On the steps of Widener Library in 1947, front row, from left: Laird Bell, Class of 1904; Massachusetts Gov. Robert F. Bradford ’23; R. Keith Kane ’22; Harvard President James B. Conant; and honorary degree recipients George C. Marshall, Gen. Omar N. Bradley, and Sen. James W. Wadsworth.
When Secretary of State Marshall accepted an invitation from Harvard University to receive an honorary degree during the first week in June 1947, the State Department informed the president of the Alumni Association that Marshall would make a speech for the afternoon meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association but that Marshall did not want it to be a major speech of the occasion. There were no discussions with representatives of other governments; there were no notifications of the American press that an important speech was to be delivered, and even Harvard President James B. Conant did not expect a major address from General Marshall.
The speech was drafted by Chip Bohlen, a Russia specialist and interpreter who used memoranda from the Director of the Policy Planning Staff George F. Kennan and from Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs William Clayton. Bohlen especially benefited from Clayton’s graphic oral descriptions of Europe’s situation. In the memorandum he wrote, “Millions of people in the cities are slowly starving,” if the standard of living continued to deteriorate, “there will be revolution.”
On the day of the speech the capacity crowd of 15,000 in Harvard Yard did not expect to see history made but simply to see one of the most admired public servants in America. However when Secretary Marshall began to read his speech there was a recognition that the carefully worded remarks on the political and economic crisis in Europe marked an important event. In that speech, Marshall outlined the need for an economic aid plan to help the devastated nations of Europe and their citizens to recover from the ravages of World War II. When Marshall said, “It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace,” the Secretary of State committed the United States to consider a European recovery plan that would be developed by the Europeans and presented to the United States. Thus was launched The Marshall Plan for which George C. Marshall would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Birthday – Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) was born in Los Angeles (as Norma Jean Mortensen). Following an unstable childhood spent in foster homes and orphanages, she landed a job as a photographer’s model which led to a movie career. She later married baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. Beneath her glamorous movie star looks she was fragile and insecure and eventually succumbed to the pressures of Hollywood life. She died in Los Angeles from an overdose of sleeping pills on August 5, 1962. Best known for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), The Seven Year Itch (1955), Bus Stop (1956), Some Like It Hot (1959), and The Misfits (1961).
Birthday – Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) was born in Paris. He was a military leader, governor-general, and author, whose acts of extreme cruelty and violence resulted in the term sadism being created from his name to describe gratification in inflicting pain.
June 3, 1972 – Sally Jan Priesand was ordained a rabbi thus becoming the first woman rabbi in the U.S. She then became an assistant rabbi at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City.
June 3, 1989 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, died. On February 1, 1979, after 15 years in exile, he had staged a triumphant return to Iran which led to the downfall of the Shah. Khomeini then reorganized the government on Islamic principles. On November 11, 1979, a group of students loyal to Khomeini seized 66 hostages in the American Embassy in Teheran after the former Shah had entered the U.S. for medical treatment. Thus began an international political crisis lasting until January 20, 1981, when they were released.
Birthday – Confederate president Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) was born at Todd County, Kentucky. After the Southern states formed the Confederacy in 1861, he hoped to be named commander of the Confederate military forces but was instead chosen to be president, serving until 1865. Following the Civil War, he was imprisoned but never brought to trial. He died at age 81 in New Orleans.
June 4, 1972 – An express train packed with more than 600 people rammed into a stalled train at full speed in the main station of Jessore, Bangladesh, killing 76 and injuring over 500 persons.
June 4, 1989 – The Chinese government ordered its troops to open fire on unarmed protesters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The protest had started on April 16 as about 1,000 students marched to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, a pro-reform leader within the Chinese government. Despite government warnings, pro-reform and pro-democracy demonstrations continued for a month drawing ever-larger crowds of young people, eventually totaling over a million persons. On May 13, three thousand students began an eight-day hunger strike. The government imposed martial law on May 20 and brought in troops. On June 2, in their first clash with the People’s Army, demonstrators turned back an advance of unarmed troops. However, in the pre-dawn hours of June 4, the People’s Army, using tanks, machine-guns, clubs and tear gas, opened fire on the unarmed protesters. Armored personnel carriers then rolled into the square crushing students still sleeping in their tents. The Chinese government later claimed only 300 died in the attack. U.S. estimates put the toll at over 3,000. Following the massacre, over 1,600 demonstrators were rounded up and jailed, with 27 being executed.
