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March 12 - 1947 - The Truman Doctrine is Announced

When President of the United States of America Harry S. Truman addresses Congress in March of 1947, he focused on the need to protect Greece and Turkey from Communist influence. Greece was facing an internal insurrection from a Communist Party, while Turkey was facing more obvious threats from the Soviet Union over access to the Bosphorous and the Dardanelles. What Truman really wanted was to avoid having the spreading Soviet sphere of influence include Greece and Turkey. In asking...


March 11 - 1946 - The Arrest of Rudolf Höss

Rudolf Höss became notorious during World War II as the Commandant of the concentration and death camps at Auschwitz in Poland. After the war ended, this made him one of the key leaders among the Third Reich that was wanted by Allied leaders. While he managed to blend into the civilian population initially, Rudolf Höss was given up by his family less than a year after the fall of the Third Reich. What made Höss' capture so notable was that he seemed to have no issue with fully describing...


March 3 - 1918 - The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signed by representatives of Soviet Russia and representatives from the Central Powers, effectively ended World War I on the Eastern Front. In order to do this, Russia had to accept extremely harsh terms regarding territorial claims and concessions. Yet the government of Russia was not the one that had been prosecuting the war, because Russia had undergone two revolutions in 1917, the February Revolution that overthrew the Tsar and the October Revolution that...


March 2 - 1882 - Roderick Maclean Attempts to Assassinate Queen Victoria

Roderick McLean approached Queen Victoria's carriage as it left Windsor Castle with a pistol, because she had given a curt reply to some poetry he had sent her. It turned out McLean was more unimpressive as an assassin than a poet. His shot missed the Queen's carriage completely, and he was brought to the ground by boys wielding umbrellas. McLean was the eight man in forty years to try to assassinate Queen Victoria, and met the fate many of his forebears experienced when he was adjudged "Not...


March 1 - 1932 - The Kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh, Jr.

When the 20 month old Charles Lindbergh, Jr. was taken from the crib in his upstairs bedroom, the crime was destined to become the "Crime of the Century."His father was perhaps the most famous man in America, the aviator Charles Lindbergh. Initially, the clues led to a variety of possibilities, but then a kidnapper was revealed to be seeking the ransom through a random intermediary. Once a man known only as "Cemetery John" received $50,000 in ransom money, the case went cold. Over two years...


February 5 - 1994 - Byron De La Beckwith is Convicted of Medgar Evers' Murder

Byron De La Beckwith was found guilty of the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1994, 31 years after the crime was actually committed. De La Beckwith was arrested and brought to trial twice in the 1960s, but both times all-white juries deadlocked on a verdict. The evidence in the case was actually quite good, as De La Beckwith's gun was found near the crime scene with his fingerprint on it. De La Beckwith was also a prominent White Citizens' Council member, who was annoyed at...


February 4 - 1861 - The Government of the Confederate States of America is Formed

When a large number of states had seceded from the Union after the election of Abraham Lincoln, they quickly realized they needed to band together in a larger government. So delegates from South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas met in Montgomery, Alabama, they knew they had to work fast. Although they were working a month before Lincoln's inauguration, they wanted to make sure they were ready to go. They had two advantages in working quickly, namely that...


February 3 - 1959 - Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper Die in a Plane Crash

In 1959, Buddy Holly was one of the biggest Rock 'n' Roll stars, the Big Bopper was a chart topper, and Richie Valens was a 17 year old sensation. They all were on a Midwest tour, playing small venues throughout the early part of 1959. The winter tour was poorly planned and saw a series of bus problems and health issues from the cold among the musicians. Therefore, after a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly arranged for a plane to take him and his band to their next stop. Shortly after takeoff,...


February 2 - 1848 - The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially ended hostilities in the Mexican-American War, although the United States of America had effectively ended the war by taking over much of Mexico. This meant that the terms of the Treaty were largely America's and had to be accepted by Mexico. The war began in 1846 as a border dispute around the newly annexed Republic of Texas, but after America sent troops to the disputed area, they invaded Mexico. With astonishing speed, the northern areas of...


February 1 - 1968 - The Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém

Nguyễn Văn Lém was a Viet Cong captain who was arrested by the South Vietnamese Army after leading a raid on a camp and killing a large number of civilians. Upon being taken in front of Brigadier General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, Lém was summarily executed by Loan with a revolver. By all rights, this would have been one of many such incidents in the complicated conflict that was the Vietnam War. Yet the execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém became something the world knew about because the Associated Press...


