1688 – At a Quaker meeting in Germantown, Pa, German Mennonites penned a memorandum stating a profound opposition to Negro slavery. Quakers in Germantown, Pa., adopted the fist formal antislavery resolution in America.
1783 – James Biddle born. Mr. Biddle was a United Stated naval officer, and nephew of Captain Nicholas Biddle, of the Continental Navy, was born in Philadelphia. James was the son of Charles and Hannah (m. Shepard) In 1800 James was appointed a midshipman in the Navy. His early training was under Thomas Truxtun on the frigate “President.” Retained in 1801, when the Navy was reduced, Biddle served on the “Constellation” in the Mediterranean in 1802. He had the misfortune to be on the “Philadelphia” when that frigate ran on the rocks off Tripoli, and spent 19 months in prison there with William Bainbridge, David Porter and other officers. Following the Barbary Wars, he secured leave and made a voyage as a mate in the China Trade. Upon his return he was promoted to lieutenant, and was second in command of the “Wasp” when that vessel took the “Frolic” in one of the famous single-ship actions of the War of 1812. When a British 74-gun ship captured the “Wasp” and retook the “Frolic,” Biddle had a second experience as a prisoner of war. When he was exchanged, in 1813, he found himself a master commandant and in command of the brig “Hornet.” In this vessel he engaged the “Penguin,” of equal weight of metal, and, on April 27, 1815, escaped an enemy ship-of-the-line for the last naval engagement of the war. In 1817, Biddle, serving in the Pacific, took formal possession of the Oregon territory. Subsequently he served in the South Atlantic, Mediterranean and Gulf of Mexico. In 1846 he negotiated the first treaty with China, and during the Mexican War was in command of the Pacific coast. He died at Philadelphia on Oct. 1, 1848. A transport ship was named after him, AP-15.
1814 – The British schooner Phoenix fell to Marines of the USS Constitution.1817 – Walter Paye Lane (d.1892), Brig General (Confederate Army), was born.
1823 – Mexican Emperor Augustin de Iturbide reconfirms the land grant made by the governor of New Spain to the late Moses Autin, made transferable to his son, Stephen F. Austin. This tract along the Rio Grande will become home to over 300 families brought in by Austin in 1825.
1827 – Confederate General Lewis Armistead is born in New Bern, North Carolina. Armistead is best known for leading Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, where he was mortally wounded. Armistead’s father, Walker Keith Armistead, and his five uncles served in the military during the War of 1812. One of them, George Armistead, commanded Fort McHenry at Baltimore during the British bombardment that produced the Star Spangled Banner. Lewis Armistead entered West Point in 1834 but did not graduate due to poor grades, although some sources indicate that the reason was a fight with another cadet, Jubal Early, who was later a comrade in the Army of Northern Virginia. Despite this, Armistead joined the military as a second lieutenant and fought in the Seminole War in Florida and was cited for heroism three times in the Mexican War. During the 1850s, he served on the frontier and developed a very close friendship with another officer, Pennsylvanian Winfield Scott Hancock. When the Civil War broke out, he resigned his commission to join his home state, Virginia. At the beginning of the war, Armistead commanded the 57th Virginia Infantry, but by April 1862 he was in a brigadier general. He fought during the Seven Days’ battles in June and July 1862, but played only minor roles at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. On July 2, 1863, he led a brigade in Pickett’s division during the climactic charge at Gettysburg. In a tragic coincidence, Armistead’s men attacked Hancock’s corps at the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Armistead crossed the wall that protected the Federal cannon, representing the high water mark of the Confederacy. He fell wounded there, and the attack stalled. Armistead was found by Captain Henry Bingham, an aide to Hancock, and Armistead told him to, “Say to General Hancock for me that I have done him and done you all an injury which I shall regret the longest day that I live.” Armistead lingered for two days, and he requested that his personal effects be given to Hancock, who was also seriously wounded that day. Armistead was buried in a family plot at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
1841 – The 1st continuous filibuster in US Senate began and lasting until March 11.
