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Why the Custody Battle for Young Gloria Vanderbilt Riveted Depression-Era America

June 17, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

Gloria Laura Vanderbilt was only 10 when she became an unwilling tabloid sensation. It was 1934, and she was the subject of a nasty custody battle between her widowed mother and her aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Depression-era Americans eagerly read about the acrimonious trial, which was open to the press until the day a maid accused Gloria’s mother of having an affair with a relative of the British Royal Family in court. Newspapers dubbed Gloria “the poor little rich girl,” kicking off a wave of media attention that followed her until her death on June 17, 2019.

Gloria Vanderbilt pictured with her mother Gloria Morgan, widow of Reginald Vanderbilt, in 1926.

Gloria, a society heiress who later launched a fashion empire built on designer jeans, was born on February 20, 1924 to Gloria Morgan and Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, great-grandson of . Soon after, it became a TV miniseries starring Angela Lansbury as Gloria’s aunt. By that point, Gloria had found success in fashion with a line of dark, tight-fitting jeans whose back pockets were embroidered with her name.

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Source: HISTORY

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How the Supreme Court's 1960s ‘Redistricting Revolution’ Tackled the Rural/Urban Voting Divide

June 17, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

In the United States, where you live can affect the power of your vote. And before the era of gerrymandering, a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s forced states to redraw egregiously outdated voting maps and served as an equalizing force in American democracy.

As a result of this “redistricting revolution,” Americans became more uniformly represented in their legislatures than they had in the past 50 years. The Supreme Court decisions established that the number of legislative representatives in a district or state must accurately reflect the number of people who live there.

States, some of which hadn’t redrawn their maps since in more than sixty years, were subsequently forced to update their legislative districts after every census so each district had roughly equal populations. This had a huge impact on voters in the United States—at least until computer technology ushered in a new form of gerrymandering in the late 1970s.

Gerrymandering Explained (TV-PG; 2:32)

The people behind the redistricting revolution were mostly city-dwellers who lacked equal representation with those in rural areas. “Up until that point, there was no enforceable requirement of equal-population districts redrawn after every 10 years,” says David Stebenne, a professor of history and law at The Ohio State University. “It’s not strictly speaking an outgrowth of the civil rights movement, but the people involved in this litigation can see the parallel.”

Leaders in the civil rights movement supported these cases and were aware that they would boost black voting power in the north and, hopefully, one day in the south (the redistricting revolution court cases preceded the Voting Rights Act of 1965). Stebenne thinks members of the court who decided the redistricting revolution cases were “mindful of the link” to the civil rights movement, too. (Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the majority opinion in Brown v. Board of Education, and presided over one of the more activist courts in U.S. history.)

Before 1900, states had regularly updated their districts without being told. But after the 1900 census, many states stopped redrawing their maps in order to keep political power in the hands of those who already had it: white, rural, native-born Americans.

As more people moved from rural areas to cities and suburbs over the next 60 years, rural residents gained disproportionate political power over the rest of the state. This was the case in southern …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Key Moments in the Cuban Missile Crisis

June 17, 2019 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

These are the steps that brought the United States and Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war in 1962.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was among the scariest events of the Cold War. The 13-day showdown brought the world’s two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war.

In the Fall of 1962 the United States demanded that the Soviets halt construction of newly-discovered missile bases in communist Cuba, just 90 miles from U.S. shores. Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev had pledged in 1960 to defend Cuba and had assumed that the United States would not try and prevent the installation of medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the communist Caribbean country. But the weapons could potentially reach much of the United States.

What followed was a tense standoff played out almost exclusively at the highest levels.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev and a handful of their top aides did all the negotiating, with little input from the foreign policy bureaucracies of either country. The crisis was rife with miscommunications, threats and miscalculations, but was ultimately diffused.

Here is a chronology of key moments in the crisis.

On October 14, 1962, a U.S. U-2 spy plane took hundreds of photos of newly-built missile installations in the Cuban countryside. Shown is a map of Cuba showing the Soviet missile sites and the types of installations at each, circa 1962. The discovery of the sites in Cuba led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

View the 8 images of this gallery on the original article

October 14, 1962: A U.S. U-2 spy plane piloted by Maj. Richard Heyser takes hundreds of photos of newly-built installations in the Cuban countryside. As Heyser will recall years later in an Associated Press interview, he worries that he will be looked upon as the man who started a war.

October 15: CIA analysts spot launchers, missiles and transport trucks that indicate the Soviets are building sites to launch missiles capable of striking targets nearly across the United States, according to a 2013 article by Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst and Cuba expert at the National Security Archive in Washington.

