; The 1950 s The 1950’s 1950 Jan 31 Truman
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The 1950 s The 1950’s 1950 Jan 31 Truman


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									                                 The 1950’s
 Jan. 31: Truman orders the Atomic Energy Commission to begin developing the
 hydrogen bomb, an atomic weapon believed to be at least twice as powerful as those
 dropped on Japan to end World War II.

 “It is part of my responsibility as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to see to it
 that our country is able to defend itself against any possible aggressor. Accordingly, I
 have directed the Atomic Energy Commission to continue its work on all forms of
 atomic weapons, including the so called hydrogen or superbomb. Like all other work in
 the field of atomic weapons, it is being and will be carried forward on a basis consistent
 with the overall objectives of our program for peace and security. This we shall
 continue to do until a satisfactory plan for international control of atomic energy is
 achieved. We shall also continue to examine all those factors that affect our program for
 peace and this country , security.”
        -President Harry S. Truman on the Hydrogen Bomb, January 31, 1950

June 25: June 25 - Early morning, the North Korean People's Army under General Chai
Ung Jun, invades South Korea. The United Nations Security Council resolution calls for
an end to the North Korean aggression. The resolution got passed only because the Soviet
Union had boycotted that particular meeting.

June 27: President Truman orders air and sea services to help South Korean forces.

July 17: Julius Rosenberg was arrested for spying and giving secrets
about the atomic bomb to Russia.

August 11: Julius Rosenberg’s wife Ethel Rosenberg was arrested on the charge of
aiding her husband in spy activities.
February 9: Joseph McCarthy, a senator from Wisconsin, made a speech claiming to
have a list of 250 people in the State Department known to be members of the American
Communist Party. The list of names was not a secret and had been in fact published by
the Secretary of State in 1946. These people had been identified during a preliminary
screening of 3,000 federal employees. Some had been communists but others had been
fascists, alcoholics and sexual deviants. If screened, McCarthy's own drink problems and
sexual preferences would have resulted in him being put on the list.

March: Julius Rosenberg and his wife Ethel Rosenberg, both members of the
Communist Party, were found guilty of transmitting atomic military secrets to a Soviet
spy. They were both sentence to death.

September 8: To ensure Japan’s defense and secure it as an ally of the United States, the
two countries signed a bilateral mutual security treaty that allowed the United States to
maintain military bases and forces in Japan. The peace treaty and the collateral
agreements had the effect of aligning Japan firmly with the Western bloc of nations.

The color television is introduced to the United States.

January 20: General Dwight “Ike” D. Eisenhower was inaugurated the 34th president of
the United States.
June 18: After several appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and a refusal of clemency by
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Rosenbergs were executed at Sing Sing Prison in
Ossining, New York. More than 30 years later, the case is still controversial.

July 28: Korean Armistice signed at Panmunjom

August 12: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics detonated its first hydrogen bomb.

Ernest Hemingway published The Old Man and the Sea, a powerful novelette about an
aged Cuban fisherman, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction.
January 21: The first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, was launched.

March 1: Puerto Rican nationalists who entered the visitors gallery of the U.S. House of
Representatives opened fire on legislators in the chamber. Five members of Congress
were wounded in the attack.
April 22-June 17: The Army-McCarthy hearings aired on television for five weeks.
Senator Joseph McCarthy, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on
Investigations, charged that the Secretary of the Army, Robert T. Stevens, and Army
Counsel, John G. Adams, were hampering the committee's attempts to uncover
communists in the military. McCarthy failed to prove his charges. The hearings, given
broad television and newspaper coverage, helped to end the anti-Communist witch hunt.
By the end, Senator McCarthy was publicly disgraced. The Senate condemned McCarthy.

                    “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
                                      - Joseph Welch

May 17: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. A landmark court case in which the
Supreme Court of the United States unanimously declared that it was unconstitutional to
create separate schools for children on the basis of race. The Brown ruling ranks as one of
the most important Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century. At the time of the
decision, 17 southern states and the District of Columbia required that all public schools
be racially segregated. A few northern and western states, including Kansas, left the issue
of segregation up to individual school districts. While most schools in Kansas were
integrated, those in Topeka were not.

September 8: An alliance of nations to provide defense and economic cooperation in
Southeast Asia and the South Pacific area. The founding members of SEATO were
Australia, France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines,
Thailand, and the United States. Like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),
the Southeast Asian alliance was intended to prevent the spread of communism; but
unlike the NATO pact, the SEATO agreement did not obligate one member to assist
another against a military threat.

Dr. Jonas Salk starts giving a vaccination to children against polio.

May 14: Warsaw Pact. A military alliance of seven European Communist nations,
enacted to counter the rearmament of West Germany and its admission to the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The treaty was signed in Warsaw, Poland, on May
14, 1955, by Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland,
Romania, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The alliance was
dominated by the USSR, which kept strict control over the other countries in the pact.

December 1: In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a
white man. Her action led to the Montgomery bus strike, which was the first large-scale,
organized protest against segregation that used nonviolent tactics. It lasted for more than
a year and dramatized to the American public the determination of blacks in the South to
end segregation. A federal court ordered Montgomery's buses desegregated in November
1956, and the boycott ended in triumph. Rosa Parks’s personal act of defiance opened a
decisive chapter in the civil rights movement in the United States.
December 5: (AFL-CIO), organization of trade unions in the United States. The
organization was formed by the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the
Congress of Industrial Organizations. A Joint Unity Committee was formed, and a new
constitution was drafted. The formal merger of the AFL-CIO took place at a convention
held in New York City. George Meany, who had succeeded Green as head of the AFL,
was elected president of the new organization. The AFL-CIO had 16 million members,
about 30 percent of all those employed.

