This Day In History for March 5: Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech (1946)

Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech (1946)

In one of the most famous orations of the Cold War period, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill condemns the Soviet Union’s policies in Europe and declares, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” Churchill’s speech is considered one of the opening volleys announcing the beginning of the Cold War.

Churchill, who had been defeated for re-election as prime minister in 1945, was invited to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri where he gave this speech. President Harry S. Truman joined Churchill on the platform and listened intently to his speech. Churchill began by praising the United States, which he declared stood “at the pinnacle of world power.” It soon became clear that a primary purpose of his talk was to argue for an even closer “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain—the great powers of the “English-speaking world”—in organizing and policing the postwar world. In particular, he warned against the expansionistic policies of the Soviet Union. In addition to the “iron curtain” that had descended across Eastern Europe, Churchill spoke of “communist fifth columns” that were operating throughout western and southern Europe. Drawing parallels with the disastrous appeasement of Hitler prior to World War II, Churchill advised that in dealing with the Soviets there was “nothing which they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for military weakness.” Read More….

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This Day in History for March 4: Chicago Is Incorporated as a City (1837)

Chicago Is Incorporated as a City (1837)

On March 4, 1837, the Illinois state legislature enacted a city charter for Chicago.

At the time, Chicago was a different place than we would recognize today. The population was over 4,000, according to the 1840 federal census.

Read how Chicago evolved from a seasonal hunting ground for local Native American tribes to a thriving, modern city in City of the Century by Donald Miller. To explore the city’s history further, visit the Encyclopedia of Chicago online. If you like old maps, view this 1836 map of Chicago, printed a year before incorporation.

This summer, Chicago is the host city for the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference.

— Elisa Babel, Adult Librarian
Published on DC Public Library

This Day in History for Feb. 20: The Barber of Seville’s Disastrous Debut (1816)

The Barber of Seville‘s Disastrous Debut (1816)

The Barber of Seville

The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution (Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L’inutile precauzione) is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini’s opera (under the title Almaviva, o sia L’inutile precauzione) took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome.[1]

Rossini’s Barber has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music, and has been described as the opera buffa of all “opere buffe”. Even after two hundred years, its popularity on the modern opera stage attests to that greatness.[2]

Composition history

Rossini’s opera recounts the first of the plays from the Figaro trilogy, by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais, while Mozart’s opera Le nozze di Figaro, composed 30 years earlier in 1786, is based on the second part of the Beaumarchais trilogy. The first Beaumarchais play was originally conceived as an opéra comique, but was rejected as such by the Comédie-Italienne.[3] The play as it is now known was premiered in 1775 by the Comédie-Française at the Tuileries Palace in Paris.[4]

Other operas based on the first play were composed by Giovanni Paisiello (Il barbiere di Siviglia, 1782), by Nicolas Isouard (1796), and by Francesco Morlacchi (1816). Though the work of Paisiello triumphed for a time, only Rossini’s version has stood the test of time and continues to be a mainstay of operatic repertoire. On 11 November 1868, two days before Rossini’s death, the composer Costantino Dall’Argine (1842–1877), premiered an opera based on the same libretto as Rossini’s work,[5] bearing a dedication to Rossini.[6] The premiere was not a failure, but critics condemned the “audacity” of the young composer, and the work is now forgotten.[6][7]

Rossini was well known for being remarkably productive, completing an average of two operas per year for 19 years, and in some years writing as many as four. Musicologists believe that, true to form, the music for Il Barbiere di Siviglia was composed in just under three weeks,[8] although some of the themes in the famous overture were actually borrowed from two earlier Rossini operas, Aureliano in Palmira and Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra.

Performance history

The premiere of Rossini’s opera was a disastrous failure: the audience hissed and jeered throughout, and several on-stage accidents occurred.[8] However, many of the audience were supporters of one of Rossini’s rivals, Giovanni Paisiello, who played on mob mentality to provoke the rest of the audience to dislike the opera.[8] Paisiello had already composed The Barber of Seville and took Rossini’s new version to be an affront to his version. In particular, Paisiello and his followers were opposed to the use of basso buffo, which is common in comic opera.[9] The second performance met with quite a different fate, becoming a roaring success.[8] The original French play, Le Barbier de Séville endured a similar story, poorly received at first only to become a favorite within a week.

The opera was first performed in England on 10 March 1818 at the King’s Theatre in London in Italian, soon followed on 13 October at the Covent Garden Theatre by an English version translated by John Fawcett and Daniel Terry. It was first performed in America on 3 May 1819 in English (probably the Covent Garden version) at the Park Theatre in New York.[10] It was given in French at the Théâtre d’Orléans in New Orleans on 4 March 1823,[11] and became the first opera ever to be performed in Italian in New York, when Manuel Garcia (who played Almaviva) and his Italian troupe opened their first season there with Il barbiere on 29 November 1825 at the Park Theatre. The cast of eight had three other members of his family, including the 17-year-old Maria-Felicia, later known as Maria Malibran.[12]

The role of Rosina was originally written for a contralto. Because of its popularity, singers have frequently distorted Rossini’s intentions. The most serious distortion has been transposition of the role to a higher pitch, “turning her from a lustrous alto into a pert soprano.”[13] In addition, the singing lesson in Act 2 has often been turned into “a show-stopping cabaret.”[13] Adelina Patti was known to include Luigi Arditi’s “Il bacio”, the Bolero from Verdi’s I vespri siciliani, the Shadow Song from Meyerbeer’s Dinorah, and Henry Bishop’s “Home! Sweet Home!”. Nellie Melba followed suit, accompanying herself on the piano in the final song.[13] Pauline Viardot began the practice of inserting Alabiev’s “Nightingale”. Maria Callas sang a cut-down version of Rossini’s own “Contro un cor.”

Once after Patti had sung a particularly florid rendition of the opera’s legitimate aria, ‘Una voce poco fa’, Rossini is reported to have asked her: “Very nice, my dear, and who wrote the piece you have just performed?”[14]

As a staple of the operatic repertoire, Barber appears as number nine on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide.[15] Because of the increasing scarcity of good contraltos,[16] the role of Rosina has most frequently been sung by a coloratura mezzo-soprano (with or without pitch alterations, depending on the singer), and has in the past, and occasionally in more recent times, been sung by coloratura sopranos such as Marcella Sembrich, Maria Callas, Roberta Peters, Gianna D’Angelo, Victoria de los Ángeles, Beverly Sills, Lily Pons, Diana Damrau, Kathleen Battle and Luciana Serra. Famous recent mezzo-soprano Rosinas include Marilyn Horne, Teresa Berganza, Lucia Valentini Terrani, Susanne Marsee, Cecilia Bartoli, Joyce DiDonato, Jennifer Larmore, Elīna Garanča, and Vesselina Kasarova. Famous contralto Rosinas include Ewa Podleś.

Act 1

In a public square outside Bartolo’s house a band of musicians and a poor student named Lindoro are serenading, to no avail, the window of Rosina (“Ecco, ridente in cielo”; “There, laughing in the sky”). Lindoro, who is really the young Count Almaviva in disguise, hopes to make the beautiful Rosina love him for himself—not his money. Almaviva pays off the musicians who then depart, leaving him to brood alone. Rosina is the young ward of the grumpy, elderly Bartolo and she is allowed very little freedom because Bartolo plans to marry her, and her not inconsiderable dowry, himself – once she is of age.

Figaro approaches singing (Aria: “Largo al factotum della città”; “Make way for the factotum of the city”). Since Figaro used to be a servant of the Count, the Count asks him for assistance in helping him meet Rosina, offering him money should he be successful in arranging this. (Duet: “All’idea di quel metallo”; “At the idea of that metal”). Figaro advises the Count to disguise himself as a drunken soldier, ordered to be billeted with Bartolo, so as to gain entrance to the house. For this suggestion, Figaro is richly rewarded.

The scene begins with Rosina’s cavatina, “Una voce poco fa” (“A voice a little while ago”). (This aria was originally written in the key of E major, but it is sometimes transposed a semitone up into F major for coloratura sopranos to perform, giving them the chance to sing extra, almost traditional, cadenzas, sometimes reaching high Ds or even Fs, as is the case of Diana Damrau’s performances.)

Knowing the Count only as Lindoro, Rosina writes to him. As she is leaving the room, Bartolo and Basilio enter. Bartolo is suspicious of the Count, and Basilio advises that he be put out of the way by creating false rumours about him (this aria, “La calunnia è un venticello” – “Calumny is a little breeze” – is almost always sung a tone lower than the original D major).

When the two have gone, Rosina and Figaro enter. The latter asks Rosina to write a few encouraging words to Lindoro, which she has actually already written. (Duet: “Dunque io son…tu non m’inganni?”; “Then I’m the one…you’re not fooling me?”). Although surprised by Bartolo, Rosina manages to fool him, but he remains suspicious. (Aria: “A un dottor della mia sorte”; “To a doctor of my class”).

As Berta, the Bartolo housekeeper, attempts to leave the house, she is met by the Count disguised as an intoxicated soldier. In fear of the drunken man, she rushes to Bartolo for protection and he tries to remove the supposed soldier, but does not succeed. The Count manages to have a quick word with Rosina, whispering that he is Lindoro and passing her a letter. The watching Bartolo is suspicious and demands to know what is in the piece of paper in Rosina’s hands, but she fools him by handing over her laundry list. Bartolo and the Count start arguing and, when Basilio, Figaro and Berta appear, the noise attracts the attention of the Officer of the Watch and his men. Bartolo believes that the Count has been arrested, but Almaviva only has to whisper his name to the officer and is released right away. Bartolo and Basilio are astounded, and Rosina makes sport of them. (Finale: “Fredda ed immobile, comme una statua”; “Cold and still, just like a statue”).