October 16: President John F. Kennedy meets with a team of advisers known as Ex-Comm, to discuss how to respond to the missile threat. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara presents JFK with three options: diplomacy with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, a naval quarantine …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The U-505, a submarine from Hitler’s deadly fleet, is captured

June 17, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

One of Adolf Hitler’s deadly submarines, the U-505, is seized as it makes its way home after patrolling the Gold Coast of Africa on this day in 1944. The German submarine was the first enemy warship captured on the high seas by the U.S. Navy since the War of 1812.

If ever there was a submarine laden with bad luck it was Germany’s U-505.

Despite sinking eight Allied ships early in the war, the German WW II U-boat suffered repeated damages while on a number of patrols and was further marred by the suicide of its second commanding officer while on board.

Spotted during a sonar sweep 150 miles from the coast of Rio De Oro, Africa by a “hunter-killer” task group commanded by U.S. Navy Capt. Daniel V. Gallery that included the USS Chatelain, USS Guadalcanal, USS Flaherty, USS Jenks, USS Pillsbury and USS Pope, the submarine had been being tracked by Allied intelligence via radio waves.

Deconstructing History: U-Boats (TV-PG; 1:59)

After the surrendered German survivors were picked up from the U-boat (all but one lived), Lt. (junior grade) Albert L. David led a group of nine men down the hatch of the U-505, salvaging the U-boat and recovering invaluable code books and papers that were used by Allied forces to help in code-breaking.

David was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. The 58 captured Germans, deemed prisoners of war, were sent to a POW camp in Ruston, Louisiana, while the U-505 was towed 2,500 nautical miles to Bermuda.

The top-secret capture of the submarine was not made public until after Germany’s May 7, 1945 surrender, and the U-505 was eventually part of a military fundraising tour. On September 25, 1954, the submarine was named a war memorial and, in 1989, it received National Historic Landmark designation.

U-505 is on permanent display at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

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Source: HISTORY

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Martha Stewart indicted for securities fraud and obstruction of justice

June 17, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

For domestic diva Martha Stewart, known for her “good things” tips and tricks, things turn very badly when a federal grand jury serves her and her former stock broker a nine-count indictment, including charges of obstruction of justice, securities fraud, conspiracy and making false statements.

Stewart, CEO and chairwoman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., and her former Merrill Lynch broker, Peter Bacanavic, were handed the indictments following an investigation of her sale of ImClone Systems stock. Bacanavic was charged with obstruction, conspiracy, making false statements and perjury.

Then 61-year-old Stewart resigned almost immediately from her position once the charges were made (she stayed on the board and as chief creative officer). But she and Bacanavic both pleaded not guilty to the indictments brought by former Manhattan U.S. Attorney and future FBI Director James Comey.

Prosecutors charged that in 2001 Stewart was tipped off by Bacanovic that ImClone’s stock was going to drop after the company’s owner received inside information that the Food and Drug Administration was going to decline to review an application for the company’s cancer drug. Stewart shed her nearly 4,000 ImClone shares—worth $230,000—one day before the FDA decision was announced.

At trial, a federal jury found Stewart, who maintained her innocence, guilty of conspiracy, obstruction and two counts of lying to federal investigators (a securities fraud charge was dismissed) on March 5, 2004. Bacanavic was found guilty on four of his five charges.

An appeal for a new trial was denied, and Stewart was sentenced to five months at a West Virginia minimum-security federal prison. She served out the sentence in 2004, and then served five months of house arrest and two years of probation. Stewart resigned from her company’s board, keeping the title of founding editorial director.

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Source: HISTORY

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Tycoon John D. Rockefeller Couldn't Hide His Father's Con Man Past

June 14, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

When he was a child, John D. Rockefeller watched his father count his money—huge wads of which he refused to keep in a bank and lovingly stacked in front of his impressionable son. “He made a practice of never carrying less than $1,000,” the oil baron recalled later in life, “and he kept it in his pocket. He was able to take care of himself, and was not afraid to carry his money.”

William Avery Rockefeller’s son would go on to become one of the richest men of all time. Famously money-hungry, John D. spoke admiringly of his father’s piles of cash long after he had made a fortune that would have surpassed his father’s wildest dreams. But though the head of Standard Oil was proud to tell the world where he had gotten his own appreciation for cold hard cash, he always excluded a detail: where his father’s cash came from.

In fact, William’s money had come from a slew of shady business ventures, from pretending to be a deaf and blind peddler to posing as a doctor to hawk patent medicines. But after his stratospheric rise to the heights of Gilded Age business, John D. Rockefeller did everything he could to downplay the exploits of his parent. He was in his sixties before accusations about his father’s unethical business practices and possible criminal behavior came back to haunt him—accusations that sparked a race to find out the truth about Rockefeller’s father.

