This Day in History, May 3: Nellie Tayloe Ross Becomes First Woman to Head US Mint (1933)

Nellie Tayloe Ross Becomes First Woman to Head US Mint (1933)

Nellie Davis Tayloe Ross (November 29, 1876 – December 19, 1977) was an American politician, the 14th Governor of Wyoming from 1925 to 1927 and director of the United States Mint from 1933 to 1953. She was the first woman to be sworn in as governor of a U.S. state, and remains the only woman to have served as governor of Wyoming.[1]

Ross was born in St. Joseph, Missouri[2] to James Wynns Tayloe, a native of Tennessee, and Elizabeth Blair Green, who owned a plantation on the Missouri River. Her family moved to Miltonvale, Kansas in 1884, and she graduated from Miltonvale High School in 1892. She attended a teacher-training college for two years and taught kindergarten for four years.

On September 11, 1902, Ross married William B. Ross, whom she had met when visiting relatives in Tennessee in 1900. William B. Ross was governor of Wyoming from 1923 to his death on October 2, 1924. Ross succeeded her late husband’s successor Frank Lucas as governor when she won the special election, becoming the first female American governor on January 5, 1925. She was a staunch supporter of Prohibition during the 1920s. She lost re-election in 1926 but remained an active member of the Democratic Party.

In 1933, Ross became the first female Director of the United States Mint. Despite initial mistrust, she forged a strong bond with Mary Margaret O’Reilly, the Assistant Director of the Mint and one of the United States’ highest-ranking female civil servants of her time. Ross served five terms as Director, retiring in 1953. During her later years, she wrote for various women’s magazines and traveled. Ross died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 101.

Early life and education
Born Nellie Davis Tayloe in St. Joseph, Missouri,[2] Ross was the sixth child and first daughter of James Wynns Tayloe, a native of Stewart County, Tennessee, and his wife, Elizabeth Blair Green, who owned a plantation on the Missouri River.[3] In 1884, when Ross was seven years of age, her family moved to Miltonvale in Cloud County in northern Kansas. This relocation happened after her father’s old family home back in St. Joseph burned, and the sheriff was about to foreclose on the property.[3]

After Ross graduated from Miltonvale High School in 1892, her family moved to Omaha, Nebraska. During this time, she taught private piano lessons and attended a teacher-training college for two years. She then taught kindergarten for four years. Two of her brothers sent her on a trip to Europe in 1896.[2]

While on a visit to her relatives in Dover, Tennessee, in 1900, Ross met William Bradford Ross, whom she married on September 11, 1902. William Ross practiced law and planned to live in the American West. He moved to Cheyenne and established a law practice, bringing his wife to join him. Ross became a leader in the Democratic Party in Wyoming. He ran for office several times unsuccessfully, losing to Republican candidates each time.[4]

Governorship of Wyoming
In 1922, William Ross was elected governor of Wyoming by appealing to progressive voters in both parties. However, after little more than a year and a half in office, he died on October 2, 1924, from complications from an appendectomy. The Democratic Party then nominated his widow, Nellie, to run for governor in a special election the following month.[5]

Nellie Ross refused to campaign but easily won the race on November 4, 1924. On January 5, 1925, she became the first female governor in the history of the United States.[1] As governor she continued her late husband’s policies, which called for tax cuts, government assistance for poor farmers, banking reform, and laws protecting children, women workers, and miners. She urged Wyoming to ratify a pending federal amendment prohibiting child labor. Like her husband, she advocated the strengthening of prohibition laws.[6]

Ross ran for re-election in 1926, with the help of Cecilia Hennel Hendricks, but was narrowly defeated. She blamed her loss in part on her refusal to campaign for herself and her support for prohibition. Nevertheless, she remained active in the Democratic Party and campaigned for Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election though the two disagreed on prohibition. At the 1928 Democratic National Convention, she received 31 votes from ten states for vice president on the first ballot. She also gave a speech seconding Smith’s nomination. After the convention, she served as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee and as director of the DNC Women’s Division.[7][8]

Director of U.S. Mint

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Ross as director of the U.S. Mint on May 3, 1933, making her the first woman to hold that position.[9] Ross and the Mint’s Assistant Director Mary Margaret O’Reilly, “the Sweetheart of the Treasury” who had worked at the Mint since 1904, had mutual suspicions to overcome.[10][11] Ross, who had endured poor relations with Eleanor Roosevelt and others on FDR’s campaign, did not trust the career staff. O’Reilly saw another political appointee with no experience at the Mint Bureau replacing Robert J. Grant, who had been Denver Mint superintendent before his directorship.[10] After a brief period, the two women came to appreciate each other’s merits.[12]

Tenure
Ross and O’Reilly soon came to the usual division of labor between director and assistant: the director would handle public affairs and make policy decisions as needed, while the assistant dealt with the day-to-day business of the bureau. Ross undertook a heavy travel schedule, visiting Mint facilities, making speeches backing Roosevelt, and campaigning for Democratic candidates in Wyoming. This left O’Reilly running the Washington office as acting director. The two women carried on a businesslike but warm correspondence during these times, with O’Reilly writing to Ross (who had embarked on a tour of the mints) “I am so anxious to have your mind at ease about the office here [in Washington] that I have resorted to rather frequent telegrams. They are so much more direct and up to date than letters … my love to you and every good wish for the success of your visits to our beloved mint institutions.”[13] Teva J. Scheer, biographer of Ross, suggests that O’Reilly would have found Ross’s reports from the field valuable; they showed how the Mint recovered from the initial years of the Depression, when relatively few coins were produced, to the mid-1930s, when strong demand for coinage led the bureau to run the mints with two or even three shifts.[14]

O’Reilly’s Retirement
In 1935, O’Reilly reached the mandatory federal retirement age of 70. Ross requested that President Roosevelt exempt O’Reilly from mandatory retirement because her knowledge of bureau affairs was so extensive and was badly needed. A special order of President Roosevelt gave O’Reilly an extra year in the Mint Service. During the extension, Ross hired Frank Leland Howard of the University of Virginia, who had a background in accounting, as O’Reilly’s prospective replacement. Howard replaced O’Reilly when she retired on October 29, 1938, after two more extensions.[15]

Legacy
Ross’ tenure saw the Mint in 1944 investigate how several 1933 double eagles, never officially released, had come onto the market.[16] She is known for establishing the Franklin half dollar and starting the making of proof coins for public sale.[17] Ross served five full terms until her retirement in 1953 and was succeeded by William H. Brett, whom President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated in 1954.[18] Read More….

