1526 – The Spaniard Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon and his colonists left Santo Domingo in the Caribbean for Florida.
1759 – The French relinquished Fort Ticonderoga in New York to the British under General Jeffrey Amherst.
1579 – Francis Drake left SF to cross Pacific Ocean.
1788 – New York became the 11th state to ratify the Constitution.
1790 – US passed the Assumption bill making it responsible for state debts.
1812 – Frigate Essex captures British brig Leander.
1846 – USRC Woodbury put down a mutiny on board the troop ship Middlesex during the Mexican War.
1847 – The Republic of Liberia, formerly a colony of the American Colonization Society, declares its independence. Under pressure from Britain, the United States hesitantly accepted Liberian sovereignty, making the West African nation the first democratic republic in African history. A constitution modeled after the U.S. Constitution was approved, and in 1848 Joseph Jenkins Roberts was elected Liberia’s first president. The American Colonization Society was founded in 1816 by American Robert Finley to return freed African American slaves to Africa. In 1820, the first former U.S. slaves arrived at the British colony of Sierra Leone from the United States, and in 1821 the American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia south of Sierra Leone as a homeland for former slaves outside British jurisdiction. The American Colonization Society came under attack from U.S. abolitionists, who charged that the removal of freed slaves from the United States strengthened the institution of slavery. In addition, most Americans of African descent were not enthusiastic to abandon their native lands in the United States for the harsh West African coast. Nevertheless, between 1822 and the American Civil War, some 15,000 African Americans settled in Liberia. Independence was granted by the United States in 1847, and Liberia aided Britain in its efforts to end the illegal West African slave trade. Official U.S. diplomatic recognition came in 1862. With the backing of the United States, Liberia kept its independence though the turmoil of the 20th century. A costly civil war began in 1989 and lasted until 1997, when Charles Taylor was elected Liberian president in free elections. His administration has been criticized for supporting the rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone. Some three million people live in Liberia today.
1861 – George McClellan assumes command of the Army of the Potomac after the disaster at Bull Run five days prior. McClellan built the army into a powerhouse in the winter of 1861-62, although he proved to be a weak field commander.
1863 – Confederate cavalry leader John Hunt Morgan and 360 of his men are captured at Salineville, Ohio, during a spectacular raid on the North. Morgan made four major raids on Northern or Northern-held territory starting in July 1862. Although they were of limited strategic significance, they served as a boost to Southern morale and captured much-needed supplies. Morgan’s fourth raid began on July 2, 1863, when he and 2,400 troopers left Tennessee and headed for the Ohio River. Morgan hoped to divert the attention of William Rosecrans, who was driving for Chattanooga. He reached the river on July 8, using stolen steamboats to ferry his force across to Indiana. For the next two and a half weeks, Morgan rampaged through Indiana and Ohio, feigning toward Cincinnati, then riding across southern Ohio. His force met little resistance, but scattered some local militias who faced them. With Union cavalry in hot pursuit, Morgan headed for Pennsylvania. For more than a week they spent 21 hours per day in the saddle. At Pomeroy, Ohio, Morgan lost over 800 men when the Yankees caught up with him and captured a large part of his force. He and the remaining members of his command were forced further north, and on July 26, the exhausted men were forced to surrender. In the end, only 400 of Morgan’s troopers made it safely back to the South. Those captured were scattered around Northern prison camps. Morgan and his officers were sent to the newly opened Ohio State Penitentiary. He and his men tunneled out on November 26, 1863, but he was killed in battle a year later.
1871 – Ferdinand Hayden (1830-1887) and his government sponsored team arrived at the Yellowstone Lake and the geyser fields.
1912 – First airborne radio communications from naval aircraft to ship (LT John Rodgers to USS Stringham).
1918 – A group of former Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war known as the Czech legion occupy Yekaterinburg. They has been expecting to be repatriated but the plan has been blocked by the Bolsheviks. The troops of the Czech Legion respond by taking arms from Bolshevik units in order to force their way back to their homeland. They will, however, become embroiled in the Russian Civil War, fighting with anti-Bolshevik forces.
