History: June 17

June 17

0656 Death: Caliph Uthman, the third caliph to rule after the death of the Prophet, is assassinated at his home in Medina (now Saudi Arabia) by besieging Muslim rebels from Mesopotamia. Note: The above is considered the first Islamic coin. It is copy of the final coin of the fallen Sassanian Empire, with the addition of the Arabic inscription to the margin on the obverse.  These were first produced in 651 AD. The Four Rashidun, or "Rightly-Guided" Caliphs were those rulers who came to power in the thirty years immediately following the death of the prophet Mohammad. The period of their rule is considered the golden age of Islam. Uthman was among Mohammad's first converts. He was elected the third caliph following the murder of Umar, and in preference to Ali. His rule was not well organized, and was troubled by disagreements concerning the division of the tremendous gains made in the Muslim conquests, as well as by conflict over the production and distribution of the definitive version of the Koran. A revolt led to his murder and 'Ali was proclaimed caliph. As part of the continuing battle over succession, Ali was murdered a few years later by a breakaway group of his own followers, bringing the period of the Four Rashidun to an end. The continuing struggle between the supporters of Uthman and those of Ali, known later as Alids or Shi'ites, produced profound effects on the history of Islam including the division into Sunni and Shi'ite sects which continues to this day."

1579 The English navigator Sir Francis Drake arrives on the Western coast of what is today the United States, and names the new territory Nova Albion. Drake's exact landing point is still uncertain, but many believe it is near the San Francisco Bay. Drake claims the new land for Queen Elizabeth I.

1703 Birth: John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, the 15th of 19 children of a clergyman.

1742 Birth: William Hooper, Signer of the Declaration of Independence. William Hooper is born in Boston Massachusetts. He will graduate from Harvard College in 1760, continue his studies in the law, and settle in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1767. In 1773 he will represent Wilmington in the General Assembly of North Carolina. He will attend the Continental Congress in 1774, resign from the Congress in 1776 and return home. In 1789 he will be appointed to the Federal Bench, but a year later he will retire due to failing health.

1775 American Revolution: The Battle of Bunker Hill occurs on Breed's Hill. "...Bunker Hill was a battle of the American Revolutionary War that took place on June 17, 1775 during the Siege of Boston. Although it is known as Bunker Hill, most of the action was on Breed's Hill. British forces under General Howe drove the American militia from fortified positions on Breed's Hill and Bunker Hill. The battle was a pyrrhic victory for Howe. His immediate objective was achieved, but the attack demonstrated the American will to stand in pitched battle, caused substantial British casualties, and did not change the status of the siege. After the battle, British General Henry Clinton remarked in his diary that "A few more such victories would have surely put an end to British dominion in America."...The British had taken the ground, but at a stiff cost; 1,054 were shot (226 dead and 828 wounded), and a disproportionate number of these were officers. The American losses were only about 450, of whom 140 were killed (including Joseph Warren), and 30 captured, and most American losses came during the withdrawal.British dead and wounded included almost all of their officers. Of General Howe's entire field staff; he was the only one not shot. Major Pitcairn was dead, and Colonel James Abercrombie fatally wounded. The American withdrawal and British advance swept right through to include the entire peninsula, Bunker Hill as well as Breed's Hill. But the number of Americans to be faced in new positions hastily created by Putnam on the mainland, the end of the day, and the exhaustion of his troops removed any chance Howe had of advancing on Cambridge and breaking the siege.The attitude of the British was significantly changed, both individually and as a government. Thomas Gage was soon recalled, and would be replaced by General Howe. Howe himself lost the daring he had shown at Louisbourg, and was cautious through the rest of his service. Gage's report to the cabinet repeated his earlier warnings that "a large army must at length be employed to reduce these people" and would require "the hiring of foreign troops."A famous saying came from this battle: "Don't fire till you see the whites of their eyes". However, it is uncertain as to who said it, since various writers attribute it to Putnam, Stark, Prescott and Gridley. Another reporting uncertainty concerns the role of African-Americans. There were certainly a few involved in the battle, but their exact numbers are unknown. One of these was Salem Poor, who was cited for bravery and whose actions at the redoubt saved Prescott's life, but accounts crediting him with Pitcairn's death are highly doubtful..."

