1950s

Antarctica Made A Military-Free Continent – 12/1/1959

On this day in 1959, the Antarctica Treaty, which is the first arms control, was signed after the cold war period. The United States, Soviet Union and twelve countries, sign the Antarctica Treaty, which bans military activity and weapons testing on the continent. Back as the 1800s, Great Britain, Australia, Chile, and Norway, including several countries had claimed to own parts made of Antarctica. As a result, there were diplomatic disputes as well as armed conflicts between countries that had interest in the region. In fact, Argentina military forces opened fire on British troops concerning an area claimed by both countries in 1948.  All these armed clashes coupled with proof linking the Soviet Union to having interest in the continent made the United States recommend that Antarctica should be made a trustee of the United Nations. Immediately, countries that were interested in the continent reject the idea claiming they cannot surrender their claims of sovereignty to the U.N.Additionally, in the early 1950s, some of United States government officials started agitating for a more active U.S. role in Antarctica hoping that the continent might be useful for military activities and nuclear weapon testing. However, President Dwight D. Eisenhower devised an alternative strategy to settle territorial claims by concerned nations. United States diplomats alongside their Soviet partners drafted a treaty that made Antarctica a military-free zone and adjourned settling regional cases for future discussion. The Antarctica Treaty emphasize that there would be no military presence on the continent, and no testing of weapons of any kind, including nuclear weapons.In addition, scientific research was permitted, and researchers would not be barred from going through any of the regions claimed by different countries. Twelve countries signed the treaty, and since the document did not specifically alter issues of territorial claims in Antarctica, countries with territorial claims on the continent append their signatures to the document. In view of this, the treaty indicated little but major move towards U.S. - Soviet arms control and political cooperation. On June 1961, the treaty became effective, setting the standard for the fundamental policies that keep on governing Antarctica.The main purpose of the Antarctica Treaty is to safeguard the interest of every human, and make Antarctica a peaceful continent and not a ground to creating international disharmony.

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1950s

Truman Refuses To Rule Out Atomic Weapons – 11/30/1950

Today in 1950, the 33rd president of United States of America President Harry S. Truman declares during a press conference that he is ready to make use of nuclear weapons to achieve peace in Korea. During the time that the president made the announcement, the republic of China had joined forces with North Korea in attacking United Nations troops most especially U.S. soldiers who were planning to stop communist expansion into South Korea. The President accused the Soviet Union for making use of communist Chinese rebels as part of a tricky plan of promoting communism and spreading it all across Asia. Truman hereby promised to increase the defense in order to safeguard the interest of the masses and stand for the right thing until they settle the issue.  The press then pushed further by asking for Truman's plan in case the Chinese Nationalist agitating against the spread of communism in their own country failed to join the Korea movement, which the president replied that the U.S. would take "necessary steps that needs to be taken" to curb communist spread in Korea. Afterwards, a reporter asked "does the necessary step include the use of nuclear weapons?" and the president respond, "We are going to make use of the entire weapon that we have."In 1945, Truman approved the use of two nuclear bombs to end the war with Japan. The bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, even though the Japanese surrendered, and until this day, the memories of the horrible incident is still new in everyone's heart. The reason why the U.S. was able to achieve its aim is that America was the only country to possess of such a weapon of mass destruction. In addition, the Soviet Union also develops their nuclear weapon because of the Korea conflict.Following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki President Truman expressed his fear over the weapon and said he never wish that the nuclear bomb will be used again. In one of his remark concerning the bombing, he said, the nuclear weapon is terrible and should not be used on innocent men, women and children.At last, the Korean clash did not end as planned, it became a stalemate and both sides agreed not to make use of any nuclear weapon again. Finally, Korea was divided into democratic south and communist north respectively along with a neutral ground dividing the two countries, which the America Army keeps watch over until this very day. 

