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This Day in History - A Re-blog

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A daily dose of American History.

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02 June, Renewal of the Quartering Act

This Day in History: Renewal of the Quartering Act On this day in 1774, the British Parliament renews the Quartering Act.   The original Quartering Act was passed on March 24 1765, which outlined the locations and condition which British soldiers would room and board in the American colonies. Which established that the localities were to accommodate the soldiers in local inns, livery stables, al

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02 June, Martha Washington: Famous, but “completely unknown”

This Day in History: Martha Washington: Famous, but “completely unknown”   On this day in 1731, future First Lady Martha Washington is born. History has relegated Martha to a simple label: George’s wife. What a shame! Martha was a vivacious, bright, capable woman with her own story to tell.   “She is both famous as the first First Lady and completely unknown,” her biogr

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29 May, “If this be treason, make the most of it!”

This Day in History: “If this be treason, make the most of it!”   On this day in 1765, Patrick Henry gives a rousing speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses. You may know Henry for his “give me liberty or give me death” speech in 1775, but this one came earlier—and it shook Virginians in pre-Revolutionary War America to their core.   It just happened t

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11 May, The Siege of Charleston

This Day in History: The Siege of Charleston On this day in 1780, Charleston falls to the British. The city had been under siege for weeks. Needless to say, the American surrender was a bit demoralizing. For a while, it even seemed that the defeat might be the beginning of the end for the Patriot cause.     Fortunately, it wasn’t!  

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10 May, A Signer of the Declaration forced to flee

This Day in History: A Signer of the Declaration forced to flee On this day in 1779, a signer of the Declaration of Independence passes away. He’d risked everything for the Patriot cause, yet he did not even live to see the end of the war.   In many ways, John Hart’s story is rather simple. There was no flashy moment of heroism during a critical battle, nor was there a stunning “Give me liberty or

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09 May, Why were snakes used on Revolutionary War flags?

This Day in History: Why were snakes used on Revolutionary War flags? On this day in 1754, Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette publishes a political cartoon that you might recognize. It depicted a snake cut into eight sections with the words “Join, or Die” etched below the snake.   The snake imagery would come to carry great meaning during the Revolutionary War years. But do you know precisely what that sna

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06 May, The Hindenburg’s tragic last trip

This Day in History: The Hindenburg’s tragic last trip On this day in 1937, the Hindenburg catches fire and crashes in New Jersey. Somewhat ironically, the airship was then celebrating the one year anniversary of its first transatlantic flight.   The German airship was a marvel of its time. It could cross the Atlantic in less than 3 days—about twice as fast as the ocean liners of the day! Not only that, but pas

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05 May, The Japanese attack the United States mainland

This Day in History: The Japanese attack the United States mainland On this day in 1945, seven Americans are killed by a Japanese bomb—in Oregon!?! The Japanese had been trying to attack Americans on our home soil for months. They’d finally succeeded. Unfortunately, five children and a pregnant woman turned out to be the victims of the Japanese attack.   Reverend Archie Mitchell and his wife Elsie were supposed

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04 May, Abraham Lincoln’s burial — and an attempt to kidnap his body

This Day in History: Abraham Lincoln’s burial — and an attempt to kidnap his body On this day in 1865, Abraham Lincoln is buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. Did you know that an attempt was later made to steal his body? The thieves planned to hold it for ransom.   There’s more to this story than you might think.  

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02 May, The Gunpowder Incident nearly incites rebellion in Virginia

This Day in History: The Gunpowder Incident nearly incites rebellion in Virginia On this day in 1775, Patrick Henry prepares to face off against Virginia’s Royal Governor. The Gunpowder Incident was afoot! Naturally, the conflict was created by guns, ammunition . . . and a British attempt to confiscate them.   How unsurprising that our ancestors wrote the 2nd Amendment, with incidents such as these inspiring them.

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18 Apr, Paul Revere makes his famous ride

This Day in History: Paul Revere makes his famous ride On this day in 1775, Paul Revere makes his famous ride. I am so sorry to tell you that he did not really yell “the British are coming!” as he rode. But he did accomplish one important goal: He warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British soldiers were coming to arrest them.   He’d intended to continue on to Concord, warning those townspeople about British movement

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14 Apr, Benjamin Franklin’s efforts to end slavery

This Day in History: Benjamin Franklin’s efforts to end slavery On this day in 1775, America’s first abolitionist group is formed. Wait. What? Some of our Founders were trying to end slavery, even before the American Revolution?   Yes, that’s right. Even during the early years of our country, some Americans were working to end slavery. The much-respected Benjamin Franklin was one of these individuals.