May 21: The first aerial hydrogen bomb was tested over Namu islet, Bikini Atoll. The
bomb had the equivalence of 10 million tons of TNT

July 26: Shortly after the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew their offers to
help finance the construction of the Aswân High Dam, the Egyptian government seized
the Suez Canal in accordance with a decree of nationalization issued by President Gamal
Abdel Nasser. Nasser announced that Egypt planned to use the proceeds from the
operation of the canal to finance the dam.

November 6: The French, Israelis, and British invaded Egypt to take back the Suez
Canal, which Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser had nationalized. They expected
American support. Eisenhower, however, came to Nasser’s rescue, using a ban on trade,
or embargo, to force the invaders to withdraw. It came as a shock to the invaders that the
United States would help an unaligned country—one that would not take sides with either
NATO or the Communists—against its closest allies. Eisenhower, however, consistently
denounced such “gunboat diplomacy,” explaining “We cannot subscribe to one law for
the weak, another law for the strong; one law for those opposing us, another for those
allied with us. There can be only one law—or there shall be no peace.”
January 5: In reaction to the Suez crisis, the United States announced a new policy, the
Eisenhower Doctrine: The United States would intervene in the Middle East if necessary
to protect the area against Communism.

September 9: The governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, tried to block the enrollment of
nine black students into Little Rock High School. In response, Eisenhower, never a strong
civil rights supporter, reluctantly sent federal troops to desegregate the school.

October 4: Russians launch Sputnik I, first earth-orbiting satellite. The launch marks the
beginning of the Space Age.

NASA. Founded by authority of the National Aeronautics and Space Act, NASA
replaced the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) that was created by
the United States Congress in 1915. NASA absorbed all of the various aviation and
military space organizations already established, enabling a single agency to coordinate
efforts effectively between all interested parties: scientists, engineers, universities, and

July15: After a left-wing revolution in Iraq, Eisenhower airlifted a marine detachment to
Lebanon in 1958 to forestall a similar uprising there. The immediate crisis soon subsided,
and the troops were withdrawn, but the American position in the Middle East continued
to deteriorate.
January 1: Cuban President Batista’s regime toppled by the rebel forces led by Fidel
Castro, who launched their successful attack in the fall of 1958. Faced with the collapse
of his regime, Batista fled with his family to the Dominican Republic. Later he went into
exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira and finally to Estoril, near Lisbon.

April 25: The St. Lawrence Seaway, a massive navigational project undertaken jointly by
Canada and the United States and completed in 1959, opened North America's industrial
and agricultural heartlands to deep-draft ocean vessels. It forged the final link in a
waterway some 2,340 miles long from Duluth, Minn. (at the westernmost point of Lake
Superior), to the Atlantic by clearing a throughway in a 186-mile stretch of the St.
Lawrence River between Montreal and Lake Ontario.

January: Migration to Alaska ultimately resulted in its statehood. When Congress passed
the act that admitted Alaska into the union in 1958, and President Eisenhower issued his
proclamation and Alaska became the 49th state This prompted many Americans to send
suggestions to President Eisenhower about the redesign of the nation's flag. The actual
redesigned flag had seven rows of seven stars each.

August 21: Hawaii becomes the 50th state.
                                     The 1960’s
May 1: A United States U-2 Airforce spy aircraft flying over the Soviet Union at 60,000
feet while conducting a "secret" reconnaissance flight was shot down over Sverdlovsk in
central USSR. The shoot down of the U-2 was on the eve of a summit meeting between
President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. As a result of
the shoot down and sensationalism in the media, it brought about the cancellation of the
meeting and heightened Cold War tensions

January 3: The United States breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba. Since Fidel Castro
took over Cuba in 1959, that country has been transformed socially, economically, and
politically. Cuba's alignment with the Soviet Union during the Cold War was seen as a
threat to both the safety and democracy of the United States by many US politicians and
citizens. A country less than 90 miles off the southern coast of Florida aligned with an
unfriendly country in the Nuclear Age posed a real challenge to our Foreign Policy

April 17: Cuban exiles attempted to invade Cuba. The exiles were supported and trained
by the United States government to overthrow Fidel Castro and his leftist regime. The
battle took on the name of the bay on which the invasion took place--the Bay of Pigs.
The invasion was unsuccessful, due largely because the Cuban people supported Castro's
revolution and in part to the limited role that the United States government played during
the battle. The invasion attempt further intensified the tension between the United States
and Cuba.

May 5: First U.S. spaceman, Navy Cmdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., rocketed 116.5 miles up
in 302-mile trip

July 21: Virgil Grissom became second American astronaut, making 118-mile-high, 303-
mile-long rocket flight over Atlantic
August 13: Early in the morning, the GDR began under the leadership of Erich Honecker
to block off East Berlin and the GDR from West Berlin by means of barbed wire and
antitank obstacles. Streets were torn up, and barricades of paving stones were erected.
Tanks gathered at crucial places. The subway and local railway services between East
and West Berlin were interrupted. Inhabitants of East Berlin and the GDR were no longer
allowed to enter West Berlin, amongst them 60,000 commuters who had worked in West
Berlin so far. In the following days, construction brigades began replacing the provisional
barriers by a solid wall.

February 20: John H. Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" spacecraft on
the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Launched from Cape Canaveral
(recently re-named Cape Kennedy), Florida, he completed a successful three--orbit
mission around the earth, reaching a maximum altitude of approximately 16Z statute
miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Glenn's "Friendship
7" Mercury spacecraft landed in an area in the Atlantic approximately 800 miles
southeast of Cape Kennedy in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island. He landed 41 miles west
and 19 miles north of the planned impact point. The time of the flight from launch to
impact was 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds.

