Today In History, September 4
Thursday September 4, 2014 the 244th day and 34th week of 2014, there are 121 days and 18 weeks left in the year. Highlights of today in world history…
1886 Geronimo surrenders
On this day in 1886, Apache chief Geronimo surrendered to U.S. government troops. For 30 years, the mighty Native American warrior had battled to protect his tribe’s homeland; however, by 1886 the Apaches were exhausted and hopelessly outnumbered. General Nelson Miles accepted Geronimo’s surrender, making him the last Indian warrior to formally give in to U.S. forces and signalling the end of the Indian Wars in the Southwest.
Geronimo was born in 1829 and grew up in what is present-day Arizona and Mexico. His tribe, the Chiricahua Apaches, clashed with non-Indian settlers trying to take their land. In 1858, Geronimo’s family was murdered by Mexicans. Seeking revenge, he later led raids against Mexican and American settlers. In 1874, the U.S. government moved Geronimo and his people from their land to a reservation in east-central Arizona. Conditions on the reservation were restrictive and harsh and Geronimo and some of his followers escaped. Over the next decade, they battled federal troops and launched raids on white settlements. During this time, Geronimo and his supporters were forced back onto the reservation several times. In May 1885, Geronimo and approximately 150 followers fled one last time. They were pursued into Mexico by 5,000 U.S. troops. In March 1886, General George Crook (1829–90) forced Geronimo to surrender; however, Geronimo quickly escaped and continued his raids. General Nelson Miles (1839–1925) then took over the pursuit of Geronimo, eventually forcing him to surrender that September near Fort Bowie along the Arizona-New Mexico border. Geronimo and a band of Apaches were sent to Florida and then Alabama, eventually ending up at the Comanche and Kiowa reservation near Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory. There, Geronimo became a successful farmer and converted to Christianity. He participated in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905. The Apache chief dictated his autobiography, published in 1906 as Geronimo’s Story of His Life. He died at Fort Sill on February 17, 1909.
1945 Japanese surrender on Wake Island
On this day in 1945, 2,200 Japanese soldiers finally laid down their arms-days after their government had already formally capitulated.
Wake Island was one of the islands bombed as part of a wider bombing raid that coincided with the attack on Pearl Harbour. In December of 1941, the Japanese invaded in force, taking the island from American hands, losing 820 men, while the United States lost 120. The United States decided not to retake the island but to cut off the Japanese occupiers from reinforcement, which would mean they would eventually starve. Rear Adm. Shigematsu Sakaibara, commander of the Japanese forces there, ordered the 96 Allied prisoners of war who had been left behind shot dead on trumped-up charges of trying to signal American forces by radio.
And so the Japanese garrison sat on Wake Island for two years, suffering the occasional U.S. bombing raid, but no land invasion. In that time, 1,300 Japanese soldiers died from starvation, and 600 from the American air attacks. Two days after the formal Japanese surrender on board the USS Missouri, Sakaibara capitulated to American forces, which finally landed on the island. Sakaibara was eventually tried for war crimes and executed in 1947.
1951 President Truman makes first transcontinental television broadcast
On this day in 1951, President Harry S. Truman’s opening speech before a conference in San Francisco was broadcast across the nation, marking the first time a television program was broadcast from coast to coast. The speech focused on Truman’s acceptance of a treaty that officially ended America’s post-World War II occupation of Japan.
The broadcast, via then-state-of-the-art microwave technology, was picked up by 87 stations in 47 cities, according to CBS. In his remarks, Truman lauded the treaty as one that would help “build a world in which the children of all nations can live together in peace.” As communism was threatening to spread throughout Pacific Rim nations such as Korea and Vietnam, the U.S. recognized the need to create an ally in a strong, democratic Japan.
Since the end of World War II in 1945, Japan had been occupied and closely monitored by the American military under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur. By 1951, six years later, Truman considered the task of rebuilding Japan complete. Truman praised the Japanese people’s willingness to go along with the plan and expressed his pride in having helped to rebuild Japan as a democracy. Gone was the old militaristic police state; in its place was a country with a new constitution, unions for protecting the rights of labourers and voting rights for women, among many other positive changes.
The Multilateral Treaty of Peace with Japan, as it was ultimately called, was ratified by the U.S. Congress on March 20, 1952.
1957 Edsel arrives in showrooms at last
On September 4, 1957–”E-Day,” according to its advertising campaign–the Ford Motor Company unveiled the Edsel, the first new automobile brand produced by one of the Big Three car companies since 1938. (Although many people call it the “Ford Edsel,” in fact Edsel was a division all its own, like Lincoln or Mercury.) Thirteen hundred independent Edsel dealers offered four models for sale: the smaller Pacer and Ranger and the larger Citation and Corsair.
To many people, the Edsel serves as a symbol of corporate hubris at its worst: it was an over-hyped, over-sized, over-designed monstrosity. Other people believe the car was simply a victim of bad timing. When Ford executives began planning for the company’s new brand, the economy was booming and people were snapping up enormous gas-guzzlers as fast as automakers could build them. By the time the Edsel hit showrooms, however, the economic outlook was bad and getting worse. People didn’t want big, glitzy fin cars anymore; they wanted small, efficient ones instead. The Edsel was just ostentatious and expensive enough to give buyers pause.
At the same time, there is probably no car in the world that could have lived up to the Edsel’s hype. For months, the company had been running ads that simply pictured the car’s hood ornament and the line “The Edsel Is Coming.” Everything else about the car was top-secret: If dealers failed to keep their Edsels hidden, they’d lose their franchise. For the great E-Day unveiling, promotions and prizes–like a giveaway of 1,000 ponies–lured shoppers to showrooms.
