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* 1885 – Big Bear (Mistahimaskwa) surrenders to General Strange to end the North West Rebellion. (Big Bear also known as Mistahi-maskwa (c.1825 – 17 January 1888) was a powerful and popular Cree chief who played many pivotal roles in Canadian history. He was appointed to chief of his band at the age of 40 upon the death of his father, Black Powder, under his father’s harmonious and inclusive rule which directly impacted his own leadership. Big Bear is most notable for his involvement in Treaty Six; he was one of the few chief leaders who objected to the signing of the treaty with the Canadian government. He felt that signing the treaty would ultimately have devastating effects on his tribe as well as other Aboriginal tribes. This included losing the free nomadic lifestyle that his tribe and others were accustomed to. Big Bear also took part in one of the last major battles between the Cree and the Blackfoot tribe. He was one of the leaders to lead his people against the last, largest battle on the Canadian Plains.
When the Métis initiated the North-West Rebellion of 1885 under Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, Big Bear and his supporters played a minimal role in the overall uprising, Big Bear’s son Little Bear joined with Chief Wandering Spirit to go to Frog Lake and kill some of the white residents. Nine men were killed, and this later became known as the Frog Lake Massacre. Though Big Bear tried to stop this from happening, as he was a Chief he was arrested for treason. Big Bear had tried to solve the problems between his people and the Canadian government peacefully. Many people felt Big Bear would be found ‘not guilty’ as he had tried to stop the Massacre at Frog Lake and tried to protect those that were taken prisoner. Henry Ross Halpin testified at his trial saying that he was just as much of a prisoner as he, himself had been. At the time of the trial, Big Bear was 60 years old. The trial was confusing for Big Bear as the trial was in English, and had to be translated into Cree. Hugh Dempsey has stated in his book, that Stanley Simpson, a man who was taken prisoner at Fort Pitt, was the only man to appear for the Prosecution. Much of the evidence was in favor of Big Bear innocence. The evidence was clear that Big Bear had not taken part in killings at Frog Lake or the looting and taking of prisoners at Fort Pitt. However, Big Bear was found guilty of treason and sentenced to three years at Stony Mountain Penitentiary in Manitoba. In 1887, after serving two years of his sentence, Big Bear was released due to failing health conditions. Big Bear died soon after being released on the Poundmaker Reserve in January 1888 at 62 years of age.)
* 1776 Congress votes for independence. (On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress, assembled in Philadelphia, formally adopts Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence from Great Britain. The vote is unanimous, with only New York abstaining.
The resolution had originally been presented to Congress on June 7, but it soon became clear that New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina were as yet unwilling to declare independence, though they would likely be ready to vote in favor of a break with England in due course. Thus, Congress agreed to delay the vote on Lees Resolution until July 1. In the intervening period, Congress appointed a committee to draft a formal declaration of independence. Its members were John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, well-known to be the best writer of the group, was selected to be the primary author of the document, which was presented to Congress for review on June 28, 1776.
On July 1, 1776, debate on the Lee Resolution resumed as planned, with a majority of the delegates favoring the resolution. Congress thought it of the utmost importance that independence be unanimously proclaimed. To ensure this, they delayed the final vote until July 2, when 12 colonial delegations voted in favor of it, with the New York delegates abstaining, unsure of how their constituents would wish them to vote. John Adams wrote that July 2 would be celebrated as the most memorable epoch in the history of America. Instead, the day has been largely forgotten in favor of July 4, when Jefferson’s edited Declaration of Independence was adopted.)
* 1964 Johnson signs Civil Rights Act. (On this day in 1964, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the historic Civil Rights Act in a nationally televised ceremony at the White House.
In the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The 10 years that followed saw great strides for the African-American civil rights movement, as non-violent demonstrations won thousands of supporters to the cause. Memorable landmarks in the struggle included the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955–sparked by the refusal of Alabama resident Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a city bus to a white woman–and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech at a rally of hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., in 1963.
As the strength of the civil rights movement grew, John F. Kennedy made passage of a new civil rights bill one of the platforms of his successful 1960 presidential campaign. As Kennedy’s vice president, Johnson served as chairman of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities. After Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, Johnson vowed to carry out his proposals for civil rights reform.
The Civil Rights Act fought tough opposition in the House and a lengthy, heated debate in the Senate before being approved in July 1964. For the signing of the historic legislation, Johnson invited hundreds of guests to a televised ceremony in the White House’s East Room. After using more than 75 pens to sign the bill, he gave them away as mementos of the historic occasion, according to tradition. One of the first pens went to King, leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), who called it one of his most cherished possessions. Johnson gave two more to Senators Hubert Humphrey and Everett McKinley Dirksen, the Democratic and Republican managers of the bill in the Senate.
The most sweeping civil rights legislation passed by Congress since the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, the Civil Rights Act prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education and outlawed racial segregation in public places such as schools, buses, parks and swimming pools. In addition, the bill laid important groundwork for a number of other pieces of legislation–including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which set strict rules for protecting the right of African Americans to vote–that have since been used to enforce equal rights for women as well as all minorities.)