The accusations came courtesy of Ida Tarbell, the muckraking journalist who exposed Standard Oil’s secretive business practices, which included cutting secret deals to squelch its competitors. As the capstone to her multi-part exposé in McClure’s magazine, she published a two-part character study of John D. Rockefeller in 1905.

Ida M Tarbell was a leading muckraker and well-known writer of the Progressive era of the early 1900s.

The articles painted a portrait of a man obsessed with money—an intimidating, secretive figure whose personality was warped by ambition. But just as shocking as her portrait of one of the United States’ most famous men was what she wrote about his father. Tarbell accused William Avery Rockefeller of posing as a physician and exploiting others for financial gain, and brought to light allegations of rape and horse thievery against him.

During John D.’s childhood, she wrote, his father had been “the leader in all that was reckless and …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Which Countries Were Players in the Vietnam War?

June 14, 2019 in History

By Jesse Greenspan

How eight countries got involved in the Vietnam War’s Cold War proxy battle.

The during the war with the French, and continued to do so during the war with the U.S. by providing weapons, expertise and manpower.

Despite being in bad economic shape at the time, newly Communist China aided Ho during the war with the French, and did so again during the war with the Americans, providing weapons, expertise, and manpower. All told, the Chinese claimed to have spent over $20 billion in support of North Vietnam and deployed 320,000 military personnel, more than 4,000 of whom died.

Poster entitled “Support Vietnam People,” circa 1969, showing China’s support of the Communist cause in Vietnam.

For the most part, the Chinese stayed in the background, rebuilding areas destroyed by U.S. bombs and manning anti-aircraft batteries. But perhaps their biggest role was preemptive: They made it clear that if U.S. ground troops invaded North Vietnam, then they would respond in kind.

Unlike during the Korean War, the United States yielded to this threat. “Their function is as a tripwire,” Moise says, “a warning to the Americans: ‘Don’t go too far… or you’ll be fighting us.’”

China and the Soviet Union didn’t have to do as much as the Americans, Moise explains, because they were buttressing the stronger side. Nonetheless, “if there had been no Chinese or Soviet support, the North Vietnamese could not have won,” he says, pointing out that the U.S. military budget was roughly 30 times greater than the entire gross national product of North Vietnam.

Soviet Union

As the original communist state, the Soviet Union aided North Vietnam, with increasing support in the late 1960s. While the U.S.S.R. supplied some troops, their biggest contribution was in weaponry.

Though it originally took little interest in the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union secretly ramped up its aid to North Vietnam following Nikita Khrushchev’s fall from power. The Soviets wanted to “make life difficult for the United States,” McAllister says, “but they didn’t want to do it in a way that got them in a conflict with the United States.”

Soviet involvement in the war increased in the late 1960s, just as China’s influence was lessening. (The two countries were undergoing a bitter split at the time.)


A Cold War-era billboard in Moscow showing bombs raining down on Uncle Sam reading, ‘Aggressors out of Vietnam!’ in 1968.

Among other …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Over-The-Counter Birth Control? Bring It On

June 13, 2019 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

Last week Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat,
tweeted that oral contraceptives should be made
available over-the-counter. A few days later, Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas
Republican, tweeted he agrees and offered to team up with Ocasio-Cortez on legislation to
make it happen. The American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists has called for making birth control pills available
without a prescription for years; The American Academy of Family
Physicians agrees.

Now that two prominent legislators of such divergent political
persuasions have expressed their concurrence with the medical
experts, perhaps the time is nearing when the U.S. will join
102 other countries throughout the world and
allow women to obtain birth control pills without a
prescription.

Defenders of the status quo fear women may forgo necessary
preventive care visits if birth control pills are available over
the counter. But the ACOG states that “cervical cancer
screening or sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening is not
required for initiating OC [oral contraceptive] use and should not
be used as barriers to access.” In fact, there is currently a
debate among gynecologists regarding the need
and benefits of annual pap exams.

The confluence of views
among women of child-bearing age, medical experts, and now
legislators from both ends of the political spectrum provides a
great opportunity to liberate women from the paternalistic policy
that makes them pay a toll – a doctor’s office visit – to obtain
contraception.

Others paternalistically worry that women may misuse oral
contraceptives if they are able to obtain them without a permission
slip (prescription) from another equally autonomous adult. Yet
experience shows that when adults self-medicate, they
conscientiously perform due diligence, whereas they otherwise defer
to the judgment of authority figures if medications are prescribed.
For example, a 2006 report from Seattle found women’s
self-evaluation regarding whether or not they should take the pill
matched those of doctors about 90% of the time — and the 10%
of the time they didn’t match was mostly because the women were
more cautious.