June 5, 1783 – The first sustained flight occurred as a hot-air balloon was launched at Annonay, France, by brothers Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier. Their 33-foot-diameter globe aerostatique ascended about 6,000 feet. In September, they repeated the experiment for King Louis XVI, using a sheep, rooster and duck as the balloon’s passengers.
June 5, 1968 – Robert F. Kennedy was shot and mortally wounded while leaving the Hotel Ambassador in Los Angeles. The shooting occurred after a celebration of Kennedy’s victory in the California presidential primary. He died at 1:44 a.m., June 6, at age 42, leaving behind his wife Ethel and eleven children, the last one born after his death. President John F. Kennedy had named his brother and campaign manager, Robert Francis Kennedy, to the post of U.S. Attorney General in 1961. Robert served as the president’s closest confidant. After the assassination of JFK, Robert remained as Attorney General until 1964, when he resigned to make a successful run for the U.S. Senate from New York. Allied with the plight of the poor and disadvantaged in America, he spoke out against racial discrimination, economic injustice and the Vietnam War. In March of 1968, he had announced his candidacy for the presidency. And with the win in California, appeared headed for the nomination.
Birthday – Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790) was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. He wrote An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, published in 1776. The book described the workings of a market economy and established him as one of the most influential figures in the development of modern economic theory.
Birthday – British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) was born in Cambridge, England. He wrote The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money in 1936, stating his ideas about government responsibility and commitment to maintaining high employment. He claimed that business investors and governments, not consumers, were the source of business cycle shifts.
June 6, 1872 – Pioneering feminist Susan B. Anthony was fined for voting in a presidential election at Rochester, New York. After voting rights had been granted to African American males by the 15th Amendment, she attempted to extend the same rights to women. She led a group of women that voted illegally, to test their status as citizens. She was arrested, tried and sentenced to pay $100, which she refused. Following her death in 1906 after five decades of tireless work, the Democratic and Republican parties both endorsed women’s right to vote. In August of 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was finally ratified, allowing women to vote.
June 6, 1944 – D-Day, the largest amphibious landing in history, began in the early-morning hours as Allied forces landed in Normandy on the northern coast of France. Operation Overlord took months of planning and involved 1,527,000 soldiers in 47 Allied divisions along with 4,400 ships and landing craft, and 11,000 aircraft. The Germans had about 60 divisions spread along France and the Low Countries. American forces landed on two western beaches, Utah and Omaha, while British and Canadian troops landed farther east on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. By the end of the day 150,000 Allied soldiers and their accompanying vehicles had landed with 15,000 killed and wounded.
June 6, 1978 – By a vote of almost two to one, California voters approved Proposition 13, an amendment to the state constitution severely limiting property tax rates.
Birthday – American patriot Nathan Hale (1755-1776) was born in Coventry, Connecticut. During the American Revolution, he volunteered for a dangerous spy mission in Long Island and was captured by the British on the night of September 21, 1776. Brought before British General William Howe, Hale admitted he was an American officer. Howe ordered him to be hanged the following morning. As Hale mounted the gallows he uttered, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
June 7, 1965 – The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut law banning contraception. In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to privacy, including freedom from government intrusion into matters of birth control.
Birthday – French painter Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was born in Paris. He worked as a stockbroker, then became a painter in middle age. He left Paris and moved to Tahiti where he developed an interest in primitive art. Among his best known paintings; Vision After the Sermon (1888), When Shall We Be Married? (1892), Holiday (1896), and Two Tahitian Women (1899). His style using broad, flat tones and bold colors, inspired artists such as Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse, and the young Pablo Picasso.
June 8, 1874 – Apache leader Cochise died on the Chiricahua Reservation in southeastern Arizona. After a peace treaty had been broken by the U.S. Army in 1861, he waged war against settlers and soldiers, forcing them to withdraw from southern Arizona. In 1862, he became principal chief of the Apaches. He and 200 followers avoided capture by hiding in the Dragoon Mountains. In June of 1871, Army General George Crook assumed command in Arizona and managed to win the allegiance of many Apaches. Cochise then surrendered. He disappeared briefly in the spring of 1872, but returned and settled on the reservation where he died.
Birthday – American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He designed about 1,000 structures and is considered the most influential architect of his time. He became the leader of a style known as the Prairie School featuring houses with low-pitched roofs and extended lines that blend into the landscape. He once wrote, “No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other.”
