All posts by sleuthboss

Ohio Company chartered, encouraging colonization of the West

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ohio-company-chartered

King George II of England grants the Ohio Company a charter of several hundred thousand acres of land around the forks of the Ohio River, thereby promoting westward settlement by American colonists from Virginia. France had claimed the entire Ohio River Valley in the previous century, but English fur traders and settlers contested these claims. The royal chartering of the Ohio Company, an organization founded primarily by Virginian planters in 1747, directly challenged the French claim to Ohio and was a direct cause of the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754.

With the defeat of the French in 1763, the Ohio River and the Great Lakes areas were placed within the boundaries of Canada, and the Ohio Company was merged with another land company to better exploit the region. Settlers in Ohio resented these acts and joined the patriots in their struggle against the British in the American Revolution. In 1783, Ohio was ceded to the United States with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. In 1788, Marietta became the first permanent American settlement in what was known as the Old Northwest. During the next decade, Native Americans were suppressed and British traders were pushed out, and in 1799 Ohio became a U.S. territory. In 1803, it entered the Union as the 17th state.

Spanish Armada sets sail to secure English Channel

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/spanish-armada-sets-sail

A massive Spanish fleet, known as the “Invincible Armada,” sets sail from Lisbon on a mission to secure control of the English Channel and transport a Spanish invasion army to Britain from the Netherlands.

In the late 1580s, Queen Elizabeth’s support of the Dutch rebels in the Spanish Netherlands led King Philip II of Spain to plan the conquest of England. A giant Spanish invasion fleet was completed by 1587, but Sir Francis Drake’s daring raid on the port of Cadiz delayed the Armada’s departure until May 1588. The Invincible Armada consisted of 130 ships and carried 2,500 guns and 30,000 men, two-thirds of them soldiers. Delayed by storms, the Armada did not reach the southern coast of England until late July. By that time the British were ready.

On July 21, the outnumbered English navy began bombarding the seven-mile-long line of Spanish ships from a safe distance, taking full advantage of their superior long-range guns. The Spanish Armada continued to advance during the next few days, but its ranks were thinned considerably by the English assault. On July 28, the Spanish retreated to Calais, France, but the English sent ships loaded with explosives into the crowded harbor, which took a heavy toll on the Armada. The next day, an attempt to reach the Netherlands was thwarted by a small Dutch fleet, and the Spanish were forced to face the pursuing English fleet. The superior English guns again won the day, and the Armada retreated north to Scotland.

Battered by storms and suffering from a lack of supplies, the Armada sailed on a difficult journey back to Spain through the North Sea and around Ireland. By the time the last of the surviving fleet reached Spain in October, half of the original armada was destroyed. Queen Elizabeth’s decisive defeat of the Invincible Armada made England a world-class naval power and introduced effective long-range weapons into naval warfare for the first time, ending the era of boarding and close-quarter fighting.

Pete Townshend writes “My Generation” on his 20th birthday

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pete-townshend-writes-my-generation-on-his-20th-birthday

From the Bible to Oedipus Rex to King Lear, literature has long concerned itself with the difficult relations that sometimes arise between members of different generations. The Fifth Commandment—”Honor thy father and thy mother that you may have a long life in the land which the Eternal, your God, is giving you”—is perhaps the earliest known acknowledgment of the human potential for intergenerational conflict. Yet it seems that every generation of humans has faced this dilemma, and perhaps never more so than during the 1960s, when a demographic time bomb loosed the largest generation of teenagers in history upon an unsuspecting world. With numbers on its side, this generation would set its own terms in the age-old conflict of youth vs. everyone else, and never were those terms more clearly expressed than in the lyrics of “My Generation,” the song that The Who’s Pete Townshend wrote on this day in 1965.

Why don’t you all f-fade awayyy (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)And don’t try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout my generation).

As Townshend has told the story, he wrote those lyrics on a train ride from London to Southampton—a train ride necessitated by the towing away of his 1935 Packard hearse from its parking spot in front of his house on Chesham Place, the road between Clarence House and Buckingham Palace. “One day I came back and it was gone. It turned out that [the Queen Mother] had it moved, because her husband had been buried in a similar vehicle and it reminded her of him. When I went to collect it, they wanted two hundred and fifty quid. I’d only paid thirty for it in the first place.” This was the great indignity that prompted Townshend to pen the immortal lyric, “Hope I die before I get old.”

But while that lyric may have perfectly captured a youth’s-eye view of the Generation Gap, a more immediate concern for The Who in the spring of 1965 was whether they could survive their own internal conflicts long enough to record “My Generation.” The Who was famous for infighting even then, and lead singer Roger Daltrey was on his way out in a “You’re fired! You can’t fire me because I quit!” dispute until the runaway success of “My Generation” forced the entire band to reconsider the split. As it turned out, the song that Pete Townshend wrote on this day in 1965 is what kept The Who together and set them on a course toward becoming one of the most successful rock bands of the era.

