Cripps and Gandhi meet

On this day, Sir Stanford Cripps, British statesman, arrives in India for talks with Mohandas Gandhi on Indian independence, in what will become known as the Cripps Mission.

Cripps was a gifted student with a background in such diverse disciplines as chemistry and law. Always of weak health, he was deemed unfit for military service during World War I; instead, he worked in a government factory. After the war, Cripps was made a King’s Counsel (1927). Shortly thereafter, he was knighted, and in 1931 was elected to Parliament as a Labour Party member for Bristol East. Cripps’ politics were left of even the Labour Party, and when he advocated a united front with the Communists in 1938 against a growing European fascism, he was expelled from the party.

Once World War II erupted, Cripps was made ambassador to the Soviet Union. In 1942, he joined the War Cabinet and ventured to India to begin discussing two pressing issues: Japan’s threat to India, and India’s independence from Britain. The first meetings of the Cripps Mission took place on March 22, 1942. The first item on the agenda was India’s defense against a growing Japanese empire. Cripps wanted to rally the Indian National Congress behind the cause. The leader of the Congress was Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Nicknamed Mahatma, the “Great-Souled,” Gandhi was at the center of India’s quest for independence from British colonial rule. His use of nonviolent protest both in South Africa, where he practiced law, and in India made him a model and icon for later social-protest movements. Gandhi deemed the negotiations made with the British government through the Cripps Mission unsatisfactory. It did not guarantee Indian independence–never mind the immediate autonomy that the Congress demanded–and threatened to “divide and keep conquered” by playing Hindu Indians against Muslim Indians. Consequently, though Gandhi hated fascism, he could not promise unqualified Indian support of the British during the war.

The Cripps Mission failed; Cripps returned to Britain and was eventually transferred to the Ministry of Aircraft Production. Gandhi was arrested as a “threat” to Indian security. He was interned for two years before health issues forced his release.


Naval hero killed in duel

U.S. Navy officer Stephen Decatur, hero of the Barbary Wars, is mortally wounded in a duel with disgraced Navy Commodore James Barron at Bladensburg, Maryland. Although once friends, Decatur sat on the court-martial that suspended Barron from the Navy for five years in 1808 and more

Arab League formed

Representatives from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Yemen meet in Cairo to establish the Arab League, a regional organization of Arab states. Formed to foster economic growth in the region, resolve disputes between its members, and coordinate more

Stamp Act imposed on American colonies

In an effort to raise funds to pay off debts and defend the vast new American territories won from the French in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), the British government passes the Stamp Act on this day in 1765. The legislation levied a direct tax on all materials printed for more

Westmoreland to depart South Vietnam

President Lyndon B. Johnson announces the appointment of Gen. William Westmoreland as Army Chief of Staff; Gen. Creighton Abrams replaced him as commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam. Westmoreland had first assumed command of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam in June 1964, more

First Stanley Cup championship played

On this day in 1894, the first championship series for Lord Stanley’s Cup is played in Montreal, Canada. The Stanley Cup has since become one of the most cherished and recognized trophies in sport. The Stanley Cup was the creation of Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, lord of Preston more

FDR legalizes sale of beer and wine

On this day in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Beer and Wine Revenue Act. This law levies a federal tax on all alcoholic beverages to raise revenue for the federal government and gives individual states the option to further regulate the sale and distribution of more

Louis L’Amour born

Louis L’Amour, the prolific author of scores of bestselling western novels, is born in Jamestown, North Dakota. An indifferent student, L’Amour dropped out of high school at age 15. Over the next two decades, he traveled around the world working in an amazing variety of jobs. more

Teachers are indicted at the McMartin Preschool

Seven teachers at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California are indicted by the Los Angeles County grand jury after hearing testimony from 18 children. Included among the charged are Peggy McMartin Buckey, the head of the school and her son Ray Buckey. Seven years and more

The origins of the Hummer

On this day in 1983, the Pentagon awards a production contract worth more than $1 billion to AM General Corporation to develop 55,000 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). Nicknamed the Humvee and designed to transport troops and cargo, the wide, rugged vehicles more