October: The Cuban Missile Crisis was one of the most important conflicts of the Cold
War. The United States and the Soviet Union came close to starting the third world. The
reason was the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.
October 1: James H. Meredith, a 29-year-old African American and Air Force veteran,
moved into a University of Mississippi dormitory, planning the following day to be the
first black student to enroll at the 114-year-old school. Within a matter of days, two
persons were dead, dozens injured and a military force of 15,000 had moved into town all
due to the violent reaction white students and other Southern segregationists had to
President Kennedy enforcing a court order that Ole Miss integrate its student body.
Meredith was accompanied by five marshals wherever he went, including to his classes.

April 21: Michael E. De Bakey implants artificial heart in human for first time at
Houston hospital; plastic device functions and patient lives for four days.

June 17: Abington v Schempp. This case involved a Pennsylvania law requiring that at
least ten Bible verses be read in public schools at the beginning of each day. The
Schempps, a family in Abington, sued the school district for violating the first
amendment of the constitution. Religious instruction in school was deemed to violate the
1st amendment of the constitution.

August 28: Over 250,000 participate in the March on Washington at the Lincoln
Memorial, the largest protest assembly in U.S. history. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers
his famous "I Have a Dream Speech."
August 30: The Washington-to-Moscow "hot line" came into being one year after the
Cuban Missile Crisis. That confrontation, over the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba,
brought the world to the brink of nuclear conflict. After diplomacy and cooler heads
prevailed, both sides were shaken by the realization of how close they had come to
annihilation -- and at how primitive their direct communication methods had been.

November 22: President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy were in Dallas, Texas, trying to
win support in a state that Kennedy had barely carried in 1960. On his way to a luncheon
in downtown Dallas, Kennedy and his wife sat in an open convertible at the head of a
motorcade. Lyndon Johnson was two cars behind the president, and Texas Governor John
B. Connally and his wife were sitting with the Kennedys. The large crowds were
enthusiastic. As the motorcade approached an underpass, two shots were fired in rapid
succession. One bullet passed through the president’s neck and struck Governor Connally
in the back. The other bullet struck the president in the head. Kennedy fell forward, and
his car sped to Parkland Hospital. At 1:00 PM, he was pronounced dead. Less than two
hours after the shooting, aboard the presidential plane at the Dallas airport, Lyndon B.
Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States.

June 11: Nelson Mandela was put on trial for sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy.
He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. For the next 18 years he was
imprisoned on Robben Island and held under harsh conditions with other political
prisoners. Despite the maximum security of the Robben Island prison, Mandela and other
leaders were able to keep in contact with the antiapartheid movement covertly. Mandela
wrote much of his autobiography secretly in prison. The manuscript was smuggled out
and was eventually completed and published in 1994 as Long Walk to Freedom. Later,
Mandela was moved to the maximum-security Pollsmoor Prison near Cape Town.
Mandela became an international symbol of resistance to apartheid during his long years
of imprisonment, and world leaders continued to demand his release.
August 7: North Vietnamese coastal gunboats fired on the destroyer USS Maddox, which
had penetrated North Vietnam’s territorial boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin. Johnson
ordered more ships to the area, and on August 4 both the Maddox and the USS Turner
Joy reported that North Vietnamese patrol boats had fired on them. Johnson then ordered
the first air strikes against North Vietnamese territory and went on television to seek
approval from the U.S. public. (Subsequent congressional investigations would conclude
that the August 4 attack almost certainly had never occurred.) The U.S. Congress
overwhelmingly passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which effectively handed over
war-making powers to Johnson until such time as "peace and security" had returned to

The Warren Report. A report and conclusions of a seven-member commission that was
headed by Earl Warren, chief justice of the U.S. The commission was concerned with the
circumstances of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on
November 22, 1963, and the murder, two days later, of Kennedy's accused assassin, Lee
Harvey Oswald, by a nightclub operator, Jack Ruby. The 296,000-word report is based
on the testimony of 552 witnesses taken over a period of several months following the

February 1: The Selma Marches. The goal of the march was to draw national attention
to the struggle for black voting rights in the state. Police beat and tear-gassed the
marchers just outside of Selma, and televised scenes of the violence, on a day that came
to be known as Bloody Sunday, resulted in an outpouring of support to continue the
march. SCLC petitioned for and received a federal court order barring police from
interfering with a renewed march to Montgomery. Two weeks after Bloody Sunday, more
than 3000 people, including a core of 300 marchers who would make the entire trip, set
out toward Montgomery. They arrived in Montgomery five days later, where King
addressed a rally of more than 20,000 people in front of the capitol building.

February 21: Malcolm X, black-nationalist leader, was shot to death at a Harlem rally in
New York City.

April 28: On April 24, 1965, a group within the army rebelled against the government
with the avowed purpose of restoring Bosch as president. Air force and navy elements
opposed the insurgents, and Santo Domingo became the battleground of a civil war. Four
days later, a contingent of U.S. Marines was landed in Santo Domingo to protect U.S.
interests. The U.S. forces took up positions in a so-called international zone, which
served as a barrier between the rebel-occupied area of the city and the sections occupied
by the junta loyalists.
July 1: Medicare, a senior citizens’ government medical assistance program, begins.

August 11-16: Frustrations with high unemployment and poverty led to riots in the Watts
section of Los Angeles, a primarily black neighborhood. For six days, rioters looted,
firebombed, and sniped at police and National Guard troops. When the riots ended, 34
people were dead and hundreds were injured.

