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How 22-Year-Old George Washington Inadvertently Sparked a World War

January 21, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

The first U.S. president’s celebrated military career actually started out quite poorly, in the French and Indian War.

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Given that the Ohio Valley was a contested area not just between Britain and France, but also between multiple Native nations, Tanacharison may have had strong motivation for Britain to advance at war. “[Tanacharison] understands what’s going on in the Ohio country in a way that Washington doesn’t,” Calloway says. “So he not only provides guidance to Washington, I actually think he manipulates and exploits the situation and maneuvers Washington into a conflict with the French that Washington had no business sparking.”

When Washington and Tanacharison’s forces reached Jumonville’s camp, they attacked, killing Jumonville and several of his soldiers, and taking others prisoner. While the question of who fired first remains in dispute—according to one Mingo warrior, it was Washington himself—the skirmish quickly escalated into a broader conflict. In the aftermath of the “Jumonville affair,” the French accused Washington of having led an unprovoked attack against the French during peacetime, claiming that Jumonville and his men had diplomatic, not military, orders. For his part, Washington maintained the diplomacy claim was just a ruse, and that his attack was justified to defend his forces from French aggressions.

It’s unclear whether Washington had much of a strategy. Looking at the different first-hand accounts of the skirmish, “I frankly see a young man seeing his first command unraveling before his eyes,” Calloway says. “This was a disaster, and I think very quickly thereafter, he’s kind of trying to cover it up.”

READ MORE: 11 Key People Who Shaped George Washington’s Life

The French retaliated in the Battle of Fort Necessity

George Washington in the midst of fighting during the French and Indian War.

Technically, the skirmish was a military victory for Washington—but a diplomatic loss. The fact that he had attacked France, a country with which Britain was not at war, gave France a huge propaganda advantage. It also angered Jumonville’s half-brother, a French military leader named Louis Coulon de Villiers, who, just over a month after his brother was killed, helped lead an attack on Washington’s Virginia Regiment at Fort Necessity.

Unlike the Jumonville affair, the Battle of Fort Necessity was a military and diplomatic disaster for Washington. On July 3, a mix of French, Huron, Odawa and Iroquois fighters overwhelmed Washington’s men at their recently built fort. The Virginia Regiment, unable to …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Horrors of Auschwitz: The Numbers Behind WWII's Deadliest Concentration Camp

January 21, 2020 in History

By Natasha Frost

How many were killed, how many children were sent to the site and the numbers of people who attempted to escape are among the facts that reveal the scale of crimes committed at Auschwitz.


HISTORY special, Auschwitz Untold, premieres Sunday, January 26 at 9/8c. Learn more.

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Source: HISTORY

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Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial airs during Super Bowl XVIII

January 21, 2020 in History

By History.com Editors

During a break in the action of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22nd, 1984, audiences first see a commercial that is now widely agreed to be one of the most powerful and effective of all time. Apple’s “1984″ spot, featuring a young woman throwing a sledgehammer through a screen on which a Big Brother-like figure preaches about “the unification of thought,” got people around the United States talking and heralded a new age for Apple, consumer technology and advertising.

LISTEN NOW: What happened this week in history? Find out on the podcast HISTORY This Week. Episode 3: The Apple Ad That Changed the World

The ad was directed by Ridley Scott, who directed the genre-defining dystopian science fiction film Blade Runner in 1982. The spot was in a similar vein, depicting a bleak and monocrhome future where a crowd of bald extras—many of them actual skinheads from the streets of London—stood before an enormous screen broadcasting a message of conformity. A runner enters, pursued by police, and hurls the hammer at the screen, destroying it just as the Big Brother figure announces “We shall prevail!” The text in the last shot makes the references to George Orwell explicit: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs loved the ad, but Apple’s board did not. They asked the agency that produced it, Chiat/Day, to sell back the time they had purchased for the ad, and “1984″ only aired because Chiat/Day resorted to subterfuge, intentionally failing to sell back the time. It was the right decision: the ad achieved every company’s dream of becoming news itself, receiving free replays on news broadcasts the next day. Super Bowl ads were already big business, but many in the advertising world point to “1984″ as the moment when the big game became a venue for innovative, marquee ads, which soon became e a major part of the overall spectacle of the Super Bowl. The spot also cemented Apple’s reputation for being iconoclastic, disruptive and forward-thinking, an image that has been central to its brand ever since. By telling a somewhat high-minded story and barely mentioning the product it was selling—no computers appear in the ad—it also helped establish that bolder, less literal advertising could be just as effective, if not more so, than simpler commercials.

READ MORE: They Can’t All Be …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How the 1876 Election Effectively Ended Reconstruction

January 21, 2020 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Disputed returns and secret back-room negotiations put Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in the White House—and Democrats back in control of the South.

The results of the U.S. presidential election of 1876 were a mess. A Democratic candidate had emerged with the lead in the popular vote, but 19 electoral votes from four states were in dispute. In 1877, Congress convened to settle the election—and their solution proved to be the beginning of the end for , Hayes had pledged in his acceptance of the nomination to bring “the blessings of honest and capable local self government” to the South if elected—a statement that could be taken as code for ending Reconstruction.

In fact, even as the electoral commission deliberated, national party leaders had been meeting in secret to hash out what would become known as the Compromise of 1877. Hayes agreed to cede control of the South to Democratic governments and back away from attempts at federal intervention in the region, as well as place a Southerner in his cabinet. In return, Democrats would not dispute Hayes’s election, and agreed to respect the civil rights of black citizens.

Soon after his inauguration, Hayes made good on his promise, ordering federal troops to withdraw from Louisiana and South Carolina, where they had been protecting Republican claimants to the governorships in those states. This action marked the effective end of the Reconstruction era, and began a period of solid Democratic control in the South.

For their part, white Southern Democrats did not honor their pledge to uphold the rights of black citizens, but moved quickly to reverse as many of Reconstruction’s policies as possible. In the decades to come, disenfranchisement of black voters throughout the South, often through intimidation and violence, helped ensure the racial segregation imposed by the Jim Crow laws—a system that endured for more than a half-century, until the advances of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

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Source: HISTORY