Today In History – March 3

0

Tuesday March 3, 2015 the 62nd day and 9th week of 2015, there are 303 days and 43 weeks left in the year. Highlights of world history on this day

1820 Congress passes the Missouri Compromise

After months of bitter debate, Congress passed the Missouri Compromise, a bill that temporarily resolves the first serious political clash between slavery and antislavery interests in U.S. history.

In February 1819, Representative James Tallmadge of New York introduced a bill that would admit Missouri into the Union as a state where slavery was prohibited. At the time, there were 11 free states and 10 slave states. Southern congressmen feared that the entrance of Missouri as a free state would upset the balance of power between North and South, as the North far outdistanced the South in population, and thus, U.S. representatives. Opponents to the bill also questioned the congressional precedent of prohibiting the expansion of slavery into a territory where slave status was favoured.

Even after Alabama was granted statehood in December 1819 with no prohibition on its practice of slavery, Congress remained deadlocked on the issue of Missouri. Finally, a compromise was reached. On March 3, 1820, Congress passed a bill granting Missouri statehood as a slave state under the condition that slavery was to be forever prohibited in the rest of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 36th parallel, which runs approximately along the southern border of Missouri. In addition, Maine, formerly part of Massachusetts, was admitted as a free state, thus preserving the balance between Northern and Southern senators.

The Missouri Compromise, although criticized by many on both sides of the slavery debate, succeeded in keeping the Union together for more than 30 years. In 1854, it was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which dictated that slave or free status was to be decided by popular vote in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska; though both were north of the 36th parallel.

1863 Congress passes Civil War conscription act

During the Civil War, the U.S. Congress passed a conscription act that produces the first wartime draft of U.S. citizens in American history. The act called for registration of all males between the ages of 20 and 45, including aliens with the intention of becoming citizens, by April 1. Exemptions from the draft could be bought for $300 or by finding a substitute draftee. This clause led to bloody draft riots in New York City, where protesters were outraged that exemptions were effectively granted only to the wealthiest U.S. citizens.

Although the Civil War saw the first compulsory conscription of U.S. citizens for wartime service, a 1792 act by Congress required that all able-bodied male citizens purchase a gun and join their local state militia. There was no penalty for noncompliance with this act. Congress also passed a conscription act during the War of 1812, but the war ended before it was enacted. During the Civil War, the government of the Confederate States of America also enacted a compulsory military draft. The U.S. enacted a military draft again during World War I, in 1940 to make the U.S. ready for its involvement in World War II, and during the Korean War. The last U.S. military draft occurred during the Vietnam War

1918 Russia makes a separate peace

Bolshevik Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Central Powers, abandoning the Allied war effort and granting independence to its Polish and Baltic territories, the Ukraine, and Finland.

Russia’s disastrous involvement in World War I was a primary factor that led to Vladimir Lenin’s successful Marxist revolution in November 1917. In December 1917, Germany agreed to an armistice and peace talks with Russia, and Lenin sent Leon Trotsky to Brest-Litovsk in Belarus to negotiate a treaty. The talks broke off after Germany demanded independence for Russian holdings in Eastern Europe, and in February 1918 fighting resumed on the eastern front. With German troops advancing on St. Petersburg, Lenin authorized the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918.

German leaders hoped that the formerly Russian territories would fall under their sway, but in November 1918 an armistice ended World War I, dooming Germany to demilitarization and Allied domination. In 1919, Soviet Russia regained the Ukraine in the Russian Civil War and in 1939 seized parts of Poland, and in 1940 the Baltics, following the signing of the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact.

1931 “The Star-Spangled Banner” becomes official

President Herbert Hoover signed a congressional act making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the official national anthem of the United States.

On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key composed the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” after witnessing the massive overnight British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812. Key, an American lawyer, watched the siege while under detainment on a British ship and penned the famous words after observing with awe that Fort McHenry’s flag survived the 1,800-bomb assault.

After circulating as a handbill, the patriotic lyrics were published in a Baltimore newspaper on September 20, 1814. Key’s words were later set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular English song. Throughout the 19th century, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was regarded as the national anthem by most branches of the U.S. armed forces and other groups, but it was not until 1916, and the signing of an executive order by President Woodrow Wilson, that it was formally designated as such. In March 1931, Congress passed an act confirming Wilson’s presidential order, and on March 3 President Hoover signed it into law.

1945 Finland declares war on Germany

On this day, Finland, under increasing pressure from both the United States and the Soviet Union, finally declared war on its former partner, Germany.

