|This Week in History|
|By ALISA WIERSEMA (@alisawiersema)||May 13, 2013, 4:16 PM|
Monumental court rulings, tense situations in international relations, wars, and the uprooting of the nation's capitol -- check out what happened this week in history.
1846: President Polk Declares War on Mexico Congress approved President Polk's request to declare war on Mexico on May 13, 1846. The request resulted from a dispute between the two countries over the annexation of Texas.
Under President Tyler, the U.S. started negotiations with the Republic of Texas that led to the Treaty of Annexation. This treaty was defeated in the Senate because it not only threatened to upset the balance between free and slave states, but also risked igniting war with Mexico. With the support of Polk, Tyler ultimately passed the legislation toward the end of his presidency on March 1, 1845, and Texas was admitted to the Union a few months later on December 29.
Once Texas was annexed, relations between the U.S. and Mexico worsened due to land disputes and disagreements over the border. In April, Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande River, which the U.S. considered an act of aggression, causing Polk to declare war.
The war lasted for two years, ending on Feb. 2, 1848, with the establishment of the Rio Grande as the southern border of Texas. The U.S. also paid Mexico $15 million for most of the territory that is now Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Texas, and western Colorado. The U.S. also agreed to assume its citizens' claims against Mexico. 1958: Nixon Attacked by Venezuelans During a trip to South America, anti-American demonstrators threw rocks at then-Vice President Richard Nixon's limousine as it drove through the streets of Caracas, Venezuela. The protesters smashed the car's windows, rocked it from side to side and threatened to turn it over.
Despite warnings of anti-American sentiment from the Venezuelan government, Nixon was sent on the trip by President Eisenhower to improve relations with South American countries. The trip ended up doing more damage than good as protesters in Ecuador and Peru also targeted Nixon in criticism of U.S. involvement in military coups across Central America.
In response to the protests in Caracas, the Venezuelan military sent troops to clear the area and finally get Nixon to safety. Nixon flew back to Washington the next day and was greeted by Eisenhower and cheering crowds.
1999: Clinton Apologizes to Chinese President for Embassy Bombing On this day, President Bill Clinton apologized to Chinese President Jiang Zemin for the accidental NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The accidental bombing happened six days before the president's direct apology.
Earlier in the week, on May 10, Clinton issued a public apology, and also sent an official letter to Zemin on May 13, but could not reach the Chinese president by phone until May 14.
Clinton promised Zemin that an investigation of the incident would take place, and that the bombing was not a deliberate act of aggression. At the time, Chinese media and officials were insisting that the bombing was intentional, stirring up protests at American and British embassies in Yugoslavia.
Tensions between the two countries finally eased when U.S. and China engaged in talks regarding China's desire to join the World Trade Organization.
1800: Federal Government Moves to Washington, D.C. On this day in history, President John Adams ordered the federal government to move from Philadelphia to its current location in Washington, D.C. Adams aimed to have Washington, D.C. up and running by June 15, 1800. Philadelphia officially stopped serving as the nation's capital on June 11, 1800. The President and the First Lady moved into the unfinished White House later in November.
1868: Senate Acquits President Johnson of Impeachment Charges Earlier in the year, the House of Representatives charged Andrew Johnson with 11 articles of impeachment for "high crimes and misdemeanors," the most of any impeachment charges in U.S. history. The House charged Johnson with counts of the illegal removal of the secretary of war and for violating various Reconstruction Acts, among other charges.
The reason for Johnson's impeachment centered on his unwillingness to work with Congress to implement Civil War Reconstruction policies. His decision to fire the head of the War Department, Edwin Stanton, was the tipping point during which Congress responded with charges of impeachment.
When the process moved to the Senate, Johnson was acquitted by a vote of 35-19 and was able to finish his term in office.
1954: SCOTUS Rules on Brown v. Board of Education The U.S. Supreme court delivered a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that ruled racial segregation to be unconstitutional in public educational facilities. The decision marked the end of federal tolerance of racial segregation.
The case was associated with a young African-American girl named Linda Brown, who was denied admission to her local elementary school because of her race. In addition to being much closer to her home, the school Brown wanted to attend offered better a better quality of education than the designated African-American school. At the time, the "separate but equal" distinction was used to justify this kind of treatment in public facilities and included schools.
In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that the "separate but equal" distinction was unconstitutional in all cases pertaining to educational segregation because it made African American students inherently inferior to their white counterparts.
2004: First Legal Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony Marcia Kadish and Tanya McCloskey became the first legally married, same-sexual couple in America on May 17, 2004. The ceremony took place in Cambridge, Mass., in Cambridge City Hall.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, and extended the rights of marriage to same-sex couples. The court gave the state 180 days to change the law, and although some legislators introduced amendments to ban same-sex marriage but allow civil unions, the ruling persisted. As of 2013, 11 states have legalized same-sex marriage.