11/22/11 is the 791st anniversary of Frederick II being crowned Holy Roman Emperor, the 293rd anniversary of Blackbeard’s beheading, the 254th anniversary of the Austrian defeat of Prussia in the Seven Years’ War’s Battle of Breslau, the 48th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and what would have been novelist George Eliot’s 192nd birthday. (Also: Toy Story turns 16 today.)
So many distinctions and yet 11/22/11 may only be the second coolest date in the last 11 days. But its proximity to the ever-so-flossy 11/11/11 should not keep us from celebrating its place among history’s very fun numerical dates. In honor of its coolness, here are some things that happened on other fun dates in history.
1. 7/8/9 (July 8, 1709): The Russians defeated the Swedes in the Battle of Poltava.
“But, why were they fighting?” you ask. Well, it was a part of the Great Northern War in which Tsar Peter the Great’s Russia and his allies in Denmark-Norway, Saxony, and Poland-Lithuania challenged the supremacy of the Swedish Empire. Russia’s decisive victory at Poltava (in modern-day Ukraine) pretty much sealed the deal establishing Russia as a major power in that part of the world and sending the Swedish Empire, under their teenage leader Karl XII, into a power decline. As you know, the date also explains very clearly why 6 was so very afraid of 7.
2. 3/3/3 (March 3, 1803) The first impeachment trial for a federal judge began.
Then-Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court of Judicature, John Pickering has the proud distinction of being the first United States federal official to be removed from office after conviction by impeachment. Basically, he just stopped showing up to court and many contended that he had simply gone bonkers.
After a bit of a political debate regarding the constitutionality of the removal of a federal official for something not considered a high crime or misdemeanor, then-Prez TJ sent evidence to the House of Representatives of Pickering’s drunkenness and unlawful rulings and they voted to impeach. The Senate voted to convict. And that was that.
3. 1/2/3 (January 2, 1903): Teddy Roosevelt shut down a Mississippi Post Office.
President Theodore Roosevelt shut down the post office in Indianola, Mississippi, for its racially motivated mistreatment of black postmistress, Minnie Cox. Racist politicians pointed to Cox’s position as evidence that blacks had attained too much power and demanded her removal. The postmistress was also threatened with violence and local law enforcement refused to provide appropriate protection. Fearing for her safety, she resigned her position and left town. The next day, the President closed down the post office, declined Ms. Cox’s resignation and continued her salary. Indianola residents were told that their mail could be collected at the Greenville post office 30 miles away.
Though Roosevelt could not keep the post office closed because the county was entitled to one by statute and though Cox did not accept the reappointment, it was still a pretty cool move by Teddy.
4. 11/11/11 (November 11, 1811): Cartagena, Colombia, declared its independence, the first Colombian province to do so.
The colonial city was established in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia and was named for a town in Spain from which many of his sailors had come. After existing under Spanish rule for 275 years, on 11/11/1811, Cartagena became independent of Spanish rule and now, as a beach resort city, is a popular tourist destination and center of economic activity in Columbia.
Every 11/11, Cartagena’s independence is celebrated with parades and dance performances. The central event of the day is the crowning of the queen of the Concurso Nacional de Belleza (national beauty contest) in which the two most important moments are the Desfile de Balleneras, where the contestants and their entourages parade their good looks via yachts and sailboats around the Bay of Cartegena, and when the bathing-suit-clad contestants parade around the pool at the Hilton. If you were not in Cartegena on 11/11, I am not sure why not.
5. 12/12/12 (December 12, 1812): The French invasion of Russia came to an end.
A major turning point in the Napoleonic Wars, the Little Corporal’s invasion of Russia was a pretty costly move, reducing his army to a small fraction of its size prior to the invasion. He could have quit while he was ahead with basically all of Europe under either his direct or indirect control. But, noooooo. He had to go and invade Russia because Tsar Alexander wouldn’t buy into the whole Napoleonic economic system.
The French armies were not prepared for the different and less agriculturally-rich Russian landscape and, in the course of the invasion, Napoleon’s Grande Armee became not nearly as grande. They lost more soldiers to desertion, starvation, and disease than they lost in actual battles with the Russians.
