The Pig War border confrontation began when Lyman Cutlar shot a British-owned pig on San Juan Island.
The archipelago of which San Juan Island is part lies between Washington State on the United States mainland and Vancouver, in what was then British North America. The 1846 Oregon Treaty had established a boundary along the 49th parallel along ‘the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver’s Island’. The problem was that San Juan Island itself lies in the middle of the channel, leading both countries to claim sovereignty over it.
By 1859 the British Hudson’s Bay Company had established a sheep ranch on the island. A small number of American settlers had also arrived under the terms of the Donation Land Claim Act, even though the ownership of the land was disputed.
On 15 June 1859 a free-roaming black pig owned by the Hudson Bay employee Charles Griffin began rooting through American settler Lyman Cutlar’s potato patch. Cutlar shot the pig. Although the exact details of what happened next are unclear, a number of sources claim that Cutlar offered $10 compensation while Griffin demanded $100. Whatever the truth, Griffin reported Cutlar to the British authorities who threatened to arrest him. In response the US General William S. Harney sent 66 soldiers from the 9th Infantry, which the British governor responded to by sending three British warships.
By 10 August a force of 461 Americans and five British ships with over 2,000 men were caught in a tense standoff. However, the arrival of British Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes heralded a de-escalation of tensions after he refused to ‘involve two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig.’ An international commission eventually ruled in 1872 that America should control the island.
On the 14th June 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the so-called Flag Resolution and adopted the stars and stripes as the flag of the United States. The day is now celebrated as Flag Day, which first proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 although it is not an official federal holiday.
The Flag Resolution stated some general parameters for the appearance of the flag. Specifically it said that there should be thirteen alternate red and white stripes and a group of white stars against a blue background. However, it didn’t specify a precise arrangement. Consequently a range of different designs, all of which met the definition, were produced. Of these, the so-called Betsy Ross flag which has the stars arranged in a circle is probably the most famous.
The design of the flag has changed numerous times during its history to reflect the admission of more states into the Union. However, in 1818 Congress approved the Flag Act that specified there should always be thirteen stripes to represent the original thirteen colonies that broke away from British rule, and the same number of stars as states. Consequently the 50 stars on the current flag first appeared after Hawaii joined the United States in 1959.
Therefore the flag about which the national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, was written is not the same design as the one in use today. That was instead a 15-star, 15-stripe flag flown at Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbour during a bombardment by British Royal Navy ships in the War of 1812.
Any suspect arrested in the USA must be informed of four key rights. ‘You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you.’
Known as the Miranda warning, the requirement for the police to inform all criminal suspects of these rights came about as the result of Arizona labourer Ernesto Miranda’s 1963 conviction for kidnapping and rape. A confession made to the Phoenix Police Department was entered as evidence yet, despite the form being printed with the statement that he had ‘full knowledge of my legal rights’, it later emerged that he had not been informed of either his right to an attorney or his right to remain silent.
Although Alvin Moore, Miranda’s court-appointed lawyer for his trial, objected to the use of the confession this was overruled by Judge Yale McFate and Miranda was sentenced for 20-30 years imprisonment. Having failed to win an appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, the case eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court where Miranda was represented by attorney John Paul Frank.
The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 majority that, in order for evidence from questioning to be used in court, the police must have first informed the suspect of their rights. Since Miranda’s conviction was based on a confession before which he had not been informed of his rights, his conviction was overturned. However, he was later retried and again found guilty thanks to the testimony of the woman he had been living with at the time.
Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức burned himself to death at a busy crossroads in Saigon.
Quảng Đức’s self-immolation came in response to the persecution of Buddhists by the government under Diệm, who belonged to the Catholic minority and was supported by the USA. Buddhists were regularly subjected to discriminatory policies that ranged from limited access to United States aid to employment. Even the military saw some Buddhists convert in order to improve their chance of promotion.
In early May 1963 the government banned the Buddhist flag. This coincided with Phật Đản, otherwise known as Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. Buddhists were incensed by the ban and, on 8 May, a number of Buddhists in the city flew the flag and later marched on the government-controlled radio station where government troops repelled the protesters with live ammunition. Nine people were killed, but Diệm blamed the violence on the Viet Cong. His refusal to hold the local authorities to account or to grant religious equality triggered more protests around the country.