Allied Polish Corps takes Monte Cassino

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/polish-corps-takes-monte-cassino

On this day in 1944, the Polish Corps, part of a multinational Allied Eighth Army offensive in southern Italy, finally pushes into Monte Cassino as the battle to break German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring’s defensive Gustav Line nears its end.

The Allied push northward to Rome began in January with the landing of 50,000 seaborne troops at Anzio, 33 miles south of the Italian capital. Despite having met very little resistance, the Allies chose to consolidate their position rather than immediately battle north to Rome. Consequently, German forces under the command of Field Marshal Kesselring were able to create a defensive line that cut across the center of the peninsula. General Wladyslaw Anders, leader of the Polish troops who would raise their flag over the ruins of the famous Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino, commenting on the cost of the battle, said, “Corpses of German and Polish soldiers, sometimes entangled in a deathly embrace, lay everywhere, and the air was full of the stench of rotting bodies.”

India joins the nuclear club

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/india-joins-the-nuclear-club

In the Rajasthan Desert in the municipality of Pokhran, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon, a fission bomb similar in explosive power to the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The test fell on the traditional anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment, and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi received the message “Buddha has smiled” from the exuberant test-site scientists after the detonation. The test, which made India the world’s sixth nuclear power, broke the nuclear monopoly of the five members of the U.N. Security Council–the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, China, and France.

India, which suffered continuing border disputes with China, refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. Fearing a second war with China and a fourth war with Pakistan, India actively sought the development of a nuclear deterrent in the early 1970s. The successful detonation of its first bomb on May 18, 1974, set off an expanded arms race with Pakistan that saw no further nuclear tests but the development of lethal intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles by both countries. On May 11, 1998, India resumed nuclear testing, leading to international outrage and Pakistan’s detonation of its first nuclear bomb later in the month.

Abraham Lincoln nominated for presidency at Republican Convention

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/lincoln-nominated-for-presidency

Abraham Lincoln, a one-time U.S. representative from Illinois, is nominated for the U.S. presidency by the Republican National Convention meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was nominated for the vice presidency.

Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and former Whig representative to Congress, first gained national stature during his campaign against Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois for a U.S. Senate seat in 1858. The senatorial campaign featured a remarkable series of public encounters on the slavery issue, known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Lincoln argued against the spread of slavery while Douglas maintained that each territory should have the right to decide whether it would become free or slave. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party. In 1860, Lincoln won the party’s presidential nomination.

In the November election, Lincoln again faced Douglas, who represented the Northern faction of a heavily divided Democratic Party, as well as Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge and Constitutional Union candidate John Bell. On November 6, 1860, Lincoln defeated his opponents with only 40 percent of the popular vote, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. The announcement of Lincoln’s victory signaled the secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.

By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded, and the Confederate States of America had been formally established, with Jefferson Davis as its elected president. One month later, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

Mount St. Helens erupts

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mount-st-helens-erupts-2

At 8:32 a.m. PDT, Mount St. Helens, a volcanic peak in southwestern Washington, suffers a massive eruption, killing 57 people and devastating some 210 square miles of wilderness.

Called Louwala-Clough, or “the Smoking Mountain,” by Native Americans, Mount St. Helens is located in the Cascade Range and stood 9,680 feet before its eruption. The volcano has erupted periodically during the last 4,500 years, and the last active period was between 1831 and 1857. On March 20, 1980, noticeable volcanic activity began again with a series of earth tremors centered on the ground just beneath the north flank of the mountain. These earthquakes escalated, and on March 27 a minor eruption occurred, and Mount St. Helens began emitting steam and ash through its crater and vents.

Small eruptions continued daily, and in April people familiar with the mountain noticed changes to the structure of its north face. A scientific study confirmed that a bulge more than a mile in diameter was moving upward and outward over the high north slope by as much as six feet per day. The bulge was caused by an intrusion of magma below the surface, and authorities began evacuating hundreds of people from the sparsely settled area near the mountain. A few people refused to leave.

On the morning of May 18, Mount St. Helens was shaken by an earthquake of about 5.0 magnitude, and the entire north side of the summit began to slide down the mountain. The giant landslide of rock and ice, one of the largest recorded in history, was followed and overtaken by an enormous explosion of steam and volcanic gases, which surged northward along the ground at high speed. The lateral blast stripped trees from most hill slopes within six miles of the volcano and leveled nearly all vegetation for as far as 12 miles away. Approximately 10 million trees were felled by the blast.

