Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31: Henry Ford

On this date in History ..... 1927:

Henry Ford publishes the last issue of his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. 
Ford used the paper as a platform for his anti-Semitic views. Ford was “an unapologetic bigot”, hating labor unions, immigrants and everything Jewish, blaming Jewish bankers with everything that was wrong with the world, and convinced that the Jewish population would take over the world by way of commerce and exchange. He believed wars were started by Jews just so they could profit from them.
In 1927 a Jewish lawyer sued him for defamation. Ford faked an auto accident to avoid testifying and ended up settling out of court. He issued an insincere apology: “--"to my great regret," he wrote, "I have learned that Jews...resent this publication as promoting anti-Semitism.”  
Many of its articles and essays were collected and published in a book called "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem." It was a bestseller in Nazi Germany and remains in print today.  In January 1937, a Ford statement to the Detroit Jewish Chronicle disavowed "any connection whatsoever with the publication in Germany of a book known as theInternational Jew." 
Hitler even quoted the Dearborn Independent in Mein Kampf and Henry Ford was the only American that Hitler specifically named.
On Ford’s 75th birthday, the German Consul gave Ford the award of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal Nazi Germany could bestow on a foreigner.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 30: Col. Robert Howard, Medal of Honor

On this date in History .... 1968:

Col. Robert Howard
Robert Howard’s action merited the award of the Congressional Medal of Honor while on a rescue mission in Cambodia searching for missing soldier Robert Scherdi.
Howard was nominated for the Medal of Honor 3 times, but the rules dictate it can only be awarded once.  In a 54 month period he was wounded 14 times, received eight Purple Hears and four Bronze Stars. He was a Ranger and a Green Beret, Special Forces. He served over 50 years and retired a full colonel.

During the rescue mission, Howard was wounded and his gun destroyed but he crawled to his wounded commander to administer 1st aid.  An enemy bullet then hit an ammunition pack Howard was carrying, detonating several rounds of ammo. Severely wounded, he began dragging other wounded soldiers to safety.
For 3-1/2 hrs, he and his men held off the enemy until helicopters could get in to rescue. Even then, Howard made sure his men were loaded up first and he did not leave the “bullet swept landing zone until all were aboard safely.”


December 29: First Gas Lights in White House

On this date in History .... 1848:

President Polk turns on the first gas lights in the White House. 
Polk had eighty gas light installed outside the White House while every single light inside was replaced by gas light with one exception.  Mrs. Polk insisted that one chandelier remain candle-lit.  She thought the chandelier in the Blue Room, believed to have been owned by Napolean, looked better in candlelight. 
She was vindicated when on the first night of using gas lights, the gas ran out and all rooms went dark except for her candle-lit one.
Electric lights were installed by Pres. Benjamin Harrison in 1891.

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28: 1st Woman on FBI List

On this date in History ..... 1968:

The first woman is added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List. 

Ruth Eisemann-Schier was arrested March 5, 1969 and later indicted for kidnapping with ransom for the kidnapping of land-heiress Barbara Jane Mackle on December 17. Mackle was buried alive in a fiberglass reinforced box with a battery, air pump, some food and water. After a 1st botched ransom drop, a 2nd drop of $500,000 was successful.

Ruth’s partner, Gary Krist, who Schier said was the mastermind of the whole thing, called & gave an FBI operator vague directions to Mackle’s location.  

After 3 days of being buried alive, Mackle was found, suffering from dehydration. She wrote a book of her experiences called “83 Hours till Dawn”. 

Mackle was driven to a remote wooded area where she was confronted by a coffin-shaped hole in the ground and a fiberglass coffin.  She begged with her captors, “I’ll be good!” if they would not put her in the ground.  They chloroformed her and placed her in the box, taking a photo of her holding a sign that said, “Kidnapped”.  

In the box was a letter of instruction with details explaining how her use of the light, air pump and water pump could affect the battery life and her life expectancy.  There was also a case of candy for energy, water (laced with sedatives), and sanitary supplies. They promised her she would be released by Christmas whether her father paid the ransom or not.  Her light went out after only 3 hours and she was left in total darkness for the next 80 hours.

Her father was a personal friend of President-elect Richard M. Nixon so with his connections, J. Edgar Hoover himself took personal charge of the case. 

