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Does Hangar 18, Legendary Alien Warehouse, Exist?

January 17, 2020 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Crashed UFOs, alien autopsies and government cover-ups—untangling the legend surrounding Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

As home to . Carr claimed to have a high-ranking military source, who saw the bodies of 12 alien beings while autopsies were being performed on them. Though Carr’s claims were dubious, widespread media coverage of them, as well as the release of the 1980 movie Hangar 18, helped cement the legend of Wright-Patt as a hotbed of the government’s UFO-related activities.

READ MORE: Project Blue Book

For its part, the Air Force has categorically denied the rumors, and maintains there has never actually been a Hangar 18 anywhere on Wright-Patt, though there is a Building 18.

“Periodically, it is erroneously stated that the remains of extraterrestrial visitors are or have been stored at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” the Air Force said in an official statement issued in January 1985. “There are not now, nor have there ever been, any extraterrestrial visitors or equipment on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”

Don’t miss the return of Project Blue Book, Tuesday January 21 at 10/9c on HISTORY.

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How Skinwalker Ranch Became a Hotbed of Paranormal Activity

January 17, 2020 in History

By Adam Janos

Reports persist of UFOs, crop circles, cattle mutilation—and shapeshifting creatures impervious to bullets.

Some have called it a supernatural place. Others have deemed it “cursed.” Terry Sherman got so spooked by the happenings on his new cattle ranch that 18 months after moving his family of four to the property now known by many as “Skinwalker Ranch” in southeastern Utah, he sold the 512-acre parcel away.

He and his wife Gwen shared their chilling experiences with a local reporter in June 1996: They’d seen mysterious crop circles, the Shermans said, and UFOs, and the systematic and repeated mutilation of their cattle—in an oddly surgical and bloodless manner. Within three months of the story’s publication, Las Vegas real estate magnate and UFO enthusiast Robert Bigelow bought the property for $200,000.

Under the name the National Institute for Discovery Science, Bigelow set up round-the-clock surveillance of the ranch, hoping to get to the bottom of the paranormal claims. But while that surveillance yielded a book, Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah, in which several of the researchers claimed to have seen paranormal activities, they were unable to capture any meaningful physical evidence supporting the Shermans’ incredible stories.

The ranch was resold to Adamantium Real Estate, which has since applied to trademark the name “Skinwalker Ranch.”

Had the Shermans been lying about what they saw? Or under the spell of a collective delusion? Without evidence, the stories they told are difficult to believe, but they’re hardly unique. The Uinta Basin of southeastern Utah has been such a hotbed of paranormal sightings over the years that some extraterrestrial enthusiasts have deemed it “UFO Alley.” “You can’t throw a rock in Southern Utah without hitting somebody who’s been abducted,” local filmmaker Trent Harris told the Deseret News.

Indeed, according to Hunt for the Skinwalker, odd objects have been spotted overhead since the first European explorers arrived: In 1776, Franciscan missionary Silvestre Vélez de Escalante wrote about strange fireballs appearing over his campfire in El Rey. And before the Europeans, of course, indigenous peoples occupied the Uinta Basin. Today, “Skinwalker Ranch” abuts the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation of the Ute Tribe.

Were the Shermans seeing things that nearby Native Americans had taken note of centuries before?

READ MORE: History’s Most Infamous UFO Sightings

Mysterious creatures

A fence that surrounds the main buildings on …read more


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Why John Tyler May Be the Most Reviled U.S. President Ever

January 16, 2020 in History

By Christopher Klein

His party expelled him. His cabinet resigned. What made America’s 10th president such a political pariah?

If a Mount Rushmore for America’s most unpopular presidents is ever created, John Tyler would be a leading candidate to have his likeness carved into stone.

“Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette—the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace,” said America’s 10th president. Playing hard to get, though, also failed to garner Tyler popular affection. The maverick president’s fierce independent streak succeeded only in alienating politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Six years after Tyler left the Democratic Party over differences with President Andrew Jackson, the rival Whig party nominated the former congressman, senator and Virginia governor in 1840 as William Henry Harrison’s running mate. After the victory of their “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” ticket, the 68-year-old Harrison became the oldest president in the country’s short history. Tyler, deeming the vice president’s duties largely irrelevant, returned home to his Virginia plantation.

