July 1959

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July 24, 1959: Nixon and Khrushchev debate in kitchen exhibit
July 17, 1959: Homo habilis remains unearthed after 1,750,000 years in Olduvai Gorge
July 5, 1959: Sukarno decrees "Guided Democracy", creates totalitarian state in Indonesia

The following events occurred in July 1959:

July 1, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • A new standard for the yard and for the inch was adopted by the United States and Britain. The yard was formally defined as 0.9144 meters, and, as 1/36th of a yard, the inch was 0.0254 m or 2.54 centimeters.[1]
  • "World Refugee Year" began for the United Nations, running until June 30, 1960. At that time, the UN estimated that 15,000,000 people were refugees, and campaigned for private contributions and increased government spending.[2]
  • At 12:01 a.m., the consumption of opium in Thailand became illegal, and all approved opium dens were closed. When 12:01 arrived, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat sent the military on a nationwide crackdown on the opium trade.[3]
  • Heinrich Lübke was elected the second President of West Germany, succeeding Theodor Heuss. Lübke had 517 of the 1038 electoral votes, 3 shy of a majority, while Carlo Schmid had 385 and Max Becker 104 on the first ballot in the electoral college. Lübke won on the second round.[4]

July 2, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

July 3, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

July 4, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

July 5, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • President Sukarno of Indonesia dissolved the Konstituante parliament and introduced a totalitarian system, which he called "Guided Democracy" (Demokrasi Terpimpin), with the assistance of General Abdul Haris Nasution.[13]
  • David Ben-Gurion resigned as Prime Minister of Israel and new elections were called for the Knesset. Ben-Gurion's Israel Workers' Party won a majority of seats in the November election.[14]
  • German jurisdiction over Saarland, and its one million residents, became effective at 12:01 am after a period of transition that had begun on January 1, 1957. France had administered the region since the end of World War II, and Saarlanders were given five days to exchange 117 francs for eatch deutschmark.[15]

July 6, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • A C-124 Globemaster cargo plane, carrying nuclear weapons, crashed on takeoff from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The crew of seven survived, and safety devices functioned properly, but one weapon was destroyed in the fire that followed.[16]
  • Born: Richard Dacoury, French National Team basketball player

July 7, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

July 8, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

July 9, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

July 10, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

July 11, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The Japanese government implemented a policy of publishing documents with a combination of 881 approved kanji symbols and the katakana syllabary.[28]
  • The crew of a Pan American flight from Honolulu to San Francisco encountered a UFO at 21,000 feet over the Pacific, and the sighting was confirmed by pilots on two other airlines. Captain George Wilson told reporters "There was an extremely bright light surrounded by small lightsd" and that the object traveled at "inconceivable" speed, and added "I'm a believer now."[29]
  • Born: Richie Sambora, guitarist in Bon Jovi, in Perth Amboy, NJ; Suzanne Vega, American singer-songwriter, in Santa Monica
  • Died: Charlie Parker, 76, English cricketer

July 12, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

July 13, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • The worst nuclear accident in American history happened at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in southern California. The Sodium Reactor Experiment, which used liquid sodium to cool the uranium fuel rods and the nuclear reactor, experienced a sudden rise in temperature and radiation. Technicians managed to shut down the reactor, and after a two hour inspection, the reactor was restarted. On July 26, a second inspection determined that 13 of the 43 fuel rods had melted. For two weeks, radioactive by-products had been released into the surrounding area.[31]
  • The planet Neptune reached its aphelion, the point in its 165 year orbit furthest from the Sun. The planet was at its closest on August 28, 1876, and will be again on September 5, 2042.[32]
  • Born: Richard Leman, British field hockey player and Olympic medalist, in East Grinstead

