December 5th 1901: Disney born
On this day in 1901, Walt Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois. Disney went on to found the Walt Disney Company in 1923, which helped to establish the American animation industry. The company was very successful, creating many beloved characters whose popularity endures, such as Mickey Mouse. Disney later expanded his media empire to theme parks, establishing Disneyland in 1955. Disney died from lung cancer in 1966, but his legacy continues in the continued success and cultural prevalence of the Disney company.
November 30th 1993: Brady Bill signed
On this day in 1993, US President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (the Brady Bill) into law. The law provides for federal background checks on gun purchases. It was named for James Brady, Ronald Reagan’s Press Secretary who was shot by John Hinckley Jr in an attempted assassination of then President Reagan in 1981. Brady was paralyzed and he and his family became active members of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
20 years ago today
November 22nd 1963: JFK assassinated
On this day in 1963 in Dallas, Texas, the President of the United States John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. Also injured was Texas Governor John B. Connally who was in the motorcade with the President. Kennedy was killed by a shot to the head, and was pronounced dead at hospital at 1pm. Conspiracy theories persist as to who the killer was, but the common story is that it was Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald never stood charge as he was killed by Jack Ruby whilst in custody two days later. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One hours after the assassination. Kennedy’s assassination devastated the world, as he was symbol of hope and optimism in a troubled time.
50 years ago today
November 17th 1973: Nixon says “I am not a crook”
On this day in 1973, 40 years ago today, US President Richard M. Nixon told a group of Associated Press reporters during a televised question and answer session in Orlando, Florida that “I am not a crook”. This came in the context of the revelations about illegal activities by his administration in what came to be known as the Watergate scandal. It was named for the building complex which contained the Democratic National Committee headquarters which Nixon officials broke into to find out about their electoral strategies. By 1974, it became clear that Nixon had knowledge of the illegal activities, after the Supreme Court ordered he release tapes of his Oval Office coversations. He resigned in August in order to avoid almost certain impeachment.
"People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got"
November 8th 1960: JFK elected President
On this day in 1960, Democrat John F. Kennedy won the presidential election against his Republican opponent Richard Nixon. Nixon won more states than Kennedy, but Kennedy won the popular and electoral college votes. The 1960 election was one of the closest in history, with Kennedy winning 49.7% of the popular vote and Nixon winning 49.6%. Nixon, the sitting Vice President, struggled against the youthful and energetic Kennedy. This contrast between the two was exhibited in the first ever televised presidential debate, where Kennedy was far more charismatic than Nixon. JFK was President until his assassination in November 1963, and his Vice President Lyndon Johnson succeeded him. Despite losing to Kennedy in 1960, Nixon went on to win the presidency in 1968 and served until his resignation in 1974 over the Watergate scandal.
November 5th 1872: Susan B. Anthony votes
On this day in 1872, the female suffrage advocate Susan B. Anthony broke the law by voting in the 1872 presidential election. Anthony was a famous advocate of women’s rights and female suffrage and co-founded the first Women’s Temperance Movement. She was arrested on June 18th the following year and eventually fined $100 after trying to vote in the election, despite her argument that she was protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Anthony used the publicity to raise awareness of women’s rights and traveled the United States and Europe spreading her message of equality.
October 31st 1941: Mount Rushmore completed
On this day in 1941, after 14 years of construction, Mount Rushmore was completed. Mount Rushmore, which lies near Keystone in South Dakota, now bears the faces of four US Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The idea for the carving had been around for years before Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln were hired and the project received federal funding. The initial plans were for the entire torsos of the Presidents to be carved, as opposed to just their faces. Borglum even envisioned having a timeline of great events in US history running alongside the faces and a ‘Hall of Records’ in a chamber cut into the rock behind the faces. However, the project ran out of money leading to its early completion in October 1941. Mount Rushmore remains a major attraction in the United States, attracting millions of visitors every year.