June 9, 1898 – The British signed a 99-year lease for Hong Kong, located on the southeastern coast of China. Hong Kong, consisting of an area measuring 400 square miles, was administered as a British Crown Colony until July 1, 1997, when its sovereignty reverted to the People’s Republic of China.
Birthday – Composer and lyricist Cole Porter (1893-1964) was born in Peru, Indiana. He published his first song The Bobolink Waltz at the age of ten. His Broadway career was launched in 1928 when five of his songs were used in the musical play Let’s Do It. Among his many contributions to the Broadway stage; Fifty Million Frenchmen, The Gay Divorcee, Anything Goes, Leave It to Me, Du Barry Was a Lady, Something for the Boys, Kiss Me Kate, Can Can and Silk Stockings.
June 10, 1652 – In Massachusetts, silversmith John Hull opened the first mint in America, in defiance of English colonial law. The first coin issued was the Pine Tree Shilling, designed by Hull.
June 10, 1942 – In one of the most infamous single acts of World War II in Europe, all 172 men and boys over age 16 in the Czech village of Lidice were shot by Nazis in reprisal for the assassination of SS leader Reinhard Heydrich. The women were deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp where most died. Ninety young children were sent to the concentration camp at Gneisenau, with some later taken to Nazi orphanages if they were German looking. The village was then completely leveled until not a trace remained.
Birthday – African American actress Hattie McDaniel (1889-1952) was born in Wichita, Kansas. She won an Academy Award in 1940 for her role as ‘Mammy’ in Gone with the Wind.
Birthday – Judy Garland (1922-1969) was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota (as Frances Gumm). She is best remembered for her portrayal of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939) and other films including Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and Easter Parade (1948). She became one of the most popular concert performers of the 1950s and ’60s and broke box-office records in New York City and London. She was found dead of an overdose of sleeping pills in London on June 22, 1969.
June 11, 1991 – Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted, spewing ash into the air, visible over 60 miles. The surrounding areas were covered with ash and mud created by rainstorms. Nearby U.S. military bases were also damaged.
June 11, 1994 – After 49 years, the Soviet military occupation of East Germany ended. At one time there had been 337,800 Soviet troops stationed in Germany. Over 300,000 Russians died during World War II in the Battle for Berlin.
Birthday – German composer Georg Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was born in Munich. His best known works include; Till Eulenspiegel (1895), Also Sprach Zarathustra (1896) and Don Quixote (1898).
Birthday – American feminist and politician Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973) was born in Missoula, Montana. She was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She was a reformer and a pacifist and was the only member of Congress to vote against a declaration of war against Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.
Birthday – Undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) was born in Ste-Andre-de-Cubzac, France. In 1943, he helped invent the first underwater breathing apparatus, called the Aqualung. He is best known for his Emmy Award winning television series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, which premiered in the U.S. in 1968.
Birthday – American football coach Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1959, he became head coach of the Green Bay Packers, winning five NFL titles and two Super Bowls in nine seasons. He is generally regarded as the greatest coach and the finest motivator in football history. He retired in 1968, but was lured back to coach the Washington Redskins. He contracted cancer after coaching the Redskins for just one season and died September 3, 1970, in Washington, D.C.
June 12, 1898 – The Philippines declared their independence from Spain. The islands were named after King Philip II. Once freed from Spain, the islands were then invaded and occupied by U.S. forces. They became an American colony and remained so until after World War II.
June 12, 1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi, by a rifle bullet from an ambush. He had been active in seeking integration of schools and voter registration for African Americans in the South. Widespread public outrage following his death led President John F. Kennedy to propose a comprehensive Civil Rights law. Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Birthday – Anne Frank (1929-1945) was born in Frankfurt, Germany. She is perhaps the best known victim of the Nazi Holocaust. Anne and her family moved from Germany to Amsterdam to flee Nazi persecution, then went into hiding in a small attic after Holland was invaded by Nazis. Anne, a girl on the verge of womanhood, was unable to go outside for any reason. In 1942, she began a diary to cope with the boredom, fear, annoyances, and loneliness of captivity. Her family’s hiding place was eventually discovered and Anne and her family were deported to Nazi concentration camps. She contracted typhus and died at Bergen-Belsen in 1945. After the war, her father published her diary, which inspired the world, revealing a young woman who had managed to remain hopeful, despite it all.
