Pearl Harbor bombed At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II. With diplomatic negotiations with Japan breaking down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable, but nothing had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 a.m., two radar operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Thus, the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base. Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while valiantly attempting to repulse the attack. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory. House of Representativesapproved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind. The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives. 1787 Delaware ratifies the Constitution On this day in 1787, Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the Constitution, doing so by a unanimous vote. This momentous event occurred exactly one year after the Hampshire Heraldpublished a statement by Thomas Grover listing the demands made by the participants in Shays’ Rebellion. The post-war economy left farmers of western Massachusetts and throughout the 13 states in distress. Many were unable to pay debts with the worthless paper money issued by state governments. Captain Daniel Shays, a Continental Army veteran, led an attack on the federal arsenal in Springfield, Massachusetts, as part of an effort to close the courts where debt lawyers sued debtors. Volunteers put down the rebellion, but wealthy men throughout the new states were terrified that such a revolt might be repeated. To further their fears, Shays-ite candidates swept the Massachusetts legislature in the next election. Debtors’ uprisings like Shays’ Rebellion were a significant impetus for the Philadelphia convention to strengthen the American union. Alexander Hamilton first called for discussions on revising the Articles of Confederationbased on improving economic relations in the new republic. The process began in a hurried and extra-legal manner. The Constitutional Convention’s dictate that the new Constitution would come into effect after merely nine states ratified was strictly illegal under the Articles, which demanded unanimity among the states for amendments to take effect. The drafters wanted to take action quickly before the nation was irreversibly fractured. Delaware’s ratification indicated that the states were indeed willing to consider an extra-legal document drafted behind closed doors. In many ways, the ratification process was a sort of second American revolution and Delaware’s unanimous vote accurately foretold that it would take place without bloodshed. 1805 Lewis and Clark temporarily settle in Fort Clatsop Having spied the Pacific Ocean for the first time a few weeks earlier, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark cross to the south shore of the Columbia River (near modern-day Portland) and begin building the small fort that would be their winter home. Lewis, Clark, and their men deserved a rest. During the past year, they had made the difficult trip from the upper Missouri River across the rugged Rockies, and down the Columbia River to the ocean. Though they planned to return home by retracing their steps in the spring, the Corps of Discovery settled in the relatively mild climate of the Pacific Coast while winter raged in the mountain highlands. For their fort, Lewis and Clark picked a site three miles up Netul Creek (now Lewis and Clark River), because it had a ready supply of elk and deer and convenient access to the ocean, which the men used to make salt. The men finished building a small log fortress by Christmas Eve; they named their new home Fort Clatsop, in honor of the local Indian tribe. During the three months they spent at Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark reworked their journals and began preparing the scientific information they had gathered. Clark labored long hours drawing meticulous maps that proved to be among the most valuable fruits of the expedition. After talking with local Indians, the two men determined that they had taken an unnecessarily difficult path through the Rockies, and planned alternate routes for the return journey. Meanwhile, the enlisted men and fellow travelers hunted and trapped-they killed and ate more than 100 elk and 20 deer during their stay. While the stay at Fort Clatsop was peaceful, it was not entirely pleasant. The Clatsop Indian tribe was friendly, but Clark noted that the Indians were hard bargainers, which caused the expedition party to rapidly deplete its supply of gifts and trading goods, and eventually caused some resentment on both sides. Most vexing, though, was the damp coastal weather–rain fell all but twelve days of the expedition’s three-month stay. The men found it impossible to keep dry, and their damp furs and hides rotted and became infested with vermin. Nearly everyone suffered from persistent colds and rheumatism. The expedition departed for home from soggy Fort Clatsop on March 23, 1806. The region they explored later became the state of Oregon–Lewis and Clark’s journey strengthened the American claim to the northwest and blazed a trail that was followed by thousands of trappers and settlers.