Act 2

Almaviva again appears at the doctor’s house, this time disguised as a singing tutor and pretending to act as substitute for the supposedly ailing Basilio, Rosina’s regular singing teacher. Initially, Bartolo is suspicious, but does allow Almaviva to enter when the Count gives him Rosina’s letter. He describes his plan to discredit Lindoro whom he believes to be one of the Count’s servants, intent on pursuing women for his master. In order not to leave Lindoro alone with Rosina, the doctor has Figaro shave him. (Quintet: “Don Basilio! – Cosa veggo!”; “Don Basilio! – What do I see?”).

When Basilio suddenly appears, he is bribed to feign sickness by a full purse from Almaviva. Finally Bartolo detects the trick, drives everybody out of the room, and rushes to a notary to draw up the marriage contract between himself and Rosina. He also shows Rosina the letter she wrote to “Lindoro”, and convinces her that Lindoro is merely a flunky of Almaviva.

The stage remains empty while the music creates a thunder storm. The Count and Figaro climb up a ladder to the balcony and enter the room through a window. Rosina shows Almaviva the letter and expresses her feelings of betrayal and heartbreak. Almaviva reveals his identity and the two reconcile. While Almaviva and Rosina are enraptured by one another, Figaro keeps urging them to leave. Two people are heard approaching the front door, and attempting to leave by way of the ladder, they realize it has been removed. The two are Basilio and the notary and Basilio is given the choice of accepting a bribe and being a witness or receiving two bullets in the head (an easy choice, he says). He and Figaro witness the signatures to a marriage contract between the Count and Rosina. Bartolo barges in, but is too late. The befuddled Bartolo (who was the one who had removed the ladder) is pacified by being allowed to retain Rosina’s dowry.

References
Notes

^ Casaglia, Gherardo, “20 Febbraio 1816”, Almanacco Amadeus, 2005
^ Fisher, Burton D., The Barber of Seville (Opera Classics Library Series). Grand Rapids: Opera Journeys, 2005.
^ Weinstock 1968, p. 54; Oborne, Charles 1994, p. 57.
^ Cordier 1883, p. 13.
^ Weinstock 1968,p. 366.
^ a b D’Arcais, F. (1869). “Rassegna Musicale”. Direzione della nuova antologia (in Italian) (Firenze: Direzione della nuova antologia) 10: 404.
^ Gazzetta Piemontese (in Italian). 17 November 1868. p. 2.
^ a b c d Osborne, Richard 2007, pp. 38–41.
^ The Barber of Seville at musicwithease.com
^ Loewenberg 1978, columns 643–646.
^ Kmen 1966, p. 97.
^ Sommer 1992, p. 586.
^ a b c Osborne, Richard 1992, p. 311.
^ Quoted by Richard Osborne, 1992, p. 311.
^ “Opera Statistics”. Operabase. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
^ Myers, Eric, “Sweet and Low: The case of the vanishing contralto, Opera News, December 1996.
^ Roles are listed as given in the 1816 libretto (Rome: Crispino Puccinelli).
^ The voice types given here refer to the original cast as listed in a 2010 program book from Fondazione Teatro La Fenice di Venezia (see Il barbiere di Siviglia, p. 37 [pdf p. 51]), except for Figaro. Although the program book lists Figaro as a bass, all other sources cited here have baritone.
^ Originally written for contralto according to a 2010 program book from La Fenice, as well as Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311. Contemporary printed scores tend to list Rosina as a mezzo-soprano role, and the role is listed as mezzo-soprano by Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; Gosset & Brauner 2001, p. 776; and Kobbé 1997, p. 667. Actual casting practice of opera houses varies widely. Some mezzo-sopranos can sing it as originally written without alteration, but a popular transposed version is often used when a soprano is cast in the role. Singers of all three voice types have found considerable success with the role (Foil & Berger 2006).
^ Listed as baritone by Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311; Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; Gosset & Brauner 2001, p. 776; and Kobbé 1997, p. 310.
^ Also listed as soprano by Gossett & Brauner 2001, p. 776; Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; and Kobbé 1997, p. 667. In modern performance the role of Berta is also sung by mezzo-sopranos, and it is listed as mezzo-soprano by Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311. See also, Il barbiere di Siviglia on the MetOpera Database (performance archives of the Metropolitan Opera)
^ Also listed as bass by Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311; Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; and Kobbé 1997, p. 667. Listed as baritone by Gossett & Brauner 2001, p. 776.
^ The hard of hearing Ambrogio is limited to asking “Eh?”, notated on middle C.
^ The plot synopsis is partly based on Melitz 1921, pp. 29–31., with updates, clarifications, and modifications to its often out-of-date language.
Sources

Cordier, Henri (1883). Bibliographie des oeuvres de Beaumarchais. Paris: A. Quantin. Copy at Google Books.
Foil, David; Berger, William (2006). Text accompanying Rossini: The Barber of Seville. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal. ISBN 978-1-57912-618-6. OCLC 840078233.
Gossett, Philip; Brauner, Patricia B. (2001). “Gioachino Rossini”, pp. 765–796, in The New Penguin Opera Guide, edited by Amanda Holden. New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4.
Kmen, Henry A. (1966). Music in New Orleans: The Formative Years 1791–1841. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 9780807105481.
Kobbé, Gustav (1997). The New Kobbé’s Opera Book, edited by The Earl of Harewood and Antony Peattie. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. ISBN 978-0-399-14332-8.
Loewenberg, Alfred (1978). Annals of Opera 1597–1940 (third edition, revised). Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-87471-851-5.
Melitz, Leo (1921). The Opera Goer’s Complete Guide, translated by Richard Salinger. Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishing. Copy at Google Books.
Osborne, Charles (1994). The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0-931340-71-3
Osborne, Richard (1992). “Barbiere di Siviglia, Il” in Sadie 1992, vo. 1, pp. 311–314.
Osborne, Richard (2007), Rossini: His Life and Works Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-518129-6
Sadie, Stanley, editor (1992). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-56159-228-9.
Sommer, Susan T. (1992). “New York” in Sadie 1992, vol. 3, pp. 585–592.
Sterbini Romano, Cesare (1816). Almaviva o sia L’inutile precauzione … Con Musica del Maestro Gioacchino Rossini, libretto in Italian. Rome: Crispino Puccinelli. Copy at Google Books.
Weinstock, Herbert (1968). Rossini: A Biography. New York: Knopf. OCLC 192614 and 250474431. Reprint (1987): New York: Limelight. ISBN 978-0-87910-071-1.

This Day In History for Feb. 13: Thomas Edison Observes the Edison Effect (1880)

Thomas Edison Observes the Edison Effect (1880)

In early 1880, Thomas Edison and his team were hard at work trying to find a light bulbfilament that worked well. He had already settled on a carbonized (burned) bamboo filament, but even this solution was not perfect. After glowing for a few hours, carbon from the filament would be deposited on the inside walls of the bulb, turning it black. This would not do.

Edison tried to understand what was happening. His assistant noticed that the carbon seemed to be coming from the end of the filament that was attached to the power supply, and seemed to be flying through the vacuum onto the walls of the bulb.

Edison determined that not only was carbon flying through the vacuum, but that it carried a charge. That is, electricity was flowing not only through the filament but also through the evacuated bulb. In order to measure this flow, he made a special bulb with a third electrode, to which he could attach an instrument to measure the current. He reasoned that if the current would flow between the two ends of the filament, it would also flow to this third electrode.

While he was proven to be right about the flow, Edison could not explain it, and the third electrode did not prevent blackening of the bulb, so he moved on to other experiments. But he did patent the new device, because he believed that it might have some commercial applications, such as measuring electric current.

Although he did not realize it, Edison had discovered the basis of the electron tube (also called a vacuum tube). Many years later, modified light bulbs would be used not to make light, but to control a flow of electrons through a vacuum. The electron tube would become the basis of modern electronics. Years later, when he was elderly, the discovery of what became known as the “Edison Effect” was remembered, but because Edison had no idea what it was or how it worked, he is rarely given credit for this contribution to the development of electronics.

Source

https://ethw.org/Edison_Effect

This Day in History, February 12: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Founded (1909)

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Founded (1909)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)[a] is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as a bi-racial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington and Moorfield Storey.[3]

Its mission in the 21st century is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.” National NAACP initiatives include political lobbying, publicity efforts and litigation strategies developed by its legal team.[4] The group enlarged its mission in the late 20th century by considering issues such as police misconduct, the status of black foreign refugees and questions of economic development.[5] Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term colored people, referring to those with some African ancestry.

The NAACP bestows annual awards to people of color in two categories: Image Awards are for achievement in the arts and entertainment, and Spingarn Medals are for outstanding achievement of any kind. Its headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland.[6]

Organization

The NAACP is headquartered in Baltimore, with additional regional offices in New York, Michigan, Georgia, Maryland, Texas, Colorado and California.[7] Each regional office is responsible for coordinating the efforts of state conferences in that region. Local, youth, and college chapters organize activities for individual members.

In the U.S., the NAACP is administered by a 64-member board, led by a chairperson. The board elects one person as the president and one as chief executive officer for the organization. Julian Bond, Civil Rights Movement activist and former Georgia State Senator, was chairman until replaced in February 2010 by health-care administrator Roslyn Brock.[8] For decades in the first half of the 20th century, the organization was effectively led by its executive secretary, who acted as chief operating officer. James Weldon Johnson and Walter F. White, who served in that role successively from 1920 to 1958, were much more widely known as NAACP leaders than were presidents during those years.