1789 In France, the Third Estate proclaims itself a National Assembly and refuses to let the king keep his veto.

1823 Britain's Glaswegian chemist, Charles Mackintosh, patents the waterproof cloth he used to make raincoats, after experimenting with waste rubber products from Glasgow's new gas works.

1856 The newly formed Republican Party opens its first convention, in Philadelphia.

1860 The 692-foot liner Great Eastern, built by Brunel, gets underway from the Isle of Wight on her first transatlantic voyage.

1867 Joseph Lister performs the first operation under antiseptic conditions, on his sister Isabella, at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary in Scotland, using carbolic acid.

1870 Birth: George Cormack, the inventor of Wheaties cereal.

1871 Death: Clement Laird Vallandigham. "...On 13 Apr. 1863, Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, Commmander of the Department Of The Ohio, had issued General Order No. 38, forbidding expression of sympathy for the enemy. On 30 Apr. Vallandigham addressed a large audience in Columbus, made derogatory references to the president and the war effort, then hoped that he would be arrested under Burnside's order, thus gaining popular sympathy. Arrested at his home at 2 a.m., 5 May, by a company of troops, he was taken to Burnside's Cincinnati headquarters, tried by a military court 6-7 May, denied a writ of habeas corpus, and sentenced to 2 years' confinement in a military prison. Following a 19 May cabinet meeting, President Lincoln commuted Vallandigham's sentence to banishment to the Confederacy. On 26 May the Ohioan was taken to Confederates south of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and there entered Southern lines. Outraged at his treatment, by a vote of 411-11 state Democrats nominated Vallandigham for governor at their 11 June convention. Vallandigham was escorted to Wilmington, N.C., and shipped out to, Bermuda, arriving there 1 7 June. He traveled to Canada, arrived at Niagara Falls, Ontario, 5 July, and from there and Windsor, Ontario, conducted his campaign for the governorship. Candidate for lieutenant governor George Pugh represented Vallandigham's views at rallies and in the press. Lincoln interested himself in the election, endorsed Republican candidate John Brough, downplayed the illegalities of a civilian's arrest and trial by military authorities, and claimed that a vote for the Democratic contender was 'a discredit to the country.' In the election of 13 Oct. 1863, Brough defeated Vallandigham 288,000-187,000. With the election crisis passed, Lincoln and the military ignored Vallandigham's return to the U.S, in disguise 14 June 1864. He established residence in 0hio, attended the August national Democratic convention in Chicago, and helped construct the disastrous "peace" plank in presidential candidate George B. McClellan's platform. In postwar years the Democratic party declared him persona non grata at its 1866 Philadelphia convention, a meeting of old Federals and recently reconstructed Southern Democrats, where it was felt his presence was disruptive. After he lost a bid in 1867 for election to the state senate, he resumed his law practice. In a Lebanon, Ohio, hotel, 16 June 1871, a gun went off while he was demonstrating to other attorneys how a defendant's supposed victim may have accidentally shot himself. He died there the following day. The Ohioan is best remembered for the Feb. 1864 Supreme Court decision, Ex Parte Vallandigham, which decreed that the Court could not issue a writ of habeas corpus in a military case, and for a Democratic campaign slogan he created May 1862: "The Constitution as it is, the Union as it was." Inspired by the story of Vallandigham's banishment and his remark at that time that he did not care to live in a country where Lincoln was president, Edward Everett Hale wrote "The Man Without a Country..."

1885 The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York City aboard the French ship Isere. The statue was shipped in 350 individual pieces. Sculpted by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the statue was supposed to have been ready for the centennial of the American Revolution but financial problems delayed the construction for about ten years.

