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22 September 2012 @ 11:40 am
This Day in History: 9/22/12  
1776: Patriot executed for spying
1828: Shaka Zulu assassinated
1862: Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation




1776: PATRIOT EXECUTED FOR SPYING

In New York City on this day in 1776, Nathan Hale, a Connecticut schoolteacher and captain in the Continental Army, is executed by the British for spying.

A graduate of Yale University, Hale joined a Connecticut regiment in 1775 and served in the successful siege of British-occupied Boston. On September 10, 1776, he volunteered to cross behind British lines on Long Island to spy on the British in preparation for the Battle of Harlem Heights.

Disguised as a Dutch schoolmaster, the Yale-educated Hale slipped behind British lines on Long Island and successfully gathered information about British troop movements for the next several weeks. While Hale was behind enemy lines, the British invaded the island of Manhattan; they took control of the city on September 15, 1776. When the city was set on fire on September 20, British soldiers were told to look out for sympathizers to the Patriot cause. The following evening, September 21, Hale was captured while sailing Long Island Sound, trying to cross back into American-controlled territory. Although rumors surfaced that Hale was betrayed by his first cousin and British Loyalist Samuel Hale, the exact circumstances of Hale's capture have never been discovered.

Hale was interrogated by British General William Howe and, when it was discovered that he was carrying incriminating documents, General Howe ordered his execution for spying, which was set for the following morning. After being led to the gallows, legend holds that the 21-year-old Hale said, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." There is no historical record to prove that Hale actually made this statement, but, if he did, he may have been inspired by these lines in English author Joseph Addison's 1713 play Cato: "What a pity it is/That we can die but once to serve our country."

SOURCE: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/patriot-executed-for-spying


1828: SHAKA ZULU ASSASSINATED

Shaka, founder of the Zulu Kingdom of southern Africa, is murdered by his two half-brothers, Dingane and Mhlangana, after Shaka's mental illness threatened to destroy the Zulu tribe.

When Shaka became chief of the Zulus in 1816, the tribe numbered fewer than 1,500 and was among the smaller of the hundreds of other tribes in southern Africa. However, Shaka proved a brilliant military organizer, forming well-commanded regiments and arming his warriors with assegais, a new type of long-bladed, short spear that was easy to wield and deadly. The Zulus rapidly conquered neighboring tribes, incorporating the survivors into their ranks. By 1823, Shaka was in control of all of present-day Natal. The Zulu conquests greatly destabilized the region and resulted in a great wave of migrations by uprooted tribes.

In 1827, Shaka's mother, Nandi, died, and the Zulu leader lost his mind. In his grief, Shaka had hundreds of Zulus killed, and he outlawed the planting of crops and the use of milk for a year. All women found pregnant were murdered along with their husbands. He sent his army on an extensive military operation, and when they returned exhausted he immediately ordered them out again. It was the last straw for the lesser Zulu chiefs: On September 22, 1828, his half-brothers murdered Shaka. Dingane, one of the brothers, then became king of the Zulus.

SOURCE: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/shaka-zulu-assassinated



1862: LINCOLN ISSUES EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION

On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issues a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which sets a date for the freedom of more than 3 million black slaves in the United States and recasts the Civil War as a fight against slavery.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, shortly after Lincoln's inauguration as America's 16th president, he maintained that the war was about restoring the Union and not about slavery. He avoided issuing an anti-slavery proclamation immediately, despite the urgings of abolitionists and radical Republicans, as well as his personal belief that slavery was morally repugnant. Instead, Lincoln chose to move cautiously until he could gain wide support from the public for such a measure.

In July 1862, Lincoln informed his cabinet that he would issue an emancipation proclamation but that it would exempt the so-called border states, which had slaveholders but remained loyal to the Union. His cabinet persuaded him not to make the announcement until after a Union victory. Lincoln's opportunity came following the Union win at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. On September 22, the president announced that slaves in areas still in rebellion within 100 days would be free.

On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation, which declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebel states "are, and henceforward shall be free." The proclamation also called for the recruitment and establishment of black military units among the Union forces. An estimated 180,000 African Americans went on to serve in the army, while another 18,000 served in the navy.

After the Emancipation Proclamation, backing the Confederacy was seen as favoring slavery. It became impossible for anti-slavery nations such as Great Britain and France, who had been friendly to the Confederacy, to get involved on behalf of the South. The proclamation also unified and strengthened Lincoln's party, the Republicans, helping them stay in power for the next two decades.

The proclamation was a presidential order and not a law passed by Congress, so Lincoln then pushed for an antislavery amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ensure its permanence. With the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, slavery was eliminated throughout America (although blacks would face another century of struggle before they truly began to gain equal rights).

Lincoln's handwritten draft of the final Emancipation Proclamation was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871. Today, the original official version of the document is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

SOURCE: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/lincoln-issues-emancipation-proclamation