This Week in History: 2/4/19-2/8/19

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On Feb. 4, 1789, George Washington was the first man to be elected president of the United States and the only president to elected unanimously. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

This week in history we see the anniversaries of several important events that helped shape the world we live in. Here is a quick rundown.

On Feb. 4, 1789, George Washington was the first man to be elected president of the United States and the only president to elected unanimously. After serving as commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, Washington retired to private life after defeating the British. After the failure of the Articles of Confederation, Washington returned to be elected president under the new United States Constitution. His vice president was John Adams, and his administration helped set a precedent for American presidents to come. Washington helped develop the powers of the Executive Branch by reaching out to foreign countries to help tie our new nation diplomatically around the globe, as well as serving only two terms in office. That example would not be broken until Franklin D. Roosevelt served four terms during the 20th century, and would later be outlawed by the 22nd amendment. Washington served the country faithfully until his death in 1799 and is considered the father of America.

On Feb. 6, 1952, King George VI passed away in his sleep in England. King George was originally not meant to wear the crown, but after his older brother abdicated the throne to marry a woman who had previously been divorced, George had no choice. He helped guide the United Kingdom through World War II and into the postwar world.

George VI struggled throughout his life with a serious speech impediment that hindered him during his public appearances, but he was eventually able to overcome his difficulties to become a capable speaker. His story was showcased in the book and movie “The King’s Speech.” After his sudden death, his older daughter Elizabeth II was crowned as the new royal ruler, and she has held the position ever since. Elizabeth is now the longest serving monarch in English history.

On Feb. 8, 1693, The College of William and Mary was founded in Williamsburg, Virginia. The school is the second oldest college in America, behind only Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Notable alumni include Thomas Jefferson and Jon Stewart.

On the same day in 1861, the Confederate States of America were formed. These states were formed after the secession of several states from the American Republic. Jefferson Davis, a southern politician, was elected the first and only president of the Confederate States. The Civil War between the two factions began after the attack on Fort Sumter at Charleston Harbor in 1861. The Civil War raged for four years and cost the lives of thousands of American men and women. The Union would finally prove victorious on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House when General Robert E. Lee signed the Terms of Surrender. Jefferson Davis was captured and sentenced to two years in prison, and it would take years for the country to fully heal.


Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at seamus.mckeever@uconn.edu.

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