This Year Today

THIS YEAR TODAY

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LOOKING BACK | "This Day in History" at History.com: More> | "Today in History" at the U.S. Library of Congress at LOC.gov: More>


On November 30, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, popularly known as Mark Twain, was born November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, and spent his childhood in nearby Hannibal. Twain is best known for the novels set in his boyhood world beside the Mississippi River: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and his masterpiece, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," reports the U.S. Library of Congress, via LOC.gov: More>

On November 28, 1519,  Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan entered the Pacific Ocean with three ships (after sailing through the dangerous straits below South America that now bear his name), thereby becoming the first European explorer to reach the Pacific from the Atlantic Ocean. Details at History.com: More>

On June 15, 1836, Arkansas became the 25th state from land the United States acquired from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, reports the U.S. Library of Congress at LOC.gov: More>

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved the design of the USA's national flag. Since 1916, Pres. Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing a national Flag Day on June 14. More at LOC.gov: More>

On June 13, 1966, the Supreme Court handed down its Miranda vs. Arizona decision, now popularly known for its monumental police procedure, both real and immortalized on countless TV and movie dramas: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you." Details at History.com: More>

On June 12, 1987, in one of America's most famous Cold War speeches, Pres. Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down that wall," referring to the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany, reports History.com: More>

On June 11, 1963, Pres. John F. Kennedy issued presidential proclamation 3542, forcing Alabama Gov. George Wallace to cease and desist from obstructing justice, and comply with federal court orders to allow two African-American students to register for the summer session at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, reports History.com: More>

On June 10, 1953, Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower rejected calls for U.S. "isolationism," calling for the U.S. to maintain a strong worldwide defense while the Korean War was still raging, reports History.com: More>

On June 9, 1954, lying U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis) met his match: in a dramatic confrontation, Joseph Welch, special counsel for the U.S. Army, lashed out at McCarthy during hearings on whether communism had infiltrated the U.S. armed forces; Welch’s verbal assault marked the end of McCarthy’s power during the anticommunist hysteria of the Red Scare in America, as reported by History.com: More>

On June 8, 1969, King assassination suspect James Earl Ray, an escaped American convict, was arrested in London, England, and charged with the assassination of African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. On April 4, 1968, in Memphis, King was fatally wounded by a sniper’s bullet while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Motel Lorraine. That evening, a Remington .30-06 rifle was found on the sidewalk one block from the Lorraine Motel, reports History.com: More>

On June 7, 1893, Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience occurred when he refused to comply with racial segregation rules on a South African train and was forcibly ejected at Pietermaritzburg. This event by Mohandas K. Gandhi, a young Indian lawyer working in South Africa, would have dramatic repercussions for the people of India and the world, reports History.com: More>

On June 6, 1949, George Orwell’s novel of a dystopian future,"1984," is published. The novel’s all-seeing leader, known as "Big Brother," became a universal symbol for intrusive government and oppressive bureaucracy, as reported by History.com: More>

On June 5, 1968, Bobby Kennedy is assassinated: More> | Also on June 5, 1933, FDR takes the U.S. off the gold standard: More> | And on June 5, 1998, 3,400 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union walk out on their jobs at a General Motors (GM) metal-stamping factory in Flint, Michigan, beginning a strike that lasted seven weeks and stalled production at GM facilities nationwide, reports History.com: More> 

On June 4, 1919, Congress approved the 19th Amendment that allowed woman’s suffrage; the  amendment was sent to the states for ratification. The House of Representatives had voted 304-89 and the Senate 56-25 in favor of the amendment, reports Library of Congress at LOC.gov: More> | Also on June 4, 1989, the brutal Chinese government Tiananmen Square massacre took place and shocked the West when Chinese troops stormed through the center of Beijing, killing and arresting thousands of pro-democracy protesters, reports History.com: More>

On June 3, 1880, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first wireless telephone message on his newly invented "photophone" from the top of the Franklin School in Washington, D.C., reports the Library of Congress at LOC.gov: More> | Also on June 3, 1956, rock and roll is banned in Santa Cruz, California, reports History.com: More>

On June 2, 1962, Ray Charles takes country music to the top of the pop charts when his third number one hit in “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” topped the U.S. pop charts on this day, reports History.com: More> | Also on June 2, 1924, Congress enacted the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S. The right to vote, however, was governed by state law; until 1957, some states barred Native Americans from voting, reports Library of Congress at LOC.gov: More>

On June 1, 1967, The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: More> | Also on June 1, 1980, CNN (Cable News Network) launches the world’s first 24-hour television news network, signing on at 6 p.m. EST from its Atlanta headquarters with the lead story about civil rights leader Vernon Jordan's attempted assassination: More> | And on June 1, 1779, Benedict Arnold — up to now, America's most infamous traitor — is court-martialed in Philadelphia, PA, reports History.com: More>


On May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam collapsed, causing a flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, that killed over 2,200 people, reports History.com: More> | Also, on May 31, 1819, Walt Whitman, a great American poet who wrote "Leaves of Grass," was born in New York, reports the U.S. Library of Congress via LOC.gov: More>

On May 30, 1868, "Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic designated May 30 as a memorial day 'for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land,'" as reported by the U.S. Library of Congress, via LOC.gov: More>

On May 29, 1736, Patrick Henry — "Orator of Liberty... a brilliant orator and an influential leader in the Revolutionary opposition to British government" — was born in Studley, Virginia, reports the U.S. Library of Congress, via LOC.gov: More>; furthermore, on May 29, 1917, John F. Kennedy was born, reports History.com: More>

