This Day in History (26-Feb-1815) – Napoleon Bonaparte Escapes from Elba

Defeat in Russia forced Napolean to return to France, when all the european nations jointly attacked him and defeated him in April 1814. The post war treaty provided Napolean with 2 million francs a year, and allowed him to retain the title of Emperor. But Napoleon was of course distraught, and tried unsuccessfully to poison himself. Finally he accepted exile on the island of Elba in the Mediterranean Sea, six miles off the western coast of Italy. Napoleon was allowed to rule Elba, which had 12,000 inhabitants. Napoleon actually worked hard to improve Elba, and to all observers, it seemed as though Napoleon was content to a life of relative retirement. All the while, however, he was plotting his return.

On Elba, Napoleon was under the constant watch of Austrian and French guards. Nonetheless, he was not isolated: he received thousands of letters from all over Europe and read major newspapers that kept him abreast of events. Napoleon organized and trained a small navy, instructed work crews on the manufacture of mines and created a small regiment of loyal troops. He gathered approximately 1,000 men and slipped away from his palace on Elba during the night of February 26, 1815, a little more than ten months after his arrival.

Two days later, he arrived on the French coast and brought his force ashore with designs on a march to Paris. Passing through the southeast of France without much in the way of resistance, Napoleon and his men finally stood before resolute opposition at Laffrey. The soldiers realized it was their former commander and could not believe their eyes — Napoleon stood within range of their pistols and yelled, “Let him that has the heart kill his Emperor!” Amazed, the men are said to have lowered their weapons and shouted, “Vive l’Empereur!” before joining the ranks behind him. As the days passed, battalion after battalion lined up with Napoleon. Less than a month after setting foot on French soil again, Napoleon was in control of Paris on March 20th and Louis XVIII, the new king, fled to Belgium. However within next hundred days, Napolean was defeated at Waterloo and was sent to exile to the remote island of Saint Helena, in the South Pacific where he died due to poor health.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/february-26-1815-napoleon-bonaparte-escapes-from-elba

http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/napoleon/section8.rhtml

http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/napoleon/section9.rhtml

This Day in History (25-Feb- 1932) – Adolf Hitler obtains German citizenship by naturalization, which allows him to run in the 1932 election for Reichspräsident

Adolf Hitler was an Austrian German. He lost his father at the age of 13. Throughout his youth, Hitler dreamed of becoming an artist. He applied twice to the Vienna Academy of Art but was denied entrance both times. After his mother’s death in 1908, Hitler spent four years living on the streets of Vienna, selling postcards of his artwork to make a little money. it is just as likely that Hitler picked up a hatred for Jews while living on the streets of Vienna, a city known at the time for its antisemitism.

Hitler volunteered to serve in the German army once World War I began. Hitler endured and survived four years of war. During this time, he was awarded two Iron Crosses for bravery. He sustained two major injuries during the war. The first occurred in October 1916 when he was wounded by a grenade splinter. The other was in October 1918, when a gas attack caused Hitler to go temporarily blind. It was while Hitler was recovering from the gas attack that the war got over. Hitler was furious that Germany had surrendered and felt strongly that Germany had been “stabbed in the back” by its leaders. Furious at Germany’s surrender, Hitler returned to Munich after the end of World War I, determined to enter politics. In 1919, Hitler became the 55th member of a small antisemitic party called the German Worker’s Party and soon became a party leader. He designed the swastika logo and renamed party to Nazi party.

Hitler had formally renounced his Austrian citizenship in 1925, but at the time did not acquire German citizenship. For almost seven years he was stateless, unable to run for public office, and faced the risk of deportation from Germany.  On 25 February 1932, the interior minister of Brunswick, who was a member of the Nazi Party, appointed Hitler as administrator for the state’s delegation to the Reichsrat in Berlin, making Hitler a citizen of Brunswick, and thus of Germany.

In 1932, Hitler ran against von Hindenburg in the presidential elections. Hitler came in second in both rounds of the election, garnering more than 35 per cent of the vote in the final election. Although he lost to Hindenburg, this election established Hitler as a strong force in German politics.

 

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_25

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler

http://history1900s.about.com/od/hitleradolf/a/Hitler-Facts.htm

This Day in History (22-Feb-1991) – US Gulf War allies give Iraq 24 hrs to begin Kuwait withdrawal

After the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Iraq was extremely indebted to several Arab countries, including a $14 billion debt to Kuwait. Iraq hoped to repay its debts by raising the price of oil through OPEC oil production cuts, but instead, Kuwait increased production, lowering prices, in an attempt to leverage a better resolution of their border dispute. In addition, greatly antagonizing Iraq, Kuwait had taken advantage of the Iran-Iraq War and had begun illegal slant drilling for oil into Iraqi reserves, and had built military outposts on Iraqi soil near Kuwait. Furthermore, Iraq charged that it had performed a collective service for all Arabs by acting as a buffer against Iran and that therefore Kuwait and Saudi Arabia should negotiate or cancel Iraq’s war debts. The war with Iran had also seen the destruction of almost all of Iraq’s port facilities on the Persian Gulf cutting off Iraq’s main trade outlet. Iraq security could only be guaranteed by controlling more of the Gulf Coast, including more secure ports including Kuwait.