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13 Apr, Thomas Jefferson is born

This Day in History: Thomas Jefferson is born On this day in 1743, Thomas Jefferson is born. You already know that he drafted the Declaration of Independence. But did you know that he was only 33 years old when he did it? What prompted congressional members to turn to one of their youngest for such an important task?   The answer reveals a more anti-slavery Jefferson than you might have expected.

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8 Apr, The 17th Amendment is ratified

This Day in History: The 17th Amendment is ratified On this day in 1913, the 17th Amendment is ratified. For the first time in American history, voters would be able to directly elect their United States Senators. The decision seems like a no-brainer. Shouldn’t the people get to elect their own Senators?   Well, maybe not.

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6 Apr, William Dawes and his forgotten Midnight Ride

This Day in History: William Dawes and his forgotten Midnight Ride On this day in 1745, William Dawes is born. Oddly, his most famous deed is also the one for which he is most often forgotten. On April 18, 1775, he made a daring midnight ride at the same time as Paul Revere.   Did you know that more than one rider carried a warning that evening? Revere’s famous ride began when Dr. Joseph Warren sent for him around 10 pm. H

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26 Mar, The Mount Vernon conference

This Day in History: The Mount Vernon conference On this day in 1785, George Washington receives commissioners from Virginia and Maryland. The gathering came to be known as the Mount Vernon Conference, and it was a precursor for our Constitutional Convention.   It all started with the Potomac River.    

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24 Mar, Parliament passes the Quartering Act

This Day in History: Parliament passes the Quartering Act On this day in 1765, Parliament passes the Quartering Act. Huh? What’s a Quartering Act? It’s a name that sounds foreign to modern ears. But early Americans suffered terribly under its provisions, along with those of a similar Act passed in 1774.   The issue had festered since at least 1628.   Back then, Briti

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23 Mar, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

This Day in History: “Give me liberty or give me death!” On this day in 1775, Patrick Henry gives a stirring speech. You’ve almost certainly heard of this one! Henry closed the speech with the unforgettable words: “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”   At the time, Henry was a delegate to the Second Virginia Convention. The convention had been assembled in R

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18 Mar, The Stamp Act is repealed

This Day in History: The Stamp Act is repealed On this day in 1766, the Stamp Act is repealed. That Act levied taxes upon American colonists despite our lack of representation in Parliament. It had been approved just one year earlier, on March 22, 1765.   That March approval date left a lot of time before its November implementation date. The colonists had many months in which to stew over the injustice: Only th

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17 Mar, George Washington drives the British out of Boston

This Day in History: George Washington drives the British out of Boston On this day in 1776, the British army evacuates Boston. A bedraggled band of colonists had kept the city under siege for nearly a year—ever since the “shot heard ‘round the world” at Lexington Green.   What a slap in the face for the powerful British Army.    

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This Week in History, George Washington squashes a military coup

This Week in History: George Washington squashes a military coup During this week in 1783, George Washington brings the so-called Newburgh Conspiracy to an end. The potential military coup had been festering for a while.   At this juncture, the war was basically over, but a peace treaty between Britain and America had yet to be signed. As the soldiers waited, they grew restless. They had been paid only on an irr

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13 Mar, George Washington is posthumously promoted

This Day in History: George Washington is posthumously promoted On this day in 1978, George Washington is posthumously promoted. It had been more than two centuries since the American Revolution began. Washington’s new rank? General of the Armies of the United States.   Washington’s promotion was retroactively dated to July 4, 1976, the bicentennial anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

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11 Mar, Robert Treat Paine, nearly forgotten Founder

This Day in History: Robert Treat Paine, nearly forgotten Founder On this day in 1731, a future signer of the Declaration of Independence is born. Robert Treat Paine is another nearly forgotten Founder whose personal sacrifices have been all but lost to history.   Paine’s career path was an unusual one. He was a teacher, turned merchant marine, turned lawyer. He even served as a minister at one point. But, then

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09Mar, Battle of Hampton Roads

On this day in 1862, the Battle of Hampton Roads comes to an end. That Civil War battle was notable: For the first time ever, two ironclad warships had met in combat. Between the two of them, USS Monitor and CSS Virginia would have a lasting impact on naval warfare. At the time, Union ships were maintaining a blockade at Hampton Roads in Virginia. When CSS Virginia was commissioned in February 1862, she was promptly dispatched to break this Union blockade. The Virginia

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7 Mar, “My hand trembles, but my heart does not!”

This Day in History: “My hand trembles, but my heart does not!” On this day in 1707, a signer of the Declaration of Independence is born. Maybe you remember seeing Stephen Hopkins's shaky signature on that document? Hopkins was afflicted with a palsy (maybe Parkinson’s) that caused his hand to quiver as he wrote, but he would not be deterred. Legend has it that, as he signed the Declaration, he asserted: “My hand trembles, but my hea

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