History: June 15

June 15

763BC Assyrian scholars record a total solar eclipse event on clay tablet.


1215 King John puts his seal to the Magna Carta (Great Charter) at Runnymede (in a meadow called Ronimed between Windsor and Staines), near Windsor, England, acknowledging the law as an authority higher than the monarch and granting his barons more liberty. Though King John seals various copies of Magna Carta for the barons assembled at Runnymede on 19 June 1215, they are dated 15 June, as that is when he acceded to their demands. The Magna Carta is considered one of the most important political documents in history.

1330 Birth: Edward the black prince, prince of Wales 1343-1376.

1381 Peasant's Revolt: Wat Tyler is executed at Smithfield, London, during the protest against the poll tax of 1380.

1520 Pope Leo X excommunicates Martin Luther by the bull Exsurge Domine, condemning 41 of Luther's theses as heretical.

1567 Mary, Queen of Scots, is captured at the battle of Carberry Hill, near Edinburgh, by Scottish nobles who object to her marriage to the Earl of Bothwell.

1649 Margaret Jones of Charlestown is tried and executed for witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts.

1657 Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb overthrows his father Shah Jahan, and puts him in a cell from which he can view the Taj Mahal, which he'd had built as a tomb for his wife.


1744 British Admiral George Anson returns to England after circumnavigating the globe in an expedition that lasted nearly four years.


1767 Birth: "Rachel Donelson Robards Jackson (June 15 1767 - December 22, 1828) was the wife of the 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. Previous to her marriage to Jackson, she had been married to Lewis Robards. Eventually, she and Robards decided to divorce. In 1791, she tied the knot with Jackson; however, it was discovered that they had married before the divorce had been finalized, and were thus forced to re-marry in 1794. During the 1828 presidential campaign, the press found out about the premature marriage, and accused Donelson of adultery, attacking her mercilessly. She died of a heart attack on December 22, 1828, two weeks after her husband's victory in the election. Over 10,000 people attended her funeral. Donelson was buried on Christmas Eve in her white inauguration gown. Rachel was the daughter of the explorer and adventurer John Donelson, co-founder of Nashville, Tennessee. Note: Jackson deeply resented attacks on his wife's honor; he killed a man in a duel over an insult to his wife on May 30, 1806. Jackson was also injured during the duel and the bullet was so close to his heart that it could not be removed. It caused him considerable pain for the rest of his life."

1775 American Revolution: The Second Continental Congress votes unanimously to appoint George Washington Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.

1804 The Twelfth Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified, providing for the electoral college to elect the president and vice-president on separate ballots; it is designed to prevent another instance like the election of 1800 when Thomas Jefferson and his running-mate tied.


1836 Arkansas becomes the 25th state of the US.

1844 Inventor Charles Goodyear receives a patent for vulcanizing rubber. Prior to this no one knew how to keep natural rubber from melting in the summer and hardening in the winter. Reputedly Goodyear discovered the process by accident, after years of experimentation, when he dropped some rubber mixed with sulfur on a hot stove. The resulting substance resembled charred leather, but was still resilient and elastic. Goodyear calls the process 'vulcanization,' after the Roman God of Fire, Vulcan.


1846 The United States and Britain sign a treaty settling a boundary dispute between Canada and the United States in the Pacific Northwest.


1849 Death: James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States. "...Polk's considerable political accomplishments took their toll on his health. Full of enthusiasm and vigor when he entered office, Polk left the White House at the age of 53, exhausted by his years of public service. He was succeeded in office by the hero of the Mexican-American War, the Whig General Zachary Taylor. Polk died less than four months later at his new home, Polk Place, in Nashville, Tennessee. He was the youngest President to die, save James A. Garfield and John F. Kennedy, both of whom were assassinated during their presidencies. His post-presidential life was, furthermore, the shortest in the history of the United States. His wife, Sarah Childress Polk, lived at Polk Place for over forty years more; her retirement was longer than that of any other First Lady of the United States. James and Sarah Polk are buried in a tomb on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol Building, in Nashville.