America 101: Why Do Presidential Campaigns Use Slogans? (TV-PG; 1:22)

READ MORE: How the Battle of Tippecanoe Helped Win the White House

Questioning Tyler’s legitimacy: ‘His Accidency’

Just 31 days after the inauguration, however, Tyler was stirred from his sleep by a rap on the door and given the news that Harrison had become the first American commander-in-chief to die in office. Upon returning to the nation’s capital, Tyler took the presidential oath, angering strict constructionists who argued that the Constitution only specified that, when a president died, the vice president would inherit presidential “powers and duties”—not the office itself. Former president John Quincy Adams wrote that Tyler was “in direct violation both of the grammar and context of the Constitution,” and eight senators voted against a resolution recognizing Tyler as the new president.

Those questioning Tyler’s legitimacy nicknamed the president “His Accidency.” Fellow Whigs would soon call him much worse.

The new president scoffed at his first cabinet meeting when Secretary of State Daniel Webster informed him that Harrison had agreed to abide by the majority decision of the cabinet on any policy matter—even if he was personally opposed. “I can never consent to being dictated to,” Tyler informed his cabinet. “I am the president, and I shall be responsible for my administration.” He made it clear …read more


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Lewis and Clark: A Timeline of the Extraordinary Expedition

January 16, 2020 in History

By Dave Roos

In 1804, Lewis and Clark set off on a journey filled with harrowing confrontations, harsh weather and fateful decisions as they scouted a route across the American West.

With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the territory of the United States doubled overnight. Months before the $15 million deal was finalized, though, President Thomas Jefferson won approval from Congress to send a team of intrepid explorers to find a passable water route west to the Pacific Ocean.

Jefferson tapped his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to lead the “Corps of Discovery,” and once Lewis grasped the full scope and challenges of the expedition, he called on his Army friend and fellow Virginian, William Clark, to be his equal in command.

“If therefore there is anything… in this enterprise, which would induce you to participate with me in it’s fatiegues, it’s dangers and it’s honors,” Lewis wrote to Clark, “believe me there is no man on earth with whom I should feel equal pleasure in sharing them as with yourself.”

Below is a timeline of Lewis and Clark’s extraordinary expedition.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their Keelboat known as ‘The Boat’ using poles to navigate the Missouri River in May 1804.

Lewis and Clark’s Journey Begins

May 14, 1804

The Corps of Discovery embarks from Camp Dubois outside of St. Louis, Missouri, in a 55-foot keelboat to begin the westward journey up the Missouri River. Among the 41-man crew of volunteers, soldiers and one African American slave, is Patrick Gass, a carpenter from Pennsylvania. Gass writes in his journal about the expected dangers ahead, including “warlike nations of savages of gigantic stature” and impassable mountain ranges.

“The determined and resolute character, however, of the corps, and the confidence which pervaded all ranks dispelled every emotion of fear, and anxiety for the present,” writes Gass, “[and] seemed to insure to us ample support in our future toils, suffering and dangers.”

August 20, 1804

Sergeant Charles Floyd, the youngest man on the expedition, dies of a suspected ruptured appendix near modern-day Sioux City, Iowa. Incredibly, Floyd’s is the only death during the entire two-year expedition.

A Tense Encounter With the Teton Sioux

September 25, 1804

Of all Lewis and Clark’s encounters with Native American tribes, the meeting with the Teton Sioux (Lakota) near modern-day Pierre, South Dakota, is among the most tense. Jefferson had charged the Corps with Indian diplomacy, which consisted mainly of announcing the Louisiana Purchase and presenting tribal …read more


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US Presidents and Congress Have Long Clashed Over War Powers

January 15, 2020 in History

By Dave Roos

Congress has the constitutional power to “declare war,” but U.S. presidents have long initiated military action without it.

