Tag Archives: George Washington

today’s birthday: Martha Washington (1731)


Martha Washington (1731)

Martha Washington was the wife of first US president George Washington. They married in 1759, nearly two years after the death of her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis. During the American Revolution, she spent winters in army camps with her husband and organized a women’s sewing circle to mend clothes for the troops. Although the title was not coined until after her death, she is considered the first “First Lady” of the US. She is also the only woman whose portrait has appeared on what? More… Discuss

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Today is Thursday, April 23, the 113th day of 2015. There are 252 days left in the year.


 

SOMEWHERE IN TIME

SOMEWHERE IN TIME

Today is Thursday, April 23, the 113th day of 2015. There are 252 days left in the year.

April 23, 2005

the recently created video-sharing website YouTube uploaded its first clip. Titled “Me at the Zoo,” the video consisted of 18 seconds of YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim standing in front of an elephant enclosure at the San Diego Zoo, commenting on the animals’ “really, really, really long, uh, trunks.” (Today, YouTube claims more than 1 billion users and says that 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute.)

1616

English poet and dramatist William Shakespeare, 52, died on what has been traditionally regarded as the anniversary of his birth in 1564.

1789

President-elect George Washington and his wife, Martha, moved into the first executive mansion, the Franklin House, in New York.

1791

the 15th president of the United States, James Buchanan, was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

1910

former President Theodore Roosevelt delivered his famous “Man in the Arena” speech at the Sorbonne in Paris.

1914

Chicago’s Wrigley Field, then called Weeghman Park, hosted its first major league game as the Chicago Federals defeated the Kansas City Packers 9-1.

1935

Poland adopted a constitution which gave new powers to the presidency.

1940

about 200 people died in the Rhythm Night Club Fire in Natchez, Mississippi.

1954

Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves hit the first of his 755 major-league home runs in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. (The Braves won, 7-5.)

1965

the Four Tops’ single “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” was released by Motown.

1985

the Coca-Cola Co. announced it was changing the secret flavor formula for Coke (negative public reaction forced the company to resume selling the original version).

1995

sportscaster Howard Cosell died in New York at age 77.

2007

Boris Yeltsin, the first freely elected Russian president, died in Moscow at age 76.

Ten years ago:

Leaders of China and Japan met in Jakarta, Indonesia, to try to settle their nations’ worst dispute in three decades, but failed to reach an agreement in the bitter feud over Tokyo’s handling of its World War II atrocities. Silvio Berlusconi was sworn in as head of Italy’s 60th postwar government. Renowned British actor Sir John Mills died in Denham, England, at age 97.

Five years ago:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the nation’s toughest illegal immigration law, saying “decades of inaction and misguided policy” had created a “dangerous and unacceptable situation”; opponents said the law would encourage discrimination against Hispanics. The Coast Guard suspended a three-day search for 11 workers missing after an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Actress Sandra Bullock filed divorce papers in Austin, Texas, to end her five-year marriage to Jesse James.

One year ago:

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law allowing legally owned guns in bars without restriction and in some churches, schools and government buildings under certain circumstances. Facebook reported its earnings had nearly tripled and revenue had grown sharply in the first quarter, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations. Mark Shand, 62, the brother-in-law of the Prince of Wales and a chairman of an elephant conservation group, died in New York after sustaining a serious head injury in a fall.

Today’s Birthdays:

Actor Alan Oppenheimer is 85. Actor David Birney is 76. Actor Lee Majors is 76. Hockey Hall of Famer Tony Esposito is 72. Irish nationalist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey is 68. Actress Blair Brown is 67. Writer-director Paul Brickman is 66. Actress Joyce DeWitt is 66. Actor James Russo is 62. Filmmaker-author Michael Moore is 61. Actress Judy Davis is 60. Actress Valerie Bertinelli is 55. Actor Craig Sheffer is 55. Actor-comedian-talk show host George Lopez is 54. Rock musician Gen is 51. U.S. Olympic gold medal skier Donna Weinbrecht is 50. Actress Melina Kanakaredes (kah-nah-KAH’-ree-deez) is 48. Rock musician Stan Frazier (Sugar Ray) is 47. Country musician Tim Womack (Sons of the Desert) is 47. Actor Scott Bairstow (BEHR’-stow) is 45. Actor-writer John Lutz is 42. Actor Barry Watson is 41. Rock musician Aaron Dessner (The National) is 39. Rock musician Bryce Dessner (The National) is 39. Actor-writer-comedian John Oliver is 38. Actor Kal Penn is 38. MLB All-Star Andruw Jones is 38. Actress Jaime King is 36. Pop singer Taio Cruz is 32. Actor Aaron Hill is 32. Actor Jesse Lee Soffer is 31. Actress Rachel Skarsten is 30. Singer-songwriter John Fullbright is 27. Tennis player Nicole Vaidisova (vay-deh-SOH’-vuh) is 26. Actor Dev Patel (puh-TEHL’) is 25. Actor Matthew Underwood is 25. Actor Camryn Walling is 25.

