June-5: Then Everything Changed

In Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan, journalist Jeff Greenfield (who also was a former speechwriter for Bobby Kennedy) posits small differences in historical events that would have dramatically changed history.

The events of June 5th below either changed history or their reverberation continues.


Publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

From Wikipedia: Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s. In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States; one million copies in Great Britain.  

The book was first published as a 40-week serial in The National Era, an abolitionist periodical, starting with the June 5, 1851 edition.  Its impact is such that it has been reported that when President Lincoln met its author, Harriet  Beecher Stowe, he said so this is the little lady who started this great war.”


Marshall Plan Unveiled at Harvard Commencement

While some like to contend that Ronald Reagan “won the Cold War,” I have always contended that the most decisive actions leading victory occurred under President Truman, first with the Marshall Plan and then the Berlin Airlift (which led to the forming of NATO).  On this day, Secretary of State Marshall unveiled Truman’s plan for massive aid to Europe to help it rebuild from the war.

Aside from the demoralizing effect on the world at large and the possibilities of disturbances arising as a result of the desperation of the people concerned, the consequences to the economy of the United States should be apparent to all. It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health to the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is not directed against any country, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Any government that is willing to assist in recovery will find full co-operation on the part of the USA. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.

From Wikipedia:

The years 1948 to 1952 saw the fastest period of growth in European history. Industrial production increased by 35%. Agricultural production substantially surpassed pre-war levels. The poverty and starvation of the immediate postwar years disappeared, and Western Europe embarked upon an unprecedented two decades of growth that saw standards of living increase dramatically.


Six Day War Begins

Israeli fearing an imminent Arab attack,. launches an aerial attack that substantially eliminates the Egytpian air force and set the stage for the Israeli’s to retake the Sinai in the brief Six-Day War.


Robert F. Kennedy Fatally Shot

After giving a victory speech in Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel, Robert F. Kennedy was fatally shot by Sirhan Sirhan who was angered by RFK’s support for Israel in the Six-Day War.

Greenfield believes that had Kennedy not been shot, he would have been able to unify the party and defeat Nixon in the fall.


Tank Man v the Chinese Tanks

The morning after the Tiananmen Square massacre, an unknown protester defiantly stood in front a column of tanks.  Today there remains little information on the man’s identity or what happened to him afterwards.

While he may not have altered the course of history, his heroism reverberates decades later.



1837 – Houston Founded

On this day, the city of Houston was founded.  Today it is America’s 4th largest city.





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