 

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Celebrations Around the World: Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night falls on the evening of April 30. In past times many people feared that witches were especially active on this day and evening (see also Easter Witches). Northern and central European folklore warned that these menacing figures prowled in the twilight dusk, waiting until the dark hours of the night to gather together for a wild feast and frolic. Rumors circulated as to the exact location of this fearsome gathering. Many believed that it might lie on Mount Brocken (Brockenberg), in Germany’s Harz Mountains. On Walpurgis Night people took extra precautions to prevent passing witches from harming their families, homes, and fields. Folk tradition taught that loud noises frightened away witches. Therefore, people rang church bells, slammed doors, hit pots and pans, and cracked whips. They also lit bonfires and torches, raised crosses, and decorated their homes with rosemary and birch boughs, all of which were thought to repel witches. Little remains of these Walpurgis Night beliefs today. In past times, however, they were so common that they inspired the great German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) to depict a Walpurgis Night witches’ sabbath in his famous play, Faust (1808-32). In the play the devil, who goes by the name of Mephistopheles, takes Faust to this sinister event. In addition, vivid images of a midsummer’s night witches’ festival on Mount Brocken spurred Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) to write his well-known piece, Night on Bald Mountain (1867), also known as Saint John’s Night on Bare Mountain.

 

The Scandinavian and German-speaking countries produced most of Europe’s Walpurgis Night witch lore. Nevertheless, in some other European countries the evening was also thought to have an eerie quality about it. In England and Ireland, old folk traditions taught special methods for protecting oneself from witchcraft on this night. Irish lore hinted that the fairies fought one another over the ripening crops on this evening.

 

Why April 30?

Some folklorists point out that Walpurgis Night falls on the evening before May Day, a day long associated in folklore with the death of winter, the birth of spring, and the celebration of nature. Walpurgis Night itself falls exactly six months from Halloween, another evening associated with uncanny forces and supernatural encounters in European folklore. Some folklorists speculate that in past times people viewed these two dates as turning points in the cycle of the year, and thus as times when the walls dividing the natural and the supernatural worlds waned thin.

 

Contemporary Customs

In the Czech Republic people still light large bonfires on the evening of April 30. In the old days, people believed that the bonfires protected them from witches. Not only could witches harm people and livestock, but they also caused winter and cold weather to linger on. Czech folklore advised that burning an effigy of a witch – that is, a life-sized dummy made to resemble a witch – hastened the coming of warm weather. Today people no longer fear witches. Nevertheless, the old custom of lighting a May eve bonfire remains. People kindle the flames close to nightfall and sit close beside them, singing songs and roasting sausages in the flames. When it’s dark they toss an ugly effigy of a witch into the flames. In the Czech Republic this oncefearful evening has become an occasion for some outdoor fun.

 

Swedes still celebrate Walpurgis Night, although contemporary Swedish festivities have little to do with witches. Instead they commemorate the death of winter and the birth of spring. University students, in particular, participate in Walpurgis Night observances, sometimes by gathering for rallies at which a speaker solemnly and formally announces the arrival of spring. In Sweden the lengthening days serve as a better guide to the changing seasons than does the weather. In this far northern land snow may still blanket the ground on April 30. In keeping with ancient traditions, the Swedes continue to light bonfires on this evening, often on hilltops or on mounds. These days, however, the fires aren’t stoked by anxious farmers seeking protection from malicious witchcraft, but rather by young lovers hoping the flames will enhance the spell that attracts them to one another.

 

Finns celebrate May eve, which they call Vappu, with singing, dancing, and revelry in the streets. In Helsinki students, and former students, wear their traditional white caps for this night of lively street activity and parties. Some may even swim across the moat that surrounds the statue of Havis Amanda in order to adorn her with a cap. On May Day students and workers stage parades.

 

Finally, Walpurgis Night celebrations have become an important tourist attraction in Germany’s Harz Mountains. In a bid to attract travelers to the region, promoters have stamped the image of the witch on everything from hotel brochures to beer steins. The village of Schierke, located at the foot of Mount Brocken, hosts about six thousand people each year for their Walpurgis Night celebrations. The day begins with a children’s costume parade, in which kindergartners dress as witches and devils. Later that evening people assemble in a local park which takes on the appearance of a fairground, complete with booths selling local crafts, drinks, and foods. Fair-goers enter into the spirit of the event, dressing as witches, goblins, vampires, and valkyries, the magical maiden-warriors from Scandinavian mythology. The evening’s festivities take place around a huge bonfire and include a pantomime play as well as a fireworks display. Rival celebrations take place in other villages of the region.

 

Walpurga

Most writers state that Walpurgis Night takes its name from the saint whose feast is celebrated on the following day. St. Walburg or Walpurga (c. 710-779) grew up to become a nun and, upon the invitation of her brother, Willibald, bishop of Eichstätt (700-787), took up the post of abbess of Heidenhem, near Nuremberg, Germany. She died on February 25, 779, but on May 1, 870, religious authorities transferred her remains to Eichstätt, where a church had been built in her name. Her feast day is celebrated on May 1 in honor of this event. Walpurga is the patroness of the diocese of Eichstätt and also the city of Antwerp, Belgium. Folk belief has credited her with the power to ward off magical harms as well as the ability to protect the harvest.

 

A few writers suggest instead that a little-known minor deity, also known as Walpurga, gave her name to the mythical festival of witches on Mount Brocken. According to local folklore Walpurga, who was associated with the woods and springtime, could tell the future with her three-cornered mirror and carried a magical spindle and thread. These attributes may signify her to be a variant of Holde, or Frau Holle, another, more popular German goddess. According to one tale the Wild Hunt, a troop of ghostly figures that rides the night skies during winter, chased Walpurga during the last nine nights before May Day. Walpurga sought protection from mortals during these nights, often entering the homes of kindly villagers through a window thoughtfully left open. Like Holda, Walpurga was believed to reward those who helped her.