July 14, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

Ex-Defense Minister Peng
  • Marshal Peng Dehuai, China's Minister of Defense, handed Chairman Mao Zedong a letter summarizing problems with the Great Leap Forward. Mao was furious, and two days later printed copies of the letter to distribute to the Luzhang Conference participants. Peng was fired and soon became the focus of the "Anti-Right Deviation Movement".[33]
  • In Kirkuk, Iraq, a rally to celebrate the first anniversary of the 1958 revolution degenerated into a three day long massacre of ethnic Turks by the Kurds. At least 30 people were killed, and over 100 injured. The event was last referred to as the Kirkuk Massacre.[34] On the same day, Iraq became the first Arab nation to appoint a woman to a ministerial post, with Dr. Naziha ad-Dulaimi becoming Minister of Rural Affairs.[35]
  • The first nuclear warship, the USS Long Beach, was launched from Quincy, Massachusetts.[36]
  • The French Community, France's version of the British Commonwealth of Nations, was organized in Paris.[37]
  • Born: Susana Martínez, American politician and Governor of New Mexico, in El Paso, Texas

July 15, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • More than 500,000 steelworkers walked off the job as the United Steelworkers of America called the largest strike in American history. Only after intervention by the President and the Supreme Court did the strike end, 116 days later, on November 6.[38]
  • Died: Ernest Bloch, 78, classical music composer

July 16, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Seconds after liftoff, a Juno II rocket, and the satellite it was carrying, were destroyed by ground control when the rocket veered off course toward central Florida.[39]
  • Born: Gary Anderson, NFL kicker, in Parys, South Africa

July 17, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

Mary Leakey
Homo habilis
Billie Holiday
  • Anthropologist Mary Leakey unearthed a skull fragment that would lead to a rethinking of the origins of human beings. Discovered at the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, where Louis Leakey had found prehistoric tools 28 years earlier, the skull of "OH 5" (Olduvai Hominid 5), the toolmaking Homo habilis, is now believed to be 1.75 million years old.[40]
  • An early experiment was done by New York TV station WPIX, after a hit by Jim McAnany of the White Sox ended a no-hitter by the Yankees' Ralph Terry. Since the game was being videotaped, broadcaster Mel Allen asked director Terry Murphy to play a tape of McAnany's hit over the air for a soon-thereafter replay, if not an instant replay.[41]
  • Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, with Cary Grant, premiered.[42]
  • Died: Singer Billie Holiday died at 3:20 a.m. at New York's Metropolitan Hospital, where she had been admitted on May 31 for heart failure. Thousands of mourners turned out for her wake and her funeral.[43]

July 18, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

Ex-President Urrutia
  • Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado was sworn in as President of Cuba shortly after midnight, hours after Fidel Castro went on television to denounce President Manuel Urrutia. On July 17, Castro had announced his resignation as Prime Minister and his plans to address the nation at 7:00 p.m. Urrutia, who had disagreed with Castro's confiscation of private farmland, resigned three hours into Castro's speech and made plans to flee the country.[44]

July 19, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

July 20, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

Admiral Leahy
  • Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev called off a tour of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The Scandinavian visit had been slated to start on August 15 with a visit to Stockholm, but was criticized by newspapers in all three countries.[46]
  • Died: Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, 84, highest ranking American naval officer during World War II

July 21, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The Boston Red Sox became the last Major League Baseball team to integrate, twelve years after Jackie Robinson had broken the color line. In the eighth inning of a game at Chicago, Pumpsie Green entered the lineup as a pinch runner, then played the ninth inning as a shortstop in a 2–1 win over the White Sox.[47] Green was called up from the Minneapolis Millers club after Bobby Avila was traded to the Braves.[48]
  • Two milestones in the erosion of censorship happened on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the United States, federal judge Frederick van Pelt Bryan enjoined the U.S. Postmaster General from stopping the delivery of the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover.,[49] while in Britain, the Obscene Publications Act 1959 was passed, marking what John Sutherland would describe as "the great liberation for printed literature".[50]

July 22, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The Japan–Paraguay Immigration Agreement was signed, providing for 85,000 Japanese citizens to immigrate to Paraguay over a 30 year period, settling on farmland purchased by Japan's government in Chavez, Fram, Alton Parana and Iguacu. In consideration for the agreement, Japan made a $3.8 million loan so that the Paraguayan Navy could purchase seven war ships. The plan failed, with less than 7,754 Japanese moving to Paraguay.[51]