June 13, 1971 – The New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers, a collection of top secret documents exposing U.S. strategy in the Vietnam War.
June 13, 1966 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled (5-4) in the case of Miranda v. Arizona that an accused person must be apprised of certain rights before police questioning including the right to remain silent, the right to know that anything said can be used against the individual in court, and the right to have a defense attorney present during interrogation. American police officers now routinely read prisoners their ‘Miranda’ (constitutional) rights before questioning.
Birthday – Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet and dramatist William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Dublin, Ireland. Among his plays; The Countess Cathleen (1892) and Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902).
Birthday – American Army General Winfield Scott (1786-1866) was born in Petersburg, Virginia. Nicknamed “Old Fuss and Feathers” because of his formality, he served in three wars; the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the American Civil War. He was also nominated for the presidency by the Whig party in 1852 but was defeated by Franklin Pierce.
June 14, 1775 – The first U.S. Military service, the Continental Army consisting of six companies of riflemen, was established by the Second Continental Congress. The next day, George Washington was appointed by a unanimous vote to command the army.
June 14, 1777 – John Adams introduced a resolution before Congress mandating a United States flag, stating, “…that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.” This anniversary is celebrated each year in the U.S. as Flag Day.
June 14, 1922 – Warren G. Harding became the first U.S. President to broadcast a message over the radio. The event was the dedication of the Francis Scott Key Memorial in Baltimore.
June 14, 1951 – Univac 1, the world’s first commercial electronic computer was unveiled in Philadelphia. It was installed at the Census Bureau and utilized a magnetic tape unit as a buffer memory.
Birthday – Photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White (1906-1971) was born in New York City. In 1936, she became one of four original staff photographers for Life Magazine. She was the first woman to become an accredited war correspondent during World War II. She covered the Italian campaign, the siege of Moscow and the American crossing of the Rhine into Germany. Her photographs of Nazi concentration camps stunned the world. She later photographed Mahatma Gandhi and covered the migration of millions of people after the Indian subcontinent was subdivided. She also served as a war correspondent during the Korean War. Her best known book was a study of rural poverty in the American South, You Have Seen Their Faces (1937).
Birthday – American writer Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. She wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an anti-slavery novel containing vivid descriptions of the sufferings and oppression of African Americans. The book provoked a storm of protest and inflamed people in the North against slavery in the South. The names of two characters from the novel have become part of the English language – the slave, Uncle Tom, and the villainous slave owner, Simon Legree. During the Civil War, as Harriet Beecher Stowe was introduced to President Abraham Lincoln, he reportedly said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.”
Birthday – American editor and compiler John Bartlett (1820-1905) was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Although he had little formal education, he created Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, one of the most-used reference works of the English language, which today contains 22,000 entries.
Birthday – German psychiatrist and pathologist Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915) was born in Markbreit am Mainz, Germany. In 1907, he published an article first describing ‘Alzheimers,’ a degenerative disease, usually beginning at age 40-60, affecting nerve cells of the brain and leading to severe memory impairment and progressive loss of mental faculties.
June 15, 1215 – King John set his seal to Magna Carta, the first charter of British liberties, guaranteeing basic rights that have since become the foundation of modern democracies around the world.
Birthday – Pianist and composer Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was born in Bergen, Norway. He incorporated the rhythms and melodies of Norwegian folk music into his songs and instrumentals including Piano Concerto in A Minor, Peer Gynt Suite, Norwegian Peasant Dance, and Ich liebe Dich.
June 16, 1963 – Valentina Tereshkova, 26, became the first woman in space as her Soviet spacecraft, Vostok 6, took off from the Tyuratam launch site. She manually controlled the spacecraft completing 48 orbits in 71 hours before landing safely.
Birthday – Film comedian Stan Laurel (1890-1965) was born in Ulverston, England. He teamed up with Oliver Hardy as Laurel & Hardy delighting audiences for more than 30 years.
Birthday – American author and photographer John Griffin (1920-1980) was born in Dallas, Texas. He darkened his white skin using chemicals and ultraviolet light, then kept a journal on his experiences while posing as an African American traveling through the deep South. The journal was published as the book, Black Like Me.
June 17, 1972 – Following a seemingly routine burglary, five men were arrested at the National Democratic Headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. However, subsequent investigations revealed the burglars were actually agents hired by the Committee for the Re-election of President Richard Nixon. A long chain of events then followed in which the president and top aides became involved in an extensive cover-up of this and other White House sanctioned illegal activities, eventually leading to the resignation of President Nixon on August 9, 1974.