Departments within the NAACP govern areas of action. Local chapters are supported by the ‘Branch and Field Services’ department and the ‘Youth and College’ department. The ‘Legal’ department focuses on court cases of broad application to minorities, such as systematic discrimination in employment, government, or education. The Washington, D.C., bureau is responsible for lobbying the U.S. government, and the Education Department works to improve public education at the local, state and federal levels. The goal of the Health Division is to advance health care for minorities through public policy initiatives and education.

As of 2007, the NAACP had approximately 425,000 paying and non-paying members.[9]

The NAACP’s non-current records are housed at the Library of Congress, which has served as the organization’s official repository since 1964. The records held there comprise approximately five million items spanning the NAACP’s history from the time of its founding until 2003.[10] In 2011, the NAACP teamed with the digital repository ProQuest to digitize and host online the earlier portion of its archives, through 1972 – nearly two million pages of documents, from the national, legal, and branch offices throughout the country, which offer first-hand insight into the organization’s work related to such crucial issues as lynching, school desegregation, and discrimination in all its aspects (in the military, the criminal justice system, employment, housing).[11][12]

Predecessor: The Niagara Movement

The Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, New York featured many American innovations and achievements, but also included a disparaging caricature of slave life in the South as well as a depiction of life in Africa, called “Old Plantation” and “Darkest Africa,” respectively.[13] A local African American women, Mary Talbert of Ohio was appalled by the exhibit, as a similar one in Paris highlighted black achievements. She informed W.E.B. DuBois of the situation, and a coalition began to form.[13]

In 1905, a group of thirty-two prominent African-American leaders met to discuss the challenges facing people of color and possible strategies and solutions. They were particularly concerned by the Southern states’ disenfranchisement of blacks starting with Mississippi’s passage of a new constitution in 1890. Through 1908, southern legislatures dominated by white Democrats ratified new constitutions and laws creating barriers to voter registration and more complex election rules. In practice, this caused the exclusion of most blacks and many poor whites from the political system in southern states, crippling the Republican Party in most of the South. Black voter registration and turnout dropped markedly in the South as a result of such legislation. Men who had been voting for thirty years in the South were told they did not “qualify” to register. White-dominated legislatures also passed segregation and Jim Crow laws.

Because hotels in the US were segregated, the men convened in Canada at the Erie Beach Hotel[14] on the Canadian side of the Niagara River in Fort Erie, Ontario. As a result, the group came to be known as the Niagara Movement. A year later, three non-African-Americans joined the group: journalist William English Walling, a wealthy socialist; and social workers Mary White Ovington and Henry Moskowitz. Moskowitz, who was Jewish, was then also Associate Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. They met in 1906 at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and in 1907 in Boston, Massachusetts.[15]

The fledgling group struggled for a time with limited resources and internal conflict, and disbanded in 1910.[16] Seven of the members of the Niagara Movement joined the Board of Directors of the NAACP, founded in 1909.[15] Although both organizations shared membership and overlapped for a time, the Niagara Movement was a separate organization. Historically, it is considered to have had a more radical platform than the NAACP. The Niagara Movement was formed exclusively by African Americans. Three European Americans were among the founders of the NAACP.

History

Formation

The Race Riot of 1908 in Springfield, Illinois, the state capital and President Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, was a catalyst showing the urgent need for an effective civil rights organization in the U.S. In the decades around the turn of the century, the rate of lynchings of blacks, particularly men, was at a high. Mary White Ovington, journalist William English Walling and Henry Moskowitz met in New York City in January 1909 to work on organizing for black civil rights.[17] They sent out solicitations for support to more than 60 prominent Americans, and set a meeting date for February 12, 1909. This was intended to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, who emancipated enslaved African Americans. While the first large meeting did not take place until three months later, the February date is often cited as the founding date of the organization.

The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, by a larger group including African Americans W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Archibald Grimké, Mary Church Terrell, and the previously named whites Henry Moskowitz, Mary White Ovington, William English Walling (the wealthy Socialist son of a former slave-holding family),[17][18] Florence Kelley, a social reformer and friend of Du Bois;[19]Oswald Garrison Villard, and Charles Edward Russell, a renowned muckraker and close friend of Walling. Russell helped plan the NAACP and had served as acting chairman of the National Negro Committee (1909), a forerunner to the NAACP.[20]

On May 30, 1909, the Niagara Movement conference took place at New York City’s Henry Street Settlement House; they created an organization of more than 40, identifying as the National Negro Committee.[21] Among other founding members was Lillian Wald, a nurse who had founded the Henry Street Settlement where the conference took place.

Du Bois played a key role in organizing the event and presided over the proceedings. Also in attendance was Ida B. Wells-Barnett, an African-American journalist and anti-lynching crusader. At their second conference on May 30, 1910, members chose the new organization’s name to be the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and elected its first officers:[22]

  • National President, Moorfield Storey, Boston
  • Chairman of the Executive Committee, William English Walling
  • Treasurer, John E. Milholland (a Lincoln Republican and Presbyterian from New York City and Lewis, New York)
  • Disbursing Treasurer, Oswald Garrison Villard
  • Executive Secretary, Frances Blascoer
  • Director of Publicity and Research, W. E. B. Du Bois.

The NAACP was incorporated a year later in 1911. The association’s charter expressed its mission:

To promote equality of rights and to eradicate caste or race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for the children, employment according to their ability and complete equality before law.

The larger conference resulted in a more diverse organization, where the leadership was predominantly white. Moorfield Storey, a white attorney from a Boston abolitionist family, served as the president of the NAACP from its founding to 1915. At its founding, the NAACP had one African American on its executive board, Du Bois. Storey was a long-time classical liberal and Grover Cleveland Democrat who advocated laissez-faire free markets, the gold standard, and anti-imperialism. Storey consistently and aggressively championed civil rights, not only for blacks but also for Native Americans and immigrants (he opposed immigration restrictions). Du Bois continued to play a pivotal leadership role in the organization, serving as editor of the association’s magazine, The Crisis, which had a circulation of more than 30,000.

The Crisis was used both for news reporting and for publishing African-American poetry and literature. During the organization’s campaigns against lynching, Du Bois encouraged the writing and performance of plays and other expressive literature about this issue.

The Jewish community contributed greatly to the NAACP’s founding and continued financing.[23] Jewish historian Howard Sachar writes in his book A History of Jews in America that “In 1914, Professor Emeritus Joel Spingarn of Columbia University became chairman of the NAACP and recruited for its board such Jewish leaders as Jacob Schiff, Jacob Billikopf, and Rabbi Stephen Wise.”[23]

Read More…..

 

This Day In History, Feb. 10th: HMS Dreadnought Is Launched (1906)

HMS Dreadnought Is Launched (1906)

HMS Dreadnought was a Royal Navy battleship that revolutionised naval power. Her name and the type of the entire class of warships that was named after her stems from archaic English in which “dreadnought” means “a fearless person”.[1] Dreadnoughts entry into service in 1906 represented such an advance in naval technology that its name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the “dreadnoughts”, as well as the class of ships named after it. Likewise, the generation of ships she made obsolete became known as “pre-dreadnoughts”. Admiral Sir John “Jacky” Fisher, First Sea Lord of the Board of Admiralty, is credited as the father of Dreadnought. Shortly after he assumed office, he ordered design studies for a battleship armed solely with 12-inch (305 mm) guns and a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). He convened a “Committee on Designs” to evaluate the alternative designs and to assist in the detailed design work.

Dreadnought was the first battleship of her era to have a uniform main battery, rather than having a few large guns complemented by a heavy secondary armament of smaller guns. She was also the first capital ship to be powered by steam turbines, making her the fastest battleship in the world at the time of her completion.[2] Her launch helped spark a naval arms race as navies around the world, particularly the German Imperial Navy, rushed to match it in the build-up to World War I.[3]

Ironically for a vessel designed to engage enemy battleships, her only significant action was the ramming and sinking of German submarine SM U-29, becoming the only battleship confirmed to have sunk a submarine.[4] Dreadnought did not participate in the Battle of Jutland in 1916 as she was being refitted. Nor did Dreadnought participate in any of the other World War I naval battles. In May 1916 she was relegated to coastal defence duties in the English Channel, not rejoining the Grand Fleet until 1918. The ship was reduced to reserve in 1919 and sold for scrap two years later.

Background

Gunnery developments in the late 1890s and the early 1900s, led in the United Kingdom by Percy Scott and in the United States by William Sims, were already pushing expected battle ranges out to an unprecedented 6,000 yards (5,500 m), a distance great enough to force gunners to wait for the shells to arrive before applying corrections for the next salvo. A related problem was that the shell splashes from the more numerous smaller weapons tended to obscure the splashes from the bigger guns. Either the smaller-calibre guns would have to hold their fire to wait for the slower-firing heavies, losing the advantage of their faster rate of fire, or it would be uncertain whether a splash was due to a heavy or a light gun, making ranging and aiming unreliable. Another problem was that longer-range torpedoes were expected to soon be in service and these would discourage ships from closing to ranges where the smaller guns’ faster rate of fire would become preeminent. Keeping the range open generally negated the threat from torpedoes and further reinforced the need for heavy guns of a uniform calibre.[5]

In 1903, the Italian naval architect Vittorio Cuniberti first articulated in print the concept of an all-big-gun battleship. When the Italian Navy did not pursue his ideas, Cuniberti wrote an article in Jane’s Fighting Ships advocating his concept. He proposed an “ideal” future British battleship of 17,000 long tons (17,000 t), with a main battery of a dozen 12-inch guns in eight turrets, 12 inches of belt armour, and a speed of 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph).[6]