July 23, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

General Stewart
General Goldwater
  • Actor Jimmy Stewart and U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater both won promotion to the rank of brigadier general. In addition to their civilian jobs, both were colonels in the U.S. Air Force reserves. The promotions were approved by voice vote in the Senate.[52]
  • The September–October issue of the DC Comic Showcase, No. 22 in the series, went on sale, and introduced Hal Jordan as the "Silver Age" Green Lantern.[53]

July 24, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • The Kitchen Debate took place between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and American Vice-President Richard Nixon, at Moscow's Sokolniki Park, where the American National Exhibition was being held. At a display of a model kitchen, Khrushchev and Nixon argued, through interpreters, over the merits of communism and capitalism. Both recounted the incident years later, in Six Crises by Nixon, and in Khrushchev Remembers. Time Magazine would later describe the first public discussion between the Soviet and American officials as "what may be remembered as peacetime diplomacy's most amazing 24 hours".[54]
  • Died: King Mutara III Rudahigwa, ruler of the Tutsi people in the Belgian colony of Rwanda, collapsed and died after being given a penicillin injection by a Belgian physician in Bujumbura. The death was believed by other doctors to be from anaphylatic shock from a penicillin allergy,[55] although other histories refer to the death as an assassination.[56] In the violence that followed, 20,000 Tutsi were killed and 150,000 fled the country over the next seven years.[57]

July 25, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • On the 50th anniversary of the first airplane flight across the English Channel (by Louis Bleriot), the first hovercraft trip across the Channel took place, as the SR N1 made the journey on a cushion of air.[58]
  • The videotapes of the Kitchen Debate were broadcast on American television, after a delay occasioned by the Soviet government's request to have 20 minutes of the Nixon-Khrushchev exchange shown in both nations simultaneously. Because the Soviet television equipment would not accommodate American videorecording, the tape was not broadcast there.[59]

July 26, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Eight days after his "resignation", Fidel Castro rallied half a million peasants and announced that he would return as Prime Minister.

President Urrutia fled Cuba, disguised as a milkman, and was replaced by Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado, while Castro built a cult of personality and a dictatorship.[60]

July 27, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • A proposed third major league for baseball—the Continental League—was announced at New York's Biltmore Hotel. Like the National League and the American League, the CL would have eight teams. Backed by William Shea and Branch Rickey, the league announced the first five teams in—New York, Houston, Toronto, Denver, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.[61] New York Mayor Robert F. Wagner had declared it "Continental League Baseball Day". The CL planned to play a 154 game schedule starting in 1961.[62]
  • Admiral Hyman Rickover inspected the first nuclear powered Soviet ship, the icebreaker Lenin.[63]
  • Born: Hugh Green, college and NFL linebacker; in Natchez, MS

July 28, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Lt. Col. William H. Rankin bailed out of his crippled F-8 fighter after it stalled at 47,000 feet. After a two-minute freefall, his parachute opened automatically at 10,000 feet, but it took him another 38 minutes to reach the ground. Rankin descended into a thunderstorm and was buffeted up and down by the winds until landing near Ahoskie, North Carolina. He told his story to the Associated Press from his hospital bed more than a week later.[64]
  • Voters in Hawaii elected their first state governor (William F. Quinn), their first Congressman (Daniel K. Inouye), and their first United States Senators, Hiram L. Fong and Oren E. Long.

July 29, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • After passing both houses of Parliament, the Legitimacy Act of 1959 received royal assent in Britain, giving equal rights to children born out of wedlock.[65]
  • Australia entered the "Jet Age", when Qantas became the first airline outside the United States to inaugurate Boeing 707 services, flying from Sydney, Australia, to San Francisco.[66]
  • Born: Sanjay Dutt, award winning Bollywood actor and politician

July 30, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Cho Pong-am, who had been South Korea's Minister of Agriculture in 1948, and had run for President in 1956, was executed for "treason against the state".[67]
  • The United Nations Medal was established for service, and is awarded for at least six months service with UN forces. The medal can be awarded to American servicemen as of 1964.[68]
  • Died: Maria Navidad Venegas de la Torre, 91, Roman Catholic saint (canonized 2002)

