Today in History
History's Happenings for September 8
This date in 1974, President Gerald R. Ford issued a surprise Pardon to former President Richard Nixon for any crimes which he may have committed while in office. Nixon had resigned the presidency on August 8th as a direct result of the drawn-out Watergate investigation, which pointed to inevitable impeachment.
While there have been proposed many unspoken reasons for Ford's decision, the best logic follows his public reasoning -- let's put it behind us and get on with the future.
Unfortunately, in so doing, we also put the rule of law and the concept of equal treatment under that law behind us. History will argue whether it was a justifiable trade-off.
Outspoken Governor Huey Long of Louisiana was assassinated on this day in 1935 by Dr. Carl A. Weiss, in Baton Rouge. He died on September 10.
In the fall of 1940, Europe was in a shambles. Hitler, fresh from victories over Poland, Denmark and Norway, had defeated France during the summer in a fast Blitzkrieg. The British had been pushed off the French beaches at Dunkirk, leaving behind all their heavy equipment. The Battle of Britain was raging in the skies over England.
Across the Atlantic, America was still technically at peace. But she was at serious odds with the Japanese over the latter's aggressive actions in China and Southeast Asia. And she was supporting Britain behind the scenes, even lending her old American destroyers for the Atlantic war.
Peace and American neutrality were fast becoming an illusion. If the typical American still held out hope that we could avoid involvement in these seemingly foreign squabbles, the U.S. military, and President Franklin Roosevelt, certainly had other plans.
The president declared a state of emergency on September 8, 1940, and shortly after created an Office of Production Management to coordinate defense tool-up and to keep supplies flowing to Britain. In October the U.S. government instituted the first peacetime military draft in its history.
The preparations occurred none too soon. The escalation continued in 1941, the U.S. squeezing the Japanese economically, and dramatically increasing aid to both Britain and the Soviet Union (which Hitler had invaded in June). By mid-year, American neutrality in the European war was a clear sham, and the militant government of Japan had been pushed into a fury.
The play-acting ended on December 7, 1941.
The Treaty of Peace between the United States and the former Empire of Japan was signed today, in 1951, in San Francisco, almost six years to the day after the official surrender.