After the German invasion of Poland, the USSR, wanting to protect Leningrad more than ever from encroachment by the West—even its dubious Nonaggression Pact partner Germany—began demanding control of various disputed areas from Finland, including part of the Karelian Isthmus (the land bridge that gave access to Leningrad). Finland resisted the Soviet pressure. Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin responded by enacting the “small print” of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Nonaggression Pact the USSR had signed with Germany back in August, which gave the USSR free reign in its “sphere of influence.” The Soviets invaded Finland on November 30, 1939. (Stalin claimed that Finnish troops opened fire on Soviet troops.)

The Finns stunned everyone by beating back the initial Soviet offensive. Although their resistance consisted of only small numbers of trained soldiers (on skis and bicycles!) the refusal to submit made headlines around the world. President Roosevelt quickly extended $10 million in credit to Finland, while also noting that the Finns were the only people to pay back their World War I war debt to the United States in full. But by the time the Soviets had a chance to regroup and send in massive reinforcements, the Finnish resistance was spent. In March 1940, negotiations with the Soviets began, and Finland signed the Treaty of Moscow, which handed over control of the Karelian Isthmus.

As tension increased between Germany and the USSR, Finland saw in Hitler a possible ally in gaining back its lost territory. German troops were allowed on Finnish soil as the Germans prepared for their invasion of the Soviet Union—a war that the Finns joined. Although Finnish troops captured large areas of East Karelia back from the Soviet Union, they were reluctant to trespass the old borders of 1939 and help Germany in the siege of Leningrad.

But repeated German setbacks resulted in putting the Soviet Union on the offensive again. Shortly after the Red Army broke through to the Karelian Isthmus in June 1944, the Finnish president, Risto Ryti, resigned. (Around this same time, the United States broke off relations with Finland after repeated demands that Ryti renounce his alliance with Germany were rebuffed.) Ryti’s successor, Gustaf Mannerheim, immediately sued for an armistice with the Soviet Union. This was signed on September 19, 1944; Finland agreed to the terms of the 1940 Treaty of Moscow and to throw all German troops off Finnish soil. The final act of capitulation came on March 3, 1945, with a formal declaration of war against the already dying Germany.

 

1991 Police brutality caught on video

At 12:45 a.m. on March 3, 1991, robbery parolee Rodney G. King stopped his car after leading police on a nearly 8-mile pursuit through the streets of Los Angeles, California. The chase began after King, who was intoxicated, was caught speeding on a freeway by a California Highway Patrol cruiser but refused to pull over. Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) cruisers and a police helicopter joined the pursuit, and when King was finally stopped by Hansen Dam Park, several police cars descended on his white Hyundai.

A group of LAPD officers led by Sergeant Stacey Koon ordered King and the other two occupants of the car to exit the vehicle and lie flat on the ground. King’s two friends complied, but King himself was slower to respond, getting on his hands and knees rather than lying flat. Officers Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Ted Briseno, and Roland Solano tried to force King down, but he resisted, and the officers stepped back and shot King twice with an electric stun gun known as a Taser, which fires darts carrying a charge of 50,000 volts.

At this moment, civilian George Holliday, standing on a balcony in an apartment complex across the street, focused the lens of his new video camera on the commotion unfolding by Hansen Dam Park. In the first few seconds of what would become a very famous 89-second video, King is seen rising after the Taser shots and running in the direction of Officer Powell. The officers alleged that King was charging Powell, while King himself later claimed that an officer told him, “We’re going to kill you, nigger. Run!” and he tried to flee. All the arresting officers were white, along with all but one of the other two dozen or so law enforcement officers present at the scene. With the roar of a helicopter above, very few commands or remarks are audible in the video.

With King running in his direction, Powell swung his baton, hitting him on the side of the head and knocking him to the ground. This action was captured by the video, but the next 10 seconds were blurry as Holliday shifted the camera. From the 18- to 30-second mark in the video, King attempted to rise, and Powell and Wind attacked him with a torrent of baton blows that prevented him from doing so. From the 35- to 51-second mark, Powell administered repeated baton blows to King’s lower body. At 55 seconds, Powell struck King on the chest, and King rolled over and lay prone. At that point, the officers stepped back and observed King for about 10 seconds. Powell began to reach for his handcuffs.

At 65 seconds on the video, Officer Briseno stepped roughly on King’s upper back or neck, and King’s body writhed in response. Two seconds later, Powell and Wind again began to strike King with a series of baton blows, and Wind kicked him in the neck six times until 86 seconds into the video. At about 89 seconds, King put his hands behind his back and was handcuffed.

