It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did you know…
* 1858 – Britain passes An Act to create the Crown Colony of British Columbia. (The explorations of James Cook and George Vancouver, and the concessions of Spain in 1794 established British claims over the coastal area north of California. Similar claims were established inland via the explorations of such men as John Finlay, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser, Samuel Black, and David Thompson, and by the subsequent establishment of fur trading posts by the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). However, until 1858, the region which now comprises the mainland of the Province of British Columbia was an unorganised area of British North America comprising two fur trading districts: New Caledonia, north of the Thompson River drainage; and the Columbia District, located south of the Thompson and throughout the basin of the Columbia River.
Sir James Douglas, first governor of the Colony of British Columbia
With the signing of the Treaty of Washington in 1846, which established the US border along the 49th parallel, the HBC moved the headquarters of its western operations from Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River (present day Vancouver, Washington) to the newly established Fort Victoria, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island and the surrounding Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia were organized as a crown colony in 1849. Meanwhile, the mainland continued to function under the de facto administration of the HBC, whose chief executive, James Douglas, also happened to be governor of Vancouver Island. The non-aboriginal mainland population during this time never exceeded about 150 at Fort Victoria, mostly HBC employees and their families.
The Colony of British Columbia was a crown colony in British North America from 1858 until 1866. It was founded by Richard Clement Moody, who became the first Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia from 1858 to 1863. At its creation, it physically constituted approximately half the present day Canadian province of British Columbia, since it did not include the Colony of Vancouver Island, the vast and still largely uninhabited regions north of the Nass and Finlay Rivers, the regions east of the Rocky Mountains, or any of the coastal islands. The Colony of the Queen Charlotte Islands and the Stikine Territory were merged with it in 1863, and it was amalgamated in 1866 with the Colony of Vancouver Island to form a new Colony of British Columbia.)
* 216 BC Second Punic War: Battle of Cannae. (The Carthaginian general Hannibal started the Second Punic War when he attacked the city of Saguntum, a Roman ally, in southern Spain in 218 BCE. He then invaded northern Italy by marching his army across the Alps from Spain. Once descended onto the plains, he began advancing through Roman territory taking small cities and villages and defeating Roman forces twice; once at Trebia, at the Ticino River, and again at Lake Trasimene. By 217 BCE, Hannibal held all of northern Italy and the Roman senate feared he would march upon Rome. Little was being done, they felt, by the consul Quintus Fabius Maximus, who controlled the army and was following a policy of harassing Hannibal and thwarting his plans through strategic movements rather than full engagement.
The two consuls Lucius Aemilius Paulus and Caius Terentius Varro led a force of over 50,000 against Hannibal’s less than 40,000 and met him in battle at Cannae. Hannibal disguised his intentions by placing his light infantry of Gauls at the front to mask his heavier infantry whom he positioned in a crescent formation behind them. At a given signal just before the battle, the light infantry fell back to form two wings of reserves. Hannibal’s light and heavy cavalry were positioned at the extreme wings of the position. The Romans, following their usual understanding of battle in which superior forces would overwhelm by sheer strength, arrayed their forces in traditional formation with light infantry masking the heavier and the cavalry also to the wings.
When the Roman legions began their march toward the Carthaginian lines, the Carthaginian infantry fell back before them. The Romans took this as a positive sign that they were winning and pressed on. The Carthaginian light infantry, who had earlier fallen back, now took up position on either end of the crescent formed by their heavy infantry. At this same time, the Carthaginian cavalry charged the Roman cavalry and engaged them. The Roman infantry continued their charge into the enemy’s ranks but, precisely because of their traditional formation, could make no use of their superior numbers. Those soldiers toward the back of the ranks merely served to push those before them onward. At the same time, the Carthaginian heavy cavalry drove back the Roman cavalry, opening a breach in the lines to the rear of the infantry. As the cavalry forces engaged, and as the Roman infantry continued its advance, Hannibal signaled for the trap to close. The light infantry which formed the ends of the crescent of the Carthaginian line now moved up to form an alley in which the Roman forces found themselves trapped. The Carthaginian cavalry fell upon the Roman infantry from behind, the light infantry attacked from the flanks, and the heavy infantry engaged from the front. The Romans were surrounded and were almost completely annihilated. Out of the over 50,000 who took the field, 44,000 were killed and 10,000 managed to escape to Canusium. Hannibal lost 6,000 men, mostly the Gauls, who had made up the front lines.