The Royal Navy (RN), the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy all recognised these issues before 1905. The RN modified the design of the Lord Nelson-class battleships to include a secondary armament of 9.2-inch (234 mm) guns that could fight at longer ranges than the 6-inch (152 mm) guns on older ships, but a proposal to arm them solely with 12-inch guns was rejected.[7][Note 1] The Japanese battleship Satsuma was laid down as an all-big-gun battleship, five months before Dreadnought, although gun shortages allowed her to be equipped with only four of the twelve 12-inch guns that had been planned.[8] The Americans began design work on an all-big-gun battleship around the same time in 1904, but progress was leisurely and the two South Carolina-class battleships were not ordered until March 1906, five months after Dreadnought was laid down, and the month after it was launched.[9]

The invention by Charles Algernon Parsons of the steam turbine in 1884 led to a significant increase in the speed of ships with his dramatic unauthorised demonstration of Turbinia with her speed of up to 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph) at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee at Spithead in 1897. After further trials of two turbine-powered destroyers, HMS Viper and HMS Cobra, coupled with the positive experiences of several small passenger liners with turbines, Dreadnought was ordered with turbines.[10]

The Battle of the Yellow Sea and Battle of Tsushima were analysed by Fisher’s Committee, with Captain William Pakenham’s statement that “12-inch gunfire” by both sides demonstrated hitting power and accuracy, whilst 10-inch shells passed unnoticed.[11]Admiral Fisher wanted his board to confirm, refine and implement his ideas of a warship that had both the speed of 21 knots (39 km/h) and 12-inch guns,[12] pointing out that at the Battle of Tsushima, Admiral Togo had been able to cross the Russians’ “T” due to speed.[13] The unheard of long-range (13,000 metres (14,000 yd))[14] fire during the Battle of the Yellow Sea, in particular, although never experienced by any navy prior to the battle, seemed to confirm what the RN already believed.[15]

Development of Dreadnought

Admiral Fisher proposed several designs for battleships with a uniform armament in the early 1900s, and he gathered an unofficial group of advisors to assist him in deciding on the ideal characteristics in early 1904. After he was appointed First Sea Lord on 21 October 1904, he pushed through the Board of Admiralty a decision to arm the next battleship with 12 inch guns and that it would have a speed no less than 21 knots (39 km/h). In January 1905, he convened a “Committee on Designs”, including many members of his informal group, to evaluate the various design proposals and to assist in the detailed design process. While nominally independent it served to deflect criticism of Fisher and the Board of Admiralty as it had no ability to consider options other than those already decided upon by the Admiralty. Fisher appointed all of the members of the committee and he was President of the Committee.[16]

The committee decided on the layout of the main armament, rejecting any superfiring arrangements because of concerns about the effects of muzzle blast on the open sighting hoods on the turret roof below, and chose turbine propulsion over reciprocating engines to save 1,100 long tons (1,100 t) in total displacement on 18 January 1905. Before disbanding on 22 February, it decided on a number of other issues, including the number of shafts (up to six were considered), the size of the anti-torpedo boat armament,[17] and most importantly, to add longitudinal bulkheads to protect the magazines and shell rooms from underwater explosions. This was deemed necessary after the Russian battleship Tsesarevich was thought to have survived a Japanese torpedo hit during the Russo–Japanese War by virtue of her heavy internal bulkhead. To avoid increasing the displacement of the ship, the thickness of her waterline belt was reduced by 1 inch (25 mm).[18]

The Committee completed its deliberations on 22 February 1905 and reported their findings in March of that year. It was decided due to the experimental nature of the design to delay placing orders for any other ships until the “Dreadnought” and her trials had been completed. Once the design had been finalised the hull form was designed and tested at the Admiralty’s experimental ship tank at Gosport. Seven iterations were required before the final hull form was selected. Once the design was finalized a team of three assistant engineers and 13 draughtsmen produced detailed drawings.[19]

To assist in speeding up the ship’s construction, the internal hull structure was simplified as much as possible and an attempt was made to standardize on a limited number of standard plates, which varied only in their thickness.

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This Day in History, Feb. 8: The Orangeburg Massacre (1968)

The Orangeburg Massacre (1968)

The Orangeburg massacre refers to the shooting of protesters by South Carolina Highway Patrol officers in Orangeburg, South Carolina, on the South Carolina State University campus on the evening of February 8, 1968.[1] The approximately 200 protesters had previously demonstrated against racial segregation at a local bowling alley. Three of the protestors, African-American males, were killed and twenty-seven other protesters were injured.[2]

The event pre-dated the 1970 Kent State shootings and Jackson State killings, in which the National Guard at Kent State, and police and state highway patrol at Jackson State, killed student protesters demonstrating against the United States invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Background
There were several incidents centering on the segregation of the local bowling alley, All Star Bowling Lane, that led up to the Orangeburg Massacre on February 8, 1968. In the fall of 1967, some of the black leaders within the community tried to convince Harry K. Floyd, the owner of the bowling alley, to allow African Americans. Floyd was unwilling to desegregate; as a result protests began in early February 1968.

On February 5, 1968, a group of around forty students from South Carolina State University entered the bowling alley and left peacefully after they were asked to leave by Floyd.[3] The next night more students led by John Stroman returned and entered the bowling alley. This time there were police waiting for them and several students were arrested, including Stroman. After the arrests, more students began showing up, angry that protesters were being arrested. Next the crowd broke a window of the bowling alley and chaos ensued. Police began beating student protesters (both men and women) with billy clubs. That night, eight students were sent to the hospital.[4]

Over the next couple of days the tension in Orangeburg escalated. Student protesters submitted a list of demands that consisted of integration and the elimination of discrimination within the community. The Governor of South Carolina at the time, Robert E. McNair, responded by calling in the National Guard after commenting that black power advocates were running amok in the community.[5] Over the next two days, about 200 mostly student protesters gathered on the campus of South Carolina State University, a historically black college in Orangeburg, to demonstrate against the continued segregation at the bowling alley.

Conflict
On the night of February 8, 1968, students started a bonfire at the front of SC State’s campus. As police and firefighters attempted to put out the fire, officer David Shealy was injured by a heavy wooden bannister taken from a nearby unoccupied house and thrown in his direction.[6] Shortly thereafter (around 10:30 p.m.) South Carolina Highway Patrol officers began firing into the crowd of around 200 protesters. Eight Patrol officers fired carbines, shotguns, and revolvers at the protesters, firing for around 10 to 15 seconds. Twenty-seven people were injured in the shooting, most of whom were shot in the back as they were running away, and three African-American men were killed.[7] The three men killed were Samuel Hammond, Henry Smith (both SCSU students), and Delano Middleton, a student at the local Wilkinson High School. Middleton was shot while simply sitting on the steps of the freshman dormitory awaiting the end of his mother’s work shift.

The police later said that they believed they were under attack by small arms fire. A newspaper reported: “About 200 Negros [sic] gathered and began sniping with what sounded like ‘at least one automatic, a shotgun and other small caliber weapons’ and throwing bricks and bottles at the patrolmen.”[8] Similarly, a North Carolina newspaper reported that week that students threw firebombs at buildings and that the sound of apparent sniper fire was heard.[9]

Protesters insisted that they did not fire at police officers, but threw objects and insulted the men. Evidence that police were being fired upon at the time of the incident was inconclusive, and no evidence was presented in court, as a result of investigations, that protesters were armed or had fired on officers.

Aftermath
At a press conference the following day, Governor Robert E. McNair said the event was “…one of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina”.[10] McNair blamed the deaths on Black Power outside agitators and said the incident took place off campus, contrary to the evidence.[11]

The federal government brought charges against the state patrolmen in the first federal trial of police officers for using excessive force at a campus protest. The state patrol officers’ defense was that they felt they were in danger and protesters had shot at the officers first. All nine defendants were acquitted although thirty-six witnesses stated that they did not hear gunfire coming from the protesters on the campus before the shooting and no students were found to be carrying guns.[12]

In a state trial in 1970, the activist Cleveland Sellers was convicted of a charge of riot related to the events on February 6 at the bowling alley. He served seven months in state prison, getting time off for good behavior. He was the national program director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1973 he wrote The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC. Twenty-five years later, Sellers was officially pardoned by the governor of South Carolina.

The Smith–Hammond–Middleton Memorial Center, South Carolina State’s on-campus arena, was renamed in honor of the three victims, opening the same year as the massacre.  Read More….

This Day in History Feb. 6: The Munich Air Disaster (1958)

The Munich Air Disaster (1958)

The Munich air disaster occurred on 6 February 1958 when British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany. On the plane was the Manchester United footballteam, nicknamed the “Busby Babes”, along with supporters and journalists.[1] Twenty of the 44 on the aircraft died at the scene. The injured, some unconscious, were taken to the Rechts der Isar Hospital in Munich where three more died, resulting in 23 fatalities with 21 survivors.

The team was returning from a European Cup match in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, having eliminated Red Star Belgrade to advance to the semi-finals of the competition. The flight stopped to refuel in Munich because a non-stop flight from Belgrade to Manchester was beyond the “Elizabethan”-class Airspeed Ambassador’s range. After refuelling, pilots James Thain and Kenneth Raymenttwice abandoned take-off because of boost surging in the left engine. Fearing they would get too far behind schedule, Captain Thain rejected an overnight stay in Munich in favour of a third take-off attempt. By then, snow was falling, causing a layer of slush to form at the end of the runway. After the aircraft hit the slush, it ploughed through a fence beyond the end of the runway and the left wing was torn off after hitting a house. Fearing the aircraft might explode, Thain began evacuating passengers while Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg helped pull survivors from the wreckage.

An investigation by West German airport authorities originally blamed Thain, saying he did not de-ice the aircraft’s wings, despite eyewitness statements to the contrary. It was later established that the crash was caused by the slush on the runway, which slowed the plane too much to take off. Thain was cleared in 1968, ten years after the incident.

