On This Day In History February 9

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 9 is the 40th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 325 days remaining until the end of the year (326 in leap years).

On this day in 1950, Joseph Raymond McCarthy, a relatively obscure Republican senator from Wisconsin, accuses State Department of being infiltrated by communists. McCarthy announces during a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, that he has in his hand a list of 205 communists who have infiltrated the U.S. State Department. The unsubstantiated declaration, which was little more than a publicity stunt, suddenly thrust Senator McCarthy into the national spotlight.

Asked to reveal the names on the list, the reckless and opportunistic senator named officials he determined guilty by association, such as Owen Lattimore, an expert on Chinese culture and affairs who had advised the State Department. McCarthy described Lattimore as the “top Russian spy” in America.

These and other equally shocking accusations prompted the Senate to form a special committee, headed by Senator Millard Tydings of Maryland, to investigate the matter. The committee found little to substantiate McCarthy’s charges, but McCarthy nevertheless touched a nerve in the American public, and during the next two years he made increasingly sensational charges, even attacking President Harry S. Truman’s respected former secretary of state, George C. Marshall.

Wheeling speech

McCarthy experienced a meteoric rise in national profile on February 9, 1950, when he gave a Lincoln Day speech to the Republican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia. His words in the speech are a matter of some debate, as no audio recording was saved. However, it is generally agreed that he produced a piece of paper that he claimed contained a list of known Communists working for the State Department. McCarthy is usually quoted to have said: “The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205-a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”

There is some dispute about whether or not McCarthy actually gave the number of people on the list as being “205” or “57”. In a later telegram to President Truman, and when entering the speech into the Congressional Record, he used the number 57. The origin of the number 205 can be traced: In later debates on the Senate floor, McCarthy referred to a 1946 letter that then-Secretary of State James Byrnes sent to Congressman Adolph J. Sabath. In that letter, Byrnes said State Department security investigations had resulted in “recommendation against permanent employment” for 284 persons, and that 79 of these had been removed from their jobs; this left 205 still on the State Department’s payroll. In fact, by the time of McCarthy’s speech only about 65 of the employees mentioned in the Byrnes letter were still with the State Department, and all of these had undergone further security checks.

At the time of McCarthy’s speech, communism was a growing concern in the United States. This concern was exacerbated by the actions of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, the fall of China to the communists, the Soviets’ development of the atomic bomb the year before, and by the contemporary controversy surrounding Alger Hiss and the confession of Soviet spy Klaus Fuchs. With this background and due to the sensational nature of McCarthy’s charge against the State Department, the Wheeling speech soon attracted a flood of press interest in McCarthy.

 474 – Zeno crowned as co-emperor of the Byzantine Empire.

1555 – Bishop of Gloucester John Hooper is burned at the stake.

1621 – Gregory XV becomes Pope, the last Pope elected by acclamation.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: The British Parliament declares Massachusetts in rebellion.

1788 – The Habsburg Empire joins the Russo-Turkish War in the Russian camp.

1825 – After no presidential candidate receives a majority of electoral votes in the election of 1824, the United States House of Representatives elects John Quincy Adams President of the United States.

1849 – New Roman Republic established

1861 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is elected the Provisional President of the Confederate States of America by the Confederate convention at Montgomery, Alabama.

1870 – The U.S. Weather Bureau is established.

1885 – The first Japanese government-approved immigrants arrive in Hawaii.

1889 – The United States Department of Agriculture is established as a Cabinet-level agency.

1895 – William G. Morgan creates a game called Mintonette, which soon comes to be referred to as volleyball.

1900 – The Davis Cup competition is established.

1904 – Russo-Japanese War: Battle of Port Arthur concludes.

1913 – A group of meteors is visible across much of the eastern seaboard of North and South America, leading astronomers to conclude the source had been a small, short-lived natural satellite of the Earth.

1920 – Under the terms of the Spitsbergen Treaty, international diplomacy recognizes Norwegian sovereignty over Arctic archipelago Svalbard, and designates it as demilitarized.

1922 – Brazil becomes a member of the Berne Convention copyright treaty.

1934 – The Balkan Entente is formed.

1942 – World War II: Top United States military leaders hold their first formal meeting to discuss Aerican military strategy in the war.

1942 – Year-round Daylight saving time is re-instated in the United States as a wartime measure to help conserve energy resources.

1943 – World War II: Allied authorities declare Guadalcanal secure after Imperial Japan evacuates its remaining forces from the island, ending the Battle of Guadalcanal.

1945 – World War II: The Battle of the Atlantic – HMS Venturer sinks U-864 off the coast of Fedje, Norway, in a rare instance of submarine-to-submarine combat.

1945 – World War II: A force of Allied aircraft unsuccessfully attacked a German destroyer in Førdefjorden, Norway.

1950 – Second Red Scare: Senator Joseph McCarthy accuses the United States Department of State of being filled with Communists.

1959 – The R-7 Semyorka, the first intercontinental ballistic missile, becomes operational at Plesetsk, USSR.

1964 – The Beatles make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, performing before a “record-busting” audience of 73 million viewers.

1965 – Vietnam War: The first United States combat troops are sent to South Vietnam.

1969 – First test flight of the Boeing 747.

1971 – The 6.4 on the Richter Scale Sylmar earthquake hits the San Fernando Valley area of California.

1971 – Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro League player to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1971 – Apollo program: Apollo 14 returns to Earth after the third manned moon landing.

1973 – Biju Patnaik of the Pragati Legislature Party is elected leader of the opposition in the state assembly in Orissa, India.

1975 – The Soyuz 17 Soviet spacecraft returns to Earth.

1991 – Voters in Lithuania vote for independence.

1995 – Space Shuttle astronauts Bernard A. Harris, Jr. and Michael Foale become the first African American and first Briton, respectively, to perform spacewalks.

1996 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army declares the end to its 18 month ceasefire and explodes a large bomb in London’s Canary Wharf.

2001 – The American submarine USS Greeneville accidentally strikes and sinks the Ehime-Maru, a Japanese training vessel operated by the Uwajima Fishery High School.

Holidays_and_observances Holidays and observances

   * Christian Feast Day:

         o Anne Catherine Emmerich

         o Ansbert of Rouen

         o Apollonia

         o Maron (Lebanon)

         o Teilo (Wales)

         o February 9 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Earliest day on which Clean Monday can fall, while March 15 is the latest; celebrated on the first Monday before Easter. (Eastern Christianity)

   * Earliest day on which People’s Sunday can fall, while March 15 is the latest; celebrated on the first Sunday before Easter. (Malta)

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