Krist was captured when the man he bought a boat from got suspicious of the bearded man who paid over $2000 in twenty-dollar bills and called the police.  Krist was convicted but released after only 10 years in prison.  He went to college in the Carribean and became a medical doctor but kept losing his job when his past was discovered.  He last practiced medicine in small town Chrisney, Indiana but when nearby Evansville Indiana ran a story in the paper about the kidnapping, he lost that job, too.

Schier was paroled after a few years in prison and deported to Honduras.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27: Tires are rationed

On this date in History .... 1941:

The Office of Price Administration mandates the first rationing program of the war by mandating no one person could own more than five tires and any tires owned in excess of five had to be turned in. 

War with the Japanese made it difficult to get rubber from the Dutch Indies, which was where over 90% of the U.S.’s raw rubber came from, and what rubber could be obtained was used for war supplies. People were urged to save their tires by carpooling and driving less.  Posters sent messages such as “When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!” 

Scrap rubber drives collected tires, water hoses, swimming caps, gloves, raincoats, baby rubber pants and anything else that could be recycled for the war. 

Gas rationing began on December 1, 1942, not so much as a way to save gas but more as a way to reduce driving which would save the use of tires, which would decrease the civilian demand for rubber. Tire rationing ended on December 31, 1945.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26: U.S. Railroads are Nationalized

On this date in History ..... 1917:

Eight months after entering WWI, Pres. Wilson nationalized the railroads. 
The railroads were in financial straits due to rising taxes and operation costs, on top of prices that were fixed by law. Wilson saw they were unable to support the war effort and set up the U.S. Railroad Admnistration to streamline them. Over 100,000 new railroad cars and almost 2000 engines were ordered.
The Railroad Control Act (passed in March 1918) stated the railroads would be turned back over to the owners within 21 months of a signed peace treaty. In March 1920, the railroad owners again took possession of their property.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25: The Last Christmas Truce

On this date in History .... 1914:

In what was called “the last outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare”, German and British soldiers crawled out of the trenches, crossing no-man’s land to shake each other’s hands,  sing Christmas carols together, exchange gifts of cigarettes and plum puddings and to play a game of soccer.  

This impromptu “Christmas Truce” was never repeated.  Future attempts at holiday ceases fires were stopped by officers who threatened disciplinary action.


Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24: Walter-McCarren Act

On this date in History .... 1952:

The Walter-McCarren Act goes into effect, changing some of the criteria for immigrants to be admitted to the U.S.  While it did little to change the quota system that was already in place, it still gave preference to European immigrants, specifically England, Ireland and Germany, giving these three countries two-thirds of the allocated slots available.  But it did remove some racial barriers that had previously excluded Japan and China, which were assigned very small quotas. 
The Act called for a more intense screening to make sure anyone labeled a subversive was not allowed entry and those from communist or communist-front organization were to be deported.  “In defending the act, Senator McCarren declared, "If this oasis of the world should be overrun, perverted, contaminated, or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished."
President Harry S. Truman took a very different view, calling the legislation "un-American" and inhumane. When the bill was passed in June 1952, Truman vetoed the bill. Congress overrode his veto, and the act took effect in December.”

Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21: Navajo Code Talkers

On this date in History ... 2000:

Pres. Clinton signs a bill which gives the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the U.S., to the 29 original WWII Navajo Code Talkers. Silver Medals were given to approximately 300 other persons who qualified as a Code Talker. 
During WWII, the Japanese were breaking codes left and right. Philip Johnson, who grew up a missionary’s son on a Navajo reservation, was one of a few non-Navajos who spoke the language fluently, and suggested using the language as an unbreakable code. The language, at the time, was not written down and had a very complex grammar.
The military accepted the idea and during testing saw that a coded message that would take a machine 30 minutes to code could be sent in 20 seconds through a Code Talker. A code was developed using the language, but no code book was printed. The Talkers had to memorize every code. 
Other Navajos, who had not gone through the code-training program, could not understand the code. This was proven when Joe Kieyoomia, a Navajo Sargeant but not a Code Talker, was captured during the Bataan Death March. The Japanese had him try to interpret the messages but the message made no sense to Joe. (He had no way of knowing that the Navajo word for “potato” meant “hand grenade”.)

Code Talker medal 1968.
Photo source: www.
The program was considered classified until 1968 so the men that had a tremendous impact on the victory at Iwo Jimo received no recognition for over 20 years.  According to Maj. Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division Signal Officer, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.” The six Code Talkers under his command sent over 800 messages in two days, all completely error free.

On November 15, 2008, Pres. Bush signed the Code Talkers Recognition Act which gave every Code Talker the same Congressional Gold Medal as was received by the original 29.

