This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Shades of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis
It is occasionally said among those in the political arena that we are residing in the midst of a new Cold War. Last year, President Trump made history at a summit meeting in Singapore. Sitting with Kim Jong-un, Trump became the first US president to sign a denuclearization agreement with the leader of North Korea. This defied Leftist media from all around, who suggested that Trump would ignite a war.
Featuring the faces of four iconic presidents, the mountain has become an American cultural icon.
Thus far, he is overwhelmingly proven to want peace. Before Trump assumed the presidency, war certainly seemed to be looming on the horizon. Tension between the United States and North Korea was growing. “I will say this,” Trump said. “If I weren’t President, you’d be at war with North Korea, in my opinion. If the same group was in that preceded me, you’d be at war with North Korea.”
Fifty-seven years ago, the world stood on the brink of a third global conflict, following the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Several years prior, Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba. The failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, which was an attempt to overthrow Castro, resulted in Castro forming a closer alliance with the USSR and Cuba becoming a Soviet satellite. When the missiles were discovered, the world watched for two weeks as negotiations between President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev ensued. Finally, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles, ending the crisis.
Though the new Cold War is not as hostile as the old one, there is still plenty of tension to go around. Hopefully, President Trump will continue to negotiate successful peace treaties and resolve hostilities. The Cuban Missile Crisis is not the only event to take place this month in history, however. The Siege of Yorktown, the Shootout at O.K. Corral, and the start of the War for Texas Independence are just a few major events in October’s memory. I hope you enjoy learning about many of these events.
Gonzales, Mount Rushmore, and Kings Mountain
October 1, 1924
Jimmy Carter is born in Plains, Georgia. Raised in a family of wealthy peanut farmers, he later took charge of the business and expanded it. Carter joined the US Naval Academy in 1946 and worked on submarines. A member of the Democratic Party, Carter served in the Georgia State Senate from 1963-1967, and then as Governor of Georgia from 1971-1975. He served as president from 1977-1981, during which one of his greatest accomplishments was the signing of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 and he currently remains active in public life and charity work.
October 2, 1835
The Texas Revolution begins. Several years prior, the Mexican government gave the settlers of Gonzales, Texas, a cannon to protect themselves from Comanche renegades. Over the next four years, the political climate between the Mexican government and the people of Texas became increasingly hostile. The commander of Mexican troops considered it unwise to leave a cannon in the hands of angry Texans and sent a detachment to retrieve it. Upon arrival, they were met with heavy resistance, and the settlers had woven a flag featuring the cannon, with the words, “Come and Take It.” After several hours of fighting, the Mexican troops retreated, and the Texas Revolution had officially begun.
October 3, 1863
President Abraham Lincoln declares the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. George Washington was the first president to call for a day of thanks, following the establishment of America as its own nation. Eventually, it was Lincoln who decided that Thanksgiving should be a national holiday. Later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the celebration date to the third Thursday in November.
October 4, 1927
The carving of Mount Rushmore begins. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore was the brainchild of Jonah “Doane” Robinson. Featured on the mountain are four famous US presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, an original prototype consisted of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, with more complete forms. In the end, Roosevelt was added, with only the faces of the presidents being shown. The mountain was also intended to feature notable figures of the Old West, including Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud, and Buffalo Bill. The final decision, however, was that only Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt would be featured.
October 5, 1947
President Harry Truman delivers the first televised Oval Office Address. In his speech, Truman encouraged Americans to conserve food in an effort to aid post-war Europe. The same format was used 10 years later, when President Eisenhower informed the nation of his intervention during the Little Rock Crisis. Other notable televised Oval Office speeches include President Kennedy’s 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis Speech, President Reagan’s 1986 Challenger Disaster Speech, and President Bush’s address on the evening of September 11, 2001.
October 7, 1780
The Battle of Kings Mountain is fought. Located just across the South Carolina border, Kings Mountain proved to be a turning point for the Southern Theater of the American Revolution. Mountaineers, who became known as the “Over-mountain Men,” learned of an attempt by Charles Cornwallis to lead a British invasion of North Carolina. Major Patrick Ferguson had been ordered to the area to protect the primary flank.
Originating from the Appalachians in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, the Over-mountain Men rallied in various locations along the way. At Kings Mountain, they had an upper hand over their loyalist opponents, as their flintlock rifles contained grooved barrels, meaning better accuracy than standard muskets. Ferguson was killed during the battle and the British Invasion of North Carolina was halted.