January 31 - 1918 - The Battle of May Island

"The Battle of May Island" was not actually a battle at all, but the macabre name given by sailors to a catastrophic accident involving a number of K-class submarines. On that night, two submarines were lost, while five others were significantly damaged, and 104 sailors lost their lives. The K-class submarine was a steam powered submarine which invited so much disaster it was said the K stood for "Kalamity." Yet the Battle of May Island was the worst incident in the history of the Royal...


January 30 - 1948 - The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was such an influential figure as a leader of the Indian independence movement that as India gained independence from Great Britain in 1947, he was universally known as "Mahatma," the great soul, and widely called "Bapu," an endearing term for father. Yet the independence of India had seen what was British India split into two, with Muslim majority areas in the East and West becoming Pakistan. This then led to mass migration, violence, and intense conflicts. Gandhi...


January 29 - 2002 - President George W. Bush Coins the Phrase "Axis of Evil"

During his first State of the Union Address after the September 11th terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush specifically cited the threat of an "Axis of Evil," which consisted of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Other than all seeking chemical or nuclear weapons, these states had very little in common. More strikingly, none of them had anything to do with the September 11th attacks. Instead, speechwriter David Frum was given the brief of detailing an argument for going to war against...


January 28 - 1871 - The Siege of Paris Ends

The Franco-Prussian War was not a large scale war in terms of its casualties, engagements, or scale. It was massive in the geopolitical results in the aftermath of the war, however, and a large reason was that it ended with a months long siege of Paris. Before that siege had even begun, the Empire of France had lost its Emperor, Napoleon III, after he lost the Battle of Sedan. Now France was facing a large Prussian Army staring down its capital, while its government was a provisional one...


January 27 - 1973 - The Paris Peace Accords

The Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, better known as the Paris Peace Accords, were what officially ended the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War. The Paris Peace Accords only came together after a long, drawn out negotiation process. Although the Vietnam War had seemed problematic and unwinnable since 1968 and the Lyndon Johnson administration, the task of working out the Paris Peace Accords fell to President Richard Nixon and his National...


January 26 - 1939 - The Fall of Barcelona

The Spanish Civil War was a complex conflict, featuring the right-wing Nationalists fighting against the left-wing Republicans. The conservatives were the rebels, the socialists were fighting for the legitimate government, and both sides were hodge-podge groups of various loyalties. Yet the war was also one featuring back and forth fighting in its early years. In 1938, everything changed. Under Francisco Franco and the backing of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, the Nationalists won the...


January 25 - 1890 - Nellie Bly Completes Her Circumnavigation

Nellie Bly was just 25 years old in 1890, but she had already written a well regarded travel book called Six Months in Mexico that revealed the problems with Porfirio Diaz's government and a series of articles in the New York World that exposed the Blackwell's Island Women's Asylum as an undercover reporter. So when she suggested she beat Jules Verne's fictional record of traveling Around the World in 80 Days, her editor let her go ahead with just two days' notice. She traveled with just one...


January 18 - 1990 - Marion Barry is Arrested for Possession of Crack Cocaine

When Marion Barry was arrested after being caught on videotape smoking crack in an undercover sting operation, he was also in his third term as the Mayor of Washington, D.C. He was arrested with a girlfriend who had asked him to come and persuaded him to smoke the crack she had brought. Still, Barry had been dogged by rumors of drug use and sexual scandals since he took office in 1979. As Mayor, Barry was more of a character than an effective reformer. A former civil rights advocate and City...

January 17 - 1945 - Raoul Wallenberg is Disappeared by the Soviet Union

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish special envoy to Hungary who devoted himself in the last few months of 1944 to save many Jews from being deported to concentration camps. Wallenberg was a businessman who could come and go between Sweden and Hungary, as Sweden was neutral in World War II. Hungary was technically an ally of Nazi Germany under the rule of Miklos Horthy, then became an uneasy ally, then became a puppet state of the Nazis in 1944, after Horthy sought peace terms with the Allies. In...


January 16 - 1883 - The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act is Signed Into Law

The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was a direct reaction to the assassination of President James Garfield, who was killed by Charles Guiteau because Guiteau believed he deserved a government appointment. The issue of civil service reform was a long simmering political issue, with the main ire being directed at the spoils system, which gave jobs to political donors. Despite the assassination of Garfield, a bill for civil service reform seemed unlikely to be signed by the new President,...