United States and American History: 1909

About the history of the United States in 1909, Henry Ford presents the Model T., Robert Peary finds the North Pole, Taft opens land for settlement, NAACP established.


--Henry Ford presented his "universal" car, the Model T. The Ford Motor Company, like other automobile companies, had been making expensive luxury cars priced as high as $2,800. In 1906, Ford experimented with the Model N, which sold for $600. Then came Models R and S, and-finally-the incomparable Model T. Priced at $850 originally, by 1924 the "T" was available to all at $290. Henry Ford, for better or worse, had put the nation on wheels.

Apr. 7 Explorers Robert Peary and Matthew Henson--and 4 Eskimos--discovered the North Pole. Henson, Peary's black assistant on all his Arctic expeditions after 1891, spoke the language of the Eskimos, acted as trader and hunter, built the sledges and trained the dog teams. On their return, Peary discovered that Dr. Frederick Cook claimed he had reached the Pole a year earlier. The dispute over the authenticity of Cook's v. Peary's claim was finally resolved in December, 1909, in an official report by the University of Copenhagen. After reviewing Cook's data, the Committee members concluded that his observations proved nothing and called the case "shameless." Peary received his just reward, although the moment of glory had passed.

May 22 President Taft opened 700,000 acres of government land in Washington, Montana, and Idaho for settlers.

May 31-June 1 Prompted by the race riot in Springfield in 1908, a biracial group of concerned citizens organized the National Negro Conference in New York City. Participants included members of W.E.B. DuBois's Niagara Movement, prominent religious leaders, and such humanitarians as Jane Addams, and William Dean Howells. The participants decided to incorporate as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). W.E.B. DuBois was the editor of the Association's magazine, Crisis. The organization demanded equal civil, political, and educational rights, and enforcement of the 14th and 15th Amendments.

Nov. 18 When reports were received that Zelaya, dictator of Nicaragua, had executed 500 revolutionaries, including 2 Americans, U.S. troops and warships were sent to Nicaragua. The troops supported the revolutionaries and hostilities ended on December 18.

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