Many historians rank Polk as a near-great President, lauding the extent of his achievements in a single term: Polk had attained all four of his primary policy objectives. One could argue, however, that Polk failed to acquire the whole of the Oregon Country, as he promised during his campaign. Moreover, his decision to send Zachary Taylor into disputed territory, and his subsequent justification of the Mexican-American War, have been condemned by some. Polk's actions in relation to Mexico involved significant consequences for the United States. In 1846, Congressman David Wilmot of Pennsylvania introduced a proposal known as the Wilmot Proviso, which would have outlawed slavery in any U.S. territory acquired in the course of the war. Though the House passed the Proviso on numerous occasions, it was blocked by southern Senators. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the dispute; California was admitted to the Union as a "free state," while the other territories carved out of the Mexican Cession were allowed to permit or prohibit slavery as they saw fit. The Compromise of 1850, however, failed to satisfy extremists on both sides. Disputes over slavery in the West, together with other inflammatory events of the 1850s, contributed to the American Civil War, which began in 1861. President Polk is also notable for his support for the concept of Manifest Destiny—the idea that it was the United States' divine mission to expand westward—and for his affirmation of the Monroe Doctrine—the doctrine, first propounded by President James Monroe in 1823, that the Americas should be free from European colonization or other interference..."

1851 Jacob Fussell, a Baltimore dairyman, set up the first ice-cream factory in the US.

1860 Florence Nightingale starts her School for Nurses in London.

1864 US Civil War: US Secretary of War Edwin Stanton signs an order establishing a military burial ground, which will become Arlington National Cemetery, on the confiscated estate of Robert E. Lee.

1878 The first attempt at motion pictures using 12 cameras, each taking one picture, is done to see if all four of a horse's hooves ever leave the ground.

1883 Germany's 'Iron Chancellor,' Count Otto von Bismarck, becomes the first political leader to institute general health insurance for all his people. Note: Bismarck, no believer in socialism, enacts the relatively limited program to head off more aggressive legislation by those (almost everyone) more liberal than himself.

1896 The most devastating tsunami in Japanese history strikes the coast of Sanriku, Japan, causing over 20,000 deaths. Generated by an undersea earthquake, the gigantic series of waves reaches heights up to 80 feet (25 meters). Many of the people killed are attending a Shinto festival.

1904 More than 1,000 people, mostly women and children on a church outing, perish when fire erupts aboard the steamboat General Slocum in New York's East River.


1914 Birth: Saul Steinberg, Romanian-born US cartoonist. Above: Luna Park, Taxi. See Also: 1924 (Prosperity).


1924 The Ford Motor Company manufactures its 10 millionth automobile.

1930 Birth: Morris 'Mo' Udall, US Congressman from Arizona.


1933 At the first public meeting of the Kreuz and Adler (Cross and Eagle) in Berlin, Franz von Papen calls for the overcoming of liberalism and characterizes the Third Reich as a "Christian counterrevolution to 1789." (Lewy)

1933 It is announced that war debt and reparation payments to the United States have amounted to only 8 percent of the total due. Only Finland has made full payment. Note: In 1934, the war debt agreements will totally collapse.

1934 In Germany, Hitler's Finance Minister, Hagmar Schacht, declares a six month moratorium on German foreign payments. He later will extend it to one year.

1934 Polish Minister Bronislaw Pieracki is assassinated by a Ukrainian Nationalist in Warsaw.

1934 In Venice, dictators Hitler and Mussolini hold a second day of discussions during their first ever meeting. The two will eventually become bosom buddies.

1935 Chinese Communists Mao Tse-tung calls for a united front against Japan, but excludes Chiang Kai-shek.

1938 Holocaust: Operation June (Juni Aktion) sends some 1,500 German Jews to concentration camps.

1940 WW2: Soviets troops occupy the Lithuanian cities of Vilna and Kaunas.


1940 Holocaust: Himmler names Oscar Dirlewanger (above) as Obersturmfuhrer in the Waffen-SS, authorizing him to collect poachers from German prisons to serve as manhunters on Germany's eastern border. (Architect)


1940 WW2: The French fortress of Verdun is captured by Germans.

1942 Holocaust: The SS in Riga orders another gassing van.

1942

1944 WW2: American forces invade the Mariana Islands in the west Pacific Ocean, beginning their successful invasion of Saipan.

1945 Diary of Leon Gladun: "I return from the course to a new position at Racanika/Predappio Alto for one day and then we move out to the Cesena region."

1945 WW2: B-29 Superfortresses make their first raids on the Japanese mainland.


1945 WW2: The pivotal Battle for Okinawa continues. "...We have passed the speculative phase of the campaign and are down to the final kill." This was General Buckner's appraisal of the battle for Okinawa on 15 June. Infantrymen on the front lines also sensed the impending disintegration of General Ushijima's 32d Army, not because of any noticeable weakening in the individual's will to fight but because, destitute of the supplies and tools of war, of the coordination, communications, and skill necessary to a fighting machine, the Japanese collectively lacked the power of adequate resistance. Most of General Ushijima's crack troops were rotting in the rubble of the Shuri battlefield. Of the combat and service troops who had escaped to the south, a thousand were being killed each day. Those who lived had become a mass of uncoordinated troops fighting to the death but presenting no integrated defense against the Tenth Army attack ranging south toward the last prominent hills left to the Japanese.