1918 – New York’s 27th Division, assigned to the British XIX Corps, which had begun relieving the French 71st Division on July 5th, completes it movement into the front lines. During its service in World War I the 27th would participate in two campaigns, the Ypres-Lys and Somme Offensive and have seven of its soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor.
1926 – Philippines government asked the US for a plebiscite for independence.
1941 – President Franklin Roosevelt seizes all Japanese assets in the United States in retaliation for the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China. On July 24, Tokyo decided to strengthen its position in terms of its invasion of China by moving through Southeast Asia. Given that France had long occupied parts of the region, and Germany, a Japanese ally, now controlled most of France through Petain’s puppet government, France “agreed” to the occupation of its Indo-China colonies. Japan followed up by occupying Cam Ranh naval base, 800 miles from the Philippines, where Americans had troops, and the British base at Singapore. President Roosevelt swung into action by freezing all Japanese assets in America. Britain and the Dutch East Indies followed suit. The result: Japan lost access to three-fourths of its overseas trade and 88 percent of its imported oil. Japan’s oil reserves were only sufficient to last three years, and only half that time if it went to war and consumed fuel at a more frenzied pace. Japan’s immediate response was to occupy Saigon, again with Vichy France’s acquiescence. If Japan could gain control of Southeast Asia, including Malaya, it could also control the region’s rubber and tin production–a serious blow to the West, which imported such materials from the East. Japan was now faced with a dilemma: back off of its occupation of Southeast Asia and hope the oil embargo would be eased–or seize the oil and further antagonize the West, even into war.
1942 – About 400 miles southeast of Fiji, the American aircraft carriers Wasp, Enterprise and Saratoga rendezvous with the invasion force for Guadalcanal. It is the most powerful force the US Navy has yet assembled in the Pacific.
1942 – CAPT Joy Bright Hancock appointed Director, Women’s Naval Reserve.
1942 – Actor Gene Autry is sworn into the Army Air Corps on the air, during his regular radio show, Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch. He served as an officer until 1945, when he resumed his show. Autry was born in Tioga, Texas, in 1907, the son of a livestock and horse trader who was also a Baptist minister. The family later moved to Oklahoma. In high school, Autry worked as a railway telegrapher at the local railroad depot, where he spent slow moments strumming his $8 guitar and singing. Passing through the depot one day, a stranger-who turned out to be Will Rogers-suggested that Autry try singing on the radio. Inspired, Autry traveled to New York City to look for a singing job but had no luck. Back home, he began working for a local radio station and found success as “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy.” Eventually, Autry and railroad dispatcher Jim Long wrote several country songs, including the world’s first gold record, “That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine.” Autry became a regular on National Barn Dance, the forerunner of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1934, producer Nat Levine was looking for an actor who could sing and ride a horse. Autry wasn’t an actor but had already established a loyal radio audience, so Levine put him in numerous B-grade westerns. Playing the lead role in a long-running series of Saturday matinee films, Autry became America’s favorite singing cowboy. In 1940, his musical-variety radio show, Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch, debuted; it ran until 1956. He became America’s favorite TV cowboy in 1950 when he debuted The Gene Autry Show, which ran through 1956. In each episode, he and his sidekick, Pat Buttram, rode from town to town, maintaining law and order. From “Back in the Saddle Again” to yuletide mainstays such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman,” Autry’s music became part of American life. He was also an entrepreneur, owning hotels, gas stations, and the California Angels baseball team, among other ventures. He also owned a television production company and was proud of discovering “Annie Oakley” star Gail Davis, whom he featured in dozens of his movies and television program episodes and who had performed in his traveling rodeo. Her appearances spun off into her own series, which Autry’s company produced. Autry was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969. Autry died in 1998.
