Thursday, February 9, 2012

Learn Our History Today: February 9

Learn Our History Today:  On February 9, 1950, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy  made a speech in Wheeling, WV, claiming to have a list that included 200 members of the Department of the State who were “known communists.”

During his speech, McCarthy waived a piece of paper at his audience—The Ohio County Women’s Republican Club—and according to the only published account of his speech, McCarthy said, “I have here in my hand a list of 205 [State Department employees] that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.”  Following his speech, McCarthy made several statements in which the number of the presumed communists fluctuated wildly, but he never did produce solid evidence to back his claim.  McCarthy’s hunt for communists became known as “McCarthyism.”  After failing to locate any communists, his credibility collapsed in 1954 after he claimed the Army was friendly to known communists.  His televised hearings and investigation into the Army showed Americans that he lacked credibility, and he lost support.   Shortly after, the Senate expressed their disapproval of McCarthy’s actions. McCarthy passed away in 1957.

Also on this day in 1773, William Henry Harrison was born. Harrison was the 9th president of the United States, and he holds the record for the shortest term ever served...just 32 days in 1841.  He came down with a cold on his inauguration day.  The cold lingered and eventually turned into pneumonia, which killed him on April 4, 1841.

And on this day in 1942, Congress imposed daylight saving time.  The concept was suggested by President Roosevelt as an effort to conserve fuel.  The idea is traced back to World War I when Congress imposed the 1918 Standard Time Act, designed to enable the US to better utilize resources, following a European model.  While the Act was only to be in effect for seven months of the year, some states continued to turn clocks ahead an hour in the spring and back an hour in the fall.  Roosevelt’s World War II legislation imposted daylight saving time across the nation for the full year, but it was repealed on September 30, 1945 and individual states were allowed to set their own standard time.  In 1966, Congress set a standard time that superceded state habits.

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