This Week in History, Mar 10 - Mar 16
Mar 10, 1959
Rebellion in Tibet. Tibetans band together in revolt, surrounding the summer palace of the Dalai Lama in defiance of Chinese occupation forces. China's occupation of Tibet began nearly a decade before, in October 1950, when troops from its People's Liberation Army (PLA) invaded the country, barely one year after the Communists gained full control of mainland China. The Tibetan government gave into Chinese pressure the following year, signing a treaty that ensured the power of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the country's spiritual leader, over Tibet's domestic affairs. Resistance to the Chinese occupation built steadily over the next several years, including a revolt in several areas of eastern Tibet in 1956. By December 1958, rebellion was simmering in Lhasa, the capital, and the PLA command threatened to bomb the city if order was not maintained.
Mar 11, 1862:
President Lincoln shuffles the Union command. Abraham Lincoln issues War Order No. 3, a measure making several changes at the top of the Union Army command structure. Lincoln created three departments, placing Henry Halleck in charge of the West, John C. Fremont in command of troops in the Appalachian region, and George McClellan in charge in the East.
The most significant change in the order removed McClellan from his post as general-in-chief of all Union armies, though he retained command of the Army of the Potomac, the most important Union force. McClellan had assumed leadership of that army after it was defeated at the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, in July 1861. He quickly installed an efficient command structure and began training an effective fighting force. Three months later, Lincoln elevated McClellan to general-in-chief. However, the relationship between the president and his commanding officer was strained and sometimes contentious. The arrogant McClellan was contemptuous of the president and often ignored Lincoln's communications or kept information from him.
Mar 12, 1933
FDR gives first fireside chat. Eight days after his inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his first national radio address or "fireside chat," broadcast directly from the White House. Roosevelt began that first address simply: "I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking." He went on to explain his recent decision to close the nation's banks in order to stop a surge in mass withdrawals by panicked investors worried about possible bank failures. The banks would be reopening the next day, Roosevelt said, and he thanked the public for their "fortitude and good temper" during the "banking holiday."
Mar 13, 1942
U.S. Army launches K-9 Corps. The Quartermaster Corps (QMC) of the United States Army begins training dogs for the newly established War Dog Program, or "K-9 Corps." Well over a million dogs served on both sides during World War I, carrying messages along the complex network of trenches and providing some measure of psychological comfort to the soldiers. The most famous dog to emerge from the war was Rin Tin Tin, an abandoned puppy of German war dogs found in France in 1918 and taken to the United States, where he made his film debut in the 1922 silent film The Man from Hell's River. As the first bona fide animal movie star, Rin Tin Tin made the little-known German Shepherd breed famous across the country.
Mar 14, 1879
Albert Einstein born. The son of a Jewish electrical engineer in Ulm, Germany. Einstein's theories of special and general relativity drastically altered man's view of the universe, and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum mechanics and, ultimately, the atomic bomb. After a childhood in Germany and Italy, Einstein studied physics and mathematics at the Federal Polytechnic Academy in Zurich, Switzerland. He became a Swiss citizen and in 1905 was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich while working at the Swiss patent office in Bern. That year, which historians of Einstein's career call the annus mirabilis--the "miracle year"--he published five theoretical papers that were to have a profound effect on the development of modern physics.
Mar 15, 1965
LBJ calls for equal voting rights. President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress to urge the passage of legislation guaranteeing voting rights for all. Using the phrase "we shall overcome," borrowed from African-American leaders struggling for equal rights, Johnson declared that "every American citizen must have an equal right to vote." Johnson reminded the nation that the Fifteenth Amendment, which was passed after the Civil War, gave all citizens the right to vote regardless of race or color. But states had defied the Constitution and erected barriers. Discrimination had taken the form of literacy, knowledge or character tests administered solely to African-Americans to keep them from registering to vote.
Mar 16, 1802
U.S. Military Academy established. The United States Military Academy--the first military school in the United States--is founded by Congress for the purpose of educating and training young men in the theory and practice of military science. Located at West Point, New York, the U.S. Military Academy is often simply known as West Point. Located on the high west bank of New York's Hudson River, West Point was the site of a Revolutionary-era fort built to protect the Hudson River Valley from British attack. In 1780, Patriot General Benedict Arnold, the commander of the fort, agreed to surrender West Point to the British in exchange for 6,000 pounds. However, the plot was uncovered before it fell into British hands, and Arnold fled to the British for protection.