1943 – Marshal Badoglio forms a new government and declares martial law. He publicly claims loyalty to the Axis alliance with Germany.
1943 – n the Solomons, US forces continue to make slow progress with heavy air and artillery support. Tanks and flame throwers are also used.
1944 – Roosevelt meets with MacArthur and Nimitz to discuss strategy in the Pacific theater. MacArthur argues for an attack on the Philippines. Nimitz and the naval staff suggest the Philippines can be by-passed and Formosa should be the next major target.
1944 – The attacks of US 1st Army continue. The US 7th Corps captures Marigny and St. Gilles. To the west, US 8th Corps crosses the Lessay-Periers road.
1945 – The Potsdam Declaration is issued in a radio broadcast demanding the immediate and unconditional surrender of Japan. It also threatens the “prompt and utter destruction” of the Japanese homeland, if the government of Japan fails to do so.
1945 – The heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis delivers the consignment of Uranium-235, needed to assemble the first operational atomic bomb, to the American base on Tinian.
1945 – The US, Britain and China issued the Potsdam Declaration to Japan that she surrender unconditionally. Two days later Japanese Premier Kantaro Suzuki announced to the Japanese press that the Potsdam declaration is to be ignored.
1947 – President Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Act, which becomes one of the most important pieces of Cold War legislation. The act established much of the bureaucratic framework for foreign policymaking for the next 40-plus years of the Cold War. By July 1947, the Cold War was in full swing. The United States and the Soviet Union, once allies during World War II, now faced off as ideological enemies. In the preceding months, the administration of President Truman had argued for, and secured, military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey to assist in their struggles against communist insurgents. In addition, the Marshall Plan, which called for billions of dollars in U.S. aid to help rebuild war-torn Western Europe and strengthen it against possible communist aggression, had also taken shape. As the magnitude of the Cold War increased, however, so too did the need for a more efficient and manageable foreign policymaking bureaucracy in the United States. The National Security Act was the solution. The National Security Act had three main parts. First, it streamlined and unified the nation’s military establishment by bringing together the Navy Department and War Department under a new Department of Defense. This department would facilitate control and utilization of the nation’s growing military. Second, the act established the National Security Council (NSC). Based in the White House, the NSC was supposed to serve as a coordinating agency, sifting through the increasing flow of diplomatic and intelligence information in order to provide the president with brief but detailed reports. Finally, the act set up the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA replaced the Central Intelligence Group, which had been established in 1946 to coordinate the intelligence-gathering activities of the various military branches and the Department of State. The CIA, however, was to be much more–it was a separate agency, designed not only to gather intelligence but also to carry out covert operations in foreign nations. The National Security Act formally took effect in September 1947. Since that time, the Department of Defense, NSC, and CIA have grown steadily in terms of size, budgets, and power. The Department of Defense, housed in the Pentagon, controls a budget that many Third World nations would envy. The NSC rapidly became not simply an information organizing agency, but one that was active in the formation of foreign policy. The CIA also grew in power over the course of the Cold War, becoming involved in numerous covert operations. Most notable of these was the failed Bay of Pigs operation of 1961, in which Cuban refugees, trained and armed by the CIA, were unleashed against the communist regime of Fidel Castro. The mission was a disaster, with most of the attackers either killed or captured in a short time. Though it had both successes and failures, the National Security Act indicated just how seriously the U.S. government took the Cold War threat.
1948 – President Harry Truman In Executive Order No. 9981 called for “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”
1950 – Up to 300 South Korean refugees trapped under a bridge at No Gun Ri were killed by small arms fire. The villagers had been gathered there by US troops. Official review in 1999 was unable to verify or rule out the claims of surviving refugees that they were fired on by US troops.
1951 – Communist and U.N. negotiators agreed to an agenda for armistice talks.
1951 – The U.S. 2nd Infantry Division’s 38th Infantry Regiment attacked in the Taeusan area along the edge of the Punchbowl, securing the objective by the July 30.