 

Further Reading

Blackburn, Bonnie, and Leofranc Holford-Strevens. The Oxford Companion to the Year. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1999. Casanova, Gertrude. “Walburga, St.” In Charles G. Herbermann et al., eds. The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Appleton, 1913. Available online at: Frazer, James George. The New Golden Bough. Theodor H. Gaster, ed. New York: S. G. Phillips, 1959. Griffin, Robert H., and Ann H. Shurgin, eds. The Folklore of World Holidays. Second edition. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1999. Harvey, Steenie. “Season of the Witch.” The World and I 16, 4 (April 2001): 260. Henderson, Helene, and Sue Ellen Thompson, eds. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. Second edition. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 1997. Ince, Sarah. The Magical Year. Richmond, VA: Time-Life Books, 1992. Nollen, Tim. Festivals of the World: Czech Republic. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 1999.

Web Sites

This web page, part of German instructor Robert J. Shea’s site on German folk customs, offers additional Walpurgis Night folklore: . com/shea/germusa/walpurgi.htm

Another informative page on St. Walpurga, sponsored by Catholic Community Forum

 

This Day in History April 30: Fall of Saigon (1975)

Fall of Saigon (1975)

The Fall of Saigon,[1][2] or the Liberation of Saigon, was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Viet Cong on 30 April 1975. The event marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period to the formal reunification of Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.[3]

The PAVN, under the command of General Văn Tiến Dũng, began their final attack on Saigon on April 29, 1975, with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces commanded by General Nguyễn Văn Toàn suffering a heavy artillery bombardment. This bombardment at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport killed the last two American servicemen killed in combat in Vietnam, Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge.[4] By the afternoon of the next day, the PAVN had occupied the important points of the city and raised their flag over the South Vietnamese presidential palace. The city was renamed Hồ Chí Minh City, after the late North Vietnamese President Hồ Chí Minh.

The capture of the city was preceded by Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians who had been associated with the southern regime.[5] The evacuation was the largest helicopter evacuation in history.[6] In addition to the flight of refugees, the end of the war and the institution of new rules by the communists contributed to a decline in the city’s population.[7]

Names

Various names have been applied to these events. The Vietnamese government officially calls it the “Day of liberating the South for national reunification” (Vietnamese: Giải phóng miền Nam, thống nhất đất nước) or “Liberation Day” (Ngày Giải Phóng), but the term “Fall of Saigon” is commonly used in Western accounts. It is called the “Ngày mất nước” (Day we Lost the Country), “Tháng Tư Đen” (Black April),[8][9][10][11][12][13] “National Day of Shame” (Ngày Quốc Nhục) or “National Day of Resentment” (Ngày Quốc Hận).[9][14][15][16][17] by many Overseas Vietnamese who were refugees from communism.

North Vietnamese advance

The rapidity with which the South Vietnamese position collapsed in 1975 was surprising to most American and South Vietnamese observers, and probably to the North Vietnamese and their allies as well. For instance, a memo prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and U.S. Army Intelligence and published on March 5 indicated that South Vietnam could hold out through the current dry season—i.e., at least until 1976.[18] These predictions proved to be grievously in error. Even as that memo was being released, General Dũng was preparing a major offensive in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, which began on 10 March and led to the capture of Buôn Ma Thuột. The ARVN began a disorderly and costly retreat, hoping to redeploy its forces and hold the southern part of South Vietnam, perhaps an enclave south of the 13th parallel.[19]

Supported by artillery and armor, the PAVN continued to march towards Saigon, capturing the major cities of northern South Vietnam at the end of March—Huế on the 25th and Đà Nẵng on the 28th. Along the way, disorderly South Vietnamese retreats and the flight of refugees—there were more than 300,000 in Đà Nẵng[20]—damaged South Vietnamese prospects for a turnaround. After the loss of Đà Nẵng, those prospects had already been dismissed as nonexistent by American CIA officers in Vietnam, who believed that nothing short of B-52 strikes against Hanoi could possibly stop the North Vietnamese.[21]

By April 8, the North Vietnamese Politburo, which in March had recommended caution to Dũng, cabled him to demand “unremitting vigor in the attack all the way to the heart of Saigon.”[22] On April 14, they renamed the campaign the “Hồ Chí Minh campaign”, after revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh, in hopes of wrapping it up before his birthday on May 19.[23] Meanwhile, South Vietnam failed to garner any significant increase in military aid from the United States, snuffing out President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu’s hopes for renewed American support.

On April 9, PAVN forces reached Xuân Lộc, the last line of defense before Saigon, where the ARVN 18th Division made a last stand and held the city through fierce fighting for 11 days. The PAVN finally overran Xuân Lộc on April 20 despite heavy losses, and on April 21 President Thiệu resigned in a tearful televised announcement in which he denounced the United States for failing to come to the aid of the South.[24] The North Vietnamese front line was now just 26 miles (42 km) from downtown Saigon.[25] The victory at Xuân Lộc, which had drawn many South Vietnamese troops away from the Mekong Delta area,[25] opened the way for PAVN to encircle Saigon, and they soon did so, moving 100,000 troops in position around the city by April 27. With the ARVN having few defenders, the fate of the city was effectively sealed.

The ARVN III Corps commander, General Toàn, had organized five centers of resistance to defend the city. These fronts were so connected as to form an arc enveloping the entire area west, north, and east of the capital. The Cu Chi front, to the northwest, was defended by the 25th Division; the Binh Duong front, to the north, was the responsibility of the 5th Division; the Bien Hoa front, to the northeast, was defended by the 18th Division; the Vung Tau and 15 Route front, to the southeast, were held by the 1st Airborne Brigade and one battalion of the 3rd Division; and the Long An front, for which the Capital Military District Command was responsible, was defended by elements of the re-formed 22nd Division. South Vietnamese defensive forces around Saigon totaled approximately 60,000 troops.[26] However, as the exodus made it into Saigon, along with them were many ARVN soldiers, which swelled the “men under arms” in the city to over 250,000. These units were mostly battered and leaderless, which threw the city into further anarchy.[citation needed]

Evacuation

The rapid PAVN advances of March and early April led to increased concern in Saigon that the city, which had been fairly peaceful throughout the war and whose people had endured relatively little suffering, was soon to come under direct attack.[27] Many feared that once the communists took control of the city, a bloodbath of reprisals would take place. In 1968, PAVN and VC forces had occupied Huế for close to a month. After the communists were repelled, American and ARVN forces had found mass graves. A study indicated that the VC had targeted ARVN officers, Roman Catholics, intellectuals and businessmen, and other suspected counterrevolutionaries.[28] More recently, eight Americans captured in Buôn Ma Thuột had vanished and reports of beheadings and other executions were filtering through from Huế and Đà Nẵng, mostly spurred on by government propaganda.[29] Most Americans and citizens of other countries allied to the United States wanted to evacuate the city before it fell, and many South Vietnamese, especially those associated with the United States or South Vietnamese government, wanted to leave as well.

