October 17, 1859: President James Buchanan ordered U.S. Marines — led by Col. Robert E. Lee — to regain control of Harper's Ferry, Va. (now W.Va.) after a raid by abolitionist John Brown. The Marines that stormed Harper's Ferry, by the way, were controlled by Col. Robert E. Lee — who would soon defect to the Confederacy.
The raid on Harper's Ferry was an attempt by Brown to start a nationwide revolt of slaves in the U.S. He asked two leading abolitionists — Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman — to jon him; Tubman was ill and declined, while Douglass thought Brown's plan was faulty and declined to participate.
October 17, 1974: Testifying to Congress, President Ford said he pardoned Richard Nixon because he wanted America to move beyond Watergate. Ford said that putting Nixon on trial would have further polarized the nation. The Nixon pardon cost Ford votes in his losing 1976 election race against Jimmy Carter.
October 17, 1979: President Carter signed a bill creating the Dept. of Education and the Dept. of Health & Human Services.
Quote of the Day
“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds." — Franklin D. Roosevelt
More from West Wing Reports...
- The logic behind the world's 4 weirdest strategic reserves
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- What to expect when you're expecting (100 years ago)
- Remembering Nelson Mandela: The world's front pages
- 5 books to read before your 30th birthday
- Is it possible to live forever?
- Remembering Nelson Mandela: A tribute in photos and prose
- 6 photos that Facebook controversially banned
- 11 languages spoken by 11 people or fewer
- 7 health benefits of playing video games
Subscribe to the Week