Manchester United were trying to become the third club to win three successive English league titles; they were six points behind League leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers with 14 games to go. They also held the Charity Shield and had just advanced into their second successive European Cup semi-finals. The team had not been beaten for 11 matches. The crash not only derailed their title ambitions that year but also virtually destroyed the nucleus of what promised to be one of the greatest generations of players in English football history. It took 10 years for the club to recover, with Busby rebuilding the team and winning the European Cup in 1968 with a new generation of “Babes”.

Background

In April 1955, UEFA established the European Cup, a football competition for the champion clubs of UEFA-affiliated nations, to begin in the 1955–56 season;[2] however, the English league winners, Chelsea, were denied entry by the Football League’s secretary, Alan Hardaker, who believed not participating was best for English football.[3] The following season, the English league was won by Manchester United, managed by Matt Busby. The Football League again denied their champions entry, but Busby and his chairman, Harold Hardman, with the help of the Football Association’s chairman Stanley Rous, defied the league and United became the first English team to play in Europe.[4]

The team – known as the “Busby Babes” for their youth – reached the semi-finals, beaten there by the eventual winners, Real Madrid. Winning the First Division title again that season meant qualification for the 1957–58 tournament, and their cup run in 1956–57 meant they were one of the favourites to win. Domestic league matches were on Saturdays and European matches midweek, so, although air travel was risky, it was the only choice if United were to fulfil their league fixtures,[5] which they would have to do if they were to avoid proving Alan Hardaker right.[4]

After overcoming Shamrock Rovers and Dukla Prague in the preliminary and first round respectively, United were drawn with Red Star Belgrade of Yugoslavia for the quarter-finals. After beating them 2–1 at Old Trafford on 14 January 1958, the club was to travel to Yugoslavia for the return leg on 5 February. On the way back from Prague in the previous round, fog over England prevented the team from flying back to Manchester, so they flew to Amsterdam before taking the ferry from the Hook of Holland to Harwichand then the train to Manchester. The trip took its toll on the players and they drew 3–3 with Birmingham City at St Andrew’s three days later.[6]

Eager not to miss Football League fixtures, and not to have a difficult trip again, the club chartered a British European Airways plane from Manchester to Belgrade for the away leg against Red Star.[7] The match was drawn 3–3 but it was enough to send United to the semi-finals.[8] The takeoff from Belgrade was delayed for an hour after outside rightJohnny Berry lost his passport,[9] and the plane landed in Munich for refuelling at 13:15 GMT.[10][11]

Aircraft and crew

The aircraft was a six-year-old Airspeed Ambassador 2, built in 1952 and delivered to BEA the same year.[12]

The pilot, Captain James Thain, was a former RAF flight lieutenant. Originally a sergeant (later a warrant officer), he was given an emergency commission in the RAF as an acting pilot officer on probation in April 1944,[13] and promoted to pilot officer on probation in September that year.[14] He was promoted to flight lieutenant in May 1948,[15] and received a permanent commission in the same rank in 1952.[16] He retired from the RAF to join BEA.

The co-pilot, Captain Kenneth Rayment, was also a former RAF flight lieutenant and a Second World War flying ace. After joining the RAF in 1940, he was promoted to sergeant in September 1941.[17] He was commissioned as a war substantive pilot officer a year later,[18] and promoted to war substantive flying officer in May 1943.[19] He shot down five German fighters, one Italian plane and a V-1 flying bomb. He was awarded the DFC in July 1943,[20] and promoted to flight lieutenant in September 1943.[21] After leaving the RAF in 1945, he joined BOAC in Cairo, before joining BEA in 1947. He had had experience with Vikings, Dakotas and the Ambassador “Elizabethan” class.[22]

Crash

Thain had flown the “Elizabethan”-class Airspeed Ambassador (registration G-ALZU) to Belgrade but handed the controls to Rayment for the return.[23] At 14:19 GMT, the control tower at Munich was told the plane was ready to take off and gave clearance for take-off, expiring at 14:31.[24] Rayment abandoned the take-off after Thain noticed the port boost pressure gauge fluctuating as the plane reached full power and the engine sounded odd while accelerating.[25] A second attempt was made three minutes later, but called off 40 seconds into the attempt[26] because the engines were running on an over-rich mixture, causing them to over-accelerate, a common problem for the “Elizabethan”.[25] After the second failure, passengers retreated to the airport lounge.[27] By then, it had started to snow heavily, and it looked unlikely that the plane would be making the return journey that day. Manchester United’s Duncan Edwards sent a telegram to his landlady in Manchester. It read: “All flights cancelled, flying tomorrow. Duncan.”[28]

Thain told the station engineer, Bill Black, about the problem with the boost surging in the port engine, and Black suggested that since opening the throttle more slowly had not worked, the only option was to hold the plane overnight for retuning. Thain was anxious to stay on schedule and suggested opening the throttle even more slowly would suffice. This would mean that the plane would not achieve take-off velocity until further down the runway, but with the runway almost 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) long, he believed this would not be a problem. The passengers were called back to the plane 15 minutes after leaving it.[29]

A few of the players were not confident fliers, particularly Liam Whelan, who said, “This may be death, but I’m ready”. Others, including Duncan Edwards, Tommy Taylor, Mark Jones, Eddie Colman and Frank Swift, moved to the back of the plane, believing it safer.[11] Once everyone was on board, Thain and Rayment got the plane moving again at 14:56.[30] At 14:59, they reached the runway holding point, where they received clearance to line up ready for take-off.[31] On the runway, they made final cockpit checks and at 15:02, they were told their take-off clearance would expire at 15:04.[32] The pilots agreed to attempt take-off, but that they would watch the instruments for surging in the engines. At 15:03, they told the control tower of their decision.[32]

Rayment moved the throttle forward slowly and released the brakes; the plane began to accelerate, and radio officer Bill Rodgers radioed the control tower with the message “Zulu Uniform rolling”.[33] The plane threw up slush as it gathered speed, and Thain called out the plane’s velocity in 10-knot increments.[33] At 85 knots, the port engine began to surge again, and he pulled back marginally on the port throttle before pushing it forward again.[33] Once the plane reached 117 knots (217 km/h), he announced “V1”, at which it was no longer safe to abort take-off, and Rayment listened for the call of “V2” (119 knots (220 km/h)), the minimum required to get off the ground.[34] Thain expected the speed to rise, but it fluctuated around 117 knots before suddenly dropping to 112 knots (207 km/h), and then 105 knots (194 km/h).[35] Rayment shouted “Christ, we won’t make it!”,[35] as Thain looked up to see what lay ahead.[36]

The plane skidded off the end of the runway, crashed into the fence surrounding the airport and across a road before its port wing was torn off as it caught a house, home to a family of six.[37] The father and eldest daughter were away and the mother and the other three children escaped as the house caught fire.[38] Part of the plane’s tail was torn off before the left side of the cockpit hit a tree.[38] The right side of the fuselage hit a wooden hut, inside which was a truck filled with tyres and fuel, which exploded.[39] Twenty passengers died on board, and three died later in hospital.

On seeing flames around the cockpit, Thain feared that the aircraft would explode and told his crew to evacuate the area. The stewardesses, Rosemary Cheverton and Margaret Bellis, were the first to leave through a blown-out emergency window in the galley, followed by radio officer Bill Rodgers.[40] Rayment was trapped in his seat by the crumpled fuselage and told Thain to go without him. Thain clambered out of the galley window.[40] On reaching the ground, he saw flames growing under the starboard wing, which held 500 imperial gallons (2,300 L) of fuel. He shouted to his crew to get away and climbed back into the aircraft to retrieve two handheld fire extinguishers, stopping to tell Rayment he would be back when the fires had been dealt with.[40]

Meanwhile, in the cabin, goalkeeper Harry Gregg was regaining consciousness, thinking that he was dead.[41] He felt blood on his face and “didn’t dare put [his] hand up. [He] thought the top of [his] head had been taken off, like a hard boiled egg.”[42] Just above him, light shone into the cabin, so Gregg kicked the hole wide enough for him to escape. He also managed to save some passengers.

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This Day in History, Feb. 4 – Chávez Leads Coup d’État against Venezuelan President Pérez (1992)

Chávez Leads Coup d’État against Venezuelan President Pérez (1992)

The Venezuelan coup attempts of 1992 were attempts to seize control of the government of Venezuela by the Hugo Chávez-led Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200. The first coup attempt took place on February 4, 1992, and was led by Chávez.[1] A second coup attempt on November 27, 1992, took place while Chávez was in prison but was directed by a group of young military officers who were loyal to the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200.[1] The coups were directed against President Carlos Andrés Pérez and occurred in a period marked by neo-liberal economic reforms, which were attempted in order to decrease the country’s level of indebtedness and had caused major protests and labour unrest. Despite their failure to depose the government of Carlos Andrés, the February coup attempts brought Chávez into the national spotlight.[3] Fighting during the coups resulted in the deaths of at least 143 people and perhaps as many as several hundred.[1]

While officially unconfirmed, Cuban involvement in and facilitation of the coup attempts was alleged by multiple sources. CIA analyst Brian Latell suggested that the Cuban intelligence agency, the Dirección General de Inteligencia(DGI), may have utilized Chávez to fulfill Cuban strategic dominance of Venezuela and its oil reserves. In Latell’s view, the DGI may have either hired Chávez as an agent or provided critical aid to his coup plots.[4] Latell claims Cuba had previously engaged in efforts to destabilize Venezuela by aiding guerrillas in the 1960s.[5] According to General Carlos Julio Peñaloza in his book El Delfín de Fidel, both Fidel Castro and the succeeding President of Venezuela, Rafael Caldera, knew of Chávez’s coup plot.[6] Castro allegedly provided agents to convince President Pérez that there was no threat of a coup.[6] After the coup, Caldera, manipulated by Castro and Chávez, was then supposed to take power after Pérez was removed from the presidency.[6]

Background

Mirage fighter jets in rebel hands bombed an army barracks west of Caracas; however, the attack had little effect on slowing down the government counterattack. Around the same time, an F-16 pilot loyal to the government managed to engage and shoot down an AT-27.[29]

An attempt to free Chávez and his associates from jail failed, and government forces retook most military bases. At about 3:00 pm, the remaining rebels took off for Peru in two C-130s, although they made it only as far as Iquitos. In total, the November death toll reached 172, much higher than the February attempt.[30]

Origin

Many of the participants in the coups had been members of the Partido de la Revolución Venezolana (PRV) in the 1970s. The PRV was created by ex-Communist and guerrilla fighter Douglas Bravo, who after failing in an armed insurrection, sought to infiltrate the Venezuelan armed forces to reach power.[11] Thus, preparation for the coup began more than ten years before Pérez was re-elected in 1988.