1900 Birth: Martin Bormann. "Martin Bormann was a prominent Nazi who became head of the Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) and Private Secretary to Adolf Hitler. One biographer describes him as having "the chin of a run-to-seed boxer." Born in Wegeleben (near Halberstadt), Germany the son of a post office employee, Bormann dropped out of school to work on a farm in Mecklenburg. After serving briefly at the end of WWI, Bormann joined the Freikorps in Mecklenburg.In March 1924 he received a one-year sentence as an accomplice to his friend Rudolf Höß (the later commandant of Auschwitz) in the brutal murder of Walther Kadow (who may have 'betrayed' Leo Schlageter to the French in the Ruhr).After his release he joined the NSDAP in Thuringia and, despite an apparent lack of skill and a coarse and brutal manner, became its regional press officer and later business manager in 1928. In October 1933 he became a Reichsleiter of the NSDAP and in November a member of the Reichstag. From July 1933 until 1941 Bormann was personal secretary to Rudolf Hess.The flight of Rudolf Hess to Britain allowed Bormann to become head of the Parteikanzlei in May 1941, and he proved himself a master of political infighting. He developed and administered the Adolf Hitler Endowment Fund of German Industry, a huge fund of 'voluntary' contributions by successful business entrepreneurs to the Führer, which Bormann then reallocated as gifts to almost all the top Party functionaries. In addition to administering Hitler's personal finances, Bormann took charge of all Hitler's paperwork and appointments. Bormann was reported to virtually never leave Hitler's side, mainly in an effort to maintain constant influence on the Führer. A compendium of Borman's notes written during the war was published in 1951 as Hitler's Table Talk, Hitler's secret wartime dinner conversations. Hitler came to have complete trust in Bormann and the view of reality that he presented. During a meeting the Führer was said to have screamed, "To win this war, I need Bormann!" Shortly after Hess' apparent defection, in order to curry even more favor with the Führer, Borman gave Hitler a German shepherd bitch named "Blondi", which was to become Hitler's most famous pet. At the end of the war, after the suicide of Hitler, Bormann left the Führerbunker in Berlin on April 30 1945, along with SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger. Neither was ever seen alive again. For many years it was believed that he may have escaped, leading to much speculation concerning his whereabouts. However, a skeleton identified by dental records as Bormann's was discovered in West Berlin in 1972. In 1999 a DNA test confirmed the identification. At first it had been thought that he was killed by Soviet troops not long after leaving the bunker. If so, he would have been the only top Nazi leader (the others being Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Göring) killed by enemy fire; the other four committed suicide. But the presence of glass fragments in the teeth suggest that Bormann, too, probably killed himself with cyanide.In the absence of any proof of his demise, Bormann was tried in absentia at Nuremberg in October 1946 and sentenced to death. His court-appointed defense attorney used the unusual and unsuccessful defense that Bormann could not be convicted because he was already dead. Periodic alleged sightings of Bormann occurred globally for two decades, particularly in Europe, Paraguay and the South American continent. Rumors persisted that Bormann unsuccessfully had plastic surgery while on the run and it had spoiled his face.The book Bormann: Nazi in Exile was published in 1982 by Knopf. The book details Bormann's supposed postwar activities and his investment of Nazi flight capital into 750 major international corporations. He was married to Gerda Buch (daughter of the Supreme Party Judge, Walter Buch) and had ten children."

1915 The League to Enforce Peace is organized at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, with William Howard Taft as president. It is a prototype for the future League of Nations.

1925 29 countries sign the Geneva Protocol which prohibits the use of poisonous gases in war.

1928 Amelia Earhart embarks on a solo transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Wales.

1930 President Hoover signs the Smoot-Hawley tariff act despite the protests of one thousand American economists that it will produce a dangerous experiment in economic nationalism.