In August 1990, Iraqi troops crossed the Kuwaiti border with armor and infantry, occupying strategic posts throughout the country, including the Emir’s palace. Iraq detained thousands of Western visitors as hostages and later attempted to use them as bargaining chips. Hussein then installed a new Iraqi provincial governor, described as “liberation” from the Kuwaiti Emir

In January 1991 the United States Congress authorized the use of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. The coalition launched a massive air campaign codenamed Operation Desert Storm, beginning early morning on January 17, 1991. On February 22, 1991, Iraq agreed to a Soviet-proposed cease-fire agreement. The agreement called for Iraq to withdraw troops to pre-invasion positions within three weeks following a total cease-fire, and called for monitoring of the cease-fire and withdrawal to be overseen by the UN Security Council. The US rejected the proposal but said that retreating Iraqi forces would not be attacked, and gave twenty-four hours for Iraq to begin withdrawing forces. On February 24, the US began Operation Desert Sabre, the ground portion of its campaign and declared that Kuwait had been liberated in next 3 days.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/february/22?p=2

http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/Middleeastweb/factfile/Unique-facts-MiddleEast10.htm

This Day in History (21-Feb- 1848) – The Communist Manifesto is Published for the First Time

The Communist Manifesto was a product of the social, economic and political turmoil that characterised Europe before 1850. Both of its authors, Marx and Engels, were touched by elements of this turmoil. Like many young Germans, Marx and Engels were profoundly influenced by the German philosopher Georg Hegel who had developed a theory of history that explained change. Collaboration between Marx and Engels began in Paris in 1844. In 1847 they joined an organisation of working-class German exiles, the League of the Just. A number of changes made at the 1847 congress of the League indicate their growing influence within it. The name, for example, was changed to the Communist League. In the aftermath of these changes, Marx and Engels were invited to draft a statement of aims. This was the genesis of The Communist Manifesto which was published on February 21, 1848. It is one of the world’s most-read political manuscripts.

The Communist Manifesto outlines a form of government designed to distribute wealth and eliminate social strata, for, as Marx and Engels wrote: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Detailing the reasons why capitalism led to tension between the well-to-do bourgeoisie and the hard-laboring proletariat, Marx and Engels suggested the working class would soon rise up to overthrow their oppressors — hence the League’s slogan (borrowed from Marx): “Workers of the world, unite!”

Three days after Manifesto was published, February 23rd, riots broke out in France. Germany would see demonstrations next, followed by Denmark and nearly a dozen nations — some as far away as South America. Still, more than a century and a half after its first publication, The Communist Manifesto has a bewildering power over readers. The ideas espoused by Marx and Engels reflect a prescience few works can claim, as the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011 often pointed to the same differences in class Marx touched on 163 years before. Marx and Engels may not have changed the world, but they certainly changed the way we interpret it.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/february-21-1848-the-communist-manifesto-is-published-for-the-first-time

http://www.historytoday.com/roger-spalding/communist-manifesto

This Day in History (11-Feb-1990) – Nelson Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison near Cape Town, South Africa after 27 years behind bars

In 1944, Nelson Mandela joined African National Congress and led civil disobedience movement of 1952. In 1961 he led the armed struggle with series of explosions in December. In January 1962, he secretly left South Africa and travelled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. He was arrested in a police roadblock and was charged with leaving the country without a permit and inciting workers to strike. He was convicted and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. In October 1963 Nelson Mandela was brought to trial again for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison over his calls for a colorblind South Africa. He ended up serving 27 years behind bars.

During this time, he contracted tuberculosis and, as a black political prisoner, received the lowest level of treatment from prison workers. However, he  was able to earn a Bachelor of Law degree through a University of London correspondence program. In 1985, President P.W. Botha offered Mandela’s release in exchange for renouncing armed struggle; the prisoner flatly rejected the offer. With increasing local and international pressure for his release, the government participated in several talks with Mandela over the ensuing years, but no deal was made. When Botha was replaced by Frederik Willem de Klerk, Mandela’s release was finally announced. De Klerk also unbanned the ANC, removed restrictions on political groups and suspended executions.

