History: February 22

February 22

1732 Birth: George Washington. "George Washington was born into a mildly prosperous Virginia farming family in 1732. After his father died when George was eleven, George's mother, Mary, a tough and driven woman, struggled to hold their home together with the help of her two sons from a previous marriage. Although he never received more than an elementary school education, young George displayed a gift for mathematics. This knack for numbers combined with his quiet confidence and ambition caught the attention of Lord Fairfax, head of one of the most powerful families in Virginia. While working for Lord Fairfax as a surveyor at the age of sixteen, the young Washington traveled deep into the American wilderness for weeks at a time. Tragedy struck the young man with the death of his half brother Lawrence, who had guided and mentored George after his father's death. George inherited Mount Vernon from his brother, living there for the rest of his life..."

1797 Fishguard: The last attempted invasion of Britain occurs. "The annals of history record the name of Hastings as the site of the last invasion of Britain by French, well Norman, forces in 1066. True, this was the last successful invasion. However, little is reported about the French invasion of Fishguard, which took place in southwest Wales in 1797, nor of the brave resistance offered by "Jemima Fawr" (Jemima the Great), who single-handedly captured twelve of the invading soldiers. In 1797, Napoleon Bonaparte was busy conquering in central Europe. In his absence the newly formed French revolutionary government, the Directory, appears to have devised a 'cunning plan' that involved the poor country folk of Britain rallying to the support of their French liberators.  Obviously the Directory had recently taken delivery of some newly liberated Brandy! The French invasion force comprising some 1400 troops set sail from Camaret on February 18, 1797. The man entrusted by the Directory to implement their 'cunning plan' was an Irish-American septuagenarian, Colonel William Tate. As Napoleon had apparently reserved the cream of the Republican army for duties elsewhere in Europe, Colonel Tate's force comprised of a ragtag collection of soldiers including many newly released jailbirds. Tate's orders were to land near Bristol, England's second largest city, and destroy it, then to cross over into Wales and march north onto Chester and Liverpool. From the outset however all did not proceed as detailed in the 'cunning plan'. Wind conditions made it impossible for the four French warships to land anywhere near Bristol, so Tate moved to 'cunning plan' B, and set a course for Cardigan Bay in southwest Wales.

On Wednesday, February 22, the French warships sailed into Fishguard Bay (above), to be greeted by canon fire from the local fort. Unbeknown to the French the cannon was being fired as an alarm to the local townsfolk, nervously the ships withdrew and sailed on until they reached a small sandy beach near the village of Llanwnda. Men, arms and gunpowder were unloaded and by 2 am on the morning of Thursday, February 23rd, the last invasion of Britain was completed. The ships returned to France with a special despatch being sent to the Directory in Paris informing them of the successful landing. The French invasion force upon landing appear to have run out of enthusiasm for the 'cunning plan', perhaps a result of those years of prison rations, they seem to have been more interested in the rich food and wine the locals had recently removed from a grounded Portuguese ship. After a looting spree, many of the invaders were too drunk to fight and within two days..."

1819 Spanish minister Do Luis de Onis and US Secretary of State John Quincy Adams sign the Florida Purchase Treaty, in which Spain agrees to cede the remainder of its old province of Florida to the United States. Spanish colonization of the Florida peninsula was initiated at St. Augustine in 1565, and although the Spanish colonists enjoyed a brief period of relative stability, by the seventeenth century Spanish Florida was under frequent attack from resentful Native Americans and ambitious English colonists to the north. Spain's last-minute entry into the French and Indian War on the side of France cost it Florida, which the British acquired through the first Treaty of Paris in 1763. However, after twenty years of British rule, Florida was returned to Spain as part of the second Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolution in 1783. Spain's hold over Florida, however, was tenuous in this period, and numerous boundary disputes developed with the United States. On this day, after years of negotiations, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams wins a diplomatic coup with the signing of the Florida Purchase Treaty, which officially puts Florida into US hands at no cost beyond the US assumption of some five million dollars of claims by US citizens against Spain. Formal US occupation will begin in 1821 and General Andrew Jackson will be appointed military governor. Florida will be organized as a US territory in 1822, and will be admitted into the Union as a slave state in 1845. (Bradley)

1857 Birth: Lord Baden-Powell, English hero of the siege of Mafeking during the Boer War and founder of the Boy Scout movement in 1908, born in London. (Bradley)

1879 Frank Winfield Woolworth opens his first 'five and ten cent' store in Utica, New York.

1911 The Canadian Parliament votes to preserve the union with the British Empire.

1917 WW1: In Mesopotamia, Sir Frederick Maude skillfully assaults Kut, forcing the Turks back toward Baghdad.

1919 Weimar: Bavarian Cardinal Michael Faulhaber refuses to order the ringing of bells and the showing of flags of mourning after the assassination of Eisner by Count Arco-Vally, a Catholic. (Lewy)

1919 US Ambassador William C. Bullit and the radical journalist Lincoln Steffens, leave Paris for a meeting in Russia with the Bolsheviks.

