On September 1st…
“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.”
1775 – Richard Penn and Arthur Lee, representing the Continental Congress, presented the so-called Olive Branch Petition to the Earl of Dartmouth on this day. Britain’s King George III, however, refused to receive the petition, which appealed directly to the king and expressed hope for reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain.
Americans had hoped that Parliament had curtailed colonial rights without the king’s full knowledge, and that the petition would cause him to come to his subjects’ defense. When George III refused to read the petition, many Americans realized that Parliament was acting with royal knowledge and support.
This belief changed after Congress learned that King George refused to so much as receive the Olive Branch Petition, and by July 1776, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed something very different:
“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”
1807 – Former U.S. vice president Aaron Burr was acquitted of plotting to annex parts of Louisiana and Spanish territory in Mexico to be used toward the establishment of an independent republic. He was acquitted on the grounds that, though he had conspired against the United States, he was not guilty of treason because he had not engaged in an “overt act,” a requirement of the law governing treason. Nevertheless, public opinion condemned him as a traitor, and he fled to Europe.
1939 – At 4:45 a.m., 1.5 million German troops invaded Poland all along its 1,750-mile border with German-controlled territory. Simultaneously, the German Luftwaffe bombed Polish airfields, and German warships and U-boats attacked Polish naval forces in the Baltic Sea. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler claimed the massive invasion was a defensive action, but Britain and France were not convinced. On September 3, they declared war on Germany.
1952 – Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea was published. It was the last major work of fiction by Hemingway published during his lifetime.
1966 – In a speech before 100,000 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, President Charles de Gaulle of France denounced U.S. policy in Vietnam and urged the U.S. government to pull its troops out of Southeast Asia.
1969 – Muammar al-Gaddafi, a 27-year-old Libyan army captain, led a successful military coup against King Idris I of Libya. Idris was deposed and Qaddafi was named chairman of Libya’s new governing body, the Revolutionary Command Council. He would rule with an iron fist until 2011 when he was captured and killed after massive political protests against the Qaddafi regime sparked a civil war between revolutionaries and loyalists.
1970 – The U.S. Senate rejected the McGovern-Hatfield amendment by a vote of 55-39. This legislation, proposed by Senators George McGovern of South Dakota and Mark Hatfield of Oregon, would have set a deadline of December 31, 1971, for complete withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam.
The Senate also turned down 71-22, a proposal forbidding the Army from sending draftees to Vietnam. Despite the defeat of these two measures, the proposed legislation indicated the growing dissatisfaction with President Nixon’s handling of the war.
1981 – Albert Speer, who was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect German architect before becoming Minister of Armaments and War Production for Nazi Germany, died in London at the age of 76.
Speer was the sole defendant who accepted moral responsibility at the1946 Nuremberg trials for complicity in crimes of the Nazi regime. Speer was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. While three of the eight judges (two Soviet and one American) initially advocated the death penalty for Speer, the other judges did not, and a compromise sentence was reached.
The court’s judgment stated that: “in the closing stages of the war [Speer] was one of the few men who had the courage to tell Hitler that the war was lost and to take steps to prevent the senseless destruction of production facilities, both in occupied territories and in Germany. He carried out his opposition to Hitler’s scorched earth programme by deliberately sabotaging it at considerable personal risk.”
1983 – Soviet jet fighters intercepted a Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in Russian airspace and shot the plane down, killing 269 passengers and crew members. The incident dramatically increased tensions between the Soviets and the United States. Although Soviet leader Yuri Andropov accused Washington of a despicable setup: a “sophisticated provocation masterminded by the U.S. special services with the use of a South Korean plane,” the truth was a top-level secret for nearly a decade.
In 1992, Russia finally revealed what really happened, using cockpit voice recorder transcripts from the attacking jet: First and foremost, the plane wasn’t destroyed in the air.
“Commanders at Dolinsk-Sokol airbase scrambled two Sukhoi Su-15 fighter jets and ordered them to intercept the airliner. Warning shots were fired with brightly lit tracers but the KAL pilot failed to react. Missiles were then fired and fragments hit the back of the plane, destroying three of its four hydraulic systems, severing some cables and punching holes in the aircraft’s walls. No perceptible cabin pressure was lost, and all four engines continued to operate.The damaged plane continued flying for 12 minutes, spiraling toward the ocean below, until it crashed into the sea, with most passengers smashed into pieces or drowning.”
1985 – Seventy-three years after it sunk to the North Atlantic ocean floor, a joint U.S.-French expedition located the wreck of RMS Titanic. The sunken liner was about 400 miles east of Newfoundland.
American Robert D. Ballard headed the expedition, which used an experimental, unmanned submersible (Argo) developed by the U.S. Navy to search for the ocean liner. On this date, Argo was investigating debris on the ocean floor when it suddenly passed over one of the massive boilers belonging to Titanic, lying at a depth of about 13,000 feet. The wreck was subsequently explored by manned and unmanned submersibles, which shed new light on the details of its 1912 sinking.
1986 – Actor Murray Hamilton, who played the inflexible mayor of Amity in Jaws and Jaws 2, died of cancer at the age of 63. Although he may be best known for his role in those two films, Hamilton had a long and stellar career.
He also appeared in Anatomy Of A Murder, The Spirit of St. Louis, The FBI Story, The Hustler, The Graduate, The Amityville Horror, and The Way We Were.
2004 – An armed gang of Chechen separatist rebels entered a school in Beslan, North Ossetia – a republic in the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation – and took more than 1,000 people hostage. The rebels demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from the disputed nearby region of Chechnya.
September 1 was the first day of a new school year for millions of students across Russia, a day of celebration in schools that both parents and students traditionally attend. Nearly 400 people, about half of them children, died in the ensuing three-day ordeal.
2008 – Jerry Reed, country music singer, guitarist, and songwriter, as well as an actor who appeared in more than a dozen films – including all three of the Smokey And The Bandit trilogy – died of complications from emphysema at the age of 71.
A few of his signature songs were ‘Amos Moses’, ‘When You’re Hot, You’re Hot’ (which won him a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance), ‘Lord, Mr. Ford’, ‘East Bound and Down’ and ‘She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)’. In addition, Reed wrote ‘Guitar Man’ and ‘U.S. Male’ and both songs became hits for Elvis Presley.
2013 – Tommy Morrison, former heavyweight boxing champion and co-star of Rocky V, died of cardiac arrest and multiple organ failure and complications from AIDS. He was 44.
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