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History's Happenings for September 15

UN Troops Land At Inchon

The Korean War began when North Korean Communist troops crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea on June 25, 1950. Although the UN mobilized to oppose the invasion -- the first ever UN military action -- the ramp-up was slow. Initially only American troops out of Japan, led by Supreme Commander General Douglas MacArthur, and the South Korean Army, opposed the incursion.

Due largely to supply shortages, the war bogged down, and the Americans and South Koreans were bottled up in a small perimeter around Pusan, well south of the captured South Korean capital of Seoul.

In a bold strike that many felt would fail, MacArthur organized an amphibious landing at the port city of Inchon, west of Seoul and well behind enemy lines. Other than the obvious issue of opposition, the landings were made precarious by treacherous tides and high sea walls. MacArthur was also stretching his manpower reserves to the limit.

Nonetheless the landing was executed in brilliant fashion by the U.S. X Corps on this day in 1950. The North Korean supply lines were cut, and a simultaneous push out of the Pusan perimeter by General Walton H. Walker scattered the Communist troops before it, emptying the south of organized opposition by the end of the month. Inchon remains as a bright light in U.S. military history.

After Inchon, UN troops charged up to the Yalu River, separating China from North Korea. Refused permission to bomb the Yalu bridges, MacArthur soon faced a Chinese Communist Army pouring across the river in support of the North Koreans. Under shear pressure of manpower, the UN troops were pushed back down into the south, only to recover and fight their way back to the vicinity of the parallel by early 1951. There the war stalemated until a cease-fire was finally negotiated in July, 1953.

British Occupy New York City

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Birth of President William Howard Taft

The twenty-seventh president of the United States was born on September 15, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Taft studied law at Yale, and followed the footsteps of his father into Republican politics. He was selected by President McKinley as governor of the newly-acquired Philippines in 1900, and appointed Secretary of War by President Roosevelt in 1904. Roosevelt hand-picked Taft as his successor in 1908.

Trying to carry on Roosevelt's progressive policies, President Taft split the Republican party between conservatives and progressives over such issues as trade tariffs and conservation. His administration saw the founding of the income tax (the Sixteenth Amendment), and vigorous enforcement of anti-trust laws, though Taft himself generally sided with the wealthy interests.

Taft's failure to continue the grass-roots legacy of the Roosevelt administration enraged Roosevelt and led him to challenge Taft in the 1912 nomination fight. Failing the nomination Roosevelt bolted and, with his Bull Moose party, outpolled Taft, but split the Republic vote and handed the election to Woodrow Wilson. Taft's was the worst ever defeat for an incumbent president, garnering only eight electoral votes.

His failure in presidential politics did not soil his career. His abiding interest having always been the law, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1921 where he served with distinction as an economic liberal, and social and political conservative. He died on March 8, 1930.

Allies Stopped; Trench Warfare Begins

Their last advance stopped at the Battle of the Aisne on this day in 1914, the Allies were forced to dig in and begin a long and bloody war of attrition, in which future advances were measured in yards rather than miles, and often see-sawed back and forth.

Because of the almost unbelievable losses to both sides in the trench warfare assaults -- the British lost one in every three military-aged men in World War I -- the allies were not again able to mount serious offensive actions until after the United States entered the war in 1917.

First Tank Used In Battle

During the Battle of the Somme in September, 1916, the British introduced the first tank to be used in conflict. Lumbering along at about four miles per hour, without swiveling turrets and with frequent breakdowns, it would have been useless in today's -- or even 1940's -- mobile warfare. But in a war still fought over No Man's Land between trenches these tanks, while not decisive, did by their performance encourage further development into their modern descendants.

By the early stages of World War II armor, along with air power, had made the concept of static warfare obsolete.

First Russian Revolution Produces Republic

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Nazis Pass Nuremberg Laws

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Tide Turns in Battle of Britain

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