1842 – The House of Representatives passed a resolution requesting the Committee on Commerce to make an inquiry into the expenditures of the Lighthouse Establishment since 1816. This was to explore the possibility of cutting down on expenses, to examine the question of reorganizing the establishment and administration, and also to ascertain whether the establishment should be placed under the Topographical Bureau of the War Department.
1846 – “It having been represented to the (Navy) Department, that confusion arises from the use of the words “Larboard” and “Starboard,” in consequence of the similarity of sound, the word “Port” is hereafter to be substituted for “Larboard.” –Navy Department General Order
1850 – The city of SF was incorporated.
1861 – Jefferson F. Davis was inaugurated as the Confederacy’s provisional president at a ceremony held in Montgomery, Ala., where the Confederate constitutional convention was held. Davis was sworn in on Feb 22 in Virginia.
1861 – Southern Arapaho Indian Agent, Albert Boone, grandson of the famous Daniel Boone, held a council attended by some of the Southern bands of the Arapaho tribe and a few Cheyenne. He reported he had gotten consent for the cession of their land in exchange for a small reservation on Colorado’s Sand creek. It is not clear whether they understood the terms or not, as their chief interpreter, Left Hand was not there. Hunting buffalo from Sand Creek would be very hard as they ranged east and north of the reservation. At Sand Creek, the Cheyenne were to have the eastern half and the Arapaho the western. The Northern Arapaho did not consent to the cession.
1864 – President Lincoln ended the blockade of Brownsville, Texas, and opened the port for trade.
1865 – Following the fall of Fort Fisher at the mouth of the river, Union forces had repositioned for an attack on Fort Anderson, N.C on the Cape Fear River. Federals attacked from the land and river. After three days of fighting, the Confederates evacuated the fort at night. Union gunboats started firing at first light, unaware that Federal soldiers were breaching the walls of the fort. The infantry frantically waved sheets and blankets to stop the deadly fire from their own forces.
1865 – Union forces under Major General William T. Sherman set the South Carolina State House on fire during the burning of Columbia.
1865 – The big guns of Rear Admiral Porter’s fleet in the Cape Fear River silenced the Confederate batteries at Fort Anderson. Under a relentless hail of fire from the ships and with Union troops investing the fort from two sides, the Southerners evacuated their defensive position and fell back to Town Creek. Simultaneously, the Confederates dug in at Sugar Loaf Hill on the east bank of the river, adjacent to Fort Anderson, withdrew to Fort Strong, a complex of fortifications comprising several batteries some three miles south of Wilmington. The combined Army-Navy movement was now pushing irresistibly toward the city.
1865 – Battle of Ft. Moultrie, SC.
1878 – John Tunstall is murdered by outlaw Jesse Evans, sparking the Lincoln County War in Lincoln County, New Mexico.
1927 – The U.S. and Canada established diplomatic relations independently of Great Britain.
1930 – Pluto, generally the ninth most distant planet from the sun, is discovered at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh. The existence of an unknown ninth planet was first proposed by Percival Lowell, who theorized that wobbles in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune were caused by the gravitational pull of an unknown planetary body. Lowell calculated the approximate location of the hypothesized ninth planet and searched for more than a decade without success. However, in 1929, using the calculations of Powell and W.H. Pickering as a guide, the search for Pluto was resumed at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. On February 18, 1930, Tombaugh discovered the tiny, distant planet by use of a new astronomic technique of photographic plates combined with a blink microscope. His finding was confirmed by several other astronomers, and on March 13, 1930–the anniversary of Lowell’s birth and of William Hershel’s discovery of Uranus–the discovery of Pluto was publicly announced. With a surface temperature estimated at approximately -360 Fahrenheit, Pluto was appropriately given the Roman name for the god of the underworld in Greek mythology. Pluto’s average distance from the sun is nearly four billion miles, and it takes approximately 248 years to complete one orbit. It also has the most elliptical and tilted orbit of any planet, and at its closest point to the sun it passes inside the orbit of Neptune, the eighth planet. After its discovery, some astronomers questioned whether Pluto had sufficient mass to affect the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. In 1978, a solution to this problem came when James Christy and Robert Harrington discovered Pluto’s only known moon, Charon, which was determined to have a diameter of 737 miles to Pluto’s 1,428 miles. Together, Pluto and Charon form a double-planet system of ample enough mass to cause wobbles in Uranus’ and Neptune’s orbits.