Miranda v. Arizona, landmark court case in which the Supreme Court of the United
States ruled that police officers must advise suspects of certain legal rights before arrest
and questioning. In Miranda the Court described a four-part warning that police officers
must give to a suspect who is arrested or otherwise detained. The warning is designed to
inform suspects of their rights not to incriminate themselves and to have the assistance of

January 27: The launch crew and flight crew of the first manned Apollo mission were
conducting a simulated countdown to test the operations and compatibility of the CSM
and the launch vehicle prior to their scheduled launch the following month. The
spacecraft was ready for a simulated launch, with hatch locked, power on, and an internal
atmosphere of pure oxygen. The crew of Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White, II, and
Roger B. Chaffee were in their space suits and performing the normal sequence of
prelaunch activities. At about 6:30 PM, after over five hours of delays and problems, a
spark inside the spacecraft ignited flammable material and instantly engulfed the closed
compartment in flames. By the time the hatch was pried away more than five minutes
later, the crew had died from asphyxiation.

July 23: A raid at an illegal after-hours bar in Detroit exploded in a week of violence and
looting, as National Guard and federal troops occupied the city.

October 2: President Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall as the first black man to the
Supreme Court. Two months later, Marshall was confirmed as associate justice of the
Supreme Court by the United States Senate.
January 23: the USS Pueblo, a U.S. spy ship, was attacked and seized while off the
North Korean coast. The North Koreans released its crew after 11 months.

January-February: The offensive was launched on the first day of Tet, the Vietnamese
festival of the lunar new year. It took United States troops and the South Vietnamese
forces, or the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), by surprise because of a
holiday truce. The campaign lasted through February before U.S. and ARVN troops
recaptured the cities, inflicting severe losses on the NLF and the North Vietnamese. The
February phase of the offensive received the most media attention but the campaign also
continued between May and June, and then from September through October.

March 31: President Johnson announces he will not seek or accept a presidential

April 4: Emphasis on economic rights took Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis,
Tennessee, to support striking black garbage workers in the spring. He was assassinated
in Memphis by a sniper. News of the assassination resulted in an outpouring of shock and
anger throughout the nation and the world, prompting riots in more than 100 United
States cities in the days following King’s death. In 1969 James Earl Ray, an escaped
white convict, pleaded guilty to the murder of King and was sentenced to 99 years in
prison. Although over the years many investigators have suspected that Ray did not act
alone, no accomplices have ever been identified.

June 5: Upon leaving a celebration in Los Angeles after his victory in the California
primary was assured, Robert Kennedy was shot by the Jerusalem-born Jordanian Sirhan
Bishara Sirhan; Kennedy died the following day, June 6, 1968. His gravesite in Arlington
National Cemetery is near that of President Kennedy.

January 20: Richard M. Nixon is inaugurated the 37th president of the United States.

June 28: The watershed event for homosexual activism was the Stonewall riot, which
protested a police raid on a gay bar in New York City. It was the first public protest by
homosexuals against harassment by police. Since then, homosexual communities in the
United States have organized to work for gay rights.

July 20: Apollo 11 was the first lunar-landing mission. Launched on July 16, 1969, the
crew of Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins flew the spacecraft
Columbia (CSM) and Eagle (LM). On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Aldrin landed the
Eagle at Tranquillity Base becoming the first men to walk on the moon.

              “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
                                    - Neil Armstrong
August 15-17: Woodstock Festival, rock festival that took place near Woodstock, New
York, on August 15, 16, and 17, 1969, and that became a symbol of the 1960s American
counterculture and a milestone in the history of rock music. Prominent among those
attending were members of the counterculture, who were often referred to as hippies and
who characteristically rejected materialism and authority, protested against the Vietnam
War, supported the civil rights movement, dressed unconventionally, and experimented
with sex and illicit drugs.
                              The 1970’s
May 1: Nixon ordered U.S. troops into Cambodia. He argued that this was necessary to
protect the security of American units then in the process of withdrawing from Vietnam,
but he also wanted to buy security for the Saigon regime. When Nixon announced the
invasion, U.S. college campuses erupted in protest, and one-third of them shut down due
to student walkouts.

May 4: Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War led to several
domestic confrontations between antiwar demonstrators and government troops. National
Guard troops stunned the nation when they shot into a crowd of protesters during a 1970
demonstration at Ohio’s Kent State University, killing four students and wounding nine.

February 21-27: President Nixon traveled to Beijing, and in May 1972 he visited
Moscow. He signed trade agreements with both countries and a treaty with the USSR to
limit the deployment of antiballistic missile systems.
May 15: While campaigning for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, George
Wallace was shot while speaking in Laurel, Maryland, by an itinerant laborer, Arthur H.
Bremer. Wallace, partially paralyzed as a result of the shooting, received 385.7 votes for
the nomination at the convention in July.

June 17: The Watergate burglary was committed by five men who were caught in the
offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate apartment and office
complex in Washington, D.C. Their arrest eventually uncovered a White House-
sponsored plan of espionage against political opponents and a trail of complicity that led
to many of the highest officials in the land, including former U.S. Attorney General John
Mitchell, White House Counsel John Dean, White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman,
White House Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs John Ehrlichman, and President
Nixon himself.

June 29: In the decision of Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court of the United States
ruled that allowing a jury unlimited discretion to choose between a death sentence and a
prison sentence for a convicted criminal constituted cruel and unusual punishment. This
ruling invalidated every state death penalty statute, because all of the states that retained
capital punishment in 1972 used a standardless system, in which the jury received no
guidance in deciding sentences. As a result, an official moratorium on executions was
initiated that year and continued until 1976.

