1780 — Patriots prevail in Carolinas
Patriot militia under Colonel William Campbell defeat Loyalist militia under Major Patrick Ferguson at the Battle of King's Mountain in North Carolina near the border with Blacksburg, South Carolina, on this day in 1780.
Major Ferguson's force, made up mostly of frontier Loyalists from South Carolina, was the western wing of General Charles Cornwallis' North Carolina invasion force tasked with protecting Loyalist outposts from attacks by Patriots led by Isaac Shelby, Elijah Clark and Charles McDowell. Ferguson had declared that the Patriots could choose to lay down their arms or see him "lay waste to their country with fire and sword." Believing they could prevent Ferguson from making good on his threat, 1,000 Patriot militiamen gathered in the Carolina backcountry, including Davy Crockett's father, John. Learning of the Patriot force from a deserter, Ferguson positioned his Loyalists in defense of a rocky, treeless ridge named King's Mountain.
2001 — President Bush announces military action in Afghanistan
On this day in 2001, less than a month after al-Qaida terrorists flew commercial jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, President George W. Bush announces that American troops are on the offensive in Afghanistan. The goal of Operation Enduring Freedom, as the mission was dubbed, was to stamp out Afghanistan's Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime, which had aided and abetted al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden, a Saudi national who lived in the Afghan hills and urged his followers to kill Americans.
In a televised address that evening, Bush informed the American public that "carefully targeted actions" were being carried out to crush the military capability of al-Qaida and the Taliban, with help from British, Canadian, Australian, German and French troops. An additional 40 nations around the world provided intelligence, as well as bases from which the operations were conducted.
Bush touted the multinational effort as proof that America, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, was "supported by the collective will of the world." He also warned that the war in Afghanistan would likely be only the first front in a long struggle against terrorism. He vowed to continue to take what he called the "war on terror" to those countries that sponsored, harbored or trained terrorists.
2003 — Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes California governor
On this day in 2003, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected governor of California, the most populous state in the nation with the world's fifth-largest economy. Despite his inexperience, Schwarzenegger came out on top in the 11-week campaign to replace Gray Davis, who had earlier become the first United States governor to be recalled by the people since 1921. Schwarzenegger was one of 135 candidates on the ballot, which included career politicians, other actors, and one adult-film star.
Born in Thal, Austria, on July 30, 1947, Arnold Schwarzenegger began body-building as a teenager. He won the first of four "Mr. Universe" body-building championships at the age of 20, and moved to the United States in 1968. He also went on to win a then-record seven "Mr. Olympia" championships, securing his reputation as a body-building legend, and soon began appearing in films. Schwarzenegger first attracted mainstream public attention for a Golden Globe®-winning performance in Stay Hungry (1976) and his appearance in the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron. At the same time, he was working on a B.A. at the University of Wisconsin, from which he graduated in 1979.
Schwarzenegger's film career took off after his starring turn in 1982's Conan the Barbarian. In 1983, he became a U.S. citizen; the next year he made his most famous film, The Terminator, directed by James Cameron. Although his acting talent is probably aptly described as limited, Schwarzenegger went on to become one of the most sought-after action-film stars of the 1980s and early 1990s and enjoyed an extremely lucrative career. The actor's romantic life also captured the attention of the American public: he married television journalist and lifelong Democrat Maria Shriver, niece of the late President John F. Kennedy, in 1986.
With his film career beginning to stagnate, Schwarzenegger, a staunch supporter of the Republican party who had long been thought to harbor political aspirations, announced his candidacy for governor of California during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Aside from his well-known stint serving as chairman of the President s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under President George H.W. Bush, Schwarzenegger had little political experience. His campaign, which featured his use of myriad one-liners well-known from his movie career, was dogged by criticism of his use of anabolic steroids, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct and racism. Still, Schwarzenegger was able to parlay his celebrity into a win, appealing to weary California voters with talk of reform. He beat his closest challenger, the Democratic lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante, by more than 1 million votes.
— This Day in History is courtesy of History.com