July 31, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), the Basque separatist organization, was founded in Spain. In its first 40 years, ETA's paramilitary attacks killed more than 800 people and wounded thousands.[69]
  • Article 356 of the Constitution of India was invoked, providing for President's Rule of an Indian state, was invoked to depose the Communist government of the State of Kerala.[70]


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  2. ^ Merle Curti, American Philanthropy Abroad (Transaction Publishers, 1988), pp571–72
  3. ^ Thak Chaloemtiarana, Thailand: The Politics of Despotic Paternalism (SEAP Publications, 2007), p126
  4. ^ "Germans Elect Adenauer's Man President", Oakland Tribune, July 1, 1959, p1
  5. ^ Zhengyuan Fu, Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp300–303
  6. ^ Paul F. State, Historical Dictionary of Brussels (Scarecrow Press, 2004), p7
  7. ^ "Secrets Burn, Fire Empties Pentagon", Oakland Tribune, July 2, 1959, p1
  8. ^ "Olmedo Blasts Aussie Laver For Wimbledon Title", Oakland Tribune, July 3, 1959, p31
  9. ^ "U.S. Net Reign At Wimbledon Ends", Oakland Tribune, July 4, 1959, p11
  10. ^ "Cayman Islands", Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements (Taylor & Francis, 2003) pp284–5
  11. ^ "Yesterday's Trails", Popular Science (April 1988), p44F
  12. ^ "49th Star-By Dawn's Early Light", Oakland Tribune, July 4, 1959, p1
  13. ^ Bob S. Hadiwinata, The Politics of NGOs in Indonesia: Developing Democracy and Managing a Movement (Routledge, 2003), p51
  14. ^ Avraham Avi-haï, Ben-Gurion: State-Builder (Transaction Publishers, 1974), p207
  15. ^ "Saarland Returns To Germany Today ", Oakland Tribune, July 5, 1959, p2
  16. ^ Michael H. Maggelet and James C. Oskins, Broken Arrow – The Declassified History of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents (Lulu.com, 2008), pp123–127
  17. ^ Patrick Moore, The Data Book of Astronomy (CRC Press, 2000), pp88–89
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  20. ^ James E. Westheider, The Vietnam War (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007), pp9–10; "Red Terrorists Kill 2 Yanks In Viet Nam", San Mateo Times, July 9, 1959, p1
  21. ^ Rick Atkinson, The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 (Macmillan, 1999), p477
  22. ^ "Excursion Boat Blast And Fire Fatal to 44", The Post-Standard (Syracuse), July 9, 1959, p1
  23. ^ Curtis Peebles, Twilight Warriors: Covert Air Operations Against the USSR (Naval Institute Press, 2005), pp150–151
  24. ^ Annual Report, National Academy of Sciences (G.P.O. 1959), pp82–83
  25. ^ Michael Klein, The Man Behind the Sound Bite (Castillo International, 1991)
  26. ^ By Douglas T. Miller and Marion Nowak, The Fifties: The Way We Really Were (Doubleday, 1977), p209
  27. ^ Mordecai Paldiel, Diplomat Heroes of the Holocaust (KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2007), pp16
  28. ^ John Young and Kimiko Nakajima-Okano, Learn Japanese: New College Text Volume II (University of Hawaii Press, 1984), p320
  29. ^ "5 Pilots Sight Mysterious Flying Object", Oakland Tribune, July 11, 1959, p1; "Believer Now In Saucers, Says Witness", Oakland Tribune, July 12, 1959, p1
  30. ^ "100 Killed, Rebellion Put Down in Honduras Capital", Oakland Tribune, July 13, 1959, p1
  31. ^ Teresa Patterson, "Overcooking With Atoms", from It Looked Good On Paper (HarperCollins, 2009), pp46–50
  32. ^ Patrick Moore, The Data Book of Astronomy (CRC Press, 2000), p204
  33. ^ Zhengyuan Fu, Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics, p391
  34. ^ Phebe Marr, The Modern History of Iraq (Westview Press, 2004), p34
