04/10 – Ping-Pong Diplomacy

PRC player Zhuang Zedong, at right, in 1961. On his bus ride with Glenn Cowan, Zedong hesitated before speaking to the American as he remembered a lifetime of anti-Western propaganda. His curiosity got the better of him, however, and "the rest is history". (Timetoast) On this day in 1971, the American Ping-Pong team began a…

03/30 – The Alaska Purchase

A Colton's map of Alaska and surrounding geography. (ArcGIS Storymaps) On this day in 1867, the United States government purchased Alaska, a far-northern part of the North American continent, from Imperial Russia. For the Americans, Alaska represented an easy means for establishing trade in Asia and expanding their regional foothold. For the Russians, Alaska was…

02/03 – Looking Glass

A USAF EC-130B ABCNP "Looking Glass" aircraft. (Airliners.net) On this day in 1961, the US Air Force launched Looking Glass, a command centre tasked with coordinating the deployment of America's nuclear weapons. The command centre was located on a number of heavily-modified KC-130 aircraft; the ABNCPs (Airborne Command Post), armed with powerful communications systems, rotated…

01/04 – Solomon Northup

A drawing from an early edition of "12 Years a Slave". (Wikimedia Commons) On this day in 1853, Solomon Northup - a Black, free-born American from New York - regained his freedom after 12 years of illegal enslavement. Having worked as a violinist and farmer in the Northern states (where slavery was illegal), Northup travelled…

11/20 – My Lai

American troops in Vietnam. My Lai destroyed the credibility of the US mission and resulted in poor treatment for many returning veterans. (source: VOA News) On this day in 1969 The Plain Dealer, an Ohio-based US newspaper, published imagery taken from the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. United States soldiers from the 23rd "Americal" Infantry…

11/18 – United States v. Susan B. Anthony

On this day in 1872 American activist Susan B. Anthony was arrested by US Marshals on charges of voting illegally. Anthony and a number of women in Rochester, New York, had registered in the days leading up to the 1872 election; Anthony and 14 others had successfully cast their ballots, but were arrested afterwards. As…

11/17 – Watergate

Nixon, centre, entangled in a metaphorical web of lies and deception during the 1972-74 Watergate Scandal. (source: Flickr) On this day in 1973 American President Richard Nixon reassured the public that "I am not a crook" - right after pressuring Solicitor General Robert Bork to fire the Special Prosecutor investigating Nixon for obstruction of justice.…