The United States Constitution is clear about which branch of government has the power to declare war. In Article I, Section 8, the Constitution states that “Congress shall have the power… To declare war.” But that simple statement has left room for interpretation, and centuries of American presidents have claimed the right to launch military attacks without congressional approval.

“The history of war powers has been a history of disputes between branches about what the meaning of ‘war’ is, what the meaning of Congress’s authority over war is, and what kinds of actions do and don’t count as war,” says Mariah Zeisberg, associate professor of law and politics at the University of Michigan, and author of War Powers: The Politics of Constitutional Authority.

When the Constitution was being written and debated, the framers clearly wanted to break from the British political tradition of investing all war powers in the executive (the king), but they also knew that legislatures could be dangerously slow to respond to immediate military threats. So instead of granting Congress the power to “make” war, as was first proposed, founders like James Madison changed the language to “declare” war.

Madison was no fan of executive overreach—“the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war and most prone to it,” he wrote to Thomas Jefferson—but that change of wording in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution implied that the president, as commander in chief (Article II, Section 2), retained certain powers to “make” war, if not declare it himself.

In the early days of the United States, the understanding was that the president could order the military to defend the country against an attack, but that any sustained military action would require congressional approval.

Presidential First Moves in Mexican-American War and Civil War

That constitutional compact didn’t take long to break down. In 1846, President James Polk ordered the U.S. army to occupy territory in the newly annexed state of Texas. Congress recognized Polk’s move as a de facto declaration of war with Mexico, which claimed the territory as its own and vowed to defend it against an American “invasion.”

Congress ultimately granted Polk an official declaration of war, but the House of Representatives later censured the president for …read more


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The UFO Sightings that Pushed the UK to Take 'Flying Saucers' More Seriously

January 15, 2020 in History

By Dave Roos

The incidents interrupted Exercise Mainbrace, a massive set of NATO ‘war game’ maneuvers.

In late September 1952, only months after a rash of “flying saucer” sightings over Washington, D.C. made headlines around the world, dozens of military officers participating in NATO exercises in the North Atlantic were struck by their own UFO fever.

Exercise Mainbrace was the largest peacetime military exercise since World War II. The war-game-style maneuvers simulated NATO’s response to a mock attack on Europe, presumably by the Soviet Union. The Mainbrace operation involved 200 ships, 1,000 planes and 80,000 soldiers from multiple NATO countries—including large deployments from the United States and the United Kingdom.

In a year dominated by news reports of UFO sightings, Pentagon officials half-joked with Naval Intelligence that they should keep an eye out for aliens during the NATO exercises, said Edward Ruppelt, the U.S. Air Force captain in charge of the top-secret Project Blue Book UFO investigations.

As it turns out, they weren’t off base. “[N]o one really expected the UFOs to show up,” Ruppelt wrote in his 1956 book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. “Nevertheless, once again the UFOs were their old unpredictable selves—they were there.”

READ MORE: Interactive Map: UFO Sightings Taken Seriously by the U.S. Government

Not a weather balloon

The USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, where one of the Mainbrace sightings was made.

The first Mainbrace encounter came on September 13 when the captain and crew of a Danish destroyer spotted a triangular-shaped object moving through the night sky at alarming speeds. The unidentified craft emitted a blue glow and was estimated by Lieutenant Commander Schmidt Jensen to be traveling upward of 900 miles per hour.

On September 20, an American newspaper reporter named Wallace Litwin was aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier participating in the Mainbrace exercises, when he saw a commotion on deck: several pilots and flight-crew members pointing at a silver sphere in the sky that appeared to be following the fleet. Litwin quickly shot four color photos of the round object, which he assumed was a weather balloon.

In a letter to a UFO investigator years later, Litwin recounts that he went below deck and joked with fellow newspaper correspondents that he had just “shot a flying saucer.” This caught the attention of the ship’s executive officer, who informed Litwin that no weather balloons had been released that …read more


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7 Little-Known Legacies of Teddy Roosevelt

January 14, 2020 in History

By Dave Roos

From national parks, to clean meat to football, the 26th president left his mark on the American landscape.

