnam and resulted in President Lyndon B. Johnson committing U.S. combat troops. North Vietnamese forces and U.S. troops clashed for the first time in November 1965, when units from the newly arrived 1st Cavalry Division engaged several North Vietnamese regiments in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in the Central Highlands.
1968 – Defense Secretary Clark Clifford visits South Vietnam to confer with U.S. and South Vietnamese leaders. Upon his arrival in Saigon, Clifford stated that the United States was doing all that it could to improve the fighting capacity of the South Vietnamese armed forces and intended to provide all South Vietnamese army units with M-16 automatic rifles. This effort would increase in 1969 after Richard Nixon became president. In June 1969, Nixon met with South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu on Midway Island. At the meeting, Nixon announced what became known as his “Vietnamization” policy. Under this policy, Nixon intended U.S. troops to help increase the combat capability of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces so that the South Vietnamese could eventually assume full responsibility of the war. Though Nixon described this as a new policy, its roots could be traced back to Clark Clifford’s visit to South Vietnam and groundwork that was laid during the Johnson administration.
1965 – The Mariner 4 flyby of Mars takes the first close-up photos of another planet.
1972 – the State Department criticized actress Jane Fonda for making antiwar radio broadcasts in Hanoi, calling them “distressing.”
1974 – U.S. Army General Carl Spaatz, fighter pilot and the first chief of staff of an independent U.S. Air Force, dies in Washington, D.C., at age 83. Spaatz was born in 1891 in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the Military Academy at West Point in 1914. He was a combat pilot during World War I, and at the outbreak of World War II went to England to help evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the German military. (During the Blitz, the air raids on England by the German Luftwaffe, Spaatz would sit on rooftops to better observe German air tactics.) In July 1942, he became commander of the U.S. Eighth Air Force and inaugurated daylight bombing runs against German-occupied territory in Europe. Two years later, Spaatz was made commander of U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe and continued the practice of daylight bombing, the target now being Germany itself, especially its fuel-oil plants. Since Germany had already lost access to oil in Romania after that country’s occupation by the Soviet Union, the destruction of its native oil production proved particularly devastating to Germany’s ability to keep up aircraft production. In 1945, with the war in the West over (Spaatz was present at the formal German surrender at Reims on May 8), his focus shifted to the Pacific and the Japanese. Although he initially opposed the use of atomic weapons against Japan, he eventually acquiesced and directed the bomb drops on order from President Truman. In fact, his telegraph to Washington stating that there were no Allied prisoner of war camps in Hiroshima resulted in that city becoming the first target of the atom bomb. In September 1947, General Spaatz, an illustrious combat career behind him, was named the first chief of staff of the now independent U.S. Air Force, which previously had been a unit of the Army. But a desk job was not for him. He retired in 1948.
1986 – Richard W. Miller became the 1st FBI agent convicted of espionage.
1987 – Lt. Col. Oliver North concluded six days of testimony before the Iran-Contra committees.
1987 – Taiwan ended 37 years of martial law.
1988 – Speaking before the U.N. Security Council, Iran’s foreign minister, Ali-Akbar Velayati, denounced the U.S. downing of an Iranian jetliner as “a barbaric massacre.” Vice President Bush replied that the U.S.S. Vincennes had fired in self-defense.
1993 – The USS IWO JIMA was decommissioned after over 30 years of service in a ceremony at Norfolk Naval Base, Virginia. The ship was named for the World War II battle during which three Marine divisions ousted 20,000 entrenched Japanese troops. The Iwo Jima was commissioned 26 August 1961, and it was the first ship specifically designed as an amphibious assault ship from the keel up.
2000 – In Waco, Texas, a federal jury decided that federal agents were not responsible for the deaths of 80 Branch Davidians in 1993.
2001 – The US launched a prototype missile interceptor from the Marshall Islands and successfully struck a mock warhead launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 4,800 miles away. This was the 4th such Pentagon test. A $100 million prototype radar failed to detect the strike.
2001 – NASA launched an unmanned solar-powered plane named Helios over Hawaii.
2001 – China convicted Li Shaomin (44), a Chinese-born American business professor, of spying for Taiwan and ordered his expulsion.
2003 – Columnist Robert Novak identified Valerie Plame as a CIA employee. Her husband, Joseph Wilson, former American ambassador, had earlier alleged that Pres. Bush had falsely accused Iraq of trying to buy uranium from Niger. Two White House officials soon called at least 6 Washington journalists and told them that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was once a undercover CIA agent who had worked in Niger.
2003 – Iraq’s new governing council, in its first full day on the job, voted to send a delegation to the U.N. Security Council and assert its right to represent Baghdad on the world stage.
2003 – It was reported that Kim Jong Il of North Korea maintained an unpublicized trading network and slush fund named Division 39 with a cash hoard as large as $5 billion. Its operations included counterfeiting, drug trafficking and trade in illicit weapons systems.
2003 – Washington Post columnist Robert Novak reveals that Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame is a CIA “operative”
2004 – Militants in Iraq said they killed a captive Bulgarian truck driver and threatened to put another hostage to death in 24 hours. Georgi Lazov (30) and Ivaylo Kepov (32) were kidnapped Jun 29.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
HIBSON, JOSEPH C.
Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 48th New York Infantry. Place and date: Near Fort Wagner, S.C., 13 July 1863, Near Fort Wagner, S.C., 14 July 1863; Near Fort Wagner, S.C., 18 July 1863. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: England. Date of issue: 23 October 1897. Citation: While voluntarily performing picket duty under fire on 13 July 1863, was attacked and his surrender demanded, but he killed his assailant. The day following responded to a call for a volunteer to reconnoiter the enemy’s position, and went within the enemy’s lines under fire and was exposed to great danger. On 18 July voluntarily exposed himself with great gallantry during an assault, and received 3 wounds that permanently disabled him for active service.
HOLTON, CHARLES M.
Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company A, 7th Michigan Cavalry. Place and date: At Falling Waters, Va., 14 July 1863. Entered service at: Battle Creek, Mich. Born: 25 May 1838, Potter, N.Y. Date of issue: 21 March 1889. Citation: Capture of flag of 55th Virginia Infantry (C.S.A.). In the midst of the battle with foot soldiers he dismounted to capture the flag.