On April 12, 1945, one of the greatest political figures of the 20th century passed away at the age of 63. Franklin D. Roosevelt can best be remembered for his development of the New Deal programs for helping America out of the Great Depression and his ideals that inspired the foundation of the United Nations Organization.
On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Ironically, the site of this last major battle was owned by Wilmer McLean, a retired officer of the Virginia militia, who had moved his family into the Courthouse nearly four years earlier after his farm in Northern Virginia became the site of the first battle of Bull Run. It could be said that McLean hosted both one of the major battles at the beginning and near the end of the Civil War.
Additional troops around the country disbanded and surrendered. In fact, the last major surrender by a general occurred on June 23, 1865. The last naval vessel to surrender did not occur until November 6, 1865.
On April 8, 1913, the 17th amendment to the Constitution was ratified. This amendment called for the direct election of Senators. Prior to the passage of the amendment, Senators were chosen by the state legislatures. While the House of Representatives was to represent the people's interests, the Senate was supposed to represent the states. However, over time the selection of Senators became more and more contentious within states divided by opposing beliefs in the mid to late 1800s. There were many cases of deadlocked decisions resulting in delays for selecting state senators or even periods of time when states had no senators representing them at all.
The move for the 17th amendment to pass really became strong with the advent of the muckrakers and William Randolph Hearst's reporters doggedly reporting on cases of bribery and corruption amongst senators. The final amendment was proposed on May 13 1912 and took 330 days to be fully ratified. Only Utah rejected the amendment.
Many people may not realize how much James Monroe was involved in the American Revolution. He was the son of a patriot who fought against British colonial policy. In 1775, he was one of 24 students who stormed the governor's palace in Williamsburg to seize weapons. He not only crossed the Delaware with Washington and stayed at Valley Forge, but also fought in the Battles of Trenton, Germantown, Brandywine, and Monmouth. Learn more about our fifth president who was reelected unopposed gathering all but one of the electoral votes in the Election of 1820:
Captured by Comanche Indians at a young age, Cynthia Ann Parker became part of the tribe. She only returned to her family unwillingly once she was captured by Texas Rangers in 1860. Learn more about this pioneer of the west and her life with the Comanche Indians:
- Cynthia Ann Parker - Pioneer of the West
On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt when John Hinckley, Jr. shot him in the hopes of gaining notoriety and impressing Jodi Foster. He was later found guilty by reason of insanity and placed in a mental institution. Reagan's survival meant the breaking of Tecumseh's Curse.
On March 24, 1965, the third and final Selma to Montgomery arrived in Montgomery, Alabama. The marchers were led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders. Two previous marches were met with violence. This third march began on March 16th and was protected by federal officers and the Alabama National Guard. Its purpose was to protest voting right violations in the state for African-Americans.
On March 22, 1638, Anne Hutchinson was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Governor John Winthrop sent her away because she claimed that God revealed true and false preaching to her. She left the colony with sixty followers. They helped found Portsmouth, Rhode Island, ensuring that religious freedom was protected.
In 1842, the Massachusetts Supreme Court led by Lemuel Shaw decided that Labor Unions were not conspiracies. Further, as long as actions were non-violent then strikes were legal. This key case in the history of labor unions set a precedent for judges to treat the issues between business and labor in a more neutral manner.
John Adams is a fascinating character. While only serving one term as president, he had a huge impact on the formation of the United States. The HBO miniseries on John Adams based on the book John Adams by David McCullough met with critical acclaim and is a great look at Adams and his contributions. He truly was a fascinating character and in many ways an underrated president. This top 10 list of things to know about John Adams gives an overview the the key items that you should know when studying the second president of the United States.
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