1934 Church and Reich: On one of the rare occasions when he dares criticize the Nazi regime, Vice Chancellor von Papen makes a much-publicized speech at Marburg, saying that the Church must be granted the right to oppose the state's totalitarian claims when those claims intrude into the realm of religion. Coincidentally, see 1946, below. (Lewy)

1934 Himmler hints to Hitler that if the Papen's bourgeois and Roehm's SA were to join forces, as reports from the SS secret police seemed to indicate, it would be a catastrophe for Hitler. (Secrets)

1936 Himmler is appointed chief of the German police, both uniformed and civilian.

1939 A large crowd gathers at Versailles, France to see murderer Eugene Weidmann's head roll; the last public execution by guillotine.

1940 WW2: The troop ship Lancastria is sunk by enemy fire after having taken on board British troops who are evacuating from France. Of the 5,300 on board, almost 2,480 are saved.

1940 Those Vichy French: The Petain Cabinet takes office and publicly announces it has asked Germany for an armistice.

1940 WW2: Churchill broadcasts a message declaring that the Battle of France is over and the Battle of Britain is about to begin, saying, "...if the British Empire and Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say: This was their finest hour."

1940 WW2: French representatives in the US allow the British to take up arms orders they have placed under the "Cash and Carry" rules.

1940 WW2: General Warlimont, Jodl's assistant at OKW, records that Hitler had not yet expressed interest in invading Britain. "Therefore even at this time, no preparatory work has been carried out at OKW." (Fleming II)


1941 Holocaust: Heydrich meets with the newly appointed commanders of the Einsatzgruppen and Sonderkommandos in Berlin to give them special oral instructions for their operations during the invasion. (Architect)

1942 WW2: The Army weekly newspaper, Yank, coins the term GI Joe in a comic strip drawn by Dave Breger. Note: Breger was the American comic artist who introduced the term 'GI Joe' to the world. He grew up in the city of Chicago, where he encountered the Chicago gangsters on several occasions, while working at his father's sausage industry. In the 1930s, he took on cartooning and sold his gag panels to several newspapers. He entered the army during World War II. At the same time, he used his experiences as a soldier in a comic panel series 'Private Breger' in 1941. His cartoon panel was soon featured in the army magazine Yank, but it couldn't appear under the syndicated name. Therefore, Breger came up with the title 'GI Joe' (as in Government-Issue Joe), and the comic began its run in June, 1942. The strip knew such popularity, that within no time, GI Joe replaced the word Yank as the popular term for American foot soldier. Breger continued his syndicated panel for King Features Syndicate after his military service, this time called 'Mr. Breger'. A Sunday page was added, and the daily feature ran until the 1960s. However, the Sunday strip did continue. In 1966, Breger drew his basic reference work 'How To Draw and Sell Cartoons.' See 1963, below.

1942 WW2: The first American expeditionary force lands in Africa.

1944 WW2: Hitler flies to France to meet with Rommel and Rundstedt near Margival, 300 miles from the front. Rommel ties to convince Hitler that the war is lost, telling him that the Allies will soon break through in Normandy, and nothing can stop them from advancing into Germany. Hitler tells Rommel, "It is not your privilege to worry about the future of the war!" (Payne; Duffy)

1944 Diary of Leon Gladun: June 17-22 "We leave Colle Sannita and return to the front. This time the chase is on against the Germans. We're stationed at Madonna dei Mirracoli near Casalbordino on the Adriatic coast."

1944 The Republic of Iceland is proclaimed at Thingvallir, Iceland. Iceland becomes an independent republic following a referendum on disengaging from Denmark's rule.