The coup organizers rejected the dominant political consensus of Venezuela, known as puntofijismo, which had been established in 1958. Under puntofijismo, political power was held by two political parties, Democratic Action and COPEI, which they saw as the two arms of a corrupt, clientelist establishment.

The Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200 (MBR-200) was founded in 1982 by lieutenant colonel Hugo Chávez Frías, who was later joined by Francisco Arias Cárdenas. They used the Venezuelan revolutionary hero Simón Bolívar as their group’s symbol. Their main complaint was the corruption of Carlos Andrés Pérez as well as Venezuela’s ongoing economic difficulties and social turmoil. In the view of these two men, the entire political system had to be changed in order for social change to occur.

In February 1989 shortly before the Caracazo, Cuban president Fidel Castro placed sleeper agents in Venezuela to create unrest, with Cuba recently entering its Special Period and experiencing economic difficulties as a result of the Soviet Union’s Perestroika, Castro allegedly sought to establish an ally in Venezuela so Cuba could also enjoy funds from oil profits.[12] As the Revolutions of 1989 occurred in Soviet states, Castro had allegedly began to organize a coup in late-1989 that would indirectly use sleeper agents who participated in the Caracazo.[13] Castro, who was allegedly one of the main organizers according to Venezuelan Major Orlando Madriz Benítez, would instead use Chávez as the face of a civil-military action in order to avoid retaliatory actions from the United States.[14]

Coup attempts

February 1992 coup attempt

After an extended period of popular dissatisfaction and economic decline under the neoliberal administration of Carlos Andrés Pérez,[9] Chávez made extensive preparations for a military-civilian coup d’état.[15] Initially planned for December 1991, Chávez delayed the MBR-200 coup until the early twilight hours of February 4, 1992. Chávez at the time held the loyalty of some 10% of Venezuela’s military forces.[16] On that date, five army units under Chávez’s command moved into urban Caracas to seize key military and communications installations throughout the city, including the presidential residence (Miraflores Palace), the defense ministry, La Carlota military airport, and the Military Museum. Chávez’s ultimate goal was to intercept Pérez, take custody of him and allegedly execute him before he returned to Miraflores from an overseas trip, planning to capture the president at Maiquetía airport.[7][6]

The coup attempt was originally supposed to be performed by Admiral Hernan Gruber Odreman, the highest-ranking officer among conspirators who was supposed to capture President Pérez when he returned to Venezuela from Davos, Switzerland.[6]However, he refused after discovering that Rafael Caldera was to become head of the governing board following the coup.[6] A second attempt to capture Pérez was then committed hours later by then Army captain, Miguel Rodríguez Torres.[6] Since Pérez had knowledge of the coup, the president was then driven without the car lights on and his vehicle sped onto the highway.[7][6]Torres, surprised, then ordered those under his command to fire at President Pérez’s fleeing vehicle.[6]

The final attempt in the coup attempt occurred 30 minutes later at Miraflores Palacewhere insurgents attempted to siege the palace and kill President Pérez.[6] Those attempting to attack Miraflores were told that the doors would be opened by the palace guards that were supposedly part of the coup.[6] However, when the attackers approached Miraflores in an armored vehicle, they were attacked by the palace guards who knew about the coup.[6] The firefight then ended Chávez’s attack and left 3 of Pérez’s bodyguards dead while Pérez hid under an overcoat eluding capture.[7][17] The president was then able to escape from the palace and then called General Ochoa saying, “No negotiations. Give them bullets. I want to be back in soon”.[7][17]Pérez then used a local TV station to rally the rest of the military against his aggressors.[7] Chávez’s allies were also unable to broadcast Chávez’s pre-recorded call for a planned mass civilian uprising against Pérez.

The betrayals, defections, errors, and other unforeseen circumstances left Chávez and only a small group of rebels completely cut off in the Military Museum, without any means of conveying orders to their collaborators.[18] Nevertheless, rebel forces in other parts of Venezuela made swift advances and took control of such large cities as Valencia, Maracaibo, and Maracay with the help of spontaneous civilian aid. Chávez’s forces, however, had failed to take Caracas since he remained inside the Military Museum.[19] Chávez soon gave himself up to the government. He was then allowed to appear on national television to call for all remaining rebel detachments in Venezuela to cease hostilities. When he did so, Chávez famously quipped on national television that he had only failed “por ahora” (“for now”):[20]

Comrades: Unfortunately, for the moment, the objectives that we had set for ourselves have not been achieved in the capital. That’s to say that those of us here in Caracas have not been able to seize power. Where you are, you have performed well, but now is the time for a rethink; new possibilities will arise again, and the country will be able to move definitively toward a better future.[20]

In the ensuing violence, 18 soldiers were killed while 51 soldiers were injured, while the majority of those killed during the coup were civilians, with 49 killed and about 80 injured in the crossfire.[17][21]

Despite Chávez’s military failure, he was immediately catapulted into the national spotlight due to his action, with many poor Venezuelans seeing him as a figure who had stood up against government corruption and kleptocracy.[7][20][22] Afterward, Chávez imprisoned at the San Carlos military stockade.[23][24]

November 1992 coup attempt

A still image from the video Chávez released during the November 1992 coup attempt.

On November 27, 1992, a second coup attempt was launched. It was led by officers from the air force and navy, including pilot Luis Reyes Reyes [es]. The group had contacts with Chávez in prison and had learned some lessons from the February coup’s errors, including launching at 4:30 am instead of midnight, and obtaining communications equipment to ensure they would not be stranded without it.

In a bloody battle, they took over Venezolana de Televisión, a state-run TV station, and broadcast a video made in prison by Chávez, calling for a popular uprising.[25] But the rebels failed to take over other broadcast outlets such as Televen, allowing Pérez to address the nation and declare that the rebellion had failed.[26]

Mirage fighter jets in rebel hands bombed an army barracks west of Caracas; however, the attack had little effect on slowing down the government counterattack. Around the same time, an F-16 pilot loyal to the government managed to engage and shoot down an AT-27.[29]The rebels also seized control of major air bases and largely gained control of the skies. After a minor pilot defection enabled government forces to shoot down a rebel plane, the rebels bombed some targets. They bombed the Heliocoide Caracas headquarters of DISIP, Miraflores Palace, the Sucre Police headquarters and Generalisimo Francisco de Miranda Air Base. However, by 9:00 am, it was clear that there was little other success for the rebels. [27][28]

An attempt to free Chávez and his associates from jail failed, and government forces retook most military bases. At about 3:00 pm, the remaining rebels took off for Peru in two C-130s, although they made it only as far as Iquitos. In total, the November death toll reached 172, much higher than the February attempt.[30]

Government response

In the process of resisting the coup attempts, government agents were reported to have killed 40 people, both civilians and surrendered rebels, either as extrajudicial

executions or with disproportionate force.[31] Arbitrary detentions numbered in the hundreds, continued for some time after the events, and included student leaders and other civic leaders not connected with the coup attempts. In addition, freedom of expression was suspended for two months in the February case and three weeks in the November case, with censorship of the media. A series of demonstrations in March/April calling for the resignation of President Pérez and the restoration of constitutional guarantees were met with state violence, including indiscriminate police firing into crowds, with a total of thirteen deaths.[31] A number of members of the press covering the protests were severely injured by police.[31]

Participants in the February coup attempt were tried under the regular military justice system. But in response to the November coup attempt, the government created ad hoc courts based on the 1938 legal code of Eleazar López Contreras, drawn up twenty years before the transition to democracy. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled the courts unconstitutional but not on the due process grounds for which they were criticised. The Court instead found that the President had neglected to suspend the relevant constitutional rights (right to a defense, right to be tried by one’s natural judge).[32]

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This Day In History for Jan. 29th: Bear River Massacre (1863)

Bear River Massacre (1863)

The Bear River Massacre, or the Battle of Bear River or Massacre at Boa Ogoi, took place in present-day Idaho on January 29, 1863.

After years of skirmishes and food raids on farms and ranches, the United States Army attacked a Shoshoneencampment, gathered at the confluence of the Bear River and Beaver Creek in what was then southeastern Washington Territory. The site is located near the present-day city of Preston in Franklin County, Idaho. Colonel Patrick Edward Connorled a detachment of California Volunteers as part of the Bear River Expedition against Shoshone Chief Bear Hunter.

Hundreds of Shoshone men, women and children were killed near their lodges, while only two dozen soldiers died.[1]The number of Shoshone victims reported by local settlers was higher than that reported by soldiers.