George Smith, the last Navajo Code Talker, died November 2012.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20: Soviet Code Broken

On this date in History ..... 1946:

Meredith Gardner broke a Soviet code that revealed Soviet espionage in the Manhattan Project, and Soviet activity in the Treasury Dept, the State Dept and even the White House. The code breaking, a collaboration between the US and the UK to break Soviet coded messages, was known as the VENONA Project. It was so secret that Pres. Roosevelt and Truman knew nothing about it and led to evidence used in such spy cases as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
While Mr. Gardner was the key man in breaking this code, most of the code breakers were young women.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19: Carl Perkins....Blue Suede Shoes

On this date in History ... 1955:

Carl Perkins records “Blue Suede Shoes”, a song that is considered one of the first “rockabilly” songs that led to the birth of rock and roll. 
Johnny Cash first suggested Perkins write a song about blue suede shoes when Cash had an airman refer to the military shoes as blue suedes. Perkins told Cash he had no idea how to write a song about shoes! 
Perkins was playing at dance and overheard a young man tell his date, “Hey! Don’t step on my suedes!” Perkins noticed the man’s suede shoes were blue, but his thought was how the kid was dating “a pretty young thing like that and all he can think about is his blue suede shoes.” He went home and in two weeks had a song written and recorded. When writing the song, he spelled it “Blue Swade” and said, “I couldn’t even spell it right!” 
Perkins became the first country singer to hit the R&B charts with the song and earned Perkins a gold record. Elvis Presley's version reached #20 on the charts, not coming close to Perkin’s version which topped the charts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18: Nixon Christmas Bombs Vietnam

On this date in History .... 1972:

Nixon announces the starts of “Christmas Bombing” of Vietnam. 

The peace talks had broken down just a few days earlier and Nixon began the bombing to stop the stalemate in the talks process.  North Vietnam was bombed for two weeks, dropping 20,000 tons of bombs on Hanoi and Haiphong. 

The bombing stopped on December 29 when the Vietnamese agreed to come back to the table.  A few weeks later, a peace agreement was signed.


Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17: Grant bans Jews from territory

On this date in History ..... 1862:

General Grant expels Jews from territory for war profiteering on cotton. 

As Grant worked his way through the South, speculators followed him through the captured territories, buying up cotton at rock bottom prices and selling it for a high profit in the North where cotton was badly needed. When Grant’s father came down for a visit and brought some Ohio friends with him, Grant realized the friends, who were Jewish, were speculators and was livid at the profiteering.  He issued his famous Order #11, banning all Jews from the territory. 

The uproar was swift and loud.  Lincoln ordered Grant to rescind the order immediately. 


Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16: Saturday Night Fever

On this date in History .... 1977:

The movie “Saturday Night Fever” is released, propelling John Travolta to super-stardom and starting the disco dance craze across the country.  It defined a cultural era of platform shoes, polyester suits and blow dried hair.  It made it “ok” for guys to dance and turned the DJ into the “high priest” of the dance club.
The movie grossed almost $4 million the first weekend and overall grossed over $230million worldwide. 
Travolta originally wanted his now-famous white suit to be black but when producers pointed out that his dance partners red dress would show up better in the darkened disco and therefore make her more easily seen, he agreed to wear white.  The white suit was purchased at an auction by film critic Gene Siskel for $145,000.
The soundtrack album held the #1 selling album in history until it was replaced six years later by Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.
(clip of Saturday Night Fever's famous line dance)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15: Gone With the Wind

On this date in History ..... 1939:

The movie “Gone With the Wind” premiers in Atlanta Georgia.  There is too much trivia to list all of them, but some interesting pieces of info are:

·         Tickets for the premiere were 40 times the normal price.

·         The movie never mentions the death of Abraham Lincoln after the end of the Civil War.

·         It was the first color film to win “Best Picture”.  It was also the longest film (4 hrs) to win the award.

·         It won 10 awards, a record held for 20 yrs until “Ben Hur” surpassed it.

Clark Gable as "Rhett Butler"

·         Clark Gable lost “Best Actor” to Robert Donat of “Goodbye Mr. Chips”.

Vivian Leigh as "Scarlett O'Hara"
·         1400 actresses were interviewed for the role of Scarlett. The public was asked to vote on their choice on who should get the role.  Vivian Leigh got one vote.

·         Clark Gable almost quit when he found he would have to cry (after Scarlett’s miscarriage). de Haviland convinced him to stay.

