Year
1973

Watergate special prosecutor dismissed

Solicitor General Robert Bork dismisses Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox; Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus resign in protest. Cox had conducted a detailed investigation of the Watergate break-in that revealed that the burglary was just one of many possible abuses of power by the Nixon White House. Nixon had ordered Richardson to fire Cox, but he refused and resigned, as did Ruckelshaus when Nixon then asked him to dismiss the special prosecutor. Bork agreed to fire Cox and an immediate uproar ensued. This series of resignations and firings became known as the Saturday Night Massacre and outraged the public and the media. Two days later, the House Judiciary Committee began to look into the possible impeachment of Nixon.

The Watergate scandal involved the bungled burglary of the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 1972. It was eventually learned that the cover-up went all the way to the White House; President Nixon, facing impeachment, resigned from the presidency in August 1974. This had a major impact on the situation in Vietnam. Nixon had convinced President Nguyen Van Thieu to consent to the provisions of the Paris peace accords by personally promising (on more than 30 occasions) that the United States would re-enter the conflict if the North Vietnamese violated the peace agreement. However, Nixon’s successor, Gerald R. Ford, was not able to keep Nixon’s promises because he could not, despite Thieu’s desperate pleas for help, get Congress to appropriate significant funds to help the South Vietnamese. Having lost its sole source of aid and support, South Vietnam fell in April 1975.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

MacArthur returns

After advancing island by island across the Pacific Ocean, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte, fulfilling his promise to return to the area he was forced to flee in 1942.The son of an American Civil War hero, MacArthur served as chief ...read more

Sydney Opera House opens

After 15 years of construction, the Sydney Opera House is dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II. The $80 million structure, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and funded by the profits of the Opera House Lotteries, was built on Bennelong Point, in Sydney, Australia. Famous for its ...read more

Mao’s Long March concludes

Just over a year after the start of the Long March, Mao Zedong arrives in Shensi Province in northwest China with 4,000 survivors and sets up Chinese Communist headquarters. The epic flight from Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces lasted 368 days and covered 6,000 miles, nearly ...read more

Battle of Navarino

During the Greek War for Independence, a combined Turkish and Egyptian armada is destroyed by an allied British, French, and Russian naval force at the Battle of Navarino.In 1821, the first nationalist uprisings by the Greeks against their Turkish rulers touched off a wave of ...read more

Last Volvo PV rolls off the assembly line

Trackmagazine said in 1963, “the Volvo PV544 is such a practical car. Volvo’s most attractive appeal lies in its solidity and its quality in every single respect. There is nothing slapdash or under-dimensioned about any part of the car and that is more than enough to compensate ...read more

Congress investigates Reds in Hollywood

On October 20, 1947, the notorious Red Scare kicks into high gear in Washington, as a Congressional committee begins investigating Communist influence in one of the world’s richest and most glamorous communities: Hollywood.After World War II, the Cold War began to heat up between ...read more

Fosbury flops to an Olympic record

On October 20, 1968, 21-year-old Oregonian Dick Fosbury wins gold—and sets an Olympic record—when he high-jumps 7 feet 4 1/4 inches at the Mexico City Games. It was the first American victory in the event since 1956. It was also the international debut of Fosbury’s unique jumping ...read more

Kennedy press secretary misleads press

On this day in 1962, the White House press corps is told that President John F. Kennedy has a cold; in reality, he is holding secret meetings with advisors on the eve of ordering a blockade of Cuba.Kennedy was in Seattle and scheduled to attend the Seattle Century 21 World’s Fair ...read more

U.S. Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase

On this day in 1803, the U.S. Senate approves a treaty with France providing for the purchase of the territory of Louisiana, which would double the size of the United States.At the end of 18th century, the Spanish technically owned Louisiana, the huge region west of the ...read more

French poet Arthur Rimbaud is born

On this day, Arthur Rimbaud is born in Charleville, France. His father, an army officer, deserted the family when Rimbaud was six. Rimbaud was a brilliant student, and his first poem was published in a French review when he was 16. The following year, he rebelled and ran away to ...read more

Burt Lancaster dies

On this day in 1994, Burt Lancaster, a former circus performer who rose to fame as a Hollywood leading man with some 70 movies to his credit, including From Here to Eternity and Atlantic City, in a career that spanned more than four decades, dies of a heart attack at the age of ...read more

Natural gas explosions rock Cleveland

Two liquid gas tanks explode in Cleveland, Ohio, killing 130 people, on this day in 1944. It took all of the city’s firefighters to bring the resulting industrial fire under control.At 2:30 p.m., laboratory workers at the East Ohio Gas Company spotted white vapor leaking from the ...read more

The Red Scare comes to Hollywood

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) of the U.S. Congress opens its investigation into communist infiltration of the American movie industry on October 20, 1947. Chaired by Congressman Parnell Thomas, the subsequent hearings focused on identifying political ...read more

Union General Daniel Sickles is born

On this day in 1819, Daniel Sickles, one of the most colorful generals in the Union army, is born in New York City.Sickleswas a member of theNew York StateAssembly and New York State Senate before servingin the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from New York from 1857 ...read more