Sergeant Koon never made an effort to stop the beating, and only one of the many officers present briefly intervened, raising his left arm in front of a baton-swinging colleague in the opening moments of the videotape, to no discernible effect. An ambulance was called, and King was taken to the hospital. Struck as many as 56 times with the batons, he suffered a fractured leg, multiple facial fractures, and numerous bruises and contusions. Unaware that the arrest was videotaped, the officers downplayed the level of violence used to arrest King and filed official reports in which they claimed he suffered only cuts and bruises “of a minor nature.”

George Holliday sold his video of the beating to the local television station, KTLA, which broadcast the footage and sold it to the national Cable News Network (CNN). The widely broadcast video caused outrage around the country and triggered a national debate on police brutality. Rodney King was released without charges, and on March 15 Sergeant Koon and officers Powell, Wind, and Briseno were indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury in connection with the beating. All four were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and excessive use of force by a police officer. Though Koon did not actively participate in the beating, as the commanding officer he was charged with aiding and abetting it. Powell and Koon were also charged with filing false reports.

Because of the uproar in Los Angeles surrounding the incident, the judge, Stanley Weisberg, was persuaded to move the trial outside Los Angeles County to Simi Valley in Ventura County. On April 29, 1992, the 12-person jury, which included 10 whites and no African Americans, issued its verdicts: not guilty on all counts, except for one assault charge against Powell that ended in a hung jury. The acquittals touched off rioting and looting in Los Angeles that grew into the most destructive U.S. civil disturbance of the 20th century. In three days of violence, more than 50 people were killed, more than 2,000 were injured, and nearly $1 billion in property was destroyed. On May 1, President George H.W. Bush ordered military troops and riot-trained federal officers to Los Angeles to quell the riot.

Under federal law, the officers could also be prosecuted for violating Rodney King’s constitutional rights, and on April 17, 1993, a federal jury convicted Koon and Powell for violating King’s rights by their unreasonable use of force under colour of law. Although Wind and Briseno were acquitted, most civil rights advocates considered the mixed verdict a victory. On August 4, Koon and Powell were sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for the beating of King. King received $3.8 million in a civil suit against the Los Angeles police department.

2009 Super-luxurious Maybach Zeppelin goes on sale

On this day in 2009, the uber-luxurious Maybach Zeppelin sedan goes on sale, with a starting price of $523,870 for the Maybach 57 Zeppelin and $610,580 for the Maybach 62 Zeppelin. Daimler-Benz, owner of the Maybach brand, announced that only 100 Zeppelins would be built, with each vehicle hand-crafted to its individual buyer’s specifications. Among the Zeppelin’s many optional amenities was the world’s first perfume-atomizing system, for which customers could even have their own personal fragrance designed.

The 2009 Maybach Zeppelin was a reincarnation of the Zeppelin auto built in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The original Zeppelin was made by a company founded by German auto industry pioneer Wilhelm Maybach. In 1885, Maybach and the German engineer Gottlieb Daimler developed a new, high-speed, four-stroke internal combustion engine, which they later affixed to a bicycle to create what people call the first-ever motorcycle. The two men later attached their engine to a carriage, producing a motorized vehicle. In 1890, Daimler and several partners established Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (Daimler Motor Company) to build engines and automobiles. In 1900, Maybach, who served as the company’s chief designer, developed the first Mercedes automobile. Commissioned by auto dealer and racer Emil Jellinek, who wanted a new car to sell to his rich clients in the French Riviera, the Mercedes was named after Jellinek’s daughter.

Gottlieb Daimler died in March 1900 and Maybach left the Daimler company in 1907. Maybach later went into business with his engineer son Karl (1879-1960) and in 1921 at a Berlin auto show they debuted their first car, the Maybach Type W3. During the 1920s and 1930s, the company became known for developing powerful, technologically sophisticated, custom-built vehicles for the wealthy, including the top-of-the-line Zeppelin model. Wilhelm Maybach died on December 29, 1929, at the age of 83.

During World War II, the company stopped making cars and built engines for German military vehicles instead. Auto production never resumed after the war, although Maybach continued to build engines for a variety of vehicles and eventually became part of Daimler-Benz. In the early 2000s, DaimlerChrysler (as it was then called; since 2007 its name has been Daimler AG) resurrected the Maybach nameplate, launching the Maybach 57 and the Maybach 62 (the numbers represent each vehicle’s length: 5.7 meters and 6.2 meters). Today, Maybachs are known for their power and luxury accoutrements–the 2009 Zeppelin featured a twin turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 engine as well a high-quality leather interior and silver champagne flutes engraved with the word Zeppelin.

Leave a Reply