1932 – Manchurian independence was formally declared. In 1928 the Japanese army unilaterally instigated armed clashes in China’s Manchuria region to justify full-scale intervention. In 1931 the Japanese army invaded Manchuria without its own government’s consent.
1940 – The American Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, applies the American “moral embargo” to the USSR.
1942 – The Free French submarine Surcouf (then the largest submarine in the world) is sunk in a collision with a US merchant ship.
1943 – The new American 6th Army, commanded by General Krueger, become operational in the southwest Pacific.
1943 – A US Task Group (Admiral McMorris) with 2 cruisers and 4 destroyers bombards Japanese positions on Attu Island.
1943 – Rommel took three towns in Tunisia, North Africa. The intercepted communications of an American in Cairo provided a secret ear for the Desert Fox.
1944 – Following the usual pre-landing procedures, an intense bombardment and air strike look place on Engebi beginning at 0843. Two battalions of Marines landed and overcame enemy resistance very quickly. By 1600 the Island was reported secured. During the attack by the Marines on Engebi, elements of the 5th Amphibious Corp Recon Company and the Scout Company were methodically occupying the smaller islands along the reefs. Japanese resistance of Engebi, although ferocious, was marked by an obvious lack of preparation. Numerous underground shelters and coral lined pill boxes were found as were sniper positions in coconut trees. However, so rapid was the Marine advance that few requests were made upon the ships for call fires. In the attack on Engebi our losses wore 78 killed, 166 wounded, and 7 missing, for a total of 251. The number of Japanese dead buried on Engebi was 934. Sixteen prisoners were taken. So heavy and accurate was the Navy and air bombardment that observers stated destruction was greater than that which had occurred on Kwajalein. Practically all structures above ground were demolished. A prisoner stated that about half the defenders were killed or wounded prior to the landings. During the afternoon of 18 February, advance preparations were made for the attack on Eniwetok Island. The 106th Regimental Combat Team of the 27th Division was designated to make this assault.
1944 – The Germans commit 26th Panzer and 29th Panzergrenadier Divisions to the attack on Anzio. Strong allied artillery holds off and blunts the attacks. Kesselring and Mackensen realize that the Allied beachhead cannot be wiped out. The Germans launched a more intense assault against the 45th Division at dawn and destroyed one battalion of the 179th Infantry before pushing the remainder of the unit back a half mile farther to Lucas’ final defensive line by midmorning. Fearing that the 179th Infantry was in danger of giving way, Lucas ordered Col. William O. Darby, founder of the WWII era Rangers, to take command of the unit and allow no further retreat. The regiment held, later counting 500 dead Germans in front of its positions. Elsewhere, the 180th and 157th regiments also held their positions in spite of heavy losses during three days of German attacks. By midday, Allied air and artillery superiority had turned the tide. When the Germans launched a final afternoon assault against the 180th and 179th regiments, it was halted by air strikes and massed mortar, machine gun, artillery, and tank fire. Subsequent enemy attacks on 19 and 20 February were noticeably weaker and were broken up by the same combination of Allied arms before ground contact was made The crisis had passed, and while harassing attacks continued until 22 February, VI Corps went over to the offensive locally and succeeded in retaking some lost ground.