Hattie McDaniel as "Mammy"
·         Gable also threatened to boycott the premiere when he found that Hattie McDaniel would be unable to attend due to racial segregation laws. She convinced him to go.

·         Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award (for Best Supporting Actress) for her performance, and the first African-American to attend the Academy Awards as a guest and not a servant.

·         When Gary Cooper turned down the role for Rhett Butler, he was passionately against it. He is quoted saying both, "Gone with the Wind is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history," and, "I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."

·         Rhett’s closing line has been voted the #1 movie line of all time.


Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14: Indiana is the Divorce Capital

On this date in History .... 1858:

Indiana’s reputation as the “Reno of the Midwest” and “Divorce Capital” was condemned by a Chicago Press and Tribune editorial on Indiana’s liberal divorce laws. Indiana was the state the couples swarmed to for a quick and easy divorce. A person merely had to show proof of residence (no length requirement) and swear there was “statutory cause” for the divorce. The Chicago paper accused Indiana of legalizing “Free Love” and it’s “abominations”, stating it was becoming a state of loose women and fast men.

The reason for such liberality is not really known but one suggested idea is attributed to Robert Owen and his utopian views.  Owen helped his father establish a utopian society in New Harmony, IND., an experiment that failed financially in just two years.  Owen’s “vigorous espousal of the rights of women” could have had an effect on the attitudes in the new frontier state.

Indiana revived its divorce laws in the 1870’s, & in the meantime, other states’ lax laws to end marriage were overtaking whatever Indiana might have had on the books.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13: Artificial Insemination Baby Illegitimate

On this date in History ..... 1954:

The Illinois State Supreme Court ruled in Doornbos v Doornbos that a child conceived via artificial insemination with donor sperm that did not belong to the husband, was considered illegitimate and the husband was not the father, regardless of whether the husband had given his consent for the insemination. The husband in this divorce case therefore had no obligation to pay child support AND had no rights to the child.
The Cook County Court ruled the practice was “contrary to public policy and good morals.” 
It was a California 1968 case, 14 years later, that first determined that artificial insemination was not an adulterous action and the resulting child WAS “legitimate”.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12: Leona Helmsley

On this date in History .... 1989:

“Queen of Mean” Leona Helmsley, famous for the line  “only the little people pay taxes” was sentenced to 4 yrs in prison, 750 hrs of community service & $7.1 tax fraud fine.  A hotel housekeeper testified that Helmsley  had been overheard making the ‘little people’ statement but Helmsley denied it was ever said. 

Her only son died at the age of 42.  Soon after, Helmsley issued her son’s widow an eviction notice from the property that Helmsley owned, and sued her son’s estate, eventually being awarded almost $150,000.  The widow and mother of four children reported the legal expenses “wiped her out”.

She would buy thousands of dollars worth of jewelry but insist the empty boxes be shipped to her home in Connecticut so she could avoid paying sales tax. She was severely hated by her employees and many were very happy to watch her in legal trouble.

In her will, she left millions to dogs while denying any inheritance to two grandchildren “for reasons that are known to them.”   It is rumored but unconfirmed that they were omitted from the will because they didn’t name any of their children after Leona’s husband.

A judge overrode the will, ruling Helmsley unfit, mentally, when she signed the will, and gave the two grandchildren $6million while cutting the dog’s share from $12million to $2million.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 11: Hitler declares war on U.S.

On this date in History .... 1941:

Hitler declares war on the United States. 

Hitler had a verbal agreement with Japan that Germany would join Japan in a war against the U.S. but was unsure on how that would come about. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was the perfect opening, even though the attack had surprised even Germany.  

German Foreign Minister von Ribbenthrop feared the addition of the U.S. would overwhelm Germany’s war effort but Hitler didn’t agree. He thought Japan was stronger than they actually were and figured once Japan defeated the U.S. then Japan would help Germany defeat Russia.

Once the declaration of war had been delivered, Hitler addressed the Reichstag, claiming the true cause of the war was entirely the fault of Roosevelt and his failed New Deal, accusing FDR of inciting war, falsifying causes, then wrapping himself in “Christian hypocrisy and slowly but surely leads mankind to war”.  At the end of this speech, the Reichstag “leaped to their feet in thunderous applause.” 

FDR’s request to Congress for a Declaration of War was unanimously approved.


Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10: Nobel Peace Prize

On this date in History .... 1901:

The first Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded, on the 5th anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.  The awards are given annually on Dec 10th.

