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January 17, 1961

President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his “Farewell Address” to the nation.  After serving as a career military officer & Commander & Chief of the US armed services, Ike sounds a warning.

The President speaks of the need for the development of a “permanent arms industry” during the Cold War but expresses concern about “the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought by the military-industrial complex.”

January 17, 1961

Patrice Lumumba, the 35 year old 1st democratic leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is assassinated.

Lumumba was outspoken against the “violence & humiliation” of colonialism.  After failure to get the Eisenhower administration to supply financial aid, he threatened to turn to the USSR.

He had also announced plans to unite the Congo by giving assistance to bordering nations still under European control.

Lumumba is captured, beaten & flown to the Katanga region in the southern Congo, where he is shot by a firing squad.

There has been discussion concerning the role of the CIA in this event.  The Church Committee (1975), however, will find no evidence of CIA involvement.  

Stephen R. Weissman, on the other hand, writes that he has classified documents which prove otherwise.  

Weissman believes US officials in the Eisenhower administration saw Lumumba as the “African Fidel Castro”.

CIA Director Allen Dulles writes:

“We conclude that (Lumumba’s) removal must be an urgent and prime objective”.

Belgian author Ludo De Witte believes Lumumba’s is “the most important assassination of the 20th Century” & that operatives of the Belgian government were behind the murder.

Lumumba’s successor, Joseph Mobutu, will rule the Congo for 30 years & in the process will “run the country into the depths of poverty”.

During his service as a Congressman & Senator, JFK was supportive of African liberation from colonial rule.  While some others believed revolutionaries were leftists, JFK felt they were nationalists & argued that Africa presented an opportunity for the West.   JFK admired Lumumba.

JFK’s photographer, Jacques Lowe, will be visiting the President on February 13, 1961 in the oval office when JFK receives a phone call from UN Ambassador Stevenson.  Lowe captures the photo below as JFK is told of the Lumumba assassination.

Lumumba wrote the following words to his wife:

“I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country.”

January 17, 1953

Three days before the 1st Eisenhower inauguration, General Motors debuts the “Corvette” at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.  The first production vehicle rolls off the Flint, Michigan assembly line on June 30, 1953.

January 17, 1945

The Soviet Army liberates the capital of Poland, Warsaw.  The Russians are led by General Georgi Zhukov.

Warsaw’s population of 1.3 million has been reduced to only 153,000 during WWII.

January 17, 1893

Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii is overthrown by American sugar planters led by Sanford Dole with the support of 300 US Marines from the USS Boston.  

Dole sets up a provisional government & submits a treaty of annexation to the United States.

President Cleveland will later send a new minister to restore the Queen but Dole will refuse to step aside.  He proclaims an independent republic with which President McKinley will sign a treaty in 1897.  

In 1899, the Hawaiian Islands will become a territory of the United States.

January 17, 1781

Patriot General Daniel Morgan’s forces defeat British troops under Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton at Cowpens, South Carolina.

Morgan ordered his riflemen to fire two volleys then set up in a new position to the rear.  The British believed this to be a retreat & marched into Morgan’s trap.

The American victory will help delay Lord Cornwallis’s march through the south & ultimately force his retreat to the coast. 



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