The Panama Canal, Bull Moose Party, Harper’s Ferry
October 10, 1913
Construction of the Panama Canal comes to an end. Beginning in 1881, the canal’s construction consisted largely of French workers. The project was eventually halted until 1904, and it was finished in 1913. Construction ended when President Woodrow Wilson triggered the explosion of the Gamboa Dike and the canal opened to traffic the following year. The idea for the canal can be traced as far back as 1513, when Vasco Nunez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus and reached the Pacific.
October 12, 1933
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary opens. Located in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island was known by Native Americans as “Evil Island” for many years, due to the fact that they believed it to be inhabited by malevolent spirits. The island was transformed into a military reservation in the 1850s and later became a Civil War base. Upon its opening as a federal prison in 1933, it lasted for thirty years, and was closed in 1963. The island was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
October 13, 1792
The White House cornerstone is laid. Originally known as the Executive Mansion, John Adams was the first president to take up residence in the building. It would not be called the White House until Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, in 1901. In a letter to his wife, Adams said, “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”
October 14, 1912
Theodore Roosevelt is shot while attempting to deliver a speech for the Progressive Party in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Having failed to secure the GOP nomination for the 1912 election, Roosevelt formed a third party – the Progressive Party – and began to support various positions on Liberal reform. As he started to give his speech, he was shot in the chest by John Schrank, a mentally-disturbed saloon keeper, who used a .38 caliber revolver. The bullet was slowed by Roosevelt’s speech and eyeglasses, which are said to have been life-saving factors. Miraculously, he delivered his speech, which ran for over 90 minutes. He stated, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot – but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
October 16, 1859
John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry begins. This is considered to be one of the final triggering events of the Civil War. Prior to Harper’s Ferry, Brown participated in the Midwestern border conflict known as “Bleeding Kansas,” during which anti-slavery Jayhawks and pro-slavery Border Ruffians fought violently to establish Kansas as either a free or slave state. Three years later, Brown led a militia to Harper’s Ferry, located at the fork of the Shenandoah and Rhappahonnok Rivers, in what is now West Virginia. A free Black man – Heyward Shepherd – was the first casualty of the incident. Most of Brown’s men were captured or killed by US Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Brown himself surrendered after being trapped in an engine house. He was executed on December 2, 1859.
The Cuban Missile Crisis, Yorktown, and the OK Corral
October 16, 1962
The Cuban Missile Crisis begins. Prior to the height of the Cold War, several major events had happened that pushed the world closer to another global conflict. The Berlin Blockade, Bay of Pigs Invasion, and construction of the Berlin Wall had pushed the United States and the Soviet Union closer to war. Then, in October 1962, Soviet missiles were discovered in Cuba. This has often been considered to mark the highest point of the Cold War, and the world stood on the brink of war for two weeks. The crisis ended when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev made the decision to withdraw the missiles.
October 17, 1777
The Saratoga Campaign comes to an end. Fought along the Hudson River in New York and Vermont, this battle proved to be a turning point for the American Revolution. This early in the conflict, British forces had secured several victories, decreasing American morale. With a victory at Saratoga, however, some of this morale was restored, and France entered the war on behalf of the Continental Army.
October 19, 1781
The Siege of Yorktown comes to an end. With Washington’s Continental forces on one side and the Marquis de Lafayette’s French troops on the other, British General Charles Cornwallis sent Charles O’Hara to surrender. Fought on the coast of Virginia, this was the final primary battle of the Revolution on American soil. The war itself, however, would not be officially declared over until 1783, with the Treaty of Paris.
October 20, 1803
Congress ratifies the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana Territory originally consisted of a range that expanded 15 states and two Canadian provinces. Beginning in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson faced opposition from the Federalist Party, who believed it to be unconstitutional to acquire new territories. Members from Jefferson’s own Democratic-Republican Party also believed it to be unconstitutional. Jefferson, however, believed it to be within his constitutional limits, and the purchase was made in 1803.
October 21, 1921
Warren G. Harding becomes the first sitting president to deliver a speech against lynching in the Deep South. Lynchings in the southern United States had become increasingly common since the Reconstruction Era. They were primarily aimed at African-Americans, many of whom were accused of a crime but not given a trial. A member of the Republican Party, Harding delivered this speech in Birmingham, Alabama.
