Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Today in History: 25th Anniversary of Reagan's Berlin Wall Speech

On June 12, 1987 Germany was celebrating their 750th anniversary of Berlin and many dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth had visited. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev was also due to visit in a matter of days. President Reagan was already in Europe for a planned visit in Italy for an economic conference when the West German government requested him to visit and the necessary plans were put into place. The President's staff and aids, including National Security Advisor Colin Powell, pushed for the Reagan to stay away from controversial topics which could inflame relations with the Soviet Union which Reagan had built up. Reagan's speech writer and Reagan himself disagreed. They felt this was an opportunity and they took full advantage. Reagan delivered one of his most memorable and one of the most important speeches in history. He directly challenged the Soviet Union to open the Brandenburg Gate, to show the world that their small measures toward freedom and liberty meant something. Reagan challenged Gorbachev to remove the symbol of oppression, he challenged him to "tear down this wall."


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lincoln Document: Doctor's Report

I love it when historians or individuals discover lost documents that reveal information about a person or event. Recently the National Archives discovered a list medical report of Dr Charles Leale who was sitting only a few feet away from Lincoln when he was shot. At first Leale believed Lincoln was stabbed because Booth jumped on stage revealing a knife. Within moments Leale demanded brandy and water and did his best to care for Lincoln at the theatre. It's worth reading the rest of the article to learn what they discovered and did not discover in the medical report from April 1865.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Oops...at a Confederate Cemetery in Ohio

Check this one out, an amateur historian on the Civil War discovered a big problem at the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. He recognized one of the soldiers regiments did not look right to him. After some digging he discovered the man, named John Kennedy, was actually a Union soldier from Kentucky. His along with possibly six other gravesites have been misidentified since at least 1869. 


Friday, June 1, 2012

War of 1812: Madison's War Message

It was 200 years-ago today that James Madison appeared in front of a joint session of Congress and announced his desire and immediate need for the United States to declare war on Great Britain. The problems with Great Britain had actually been going back as far as the end of the American Revolution.

There is a huge misconception out there about the end of the American Revolution. Many just believe that the Battle of Yorktown was the decisive battle that ended the conflict and although it was a big blow to Britain's chances for victory we are talking about the largest military force in the world at the time. Support in Great Britain had never been strong and waned even more after that loss. It took two years for a peace treaty to actually be signed and even through that process Great Britain showed little respect to the American diplomats and this newly formed country. This disrespect never stopped. Britain would invade our territory in the west, stir up Indian aggression, and the biggest atrocity was the impressment of our men into the British military in order to fight against the French.

Madison was finally been fed up. Problems with Great Britain had increased exponentially since 1803 when war with France broke out. Britain was desperate for an advantage and one can see by their treatment of us they still considered the United States a colony to be used for resources. Madison realized that peace could no longer be attained that war was the only answer. Great Britain had to recognize our sovereign status once and for all. On June 17, 1812, in a 19-13 vote in the Senate, war was passed and the next day Madison signed it, officially putting the United States and Great Britain back into an armed conflict.

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