04
Feb
09

On This Day, February 4: Confederate States of America

February 4, 1861

States meet to form Confederacy

In Montgomery, Alabama, delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana convene to establish the Confederate States of America.

As early as 1858, the ongoing conflict between the North and the South over the issue of slavery led Southern leadership to discuss a unified separation from the United States. By 1860, the majority of the slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans, the anti-slavery party, won the presidency. Following Republican Abraham Lincoln’s victory over the divided Democratic Party in November 1860, South Carolina immediately initiated secession proceedings. On December 20, its legislature passed the “Ordinance of Secession,” which declared that “the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.” After the declaration, South Carolina set about seizing forts, arsenals, and other strategic locations within the state. Within six weeks, five more Southern states had followed South Carolina’s lead.

In February 1861, representatives from the six seceded states met in Montgomery, Alabama, to formally establish a unified government, which they named the Confederate States of America. On February 9, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was elected the Confederacy’s first president.

By the time Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated in March 1861, Texas had joined the Confederacy, and federal troops held only Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Fort Pickens off the Florida coast, and a handful of minor outposts in the South. On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. Within two months, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee had all joined the embattled Confederacy.

“States meet to form Confederacy.” 2009. The History Channel website. 4 Feb 2009, 09:13 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4734.

On This Day

1783 – Britain declared a formal cessation of hostilities with its former colonies, the United States of America.

1789 – Electors unanimously chose George Washington to be the first president of the United States.

1865 – The Hawaiian Board of Education was formed.

1904 – The Russo-Japanese War began after Japan laid seige to Port Arthur.

1932 – The first Winter Olympics were held in the United States at Lake Placid, NY.

1941 – The United Service Organizations (USO) was created.

1945 – During World War II, U.S. President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin began a conference at Yalta to outline plans for Germany’s defeat.

1964 – The Admistrator of General Services announced that the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had been ratified. The amendment banned the poll tax.

1985 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s defense budget called for a tripling of the expenditure on the “Star Wars” research program.

1998 – In northeast Afghanistan, at least 5,000 people were killed in an earthquake that measured 6.1 on the Richter Scale.

1999 – Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant, was shot and killed in front of his Bronx home by four plainclothes New York City police officers. The officers had been conducting a nighttime search for a rape suspect.

Bruce Springsteen:  American Skin (41 Shots)

February 4, 1976

Earthquake rocks Guatemala City

In the very early morning of February 4, 1976, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake levels much of Guatemala City, killing 23,000 people and leaving 1 million others homeless.

It was 3:04 a.m. when the first large tremor, centered six miles under the Earth’s surface 120 miles northwest of Guatemala City, struck. The quake was the result of a clash between the Caribbean and North American plates on the Motagua Fault. In a matter of minutes, about one third of the city was destroyed. All over the city, sleeping residents were crushed and killed when their weak adobe homes collapsed on top of them.

Immediately, efforts began to rescue the thousands of people buried beneath the rubble. Many people could not be saved, as it was extremely difficult to get help to the city. The roads and bridges leading to Guatemala City had been extensively damaged. Thousands of those people lucky enough to be pulled out alive suffered broken backs and pelvises. It is estimated that more than 70,000 people suffered serious injuries. The U.S. Air Force assisted by airlifting food and medicine into the area. With all the available hospitals filled beyond capacity, the United States also set up a field hospital in Chimaltenango. The number of deceased overwhelmed the authorities, so communal grave sites had to be established. To make matters worse, strong aftershocks followed for an entire week, terrorizing the survivors, who were staying in improvised shelters.

“Earthquake rocks Guatemala City.” 2009. The History Channel website. 4 Feb 2009, 09:12 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=53068.

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