May 13 2011

On This Day in History May 13

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

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May 13 is the 133rd day of the year (134th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 232 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas. The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk‘s request.

The Mexican-American War (or Mexican War) was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory despite the 1836 Texas Revolution.

Origins of the war

The Mexican government had long warned the United States that annexation would mean war. Because the Mexican congress had refused to recognize Texan independence, Mexico saw Texas as a rebellious territory that would be retaken. Britain and France, which recognized the independence of Texas, repeatedly tried to dissuade Mexico from declaring war. When Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845, the Mexican government broke diplomatic relations with the U.S.

The Texan claim to the Rio Grande boundary had been omitted from the annexation resolution to help secure passage after the annexation treaty failed in the Senate. President Polk claimed the Rio Grande boundary, and this provoked a dispute with Mexico. In June 1845, Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to Texas, and by October 3,500 Americans were on the Nueces River, prepared to defend Texas from a Mexican invasion. Polk wanted to protect the border and also coveted the continent clear to the Pacific Ocean. Polk had instructed the Pacific naval squadron to seize the California ports if Mexico declared war while staying on good terms with the inhabitants. At the same time he wrote to Thomas Larkin, the American consul in Monterey, disclaiming American ambitions but offering to support independence from Mexico or voluntary accession to the U.S., and warning that a British or French takeover would be opposed.

To end another war-scare (Fifty-Four Forty or Fight) with Britain over Oregon Country, Polk signed the Oregon Treaty dividing the territory, angering northern Democrats who felt he was prioritizing Southern expansion over Northern expansion.

In the winter of 1845-46, the federally commissioned explorer John C. Fremont and a group of armed men appeared in California. After telling the Mexican governor and Larkin he was merely buying supplies on the way to Oregon, he instead entered the populated area of California and visited Santa Cruz and the Salinas Valley, explaining he had been looking for a seaside home for his mother. The Mexican authorities became alarmed and ordered him to leave. Fremont responded by building a fort on Gavilan Peak and raising the American flag. Larkin sent word that his actions were counterproductive. Fremont left California in March but returned to California and assisted the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma, where many American immigrants stated that they were playing “the Texas game” and declared California’s independence from Mexico.

On November 10, 1845, Polk sent John Slidell, a secret representative, to Mexico City with an offer of $25 million ($632,500,000 today) for the Rio Grande border in Texas and Mexico’s provinces of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. U.S. expansionists wanted California to thwart British ambitions in the area and to gain a port on the Pacific Ocean. Polk authorized Slidell to forgive the $3 million ($76 million today) owed to U.S. citizens for damages caused by the Mexican War of Independence and pay another $25 to $30 million ($633 million to $759 million today) in exchange for the two territories.

Mexico was not inclined nor able to negotiate. In 1846 alone, the presidency changed hands four times, the war ministry six times, and the finance ministry sixteen times. However, Mexican public opinion and all political factions agreed that selling the territories to the United States would tarnish the national honor. Mexicans who opposed direct conflict with the United States, including President José Joaquin de Herrera, were viewed as traitors. Military opponents of de Herrera, supported by populist newspapers, considered Slidell’s presence in Mexico City an insult. When de Herrera considered receiving Slidell to settle the problem of Texas annexation peacefully, he was accused of treason and deposed. After a more nationalistic government under General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga came to power, it publicly reaffirmed Mexico’s claim to Texas; Slidell, convinced that Mexico should be “chastised”, returned to the U.S.

 1373 – Julian of Norwich has visions which are later transcribed in her Revelations of Divine Love.

1497 – Pope Alexander VI excommunicates Girolamo Savonarola.

1515 – Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk are officially married at Greenwich.

1568 – Battle of Langside: the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, are defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, Earl of Moray, her half-brother.

1619 – Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt is executed in The Hague after being convicted of treason.

1648 – Construction of the Red Fort at Delhi is completed.

1779 – War of Bavarian Succession: Russian and French mediators at the Congress of Teschen negotiate an end to the war. In the agreement Austria receives the part of its territory that was taken from it (the Innviertel).

1780 – The Cumberland Compact is signed by leaders of the settlers in early Tennessee.

1787 – Captain Arthur Phillip leaves Portsmouth, England, with eleven ships full of convicts (the “First Fleet”) to establish a penal colony in Australia.

1804 – Forces sent by Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli to retake Derne from the Americans attack the city.

1830 – Ecuador gains its independence from Gran Colombia.

1846 – Mexican-American War: The United States declares war on Mexico.

1848 – First performance of Finland’s national anthem.

1861 – American Civil War: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a “proclamation of neutrality” which recognizes the breakaway states as having belligerent rights.

1861 – The Great Comet of 1861 is discovered by John Tebbutt of Windsor, New South Wales, Australia.