October 24, 1947
Walt Disney testifies before the US House Un-American Activities Committee. During the “Red Scare,” many Hollywood actors and actresses were suspected to be communists. Led by Joseph McCarthy, a Republican US Senator from Wisconsin, many attempts were made to uncover communist activity in Hollywood. Some celebrities, including Lucille Ball and Humphrey Bogart, were accused of being communists. Others, such as Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan, chose to testify. Beginning in 1947, Disney named several of his former employees, believing them to have been influenced by communism and attempting to spread it throughout the film industry.
October 25, 1944
The largest naval battle in history occurs in Leyte Gulf. Fought in and around the Philippines, this battle experienced nearly every type of naval warfare, excluding mines. The operation was led by Admiral William Halsey of Task Force 38. Consisting of American and Australian troops, the Allies won a significant victory, crippling Japanese naval capabilities. Following World War II, General Douglas MacArthur would return to the Philippines and supervise the reconstruction of the Pacific.
October 26, 1881
The Shootout at O.K. Corral occurs. Around 3:00 p.m., the Earp brothers – Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan – and Doc Holiday engaged in a 30-second gunfight with cowboys in Tombstone, Arizona. This was the result of growing tension between the law officers and cowboys, which included various factors, including politics and economics.
Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury claimed they had repeatedly warned the Earp brothers not to interfere with their activities, to which the Earps denied. The gunfight resulted in the deaths of Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers. The Shootout at O.K. Corral has often been regarded as the most famous gunfight of the Old West.
Teddy Roosevelt, The Stock Market Crash, and Mount Rushmore’s Completion
October 27, 1858
Theodore Roosevelt is born in New York City. A statesman, soldier, conservationist, writer, and historian, “Teddy” was very adventurous. He often participated in safaris and hunting trips, on which he became a renowned outdoorsman, and he would establish numerous national parks. His fame began when he led the Rough Riders on a charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions.
Originally a member of the Republican Party, Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1897-1898, Governor of New York from 1899-1900, and Vice President from March – September of 1901. He became president following the assassination of William McKinley and served from 1901-1909. Following his presidency, Roosevelt founded the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party, supporting a more Left-leaning platform before returning to the GOP in 1916, though he remained progressive. He passed away on January 6, 1919. Teddy Bears are named after him and his face is featured on Mount Rushmore.
October 27, 1964
Ronald Reagan delivers his “Time for Choosing” speech. Rallying support for Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign and the New Right, this was Reagan’s first prominent speech. With Progressivism engulfing the Democrat Party and various members of the Republican Party, Reagan used this oration to call for a return to America’s founding principles. Spoken at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, California, one of the most memorable excerpts reads, “Because no government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size, government agencies, once launched, never go out of existence. A government agency is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”
October 29, 1929
The US Stock Market crashes, starting the Great Depression. Known as “Black Tuesday,” this was the most devastating stock market crash in US history. It followed the September London Stock Exchange Crash, and in turn, affected Western industrialized countries for roughly 12 years. Nearly 15 million people were affected by the crash and left unemployed. In an attempt to tackle the depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt, assuming the presidency in 1933, launched the New Deal, which consisted of various government programs being created. Historians and economists debate on whether Roosevelt’s policies helped or extended the depression.
October 31 – Halloween
Celebration of Halloween is traced all the way back to 500 B.C. The day is thought by some to have originated from the Celtic festival, Samhain, or “Summer’s End.” It was believed that, during this time, the border between our world and the spirit world opened, allowing spirits to cross over. Some believe that Halloween has Christian roots, while others view it as not much more than a Pagan celebration. Nonetheless, the day has been commemorated for over two thousand years, and people from all walks of life enjoy gathering to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve.
October 31, 1941
Mount Rushmore is completed. Featuring the faces of four iconic presidents, the mountain has become an American cultural icon. According to the National Park Service, each of the featured presidents is a symbol for something unique about the nation. George Washington, often called the “Father of the Country,” represents the birth of America. Thomas Jefferson, who doubled the size of the nation with the Louisiana Purchase, represents the growth of America. Theodore Roosevelt, who helped pave the way for the working class in the early twentieth century, represents the development of America. Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery and held the union together, represents the preservation of America.
The month of October holds a remarkable place in our nation’s memory. From the construction of the Panama Canal to the carving of Mount Rushmore; from the Louisiana Purchase to Harper’s Ferry, all of these events need to be remembered. The time to educate future generations about our past is now. May our history never be forgotten.