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, is an outsized figure in American politics. He became president in 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley, and the brash and independent Roosevelt quickly remade the presidency in his own image. More than a century later, American politics and culture still bear the imprint of his legacy.

1. He Was America’s First Cowboy President

Theodore Roosevelt at 25, wearing a cowboy outfit from his time working in the Dakotas, 1883.

Born and raised in New York City as an asthmatic and sickly youth, Roosevelt became enamored with stories of frontier adventure. In his 20s, he went on a hunting trip in the Dakota Territory and ending up buying land and a ranch in what would become North Dakota. Through his hunting exploits and self-promoted heroics at the Battle of San Juan Hill, Roosevelt cultivated an image of himself as an avid outdoorsman and cowboy soldier.

Other American presidents embraced Roosevelt’s brand of rugged American manliness. President Lyndon Johnson, a towering Texan, loved to be photographed in his Stetson hat while entertaining heads of state on his LBJ Ranch. President Ronald Reagan, whose Secret Service nickname was “Rawhide,” took daily morning horseback rides on Rancho El Cielo, his “Western White House” in California. And President George W. Bush spent a record 490 days at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he was photographed clearing brush and wrangling animals in his cowboy hat.

READ MORE: How Teddy Roosevelt Crafted an Image of American Manliness

2. He Was the First US President to Win a Nobel Peace Prize

Although Roosevelt was famously aggressive in his foreign policy (he famously said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”), he also proved to be a skilled diplomat. When Russia went to war with Japan in 1904, Roosevelt offered his services as an arbitrator. After initial resistance, both sides came to the bargaining table in New Hampshire in 1905, where Roosevelt brokered the peace settlement that won him the Nobel Prize.

When Germany and France almost went to war over the political division of Morocco, Roosevelt stepped in again and brokered an agreement that saved face for each nation involved. Some historians believe the 1906 deal delayed the outbreak …read more


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Battle of Yorktown

January 14, 2020 in History

By Editors

When British General Lord .

“After nightfall on October 14, the allies fired several consecutive shells in the air that brilliantly illuminated the sky,” Chernow writes. At that point, Hamilton and his men rallied from their trenches and sprinted across a quarter-mile of field with fixed bayonets. “For the sake of silence, surprise, and soldierly pride, they had unloaded their guns to take the position with bayonets alone. Dodging heavy fire, they let out war whoops that startled their enemies. … The whole operation had consumed fewer than ten minutes.”

READ MORE: How Alexander Hamilton’s Men Surprised the Enemy at the Battle of Yorktown

Cornwallis Surrenders

Of his 400 infantrymen, Hamilton lost just nine in the attack, with some 30 wounded, while the 400 French-led troops lost 27 men, with 109 wounded, according to Fleming. Surrounded by enemy fire, and blocked from receiving aid by the French fleet that had arrived in Chesapeake Bay, Cornwallis was trapped.

The successful siege allowed the allies to complete the second parallel trench and “snuffed out the last remains of resistance among the British.” In a final effort on October 16, Cornwallis attempted a nighttime sea evacuation, but he was stopped by a storm.

On the morning of October 17, the British sent forward a red-coated drummer boy, followed by an officer waving a white handkerchief to the parapet. All guns fell silent—Cornwallis had surrendered.

The End of the War

General Lord Cornwallis surrendering his sword and his army to General George Washington and the Continental and French armies after the final battle of the Revolutionary War on October 19, 1781 in Yorktown, Virginia.

Following the Battle at Yorktown and Cornwallis’s surrender—and the British down one-third of its force—the British Parliament, in March 1782, passed a resolution calling for the nation to end the war. “Oh God, it is all over!” Prime Minister Frederick North exclaimed upon hearing of the Yorktown surrender, writes Alan Taylor in American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804.