According to Durant, “It was a supreme example of generalship, never bettered in history. It ended the days of Roman reliance upon infantry and set the lines of military tactics for two thousand years”. Among those Romans who escaped Cannae was the twenty-year old Publius Cornelius Scipio. Scipio would remember Hannibal’s tactics at Cannae and, further, would study his other successful engagements. Fourteen years later, at the Battle of Zama in 202 BCE, Scipio would use Hannibal’s own tricks to defeat him and win the Second Punic War. Roman skill on the battlefield, through which they became masters of the world, can be traced directly back to Scipio Africanus and his adaptations of Hannibal’s strategies at Cannae.)
* 1990 Iraq invades Kuwait. (At about 2 a.m. local time, Iraqi forces invade Kuwait, Iraq’s tiny, oil-rich neighbor. Kuwait’s defense forces were rapidly overwhelmed, and those that were not destroyed retreated to Saudi Arabia. The emir of Kuwait, his family, and other government leaders fled to Saudi Arabia, and within hours Kuwait City had been captured and the Iraqis had established a provincial government. By annexing Kuwait, Iraq gained control of 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves and, for the first time, a substantial coastline on the Persian Gulf. The same day, the United Nations Security Council unanimously denounced the invasion and demanded Iraq’s immediate withdrawal from Kuwait. On August 6, the Security Council imposed a worldwide ban on trade with Iraq.
On August 9, Operation Desert Shield, the American defense of Saudi Arabia, began as U.S. forces raced to the Persian Gulf. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, meanwhile, built up his occupying army in Kuwait to about 300,000 troops. On November 29, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq if it failed to withdraw by January 15, 1991. Hussein refused to withdraw his forces from Kuwait, which he had established as a province of Iraq, and some 700,000 allied troops, primarily American, gathered in the Middle East to enforce the deadline.
At 4:30 p.m. EST on January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm, the massive U.S.-led offensive against Iraq, began as the first fighter aircraft were launched from Saudi Arabia and off U.S. and British aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. All evening, aircraft from the U.S.-led military coalition pounded targets in and around Baghdad as the world watched the events transpire on television footage transmitted live via satellite from Iraq. Operation Desert Storm was conducted by an international coalition under the supreme command of U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf and featured forces from 32 nations, including Britain, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.
During the next six weeks, the allied force engaged in an intensive air war against Iraq’s military and civil infrastructure and encountered little effective resistance from the Iraqi air force or air defenses. Iraqi ground forces were helpless during this stage of the war, and Hussein’s only significant retaliatory measure was the launching of SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saddam hoped that the missile attacks would provoke Israel to enter the conflict, thus dissolving Arab support of the war. At the request of the United States, however, Israel remained out of the war.
On February 24, a massive coalition ground offensive began, and Iraq’s outdated and poorly supplied armed forces were rapidly overwhelmed. By the end of the day, the Iraqi army had effectively folded, 10,000 of its troops were held as prisoners, and a U.S. air base had been established deep inside Iraq. After less than four days, Kuwait was liberated, and the majority of Iraq’s armed forces had either surrendered, retreated to Iraq, or been destroyed.
On February 28, U.S. President George Bush declared a cease-fire, and on April 3 the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 687, specifying conditions for a formal end to the conflict. According to the resolution, Bush’s cease-fire would become official, some sanctions would be lifted, but the ban on Iraqi oil sales would continue until Iraq destroyed its weapons of mass destruction under U.N. supervision. On April 6, Iraq accepted the resolution, and on April 11 the Security Council declared it in effect. During the next decade, Saddam Hussein frequently violated the terms of the peace agreement, prompting further allied air strikes and continuing U.N. sanctions.
In the Persian Gulf War, 148 American soldiers were killed and 457 wounded. The other allied nations suffered about 100 deaths combined during Operation Desert Storm. There are no official figures for the number of Iraqi casualties, but it is believed that at least 25,000 soldiers were killed and more than 75,000 were wounded, making it one of the most one-sided military conflicts in history. It is estimated that 100,000 Iraqi civilians died from wounds or from lack of adequate water, food, and medical supplies directly attributable to the Persian Gulf War. In the ensuing years, more than one million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the subsequent U.N. sanctions.)
* 1934 Hitler becomes Fuhrer. (With the death of German President Paul von Hindenburg, Chancellor Adolf Hitler becomes absolute dictator of Germany under the title of Fuhrer, or “Leader.” The German army took an oath of allegiance to its new commander-in-chief, and the last remnants of Germany’s democratic government were dismantled to make way for Hitler’s Third Reich. The Fuhrer assured his people that the Third Reich would last for a thousand years, but Nazi Germany collapsed just 11 years later.
