Mark your calendars: 2014’s anniversaries

By Chuck Springston
Mark your calendars: 2014’s anniversaries

     The War of 1812 and the Civil War continue to hold prominent places on the calendar of commemorations this year. But the centennial of World War I will take center stage.

     Notable anniversaries of historic events are listed below.

50 years ago, 1964

July 2. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law provides voter protections for African-Americans, prohibits discrimination in employment and gives the government powers to fight segregation in schools and other facilities open to the public.

Aug. 7. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave Johnson permission to use military force against the Communist guerillas of North Vietnam. Johnson asked for the authority in response to two attacks in the Gulf of Tonkin (it was later learned that one incident did not occur). Johnson’s deployment of additional forces led to a full-blown war.

100 years ago, 1914

June 28. Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had been annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. They were shot by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian of Serbian descent who wanted to see Serbia, Bosnia and other Slavic lands in the region united into their own nation.

July 28. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and World War I began. Within months, Germany, the Ottoman Empire and other countries sided with Austria-Hungary, while Serbia’s allies included Britain, France, Russia and Japan.

Aug. 4. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation stating that the Unites States would remain neutral, although the country joined the war on April 6, 1917, after German submarines torpedoed American merchant ships.

Aug. 15. The Panama Canal opened for commercial shipping as the steamship Ancon passed through. After the failure of a French construction effort that began in 1881, the United States took over the canal project in 1904.

150 years ago, 1864

June 15. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant began a siege of Petersburg, Va., a focal point for rail lines that supplied Confederate troops and the Confederate capital in Richmond. Petersburg, however, would not fall until April 1, 1865. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee then abandoned Richmond as well.

Sept. 2. Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman captured Atlanta, a victory that gave President Abraham Lincoln a boost in his race for re-election in November.

Nov. 15. After Union troops set fire to Atlanta buildings, Sherman began a “March to the Sea,” crossing through Georgia, destroying property along the way, to the port city of Savannah.

Dec. 21. Sherman captured Savannah. In a telegraph to Lincoln the next day, he offered the city as a Christmas present.

200 years ago, 1814

Aug. 24. In the second year of the War of 1812, British forces captured Washington and burned the Capitol, the White House and other government buildings before leaving town the next day. President James Madison had left Washington earlier to be with American forces in Bladensburg, Md.

Sept. 13. British ships began a bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor hoping to capture the city. The fort withstood the blows, and the attack ended the morning of Sept. 14.

Sept. 14. Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer who witnessed the attack on Fort McHenry from a ship in the harbor, saw the fort’s flag still flying in “the dawn’s early light” and began writing his feelings of joy in verse, a piece called “Defence [sic] of Fort McHenry.” Later in the year, the words were put to music and retitled “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which became the national anthem on March 3, 1931.

Dec. 24. The U.S. and Great Britain signed a peace treaty in Ghent, Belgium, ending the war. Any territory that had changed hands during conflict was returned to its prewar status. (The treaty was not approved by the U.S. Senate until Feb. 16, 1815.)

 250 years ago, 1764

April 5: Britain’s King George III signed the Sugar Act passed by Parliament, which strengthened the powers of customs officials in the American Colonies to collect a 1733 tax on sugar and molasses imported from French and Dutch islands in the Caribbean. The new law also taxed imports of products such as wine, silk, dye and certain types of cloth. Colonial protests prompted a series of clashes with the British over taxation without representation, culminating in the American Revolution.


     2013: A year for remembering history

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