Jun 17 2011

On This Day In History June 17

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.

June 17 is the 168th day of the year (169th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 197 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, arrives in New York City’s harbor.

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World, French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States.

Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the pedestal and the site. Bartholdi completed both the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions. The arm was displayed in New York’s Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the World initiated a drive for donations to complete the project, and the campaign inspired over 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe’s Island. The statue’s completion was marked by New York’s first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.

The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue is scheduled to close for up to a year beginning in late 2011 so that a secondary staircase can be installed. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916.

 1462 – Vlad III the Impaler attempts to assassinate Mehmed II (The Night Attack) forcing him to retreat from Wallachia.

1497 – Battle of Deptford Bridge – forces under King Henry VII defeat troops led by Michael An Gof.

1565 – Matsunaga Hisahide assassinates the 13th Ashikaga shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiteru.

1579 – Sir Francis Drake claims a land he calls Nova Albion (modern California) for England.

1631 – Mumtaz Mahal dies during childbirth. Her husband, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan I, will spend more than 20 years building her mausoleum, the Taj Mahal.

1673 – French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet reach the Mississippi River and become the first Europeans to make a detailed account of its course.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: Battle of Bunker Hill

1789 – In France, the Third Estate declares itself the National Assembly.

1839 – In the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kamehameha III issues the Edict of toleration which gives Roman Catholics the freedom to worship in the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaii Catholic Church and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace are established as a result.

1863 – Battle of Aldie in the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War.

1876 – Indian Wars: Battle of the Rosebud – 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne led by Crazy Horse beat back General George Crook’s forces at Rosebud Creek in Montana Territory.

1877 – Indian Wars: Battle of White Bird Canyon – the Nez Perce defeat the U.S. Cavalry at White Bird Canyon in the Idaho Territory.

1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor.

1898 – The United States Navy Hospital Corps is established.

1901 – The College Board introduces its first standardized test, the forerunner to the SAT.

1930 – U.S. President Herbert Hoover signs the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act into law.

1932 – Bonus Army: around a thousand World War I veterans amass at the United States Capitol as the U.S. Senate considers a bill that would give them certain benefits.

1933 – Union Station Massacre: in Kansas City, Missouri, four FBI agents and captured fugitive Frank Nash are gunned down by gangsters attempting to free Nash.

1939 – Last public guillotining in France: Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, is guillotined in Versailles outside the Saint-Pierre prison.

1940 – World War II: Operation Ariel begins – Allied troops start to evacuate France, following Germany’s takeover of Paris and most of the nation.

1940 – World War II: sinking of the RMS Lancastria by the Luftwaffe near Saint-Nazaire, France.

1940 – World War II: the British Army’s 11th Hussars assault and take Fort Capuzzo in Libya, Africa from Italian forces.

1940 – The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania fall under the occupation of the Soviet Union.

1944 – Iceland declares independence from Denmark and becomes a republic.

1948 – A Douglas DC-6 carrying United Airlines Flight 624 crashes near Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, killing all 43 people on board.

1953 – East Germany Workers Uprising: in East Germany, the Soviet Union orders a division of troops into East Berlin to quell a rebellion.

1958 – The Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing, in the process of being built to connect Vancouver and North Vancouver (Canada), collapses into the Burrard Inlet killing many of the ironworkers and injuring others.

1958 – The Wooden Roller Coaster at Playland, which is in the Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver, Canada opens. It is still open today.

1960 – The Nez Perce tribe is awarded $4 million for 7 million acres (28,000 km2) of land undervalued (4 cents/acre) in the 1863 treaty.

1961 – The New Democratic Party of Canada is founded with the merger of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.

1963 – The United States Supreme Court rules 8 to 1 in Abington School District v. Schempp against allowing the reciting of Bible verses and the Lord’s Prayer in public schools.

1963 – A day after South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem announced the Joint Communique to end the Buddhist crisis, a riot involving around 2,000 people breaks out, killing one.

1971 – President Richard Nixon declares the U.S. War on Drugs.

1972 – Watergate scandal: five White House operatives are arrested for burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee, in an attempt by some members of the Republican party to illegally wiretap the opposition.

1987 – With the death of the last individual, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow becomes extinct.

1991 – Apartheid: the South African Parliament repeals the Population Registration Act which required racial classification of all South Africans at birth.

1992 – A ‘joint understanding’ agreement on arms reduction is signed by U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin (this would be later codified in START II).

1994 – Following a televised low-speed highway chase , O.J. Simpson is arrested for the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Holidays and observances

   * Bunker Hill Day (Suffolk County, Massachusetts)

   * Christian Feast Day:

       * Albert Chmielowski

       * Botolph (England)

       * Gondulphus of Berry

       * Hervé

       * Hypatius of Bithynia (Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches)

       * Rainerius

       * June 17 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Day of German Unity, celebrated before October 1990. (West Germany)

   * Father’s Day (El Salvador and Guatemala)

   * National Day, celebrates the independence of Iceland from Kingdom of Denmark in 1944.

   * Soviet Occupation Day (Latvia)

   * World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (International)

   * Zemla Intifada Day (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic)