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History Lesson of the Month


Remember The Maine

By the late 1800s, the Spanish empire was rapidly waning and primarily consisted of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam.

But Spain’s hold over Cuba was becoming tenuous. The Cuban people were growing increasingly unhappy with Spanish rule, and the Ten Year’s War of 1868-1897 did not alleviate their grievances. Although the war was over, minor rebellions continued.


Editor’s note: Over the next several days, we will be making upgrades to our site. During this time, you may see some issues, including but not limited to the site loading more slowly than normal. Additionally, on Thursday morning your ability to post comments will be turned off for a few hours. These upgrades should be completed by Friday morning if all goes as planned. Thanks for your patience. –BL

Iran Hostage Crisis Ends

On Jan. 20, 1981, within minutes of the inauguration of Ronald Reagan as the 40th President of the United States, 52 U.S. captives who had been held in the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, were released. It ended a sad 444-day saga in American history.

The Boston Tea Party

In the early 1770s, the patriot movement was slowly gaining steam in the colonies. People like Samuel Adams were looking for ways to bolster the movement and resist what they saw as English tyranny.

The Boston Non-Importation Agreement — in which area merchants pledged not to buy certain goods from Great Britain, including tea — had collapsed. Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson, whose salary as Governor was augmented by bribes for allowing the smuggling of tea in addition to the British Parliament-imposed tax on tea, wanted to capitalize on the tea business even more. Estimates at the time indicated Americans consumed between 3 million and 6.5 million pounds of tea each year.

Who Killed JFK?

On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot while riding through Dallas in an open-top convertible at approximately 12:30 p.m. Thirty minutes later he was pronounced dead at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital.

Of course, everyone knows the “official” story. Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. Marine and communist sympathizer who had tried unsuccessfully to become a citizen of the Soviet Union and had married a Russian woman, shot Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building with a Mannlicher-Carcano Italian military rifle fitted with a scope. Oswald was captured and arrested in a movie theater about 30 minutes after shooting a police officer who had stopped to question him. The arrest occurred less than 90 minutes after the Kennedy shooting.

Two days later, while being moved from the Dallas County Jail to a more secure jail, Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. Ruby died of lung cancer in a Dallas hospital some three and a half years later.

The official Warren Commission report of 1964 concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy, either domestic or international, to assassinate Kennedy. But the report did little to assuage those who believed Oswald either did not act alone or was in fact a patsy and did not actually kill Kennedy.

On The Brink Of Nuclear War

Forty-nine years ago, the United States and the USSR stood on the brink of a full-scale nuclear war. The Cuban Missile Crisis was coming to a head.

‘We Have Met The Enemy…’

In the winter of 1813, the war with the British was not going well for the Americans. An alliance of British troops and Indians, led by the Shawnee warrior Tecumseh, had soundly defeated poorly led and inadequately trained Americans at every turn. British warships patrolled Lake Erie and harassed American interests in Pennsylvania and the Ohio Territory.

To turn the tide of the war, President James Madison appointed William Henry Harrison as Commander-in-Chief of the Northwest Army and Oliver Hazard Perry to deal with the British naval presence on Lake Erie.

Einstein’s Letter To Roosevelt

On Aug. 2, 1939, Albert Einstein penned a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt informing him that, according to a manuscript provided him by two scientists, the ability to use the element uranium as a new source of energy would soon be available. Einstein encouraged the President to remain abreast of the development.

The beginning of World War I

At 11:10 a.m. on July 28, 1914, Count Leopold von Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, sent a telegram to M.N. Pashitch, the Serbian Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. The message read:

The Royal Serbian Government not having answered in a satisfactory manner the note of July 23, 1914, presented by the Austro-Hungarian Minister at Belgrade, the Imperial and Royal Government are themselves compelled to see to the safeguarding of their rights and interests, and, with this object, to have recourse to force of arms. Austria-Hungary consequently considers herself henceforward in state of war with Serbia. –COUNT BERCHTOLD

Thus began World War I.

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