He was appalled by Germany’s defeat, which he blamed on “enemies within”–chiefly German communists and Jews–and was enraged by the punitive peace settlement forced on Germany by the victorious Allies. He remained in the German army after the war, and as an intelligence agent was ordered to report on subversive activities in Munich’s political parties. It was in this capacity that he joined the tiny German Workers’ Party, made up of embittered army veterans, as the group’s seventh member. Hitler was put in charge of the party’s propaganda, and in 1920 he assumed leadership of the organization, changing its name to Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party), which was abbreviated to Nazi.
The party’s socialist orientation was little more than a ploy to attract working-class support; in fact, Hitler was fiercely right-wing. But the economic views of the party were overshadowed by the Nazis’ fervent nationalism, which blamed Jews, communists, the Treaty of Versailles, and Germany’s ineffectual democratic government for the country’s devastated economy. In the early 1920s, the ranks of Hitler’s Bavarian-based Nazi party swelled with resentful Germans. A paramilitary organization, the Sturmabteilung (SA), was formed to protect the Nazis and intimidate their political opponents, and the party adopted the ancient symbol of the swastika as its emblem.
The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 brought a new opportunity for the Nazis to solidify their power. Hitler and his followers set about reorganizing the party as a fanatical mass movement and won financial backing from business leaders, for whom the Nazis promised an end to labor agitation. In the 1930 election, the Nazis won six million votes, making the party the second largest in Germany. Two years later, Hitler challenged Paul von Hindenburg for the presidency, but the 84-year-old president defeated Hitler with the support of an anti-Nazi coalition.
Although the Nazis suffered a decline in votes during the November 1932 election, Hindenburg agreed to make Hitler chancellor in January 1933, hoping that Hitler could be brought to heel as a member of his cabinet. However, Hindenburg underestimated Hitler’s political audacity, and one of the new chancellor’s first acts was to exploit the burning of the Reichstag (parliament) building as a pretext for calling general elections. The police under Nazi Hermann Goering suppressed much of the party’s opposition before the election, and the Nazis won a bare majority. Shortly after, Hitler took on dictatorial power through the Enabling Acts.
Chancellor Hitler immediately set about arresting and executing political opponents and even purged the Nazis’ own SA paramilitary organization in a successful effort to win support from the German army. With the death of President Hindenburg on August 2, 1934, Hitler united the chancellorship and presidency under the new title of Fuhrer. As the economy improved, popular support for Hitler’s regime became strong, and a cult of Fuhrer worship was propagated by Hitler’s capable propagandists.)
* 1983 Legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson dies. (Bassist James Jamerson, who laid the foundation of the Motown sound, dies of pneumonia on this day in 1983.
There was a time in pop history when you could hear a record for the very first time and have a pretty good chance of guessing where it was recorded. Record labels like Stax, Chess, Atlantic and Philadelphia International made the distinctive sounds of Memphis, Chicago, Muscle Shoals and Philadelphia internationally famous in the 1960s and early 1970s. But for every fan of that era’s music who can pick out a record made in those cities, there are probably more who can pick out one that was made in Detroit, home of Motown Records and “The Sound of Young America.”
When you think of Motown in the 1960s, you tend to think of performers like the Temptations and Marvin Gaye or legendary songwriters like Smokey Robinson and Holland/Dozier/Holland. But unless you’ve seen the 2002 documentary Standing In The Shadows of Motown, you probably don’t think of bassist James Jamerson. Along with men like drummer Benny Benjamin, pianist Earl Van Dyke, guitarist Richard White and percussionist Jack Ashford, Jamerson was a member of the Funk Brothers—a rotating cast of unsung, uncredited and non-royalty earning studio musicians drawn from the cream of Detroit’s jazz scene who laid the foundation of the Motown sound.
It was the Funk Brothers, working in a studio they called the Snake Pit in the basement of Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. headquarters, who arranged, orchestrated and performed nearly every instrumental track of nearly every classic Motown record. It was James Jamerson’s unconventionally melodic bass lines that made many of those records great. “My Girl” by the Miracles, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Supremes, “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye, “Dancing In The Street” by Martha and the Vandellas—these are among the dozens of timeless Motown hits to which Jamerson made a critical contribution.
Unlike many of his fellow Funk Brothers, Jamerson moved west with Motown Records when it pulled up stakes and left Detroit for Los Angeles in 1972. His relationship with Motown ended shortly thereafter, however, and 10 years later, when the company celebrated its anniversary with the Motown 25 concert and broadcast, Jamerson was a paying member of the audience sitting in the back rows rather than an honored guest performing on stage.
After a long struggle with alcoholism, James Jamerson died on August 2, 1983, at the age of 42. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 17 years later, in March 2000.)
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* Ancient History Encyclopedia http://www.ancient.eu/Battle_of_Cannae/
* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport http://www.onthisday.com/
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/