1924 US President Calvin Coolidge becomes the first president to deliver a radio broadcast from the White House. Coolidge's speech, commemorating the 192nd anniversary of George Washington's birth, is broadcast from his White House study and heard live on forty-two radio stations from coast to coast. In 1921, Coolidge's predecessor, Warren G. Harding, was the first president to ever have a speech broadcast on the radio. On 5 November 1921, a presidential message from Harding was broadcast in code from Washington, DC, to twenty-eight countries. The message was related to the imminent Washington Conference for Limitation of Armament, which opened in the nation's capital six days later. (Bradley)

1933 Goering persuades the Prussian government to decree the gradual abolition of the interdenominational schools and reintroduce religious instruction in the vocational schools "for political reasons." (Lewy)

1933 The American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee and B'nai B'rith (Sons of the Covenant) form a joint conference committee to examine the German situation. (Edelheit)

1933 At Geneva, the German Delegation leaves the conference when Mr. Henderson, President of the Disarmament Conference, refuses to accept a German amendment to the French draft resolution on standardization.

1939 WW2: Neville Chamberlain tells an audience in Blackburn, "Ships, guns and ammunition are produced by our shipyards and factories with an increased acceleration... Even if the whole world is against us we will win."

1941 Holocaust: More than 400 Jews are seized in Amsterdam and deported. Some die in Buchenwald, the rest in the stone quarries of Mauthausen. (Atlas)

1941 Holocaust: An order is issued stating that any Pole selling food to a Jew outside the Warsaw ghetto will automatically be sentenced to three months hard labor, and the ghetto ration is reduced to three ounces of bread a day. (Atlas)

1944 Diary of Leon Gladun: I stand on Italian soil at 11:22 a.m.! From the port of Taranto we marched 8 kms.to our camp. Along the way Italian boys greeted us with half-Polish and half-Italian phrases such as "dobra pomarancza" and "migdaly paloci"--and with the Polish song: Antoni Kociubinski Dobre Migdaly Ma [Antoni Kociubinski Sells Good Almonds]. Wherever our legions have been stationed, the Polish language lingers. And so a song, one of the easiest forms of learning a new tongue, is taken up here by Italian children who are born singers. The countryside is similar to Syria: clay terrain, olive trees--and plenty of kids in our camps.

1943 WW2: Rommel's drive at Kasserine loses momentum. "...While Montgomery chased Rommel through Libya towards Tunisia, the disorganized and inexperienced Americans slowly advanced on Tripoli; an event Eisenhower would eventually conclude was a strict violation of “every recognized principle of war.” However, Allied commanders remained confident that Rommel’s forces were far too depleted to offer any continued resistance in North Africa and that his expulsion from the theater was only a matter of time. After Rommel smashed their forces at Faïd on February 14, 1943, the Americans fell back to solidify their defensive position. Five days later, Rommel probed these defensive lines and determined that the point of least resistance was located at the Kasserine Pass, located in the Tunisian Dorsal Mountains. Rommel gun that Rommel had pioneered in antitank combat, against Rommel drove the Americans back Kasserine Pass, in the The next day, he personally led the attack with his heavy Tiger I tanks firing their 88mm guns to great effect. The American defenses rapidly crumbled for a number of reasons..."

1945 Holocaust: Operation Clarion begins and the Allies attack targets in Germany with up to 9000 aircraft.

1987 Death: Andy Warhol, pop artist, after a gall bladder operation.

2002 US President George W. Bush pays tribute to Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (above), who was murdered by kidnappers in Pakistan.

2003 British Prime Minister Tony Blair is urged by Pope John Paul II to avoid creating 'new divisions in the world' as he seeks a solution to the Iraq crisis. After the audience, the Vatican calls for the standoff over Saddam's weapons of mass destruction to be guided by the UN to avert the 'tragedy of war'. Note: The Pope had recently met Iraqi Deputy PM Tariq Aziz and UN head Kofi Annan.












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