1944 – President Roosevelt vetoes the Bankhead Bill which proposed to end food subsidies. The veto is upheld by the House of Representatives.
1944 – American forces continue their raid on the Japanese base at Truk. Over the course of the two days, US aircraft log 1250 sorties. The Japanese lose 1 cruiser, 2 destroyers, several other warships and 140,000 tons of shipping to air attack. The battleships Iowa and New Jersey sink 1 cruiser and 2 destroyers. In addition 250 Japanese aircraft are reported destroyed. American submarines sink several more vessels. The US forces lose less than 30 planes and damage is sustained to the carrier Intrepid.
1945 – All US 3rd Army units are attacking. The German Siegfried Line is broken north of Echternach by US 8th Corps while both US 12th and 20th Corps, to the south, are advancing.
1945 – US Task Force 54 and TF52 continue the preliminary bombardment of Iwo Jima.
1945 – There are new attacks by US 4th Corps (part of US 5th Army) in the area of the front just west of the Bologna-Pistoia road.
1945 – While most of US Task Force 58 is replenishing, one group of four carriers commanded by Admiral Radford attacks Haha Jima and Chichi Jima.
1951 – An enemy shore battery scored a hit on the destroyer USS Ozbourn and wounded two sailors. This was the first time a U.S. Navy ship operating in the vicinity of Wonsan had been hit by gunfire from a shore battery.
1954 – East and West Berlin dropped thousands of propaganda leaflets on each other after the end of a month long truce.
1955 – Operation Teapot begins. A series of 14 nuclear detonations to determine the effects of nuclear weapons on a variety of materials and in a variety of conditions begins with detonation Wasp. This test evaluated the effects of low altitude detonations. The total device weight was 1500 lb. Although the bomb was much heavier, the implosion system was the lightest nuclear explosive system fired up until this time.
1956 – The US lifted its arms ban and shipped tanks to Saudi Arabia.
1962 – Robert F. Kennedy said that U.S. troops would stay in Vietnam until Communism was defeated.
1964 – The United States cuts off military assistance to Britain, France, and Yugoslavia in retaliation for their continuing trade with the communist nation of Cuba. The action was chiefly symbolic, but represented the continued U.S. effort to destabilize the Cuban regime of Fidel Castro. The amount of aid denied was miniscule–approximately $100,000 in assistance to each nation. None of the nations indicated that the aid cut-off would affect their trade with Cuba in the least. America’s decision to terminate the trade, therefore, hardly had a decisive effect. Many commentators at the time concluded that the U.S. action was largely a result of frustration at not being able to bring down the Castro government. Since Castro came to power in 1959, the United States had tried various methods to remove him and his communist government. First, the U.S. severed diplomatic relations and enacted a trade embargo. In 1961, it unleashed a force of Cuban exiles (which it had armed, trained, and financed) against Castro in the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion. In 1962, the United States set up a naval blockade around Cuba to prevent the shipment of Soviet missiles to the island. Rumors also flew fast and furious about other U.S. efforts, including talks with the Mafia about assassinating the Cuban leader. Despite all of these efforts, Castro survived and prospered, simply replacing most U.S. trade and aid with the same from the communist bloc. The American obsession with Castro provoked the New York Times to observe that the U.S. policies toward Cuba “suggest an extraordinary sensitivity that does not in fact correspond to basic policy judgments.” The decision to cut off military assistance to Britain, France, and Yugoslavia did little to help in this regard. The three nations continued their trade with Cuba and expressed their resentment at the U.S. action.