September 5: Armed German police tried unsuccessfully to rescue nine members of the
Israeli Olympic team who were taken hostage at the Olympic Games in Munich, West
Germany (now Germany). The confrontation ended with a shootout at a nearby airport in
which the hostages, a West German police officer, and five guerrillas of the Black
September Palestinian terrorist group were killed.
January 27: The Vietnam war ends.

October 10 : Spiro T. Agnew became the first American vice president to resign from
office after he was charged with extortion, tax evasion, and bribery. He pleaded no
contest to tax evasion and was fined $10,000. Agnew’s disgrace added to the weight of
the problems faced by United States President Richard Nixon.

October 20: Saturday Night Massacre the name given to a series of firings and
resignations on October 20, 1973, within the administration of President Richard M.
Nixon (1969-1975). The “massacre” resulted from Nixon's effort to prevent additional
investigations into the scandal surrounding the 1972 break-in at Democratic Party
headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.

Roe v. Wade, court case of 1973 in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled
that a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion during the first six months of
pregnancy. Before the Court’s ruling, a majority of states prohibited abortion, although
most allowed an exception when pregnancy threatened the woman’s life. The Court
overturned these state prohibitions in Roe v. Wade. The Court ruled that states could
restrict abortions only during the final three months of pregnancy, a stage when medical
experts considered the fetus capable of “meaningful life” outside the womb.

July 30: The House Judiciary Committee adopts three articles of impeachment charging
President Nixon with obstruction of justice, failure to uphold laws, and refusal to produce
materials subpoenaed by the committee.
August 8: President Nixon announced, without admitting guilt about Watergate, that he
would resign. He left office the next day, and Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as
the 38th president.

September 8: President Ford unexpectedly issued a pardon to Nixon for all federal
crimes he may have committed while president.

May 15: Perhaps because of the humiliation in Vietnam, the Ford administration reacted
quickly and strongly when Cambodian Communists seized an American commercial
vessel, the Mayaguez, in the Gulf of Siam (Thailand) only 13 days after Ford's speech at
Tulane. The 30 members of the crew were taken from the ship and held hostage. Despite
the fact that U.S. intelligence services were not certain where the crew was being held,
Ford ordered the bombing of the Cambodian mainland and an amphibious invasion of
nearby Koh Tang Island. This show of force helped free the crew of the Mayaguez, but
more Americans were killed in the operation than were rescued. Ford argued later that the
rescue mission was a justifiable response to a nation taking U.S. citizens as hostages;
others argued that it was overkill, designed to improve Ford's standing in the public
opinion polls.

July 15: The primary objective of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) in the mid-
1970s was to conduct a joint diplomatic mission with the Soviet Union. ASTP was
designed to test the compatibility of U.S. and Soviet spacecraft and rendezvous and
docking systems as a prelude to international space rescue, as well as future international
space mission.

March 24: Craig v. Boren, in which the Court ruled that gender-based discrimination
must “be substantially related” to important legislative goals. This standard, although less
rigid than the “strict scrutiny” test applied to racial discrimination, elevated gender to a
protected constitutional category. The case also led the Court to be more receptive to
claims from other types of groups that they had faced unconstitutional discrimination.

May 11: Ford signs the Federal Election Campaign Act which permits the PACs to make
larger contributions than individuals to any congressional candidate. While individuals
may donate no more than $1000 to a candidate, a PAC may donate up to $5000.
Moreover, allied or related PACs may coordinate their contributions, greatly increasing
the amount of money a congressional candidate receives from the same set of interests
and individuals. As a result, PACs have become very important in congressional races.
PACs are also active in state and local election contests. American presidential elections,
by contrast, mainly depend upon public funding.
July 4: The nation celebrates its bicentennial.

Nov. 2: Jimmy Carter is elected the 39th president of the United States.

January 1: The first woman Episcopal priest is ordained.

January 21: In an attempt to appeal to those who wanted to leave the problems of the
war behind them, President Ford offered amnesty to men who had evaded the military
draft, or conscription, but the program was met with skepticism from Democrats and
hostility from conservative Republicans. Only about 20,000 of the estimated 100,000
draft evaders applied for amnesty.

June 20: The Supreme Court rules that states are not required to spend Medicare funds
on elective abortions.

September 21: The Nuclear-Proliferation Pact was signed by 15 countries, including the
US and USSR, curbing the spread of nuclear weapons.
January 19: William H. Webster, a former federal judge and prosecutor, became FBI
director. Under Webster the agency conducted complex investigations of organized crime
and espionage. Although he complied with many of the reforms that were instituted
following the Senate’s probe, Webster was criticized for authorizing the investigation of
a left-wing group that raised money in America for humanitarian aid to El Salvador.
Although the FBI’s investigation of the group was not illegal, it improperly delved into
political activities that fell outside of the jurisdiction of the FBI.

March 16: Panama Canal Treaties stipulated that Panamanians would gradually take
over operations before 1999. The commission began programs to provide Panamanian
employees with specialized training, and Panamanians formed more than 90 percent of
the canal’s workforce by 1996. The government of Panama, meanwhile, created an
agency to assume increasing responsibility during the transition. The canal commission
promised a smooth exchange of power, with no disruption in service or safety, when
Panama takes control of the canal and remaining U.S.-held lands on December 31, 1999.

