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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the era of gerrymandering, a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s forced states to redraw egregiously outdated voting maps and served as an equalizing force in American democracy.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