1954 – 3 aircraft from USS Philippine Sea (CVA-47) shoot down 2 Chinese fighters that fired on them while they were providing air cover for rescue operations for a U.K. airliner shot down by a Chinese aircraft.
1956 – The Suez Crisis begins when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the British and French-owned Suez Canal. The Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas across Egypt, was completed by French engineers in 1869. For the next 87 years, it remained largely under British and French control, and Europe depended on it as an inexpensive shipping route for oil from the Middle East. After World War II, Egypt pressed for evacuation of British troops from the Suez Canal Zone, and in July 1956 President Nasser nationalized the canal, hoping to charge tolls that would pay for construction of a massive dam on the Nile River. In response, Israel invaded in late October, and British and French troops landed in early November, occupying the canal zone. Under Soviet, U.S., and U.N. pressure, Britain and France withdrew in December, and Israeli forces departed in March 1957. That month, Egypt took control of the canal and reopened it to commercial shipping. Ten years later, Egypt shut down the canal again following the Six Day War and Israel’s occupation of the Sinai peninsula. For the next eight years, the Suez Canal, which separates the Sinai from the rest of Egypt, existed as the front line between the Egyptian and Israeli armies. In 1975, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat reopened the Suez Canal as a gesture of peace after talks with Israel. Today, an average of 50 ships navigate the canal daily, carrying more than 300 million tons of goods a year.
1971 – Apollo 15 was launched from Cape Kennedy.
1972 – Although South Vietnamese paratroopers hoist their flag over Quang Tri Citadel, they prove unable to hold the Citadel for long or to secure Quang Tri City. Fighting outside the city remained intense. Farther to the south, South Vietnamese troops under heavy shelling were forced to abandon Fire Base Bastogne, which protected the southwest approach to Hue. North Vietnamese troops had captured Quang Tri City on May 1 as part of their Nguyen Hue Offensive (later called the “Easter Offensive”), a massive invasion by North Vietnamese forces that had been launched on March 31. The attacking force included 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, with more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles. The main North Vietnamese objectives, in addition to Quang Tri in the north, were Kontum in the Central Highlands, and An Loc farther to the south. Initially, the South Vietnamese defenders were almost overwhelmed, particularly in the northernmost provinces, where they abandoned their positions in Quang Tri. At Kontum and An Loc, the South Vietnamese were more successful in defending against the attacks, but only after weeks of bitter fighting. Although the defenders suffered heavy casualties, they managed to hold their own with the aid of U.S. advisors and American airpower. Fighting continued all over South Vietnam into the summer months. The heavy fighting would continue in the area of Quang Tri and Hue until September, when the South Vietnamese forces finally succeeded in recapturing Quang Tri. With the communist invasion blunted, President Nixon declared that the South Vietnamese victory proved the viability of his “Vietnamization” program, which he had instituted in 1969 to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so U.S. troops could be withdrawn.
1983 – The United States warns of action to preserve navigation in the Persian Gulf.
1986 – Kidnappers in Lebanon released the Reverend Lawrence Martin Jenco, an American hostage held for nearly 19 months.
1987 – Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said the Navy’s anti-mine capabilities would be improved in the Persian Gulf in the wake of a mine explosion that damaged the tanker Bridgeton.
1992 – Iraq agreed to permit weapons inspectors to search the Agriculture Ministry in Baghdad.
1993 – Ret. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway (98), US Army Chief of Staff (1953-55), died in Fox Chapel, Pa.
2000 – The US Navy reported that an F-14 Tomcat jet crashed in Saudi Arabia during a training flight. Iraqi air defense later reported that Iraqi units had shot down a US Air Force F-14 over southern Iraq in mid July and claimed that the Navy report was a coverup. The U.S. Air Force does not fly F-14s.
2001 – China granted parole to two U.S.-based scholars convicted of spying for Taiwan.
2004 – Afghan President Hamid Karzai formally filed his candidacy for October presidential elections and chose a brother of late resistance hero Ahmad Shah Masoud as his running mate for vice president.
