On This Day (Jan 22)

On This Day (January 22)


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.



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.



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.


September 2016

This month in history …

September 1, 1939 – Nazi Germany invades Poland, triggering the outbreak of World War II, as France and Great Britain uphold their guarantees of Polish independence on September 3 by declaring war on Nazi Germany.

Invasion of Poland

German troops dismantling a border crossing with Poland.

September 9, 1976 – Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese Communist Party, dies at the age of 82. He had been the paramount leader of China since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and was responsible for the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.


Representatives of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) lining up to pay their last respects to Mao Zedong.

September 11, 2001 – The worst terror attack in U.S. history occurs as four large passenger planes were hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists, with two planes bringing down the Twin Towers in New York City, one plane striking the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and the last plane crashing into a field in Pennsylvania after an attempt by passengers to retake control of the plane. This terror attack would precipitate the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by the U.S.


The south tower of the World Trade Center begins to crumble after being struck by US Airways Flight 175.

September 14, 1812 – Napoleon and his troops entered Moscow as the retreating Russians burned the city. Napoleon found it impossible to stay through the winter in the devastated city. He then began a retreat from Moscow and Russia which became one of the greatest disasters of military history. Fewer than 20,000 of the initial 500,000 men who came with him lived through the Russian campaign.


Napoleon entering the ruins of Moscow.

September 22, 1980 – War breaks out between Iran and Iraq, in an attempt by the leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, to capitalize on the weakness of the new Iranian regime that had emerged after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The war would sow the seeds of much of the current instability in the Middle East today, by creating a deep sense of insecurity in the Iranian regime.


Iraqi T-62 tanks crossing the Iraq-Iran border.

September 28, 1066 – The Norman conquest of England begins as Duke William of Normandy landed at Pevensey, Sussex. The conquest would have wide-ranging implications for the future of England and the English language.


A scene from the Bayeux Tapestry portraying the Norman invasion of England.