Birthday – Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was born near St. Petersburg. Among his best known works, the ballets The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913), and the choral work Symphony of Psalms (1930).
June 18, 1812 – After much debate, the U.S. Senate voted 19 to 13 in favor of a declaration of war against Great Britain, prompted by Britain’s violation of America’s rights on the high seas and British incitement of Indian warfare on the Western frontier. The next day, President James Madison officially proclaimed the U.S. to be in a state of war. The War of 1812 lasted over two years and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium on December 24, 1814.
June 18, 1815 – On the fields near Waterloo in central Belgium, 72,000 French troops, led by Napoleon, suffered a crushing military defeat from a combined Allied army of 113,000 British, Dutch, Belgian, and Prussian troops. Thus ended 23 years of warfare between France and the other powers of Europe. Napoleon was then sent into exile on the island of St. Helena off the coast of Africa. On May 5, 1821, the former vain-glorious Emperor died alone on the tiny island, abandoned by everyone.
June 18, 1983 – Dr. Sally Ride, a 32-year-old physicist and pilot, became the first American woman in space, beginning a six-day mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger, launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Birthday – British explorer George Mallory (1886-1924) was born in Mobberley, Cheshire, England. When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, he simply answered, “Because it is there.” He disappeared while climbing through the mists toward its summit on the morning of June 8, 1924. His body, perfectly preserved due to the cold conditions, was discovered by climbers in 1999, just 600 meters (2,030 feet) from the summit.
June 19, 1953 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by electrocution at Sing Sing Prison in New York. They had been found guilty of providing vital information on the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union during 1944-45. They were the first U.S. civilians to be sentenced to death for espionage and were also the only married couple ever executed together in the U.S.
Birthday – Baseball great Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) was born in New York City. He played in 2,130 consecutive games and seven World Series for the New York Yankees and had a lifetime batting average of .340. He contracted the degenerative muscle disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now called ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease,’ and died on June 2, 1941.
June 20, 1782 – The U.S. Congress officially adopted the Great Seal of the United States of America.
Birthday – American military hero and actor Audie Murphy (1924-1971) was born in Kingston, Texas. He was the most decorated American soldier of World War II, awarded 37 medals and decorations, including the Medal of Honor for single-handedly turning back a German infantry company by climbing on a burning U.S. tank destroyer and firing its .50-cal. machine gun, killing 50 Germans. He later became an actor in western and war movies and made 45 films including; The Red Badge of Courage (1951), Destry (1954), and To Hell and Back (1955), based on his autobiography. He died May 28, 1971, in a plane crash near Roanoke, Virginia.
June 21, 1964 – Three white civil rights workers – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – left Meridian, Mississippi, at 9 a.m. to investigate a church burning. They were expected back by 4 p.m. When they failed to return, a search was begun. Their murdered bodies were discovered on August 4th.
Birthday – French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was born in Paris. Dubbed the “father of existentialism,” in 1964, he rejected the Nobel Prize for Literature when it was awarded to him.
June 22, 1918 – A Michigan Central Railroad troop train struck the rear of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train in Ivanhoe, Indiana. Fifty-three circus performers were killed. Of the circus animals not killed, most were maimed and had to be destroyed. The performers, of whom only three could be identified, were buried in a mass grave.
June 22, 1941 – Starting at 3:15 am, some 3.2 million German soldiers plunged headlong into Russia across an 1800-mile front, in a major turing point of World War II. At 7 am that morning, a proclamation from Hitler to the German people announced, “At this moment a march is taking place that, for its extent, compares with the greatest the world has ever seen…”
June 23, 1865 – The last formal surrender of Confederate troops occurred as Cherokee leader and Confederate Brigadier General Watie surrendered his battalion comprised of American Indians in the Oklahoma Territory.
June 24, 1948 – Soviet Russia began a blockade of Berlin. Two days later the Allies responded with an emergency airlift to relieve two million isolated West Berliners. During the Berlin Airlift, American and British planes flew about 278,000 flights, delivering 2.3 million tons of food, coal and medical supplies. A plane landed in Berlin every minute from eleven Allied staging areas in West Germany. The Russians lifted their blockade of Berlin on May 12, 1949, however the airlift continued until September 30th.