October 26th 1881: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
On this day in 1881 the famous ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’ took place in Tombstone, Arizona at around 3pm. The fight was between the outlaw cowboys Billy Claiborne, Ike & Billy Clanton and Frank & Tom McLaury and lawmen Virgil, Morgan & Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Billy Clanton and the McLaurys were killed in the fight, but the other outlaws escaped. The event has become symbolic of the Wild West and was the feature of a 1957 film starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.
December 1st 1955: Parks refuses to give up seat
On this day in 1955 Rosa Parks, a black seamstress from Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. She was subsequently arrested for defying the state’s racial segregation laws. Segregation laws had been in place since the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court ruling in 1896 which declared racial segregation constitutional under the doctrine of “separate but equal”. Through this act of defiance, Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott which gave impetus to the growing Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Rosa Parks became an influential and symbolic figure in the Civil Rights Movement, which came to a head in the 1960s, and was one of the leaders of the movement, alongside such figures as Martin Luther King Jr.
"People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”
November 27th 1978: Milk and Moscone assassinated
On this day in 1978, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by Dan White. White was angry that Moscone had refused to re-appoint him to the Board of Supervisors and that Milk lobbied against his re-appointment. White went to San Francisco City Hall to meet with Moscone and make a final plea for his re-appointment. When Moscone declined, White pulled a gun and shot him. White ran into Milk on his way to his former office and shot and killed him. The bodies were found by Supervisor, and current US senator, Dianne Feinstein. Milk was the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States, making his death a symbolic blow to the gay rights movement but also making him a martyr for the gay community.
35 years ago today
November 18th 1886: Chester Arthur dies
On this day in 1886, the former President of the United States Chester A. Arthur died. Arthur became the 21st President in 1881 upon the assassination of President James A. Garfield. He served until 1885 and his tenure is best remembered for civil service reform tackling the corrupt ‘spoils system’ with the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. Arthur was suffering from declining health when he left office after the 1884 election, which he did not contest, was won by Democrat Grover Cleveland. He died the following year aged 57.
November 14th 1969: Apollo 12 launches
On this day in 1969, NASA launched the second crewed mission to the Moon with the Apollo 12 mission. It was also the sixth manned flight of the Apollo programme. Apollo 12 set off four months after the Apollo 11 mission which first landed men on the Moon. The mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission commander was Charles Conrad, the Lunar Module Pilot was Alan Bean and the Command Module Pilot was Richard Gordon. The crew returned safely to Earth on November 24th.
November 6th 1861: Davis elected Confederate President
On this day in 1861 at the start of the American Civil War, Jefferson Davis was elected president of the Confederate States of America unopposed, having been sworn in as provisional president that February. Davis served as president until the demise of the Confederacy as the seceded states rejoined the Union after the North’s victory in the Civil War. Despite his success at keeping the Confederate war effort going for longer than was initially expected, he is generally considered not as effective as the Union President Abraham Lincoln. Davis failed to secure any international support for the Confederacy and caused inflation when his administration printed money to cover the war costs. Davis was imprisoned after the war but was never tried and was released after two years. He died in 1889 aged 81.
November 4th 1979: Iran hostage crisis begins
On this day in 1979, the Iran hostage crisis began when a group of Iranians invaded the US embassy in Tehran and took 90 hostages, including 53 Americans. The United States government under Democratic President Jimmy Carter attempted negotiations and when these broke down attempted a rescue in Operation Eagle Claw in 1980 which failed. The hostages were finally freed after the signing of the Algiers Accords just minutes after Republican Ronald Reagan was sworn into office in 1981.
October 30th 1938: ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast
On this day in 1938, Orson Welles broadcast his radio play of H.G. Wells’s 1898 science-fiction novel ‘The War of the Worlds’. For Halloween, the play was initially broadcast as a series of news bulletins, leading many Americans to fear an invasion of Earth by Martians. Many later complained of being misled by the broadcast. The outcry over the play secured Welles’s fame and popularised the story.