Thought for Today:

“In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” — Andy Warhol, American pop artist (1928-1987).

Copyright 2015, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

 

today’s image: Grant’s Commission On March 9, 1864,



Grant’s Commission On March 9, 1864,

President Abraham Lincoln officially commissioned Ulysses S. Grant the first Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army since George Washington. In the face of repeated defeats on the eastern front of the war, Grant had been a consistent source of good news — and good generalship — in the West. ‘I can’t spare this man,’ Lincoln said, ‘he fights.’

Photo: Library of Congress

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Today In History. What Happened This Day In History


Today In History. What Happened This Day In History

A chronological timetable of historical events that occurred on this day in history. Historical facts of the day in the areas of military, politics, science, music, sports, arts, entertainment and more. Discover what happened today in history.

March 4

1152   Frederick Barbarossa is chosen as emperor and unites the two factions, which emerged in Germany after the death of Henry V.
1461   Henry VI is deposed and the Duke of York is proclaimed King Edward IV.
1634   Samuel Cole opens the first tavern in Boston, Massachusetts.
1766   The British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act, the cause of bitter and violent opposition in the colonies
1789   The first Congress of the United States meets in New York and declares that the Constitution is in effect.
1791   Vermont is admitted as the 14th state. It is the first addition to the original 13 colonies.
1793   George Washington is inaugurated as President for the second time.
1797   Vice-President John Adams, elected President on December 7, to replace George Washington, is sworn in.
1801   Thomas Jefferson becomes the first President to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.
1813   The Russians fighting against Napoleon reach Berlin. The French garrison evacuates the city without a fight.
1861   The Confederate States of America adopt the “Stars and Bars” flag.
1877   The Russian Imperial Ballet stages the first performance of “Swan Lake” in Moscow.
1901   William McKinley is inaugurated president for the second time. Theodore Roosevelt is inaugurated as vice president.
1904   Russian troops begin to retreat toward the Manchurian border as 100,000 Japanese advance in Korea.
1908   The New York board of education bans the act of whipping students in school.
1912   The French council of war unanimously votes a mandatory three-year military service.
1914   Doctor Fillatre of Paris, France successfully separates Siamese twins.
1921   Warren G. Harding is sworn in as America’s 29th President.
1933   Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated to his first term as president in Washington, D.C.
1944   Berlin is bombed by the American forces for the first time.
1952   North Korea accuses the United nations of using germ warfare.
1963   Six people get the death sentence in Paris plotting to kill President Charles de Gaulle.
1970   Fifty-seven people are killed as the French submarine Eurydice sinks in the Mediterranean Sea.
1975   Queen Elizabeth knights Charlie Chaplin.
1987   President Reagan takes full responsibility for the Iran-Contra affair in a national address.
Born on March 4
1394   Prince Henry the Navigator, sponsor of Portuguese voyages of discovery
1678   Antonio Vivaldi, Italian composer and violinist.
1747   Casimir Pulaski, American Revolutionary War general.
1852   Lady (Isabella Augusta) Gregory, Irish playwright, helped found the Abbey Theatre.
1888   Knute Rockne, football player and coach for Notre Dame.
1901   Charles Goren, world expert on the game of bridge.
1904   Ding Ling, Chinese writer and women’s rights activist.
1928   Alan Sillitoe, novelist (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner).
1932   Miriam Makeba, South African singer.
1934   Jane Goodall, British anthropologist, known for her work with African chimpanzees.

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Today In History. What Happened This Day In History


Today In History. What Happened This Day In History

A chronological timetable of historical events that occurred on this day in history. Historical facts of the day in the areas of military, politics, science, music, sports, arts, entertainment and more. Discover what happened today in history.

