On This Day (Jan 22)

On This Day (January 22)

1840

The first British colonists arrive in New Zealand

Following the accounts of the English captain James Cook, who travelled through the region in the late 18th century, Britain formally annexes New Zealand in 1840 and establishes the first permanent European settlement at Wellington, on the South Island. However, the first British settlers, led by the British statesman Edward G. Wakefield, arrive in Auckland, on the North Island, instead. Armed conflict between the British and the native Maoris would last until 1870, when there was no longer a significant Maori presence left. The legacy of colonialism continues to affect race relations in New Zealand to this day, often straining ties between the largely White European population and the indigenous Maori minority.

A postage stamp commemorating the arrival of the first British settlers in New Zealand.

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1905

The Bloody Sunday Massacre, St Petersburg

On the brink of losing to Japan in a war in the Far East, Russia is convulsed by unrest as Imperial Russian troops open fire on peaceful protesters demanding reforms in front of the Tsar’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, leaving hundreds dead. This would cause a drastic change in the attitudes of peasants towards the Tsar; where he had once been their champion, he was now indisputably their oppressor, delegitimizing his position as the ruler of Russia, setting the stage for the Russian Revolution. This tradition of revolution and authoritarianism in Russia holds true even today, as the current authoritarian state in Russia, led by an ex-KGB officer no less, emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A dramatization of the events of the Bloody Sunday Massacre.

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1973

Roe v. Wade

The US Supreme Court decides in a historic ruling that women can terminate a pregnancy during its first two trimesters, as part of their constitutional right to privacy, following a concerted campaign by American women to obtain autonomy over their own reproductive processes. This reversed a century of anti-abortion legislation in the US. However, despite multiple occasions where the US Supreme Court has upheld this landmark decision, Republican presidents and anti-abortion activists have been strident in their opposition to it, the latter occasionally resorting to violence to do so. It remains to be seen whether the newly elected President, Donald Trump, will attempt to overturn this decision, although the opportunity has presented itself in the form of a vacant Supreme Court position.

The New York Times article carrying the headline about the Roe v. Wade decision.

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