June 28: The Supreme Court’s ruling in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
declared that it was unconstitutional for the medical school of the University of
California at Davis to establish a rigid quota system by reserving a certain number of
places in each class for minorities. However, the ruling upheld the right of schools to
consider a variety of factors when evaluating applicants, including race, ethnicity, gender,
and economic status.

September 17: sought to address the conflict between Jews and Arabs over the control of
the historic region of Palestine. This conflict had caused a series of wars since 1948,
when Israel was created in much of the land that was Palestine (see Arab-Israeli
Conflict). In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel enlarged its territory, capturing the Golan
Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Gaza Strip and the Sinai
Peninsula from Egypt. The Arab nations attempted to recapture the territories in the
Arab-Israeli War of 1973, making considerable advances before they were repelled by
Israeli forces. In November 1977 Sadat visited Jerusalem to initiate peace talks between
Egypt and Israel. Shortly after talks had stalled, Carter invited Sadat and Begin and their
senior aides to the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland, for a series of meetings
in September 1978. After 13 days of negotiations, the leaders announced the conclusion
of two accords that provided the basis for continuing peace negotiations: a "Framework
for Peace in the Middle East" and a "Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty
Between Egypt and Israel.”

January 5: Ohio agrees to pay $675,000 to the families of the dead and injured at the
Kent State shooting.

March 28: An accident at the nuclear power plant on Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania
showed the potential dangers of radioactive material in nuclear reactors.
June 14: President Carter signed the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This agreement set precise limits on the numbers
and types of strategic arms that each nation would maintain.

November 4: Militant Iranians, who supported the ayatollah and opposed Western
influences, especially the United States, stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehrân (Teheran),
the capital of Iran, taking 66 Americans hostage. Thirteen were soon released, but for the
release of the other 53, Iran demanded a U.S. apology for acts committed in support of
the shah, his return to face trial (unimportant after his death in July 1980), and return of
the billions of dollars that he was said to have hoarded abroad. Negotiations did not
secure their release, nor did a U.S. commando raid the following April.
                                    The 1980’s
January 29: Six US embassy aides escape from Iran with Canadian help.

February 2: The FBI’s undercover operation “Abscam” was designed to fight political
corruption in the United States. During the investigation--which began in 1978 and ended
in 1980--FBI agents posed as representatives of a rich Arab sheik. They offered public
officials bribes ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 in return for favors. Abscam took its
name from the words Arab and scam (swindle).

April 7: The United States breaks diplomatic ties with Iran.

April 25: Eight US servicemen are killed and five are injured as helicopter and cargo
plane collide in abortive desert raid to rescue American hostages in Teheran.

November 4: Reagan won the election by a landslide, receiving 51 percent to Carter’s 41
percent. Moderate Republican John Anderson, running as an independent, received
nearly 7 percent. In the Electoral College, Reagan won a ten-to-one victory.

December 4: San Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a critic of the military
government, was murdered during a religious service, several Christian Democratic
leaders were assassinated, and three U.S. Catholic nuns and another church worker were
raped and killed. Five members of the Salvadoran National Guard were later convicted of
murdering the churchwomen.

December 8: John Lennon of the Beatles was fatally shot just outside his New York
apartment building by Mark David Chapman, a drifter who had gotten his autograph just
a few hours earlier. After his death, people around the world observed ten minutes of
silence to honor Lennon and his ideals of justice and peace.

March 30: an unstable drifter named John W. Hinckley shot President Reagan in the
chest during an assassination attempt.

June 22: US Supreme Court rules, 4–4, that former President Nixon and three top aides
may be required to pay damages for wiretap of home telephone of former national
security aide.

July 7: President Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor, who became the first woman
to serve on the Supreme Court.

August 3: The 15,000-member Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization
(PATCO) went on strike. The PATCO members were responsible for guiding
commercial airlines through their flights throughout the United States. The strike caused
confusion, long delays, and worries about air travel safety. Because PATCO members
were federal employees, their strike was illegal, and the federal government replied on
August 5 by issuing dismissal notices to the approximately 12,000 controllers who
refused to return to their jobs.

June 21: Accused of attempted assassination of the President, a court found Hinckley not
guilty because of insanity and committed him to a mental hospital. Public sympathy after
the assassination attempt increased public support for Reagan, which helped him push his
program through the Congress.

June 25: Alexender Haig was appointed secretary of state in 1981 during President
Reagan's first term in office, but resigned in amid disagreements with other
administration officials.

June 30: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), proposed amendment to the Constitution
of the United States to provide for the equality of sexes under the law. The central
language of the amendment states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied
or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” The ERA would
have made unconstitutional any laws that grant one sex different rights than the other.
Ten years and two months after its first passage by Congress, the ERA failed to become
to part of the constitution.
June 15: The US Supreme Court declares many local abortion restrictions

June 18: Sally K Ride, U.S. astronaut, who in 1983 became the first woman in the
American space program to take part in an orbital mission. Her first flight into space was
made aboard the shuttle Challenger. As a mission specialist she took part in launching
two communications satellites, and in launching and retrieving a test satellite.

 August 15: US admits shielding former Nazi Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, 69, the
"butcher of Lyon," wanted in France for war crimes.

November 2: Reagan run for a second term and defeats democrat Walter Mondale by
gaining 60% of the vote.

July 1: US Supreme Court, 5–4, bars public school teachers from parochial schools.
August 9: Arthur James Walker, 50, retired naval officer, convicted by federal judge of
participating in Soviet spy ring operated by his brother, John Walker.

January 28: The Challenger Disaster, accident that destroyed the United States space
shuttle Challenger 73 seconds after takeoff from the Kennedy Space Center. The crew—
mission commander Francis R. Scobee; pilot Michael J. Smith; mission specialists
Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka, and Judith A. Resnik; and payload specialists
Gregory B. Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from New Hampshire—
died in the accident.