As early as the end of March, some Americans were leaving the city,[30] Flights out of Saigon, lightly booked under ordinary circumstances, were full.[31] Throughout April the speed of the evacuation increased, as the Defense Attaché Office (DAO) began to fly out nonessential personnel. Many Americans attached to the DAO refused to leave without their Vietnamese friends and dependents, who included common-law wives and children. It was illegal for the DAO to move these people to American soil, and this initially slowed down the rate of departure, but eventually the DAO began illegally flying undocumented Vietnamese to Clark Air Base in the Philippines.[32]

On April 3, President Gerald Ford announced “Operation Babylift”, which would evacuate about 2,000 orphans from the country. One of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy planes involved in the operation crashed, killing 155 passengers and crew and seriously reducing the morale of the American staff.[33] In addition to the over 2,500 orphans evacuated by Babylift, Operation New Life resulted in the evacuation of over 110,000 Vietnamese refugees. The final evacuation was Operation Frequent Wind which resulted in 7,000 people being evacuated from Saigon by helicopter.

American administration plans for final evacuation[edit]

By this time the Ford administration had also begun planning a complete evacuation of the American presence. The planning was complicated by practical, legal, and strategic concerns. The administration was divided on how swift the evacuations should be. The Pentagon sought to evacuate as fast as possible, to avoid the risk of casualties or other accidents. The U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, Graham Martin, was technically the field commander for any evacuation since evacuations are part of the purview of the State Department. Martin drew the ire of many in the Pentagon by wishing to keep the evacuation process as quiet and orderly as possible. His desire for this was to prevent total chaos and to deflect the real possibility of South Vietnamese turning against Americans and to keep all-out bloodshed from occurring.

Ford approved a plan between the extremes in which all but 1,250 Americans—few enough to be removed in a single day’s helicopter airlift—would be evacuated quickly; the remaining 1,250 would leave only when the airport was threatened. In between, as many Vietnamese refugees as possible would be flown out.[34]

American evacuation planning was set against other administration policies. Ford still hoped to gain additional military aid for South Vietnam. Throughout April, he attempted to get Congress behind a proposed appropriation of $722 million, which might allow for the reconstitution of some of the South Vietnamese forces that had been destroyed. Kissinger was opposed to a full-scale evacuation as long as the aid option remained on the table because the removal of American forces would signal a loss of faith in Thiệu and severely weaken him.[35]

There was also a concern in the administration over whether the use of military forces to support and carry out the evacuation was permitted under the newly passed War Powers Act. Eventually White House lawyers determined that the use of American forces to rescue citizens in an emergency was unlikely to run afoul of the law, but the legality of using military assets to withdraw refugees was unknown.[36]

Refugees

While American citizens were generally assured of a simple way to leave the country just by showing up to an evacuation point, South Vietnamese who wanted to leave Saigon before it fell often resorted to independent arrangements. The under-the-table payments required to gain a passport and exit visa jumped sixfold, and the price of seagoing vessels tripled.[37] Those who owned property in the city were often forced to sell it at a substantial loss or abandon it altogether; the asking price of one particularly impressive house was cut 75 percent within a two-week period.[38] American visas were of enormous value, and Vietnamese seeking American sponsors posted advertisements in newspapers. One such ad read: “Seeking adoptive parents. Poor diligent students” followed by names, birthdates, and identity card numbers.[39]

Political movements and attempts at a negotiated solution

As the North Vietnamese chipped away more and more at South Vietnam, internal opposition to President Thiệu continued to accumulate. For instance, in early April, the Senate unanimously voted through a call for new leadership, and some top military commanders were pressing for a coup. In response to this pressure, Thiệu made some changes to his cabinet, and Prime Minister Trần Thiện Khiêm resigned.[40] This did little to reduce the opposition to Thiệu. On April 8 a South Vietnamese pilot and communist spy, Nguyễn Thành Trung, bombed the presidential palace and then flew to a PAVN-controlled airstrip; Thiệu was not hurt.[41]

Many in the American mission—Martin in particular—along with some key figures in Washington, believed that negotiations with the communists were still possible, especially if Saigon could stabilize the military situation. Ambassador Martin’s hope was that North Vietnam’s leaders would be willing to allow a “phased withdrawal” whereby a gradual departure might be achieved in order to allow helpful locals and all Americans to leave (along with full military withdrawal) over a period of months.[citation needed]

Opinions were divided on whether any government headed by Thiệu could effect such a political solution.[42] The Provisional Revolutionary Government’s foreign minister had, on April 2, indicated that the PRG might negotiate with a Saigon government that did not include Thiệu. Thus, even among Thiệu’s supporters, pressure was growing for his ouster.[43]

President Thiệu resigned on April 21. His remarks were particularly hard on the Americans, first for forcing South Vietnam to accede to the Paris Peace Accords, second for failing to support South Vietnam afterwards, and all the while asking South Vietnam “to do an impossible thing, like filling up the oceans with stones.”[44] The presidency was turned over to Vice President Trần Văn Hương. The view of the North Vietnamese government, broadcast by Radio Hanoi, was that the new regime was merely “another puppet regime.”[45] Read More

This Day in History, April 21: Brazilian Patriot Tiradentes Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered (1792)

Brazilian Patriot Tiradentes Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered (1792)

Joaquim José da Silva Xavier ([ʒwaˈkĩ ʒuˈzɛ dɐ ˈsiwvɐ ʃɐviˈɛʁ]), known as Tiradentes (August 16, 1746–-April 21, 1792, IPA: [tʃiɾɐˈdẽtʃis]), was a leading member of the Brazilian revolutionary movement known as the Inconfidência Mineira whose aim was full independence from the Portuguese colonial power and to create a Brazilian republic. When the plan was discovered, Tiradentes was arrested, tried and publicly hanged. Since the 19th century he has been considered a national hero of Brazil and patron of the Polícia Militar de Minas Gerais (Minas Gerais Military Police).

