Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This Day in History: Jun 20, 1947: Bugsy Siegel is killed & 1900: Boxer Rebellion begins

Jun 20, 1947: Bugsy Siegel, organized crime leader, is killed

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, the man who brought organized crime to the West Coast, is shot and killed at his mistress Virginia Hill's home in Beverly Hills, California. Siegel had been talking to his associate Allen Smiley when three bullets were fired through the window and into his head, killing him instantly.

Siegel's childhood had been pretty similar to that of other organized crime leaders: Growing up with little money in Brooklyn, he managed to establish himself as a teenage thug. With his pal Meyer Lansky, Siegel terrorized local peddlers and collected protection money. Before long, they had a business that included bootlegging and gambling all over New York City.

By the late 1930s, Siegel had become one of the major players of a highly powerful crime syndicate, which gave him $500,000 to set up a Los Angeles franchise. Bugsy threw himself into the Hollywood scene, making friends with some of the biggest names of the time--Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Jean Harlow. His all-night parties at his Beverly Hills mansion became the hot spot in town. He also started up a solid gambling and narcotics operation to keep his old friends back east happy. Just before World War II began, Siegel traveled to Italy to sell explosives to Mussolini, but the deal fizzled when tests of the explosives did too.

In 1945, Siegel had a brilliant idea. Just hours away from Los Angeles sat the sleepy desert town of Las Vegas, Nevada. It had nothing going for it except for a compliant local government and legal gambling. Siegel decided to build the Flamingo Hotel in the middle of the desert with $6,000,000, a chunk of which came from the New York syndicate.

The Flamingo wasn't immediately profitable and Siegel ended up in an argument with Lucky Luciano over paying back the money used to build it. Around the same time that Siegel was killed in Beverly Hills, Luciano's men walked into the Flamingo and announced that they were now in charge. Even Siegel probably never imagined the astounding growth and success of Las Vegas in the subsequent years.



 Jun 20, 1900: Boxer Rebellion begins in China

In response to widespread foreign encroachment upon China's national affairs, Chinese nationalists launch the so-called Boxer Rebellion in Peking. Calling themselves I Ho Ch'uan, or "the Righteous and Harmonious Fists," the nationalists occupied Peking, killed several Westerners, including German ambassador Baron von Ketteler, and besieged the foreign legations in the diplomatic quarter of the city.

By the end of the 19th century, the Western powers and Japan had forced China's ruling Qing dynasty to accept wide foreign control over the country's economic affairs. In the Opium Wars, popular rebellions, and the Sino-Japanese War, China had fought to resist the foreigners, but it lacked a modernized military and suffered millions of casualties. In 1898, Tzu'u Hzi, the dowager empress and an anti-imperialist, began supporting the I Ho Ch'uan, who were known as the "Boxers" by the British because of their martial arts fighting style. The Boxers soon grew powerful, and in late 1899 regular attacks on foreigners and Chinese Christians began.

On June 20, 1900, the Boxers, now more than 100,000 strong and led by the court of Tzu'u Hzi, besieged the foreigners in Peking's diplomatic quarter, burned Christian churches in the city, and destroyed the Peking-Tientsin railway line. As the Western powers and Japan organized a multinational force to crush the rebellion, the siege of the Peking legations stretched into weeks, and the diplomats, their families, and guards suffered through hunger and degrading conditions as they fought to keep the Boxers at bay. On August 14, the international force, featuring British, Russian, American, Japanese, French, and German troops, relieved Peking after fighting its way through much of northern China.

Due to mutual jealousies between the powers, it was agreed that China would not be partitioned further, and in September 1901, the Peking Protocol was signed, formally ending the Boxer Rebellion. By the terms of agreement, the foreign nations received extremely favorable commercial treaties with China, foreign troops were permanently stationed in Peking, and China was forced to pay $333 million dollars as penalty for its rebellion. China was effectively a subject nation.

Taken: [20.06.12]

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