1946 Nuremberg War Crimes Trials: Franz von Papen testifies concerning the Concordat. "...DR. KUBUSCHOK: ...Witness, how did you think the position of the churches was safeguarded by the new Government, and what did you do in that respect? VON PAPER: First of all, I asked Hitler to make a clear-cut statement on this question; and he did so in a positive manner. In the foreword to my speeches made at that time, there is the observation that it is the first and most important task to revise the Nazi program with reference to the religious problem, since such a revision is a prerequisite for a united front of the two Christian confessions in that coalition. Secondly, I attempted to protect Church policy by giving it, after the conclusion of the Concordat, a certain foreign political context...DR. KUBUSCHOK ...What were the events leading up to the Concordat? VON PAPEN: I reiterate that I wanted to secure a Christian basis for the Reich at all costs. For that reason, I suggested to Hitler in April 1933 that the rights of the Church should be firmly laid down in a Concordat, and that this Concordat should be followed by an agreement with the Evangelical Church. Hitler agreed, although there was strong opposition in the Party; and thus the Concordat was concluded. The Prosecution has adopted the view that this Concordat was a maneuver intended to deceive. Perhaps I may in this connection point to the facts that the gentlemen with whom I signed this Concordat were Secretary of State Pacelli, the present Pope, who had known Germany personally for 13 years, and Monsignor Kaas, who for years had been the Chairman of the Center Party, and that if these two men were willing to conclude a Concordat, then one can surely not maintain that this was a maneuver intended to deceive..."

1963 The US Supreme Court strikes down rules requiring the recitation of the Lord's Prayer or reading of biblical verses in public schools.

1967 China announces that it has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.

1971 The United States signs a treaty with Japan under which it will give up control of the island of Okinawa to Japan in 1972.

1972 Watergate: President Richard Nixon's downfall begins with the arrest of five burglars inside Democratic national headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. His henchmen are arrested on their fourth attempt at breaking in. Two years after the scandal that starts this day, President Richard Nixon will resign after he becomes implicated in an attempt to cover up White House involvement.

1974 An Irish republican guerrilla bomb explodes at Westminster Hall, in the British Houses of Parliament injuring 11.

1982 Former US President Richard M. Nixon, rarely heard since resigning the presidency, is interviewed by Diane Sawyer on The CBS Morning News. The interview marks the 10th anniversary of the Watergate break-in.

1982 Argentina's President Leopoldo Galtieri resigns in response to Britain's victory in the Falkland Islands war.

1982 Ronald Reagan delivers his 'evil empire' speech.

1982 Death: Roberto Calvi, head of the Italian Banco Ambrosiano. The circumstances remain mysterious; he is found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge, in London.

1986 President Ronald Reagan announces the retirement of Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Earl Burger.

1991 The Parliament of South Africa repeals the Population Registration Act. The law, the basis of all apartheid laws in South Africa, requires all South Africans to be classified at birth. It was first implemented in 1950, and placed South Africans in separate categories of race: Caucasian, mixed, Asian and black. Other apartheid laws were enforced according to those categories. The Population Registration Act is the penultimate apartheid law to be repealed; there is still one that prevents blacks from voting.

1992 Two Germans are released by their pro-Iranian kidnappers after three years' captivity in Lebanon; the last of the Western hostages to be freed.

1993 UN troops storm the headquarters of Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid in Mogadishu, but he is not there.

1994 Members of the Branch Davidian cult are sentenced to prison on charges stemming from the February 1993 federal raid on their compound near Waco, Texas.

1995 Russian commandos storm a hospital where Chechen rebels are holding more than 1,000 hostages, but the Chechens beat the Russians back.

1997 It is reported that a group of Texas cattlemen are suing talk show host Oprah Winfrey and her distribution company under a 1995 Texas law that protects agricultural products from slander. On her talk show the previous year, Winfrey had a guest who said that feeding ground-up animal parts to cattle could spread mad-cow disease to humans in the United States. To applause from the audience, Winfrey exclaimed, "It has just stopped me from eating another burger!" Cattle prices began to fall the day of the show and fell for 2 weeks before rising again; there had been no report of mad cow disease in the US. Cattleman Paul Engler initiated the federal lawsuit, and it will prove to be the biggest test to date of so-called 'veggie libel' laws, which sprouted after a 60 Minutes report in 1989 on Alar sent apple prices plummeting. Enlger declares that he lost $6.7 million after the Winfrey program aired.

1997 Sierra Leone's military leader, Johnny Paul Koroma, is sworn in as head of state and pledges to restore peace to the war-weary West African nation.

1999 The Republican-controlled US House narrowly votes to loosen restrictions on sales at gun shows, marking a victory for the National Rifle Association.









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