  35. ^ Gabriel Baer, Population and Society in the Arab East (Routledge, 2003), p57
  36. ^ Andrew D. Lambert, Warship (Naval Institute Press, 2004), p25
  37. ^ Robert Aldrich, Greater France: A History of French Overseas Expansion (Macmillan, 1996), p303
  38. ^ Jack Metzgar, Striking Steel: Solidarity Remembered (Temple University Press, 2000), p58
  39. ^ "Juno Rocket Blown Up As It Veers on Takeoff", The Post-Standard (Syracuse), July 17, 1959, p1
  40. ^ Matt Cartmill and Fred H. Smith, The Human Lineage (John Wiley and Sons, 2009), pp162–64; Ute Gacs, et al., Women Anthropologists: Selected Biographies (University of Illinois Press, 1989), p226; "600,000 Year Old Human Skull Discovered", Oakland Tribune, August 28, 1960, p1
  41. ^ Stephen Borelli, How about That!: The Life of Mel Allen (Sports Publishing LLC, 2005), p185
  42. ^ imdb.com
  43. ^ Bud Kliment, Billie Holiday (Holloway House Publishing, 1990), pp148–151
  44. ^ "Castro Changes Presidents in Coup", Oakland Tribune, July 18, 1959, p1
  45. ^ Guy Arnold, A Guide To African Political & Economic Development (Taylor & Francis, 2001), p5
  46. ^ "Khrushchev Cancels Trip to Scandinavia", Oakland Tribune, July 20, 1959, p1
  47. ^ Howard Bryant, Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston (Routledge, 2002), p53
  48. ^ "Bobby Avila Sold As Pumpsie Green Joins Boston Club", Oakland Tribune, July 22, 1959, p52
  49. ^ "Miller, Henry", Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature (CRC Press, 2006), p898
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  51. ^ Toake Endoh, Exporting Japan: Politics of Emigration to Latin America (University of Illinois Press, 2009), p54
  52. ^ "Jimmy Stewart Wins Brig. General's Star", Oakland Tribune, July 23, 1959, p3
  53. ^ "Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics"
  54. ^ "Better to See Once", Time Magazine, August 3, 1959
  55. ^ Gérard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (Columbia University Press, 1997), pp54–55
  56. ^ Thomas Streissguth, Rwanda in Pictures (Twenty-First Century Books, 2007), p67
  57. ^ Johan Pottier, Re-imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2002), p125
  58. ^ Liang Yun and Alan Bliault, Theory and Design of Air Cushion Craft (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2000), p7
  59. ^ "U.S. Thwarts Russ Censor Try As Nixon, Khrushchev Toast", Oakland Tribune, July 26, 1959, p1
  60. ^ Fran Rees, Fidel Castro, Leader of Communist Cuba (Compass Point Books, 2006), pp63–64
  61. ^ Lee Lowenfish, Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman (University of Nebraska Press, 2007), p553
  62. ^ "Third Major Loop Becomes Reality", Oakland Tribune, July 27, 1959, p35
  63. ^ Arnold Kramish, Atomic Energy in the Soviet Union (Stanford University Press, 1960), p160
  64. ^ "Tossed Like Yo-You By Storm-- Tells of Bailing Out 9 Mi. Above Earth", Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA), August 7, 1959, pB-10
  65. ^ Stephen Michael Cretney, Family Law in the Twentieth Century: A History (Oxford University Press, 2003), pp552–54
  66. ^ John Gunn, High Corridors: Qantas, 1954–1970 (University of Queensland Press, 1988), p155
  67. ^ Andrew C. Nahm and James E. Hoare, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Korea (Scarecrow Press, 2004), p21
  68. ^ Keith E. Bonn, Army Officer's Guide (Stackpole Books, 2005), p561
  69. ^ Wayne Anderson, The ETA: Spain's Basque Terrorists (Rosen Publishing Group, 2003), p18
  70. ^ Rabindra Kumar Sethy, Political Crisis and President's Rule in an Indian State (APH Publishing, 2003), p72