2004 – An Egyptian diplomat held hostage by militants in Iraq for three days was released and was in good condition.
2004 – Al-Qaida-linked Islamic militants threatened to “shake the earth” everywhere in Italy if Rome does not withdraw troops from Iraq. The Internet statement, attributed to the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, was the 2nd such threat against the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in two weeks.
2014 – ISIS blew up the Nabi Shiyt (Prophet Seth) shrine in Mosul. Sami al-Massoudi, deputy head of the Shia endowment agency which oversees holy sites, confirmed the destruction and added that ISIS had taken artifacts from the shrine to an unknown location.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1853, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 215, 9 August 1876. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Plymouth, Navy Yard, New York, 26 July 1876. Showing heroic conduct, Corey endeavored to save the life of one of the crew of that ship who had fallen overboard from aloft.
Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1853, Bangor, Maine. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 215, 9 August 1876. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Plymouth, Gidding showed heroic conduct in trying to save the life of one of the crew of that ship, who had fallen overboard from aloft at the Navy Yard, New York, 26 July 1876.
Rank and organization: Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1847, St. Johns, Newfoundland. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 215, 9 August 1876. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Plymouth at the Navy Yard, New York, 26 July 1876, Kersey displayed bravery and presence of mind in rescuing from drowning one of the crew of that vessel.
BATSON, MATTHEW A.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 4th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Calamba, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 26 July 1899. Entered service at: Carbondale, Ill. Birth: Anna, Ill. Date of issue: 8 March 1902. Citation: Swam the San Juan River in the face of the enemy’s fire and drove him from his entrenchments.
McGRATH, HUGH J.
Rank and organization: Captain, 4th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Calamba, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 26 July 1899. Entered service at: Eau Claire, Wis. Birth: Fond du Lac, Wis. Date of issue: 29 April 1902. Citation: Swam the San Juan River in the face of the enemy’s fire and drove him from his entrenchments.
WILSON, LOUIS HUGH, JR.
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Commanding Rifle Company, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division. Place and date: Fonte Hill, Guam, 25-26 July 1944. Entered service at: Mississippi. Born: 11 February 1920, Brandon, Miss. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of a rifle company attached to the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Fonte Hill, Guam, 25-26 July 1944. Ordered to take that portion of the hill within his zone of action, Capt. Wilson initiated his attack in mid-afternoon, pushed up the rugged, open terrain against terrific machinegun and rifle fire for 300 yards and successfully captured the objective. Promptly assuming command of other disorganized units and motorized equipment in addition to his own company and 1 reinforcing platoon, he organized his night defenses in the face of continuous hostile fire and, although wounded 3 times during this 5-hour period, completed his disposition of men and guns before retiring to the company command post for medical attention. Shortly thereafter, when the enemy launched the first of a series of savage counterattacks lasting all night, he voluntarily rejoined his besieged units and repeatedly exposed himself to the merciless hail of shrapnel and bullets, dashing 50 yards into the open on 1 occasion to rescue a wounded marine Iying helpless beyond the frontlines. Fighting fiercely in hand-to-hand encounters, he led his men in furiously waged battle for approximately 10 hours, tenaciously holding his line and repelling the fanatically renewed counterthrusts until he succeeded in crushing the last efforts of the hard-pressed Japanese early the following morning. Then organizing a 17-man patrol, he immediately advanced upon a strategic slope essential to the security of his position and, boldly defying intense mortar, machinegun, and rifle fire which struck down 13 of his men, drove relentlessly forward with the remnants of his patrol to seize the vital ground. By his indomitable leadership, daring combat tactics, and valor in the face of overwhelming odds, Capt. Wilson succeeded in capturing and holding the strategic high ground in his regimental sector, thereby contributing essentially to the success of his regimental mission and to the annihilation of 350 Japanese troops. His inspiring conduct throughout the critical periods of this decisive action sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.