On May 28, 1972, the Democratic National Headquarters at Watergate in Washington, D.C., is broken into by the "White House plumbers," as approved by Republican President Richard M. Nixon, whose impeachable act was later proven after a thorough investigation, reports OnThisDay.com: More>

On May 27, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge officially opened, thus connecting San Francisco with Marin County, California, reports History.com: More>

On May 26, 1960, the U.S. government charges the Soviet Union, lead by Russia, with espionage, reports History.com: More>

On May 25, 1935, Babe Ruth hits his last home run, reports History.com: More>

On May 24, 1964, U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona) suggested using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, for which he faced a storm of criticism that later lead to his demise in the presidential election that Lyndon B. Johnson won with a 61 percent majority of the vote, reports History.com: More>

On May 23, 1911, the New York Public Library, the largest marble structure ever constructed in the United States, was dedicated in a ceremony that included President William Howard Taft. The next day the library opened its doors to 40,000 citizens who passed through "to make use of a collection that already consisted of more than a million books," writes History.com: More>

On May 22, 1802, America's first "First Lady" died. "Martha Dandridge Custis Washington dies at her Mt. Vernon home on this day in 1802. She was 70 years old," writes History.com: More>

On May 21, 1881, the American Red Cross was founded, "an organization established to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters in congruence with the International Red Cross," writes History.com: More>

On May 20, 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court defended the rights of homosexuals by striking down "an amendment to Colorado’s state constitution that would have prevented any city, town, or county in the state from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect the rights of homosexuals," writes History.com: More>

On May 19, 1588, the Spanish Armada, known as the "Invincible Armada," set sail "from Lisbon on a mission to secure control of the English Channel and transport a Spanish invasion army to Britain from the Netherlands," writes History.com: More>

On May 18, 1989, one million Chinese protesters marched through the streets of Beijing demanding a democratic political system. "Just a few weeks later, the Chinese government moved to crush the protests," writes History.com: More>

On May 17, 1973, televised hearings on the Watergate scandal began, which was "headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina.... One week later, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor," writes History.com: More>

On May 16, 1929, first Academy Awards ceremony, via History.com: More>

On May 15, 1937, Madelein Albright is born. She goes on to be the first woman U.S. Secretary of State, via History.com: More> | In 2018, Albright released a new book, entitled "Fascism, A Warning," reports NPR.org: More>

On May 14, 1973, Skylab, America's first space station, was launched and flew into orbit about the earth, via History.com: More> | Looking into the future, colonizing Mars, has its detractors, including Jurica Dujmovic, columnist at Marketwatch.com: More>; but it also has its supporters, in fact, over 100,000 people are thrilled with the idea and would be willing to live on Mars forever, reports CNN.com: More>

On May 13, 1973, Americans witness their "first," if but unofficial, "battle of the sexes," which was fought on the tennis courts — and is now in full swing decades later on the airwaves. For all the details of that now-quaint series of male vs. female tennis-ball brawls, visit History.com: More>

On May 12, 1963, Bob Dylan walks out on The Ed Sullivan Show, because of a dispute over what song he was not allowed to sing -- which probably did more for Dylan's then just budding career than anything else, as reported by History.com: More>

On May 11, 1977, President Jimmy Carter puts in a long day at the office. A typical day for him was a busy day. This day he met with congressional and cabinet leaders, conducted phone meetings, squeezed in a game of tennis and family time, and attended the opera. Practically every move of Carter’s was logged to the exact minute, just like most every day to make the most of his time in serving the interests of the nation. More info about one of America's hardest working presidents at History.com: More>

On May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed.The Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads met in Promontory, Utah, and commemorated the historic event by driving in a ceremonial last spike into a rail line that connected their railroads from coast to coast, reports History.com: More>

On May 9, 1974, U.S. House of Representatives' Judicial Committee started hearings to impeach Richard Nixon, reports History.com: More>

On May 8, 1945, Victory in Europe Day was celebrated in the U.S. and Britain, reports History.com: More>

On May 6, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was one of America's many Great Depression relief programs, reports History.com: More>

On May 5, 1961, the first American, Navy Commander Alan Shepard, Jr., was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, into space aboard the Freedom 7 space capsule, reports History.com: More>

On May 4, 1970, four student protesters were killed at Kent State University by the U.S. National Guard. In doing so, some say, the four students became the most publicized U.S. citizen casualties of the Vietnam War. Many Americans, in hindsight, believed this horrible event at Kent was the beginning of the end of the controversial war. Many opposed to the war pointed to the faulty reason that if South Vietnam became a communist country, then all of Southeast Asia in "a domino effect" would turn to communism as well. They were later proved to be right; it didn't. The Kent State killings shined a bright light on this faulty justification of continuing the Vietnam War. Killing America's children simply for protesting against the war exposed the government's political corruption of continuing its involvement in what was, and had always been, a civil war, not a "communist domino," as many war advocates used as a talking point. Unquestionably, the Kent State student killings by the U.S. National Guard began the arduous and gradual process of turning the majority of Americans who initially favored the war to be against this so-called "police action," given that the U.S. Congress never officially declared war on North Vietnam, despite the many thousands of Americans and Vietnamese who were killed, maimed or adversely affected by one of America's biggest mistakes of going to war for all the wrong reasons. That's DowntownAsheville.com's take on this day in history. Follows is History.com's take on the Kent killings as part of its informative series appropriately entitled, "This Day in History": More>

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