Early history and causes

A Shoshone encampment in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, photographed by W.H. Jackson, 1870

Cache Valley, originally called Seuhubeogoi (Shoshone for “Willow Valley”), was the traditional hunting ground for the Northwestern Shoshone. They gathered grain and grass seeds there, as well as fished for trout and hunted small game such as ground squirrel and woodchuck; and large game including buffalo, deer, and elk.[2] This mountain valley had attracted fur trapperssuch as Jim Bridger and Jedediah Smith, who visited the region. Cache Valley was named for the trappers’ practice of leaving stores of furs and goods (i.e., a cache) in the valley as a base for hunting in the surrounding mountain ranges.[3]

So impressed were the trappers by the region that they recommended to Brigham Young that he consider the valley as a location for his settlement of Mormon pioneers. Instead, Young chose Salt Lake Valley. In the long term, Mormon settlers eventually moved to Cache Valley as well.[4] As early as July 31, 1847, a 20-man delegation of Shoshone met with the Mormons to discuss their land claims in northern Utah.[5]

Immigrant pressures causing Shoshone starvation[edit]

The establishment of the California and Oregon trails, as well as the establishment of Salt Lake City in 1847, brought the Shoshone people into regular contact with white colonists moving westward. By 1856, European Americans had established their first permanent settlements and farms in Cache Valley, starting at Wellsville, Utah and gradually moving northward.[6]

Brigham Young made the policy that Mormon settlers should establish friendly relations with the surrounding American Indian tribes. He encouraged their helping to “feed them rather than fight them”.[7] Despite the policy, the settlers were consuming significant food resources and taking over areas that pushed the Shoshone increasingly into areas of marginal food production. David H. Burr, Surveyor General of the Territory of Utah, reported in 1856 that the local Shoshone Indians complained that the Mormons used so much of the Cache Valley that the once abundant game no longer appeared.[8] The foraging and hunting by settlers traveling on the western migration trails also took additional resources away from the Shoshone. As early as 1859 Jacob Forney, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of Utah, recognized the impact of migrants, writing, “The Indians…have become impoverished by the introduction of a white population”. He recommended that an Indian Reservation be established in Cache Valley to protect essential resources for the Shoshone. His superiors at the United States Department of the Interior did not act on his proposal.[9] Desperate and starving, the Shoshone attacked farms and cattle ranches for food, as a matter not just of revenge but survival.[10]

In the early spring of 1862, Utah Territorial Superintendent of Indian Affairs, James Duane Doty, spent four days in Cache Valley and reported: “The Indians have been in great numbers, in a starving and destitute condition. No provisions having been made for them, either as to clothing or provisions by my predecessors…The Indians condition was such-with the prospect that they would rob mail stations to sustain life.”[11] Doty purchased supplies of food and slowly doled it out. He suggested furnishing the Shoshone with livestock to enable them to become herdsmen instead of beggars.

On July 28, 1862, John White discovered gold on Grasshopper Creek in the mountains of southwestern Montana.[12] Soon miners created a migration and supply trail right through the middle of Cache Valley, between this mining camp and Salt Lake City. The latter was the nearest significant trading source of goods and food in the area.[13]

Outbreak of the Civil War[edit]

When the American Civil War began in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln was concerned that California, which had just recently become a state, would be cut off from the rest of the Union. He ordered several regiments to be raised from the population of California to help protect mail routes and the communications lines of the West.[14] Neither Lincoln nor the U.S. War Department quite trusted the Mormons of the Utah Territory to remain loyal to the Union, in spite of their leader Young’s telegrams and assurances.[15]The Utah War and Mountain Meadows massacre were still fresh in the minds of military planners. They worried that the Mormons’ substantial militia might answer only to Young and not the federal government.[16]

Col. Patrick Edward Connor[17] was put in command of the 3rd California Volunteer Infantry Regiment and ordered to move his men to Utah, to protect the Overland Mail Route and keep peace in the region.[18] Upon arriving in Utah, he established Camp Douglas (adjacent to the current location of the University of Utah) as the primary base of operations for his unit. It was within a few miles of the Mormon Temple construction site and downtown Great Salt Lake City.[19]

Warnings and conflicts with Cache Valley settlers

Several incidents in the summer and fall of 1862 led to the battle between Bear Hunter and Col. Connor. These were related to broad struggles between indigenous peoples and European-American settlers over almost the entire United States west of the Mississippi River. The attention of most of the nation’s population was focused on the Civil War in the eastern states. Some historians have overlooked these incidents because they occurred near the ill-defined boundary of two different territories: those of Washington and Utah. While the incidents took place in proximity, the administrative centers dealing with them were more than 1,000 miles apart (1,600 km), so it was difficult to integrate reports. As an example, for years residents and officials believed Franklin and the area of conflict were part of the Utah Territory. Residents of Franklin sent elected representatives to the Utah Territorial Legislature and were part of the politics of Cache County, Utah until 1872, when a surveying team determined the community was in Idaho territory.[20]

Pugweenee

When a resident of Summit Creek (now Smithfield) found his horse missing, he accused a young Shoshone fishing in nearby Summit Creek of having stolen the animal. Robert Thornley, an English immigrant and first resident of Summit Creek, defended the young Indian and testified for him. Nonetheless, a jury of locals convicted him and hanged him for stealing the horse. Local history recorded the Shoshone’s name as Pugweenee. Later information reveals that Pugweenee is the Shoshone word for “fish” and so the man may have been saying, “Look at my fish,” or “I was just fishing.”[citation needed]

The young Indian man was the son of the local Shoshone chief. Within a few days, the Shoshone retaliated by killing a couple of young men of the Merrill family who were gathering wood in the nearby canyon.[21]

Massacre near Fort Hall

During the summer of 1859, a settler company of about 19 people from Michigan were traveling on the Oregon Trail near Fort Hall when they were attacked at night, by people they assumed were local Shoshone. Several members of the company were killed by gunfire. The survivors took refuge along the Portneuf River, where they hid among the bullrushes and willow trees. Three days later, Lieutenant Livingston of Fort Walla Walla, leading a company of dragoons, met the survivors. He investigated the incident, and documented what he called the brutality of the attack.[22] According to the Deseret News of 21 September 1859, a detachment of Lieutenant Livingston’s dragoons found five bodies at the scene of the massacre who were horribly mangled. A girl of only five years old had her ears cut off, her eyes gouged out, both legs amputated at the knees and by all appearances was made to walk on her stumps. [23]

Reuben Van Ornum and the Battle of Providence

On September 9, 1860, Elijah Utter was leading migrants on the Oregon trail when they were attacked by a group of presumably Bannock and Boise Shoshone. In spite of settlers’ attempts to placate the Native Americans, the Indians killed nearly the entire migrant party and drove off their livestock. Alexis Van Ornum, his family, and about ten others hid in some nearby brush, only to be discovered and killed. Their bodies were discovered by a company of U.S. soldiers led by Captain Frederick T. Dent. Lieutenant Marcus A. Reno came across the mutilated bodies of six of the Van Ornums. Reports from survivors were that four Van Ornum children were taken captive by the attacking warriors.[24][25]

As a direct result of this attack, the Army established a military fort near the present location of Boise, Idaho, along the migrant trail. Colonel George Wright requested $150,000 to establish a military post able to sustain five companies of troops.[26]

Zachias Van Ornum, Alexis’ brother, heard from a relative on the Oregon Trail that a small white boy of his missing nephew Reuben’s age was being held by a group of Northwestern Shoshone, likely to be in Cache Valley.[27] Van Ornum gathered a small group of friends and traveled to Salt Lake City to get some help from the territorial government.[28] There he visited Col. Connor at Fort Douglas and asked for help to regain his nephew. Col. Connor agreed and sent a detachment of cavalry under the command of Major Edward McGarry to Cache Valley to rendezvous with Van Ornum near the town of Providence, Utah.[29]

Van Ornum located a small group of Shoshone warriors being led by Chief Bear Hunter. He and McGarry’s men followed the Shoshone as they retreated to nearby Providence Canyon.[30] After the Indians opened fire, McGarry gave the order “to commence firing and to kill every Indian they could see.”[31] A skirmish between the Shoshone and the U.S. Army lasted for about two hours after the Shoshone established a defensible position in the canyon.[32] Finally Chief Bear Hunter signaled surrender by climbing a foothill and waving a flag of truce.[28]

Together with about 20 of his people, Chief Bear Hunter was taken prisoner and transported to the soldiers’ camp near Providence. When asked about the young white boy, Bear Hunter said that the boy had been sent away a few days earlier.[33] McGarry instructed Bear Hunter to send his people to bring back the white boy. He held Bear Hunter and four warriors hostage. By noon of the next day, the Shoshone returned with a small boy who fit the description of Reuben Van Ornum.[30] Zachias Van Ornum claimed the boy was his nephew and took custody, departing to return to Oregon.[34]

The Shoshone protested, claiming that the boy was the son of a French fur trapper and the sister of Shoshone chief Washakie. The federal troops left with Van Ornum and the young boy, McGarry reported to Col. Connor of their rescue of the boy “without the lost or scratch of man or horse.”[35] Bear Hunter complained to the settlers in Cache Valley, arguing they should have helped him against the soldiers. After a confrontation between Bear Hunter, some warriors from his band, and nearly 70 members of the Cache Valley militia, the settlers donated two cows and some flour as the “best and cheapest policy” as a kind of compensation.[35]

Bear River crossing

On December 4, 1862, Connor sent McGarry on another expedition to Cache Valley, this time to recover some stolen livestock from Shoshone. The Shoshone broke camp and fled in advance of the Army troops and cut the ropes of a ferry at the crossing. McGarry got his men across the river, but had to leave their horses behind.[13] Four Shoshone warriors were captured and held for ransom, although they did not appear related to the theft. McGarry ordered that if the stock was not delivered by noon the next day, these men were to be shot. The Shoshone chiefs moved their people further north into Cache Valley. The captives were executed by a firing squad, and their bodies were dumped into the Bear River.[36] In an editorial, the Deseret News expressed concern that the execution would aggravate relations with the Shoshone.[37]