June 24, 2010 – Labor Party deputy Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister. She was born in Wales and had moved to Australia as a child. She worked as a lawyer before entering politics.
June 25, 1862 – During the American Civil War, the Seven Days Campaign began as Confederate General Robert E. Lee launched a series of assaults to prevent a Union attack on Richmond, Virginia. The Campaign included battles at Oak Grove, Gaine’s Mills, Garnett’s Farm, Golding’s Farm, Savage’s Station, White Oak Swamp and Malvern Hill, resulting in over 36,000 casualties on both sides. Despite losing the final assault at Malvern Hill, the Confederates succeeded in preventing the Union Army from taking Richmond.
June 25, 1876 – General George A. Custer, leading 250 men, attacked an encampment of Sioux Indians near Little Bighorn River in Montana. Custer and his men were then attacked by 2000-4000 Indian braves. Only one scout and a single horse survived ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ on the Little Bighorn Battlefield. News of the humiliating defeat infuriated Americans and led to all out war. Within a year, the Sioux Indians were a broken and defeated nation.
June 25, 1950 – The Korean War began as North Korean troops, led by Russian-built tanks, crossed the 38th parallel and launched a full scale invasion of South Korea. Five days later, U.S. ground forces entered the conflict, which lasted until July 27, 1953, when an armistice was signed at Panmunjom, formally dividing the country at the 38th parallel into North and South Korea.
June 25, 1990 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that it was unconstitutional for any state to require, without providing other options, a minor to notify both parents before obtaining an abortion.
June 25, 1991 – Following the collapse of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe, the republics of Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia. Ethnic rivalries between Serbians and Croatians soon erupted. In 1992, fighting erupted in Bosnia-Herzegovina between Serbians and ethnic Muslims. A campaign of terrorism and genocide, termed ‘ethnic cleansing,’ was started by the Serbs against the Muslims. At least two million people became refugees, and about 200,000 were missing and presumed dead. Violence in the region raged on through 1995 despite economic sanctions and the efforts of U.N. peacekeeping forces in the area.
Birthday – British satirist George Orwell (1903-1950) was born at Montihari in Bengal (as Eric Arthur Blair). He is best known for two works of fiction Animal Farm (1944), and 1984 (1949).
June 26, 1893 – Illinois Gov. John P. Altgeld issued a controversial pardon for three anarchists convicted after the Haymarket Riot. The riot had occurred in Chicago in May of 1886, after 180 police officers advanced on 1,300 persons listening to speeches by labor activists and anarchists. A bomb was thrown. Seven police were killed and over 50 wounded. Four anarchists were then charged with conspiracy to kill, convicted and hanged while another committed suicide in jail. Three others were given lengthy jail terms, then pardoned by Gov. Altgeld in a move that likely cost him his political career.
June 26, 1945 – The United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco by 50 nations. The Charter was ratified on October 24, 1945.
Birthday – American author Pearl Buck (1892-1973) was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia. She became a noted authority on China and wrote books including The Good Earth which revealed the mysterious Chinese culture to Western readers. She received a Nobel Prize in 1938 for her many books.
Birthday – Champion athlete Mildred “Babe” Didrikson (1914-1952) was born in Port Arthur, Texas. Nicknamed after baseball legend Babe Ruth, she won two gold medals at the 1932 Olympics, setting world records in the javelin throw and high hurdle. She then took up golf, winning the 1946 U.S. Women’s Amateur Tournament. In 1947, she won 17 straight golf championships and became the first American winner of the British Ladies’ Amateur Tournament. As a pro golfer, she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1950 and 1954. She also excelled in softball, baseball, swimming, figure skating, billiards, and even football. In 1950, she was named ‘woman athlete of the first half of the 20th century’ by the Associated Press. She died of cancer at age 42.
Birthday – American musician Mildred J. Hill (1859-1916) was born in Louisville, Kentucky. She composed the melody for what is now the world’s most often sung song, Happy Birthday to You.
June 28, 1862 – During the American Civil War, the siege of the Confederate city of Vicksburg began as Admiral David Farragut succeeded in taking a fleet past the Mississippi River stronghold. The siege continued over a year.
June 28, 1914 – Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Crown Prince of Austria and his wife were assassinated at Sarajevo, touching off a conflict between the Austro-Hungarian government and Serbia that escalated into World War I.