Family and early occupation
Born to a poor family in a farm in Pombal, Ritápolis, near to São João del Rey, Minas Gerais, Tiradentes was adopted by his godfather and moved to Vila Rica (now Ouro Preto) after the deaths of his parents (mother in 1755; father in 1757).

Tiradentes was raised by a tutor, who was a surgeon. His lack of formal education didn’t stop him from working in several fields, including dental medicine; Tiradentes means “tooth puller”, a pejorative denomination adopted during the trial against him. He practiced several professions — cattle driver, miner, dentist — and was a member of the Regimento dos Dragões de Minas Gerais militia. As Tiradentes was not a member of the local aristocracy, he was systematically overlooked for promotion and never rose above the rank of alferes (2nd lieutenant). Read more….

This Day in History for April 20: The Columbine High School Massacre (1999)

The Columbine High School Massacre (1999)

At Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two teens went on a shooting spree on April 20, 1999, killing 13 people and wounding more than 20 others before turning their guns on themselves and committing suicide. The Columbine shooting was, at the time, the worst high school shooting in U.S. history and prompted a national debate on gun control and school safety, as well as a major investigation to determine what motivated the gunmen, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17.

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris

At approximately 11:19 a.m., Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, dressed in trench coats, began shooting fellow students outside Columbine High School, located in a suburb south of Denver. The pair then moved inside the school, where they gunned down many of their victims in the library.

By approximately 11:35 a.m., Klebold and Harris had killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded more than 20 other people. Shortly after 12 p.m., the two teens turned their guns on themselves.

Investigators later learned Harris and Klebold had arrived in separate cars at Columbine around 11:10 on the morning of the massacre. The two then walked into the school cafeteria, where they placed two duffel bags each containing a 20-pound propane bomb set to explode at 11:17 a.m.

The teens then went back outside to their cars to wait for the bombs to go off. When the bombs failed to detonate, Harris and Klebold began their shooting spree.

She Said Yes

In the days immediately following the shootings, it was speculated that Harris and Klebold purposely chose athletes, minorities and Christians as their victims.

It initially was reported that one student, Cassie Bernall, was asked by one of the gunmen if she believed in God. When Bernall allegedly said, “Yes,” she was shot to death. Her parents later wrote a book titled She Said Yes, honoring their daughter.

However, it later was determined the question was not posed to Bernall but to another student who already had been wounded by a gunshot. When that victim replied, “Yes,” the shooter walked away.

Columbine Shooting Investigation

There was speculation that Harris and Klebold committed the killings because they were members of a group of social outcasts called the Trenchcoat Mafia that was fascinated by Goth culture. It also was speculated that Harris and Klebold had carried out the shootings as retaliation for being bullied.

Additionally, violent video games and music were blamed for influencing the killers. However, none of these theories was ever proven.

Through journals left behind by Harris and Klebold, investigators eventually discovered the teens had been planning for a year to bomb the school in an attack similar to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Columbine Massacre Aftermath

In the aftermath of the shootings, many schools across America enacted “zero-tolerance” rules regarding disruptive behavior and threats of violence from students. Columbine High School reopened in the fall of 1999, but the massacre left a scar on the Littleton community.

Mark Manes, the man who sold a gun to Harris and bought him 100 rounds of ammunition the day before the murders, was sentenced to six years in prison. Another man, Philip Duran, who introduced Harris and Klebold to Manes, also was sentenced to prison time.

Some victims and families of people killed or injured filed suit against the school and the police; most of these suits were later dismissed in court.

 

This Day in History, April 15th: Hillsborough Disaster (1989)

Hillsborough Disaster (1989)

Here is a look at the Hillsborough Disaster, a 1989 tragedy at a British soccer stadium. Overcrowding in the stands led to the deaths of 96 fans in a crush. Another 162 were hospitalized with injuries. It was the worst sports disaster in British history, according to the BBC.