Incident on the Montana Trail

A.H. Conover, operator of a Montana Trail freight-hauling service between mining camps of Montana and Salt Lake City, was attacked by Shoshone warriors. They killed two men who accompanied him, George Clayton and Henry Bean. Arriving in Salt Lake City, Conover told a reporter the Shoshone were “determined to avenge the blood of their comrades” killed by Major McGarry and his soldiers. He said the Shoshone intended to “kill every white man they should meet on the north side of the Bear River, till they should be fully avenged.”[38]

Attack on the Montana Trail

The final catalyst for Connor’s expedition was a Shoshone attack on a group of eight miners on the Montana Trail. They had come within 2 miles (3 km) of the main Shoshone winter encampment north of Franklin. The miners missed a turn and ended up mired and lost on the western side of the Bear River, unable to cross the deep river. Three men swam across to Richmond, where they tried to get provisions and a guide from the settlers.[39] Before they returned, the other five men were attacked by Shoshone. They killed John Henry Smith of Walla Walla, and some horses. When the Richmond people returned with the advance party, they recovered the body of John Smith. They buried him at the Richmond city cemetery.[38]

The surviving miners reached Salt Lake City. William Bevins testified before Chief Justice John F. Kinney and swore an affidavit describing Smith’s murder. He also reported that ten miners en route to the city had been murdered three days before Smith.[40] Kinney issued a warrant for the arrest of chiefs Bear Hunter, Sanpitch, and Sagwitch. He ordered the territorial marshal to seek assistance from Col. Connor for a military force to “effect the arrest of the guilty Indians.”[38]

Due to such reports, Connor was ready to mount an expedition against the Shoshone. He reported to the U.S. War Department prior to the engagement:

I have the honor to report to you that from information received from various sources of the encampment of a large body of Indians on the Bear River, 140 mi (230 km) north of this point, who had murdered several miners, during the winter, passing to and from the settlements in this valley to the Bear River mines east of the Rocky Mountains. And being satisfied that they were part of the same band who had been murdering emigrants on the Overland Mail Route for the last 15 years, and the principal actors and leaders in the horrid massacre of the past summer. I determined, although the season was unfavorable to military expedition in consequence of cold weather and deep snow, to chastise them if possible.[41]

Military action in Cache Valley

In many ways, the soldiers stationed at Fort Douglas were spoiling for a fight. In addition to discipline problems among the soldiers, there was a minor “mutiny” among the soldiers where a joint petition by most of the California Volunteers made a request to withhold over $30,000 from their paychecks for the sole purpose of instead paying for naval passage to the eastern states, and to “serve their country in shooting traitors instead of eating rations and freezing to death around sage brush fires…” Furthermore, they stated that they would gladly pay this money “for the privilege (original emphasis) of going to the Potomac and getting shot.” This request was declined by the War Department.[42]

Throughout most of January 1863, soldiers at Fort Douglas were preparing for a lengthy expedition traveling north to the Shoshone. Connor also wanted to keep word of his expedition secret, in order to make a surprise attack upon the Shoshone when he arrived. To do this, he separated his command into two different detachments, that were to periodically come together on their journey to Cache Valley. His main concern was to avoid the problems that McGarry had faced in the earlier action, where the Shoshone had moved and scattered even before his troops could arrive.

Reaction to this military campaign was mixed. George A. Smith, in the official Journal History of the LDS Church, wrote:

It is said that Col. Connor is determined to exterminate the Indians who have been killing the Emigrants on the route to the Gold Mines in Washington Territory. Small detachments have been leaving for the North for several days. If the present expedition copies the doings of the other that preceded it, it will result in catching some friendly Indians, murdering them, and letting the guilty scamps remain undisturbed in their mountain haunts.[43]

On the other hand, the Deseret News in an editorial expressed:

…with ordinary good luck, the volunteers will “wipe them out.” We wish this community rid of all such parties, and if Col. Connor be successful in reaching that bastard class of humans who play with the lives of the peaceable and law-abiding citizens in this way, we shall be pleased to acknowledge our obligations.[44]

The first group to leave from Fort Douglas was forty men of Company K, 3rd Regiment California Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Captain Samuel W. Hoyt, accompanied by 15 baggage wagons and two “mountain howitzers” totalling 80 soldiers[45] They left on January 22, 1863.[46]

The second group was 220 cavalry, led personally by Connor himself with his aides and fifty men each from Companies A, H, K and M of the 2nd Regiment of Cavalry, California Volunteers which left on January 25.[45] As orders specific for this campaign, Connor ordered each soldier to carry “40 rounds of rifle ammunition and 30 rounds of pistol ammunition”. This was a total of nearly 16,000 rounds for the campaign. In addition, nearly 200 rounds of artillery shot were brought with the howitzers.[47] As a part of the deception, the cavalry were to travel at night while the infantry moved during the day.[44] Accompanying Connor was the former U.S. Marshal and Mormon scout, Orrin Porter Rockwell.[48]

On the evening of January 28, Captain Hoyt’s infantry finally arrived near the town of Franklin, where they spotted three Shoshone who were attempting to get food supplies from the settlers in the town. The Shoshone received nine bushels of wheat in three sacks. William Hull, the settler who was assisting the Shoshone, noted later:

we had two of the three horses loaded, having put three bushels on each horse…when I looked up and saw the Soldiers approaching from the south. I said to the Indian boys, “Here comes the Toquashes (Shoshone for U.S. Soldiers) maybe, you will all be killed. They answered ‘maybe the Toquashes will be killed too,” but not waiting for the third horse to be loaded, they quickly jumped upon their horses and led the three horses away, disappearing in the distance.[49]

The sacks of grain carried by these Shoshone were later found by the 3rd California Volunteers during their advance the next day, apparently dropped by the Shoshone in their attempt to get back to their camp.

Col. Connor met up with Hoyt that evening as well, with orders to begin moving at about 1:00 am the next morning for a surprise attack, but an attempt to get a local settler to act as a scout for the immediate area led the actual advance to wait until 3:00 am[50]

It should be noted that this military action took place during perhaps the coldest time of the year in Cache Valley. Local settlers commented that it was unseasonably cold even for northern Utah, and it may have been as cold as −20 °F (−30 °C) on the morning of the 29th when the attack began. Several soldiers had come down with frostbite and other cold-weather problems, so that the 3rd volunteers were only at about 2/3 of their strength compared to when they left Fort Douglas.[51] Among the rations issued to the soldiers during the campaign was a ration of whiskey held in a canteen, where several soldiers noted that this whiskey froze solid on the night before the attack.[52]

Shoshone battle preparations[edit]

It is apparent that the Shoshone chiefs were far from ignorant of the potential for conflict with Col. Connor’s soldiers, and some minor preparations were made at the same time. Most of this involved mainly gathering foodstuffs from surrounding Mormon settlements, in a fashion very similar to the incident listed above with the residents of Richmond, Utah.[citation needed]

Most of the firearms that the Shoshone had at the time of the attack had been captured in various small skirmishes, traded from fur trappers, white settlers, and other Native American tribal groups, or simply antiques that had been handed down from one generation to another over the years.[53] Clearly they were not as standardized or as well built as the guns issued by the Union Army to the soldiers of the California Volunteers.

Bear Hunter and the other Shoshone chiefs did, however, make some defensive arrangements around their encampment, in addition to simply selecting a generally defensible position in the first place. Willow branches had been woven into makeshift screens, hiding the position and numbers of Shoshone. They also dug a series of “rifle pits” along the eastern bank of Beaver Creek as well as along the Bear River.[54]

Perhaps most ironic was that at the same time the arrest warrant was being issued by Justice Kinney, Chief Sanpitch (named in the warrant) was in Salt Lake City trying to negotiate peace on behalf of the Northwestern Shoshone. A correspondent for the Sacramento Union reported “The Prophet (Brigham Young) had told Sanpitch the Mormon people had suffered enough from the Shoshoni of Cache Valley and that if more blood were spilled the Mormons might just “pitch in” and help the troops.”[55]

While it appears as though the deception by Connor to hide the numbers of his soldiers involved in the confrontation was successful, the Shoshone were not even then anticipating a direct military engagement with these soldiers. Instead, they were preparing for a negotiated settlement where the chiefs would be able to talk with officers of the U.S. Army and try to come to an understanding.[54]

Battle of Bear River

Major McGarry and the first cavalry units of the 2nd Regiment California Volunteer Cavalry arrived at the battle scene at 6:00 am, just as dawn was breaking over the mountains. Due to the weather conditions and deep snow, it took time for Connor to organize his soldiers into a battle line. The artillery pieces never arrived as they got caught in a snow drift six miles (9.7 km) from the Shoshone encampment.[50]

Chief Sagwitch noted the approach of the American soldiers, saying,

Look like there is something up on the ridge up there. Look like a cloud. Maybe it is a steam come from a horse. Maybe that’s them soldiers they were talking about.”[56]

Soon afterward, the first shots of this incident occurred.

Initially Connor tried a direct frontal offensive against the Shoshone positions, but was soon overwhelmed with return gunfire from the Shoshone. The California Volunteers suffered most of their direct combat-related casualties during this first assault.[57]

After temporarily retreating and regrouping, Connor sent McGarry and several other smaller groups into flanking maneuvers to attack the village from the sides and from behind. He directed a line of infantry to block any attempt by the Shoshone to flee from the battle.[58] After about two hours, the Shoshone had run out of ammunition. According to some later reports, some Shoshone were seen trying to cast lead ammunition during the middle of the battle, and died with the molds in their hands.[58]

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