Hours after his release on Feb. 11, 1990, Mandela vowed to end apartheid (South Africa’s racial policy) once and for all, telling a roaring crowd: “Today, the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our decisive mass action. We have waited too long for our freedom.” Under Mandela’s leadership, apartheid was gradually dismantled over the next several years. A symbol of global peacemaking, Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He became the first black president of South Africa in 1994, serving until 1999.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/february-11-1889-the-meiji-constitution-is-adopted-leading-to-the-westernization-of-japan

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/06/political-prisoners-nelson-mandela_n_4401305.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23618727

https://www.nelsonmandela.org/content/page/biography

http://www.biography.com/people/nelson-mandela-9397017

This Day in History (31-Jan-1865) – The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, banning slavery

When the North American continent was first colonized by Europeans, the land was vast, the work was harsh, and there was a severe shortage of labor. White bond servants, paying their passage across the ocean from Europe through indentured labor, eased but did not solve the problem. Early in the seventeenth century, a Dutch ship loaded with African slaves introduced a solution. Slaves were most economical on large farms where labor-intensive cash crops, such as tobacco, could be grown. By the end of the American Revolution, slavery had proven unprofitable in the North and was dying out. Even in the South the institution was becoming less useful to farmers as tobacco prices fluctuated and began to drop. However, in 1793 Northerner Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin; this device made it possible for textile mills to use the type of cotton most easily grown in the South. Slavery became profitable again.

Torn between the economic benefits of slavery and the moral and constitutional issues it raised, white Southerners grew more and more defensive of the institution. Educated blacks such as escaped-slave Frederick Douglass wrote eloquent and heartfelt attacks on the institution. The outbreak of the Civil War forever changed the future of the American nation.  The war began as a struggle to preserve the Union, not a struggle to free the slaves, but many in the North and South felt that the conflict would ultimately decide both issues.  Congress passed laws permitting the seizure of slaves from the property of rebellious Southerners.  In 1962 President Abraham Lincoln presented the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. This document decreed that, all slaves in states would be “thenceforward and forever free.”  Furthermore, Lincoln established an institution through which blacks could join the U.S. Army, an unprecedented level of integration at that time.  The United States Colored Troops (USCT) served on many battlefields, won numerous Medals of Honor, and ensured eventual Union victory in the war.  The thirteenth amendment, abolishing slavery except as punishment for a crime, was passed by the Senate in April 1864, and by the House of Representatives in January 1865.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/january-31-1917-germany-resumes-unrestricted-submarine-warfare

http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/civil-war-overview/slavery.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_United_States

This Day in History (26-Jan-1788) – Australia Day

A number of European explorers sailed the coast of Australia, then known as New Holland, in the 17th century. However it wasn’t well known until 1770 that Captain James Cook claimed it for Britain. The new outpost was put to use as a penal colony and on 26 January 1788, the First Fleet of 11 ships carrying 1,500 people, half of them convicts, arrived in Sydney Harbour under leadership of captain Arthur Phillip. The first years of settlement were nearly disastrous. Cursed with poor soil, an unfamiliar climate and workers who were ignorant of farming, Phillip had great difficulty keeping the men alive. The colony was on the verge of outright starvation for several years, and the marines sent to keep order were not up to the task. Phillip, who proved to be a tough but fair-minded leader, persevered by appointing convicts to positions of responsibility and oversight.

The first official celebrations as ‘Australia Day’ on 26th January, were held in 1818, marking the thirtieth anniversary of white settlement. In a show of imperial strength meant to dazzle the inhabitants, Governor Macquarie ordered a salute of 30 guns to be fired from the battery at Dawes Point and in the evening gave a dinner at Government House for civil and military officers. Mrs Macquarie hosted the ball which followed. Convicts were also encouraged to celebrate the colony’s founding by way of a holiday and ‘an extra Allowance of One Pound of Fresh Meat as a Donation from Government‘.

By the 1820s, many soldiers, officers and emancipated convicts had turned land they received from the government into flourishing farms. News of Australia’s cheap land and bountiful work was bringing more and more boatloads of adventurous migrants from Britain. Settlers or ‘squatters’ began to move deeper into Aboriginal territories, often with a gun,  in search of pasture and water for their stock. In 1825, a party of soldiers and convicts settled in the territory of the Yuggera people, close to modern-day Brisbane. Perth was settled by English gentlemen in 1829, and 1835 a squatter sailed to Port Phillip Bay and chose the location for Melbourne. At the same time a private British company, proud to have no convict links, settled Adelaidein South Australia. Until penal transportation ended in 1868, 160,000 people came to Australia as convicts.

Reference:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/australia-day

http://www.australia.com/about/culture-history/history.aspx

http://www.australiaday.com.au/about/history-of-australia-day/1788-1888/