On the morning of 11 June, 350 Buddhist monks and nuns processed along the road outside the Cambodian embassy in Saigon. Thích Quảng Đức calmly emerged from a car and adopted the lotus position on a cushion in the intersection where he was doused in petrol from a five-gallon can. After chanting a prayer he struck a match and his body was engulfed in flames.
Photographs of the act shocked the world, and increased international pressure on Diệm who failed to implement reforms that he promised in the aftermath. On 1 November he was overthrown in a coup and assassinated the following day.
The 6th June 1944 saw the largest seaborne invasion in history, when the Allied forces of the Second World War launched Operation Neptune – more commonly known as the D-Day landings. The amphibious landings in Normandy marked the start of the Allied invasion of Nazi-held Western Europe.
The invasion was focused on a 50-mile long stretch of Normandy coastline that had been divided into five codenamed sections known as Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, nicknamed the Desert Fox for his leadership of Italian and German forces in the North African campaign, commanded the Nazi defence along what was known as the Atlantic Wall.
Prior to the landings, an airborne force of 24,000 Allied troops had been dropped behind enemy lines to seize or destroy features such as bridges, crossroads and key gun batteries. Despite this, the work of the first seaborne divisions was still difficult as they fought to clear the beaches under heavy fire from the numerous smaller gun emplacements that overlooked them. Rommel had previously identified the Normandy beaches as a possible invasion point and so had installed a range of obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, mines, and anti-tank devices that slowed down the Allied landing.
The Allies failed to achieve all their objectives on the first day and suffered at least 10,000 casualties. However, they did successfully establish a foothold on the continent that was gradually expanded over the next few months and led to the liberation of France and the defeat of the Nazis in the West.
Authorities in the Californian city of Santa Cruz banned rock and roll music at public gatherings.
The previous evening had seen around 200 teenagers attend a concert at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium by the Los Angeles-based Chuck Higgins and his Orchestra. Higgins and an earlier band, the Mellotones, had scored a West Coast hit four years earlier with the saxophone instrumental “Pachuko Hop”. This jump blues single has since been described as one of the key releases that bridged the upbeat jazz styles of the 1940s to the frenetic rhythm and blues that was to emerge the following decade.
Shortly after midnight members of the Santa Cruz police, under the command of Lieutenant Richard Overton, entered the venue and shut down the concert. He later described the predominantly teenage crowd inside the auditorium as being ‘engaged in suggestive, stimulating and tantalizing motions induced by the provocative rhythms of an all-negro band.’
The next day the Santa Cruz authorities announced an outright ban on rock and roll music, with the justification that ‘rock and roll and other forms of frenzied music [were] detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.’
According to a report in a local newspaper from the time, the Chief of Police had said that, ‘we have nothing against rock and roll music…it’s just what some people do while listening to it.’ Within days, however, Santa Cruz’s teenagers had begun to protest against the ban. In response City Manager Robert Klein announced that the music, ‘along with other harmless types of swing music, enjoyable to young and old’ was welcome. Despite this, a scheduled concert by another rock and roll artist was cancelled by the auditorium manager.
On the 25th May 1961, American President John F. Kennedy made the announcement to a joint session of Congress that he had set his sights on a manned moon landing before the end of the decade.
To many people, including some personnel at NASA, Kennedy’s address seemed ridiculous. The USA had only sent its first man into space 20 days earlier and, although Alan Shepard’s spaceflight aboard Freedom 7 was a huge success, the USSR’s Yuri Gagarin had already become the first man in space three weeks before that. Taking on the USSR at a technological game that they were already leading appeared reckless.
An underlying issue was that, as part of his election campaign, Kennedy had promised to outperform the Soviet Union in the fields of space exploration and missile defence. In his famed television debate with Richard Nixon, Kennedy had mocked the fact that Nixon was proud of the USA being ahead of the USSR in terms of colour television while trailing in terms of rocket thrust. Gagarin’s flight had proved to the world that the USSR was currently ‘winning’ the Space Race, and so put pressure on Kennedy to increase spending on the Apollo space program. Having received a memo from Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson in which he reported that the USA was unlikely to ever outperform the USSR under the current spending arrangements, Kennedy launched the largest peacetime financial commitment ever made.