June 11: US Supreme Court reaffirms abortion rights.

August 14: When Warren Burger retired as chief justice, President Ronald Reagan
named Rehnquist to the office. Decisions of the Rehnquist court often reflected the
conservatism of the chief justice and his support of judicial restraint.
November: Iran-Contra Affair, American political scandal of 1985 and 1986, in which
high-ranking members in the administration of President Ronald Reagan arranged for the
secret sales of arms to Iran in direct violation of existing United States laws. Profits from
the $30 million in arms sales were channeled to the Nicaraguan right-wing “contra”
guerrillas to supply arms for use against the leftist Sandinista government. This, too, was
in direct violation of U.S. policy. The chief negotiator of these deals was Lieutenant
Colonel Oliver North, a military aide to the National Security Council. North reported his
activities initially to National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane, the council's head,
and subsequently to his successor, Vice Admiral John M. Poindexter. The sale of arms to
Iran was initiated at the suggestion of the Israeli government with the dual goal of
bettering relations with Iran and of obtaining the release of American hostages held in
Lebanon by pro-Iranian terrorists. North was instrumental in setting up a covert network
for providing support to the contras, with its own ship, airplanes, airfield, and secret bank

Popular demand for less and simpler income taxation prompted Congress under President
Ronald Reagan to pass the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Reagan believed that lower taxes
would stimulate work, saving, and investment, a theory known as supply-side economic.
October 19: Black Monday was a day on which stock market prices in the United States
declined precipitously, accelerating steep losses in stock markets around the world,
including London and Tokyo. By the end of the day the Dow-Jones Industrial Average
had fallen more than 500 points, representing a loss of more than 22.5 % in the value of
its stocks. Economic observers blamed the crash on such factors as lack of international
trade leadership by the federal government, underlying weaknesses in the U.S. economy,
and computerized trading on Wall Street, which triggered sell orders automatically.

July 3: US navy ship shoots down Iranian airliner in Persian Gulf, mistaking it for jet
fighter; 290 killed.

November 8: Republicans sweep 40 states in election, and Bush beats Dukakis.

March 24: American oil tanker that went aground on a reef in Prince William Sound,
Alaska, at night. The 301-m (987-ft) tanker started to leak oil, and the leakage continued
for two days, totaling 260,000 barrels, the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The tanker's
remaining 1 million barrels of oil were removed from the hold of the damaged vessel and
transferred to other tankers operated by the Exxon Corporation.

April: Colin Powell was named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in August, the first
black officer to hold the nation's highest military post.

July: Bush released a comprehensive plan to bail out the industry, and Congress reacted
rapidly, rewriting oversight regulations and creating the Resolution Trust Corporation to
take over bankrupt savings and loan associations and sell off their assets. Ultimately the
bailouts cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
                                    The 1990’s
June 11: The Supreme Court held that neither the federal government nor the states
could single out the burning of the American flag for criminal penalties.

July: Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), legislation passed by the United States
Congress in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and to
guarantee them equal access to employment, public services, public accommodations,
and telecommunications. Unlike earlier laws that were much more limited in scope, the
ADA forbids unequal treatment of people with disabilities in a broad variety of

August 2: The Iraqi attack began shortly after midnight. About 150,000 Iraqi troops,
many of them veterans of the Iran-Iraq War, easily overwhelmed the unprepared and
inexperienced Kuwaiti forces, which numbered about 20,000. By dawn Iraq had assumed
control of Kuwait city, the capital, and was soon in complete control of the country.
Hussein’s political strategy was less clear than his military strategy. The Iraqis initially
posed as liberators, hoping to appeal to Kuwaiti democrats who opposed the ruling Sabah
monarchy. When this claim attracted neither Kuwaiti nor international support, it was
dropped. In place of the Sabahs, most of whom fled during the invasion, Iraq installed a
puppet government.

October: the serious effort against local and regional air pollution began with the Clean
Air Act of 1970, which was amended in 1977 and 1990. This law requires that the air
contain no more than specified levels of particulate matter, lead, carbon monoxide, sulfur
dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, ozone, and various toxic
substances. To avoid the mere shifting of pollution from dirty areas to clean ones, stricter
standards apply where the air is comparatively clean. In national parks, for instance, the
air is supposed to remain as clean as it was when the law was passed. The act sets
deadlines by which standards must be met. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
is in charge of refining and enforcing these standards, but the day-to-day work of fighting
pollution falls to the state governments and to local air pollution control districts. Some
states, notably California, have imposed tougher air pollution standards of their own.

November 29: with coalition forces massing in Saudi Arabia and Iraq showing no signs
of retreat, the UN Security Council passed a resolution to allow member states to “use all
necessary means” to force Iraq from Kuwait if Iraq remained in the country after January
15, 1991. The Iraqis rejected the ultimatum. Soon after the vote, the United States agreed
to a direct meeting between Secretary of State James Baker and Iraq’s foreign minister.
The two sides met on January 9. Neither offered to compromise. The United States
underscored the ultimatum, and the Iraqis refused to comply with it, even threatening to
attack Israel. For the United States, the meeting was its way of showing the conflict could
not be resolved through negotiation.
January 15: When the UN deadline passed without an Iraqi withdrawal, a vast majority
of coalition members joined in the decision to attack Iraq. A few members, such as
Morocco, elected not to take part in the military strikes. In the early morning a coalition
forces began a massive air attack on Iraqi targets.