1965 – The State Department sends secret cables to U.S. ambassadors in nine friendly nations advising of forthcoming bombing operations over North Vietnam, and instructs them to inform their host governments “in strictest confidence” and to report reactions. President Lyndon Johnson wanted these governments to be aware of what he was planning to do in the upcoming bombing campaign. Johnson made the controversial decision to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam because of the deteriorating military conditions in South Vietnam. Earlier in the month, he had ordered Operation Flaming Dart in response to communist attacks on U.S. installations in South Vietnam. It was hoped that these retaliatory raids would cause the North Vietnamese to cease support of Viet Cong forces in South Vietnam, but they did not have the desired effect. Out of frustration, Johnson turned to a more extensive use of airpower. Called Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing campaign was designed to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of North Vietnam and thereby slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. The first Rolling Thunder mission took place on March 2, 1965, when 100 U.S. Air Force and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) planes struck an ammunition dump 100 miles southeast of Hanoi. The operation would continue, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson, under increasing domestic political pressure, halted it on October 31, 1968.
1967 – J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” dies in Princeton, New Jersey, at the age of 62. An expert in quantum theory and nuclear physics, he was enlisted into the fledgling U.S. atomic weapons program in 1941. In 1942, the “Manhattan Project,” as the program became known, was greatly expanded, and Oppenheimer was asked to establish and direct a secret laboratory to carry out the assignment. He chose Los Alamos, a site in the New Mexico desert that he had visited earlier in life, and together with some of the world’s top physicists began work on the bomb. On July 16, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was exploded at the “Trinity” test site in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and only three weeks later the United States dropped the first of two bombs on Japan. Over 200,000 Japanese eventually perished as a result of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Oppenheimer regretted the use of the terrible weapon he had helped build, and he worked with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to win approval for international control of atomic energy. The USSR refused to support the U.S. plan, and in 1949 the Soviets successfully detonated their first atomic weapon. The loss of U.S. atomic supremacy, coupled with revelations that Los Alamos scientist Klaus Fuchs had given nuclear secrets to the Soviets, led President Harry S. Truman to approve development of the hydrogen bomb. Oppenheimer strongly opposed development of the H-bomb, which was theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan. On November 1, 1952, the first “superbomb” was successfully detonated in the Pacific. In 1953, because of both his opposition to the hydrogen bomb and his admitted leftist leanings in the 1930s, Oppenheimer lost his security clearance and was ousted from the AEC. The case stirred wide controversy, and many people came to his defense. After leaving the government, he returned to teaching. He died in 1967.
1968 – Three U.S. pilots who were held by the Vietnamese arrived in Washington. Today, the Vietnamese people are pressuring Hanoi to account for their own 300,000 MIAs.
1968 – Some 10,000 people in West Berlin demonstrated against US in Vietnam War.
1977 – The space shuttle Enterprise, sitting atop a Boeing 747, went on its maiden “flight” above the Mojave Desert.
1979 – Coast Guard HH-3F helicopter CG-1432 crashes 180 miles southeast of Cape Cod, killing four of its five occupants. The helo was preparing to airlift a 47 year old crewman from the Japanese fishing vessel Kaisei Maru #18.
1985 – GEN William Westmoreland and CBS, INC. reach an out-of-court settlement in Westmoreland’s $120 million libel suit in which he charged that a CBS documentary falsely accused him of misrepresenting the strength of Vietcong forces.
1994 – President Clinton notified Congress he was prepared to order bombing by U.S. warplanes in Bosnia.
1997 – Astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery completed their tune-up of the Hubble Space Telescope after 33 hours of spacewalking; the Hubble was then released using the shuttle’s crane.
1998 – President Clinton’s foreign policy team encountered jeers during a town meeting at Ohio State University while trying to defend the administration’s threat to bomb Iraq into compliance with UN weapons edicts.
1998 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan receives unanimous support from the U.N. Security Council for his diplomatic trip to Iraq. Annan is scheduled to meet with President Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders in an attempt to reach a diplomatic solution to the standoff between Iraq and the U.N. over weapons inspections.
1999 – The Clinton administration warned Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to choose peace with ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, or face a devastating military strike.