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1950s

Storm of The Century Hits Eastern U.S. - 11/26/1950

On this day in 1950, a heavy storm tagged "storm of the century" hits the Eastern United States causing heavy rains and significant winds that destroyed properties worth millions of dollars and claiming the lives of more than 300 while over 160 people were injured. Called the "Appalachian Storm," it deposited a large amount of snow in the western slopes of the mountain chain. The storm hovered over North Carolina before Thanksgiving Day but later moved upward north hitting western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia, making these regions covered with a few feet of snow for several days and making traveling impossible for almost a week in some part of the states. In New York, a wind gust of 94 miles per hour (151 km/h) was recorded, while additional cyclone covered other parts of the city. The storm caused havoc across New York as part of the city was flooded and there was a power shortage. Towards the north of the city, at Bear Mountain, 140 miles per hour windblast was recorded. Throughout New England, the storm came in a hurricane-like manner. High tides and wind-driven surf hit the coastline, while low temperatures were recorded in Tennessee and North Carolina. In Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, an all-time low record was set at temperature of 26 degrees below zero.Expert believed that the storm was special, because not only did it include hurricane-force winds and heavy snow, but also it recorded high and low temperatures. For example, 30 inches of snow fell in what can be called a striking snowstorm in Pittsburgh, while up in the north, no snow or snowstorm was recorded in Buffalo, except a 50 mile-per-hour winds and 50-degree temperatures that was experienced. Weather Channel Expert, Paul Kocin, said that the storm had the greatest difference of weather elements most likely in any storm, including the 1993 March Superstorm."The hurricane-force wind was responsible for more than 300 lives over several days. In addition, insurance firms in the U.S. paid out more money to their clients for damages resulting from the extreme weather than any other previous storms or hurricane. "The storm of the century" is regarded as one out of the seventeen storms to be ranked as a category 5 or extreme under the Regional Snowfall Index scale. 

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1950s

Hungarian Revolution Brutally Ended By The Soviets – 11/4/1956

On November 4, 1956, the Soviets made a drastic move to stop the 12-day old revolution in Hungary. Soviet tanks and troops rushed to the country, leaving thousands of people killed and wounded by their attack while almost a quarter million of the country’s population were forced to flee as refugees.The revolution began in October 1956 when protesters from Hungary went to the streets and cried out for freedom from oppression from the Soviets. They demanded for a more democratic government. As a result, the Communist Party officials chose Imre Nagy as their new premier – Nagy was a former premier but has been terminated because he openly criticized Stalinist policies. The new premier responded to the needs of the protesters by trying to reinstate peace. He also asked the Soviets to pull out their troops. The Soviets agreed to his demand. However, Nagy became a threat when he promised his people of open elections and that he would put an end to the one-party rule for good. He also promised for the country to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact (Soviet’s version of NATO), with the intention of becoming a neutral nation. On November 4, 1956, Soviets came back to Budapest, now with even more tanks than before. They had but one goal – to put an end to the Hungarian revolution once and for all. It was a catastrophic event for the Hungarians who were easily overpowered by the Soviets. By 5:20A.M., Prime Minister Imre Nagy broadcast the event to the whole nation. He told his people how their own troops were doing their best to defend their country and that the government was still in control. However, only a few hours have passed and Nagy already sought refuge at the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest. He ended up being captured and got executed two years later. The Soviets were adamant in taking over the country once again and immediately found someone else to take over Nagy’s former position. The person whom they found suitable was none other than Nagy’s former colleague, János Kádár, whom they secretly flew to the country from Moscow.Leaders from the West were shocked by what happened but were caught up in their own dilemmas and were not willing to risk getting entangled in a war in order to save Hungary. Before the incident, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev promised to abolish Stalinist policies along with its domineering ways but the incident in Budapest was a clear indication that he was not yet ready to embrace change. The event in Budapest killed about 2,500 Hungarians while 200,000 of them were forced to escape the country as refugees. The violence did not stop after November 4. There were resistance movements, strikes, and mass arrests months later, which affected the economic standing of the country. The United States, who were busy with their own affairs at that time, failed to help which made the Hungarians frustrated and angry. While the radio broadcasts from voice of America suggest that President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles verbally issued a statement that encouraged freedom in communist countries, they did not extend physical support at the time that the Soviet tanks were in Budapest to terrorize the Hungarians.