1861 – Pakistan Railways opens the country’s first railways line, from Karachi to Kotri.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Resaca – the battle begins with Union General Sherman fighting toward Atlanta, Georgia.

1865 – American Civil War: Battle of Palmito Ranch – in far south Texas, more than a month after Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, the last land battle of the Civil War ends with a Confederate victory.

1880 – In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electric railway.

1888 – With the passage of the Lei Aurea (“Golden Law”), Brazil abolishes slavery.

1909 – The first Giro d’Italia starts from Milan. Italian cyclist Luigi Ganna will be the winner.

1912 – The Royal Flying Corps (now the Royal Air Force) is established in the United Kingdom.

1913 – Igor Sikorsky becomes the first man to pilot a four-engine aircraft.

1917 – Three children report the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima in Fatima, Portugal.

1939 – The first commercial FM radio station in the United States is launched in Bloomfield, Connecticut. The station later becomes WDRC-FM.

1940 – World War II: Germany’s conquest of France begins as the German army crosses the Meuse. Winston Churchill makes his “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech to the House of Commons.

1940 – Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands flees her country to Great Britain after the Nazi invasion. Princess Juliana takes her children to Canada for their safety.

1941 – World War II: Yugoslav royal colonel Dragoljub Mihailovic starts fighting with German occupation troops, beginning the Serbian resistance.

1943 – World War II: German Afrika Korps and Italian troops in North Africa surrender to Allied forces.

1948 – 1948 Arab-Israeli War: the Kfar Etzion massacre is committed by Arab irregulars, the day before the declaration of independence of the state of Israel on May 14.

1950 – The first round of the Formula One World Championship is held at Silverstone.

1951 – The 400th anniversary of the founding of the National University of San Marcos is commemorated by the opening of the first large-capacity stadium in Peru.

1952 – The Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India, holds its first sitting.

1954 – The anti-National Service Riots, by Chinese Middle School students in Singapore, take place.

1958 – During a visit to Caracas, Venezuela, Vice President Richard Nixon’s car is attacked by anti-American demonstrators.

1958 – The trade mark Velcro is registered.

1958 – May 1958 crisis: a group of French military officers lead a coup in Algiers demanding that a government of national unity be formed with Charles de Gaulle at its head in order to defend French control of Algeria.

1960 – Hundreds of University of California, Berkeley students congregate for the first day of protest against a visit by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Thirty-one students are arrested, and the Free Speech Movement is born.

1963 – The U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland is decided.

1967 – Dr. Zakir Hussain becomes the third President of India. He is the first Muslim President of the Indian Union. He holds this position until August 24, 1969.

1969 – Race riots, later known as the May 13 Incident, take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

1972 – Faulty electrical wiring ignites a fire underneath the Playtown Cabaret in Osaka, Japan. Blocked exits and non-functional elevators lead to 118 fatalities, with many victims leaping to their deaths.

1980 – An F3 tornado hits Kalamazoo County, Michigan. President Jimmy Carter declares it a federal disaster area.

1981 – Mehmet Ali Agca attempts to assassinate Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The Pope is rushed to the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic to undergo emergency surgery and survives.

1985 – Police storm MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia to end a stand-off, killing 11 MOVE members and destroying the homes of 250 city residents.

1989 – Large groups of students occupy Tiananmen Square and begin a hunger strike.

1992 – Li Hongzhi gives the first public lecture on Falun Gong in Changchun, People’s Republic of China.

1994 – Johnny Carson makes his last television appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.

1996 – Severe thunderstorms and a tornado in Bangladesh kill 600 people.

1998 – Race riots break out in Jakarta, Indonesia, where shops owned by Indonesians of Chinese descent are looted and women raped.

1998 – India carries out two nuclear tests at Pokhran, following the three conducted on May 11. The United States and Japan impose economic sanctions on India.

2000 – In Enschede, Netherlands, a fireworks factory explodes, killing 22 people, wounding 950, and resulting in approximately €450 million in damage.

2005 – The Andijan Massacre occurs in Uzbekistan.

2005 – The Binh Bridge opens to traffic in Hai Phong, Vietnam.

2006 – 2006 Sao Paulo violence: a major rebellion occurs in several prisons in Brazil.

2008 – The Jaipur bombings in Rajasthan, India results in dozens of deaths.

Holidays and observances

   *Abbotsbury Garland Day (Dorset, England)

   * Christian Feast Day:

       Gerard of Villamagna


       John the Silent (Roman Catholic)

       Julian of Norwich (Roman Catholic)

       Our Lady of Fatima


       May 13 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * One of the three feast days of the Lemuralia, observed in ancient Rome

   * Rotuma Day (Fiji)

1 comment

  1. TMC

    Dalai Lama

    Rather than working only to acquire wealth, we need to focus on the welfare of humanity as a whole.

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