* 1839 Mutiny on the Amistad slave ship. (Early in the morning, Africans on the Cuban schooner Amistad rise up against their captors, killing two crewmembers and seizing control of the ship, which had been transporting them to a life of slavery on a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba.
In 1807, the U.S. Congress joined with Great Britain in abolishing the African slave trade, although the trading of slaves within the United States was not prohibited. Despite the international ban on the importation of African slaves, Cuba continued to transport captive Africans to its sugar plantations until the 1860s, and Brazil to its coffee plantations until the 1850s.
On June 28, 1839, 53 slaves recently captured in Africa left Havana, Cuba, aboard the Amistad schooner for a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba. Three days later, Sengbe Pieh, a Membe African known as Cinque, freed himself and the other slaves and planned a mutiny. Early in the morning of July 2, in the midst of a storm, the Africans rose up against their captors and, using sugarcane knives found in the hold, killed the captain of the vessel and a crewmember. Two other crewmembers were either thrown overboard or escaped, and Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montes, the two Cubans who had purchased the slaves, were captured. Cinque ordered the Cubans to sail the Amistad east back to Africa. During the day, Ruiz and Montes complied, but at night they would turn the vessel in a northerly direction, toward U.S. waters. After almost nearly two difficult months at sea, during which time more than a dozen Africans perished, what became known as the “black schooner” was first spotted by American vessels.
On August 26, the USS Washington, a U.S. Navy brig, seized the Amistad off the coast of Long Island and escorted it to New London, Connecticut. Ruiz and Montes were freed, and the Africans were imprisoned pending an investigation of the Amistad revolt. The two Cubans demanded the return of their supposedly Cuban-born slaves, while the Spanish government called for the Africans’ extradition to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder. In opposition to both groups, American abolitionists advocated the return of the illegally bought slaves to Africa.
The story of the Amistad mutiny garnered widespread attention, and U.S. abolitionists succeeded in winning a trial in a U.S. court. Before a federal district court in Connecticut, Cinque, who was taught English by his new American friends, testified on his own behalf. On January 13, 1840, Judge Andrew Judson ruled that the Africans were illegally enslaved, that they would not be returned to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder, and that they should be granted free passage back to Africa. The Spanish authorities and U.S. President Martin Van Buren appealed the decision, but another federal district court upheld Judson’s findings. President Van Buren, in opposition to the abolitionist faction in Congress, appealed the decision again.
On February 22, 1841, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the Amistad case. U.S. Representative John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, who had served as the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829, joined the Africans’ defense team. In Congress, Adams had been an eloquent opponent of slavery, and before the nation’s highest court he presented a coherent argument for the release of Cinque and the 34 other survivors of the Amistad.
On March 9, 1841, the Supreme Court ruled, with only one dissent, that the Africans had been illegally enslaved and had thus exercised a natural right to fight for their freedom. In November, with the financial assistance of their abolitionist allies, the Amistad Africans departed America aboard the Gentleman on a voyage back to West Africa. Some of the Africans helped establish a Christian mission in Sierra Leone, but most, like Cinque, returned to their homelands in the African interior. One of the survivors, who was a child when taken aboard the Amistad as a slave, eventually returned to the United States. Originally named Margru, she studied at Ohio’s integrated and coeducational Oberlin College in the late 1840s before returning to Sierra Leone as evangelical missionary Sara Margru Kinson.)
* 1944 American bombers deluge Budapest with bombs and leaflets. (On this day in 1944, as part of Operation Gardening, the British and American strategy to lay mines in the Danube River by dropping them from the air, American aircraft also drop bombs and leaflets on German-occupied Budapest.
Hungarian oil refineries and storage tanks, important to the German war machine, were destroyed by the American air raid. Along with this fire from the sky, leaflets threatening “punishment” for those responsible for the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the gas chambers at Auschwitz were also dropped on Budapest. The U.S. government wanted the SS and Hitler to know it was watching. Admiral Miklas Horthy, regent and virtual dictator of Hungary, vehemently anticommunist and afraid of Russian domination, had aligned his country with Hitler, despite the fact that he little admired him. But he, too, demanded that the deportations cease, especially since special pleas had begun pouring in from around the world upon the testimonies of four escaped Auschwitz prisoners about the atrocities there. Hitler, fearing a Hungarian rebellion, stopped the deportations on July 8. Horthy would eventually try to extricate himself from the war altogether—only to be kidnapped by Hitler’s agents and consequently forced to abdicate.
One day after the deportations stopped, a Swedish businessman, Raoul Wallenberg, having convinced the Swedish Foreign Ministry to send him to the Hungarian capital on a diplomatic passport, arrived in Budapest with 630 visas for Hungarian Jews, prepared to take them to Sweden to save them from further deportations.)
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/
* Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bear