The landslide debris, liquefied by the violent explosion, surged down the mountain at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. The avalanche flooded Spirit Lake and roared down the valley of the Toutle River for a distance of 13 miles, burying the river to an average depth of 150 feet. Mudflows, pyroclastic flows, and floods added to the destruction, destroying roads, bridges, parks, and thousands more acres of forest. Simultaneous with the avalanche, a vertical eruption of gas and ash formed a mushrooming column over the volcano more than 12 miles high. Ash from the eruption fell on Northwest cities and towns like snow and drifted around the globe within two weeks. Fifty-seven people, thousands of animals, and millions of fish were killed by the eruption of Mount St. Helens.

By late in the afternoon of May 18, the eruption subsided, and by early the next day it had essentially ceased. Mount St. Helens’ volcanic cone was completely blasted away and replaced by a horseshoe-shaped crater–the mountain lost 1,700 feet from the eruption. The volcano produced five smaller explosive eruptions during the summer and fall of 1980 and remains active today. In 1982, Congress made Mount St. Helens a protected research area.

Mount St. Helens became active again in 2004. On March 8, 2005, a 36,000-foot plume of steam and ash was expelled from the mountain, accompanied by a minor earthquake. Though a new dome has been growing steadily near the top of the peak and small earthquakes are frequent, scientists do not expect a repeat of the 1980 catastrophe anytime soon.

Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/supreme-court-rules-in-plessy-v-ferguson

In a major victory for supporters of racial segregation, the U.S. Supreme Court rules seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

The Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, which indicated that the federal government would officially tolerate the “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts in actuality, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere because of the ruling. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was struck down by the Supreme Court in their unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Facebook raises $16 billion in largest tech IPO in U.S. history

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/facebook-raises-16-billion-in-largest-tech-ipo-in-u-s-history

On this day in history, Facebook, the world’s largest social network, holds its initial public offering (IPO) and raises $16 billion. It was the largest technology IPO in American history to that date, and the third-largest IPO ever in the United States, after those of Visa and General Motors. At the time it went public, Facebook was valued at $104 billion and had some 900 million registered users worldwide.

Facebook was founded as TheFacebook in February 2004 by Harvard University sophomore Mark Zuckerberg and fellow classmates Chris Hughes, Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitz. The site originally was only for students at Harvard; however, it soon opened up to other universities. In June 2004, Zuckerberg moved Facebook to Palo Alto, California, and by the end of the year several Silicon Valley entrepreneurs had invested in the business and it had almost a million registered users. In 2005, Facebook (as it officially became known that year when “the” was dropped from its name) spread to American high schools and foreign schools, and the following year, anyone who was at least 13 years old was allowed to sign up. (Facebook always has been free to join; at the time of its IPO, the bulk of the company’s revenues came from advertising.)

As the site’s user base grew rapidly and its functionality expanded (the “news feed” was added in 2006 and the “like” feature in 2009), Facebook helped change how people communicate and share information. During the 2008 U.S. presidential race, Barack Obama used Facebook to build a following, especially among young voters, a constituency that helped him win the White House. Additionally, during the political uprisings in the Middle East that began in late 2010 and came to be called the Arab Spring, activists used Facebook (and other social media tools, notably Twitter) to share photos and videos of atrocities their governments were committing against citizens, and also to organize protest events. (As of late June 2012, more than 80 percent of Facebook’s monthly active users were outside of America and Canada.)

In 2010, The Social Network, a feature film about the founding of Facebook, made its debut. The movie, which earned eight Academy Award nominations, chronicled the 2004 lawsuit filed by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra, Harvard students at the same time as Zuckerberg, who claimed he stole the original idea for Facebook from them. Facebook countersued, and in 2008, the Winklevosses and Narendra agreed to a $65 million settlement from the company.

Facebook made the Dobbs Ferry, New York, native Zuckerberg, the son of a dentist, a billionaire. At the time of the company’s much-anticipated IPO on May 18, 2012, Zuckerberg was worth some $19 billion. However, despite all the fanfare surrounding Facebook’s IPO, its shares closed the first day of trading at $38.23, only slightly above the $38 IPO price, which many investors considered a disappointing performance.

Brown v. Board of Ed is decided

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/brown-v-board-of-ed-is-decided

In a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court hands down an unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruling that racial segregation in public educational facilities is unconstitutional. The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cars conformed to the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. That ruling was used to justify segregating all public facilities, including elementary schools. However, in the case of Linda Brown, the white school she attempted to attend was far superior to her black alternative and miles closer to her home. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) took up Linda’s cause, and in 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka reached the Supreme Court. African American lawyer (and future Supreme Court justice) Thurgood Marshall led Brown’s legal team, and on May 17, 1954, the high court handed down its decision.

In an opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the nation’s highest court ruled that not only was the “separate but equal” doctrine unconstitutional in Linda’s case, it was unconstitutional in all cases because educational segregation stamped an inherent badge of inferiority on African American students. A year later, after hearing arguments on the implementation of their ruling, the Supreme Court published guidelines requiring public school systems to integrate “with all deliberate speed.”

The Brown v. Board of Education decision served to greatly motivate the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of racial segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.