Facts:
On April 15, 1989, more than 50,000 people gathered at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, for the FA Cup Semi-Final football (soccer) match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. In order to relieve a bottleneck of Liverpool fans trying to enter the venue before kickoff, police opened an exit gate and people rushed to get inside. More than 3,000 fans were funneled into a standing-room-only area with a safe capacity of just 1,600. The obvious crush in the stands prompted organizers to stop the game after six minutes.
Police initially concluded the crush was an attempt by rowdy fans to surge onto the field, according to the Taylor Interim Report, a 1989 government investigation led by Justice Peter Taylor. As officers approached the stands, it became apparent people were suffocating and trying to escape by climbing the fence.
The Taylor Interim Report describes the scene: “The dead, the dying and the desperate became interwoven in the sump at the front of the pens, especially by the gates. Those with strength left clambered over others submerged in the human heap and tried to climb out over the fence…The victims were blue…incontinent; their mouths open, vomiting; their eyes staring. A pile of dead bodies lay and grew outside gate 3.”
The emergency response was slow, according to the Hillsborough Independent Panel, a 2012 follow-up investigation. The problems were rooted in poor communication between police and ambulance dispatchers, according to the panel.
Fans tried to help each other by tearing up pieces of advertising hoardings, creating improvised stretchers and carrying injured spectators away from the throngs, according to the Taylor Interim Report. People who had no first aid training attempted to revive the fallen. From the report: “Mouth to mouth respiration and cardiac massage were applied by the skilled and the unskilled but usually in vain. Those capable of survival mostly came round of their own accord. The rest were mostly doomed before they could be brought out and treated.” It took nearly 30 minutes for organizers to call for doctors and nurses via the public address system.
South Yorkshire Police Supervisor David Duckenfield was in charge of public safety at the event. He was promoted to match commander weeks before the game and was unfamiliar with the venue, according to his testimony at a hearing in 2015. He acknowledged that he did not initiate the police department’s major incident plan for mass casualty disasters, even as the situation spiraled out of control. Duckenfield had originally blamed Liverpool fans for forcing the exit gate open, a crucial detail that he later admitted was a lie. He retired in 1990, conceding he was probably “not the best man for the job on the day.”
Timeline:
August 1989 – The Taylor Interim Report is released, offering a detailed overview of how the tragedy unfolded. The report is named for Justice Peter Taylor, who is leading the investigation.
January 1990 – The Taylor Final Report is published, proposing a number of reforms for soccer venues. Among the recommendations: football stadiums should replace standing room terraces with seated areas to prevent overcrowding.
August 1990 – Although the Taylor Interim Report faulted police for poor planning and an inadequate response, the Director of Public Prosecutions announces that no officers will face criminal charges.
1991 – The deaths of the fans are ruled accidental by a jury during an inquest. The members of the jury could have returned a verdict of unlawful killing, faulting the police for acting recklessly and compromising the safety of fans. Their other option was an open verdict, an inconclusive ruling.
August 1998 – A group of victims’ families files civil manslaughter charges against South Yorkshire Police supervisors Duckenfield and Bernard Murray.
2000 – The case goes to trial. The jury deadlocks on Duckenfield and finds Murray not guilty of manslaughter. Murray dies of cancer in 2006.
April 2009 – As England observes the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, a new investigation is launched by a group called the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
September 2012 – The panel releases its findings, detailing the numerous failings of authorities on the day of the tragedy and a subsequent cover up that shifted the blame from police to fans. The panel also proclaims that 41 of the 96 victims could have been saved if police responded to the crisis more rapidly. The findings prompt Prime Minister David Cameron to issue an apology to the victims’ families.
December 2012 – The High Court quashes the accidental death ruling for the victims, setting the stage for a new investigation and possible criminal charges.
March 31, 2014 – A new round of inquests begins in a courtroom in Warrington, England, built specifically for the case. There are nine members of the jury. They will consider a number of issues relating to the incident, including whether Duckenfield was responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence.
April 2016 – After hearing testimony from more than 800 witnesses, the jury retires to deliberate.
April 26, 2016 – The verdict is delivered, in what is called the longest case heard by a jury in British legal history. The jury finds, by a 7-2 vote, the 96 fans were unlawfully killed due to crushing, following the admission of a large number of fans through an exit gate. It is decided Duckenfield’s actions amounted to “gross negligence,” and both the police and the ambulance service caused or contributed to the loss of life by error or omission after the crush began. Criminal charges will now be considered.
June 28, 2017 – Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service announces that it has charged six people, including Duckenfield, with criminal offenses related to the disaster.
March 14, 2018 – The BBC and other British media report that police officers would not be charged who were alleged to have submitted a misleading or incomplete report on the disaster to prosecutors in 1990.
September 10, 2018 – Duckenfield pleads not guilty to the charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.
January 14, 2019 – Duckenfield’s trial begins. Graham Mackrell, a safety officer at the time of the disaster, also stands trial.
March 13, 2019 – The BBC and other media report that Duckenfield will not be called to present evidence during his trial.

This Day in History, April 12: Euro Disney Resort, Now Disneyland Paris, Opens (1992)

Euro Disney Resort, Now Disneyland Paris, Opens (1992)

 

Disneyland Paris, originally Euro Disney Resort, is an entertainment resort in Marne-la-Vallée, France, a new town located 32 km (20 mi) east of the centre of Paris. It encompasses two theme parks, many resort hotels, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, and a golf course, in addition to several additional recreational and entertainment venues. Disneyland Park is the original theme park of the complex, opening with the resort on 12 April 1992. A second theme park, Walt Disney Studios Park, opened in 2002. Disneyland Paris celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. In 25 years, 320 million people visited Disneyland Paris.[1] The resort is the second Disney park to open outside the United States following the opening of the Tokyo Disney Resort in 1983.

Ownership

Walt Disney announced a €1 billion ($1.25 billion) bailout plan to rescue its subsidiary Disneyland Paris, the Financial Times reported on 6 October 2014.[2] The park is burdened by its debt, which is calculated at about €1.75 billion ($2.20 billion) and roughly 15 times its gross average earnings.

Until June 2017, Disney only held a majority stake in the resort, when they bought the remaining shares. In 2017, The Walt Disney Company offered an informal takeover of Euro Disney S.C.A., buying 9% of the company from Kingdom Holding and an open offer of 2 euros per share for the remaining stock. This brought The Walt Disney Company’s total ownership to 85.7%. The Walt Disney company will also invest an additional 1.5 Billion euros to strengthen the company.[3]

History

Seeking a location for a European resort

Following the success of Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, plans to build a similar theme park in Europe emerged In 1972. Under the leadership of E. Cardon Walker, Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 in Japan with instant success, forming a catalyst for international expansion. In late 1984 the heads of Disney’s theme park division, Dick Nunis and Jim Cora, presented a list of approximately 1,200 possible European locations for the park. Britain, France, Italy and Spain were all considered. However, Britain and Italy were dropped from the list due to both lacking a suitable expanse of flat land. By March 1985, the number of possible locations for the park had been reduced to four; two in France and two in Spain. Both nations saw the potential economic advantages of a Disney theme park and offered competing financing deals to Disney.

Both Spanish sites were located near the Mediterranean and offered a subtropical climate similar to Disney’s parks in California and Florida. Disney had asked each site to provide average temperatures for every month for the previous 40 years, which proved a complicated endeavour as none of the records were computerised and were registered on paper.[4] The site in Pego, Alicante became the front-runner, but the location was controversial as it would have meant the destruction of Marjal de Pego-Oliva marshlands, a site of natural beauty and one of the last homes of the almost extinct Samaruc or Valencia Toothcarp, so there was some local outcry among environmentalists.[5] Disney had also shown interest in a site near Toulon in southern France, not far from Marseille. The pleasing landscape of that region, as well as its climate, made the location a top competitor for what would be called Euro Disneyland. However, shallow bedrock was encountered beneath the site, which would have rendered construction too difficult. Finally, a site in the rural town of Marne-la-Vallée was chosen because of its proximity to Paris and its central location in Western Europe. This location was estimated to be no more than a four-hour drive for 68 million people and no more than a two-hour flight for a further 300 million.