The first year recipients of the prestigious award were:

·         Literature: Mr. Sully Prudhomme – a French poet

·         Peace: Jean Henry Dunant – a Swiss social activist. The 1864 Geneva Convention was based on his ideas.

·         Peace: Frederic Passy – a French economist, an advocate of free trade; President of the Bureau of Peace in Bern Switzerland

·         Chemistry: Jacobus Henricus van’t Hoff – a Dutch chemist. His work helped found the discipline of physical chemistry today.

·         Physics: Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen – a German physicist who detected radiation in a way that developed the X-ray technology.

·         Medicine: Emil Adolf von Behring – a German physiologist who developed a serum therapy against diphtheria, building a reputation to the studies of immunities.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 9: Manhattan Project Spies

On this date in History .... 1950:

Harry Gold
Harry Gold is sent to prison and is sentenced to 30 years in prison for espionage, starting a chain of events that would uncover a string of spies for the Soviets on the atomic bomb technology. 

Gold was a chemist from Philadelphia who had been a courier between Klaus Fuchs, (a British scientist who was stealing atomic bomb information), and the Soviets. Gold’s confession led to the arrest of David Greenglass, who was employed at Los Alamos where the Manhattan Project was being developed. Greenglass implicated his sister and brother-in-law, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, telling officials they were actively spying for the Soviets. 

The Rosenbergs
The Rosenbergs became the first U.S. citizens to be convicted and executed at Sing Sing for espionage during peacetime and their case remains controversial to this day.   Click here for video.

Harry Gold was paroled in 1965 after serving about half of his sentence.  He died in 1972.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 8: Bisbee Massacre

On this date in History .... 1883:

Five desperadoes rode into the mining town of Bisbee, Arizona to get the $7000 payroll from the Bisbee Gen’l Store vault. Their leader, Daniel "Big Dan" Dowd, and his gang barged into the store demanded the payroll but they were too early--the payroll had not yet arrived.
The outlaws gathered up what money there was, (between $900-$3,000), and took jewelry from the unlucky customers before they turned the robbery into a slaughter, killing four people (including Annie Roberts who was pregnant), and was dubbed The Massacre of Bisbee.
Deputy Sheriff Bill Daniels formed a posse and tracked the group for days.  Local saloonkeeper John Heath claimed to know who the men were, offered to lead the posse, but took the posse the opposite direction.  When he was called out by a rancher, Heath admitted to planning the robbery, was tried separately and was given life in prison.
When Daniels' posse tired and turned back, Daniels continued the search alone, finally capturing them one by one. The 5 were hung simultaneously.
Heath didn't get off so easily, though.  The townspeople thought his sentence was too light, especially considering a pregnant woman had died in the gunfire, so they broke into the jail and hung Heath from a telegraph pole.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7: Singing Nun hits #1 in U.S.

On this date in History .... 1963:

No one could have predicted that a song about a Catholic saint, sung in French by a Belgium nun could have become a U.S. hit.  But “The Singing Nun” did just that when her song “Dominique” hit #1 and stayed there for four weeks, stopping (Click here to hear) the song "Louie Louie" from ever reaching the #1 slot. 

After the Nov 22 death of John Kennedy, radio pop stations were toning down the music they played in a period of respect for the President.  “Dominique” arrived during this lull period in the music world and is the only Belgium song to ever become a #1 hit single in the U.S. 

Click here to play the song "Dominque"

However, after tasting “pop immortality”, the nun left the church to pursue a singing career which did not take off as expected.  In 1985, she committed suicide over a Belgium Government bill for a royalties tax issue.

A semi-biographical movie was made in 1966 starring Debbie Reynolds.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 6: 13th Amendment

On this date in History.... 1865:

The 13th Amendment is ratified to the U.S. Constitution, officially ending slavery in the United States. It came eight months after the war and is tagged as the greatest change to come out of the Civil War. The Senate passed the amendment in April 1864. 
Republicans wanted to ban slavery entirely but Democrats wanted to restore the states’ rights to decide, keeping alive the possibility that slavery could still exist.  A Republican victory in the upcoming election would almost guarantee the passage.  Lincoln’s overwhelming victory pushed the amendment forward and the House passed it in January 1865.  It was sent to the states for ratification and when Georgia ratified it on Dec 6, slavery was officially abolished.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December 5: 1st Vietnam Medal of Honor

On this date in History .... 1964:

Capt. Roger Donlon became the first Vietnam soldier and the first member of Special Forces to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 6th 1964.