The $24 billion dollars did work, however, and Apollo 11 achieved Kennedy’s goal by landing on the moon on 20th July 1969.
Abraham Lincoln was issued a patent for his invention to lift boats over shoals and other obstructions in a river.
As a teenager the future President had taken a flatboat along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. After moving to Illinois he was employed by Denton Offutt a merchant and owner of a general store, to ferry goods along the Mississippi and its tributaries.
During these river trips Lincoln’s boats had run aground on more than one occasion, leading to the exhausting process of freeing the boat before it sank or the cargo went overboard. These experiences were to provide the inspiration for his invention.
Lincoln is believed to have begun work on his device in 1848, in which ‘adjustable buoyant air chambers’ attached to the boat could be forced under the water and inflated to float the boat free of the obstruction without the need to unload any of the cargo. He filed an application to the Patent Office on 10 March 1849, and Patent No. 6469 was awarded two months later on 22 May.
A model of the device is said to have been produced with the assistance of Walter Davis, a mechanic from Springfield, although Paul Johnston from the National Museum of American History believes it may instead have been made in Washington. Whatever the truth behind the creation of the model, this is the furthest that Lincoln’s invention ever got since nobody ever tried to install the system on a full-size boat.
The model itself can be seen on display at the Smithsonian Institute, and is claimed by the curator of the Marine Collection to be ‘one of the half dozen or so most valuable things in our collection.’ The invention is also significant in that it makes Abraham Lincoln the only President in the history of the United States to have been awarded a patent.
On the 21st May 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first person to make a solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic when he flew 3,600 miles from New York to Paris. On exactly the same date five years later, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic when she landed in Northern Ireland, having been forced to abandon her intended destination of Paris due to technical difficulties.
Lindbergh’s flight in The Spirit of St Louis earned him not only enormous fame but also the $25,000 Orteig Prize that had been offered by a French-born New York hotelier to the first person to make a non-stop flight between New York and Paris.
Earhart, meanwhile, did not fly in the hope of receiving prize money. She later said that she aimed to prove that women were just as good as men in “jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness, and willpower.” Interestingly, she already held the record as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, but she did that as a passenger in 1928.
It’s worth noting that the very first non-stop transatlantic flight occurred in 1919. Two British aviators, John Alcock and Arthur Whiten Brown, flew a modified Vickers Vimy bomber aircraft from Newfoundland to Ireland in just under 16 hours. Their achievement won them the £10,000 Daily Mail aviation prize for the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic. They received their prize from the then Secretary of State for Air, and future World War 2 Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
On 15th May 1928, the first animated cartoon to feature Mickey and Minnie Mouse was shown to a theatre audience. However, the cartoon that was shown that day was not Steamboat Willie, which is the cartoon most people know as Mickey Mouse’s debut. In fact Mickey’s first animated appearance was in a silent short called Plane Crazy, but the cartoon failed to secure a distributor until a soundtrack was added a year later. It was finally released on the 29th March 1929, 11 months after its first – silent – showing.
The Mickey shown in Plane Crazy is nothing like the mouse we know today. Whereas the modern Mickey is caring and compassionate, in Plane Crazy he was rather mischievous and – some might say – cruel. In his first appearance he was aggressive towards Minnie, and took dangerous risks when flying the aeroplane that is central to the storyline. Visually he was also different – he didn’t wear his famous gloves, or shoes. These developments came much later, and demonstrate how rough the original ideas for Mickey Mouse really were.
Although it was an underwhelming first appearance for Mickey, Plane Crazy was an important release for the Disney studio. Animated almost exclusively by Disney’s trusted friend Ub Iwerks, it featured a range of highly developed techniques including the very first animated Point Of View sequence and a range of sophisticated perspectives. Although it has since been overshadowed by the success of Steamboat Willie, Plane Crazy is still a vitally important part of animation history.