6. 1/1/1 (January 1, 1901): Australia became a commonwealth.
Previously six separate colonies, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia became states united under a federal government and began operating under the Constitution of Australia. The federation of Australia, as this process become known, also lends its name to a type of architecture that was popular during the time. As we all, of course, know, Federation architecture is similar to Edwardian architecture but stands out because of the use of verandah and images of distinctly Aussie plants and animals (yes, kangaroos and kookaburra included).
7. 8/8/8 (August 8, 1908): A Wright Brother proved the French wrong.
Wilbur Wright made his first public flight at the Hunaudieres racecourse near Le Mans, France. Prior to the public display, the press was openly skeptical about the Wright Brothers’ claim of having flown. One newspaper stated of the brothers, “They are in fact either flyers or liars. It is difficult to fly. It is easy to say, ‘We have flown.’” Well, Wibur proved to be a flier, indeed, as his first flight lasted one minute and 45 seconds and featured crafty turns and maneuvers that the public had not thought possible. The crowd went wild, headlines were made, and skeptics were silenced.
8. 8/9/10 (August 9, 1910): The washing machine was patented.
Alva Fisher patented the Thor washing machine, the first electric clothes washer sold commercially in the United States. Produced by the Hurley Electric Laundry Equipment Company of Chicago, the Thor was mass marketed throughout the country starting in 1908 and was a major leap ahead from crude early attempts at an automatic washer that usually involved the use of a crank. There is controversy over whether or not Fisher “invented” the automatic washing machine. A different company out of New York, Nineteen Hundred Washing Machine Company, says they invented the electric washing machine in 1906 and some claim that a Ford Motor Company employee invented the electric washer even earlier than that. Regardless, Fisher’s patent is a matter verified by official record and the mighty Thors were certainly the first washers to reach the thunderstruck public, en masse.
9. 11/11/11 (November 11, 1911): Lots of weather craziness went down.
In the Midwest, as many cities broke their record high and low temperatures on the same day. Springfield, Missouri, for example, recorded a temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day before dropping to 13 degrees before midnight – a 67-degree drop in 10 hours. In some cities, there were tornadoes on 11/11 followed by blizzards on 11/12. Some folks call that cold snap that impacted the central part of the U.S. “The Great Blue Norther of 11/11/11,” some just call it straight-up, unadulterated meteorological wackiness.
10. 2/2/2 (February 2, 2002): A Prince married an investment banker.
The scandalous marriage between Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Argentine-born NY investment banker Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti occurred on 2/2/2. The controversy surrounding the marriage was unrelated to her involvement with the bulls and the bears — rather, it was regarding her father’s prior role as Argentina’s Minister of Agriculture from 1976-1981 under the military dictatorship. During that time, between 10,000 and 30,000 people just up and disappeared (and are presumed dead), but Maxima’s father insists he was not aware of the government’s actions. The Dutch Parliament conducted an inquiry and verified that the prince’s father-in-law-to-be was being truthful. However, remaining pressure from the public prevented Maxima’s father from attending the wedding.
By the way, the couple met in Spain in 1999 at the Seville Spring Fair. The prince introduced himself simply as “Alexander” and did not tell Maxima that he was a prince until later. She thought he was joking.
11. 10/10/10 (October 10, 2010): The Netherlands Antilles were dissolved.
So, the Netherlands Antilles used to be an autonomous Caribbean country that was a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was made up of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Eustatius, Saba, Sint Maarten, and two other groups of small islands. Aruba became a separate country under the Kingdom of the Netherlands umbrella in 1986 and sparked a lengthy series of referendums for the rest of the Antilles, who had to decide whether they wanted to have closer ties with the Netherlands, autonomy within the Netherlands kingdom, independence, or maintenance of the status quo.
After a speedy 24 years of deliberations, the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved in 2010. Curacao and Sint Maarten became constituent countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the other islands became “special municipalities.” If we have any readers in said special municipalities who can explain what that term means, we'd love to hear from you.
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