After gaining the top of Hill 95 (above) and the rim of the Yaeju-Dake, only a generally level plateau separated the XXIV Corps front lines from the cave headquarters of General Ushijima's army which, according to prisoners of war, was located in a great coral ledge at the southern extremity of the Corps sector. This entire tableland, although evenly contoured, was liberally covered with coral heads. Some were grouped densely and formed a partial barrier; others were little larger than stumps or bushes and appeared to have grown from the earth. A few coral bulges were large and prominent enough to afford the Japanese strong positions. The largest of these were the Big Apple and Yuza-Dake Peaks at the north end of the 96th Division's sector. Within the zone of the 7th Division were Hills 153 and 115, jagged protuberances of coral which, after the fall of the Yaeju-Dake and Hill 95, became General Ushijima's last hope of defending the eastern end of his line. The 5-day battle for these hills and the fields of coral outcroppings on the surrounding plateau, lasting from 13 to 17 June, was as much like hunting as fighting. It was a battle of massed tanks which operated ahead of the usual infantry support, blasting the coral rocks with shell bursts and almost constant machine-gun fire. The battlefield was perfect for armored flame throwers, which poured flame into the caves and clusters of rocky crags and wooded areas, either killing the Japanese at once or forcing them into lanes of machine-gun fire. In five days flame tanks of the 713th Armored Flame Thrower Battalion directed more than 37,000 gallons of burning gasoline at the enemy. It was also a battle of infantry platoons or individual infantrymen against disorganized but desperate enemy soldiers..."

1952 Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, is published on this date in the United States. It contains the memoirs of Dutch-Jewish teenager Anne Frank and her time spent with her family and others in hiding during WW2. She died in a Nazi concentration camp, and many years later, her father, the only surviving member of her family, found her diary.

1956 Progress on the abolition of the death penalty in Britain suffers a setback in the House of Commons this day, as MPs vote by four votes to retain hanging for murders committed by prisoners serving life sentences. The surprise defeat disturbs the complacency of abolitionists and will encourage amendments in the House of Lords.

1960 Argentina complains to the UN about Israel's illicit transfer of Eichman.

1960 The South Korean government promulgates a new constitution introducing a parliamentary system of government.

1962 The first nuclear generated electricity is supplied to the British National Grid, from Berkeley, Gloucestershire today.


1965 The Nam: US planes bomb targets in North Vietnam, but refrain from bombing Hanoi and the Soviet missile sites that surrounded the city. On 17 June, two US Navy jets will down two communist MiGs, and destroy another enemy aircraft three days later. US planes will also drop almost 3 million leaflets urging the North Vietnamese to get their leaders to end the war. These missions are part of Operation Rolling Thunder, launched in March 1965, after President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a sustained bombing campaign of North Vietnam. The operation is designed to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of the North Vietnam and to slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. During the early months of this campaign, there are restrictions against striking targets in or near Hanoi and Haiphong, but in July 1966, Rolling Thunder will be expanded to include the bombing of North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities. In the spring of 1967, it will further be expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi and Haiphong areas. The White House closely controls Operation Rolling Thunder and at times President Johnson personally selects the targets in the White House Map Room. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs will be dropped on North Vietnam. The operation will continue, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson halts it entirely on 31 October 1968, under increasing domestic political pressure.

1969 Georges Pompidou is elected president of France.

1977 Adolfo Suarez and his Democratic Center coalition win the first democratic elections in Spain for 41 years.

1978 Italian President Giovanni Leone is forced to resign over allegations of fiscal mismanagement and possible involvement in the Lockheed bribery scandal.

1978 King Hussein of Jordan weds 26-year-old American Lisa Halaby, who becomes Queen Noor.

1982 After their defeat in the Falklands War, Argentina is racked with antigovernment riots.


1985 En route to Halley's Comet, the USSR's Vega 2 drops a lander on Venus.

1986 Pravda announces that high-level Chernobyl staff have been fired for stupidity.

1988 Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq decrees that Sharia, the Islamic legal code, will henceforth be the supreme law in Pakistan.

1991 Sikh terrorists take over two trains and kill 76 passengers, mostly Hindus, in an attempt to frighten voters into staying at home on election day in the north Indian state of Punjab.

1992 Pro-Iranian kidnappers free two German aid workers in Beirut after 1,127 days in captivity ending a decade-long hostage saga.

1994 Israel and the Vatican establish full diplomatic ties, sealing a historic accord on mutual recognition and reconciliation after centuries of bitterness between Roman Catholics and Jews.

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