Ten states have tried to work around the
FDA’s prescription classification by allowing pharmaciststo prescribe birth control
pills. While that’s an improvement over the status quo, it
still negatively affects women’s comfort and
privacy. As shown in a 2015 report in the journal “Sexual and
Reproductive Healthcare,” many women who seek emergency
contraception (the so-called morning after pill, which has been
available over-the-counter since 2006) prefer to purchase this kind of
medication discreetly and avoid unwanted discussion or counseling,
even if offered by a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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What Happened at the Stonewall Riots? A Timeline of the 1969 Uprising

June 13, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

The June 1969 riots at New York City’s Stonewall Inn marked a raucous turning point in the fight for LGBT rights.

On a hot summer night in 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar located in New York City’s Greenwich Village that served as a haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community.

At the time, homosexual acts remained illegal in every state except Illinois, and bars and restaurants could get shut down for having gay employees or serving gay patrons. Most gay bars and clubs in New York at the time (including the Stonewall) were , the “hierarchy of resistance” in the riots began with the homeless or “street” kids, those young gay men who viewed the Stonewall as the only safe place in their lives.

View of a damaged jukebox and cigarette machine, along with a broken chair, inside the Stonewall Inn after riots over the weekend of June 27, 1969.

Two transgender women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, were said to have resisted arrest and thrown the first bottle at the cops, respectively. Although Johnson later said in a podcast interview with historian Eric Marcus that she had not arrived until the uprising was well underway.

The exact breakdown of who did what first remains unclear—in part because this was long before the smartphone era and there was minimal documentation of the night’s events.

Close to 4 a.m. June 28, 1969: Police retreat and barricade themselves inside Stonewall.

As the paddy wagon and squad cars left to drop the prisoners off at the nearby Sixth Precinct, the growing mob forced the original NYPD raiding party to retreat into the Stonewall itself and barricade themselves inside.

Some rioters used a parking meter as a battering ram to break through the door; others threw beer bottles, trash and other objects, or made impromptu firebombs with bottles, matches and lighter fluid.


Hand-painted text on a boarded-up window of the Stonewall Inn reading ‘We homosexuals plead with our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the Village – Mattachine.’ The Mattachine Society was a early American gay rights organization.

Sirens announced the arrival of more police officers, as well as squadrons of the Tactical Patrol Force (TPF), the city’s riot police. As the helmeted officers marched in formation down Christopher Street, protesters outsmarted them by …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Inside the Harrowing Journey of the First Nonstop Transatlantic Flight

June 13, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

When it was all over, Captain John Alcock, an English pilot, telegraphed his story to newspaper reporters around the world. He was exhausted by a recent in-air ordeal that had culminated in a risky plane crash in Ireland along with his navigator and flying partner, Arthur Whitten Brown. “We have had a terrible journey,” wrote Alcock. “The wonder is that we are here at all. We scarcely saw the sun or the moon or the stars. For hours we saw none of them.”

If you’d have stopped reading there, you might think that Alcock and Brown’s journey had ended in failure. For 16 fraught hours, they’d been trapped in a rudimentary airplane in abysmal weather, their only means of navigation a sextant, an instrument that measured celestial objects in relation to the horizon. Their journey had been beset with blunders, and more often than not, fog and clouds had covered the stars, making it nearly impossible for Brown to determine their location.

John Alcock (center) holds a model of their biplane alongside Arthur Whitten Brown (center right), who is holding a mailbag after completing the first nonstop transatlantic flight. They carried several items of mail with them and in doing so, effectively transported the first transatlantic airmail to Britain.

Yet their journey was a triumph. Despite their graceless landing in a bog on June 15, 1919, Alcock and Brown were the first people ever to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. Nearly a decade before Charles Lindbergh caught the world’s attention with his own transatlantic flight, the flying duo made history. Their adventure paid off: The pair not only became pioneering aviators, but beat out a group of other pilots vying for a huge cash prize in a cut-throat competition to be the first transatlantic aviators.

The prize was the brainchild of Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe, a British newspaper tycoon who owned The Daily Mail, one of England’s most influential newspapers. Like many magnates of his day, Lord Northcliffe was fascinated by new modes of transportation. Air flight was still a novelty, and a group of pioneering aviators, funded by rich patrons like Northcliffe, wanted to know just how far the technology could be pushed.

Northcliffe was a founding member of England’s Aero Club, a group of aviation enthusiasts interested in expanding and popularizing air flight. In 1906, he offered a 10,000-pound purse …read more

Source: HISTORY