The British still had 30,000 men in North America, occupying the seaports of New York, Charles Town and Savannah,” according to Taylor. But the demoralizing loss at Yorktown diminished the British will to continue to fight the rebels. On September 3, 1783, the Revolutionary War came to an official end with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

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'Broken Arrow': When the First U.S. Atomic Bomb Went Missing

January 13, 2020 in History

By Dave Roos

Was it detonated over the ocean—or did it disappear in the Canadian wilderness?

In 1950, an American B-36 bomber on a peace-time training mission crashed over British Columbia, Canada carrying a Mark IV atomic bomb, a weapon comparable in size to the nuke dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. According to testimonies from the surviving crew members, they had safely jettisoned the bomb, and detonated it in mid-air before the plane went down.

The crash became famous as the very first “broken arrow,” the U.S. military’s term for an accident involving a nuclear weapon. But questions swirled for decades about whether the bomb was really detonated over the ocean—or whether it went missing somewhere in the Canadian wilderness.

Five years after using the first atomic weapons to force the surrender of Japan in World War II, the United States military was preparing for a new era of nuclear warfare with its Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union. The Convair B-36 “Peacemaker” was the first true intercontinental bomber capable of carrying nuclear weapons to any part of the world, and the U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) was eager to test the new planes with a real payload.

READ MORE: What is a Broken Arrow?

A test bombing run goes awry

After months of lobbying, SAC leaders were able to convince the Atomic Energy Commission to lend them a Mark IV atomic bomb without its plutonium core. The bomb still contained large amounts of uranium and conventional explosives—but it couldn’t trigger a devastating nuclear blast.

On February 13, 1950, a B-36 known as Flight 2075 took off from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska with a crew of 17. The test flight was meant to replicate a bombing run on a major city in the Soviet Union. The B-36 was slated to fly a 5,500-mile route from Alaska to Montana, then down to San Francisco, its bombing “target,” and finally landing in Carswell Air Force Base in Texas.

But things didn’t go as planned. Not long after taking off, ice began to accumulate on the bomber’s fuselage and the excess weight put tremendous strain on the engines, three of which caught fire and had to be shut down. With only three functioning engines, the B-36 began to lose altitude at a rate of 500 feet per minute.

READ MORE: 9 Cases of Broken …read more


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Six Reasons Why the Ottoman Empire Fell

January 10, 2020 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

The Ottoman Empire was once among the biggest military and economic powers in the world. So what happened?

At its peak in the 1500s, the Ottoman Empire was one of the biggest military and economic powers in the world, controlling an expanse that included not just its base in Asia Minor but also much of southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The empire controlled territory that stretched from the Danube to the Nile, with a powerful military, lucrative commerce, and impressive achievements in fields ranging from architecture to astronomy.

But it didn’t last. Though the Ottoman Empire persisted for 600 years, it succumbed to what most historians describe as a long, slow decline, despite efforts to modernize. Finally, after fighting on the side of Germany in World War I and suffering defeat, the empire was dismantled by treaty and came to an end in 1922, when the last Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed VI, was deposed and left the capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul) in a British warship. From Ottoman empire’s remains arose the modern nation of Turkey.

What caused the once awe-inspiring Ottoman Empire collapse? Historians aren’t in complete agreement, but below are some factors.

It was too agrarian.

While the industrial revolution swept through Europe in the 1700s and 1800s, the Ottoman economy remained dependent upon farming. The empire lacked the factories and mills to keep up with Great Britain, France and even Russia, according to Michael A. Reynolds, an associate professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. As a result, the empire’s economic growth was weak, and what agricultural surplus it generated went to pay loans to European creditors. When it came time to fight in World War I, the Ottoman Empire didn’t have the industrial might to produce heavy weaponry, munitions and iron and steel needed to build railroads to support the war effort.

It wasn’t cohesive enough.

At its apex, the Ottoman empire included Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Macedonia, Romania, Syria, parts of Arabia and the north coast of Africa. Even if outside powers hadn’t eventually undermined the empire, Reynolds doesn’t think that it could have remained intact and evolved into a modern democratic nation. “The odds probably would have been against it, because of the empire’s tremendous diversity in terms of ethnicity, …read more