1999 – Iraq announces that its section of a joint oil pipeline with Syria is almost ready. The pipeline links Iraqi oil fields located near the northern city of Kirkuk to Syria’s Mediterranean terminal at Banias. A spur off the main pipeline leads to the Lebanese port at Tripoli. Under existing sanctions, Iraq needs to obtain special permission from the United Nations to export oil through Syria.
2000 – Mariano Faget (54), a 34-year US immigration officer in Miami, was reported to be a Cuban spy. Faget was found guilty of disclosing government secrets May 30.
2001 – Robert Philip Hanssen (56), senior FBI agent, was arrested for spying. He had allegedly passed information to the Russians for 15 years. It was believed that he had betrayed the construction of a tunnel under the Soviet Embassy in Washington. He pleaded guilty July 3 to avoid execution. His disclosures were later reported to have played a role in the execution or jailing of at least 3 Russians and threatened the identity of another 50 people. Hanssen was sentenced to life in prison on May 10, 2002.
2001 – The Iraqi press referred to Pres. Bush as “son of the snake” and “the new dwarf” following the Feb. 16 bombing attacks.
2003 – Saudi Arabia said it has referred 90 Saudis to trial for alleged al Qaeda links. Another 250 were reported under investigation.
2003 – Turkey asked the US to nearly double its multibillion dollar aid package as a condition for allowing U.S. troops on its soil in a war against neighboring Iraq.
2004 – President Bush praised social progress in Tunisia and welcomed its leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, as a partner in the fight against terrorism while also urging political reforms in the moderate Muslim nation in North African nation.
2004 – Scientists reported that X-rays form galaxy RX J1242-11 indicated a black hole tearing apart a star and gobbling up a share of its gaseous mass.
2005 – Indonesia welcomed efforts by the US to restore full military training ties with Jakarta, saying the time was ripe to resume links that were downgraded 13 years ago.
2005 – Libya refused to extend the deadline of the Lockerbie compensation deal in a possible bid to pressure Washington to drop it from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
2006 – Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez threatens to cut off oil supplies after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claims that the Venezuelan government poses “one of the biggest problems” in the region.
2007 – Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington, received an eight-year jail sentence after agreeing to plead guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping charges. In return for his cooperative testimony against the remaining three defendants, prosecutors dropped additional charges of murder, larceny, and housebreaking. The initial sentence was reduced from 14 years to eight in return for his cooperation. Pennington served a few months of the sentence for his role in the murder and was granted clemency and released from prison on August 11, 2007.
2015 – Australian David Hicks wins an appeal in the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review against his conviction for providing material support to terrorism in 2007 in a U.S. Navy court in Guantanamo Bay.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken this Day
* FERNANDEZ, DANIEL
Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry (Mechanized) 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Cu Chi, Hau Nghia Province, Republic of Vietnam, 18 February 1966. Entered service at: Albuquerque, N. Mex. Born: 30 June 1944, Albuquerque, N. Mex. c.o. No.: 21, 26 April 1967. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Fernandez demonstrated indomitable courage when the patrol was ambushed by a Viet Cong rifle company and driven back by the intense enemy automatic weapons fire before it could evacuate an American soldier who had been wounded in the Viet Cong attack. Sp4c. Fernandez, a sergeant and 2 other volunteers immediately fought their way through devastating fire and exploding grenades to reach the fallen soldier. Upon reaching their fallen comrade the sergeant was struck in the knee by machine gun fire and immobilized. Sp4c. Fernandez took charge, rallied the left flank of his patrol and began to assist in the recovery of the wounded sergeant. While first aid was being administered to the wounded man, a sudden increase in the accuracy and intensity of enemy fire forced the volunteer group to take cover. As they did, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the group, although some men did not see it. Realizing there was no time for the wounded sergeant or the other men to protect themselves from the grenade blast, Sp4c. Fernandez vaulted over the wounded sergeant and threw himself on the grenade as it exploded, saving the lives of his 4 comrades at the sacrifice of his life. Sp4c. Fernandez’ profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.