June 28, 1919 – The signing of the Treaty of Versailles formally ended World War I. According to the terms, Germany was assessed sole blame for the war, forced give up Alsace-Lorraine and overseas colonies, and pay reparations of $15 Billion. The treaty also prohibited German rearmament.
Birthday – Flemish painter and diplomat Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was born in Siegen, Westphalia, Germany. Regarded as the greatest of Flemish painters, he was considered the master artist of his day. He was also skilled in science and politics and spoke seven languages. Among his masterpieces; Le Coup de Lance and The Descent from the Cross.
Birthday – Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was born in Geneva, Switzerland. His book The Social Contract stated that no laws are binding unless agreed upon by the people, a concept that deeply affected the French. In his novel Emile he challenged harsh child-rearing methods of his day and argued that young people should be given freedom to enjoy sunlight, exercise and play. “Man is born free,” he wrote in The Social Contract, “and everywhere he is in chains.”
Birthday – German-American physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer (1906-1972) was born in Kattowitz, Germany. She participated in the secret Manhattan Project, the building of the first atomic bomb. She later became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize, sharing the 1963 prize for physics for works explaining atomic nuclei, known as the nuclear shell theory.
June 29, 1972 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that capital punishment was a violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibiting “cruel and unusual punishment.” The decision spared the lives of 600 individuals then sitting on death row. Four years later, in another ruling, the Court reversed itself and determined the death penalty was not cruel and unusual punishment. On October 4, 1976, the ban was lifted on the death penalty in cases involving murder.
Birthday – Social worker Julia Lathrop (1858-1932) was born in Rockford, Illinois. She fought to establish child labor laws and was instrumental in establishing the first juvenile court in the U.S. In 1912, President Taft named her to head the newly created Children’s Bureau. In 1925, she became a member of the Child Welfare Committee of the League of Nations.
Birthday – American surgeon William Mayo (1861-1939) was born in LeSeuer, Minnesota. He was one of the Mayo brothers, pioneers of the concept of the group clinic, bringing together specialists from a number of medical fields to better perform diagnoses and treatment. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, became an internationally known medical center.
June 30, 1971 – The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted, granting the right to vote in all federal, state and local elections to American citizens 18 years or older. The U.S. thus gained an additional 11 million voters. The minimum voting age in most states had been 21.
(Photo and picture credits: Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives)
Most modern systems of government present in our world today consist of three primary parts: the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. These branches differ from country to country in terms of composition, size, function, and importance, but are usually designed to operate best independently of each other on specific aspects of governance. In some countries, the way these ideally independent branches of government work together to govern the country is known as checks and balances.
The legislative branch of government is usually composed of a legislature or assembly of individuals representing the people of a given nation. In most cases these representatives are elected by the people in a particular geographic location, such as a county, state, or province, though in some less democratic systems this may not always be true. In the United States, the legislative branch is known as Congress, which is divided into two sections: the House of Representatives and the Senate. This system is known as a bicameral legislature, in which there is a lower and upper house. In countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, as well as many other European nations, the legislative branch consists of a single house called a parliament. The role of the legislative branch of government is to discuss and pass laws for the country, as well as hold the executive branch accountable for its action in implementing and enforcing these laws.
The executive branch of government generally consists of a president, prime minister, or in some cases, a monarch such as a king, queen, prince, sultan, or emperor. The role of the executive branch is to conduct the day to day affairs of the nation, including domestic and foreign affairs. This usually includes the overall supreme command of the military armed forces, police, and civil administration. Thus, it is usually the responsibility of the executive branch to efficiently implement and enforce the laws passed by the legislative branch. The executive branch is ultimately accountable to the legislative and judicial branches for its actions and policies. In some cases, the monarch is merely a ceremonial position with no actual political power, in which case the executive functions of government are exercised by a prime minister, who is also the leader of the dominant faction within the legislative branch.
The judicial branch of government consists of a nation’s courts and judges, which are meant to interpret the laws enacted by the legislative branch as they apply to various situations, and in some countries such as the United States, to determine whether or not laws are valid according to the Constitution. The judicial branch also determines the legality of actions conducted by the executive branch based on current laws. In the United States, the Supreme Court has also developed a special role in developing laws in addition to merely interpreting them. The concept of judicial activism involves the courts making legal decisions about various issues and policies that, in effect, serve as laws, because they establish a legal precedent regarding what can and cannot be done by the other branches of government as well as by citizens.
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