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This Month in History Around the World


The Commonwealth of Australia was founded on January 1st as six former British colonies became six states with Edmund Barton as the first prime minister.

The commemoration was declared at a ceremony held in Centennial Park in Sydney, after a process of deliberation, consultation and debate involving majority votes across all of Australia. Not everyone was allowed to vote, however with Western Australia and Queensland excluding indigenous people from voting During the ceremony, the first Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, was sworn-in and Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, and federal ministers took the oath of office.

Many Australians welcomed nationhood. Up to 500 000 people lined the route of the Federation parade as it travelled from the Domain to Centennial Park and about 100 000 spectators witnessed the ceremony.

Across Australia people celebrated with parades, processions, school pageants, firework displays, sporting events, ‘conversaziones’—discussion evenings—and special dinners. Elaborate Federation arches decorated main streets and buildings were lit up at night. In Sydney the celebrations continued for a week.

You can find out more by visiting https://peo.gov.au/understand-our-parliament/history-of-parliament/federation/the-federation-of-australia/ Betsy Ross (1752-1836) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Betsy was best know for her work as a seamstress and upholsterer and is credited with helping to originate and sew the Stars and Stripes flag of America in 1776.

According to Betsy Ross’s dates and sequence of events, in May of 1776 the Congressional Committee called upon her at her shop. She finished the flag either in late May or early June 1776.

Those representatives, George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross, asked her to sew the first flag. George Washington was then the head of the Continental Army. Robert Morris, an owner of vast amounts of land, was perhaps the wealthiest citizen in the Colonies. Colonel George Ross was a respected Philadelphian and also the uncle of her late husband, John Ross.

Legend has it that when they approached Besty, George Washington showed her a pencil drawing of a design that used 6-pointed stars. Betsy suggested five-pointed stars instead. When the committee protested that these would be too difficult to make, Betsy is said to have taken a piece of paper, folded it deftly, and with a single snip of her scissors, produced a symmetrical five-pointed star, so impressing her audience with this feat of seamstress magic that they readily agreed to her suggestion.

In July, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud for the first time at Independence Hall. Amid celebration, bells throughout the city tolled, heralding the birth of a new nation and the flag designed by Betsy flew high. Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, was crowned as Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey on January 15th, 1559.

Known as the Virgin Queen, or Gloriana, her union with her people became a substitute for the marriage she never made. She was a Protestant and declared when she became Queen ‘that she did not make windows into men’s souls’ and that her people could follow any religion they wished., Her reign, known as the Elizabethan Age, is remembered for many reasons… the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and for many great men, Shakespeare, Raleigh, Hawkins, Drake, Walsingham, Essex and Burleigh. She was endowed with great courage. As a young woman she had been imprisoned in the Tower of London on the orders of her half-sister, Queen Mary I, and lived in daily fear that she would be executed as her mother, Anne Boleyn had been.

A queen who knew how to communicate well, she is well known for many of her quotes.

Her speech in 1588 to her troops at Tilbury, drawn up to repel the Duke of Parma’s army in the year of the Spanish Armada, is often quoted. One part of the speech is well known, and the section that starts… ‘I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King of England too and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain or any Prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm’, is stirring stuff even today, many centuries later.

At her death in 1603 Elizabeth left a country that was secure, and all the religious troubles had largely disappeared. England was now a first class power, and Elizabeth had created and moulded a country that was the envy of Europe.

Occupation of Bastion Point begins On January 5th, 1977 Led by Joe Hawke, the Ōrākei Māori Action Committee occupied Takaparawhā (Bastion Point reserve), a promontory overlooking Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour. Ngāti Whātua maintained the land had been unjustly taken from them and were angered by plans to subdivide it for a private housing development. In April 1977, a disused warehouse was re-erected on the site as Arohanui Marae, but facilities were rudimentary and in winter the exposed promontory was a bleak place to live. In February 1978, the government offered to return some land and houses to Ngāti Whātua if the iwi paid $200,000 in development costs. The occupiers stayed put, but on 25 May, the following year – 506 days after they had arrived – a large force of police moved in to evict them, arresting 222 protesters and demolishing buildings.

When the jurisdiction of the Waitangi Tribunal was widened to cover retrospective issues, Joe Hawke’s Ōrākei claim was the first historical claim to be heard. The Tribunal’s 1987 report recommended the return of land to Ngāti Whātua, and the following year the government agreed.

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elocal Digital Edition – January 2022 (#249)

elocal Digital Edition
January 2022 (#249)

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