When they got there, they found a car that had a distinctive look indeed–but not necessarily in a good way. Thanks to the big impact ring or “horse collar” in the middle of its front grille, it looked (one reporter said) like “a Pontiac pushing a toilet seat.” (Another called it “an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon.”) And its problems were more than cosmetic. Drivers changed gears by pushing buttons on the steering wheel, a system that was not easy to figure out. In addition, at highway speeds that famous hood ornament had a tendency to fly off and into the windshield.
In its first year, Edsel sold just 64,000 cars and lost $250 million ($2.5 billion today). After the 1960 model year, the company folded.
1957 Little Rock becomes a Cold War hotspot
Under orders from the governor of Arkansas, armed National Guardsmen prevent nine African-American students from attending the all-white Central High School in Little Rock. What began as a domestic crisis soon exploded into a Cold War embarrassment.
The United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a heated and costly war of words during the early years of the Cold War. Propaganda became an important weapon as each nation sought to win the “hearts and minds” of people around the world. In this war, the United States suffered from one undeniable weakness: racial discrimination in America. This was a particularly costly weakness, for it made America’s rhetoric about democracy and equality seem hollow, especially to people of colour in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The Soviets eagerly seized on the issue, and tales of the horrors suffered by African Americans in the United States became a staple of their propaganda. In 1954, however, the monumental Supreme Court case of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education declared segregated schools unconstitutional and ordered school integration to proceed “with all deliberate speed.” The case was trumpeted by the American government’s propaganda as evidence of the great strides being made toward full equality for all citizens.
In 1957, a Federal District Court ordered the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, to allow African-American students to attend. Governor Orval Faubus declared that he would not follow the decree. When nine African-American students attempted to enter the school on September 4, 1957, a crowd of several hundred angry and belligerent whites confronted them. Hundreds of National Guardsmen, called up by Faubus, blocked the students’ entry into the school. To the chants of “Go home, niggers” from the mob, the nine students left. Faubus’s action won him acclaim in his home state, and in much of the South, but it was a serious embarrassment to the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower himself was no great supporter of civil rights, but he understood the international significance of the events in Little Rock. Pictures of the angry mob, the terrified African-American students, and National Guardsmen with guns and gas masks were seen around the world. The Soviets could not have created better propaganda. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles informed Eisenhower that the Little Rock incident was hurting the United States overseas, and might even cost the country the support of other nations in the United Nations. Eisenhower tried to negotiate a settlement with Faubus, but when this failed, he sent in federal troops. The nine African-American students were finally allowed to attend Central High.
The Little Rock incident indicated that America’s domestic problems, particularly racial discrimination, could not remain purely domestic in the context of the Cold War. The United States portrayed itself as the defender of democracy, justice, and equality in its struggle with the Soviet Union and communism. The ugly reality of the Little Rock integration, however, forced both allies and enemies to question America’s dedication to the principles it so often professed.
1969 Radio Hanoi announces the death of Ho Chi Minh
Radio Hanoi announced the death of Ho Chi Minh, proclaiming that the National Liberation Front will halt military operations in the South for three days, September 8-11, in mourning for Ho. He had been the spiritual leader of the communists in Vietnam since the earliest days of the struggle against the French and, later, the United States and its ally in Saigon. Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai and a delegation from China held talks with First Secretary Le Duan and other members of the North Vietnamese Politburo. The Chinese leaders assured the North Vietnamese of their continued support in the war against the United States. This support was absolutely essential if the North Vietnamese wished to continue the war. Many in the United States hoped the death of Ho Chi Minh would provide a new opportunity to achieve a negotiated settlement to the war in Vietnam, but this did not materialize.
2002 Kelly Clarkson wins first American Idol
On this day in 2002, Kelly Clarkson, a 20-year-old cocktail waitress from Texas, won Season One of American Idol in a live television broadcast from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre. Clarkson came out on top in the amateur singing contest over 23-year-old runner-up Justin Guarini after millions of viewers cast their votes for her by phone. She was awarded a recording contract and went on to sell millions of albums and establish a successful music career. (Clarkson and Guarnini also co-starred in the 2003 box-office bomb From Justin to Kelly, which was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for that year’s worst film but lost to the Jennifer Lopez-Ben Affleck vehicle Gigli.) Starting with its first season, American Idol became one of the most popular TV programs in U.S. history and spawned a slew of talent-competition shows.
American Idol was based on a British TV show called Pop Idol, which was developed by the English-born entertainment executive Simon Fuller and debuted in the U.K. in 2001. The Idol concept was shopped around in the United States and reportedly rejected by several TV networks before Fox picked it up. The American Idol premiere, which aired on June 11, 2002, was co-hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman (who was dropped from the program after Season One) and starred a trio of judge–the acerbic British music executive Simon Cowell, the singer-choreographer Paul Abdul and the musician-producer Randy Jackson. The show followed the judges as they selected contestants, who were required to be teens or young adults, from open auditions around the United States. Contestants who made the cut were flown to Hollywood, where they were eventually narrowed to 10 finalists, who performed live on television and were critiqued by the judges. Home viewers phoned in their votes for their favourite performers and each week the contestant who received the lowest number of votes was eliminated from the competition.
Following Clarkson’s Season One victory, subsequent American Idol winners–Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks and David Cook–have had varying degrees of success in their music careers. In some cases, American Idol runner-ups, such as Clay Aiken (Season Two, second place) and Chris Daughtry (Season Five, fourth place), have sold more records than certain A.I. winners. Jennifer Hudson, who finished seventh in Season Three of the show, later won an Academy Award for her supporting performance in Dreamgirls (2006), the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical.