Posts etiquetados ‘January’

First Russian Revolution begins

In Russia, the revolution of 1905 begins when czarist troops open fire on a peaceful group of workers marching to the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to petition their grievances to Czar Nicholas II. Some 500 protestors were massacred on “Bloody Sunday,” setting off months of protest and disorder throughout Russia.By January 1905, discontent with the czar’s regime permeated nearly all classes in Russia, especially after the crushing January 2 defeat of the Russian navy at Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War. In October 1905, Nicholas, embattled on all sides, was forced to grant basic civil liberties and a representative national body, which would be elected by narrowly limited suffrage. However, this Parliament, known as the Duma, was dissolved after it opposed Nicholas’ authority, and the remnants of the revolutionary movement were brutally suppressed by czarist troops.

A decade later, czarist Russia was bogged down in the mire of  World War I, prompting the Bolshevik-led Russian Revolution of 1917, which crushed the czar’s opposition and proclaimed Russia the world’s first Marxist state.

From http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-russian-revolution-begins

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King Louis XVI executed

 One day after being convicted of conspiracy with foreign powers and sentenced to death by the French National Convention, King  Louis XVI is executed by guillotine in the Place de la Revolution in Paris.Louis ascended to the French throne in 1774 and from the start was unsuited to deal with the severe financial problems that he had inherited from his grandfather, King Louis XV. In 1789, in a last-ditch attempt to resolve his country’s financial crisis, Louis assembled the States-General, a national assembly that represented the three “estates” of the French people–the nobles, the clergy, and the commons. The States-General had not been assembled since 1614, and the third estate–the commons–used the opportunity to declare itself the National Assembly, igniting the French Revolution. On July 14, 1789, violence erupted when Parisians stormed theBastille–a state prison where they believed ammunition was stored.Although outwardly accepting the revolution, Louis resisted the advice of constitutional monarchists who sought to reform the monarchy in order to save it; he also permitted the reactionary plotting of his unpopular queen, Marie Antoinette. In October 1789, a mob marched on Versailles and forced the royal couple to move to Tuileries; in June 1791, opposition to the royal pair had become so fierce that the two were forced to flee to Austria. During their trip, Marie and Louis were apprehended at Varennes, France, and carried back to Paris. There, Louis was forced to accept the constitution of 1791, which reduced him to a mere figurehead.

In August 1792, the royal couple was arrested by the sans-cullottes and imprisoned, and in September the monarchy was abolished by the National Convention (which had replaced the National Assembly). In November, evidence of Louis XVI’s counterrevolutionary intrigues with Austria and other foreign nations was discovered, and he was put on trial for treason by the National Convention.

The next January, Louis was convicted and condemned to death by a narrow majority. On January 21, he walked steadfastly to the guillotine and was executed. Nine months later, Marie Antoinette was convicted of treason by a tribunal, and on October 16 she followed her husband to the guillotine.

From http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/king-louis-xvi-executed?catId=6

Hong Kong ceded to the British

During the First Opium War, China cedes the island of Hong Kong to the British with the signing of the Chuenpi Convention, an agreement seeking an end to the first Anglo-Chinese conflict.

In 1839, Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its interference in the country’s economic and political affairs. One of Britain’s first acts of the war was to occupy Hong Kong, a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of southeast China. In 1841, China ceded the island to the British, and in 1842 the Treaty of Nanking was signed, formally ending the First Opium War.

Britain’s new colony flourished as an East-West trading center and as the commercial gateway and distribution center for southern China. In 1898, Britain was granted an additional 99 years of rule over Hong Kong under the Second Convention of Peking. In September 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and the Chinese signed a formal agreement approving the 1997 turnover of the island in exchange for a Chinese pledge to preserve Hong Kong’s capitalist system. On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was peaceably handed over to China in a ceremony attended by numerous Chinese and British dignitaries. The chief executive under the new Hong Kong government, Tung Chee Hwa, formulated a policy based upon the concept of “one country, two systems,” thus preserving Hong Kong’s role as a principal capitalist center in Asia.

From http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hong-kong-ceded-to-the-british

Communist China recognizes North Vietnam

The People’s Republic of China bestows diplomatic recognition upon the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Communist China’s official recognition of Ho Chi Minh’s communist regime resulted in much needed financial and military assistance in Ho’s battle against the French in Vietnam, and also pushed the United States to take a more intensive and active role in the conflict in Southeast Asia.

French colonialists and Ho’s revolutionary forces had been fighting for control over Vietnam since the end of World War II. Although maintaining a neutral public stance, the administration of President Harry S. Truman was actually aiding the French with monetary and material assistance. As the battle dragged on, Ho’s government issued feelers to the newly established communist regime in China concerning diplomatic recognition and military and economic assistance. Despite their shared commitment to the communist ideology, the Chinese and Vietnamese also shared a long and acrimonious history of aggression and resistance, so it was not a guarantee that the request would be granted.

China’s desire to play a larger role in Asian affairs, combined with its deepening suspicions of French and American designs in neighboring Vietnam, pushed it toward closer relations with Ho’s government. Shortly after the formal declaration of recognition, China began sending large quantities of military aid and many advisors into Vietnam.

The United States responded by taking a more active role in supporting the French in Vietnam. Two months after China’s decision to recognize North Vietnam, the Truman administration officially declared its support for the French and asked Congress for increased military assistance, which was provided. Both the United States and China dramatically increased their roles in Vietnam in the years to come-while China continued to offer support and aid to the communists in North Vietnam, the United States became increasingly involved in fighting the communist threat in the Vietnam War.

From http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/communist-china-recognizes-north-vietnam

Cook discovers Hawaii

On January 18, 1778, the English explorer Captain James Cook becomes the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands when he sails past the island of Oahu. Two days later, he landed at Waimea on the island of Kauai and named the island group the Sandwich Islands, in honor of John Montague, who was the earl of Sandwich and one his patrons.

In 1768, Cook, a surveyor in the Royal Navy, was commissioned a lieutenant in command of the H.M.S. Endeavor and led an expedition that took scientists to Tahiti to chart the course of the planet Venus. In 1771, he returned to England, having explored the coast of New Zealand and Australia and circumnavigated the globe. Beginning in 1772, he commanded a major mission to the South Pacific and during the next three years explored the Antarctic region, charted the New Hebrides, and discovered New Caledonia. In 1776, he sailed from England again as commander of the H.M.S.Resolution and Discovery and in 1778 made his first visit to the Hawaiian Islands.

Cook and his crew were welcomed by the Hawaiians, who were fascinated by the Europeans’ ships and their use of iron. Cook provisioned his ships by trading the metal, and his sailors traded iron nails for sex. The ships then made a brief stop at Ni’ihau and headed north to look for the western end of a northwest passage from the North Atlantic to the Pacific. Almost one year later, Cook’s two ships returned to the Hawaiian Islands and found a safe harbor in Hawaii’s Kealakekua Bay.

It is suspected that the Hawaiians attached religious significance to the first stay of the Europeans on their islands. In Cook’s second visit, there was no question of this phenomenon. Kealakekua Bay was considered the sacred harbor of Lono, the fertility god of the Hawaiians, and at the time of Cook’s arrival the locals were engaged in a festival dedicated to Lono. Cook and his compatriots were welcomed as gods and for the next month exploited the Hawaiians’ good will. After one of the crewmembers died, exposing the Europeans as mere mortals, relations became strained. On February 4, 1779, the British ships sailed from Kealakekua Bay, but rough seas damaged the foremast of the Resolution, and after only a week at sea the expedition was forced to return to Hawaii.

The Hawaiians greeted Cook and his men by hurling rocks; they then stole a small cutter vessel from the Discovery. Negotiations with King Kalaniopuu for the return of the cutter collapsed after a lesser Hawaiian chief was shot to death and a mob of Hawaiians descended on Cook’s party. The captain and his men fired on the angry Hawaiians, but they were soon overwhelmed, and only a few managed to escape to the safety of the Resolution. Captain Cook himself was killed by the mob. A few days later, the Englishmen retaliated by firing their cannons and muskets at the shore, killing some 30 Hawaiians. The Resolution and Discovery eventually returned to England.

From: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/cook-discovers-hawaii?catId=6

H-bomb lost in Spain

On this day, a B-52 bomber collides with a KC-135 jet tanker over Spain’s Mediterranean coast, dropping three 70-kiloton hydrogen bombs near the town of Palomares and one in the sea. It was not the first or last accident involving American nuclear bombs.

As a means of maintaining first-strike capability during the Cold War, U.S. bombers laden with nuclear weapons circled the earth ceaselessly for decades. In a military operation of this magnitude, it was inevitable that accidents would occur. The Pentagon admits to more than three-dozen accidents in which bombers either crashed or caught fire on the runway, resulting in nuclear contamination from a damaged or destroyed bomb and/or the loss of a nuclear weapon. One of the only “Broken Arrows” to receive widespread publicity occurred on January 17, 1966, when a B-52 bomber crashed into a KC-135 jet tanker over Spain.

The bomber was returning to its North Carolina base following a routine airborne alert mission along the southern route of the Strategic Air Command when it attempted to refuel with a jet tanker. The B-52 collided with the fueling boom of the tanker, ripping the bomber open and igniting the fuel. The KC-135 exploded, killing all four of its crew members, but four members of the seven-man B-52 crew managed to parachute to safety. None of the bombs were armed, but explosive material in two of the bombs that fell to earth exploded upon impact, forming craters and scattering radioactive plutonium over the fields of Palomares. A third bomb landed in a dry riverbed and was recovered relatively intact. The fourth bomb fell into the sea at an unknown location.

Palomares, a remote fishing and farming community, was soon filled with nearly 2,000 U.S. military personnel and Spanish civil guards who rushed to clean up the debris and decontaminate the area. The U.S. personnel took precautions to prevent overexposure to the radiation, but the Spanish workers, who lived in a country that lacked experience with nuclear technology, did not. Eventually some 1,400 tons of radioactive soil and vegetation were shipped to the United States for disposal.

Meanwhile, at sea, 33 U.S. Navy vessels were involved in the search for the lost hydrogen bomb. Using an IBM computer, experts tried to calculate where the bomb might have landed, but the impact area was still too large for an effective search. Finally, an eyewitness account by a Spanish fisherman led the investigators to a one-mile area. On March 15, a submarine spotted the bomb, and on April 7 it was recovered. It was damaged but intact.

Studies on the effects of the nuclear accident on the people of Palomares were limited, but the United States eventually settled some 500 claims by residents whose health was adversely affected. Because the accident happened in a foreign country, it received far more publicity than did the dozen or so similar crashes that occurred within U.S. borders. As a security measure, U.S. authorities do not announce nuclear weapons accidents, and some American citizens may have unknowingly been exposed to radiation that resulted from aircraft crashes and emergency bomb jettisons. Today, two hydrogen bombs and a uranium core lie in yet undetermined locations in the Wassaw Sound off Georgia, in the Puget Sound off Washington, and in swamplands near Goldsboro, North Carolina.

From: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/h-bomb-lost-in-spain

Shah flees Iran

Faced with an army mutiny and violent demonstrations against his rule, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the leader of Iran since 1941, is forced to flee the country. Fourteen days later, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the Islamic revolution, returned after 15 years of exile and took control of Iran.

In 1941, British and Soviet troops occupied Iran, and the first Pahlavi shah, who they regarded with suspicion, was forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza. The new shah promised to act as a constitutional monarch but often meddled in the elected government’s affairs. After a Communist plot against him was thwarted in 1949, he took on even more powers. However, in the early 1950s, the shah was eclipsed by Mohammad Mosaddeq, a zealous Iranian nationalist who convinced the Parliament to nationalize Britain’s extensive oil interests in Iran. Mohammad Reza, who maintained close relations with Britain and the United States, opposed the decision. Nevertheless, he was forced in 1951 to appoint Mosaddeq premier, and two years of tension followed.

In August 1953, Mohammad Reza attempted to dismiss Mosaddeq, but the premier’s popular support was so great that the shah himself was forced out of Iran. A few days later, British and U.S. intelligence agents orchestrated a stunning coup d’etat against Mosaddeq, and the shah returned to take power as the sole leader of Iran. He repealed Mosaddeq’s legislation and became a close Cold War ally of the United States in the Middle East.

In 1963, the shah launched his “White Revolution,” a broad government program that included land reform, infrastructure development, voting rights for women, and the reduction of illiteracy. Although these programs were applauded by many in Iran, Islamic leaders were critical of what they saw as the westernization of Iran. Ruhollah Khomeini, a Shiite cleric, was particularly vocal in his criticism and called for the overthrow of the shah and the establishment of an Islamic state. In 1964, Khomeini was exiled and settled across the border in Iraq, where he sent radio messages to incite his supporters.

The shah saw himself foremost as a Persian king and in 1971 held an extravagant celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of the pre-Islamic Persian monarchy. In 1976, he formally replaced the Islamic calendar with a Persian calendar. Religious discontent grew, and the shah became more repressive, using his brutal secret police force to suppress opposition. This alienated students and intellectuals in Iran, and support for Khomeini grew. Discontent was also rampant in the poor and middle classes, who felt that the economic developments of the White Revolution had only benefited the ruling elite. In 1978, anti-shah demonstrations broke out in Iran’s major cities.

On September 8, 1978, the shah’s security force fired on a large group of demonstrators, killing hundreds and wounding thousands. Two months later, thousands took to the streets of Tehran, rioting and destroying symbols of westernization, such as banks and liquor stores. Khomeini called for the shah’s immediate overthrow, and on December 11 a group of soldiers mutinied and attacked the shah’s security officers. With that, his regime collapsed and the shah fled.

The shah traveled to several countries before entering the United States in October 1979 for medical treatment of his cancer. In Tehran, Islamic militants responded on November 4 by storming the U.S. embassy and taking the staff hostage. With the approval of Khomeini, the militants demanded the return of the shah to Iran to stand trial for his crimes. The United States refused to negotiate, and 52 American hostages were held for 444 days. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi died in Egypt in July 1980.

From: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/shah-flees-iran?catId=6