Michael Eisner, Disney’s CEO at the time, signed the first letter of agreement with the French government for the 20-square-kilometre (4,940-acre) site on 18 December 1985, and the first financial contracts were drawn up during the following spring. The final contract was signed by the leaders of the Walt Disney Company and the French government and territorial collectivities on 24 March 1987. Construction began in August 1988, and in December 1990, an information centre named “Espace Euro Disney” was opened to show the public what was being constructed. Plans for a theme park next to Euro Disneyland based on the entertainment industry, Disney-MGM Studios Europe, quickly went into development, scheduled to open in 1996 with a construction budget of US$2.3 billion.[6] The construction manager was Bovis.[7]

Design and construction

In order to provide lodging to patrons, it was decided that 5,200 Disney-owned hotel rooms would be built within the complex. In March 1988, Disney and a council of architects (Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Robert A.M. Stern, Stanley Tigerman, and Robert Venturi) decided on an exclusively American theme in which each hotel would depict a region of the United States. At the time of the opening in April 1992, seven hotels collectively housing 5,800[8] rooms had been built.

An entertainment, shopping, and dining complex based on Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney was designed by Frank Gehry.

With its towers of oxidised silver and bronze-coloured stainless steel under a canopy of lights, it opened as Festival Disney.[9] For a projected daily attendance of 55,000, Euro Disney planned to serve an estimated 14,000 people per hour inside the Euro Disneyland park. In order to accomplish this, 29 restaurants were built inside the park (with a further 11 restaurants built at the Euro Disney resort hotels and five at Festival Disney). Menus and prices were varied with an American flavour predominant and Disney’s precedent of serving alcoholic beverages was continued in the park.

2,300 patio seats (30% of park seating) were installed to satisfy Europeans’ expected preference of eating outdoors in good weather. In test kitchens at Walt Disney World, recipes were adapted for European tastes. Walter Meyer, executive chef for menu development at Euro Disney and executive chef of food projects development at Walt Disney World noted, “A few things we did need to change, but most of the time people kept telling us, ‘Do your own thing. Do what’s American’.”[10]

Recruitment/employment

Unlike Disney’s American theme parks, Euro Disney aimed for permanent employees (an estimated requirement of 12,000 for the theme park itself), as opposed to seasonal and temporary part-time employees. Casting centres were set up in Paris, London, and Amsterdam. However, it was understood by the French government and Disney that “a concentrated effort would be made to tap into the local French labour market”.[11] Disney sought workers with sufficient communication skills, who spoke two European languages (French and one other), and were socially outgoing. Following precedent, Euro Disney set up its own Disney University to train workers. 24,000 people had applied by November 1991.[11]

Controversies

The prospect of a Disney park in France was a subject of debate and controversy. Critics, who included prominent French intellectuals, denounced what they considered to be the cultural imperialism of Euro Disney and felt it would encourage an unhealthy American type of consumerism in France.[12] On 28 June 1992, a group of French farmers blockaded Euro Disney in protest of farm policies supported at the time by the United States.[13]

A journalist at the centre-right French newspaper Le Figaro wrote, “I wish with all my heart that the rebels would set fire to [Euro] Disneyland.”[14] Ariane Mnouchkine, a Parisian stage director, named the concept a “cultural Chernobyl”,[15] a phrase which would be echoed in the media during Euro Disney’s initial years.

In response, French philosopher Michel Serres noted, “It is not America that is invading us. It is we who adore it, who adopt its fashions and above all, its words.” Euro Disney S.C.A.’s then-chairman Robert Fitzpatrick responded, “We didn’t come in and say O.K., we’re going to put a beret and a baguette on Mickey Mouse. We are who we are.”[11]

Topics of controversy also included Disney’s American managers requiring English to be spoken at all meetings and Disney’s appearance code for members of staff, which listed regulations and limitations for the use of makeup, facial hair, tattoos, jewellery, and more.

French labour unions mounted protests against the appearance code, which they saw as “an attack on individual liberty”. Others criticised Disney as being insensitive to French culture, individualism, and privacy, because restrictions on individual or collective liberties were illegal under French law, unless it could be demonstrated that the restrictions are requisite to the job and do not exceed what is necessary.

Disney countered by saying that a ruling that barred them from imposing such an employment standard could threaten the image and long-term success of the park. “For us, the appearance code has a great effect from a product identification standpoint,” said Thor Degelmann, Euro Disney’s personnel director. “Without it we couldn’t be presenting the Disney product that people would be expecting.”[16]

Opening day and early years

Euro Disney opened for employee preview and testing in March 1992. During this time visitors were mostly park employees and their family members, who tested facilities and operations. The press were able to visit the day before the park’s opening day on 12 April.

On 12 April 1992, Euro Disney Resort and its theme park, Euro Disneyland, officially opened, on the same date that Mediaset’s La Cinq (unrelated to the resort) ceased transmissions.[17] Visitors were warned of chaos on the roads. A government survey indicated that half a million people carried by 90,000 cars might attempt to enter the complex. French radio warned traffic to avoid the area. By midday, the car park was approximately half full, suggesting an attendance level below 25,000. Explanations of the lower-than-expected turnout included speculation that people heeded the advice to stay away and that the one-day strike that cut the direct RER railway connection to Euro Disney from the centre of Paris made the park inaccessible.[14] Due to the European recession that August, the park faced financial difficulties as there were a lack of things to do and an overabundance of hotels, leading to underperformance.[18]

A new Indiana Jones roller-coaster ride was opened at Euro Disney in 1993. A few weeks after the ride opened there were problems with the emergency brakes which resulted in guest injuries.[19]

In 1994, the company was still having financial difficulties. There were rumours that Euro Disney was getting close to having to declare bankruptcy. The banks and the backers had meetings to work out some of the financial problems facing Euro Disney. In March 1994 Team Disney went into negotiations with the banks so that they could get some help for their debt. As a last resort, the Walt Disney Company threatened to close the Disneyland Paris park, leaving the banks with the land.[18]

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This Day in History, April 11th: Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak (1965)

Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak (1965)

The second Palm Sunday tornado outbreak occurred on April 11–12, 1965, in the Midwest U.S. states of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with 47 tornadoes (32 significant, 17 violent, 21 killers). It was the second-biggest outbreak on record at the time. In the Midwest, 271 people were killed and 1,500 injured (1,200 in Indiana). It was the deadliest tornado outbreak in Indiana history, with 137 people killed.[1] The outbreak also made that week in April 1965 the second-most-active week in history, with 51 significant and 21 violent tornadoes.