February 24: the coalition launched its long-anticipated land offensive. The bulk of the
attack was in southwestern Iraq, where coalition forces first moved north, then turned
east toward the Iraqi port of Al Baºrah. This maneuver surrounded Kuwait, encircling the
Iraqi forces there and in southern Iraq, and allowed coalition forces (mainly Arab) to
move up the coast and take Kuwait city. Some Iraqi units resisted, but the coalition
offensive advanced more quickly than anticipated. Thousands of Iraqi troops surrendered.
Others deserted. Iraq then focused its efforts on withdrawing its elite units and sabotaging
Kuwaiti infrastructure and industry. Many oil wells were set on fire, creating huge oil
lakes, thick black smoke, and other environmental damage. Two days after the ground
war began, Iraq announced it was leaving Kuwait.

April 2: the Security Council laid out strict demands for ending the sanctions: Iraq would
have to accept liability for damages, destroy its chemical and biological weapons and
ballistic missiles, forego any nuclear weapons programs, and accept international
inspection to ensure these conditions were met. If Iraq complied with these and other
resolutions, the UN would discuss removing the sanctions. Iraq resisted, claiming that its
withdrawal from Kuwait was sufficient compliance.

December 25: Soviet President Gorbachev announced his resignation as president in a
solemn television address. The rump Soviet parliament passed its final resolution,
acknowledging the dissolution of the Soviet Union, on December 26. On December 31
all residual functions of the first Communist state ceased: The USSR no longer existed.
April: one of the worst riots in U.S. history erupted in South Central Los Angeles after
four white officers of the Los Angeles Police Department were acquitted on charges of
beating a black suspect, Rodney King; 58 people died in the rioting.

November: Clinton won the election with 43 percent of the popular vote compared with
38 percent for Bush and 19 percent for Perot. Clinton received the votes of 33 states in
the electoral college, where each state has a number of electoral votes depending on its
population and usually gives all of them to the candidate who received the most votes in
that state.

December 4: President Bush pardons former Reagan Administration officials involved in
Iran-Contra Affair.

January 29: Homosexuals would be allowed to serve if they did not reveal their sexual
orientation and refrained from homosexual conduct. This compromise became known as
the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

March 29: One of the most spectacular terrorist episodes in U.S. history was the
bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City by Islamic radicals. This incident
aroused anxiety about the threat posed by foreign residents from nations hostile to the
United States. Six people died in the blast, which caused an estimated $600 million in
property and other economic damage. Trials that followed convicted six people of
carrying out the attack.
March-April: A 51-day standoff near Waco, Texas, between law enforcement officials
and the religious group the Branch Davidians results in the deaths of 80 group members
and 4 federal agents.

November 17: United States Congress approves the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA), a pact that calls for the gradual removal of tariff and other trade
barriers on most goods produced and sold in North America.

November 30: Brady Law, which went into effect in 1994, initially provided a five-day
waiting period to allow local law enforcement officials to make sure the purchaser is not
disqualified from owning a handgun. The law also established licensing fees.

January: An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale shook Los Angeles. The
quake caused billions of dollars in damage. Three freeway overpasses collapsed, and
thousands of people were left homeless after their homes were destroyed or declared

May 6: Paula Jones, a former employee of the State of Arkansas, filed a civil lawsuit
alleging that she was sexually harassed by U.S. President Bill Clinton while he served as
governor of Arkansas. In 1998 a judge dismissed the suit after determining that even if
Jones’s allegations were proven, she could not demonstrate that she had been harmed by
the behavior. Jones appealed the dismissal but later agreed to a financial settlement from
Clinton and dropped the case.

April 19: Oklahoma City became the site of the most deadly terrorist bombing in the
history of the United States. A massive bomb exploded in a truck in front of the Alfred P.
Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people, destroying much of the building, and
damaging surrounding structures. Timothy McVeigh was charged with 11 counts of
conspiracy and murder by the federal government.
October: Louis Farrakhan organized the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. At the
march, hundreds of thousands of black men vowed to renew their commitments to
family, community, and personal responsibility. Although the march renewed criticism of
Farrakhan's anti-Semitic statements and some black leaders refused to participate, it was
widely regarded as a successful display of black solidarity. It helped Farrakhan move
closer to the political mainstream, and some people also saw it as indicating the strength
of Farrakhan's appeal to a significant segment of the black population.

December 5: Clinton reaffirmed his commitment to appointing women to cabinet
positions by nominating Madeleine Albright as the first woman secretary of state.

January: independent counsel Kenneth Starr began investigating allegations that
President Bill Clinton had lied under oath to conceal a sexual relationship with White
House intern Monica Lewinsky.

September: Starr released a voluminous report and referred 11 possible grounds for the
president’s impeachment to the House of Representatives. Starr charged Clinton with
obstruction of justice, lying under oath (perjury), witness tampering, and abuse of power.

October 6: Matthew Shepard, gay Wyoming student, fatally beaten in hate crime; two

December: The House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against
Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice, by votes of 228 to 206 and 221 to 212.
February: the Senate rejected both articles of impeachment in Both Senate votes fell
considerably short of the two-thirds majority required to convict (67 votes). The first
article of impeachment, alleging perjury, was defeated by a vote of 45 for impeachment
and 55 against. The second article, charging Clinton with obstruction of justice, failed in
a 50-50 tie vote.

April 20: Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold 17, storm ColumbineHigh School
in Littleton , CO, killing twelve other students and a teacher, then themselves.

July 16: John F. Kennedy Jr., wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and her sister Lauren G.
Bessette are lost at sea when a plane he was piloting disappears near Martha's Vineyard,
off Mass. Coast.

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