The Special Forces commander single-handed killed a 3-man enemy team during a surprise attack in which he and his troops were outnumbered three-to-one and resulted in 55 killed with 65 wounded. When he was hit in his stomach, he stuffed a shirt into the wound, tightened his belt, and refused medical care, even though he was wounded a total of four times during the fie-hour battle, while he dragged other wounded men out of danger  and hauled supplies to the gunners as they defended their position for the long five hours. 

When Pres. Johnson  gave Donlon the medal, Donlon had the nine remaining members of his Special Forces team with him.  He told Johnson, “The medal belongs to them, too."

Donlon was the eighth of ten children.  His father and all four of his brothers served in the military. He attended West Point for two years, eventually becoming a Special Forces officer of the Green Berets.


the wound, tightened his belt, and refused medical care while he dragged other wounded men out of danger and hauled supplies to the gunners as they defended their position for five hours. When Pres. Johnson gave Donlon the medal, Donlon had the nine remaining members of his Special Forces team with him. He told Johnson, "The medal belongs to them, too."


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December 4: William Washington

On this date in History.... 1780:

William Washington
General George Washington's cousin, Colonel William Washington, tricked some British Loyalists into surrendering. Without the necessary equipment he had been begging for, Colonel Washington had his men rig a pine log on wagon axles to look like a cannon and point it toward the barn the Loyalists were cornered. The 112 Loyalists surrendered to the 60 Continental troops with not one shot fired.
This "Quaker Gun Trick" was so named because Quakers used it to intimidate enemies without violating their pacifist vow of non-violence.
William and his brother Henry drew straws to see which would get to join the Continental Army and which would stay home and take care of the family farm.  William won the draw and went to fight the British.
During the John Adams administration, William was offered a staff position and he served as a Brigadier General on the staff of (former President) George Washington, Adams' commander of the Army.

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3: First Human Heart Transplant

On this date in History ..... 1967:

The first human heart transplant was done on South African grocer Lewis Washkansky.  The technique used by the surgeon Christiaan Barnard, educated in the Univ of Cape Town and in the U.S., had been developed by U.S. surgeons in the 1950s and was used for a successful transplant on a dog in 1958. 

The surgery only took five hours to replace Washkansky's diseased heart with one from a 25-year old woman who had died from a car accident and happened to be the same blood type. 

Drugs were given to Washkansky to suppress his immune system so his body wouldn't reject the heart, but it also left him vulnerable to disease and 18 days later, he died of double pneumonia.  In the 1970s, better immune suppression drugs were developed and by the late 1970s, patients were living up to five years with new hearts.

Rhumatoid Arthritis forced Barnard to retire early, in 1983, and he spent his years living on a 32,000 acre sheep farm and becoming a writer of textbooks and novels.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 2: Monroe Doctrine

On this date in History .... 1823:

President James Monroe, in his annual message to Congress, warned European nations that the United States “would not tolerate further colonization or puppet monarchs” and basically told them to “stay out of our backyard” and not interfere in “affairs of the Western Hemisphere.”  He stated, "The American continents … are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers."  

This message, named The Monroe Doctrine, that he “buried in a routine annual message delivered to Congress,” became the watchword of U.S. policy in the western hemisphere. 

It has been invoked a number of times.  In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt invoked the Monroe Doctrine when a number of European countries threatened armed intervention to collect debt.  Roosevelt sent U.S. Marines into the Latin countries to keep European countries out and prevent war activity near the United States. President Kennedy invoked the Doctrine during the Cuba Missile Crisis of 1962, convincing the Soviet Union to dismantle the missiles and missile sites in Cuba.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1: Antartica Treaty

On this date in History .... 1959:

The Antarctica Treaty is signed by the U.S., Russia and ten other nations, banning military activity and weapons testing on the continent, becoming the first arms control agreement signed in the Cold War period.
The “South Pole” area, the Earth’s only continent without a native human population (and therefore no citizenship or government), had been a constant clash of claims against territorial ownership and U.S. officials wanted Pres. Eisenhower to be more assertive as they believed it to be a great space for nuclear testing. 
Eisenhower, however, took the opposite approach. He began working with the Soviets and the treaty made it military free and allowed scientific expeditions to travel across any area claimed by other nations without any hindrance or problems, encouraging “environmental stewardship”.    
There are now over 50 countries that have signed the treaty.