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1950s

President Truman Escapes Assassination Attempt – 11/1/1950

Attempts on the life of the President are as American as apple pie: According to a recent report, there have been twenty attempts and plots to slay the leader of the free world. Four were successful: Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. All of them were killed by a gunshot. Attempts have been made on both sitting and former presidents. Former president Theodore Roosevelt was shot in 1912 while campaigning as a third party candidate. The bullet struck him in the chest, its thrust drastically slowed by a steel eyeglasses case and a folded copy of his fifty-page speech. Known for his robust masculinity, Roosevelt decided to continue, reasoning that since he was not coughing up blood, the bullet had not hit his lungs and that the injuries would be minor. In September 1975, President Gerald R. Ford was shot at twice in the span of seventeen days. Interestingly, both of his would be assassins were women (a rarity), and amazingly, one of them was a former member of the Charles Manson Family. The very first attempt on a president’s life came in January 1835, when a mentally ill former house painter took aim at President Andrew Jackson with two pistols. Both malfunctioned. Jackson, a noted roughneck, charged his assailant and beat him with a cane before being dragged off.On November 1, 1950, President Harry S. Truman suffered a failed assassination attempt.Built during the presidencies of George Washington and John Adams, the White House, by 1945, was in a shambles, due largely to neglect during the Great Depression. When Truman took office following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in April 1945, he found the White House sorely in need of repairs. It was so bad that in 1948, a piano leg went through a second story floor. The floorboards were found to be rotted. A building commissioner claimed that the second floor was sinking, and that the ceilings were remaining where they were by sheer force of habit.In 1949, Congress created a commission for the reconstruction of the White House. The interior was almost entirely gutted and rebuilt.In the autumn of 1950, Truman was staying in Washington’s Blair House. On the afternoon of November 1, the Trumans were upstairs when a commotion broke out in the street below: Yelling, shouting, and gunfire. When the smoke cleared, two men were dead: Secret Service Agent Leslie Coffelt and Griselio Torresola.Torresola, a Puerto Rican nationalist, had, along with Oscar Collazo, strolled up to the front stairs of the Blair House and opened fire. Coffelt was mortally wounded by Torresola, but managed to kill him with a shot to the head before falling. Collazo and several D.C. police officers were wounded in the attack.Torresola and Collazo launched their poorly-planned attack (they didn’t even know if Truman would be there) on behalf of Puerto Rican independence, despite Truman’s support for the matter.Collazo was sentenced to death, but Truman himself commuted the sentence to life in prison. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter commuted it further to time served. That same year, he was honored by Cuba’s communist dictator Fidel Castro.Photos of Torresola and Collazo hang in Chicago’s Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

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1950s

Earl Lloyd, First African-American Player In The NBA - 10/31/1950

On this day in 1950, the 21-year-old Earl Francis Lloyd made his first season debut for the Washington Capitols, and as the first black person to play in the NBA. Born in Alexandria, Virginia on April 3, 1928 to a father who worked in the coal industry and a stay-at-home mom, Earl Lloyd received a scholarship to play basketball at West Virginia State. At West Virginia State, he became the new superstar of the championship basketball team. Unaware the NBA would draft him, until a friend told him that she heard he was moving out of the state to Washington. Later it became obvious that the Capitols had selected him in the ninth round of the draft. In addition, the NBA also drafted three other black players that same year.  Celtics, New York Knicks and Tri-Cities Blackhawks selected Chuck Cooper, Nathaniel Clifton and Hank DeZonie respectively. However, the other teams did not start the 1950-51 NBA season until November, which makes Earl Lloyd become the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association.Lloyd later recalled that joining a white dominated team was at first scary but most of his teammates had played in college teams (where it was a mixture of different race) were friendly and made him feel at ease. However, the first match of the season was a little bit frightening when some fans shout in disgust as the announcer read the Capitols lineup for the game. It was reported by a fan, a white man who sat in the front row yelled: "do y'all think this black man can play any basketball?" but got a reply from Lloyd's mother who sat at the next role answered, and assured the man not to worry, that "the nigger can play."Having played only seven games with the Capitols, he was enlisted into the army and sent to Korea for two years. After his return to the United States, his former club had already gone out of the league; therefore, he joined the Syracuse Nationals (now known as Philadelphia 76ers). Lloyd played for a total number of nine seasons and retired his career in Detroit. After his retirement, he worked in the Motor City before becoming the assistant coach for the Pistons. He later became the first black head coach of a team in the NBA league, coaching the Detroit team for a year; afterwards, he moved to work in the police department and finally as a school administrator. In 2003, Earl Francis Lloyd was accepted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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