17 June 1930

USA President Herbert Hoover signs the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act into law.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, also known as the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, was a U.S. legislation passed in 1930 that significantly increased tariffs on imported goods. It was named after its sponsors, Senator Reed Smoot and Representative Willis C. Hawley.

The main objective of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was to protect American industries and farmers from foreign competition during the Great Depression. It raised tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to historically high levels, with average rates increasing by about 20%. The tariffs were aimed at encouraging domestic production and employment by making foreign goods more expensive and less competitive in the American market.

However, the act had several unintended consequences. Many countries retaliated by imposing their own tariffs on American goods, leading to a significant decline in international trade. The global trade restrictions worsened the effects of the Great Depression and contributed to a worldwide economic downturn.

Critics argue that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act exacerbated the economic crisis by reducing international trade, causing higher prices for consumers, and damaging diplomatic relations. It is often cited as an example of the negative consequences of protectionism and the dangers of trade wars.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was eventually modified and reduced in the years following its passage. Nevertheless, its impact on global trade and its role in the worsening of the Great Depression remain significant historical aspects.

17 June 1972

Watergate scandal: Five White House operatives are arrested for burgling the offices of the Democratic National Committee during an attempt by members of the administration of President Richard M. Nixon to illegally wiretap the political opposition as part of a broader campaign to subvert the democratic process

17 June 1987

The dusky seaside sparrow becomes extinct.

he dusky seaside sparrow, Ammodramus maritimus nigrescens, was a non-migratory subspecies of the seaside sparrow, found in Florida in the natural salt marshes of Merritt Island and along the St. Johns River. The last definite known individual died on June 17, 1987, and the subspecies was officially declared extinct in December 1990.

The dusky seaside sparrow was first categorized as a species in 1873, after its discovery on March 17, 1872, by Charles Johnson Maynard. Its dark coloration and distinct song are what separates it as a subspecies of other seaside sparrows. Found in the marshes of Florida’s Atlantic Coast on Merrit Island and the upper St. Johns River, the dusky seaside sparrow was geographically isolated from other seaside sparrows. It was categorized as a subspecies in 1973. Even though the dusky’s mitochondrial DNA is the same as the mitochondrial DNA of other seaside sparrow populations, DNA testing by itself does not demonstrate that its subspecies classification is undeserving. In 1981, only five dusky seaside sparrows remained, all being males. Conservation efforts were made by trying to breed the remaining duskies with Scott’s seaside sparrows in order to create half dusky hybrid offspring. “Unfortunately, although the Fish and Wildlife Service initially supported the crossbreeding program, it withdrew its support due to Interior’s hybrid policy”. Due to only the males being left, even though duskies could be crossbred with other seaside sparrows, there would never be another pure dusky seaside sparrow again.

When Merritt Island was flooded with the goal of reducing the mosquito population around the Kennedy Space Center, the sparrows’ nesting grounds were devastated, and their numbers plummeted. Later, the marshes surrounding the river were drained to facilitate highway construction; this was a further blow. Eventually, pollution and pesticides took such a high toll that by 1979, only six dusky seaside sparrows were known to exist — all of whom were males; a female was last sighted in 1975.

Captive breeding of all remaining dusky seaside sparrows with the Scott’s seaside sparrow from Florida’s gulf coast was approved in 1979. By 1980 five dusky seaside sparrows were in a captive breeding facility in Gainesville, Florida. One, banded in 1978 with an orange leg band was unique.

“Orange Band” was left by himself on the St. Johns Unit of the St. Johns NWR[5] after a yellow-leg-banded dusky was captured in 1979. Field observations of color banded sparrows from 1975 to 1979 indicated that dusky seaside sparrows seldom traveled more than a mile or two in their lifetimes. In April 1980, “Orange Band” was again observed on the St. Johns Unit, but was surprisingly captured in June eight miles south on the Beeline Unit in the company of a dusky with a green leg band. Before finding “Green Band”, “Orange Band” passed the general vicinity of the two unbanded dusky seaside sparrows.

In 1983 the last four living dusky seaside sparrows were taken to the Walt Disney World Resort, to continue crossbreeding and living out their days in a protected habitat on the Discovery Island nature reserve. By March 31, 1986, only “Orange Band” remained.

Despite being blind in one eye, “Orange Band” reached extreme old age for a sparrow, living at least nine years, and possibly as many as thirteen, before dying on June 17, 1987.

After the death of the final “pure” dusky sparrow, the breeding program was discontinued due to the fact that it was thought the hybrids that exist could not reproduce to create dusky sparrows, since they did not share the proper mtDNA that dusky sparrows possess. However, research done on a similar species known as Passerella iliaca, or the fox sparrow, was able to show that some subspecies of one plumage group had the plumage of another despite having the “wrong” mtDNA type. This potentially meant that if the breeding program was continued with the dusky sparrow hybrids, sparrows with the same color plumage as the dusky sparrows would eventually be produced. Unfortunately, shortly after the breeding program was halted, the remaining hybrid sparrows either died or escaped captivity, leading to the final extinction of the taxon.
“Green Band” proved elusive, and was never recaptured after having been banded. He was last seen on July 23, 1980.

17 June 1944

Iceland declares independence from Denmark and becomes a republic.

Iceland during World War II joined Denmark in asserting neutrality. After the German occupation of Denmark on 9 April 1940, Iceland’s parliament declared that the Icelandic government should assume the Danish king’s authority and take control over foreign affairs and other matters previously handled by Denmark on behalf of Iceland.Both countries are full members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, Nordic Council, NATO, and Council of Europe. There are around 18,000 Icelanders living in Denmark and 2,900 Danes living in Iceland.

The relationship between Iceland and Denmark remained close after Iceland’s independence, and for many years Danish was taught as the second language in Iceland, and is still taught as a third language from seventh grade onward.

A month later, British Armed Forces occupied Iceland, violating Icelandic neutrality. In 1941, responsibility for the occupation was taken over by the United States with the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landing in the country. Allied occupation of Iceland lasted throughout the war.

On 31 December 1943, the Act of Union agreement expired after 25 years. Beginning on 20 May 1944, Icelanders voted in a four-day plebiscite on whether to terminate the union with Denmark and establish a republic. The vote was 97% in favour of ending the union and 95% in favour of the new republican constitution. Iceland formally became an independent republic on 17 June 1944, with Sveinn Björnsson as the first president.

17 June 1972

Five White House staffers are arrested for burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee, in an attempt by some members of the Republican party to illegally wiretap the opposition. This was called the Watergate Scandal.