Meteorological synopsis

The tornadoes occurred in a swath 450 miles long (724 km) from Cedar County, Iowa, to Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and a swath 450 miles long (724 km) from Kent County, Michigan, to Montgomery County, Indiana. The outbreak lasted 11 hours and is among the most intense outbreaks, in terms of number, strength, width, path, and length of tornadoes, ever recorded, including four “double/twin funnel” tornadoes.

The outbreak was one of the deadliest, and most violent ever documented, with 17 confirmed violent tornadoes (F4-F5 intensity) all of which were rated F4, the second-largest number of violent twisters in one outbreak, after the Super Outbreak of 1974.[2] There had been a short winter that year and, as the day progressed, the temperature rose to 83 °F (28 °C) in the affected area. The tornado outbreak began on Palm Sunday, an important holy day for most Christians. Thus, many people were attending church services, which may explain why some tornado warnings were never received. Read More….

This Day in History for April 10th: First Arbor Day Celebrated (1872)

First Arbor Day Celebrated (1872)

For centuries, communities spanning the globe have found various ways to honor nature and the environment. However, the appreciation of trees and forests in modern times can be largely attributed to Arbor Day–which literally translates to “tree” day from the Latin origin of the word arbor–a holiday that celebrates the planting, upkeep and preservation of trees. And although Arbor Day may not have the same clout as holidays like Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day (or even Earth Day), it has a history with strong roots that branched out across multiple nations.

The origins of Arbor Day dates back to the early 1870s in Nebraska City, Nebraska. A journalist by the name of Julius Sterling Morton moved to the state with his wife, Caroline, in 1854 (a little more than 10 years after Nebraska gained its statehood in 1867). As newcomers to the young state, the couple purchased 160 acres in Nebraska City and planted a wide variety of trees and shrubs in what was a primarily a flat stretch of desolate plain.

Morton also became the editor of the state’s first newspaper, Nebraska City News, which became a perfect platform for Morton to spread his knowledge of trees, and to stress their ecological importance within Nebraska. His message of tree life resonated with Nebraskans, many of whom recognized the lack of forestation in their community. Morton also became involved with the Nebraska Board of Agriculture.

On January 7, 1872, Morton proposed a day that  would encourage all Nebraskans to plant trees in their community. The agriculture board agreed, and after some back-and-forth about the title–the event was originally going to be called “Sylvan Day” in reference to forest trees but Morton noted that the day should reflect the appreciation of all trees—Arbor Day was born.

With the seeds of interest already planted in the minds of devoted Nebraska City News readers, the first ever Arbor Day, held on April 10, 1872, was a wild success. Morton led the charge in the planting of approximately 1 million trees. Enthusiasm and engagement was certainly helped by the prizes awarded to those who planted trees correctly.

The tradition quickly began to spread. In 1882, schools across the country started to participate, and more than a decade its introduction Arbor Day became an official state holiday in Nebraska in 1885. April 22 was initially chosen, because of its ideal weather for planting trees and in recognition of Morton’s birthday.

Within 20 years, Arbor Day had reached a large swath of the nation, and was celebrated in every state except for Delaware. The holiday spread even further with the help of fellow agriculturalist Birdsey Northrop. In 1883, Northrop introduced the concept of Arbor Day to Japan, and continued to influence the creation of Arbor Days across Europe, Canada and Australia.

It wasn’t until 1970, however, that Arbor Day became recognized nationwide, thanks to Richard Nixon. This move was in line with other environmentally-friendly actions taken by Nixon in the 1970s, including the passing of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Protection Act, along with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Although some states celebrate Arbor Day at different times of year to ensure that the trees are in the best environment to thrive, the national observance falls on the last Friday in April. And although Julius Morton died in 1902, well before the holiday was given a formal day of observance across the country, he is still commemorated in Washington, D.C. with a statue dedicated to the “Father of Arbor Day” in the National Hall of Fame.

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This Day in History for April 8: Entente Cordiale Signed by France and UK (1904)

Entente Cordiale Signed by France and UK (1904)

Entente Cordiale, (April 8, 1904), Anglo-French agreement that, by settling a number of controversial matters, ended antagonisms between Great Britain and France and paved the way for their diplomatic cooperation against German pressures in the decade preceding World War I (1914–18). The agreement in no sense created an alliance and did not entangle Great Britain with a French commitment to Russia (1894).

The Entente Cordiale was the culmination of the policy of Théophile Delcassé, France’s foreign minister from 1898, who believed that a Franco-British understanding would give France some security against any German system of alliances in western Europe. Credit for the success of the negotiation belongs chiefly to Paul Cambon, France’s ambassador in London, and to the British foreign secretary Lord Lansdowne; but the pro-French inclination of the British sovereign, Edward VII, was a contributory factor.

The most important feature of the agreement was that it granted freedom of action to Great Britain in Egypt and to France in Morocco (with the proviso that France’s eventual dispositions for Morocco include reasonable allowance for Spain’s interests there). At the same time, Great Britain ceded the Los Islands (off French Guinea) to France, defined the frontier of Nigeria in France’s favour, and agreed to French control of the upper Gambia valley, while France renounced its exclusive right to certain fisheries off Newfoundland. Furthermore, French and British zones of influence in Siam (Thailand) were outlined, with the eastern territories, adjacent to French Indochina, becoming a French zone, and the western, adjacent to Burmese Tenasserim, a British zone; arrangements were also made to allay the rivalry between British and French colonists in the New Hebrides.

By the Entente Cordiale both powers reduced the virtual isolation into which they had withdrawn—France involuntarily, Great Britain complacently—while they had eyed each other over African affairs: Great Britain had had no ally but Japan (1902), useless if war should break out in European waters; France had had none but Russia, soon to be discredited in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05. The agreement was consequently upsetting to Germany, whose policy had long been to rely on Franco-British antagonism. A German attempt to check the French in Morocco in 1905 (the Tangier Incident, or First Moroccan Crisis), and thus upset the Entente, served only to strengthen it. Military discussions between the French and the British general staffs were soon initiated. Franco-British solidarity was confirmed at the Algeciras Conference (1906) and reconfirmed in the Second Moroccan Crisis (1911).

 

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