March 4

1152   Frederick Barbarossa is chosen as emperor and unites the two factions, which emerged in Germany after the death of Henry V.
1461   Henry VI is deposed and the Duke of York is proclaimed King Edward IV.
1634   Samuel Cole opens the first tavern in Boston, Massachusetts.
1766   The British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act, the cause of bitter and violent opposition in the colonies
1789   The first Congress of the United States meets in New York and declares that the Constitution is in effect.
1791   Vermont is admitted as the 14th state. It is the first addition to the original 13 colonies.
1793   George Washington is inaugurated as President for the second time.
1797   Vice-President John Adams, elected President on December 7, to replace George Washington, is sworn in.
1801   Thomas Jefferson becomes the first President to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.
1813   The Russians fighting against Napoleon reach Berlin. The French garrison evacuates the city without a fight.
1861   The Confederate States of America adopt the “Stars and Bars” flag.
1877   The Russian Imperial Ballet stages the first performance of “Swan Lake” in Moscow.
1901   William McKinley is inaugurated president for the second time. Theodore Roosevelt is inaugurated as vice president.
1904   Russian troops begin to retreat toward the Manchurian border as 100,000 Japanese advance in Korea.
1908   The New York board of education bans the act of whipping students in school.
1912   The French council of war unanimously votes a mandatory three-year military service.
1914   Doctor Fillatre of Paris, France successfully separates Siamese twins.
1921   Warren G. Harding is sworn in as America’s 29th President.
1933   Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated to his first term as president in Washington, D.C.
1944   Berlin is bombed by the American forces for the first time.
1952   North Korea accuses the United nations of using germ warfare.
1963   Six people get the death sentence in Paris plotting to kill President Charles de Gaulle.
1970   Fifty-seven people are killed as the French submarine Eurydice sinks in the Mediterranean Sea.
1975   Queen Elizabeth knights Charlie Chaplin.
1987   President Reagan takes full responsibility for the Iran-Contra affair in a national address.
Born on March 4
1394   Prince Henry the Navigator, sponsor of Portuguese voyages of discovery
1678   Antonio Vivaldi, Italian composer and violinist.
1747   Casimir Pulaski, American Revolutionary War general.
1852   Lady (Isabella Augusta) Gregory, Irish playwright, helped found the Abbey Theatre.
1888   Knute Rockne, football player and coach for Notre Dame.
1901   Charles Goren, world expert on the game of bridge.
1904   Ding Ling, Chinese writer and women’s rights activist.
1928   Alan Sillitoe, novelist (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner).
1932   Miriam Makeba, South African singer.
1934   Jane Goodall, British anthropologist, known for her work with African chimpanzees.

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Today In History. What Happened This Day In History


Today In History. What Happened This Day In History

A chronological timetable of historical events that occurred on this day in history. Historical facts of the day in the areas of military, politics, science, music, sports, arts, entertainment and more. Discover what happened today in history.

February 23

303   Emperor Diocletian orders the general persecution of Christians in Rome.
1516   The Hapsburg Charles I succeeds Ferdinand in Spain.
1540   Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado begins his unsuccessful search for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold in the American Southwest.
1574   The 5th War of Religion breaks out in France.
1615   The Estates-General in Paris is dissolved, having been in session since October 1614.
1778   Baron von Steuben joins the Continental Army at Valley Forge.
1821   Poet John Keats dies of tuberculosis at the age of 25.
1836   The Alamo is besieged by Santa Anna.
1846   The Liberty Bell tolls for the last time, to mark George Washington’s birthday.
1847   Forces led by Zachary Taylor defeat the Mexicans at the Battle of Buena Vista.
1854   Great Britain officially recognizes the independence of the Orange Free State.
1861   Texas becomes the seventh state to secede from the Union.
1885   John Lee survives three attempts to hang him in Exeter Prison, as the trap fails to open.
1898   Writer Emile Zola is imprisoned in France for his letter J’accuse in which he accuses the French government of anti-semitism and the wrongful imprisonment of army captain Alfred Dreyfus.
1901   Britain and Germany agree on a boundary between German East Africa and Nyasaland.
1904   Japan guarantees Korean sovereignty in exchange for military assistance.
1916   Secretary of State Lansing hints that the U.S. may have to abandon the policy of avoiding “entangling foreign alliances”.
1921   An airmail plane sets a record of 33 hours and 20 minutes from San Francisco to New York.
1926   President Calvin Coolidge opposes a large air force, believing it would be a menace to world peace.
1936   In Russia, an unmanned balloon rises to a record height of 25 miles.
1938   Twelve Chinese fighter planes drop bombs on Japan.
1942   A Japanese submarine shells an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, the first Axis bombs to hit American soil.
1944   American bombers strike the Marianas Islands bases, only 1,300 miles from Tokyo.
1945   Eisenhower opens a large offensive in the Rhineland.
1945   U.S. Marines plant an American flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
1946   Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita is hanged in Manila, the Philippines, for war crimes.
1947   Several hundred Nazi organizers are arrested in Frankfurt by U.S. and British forces.
1950   New York’s Metropolitan Museum exhibits a collection of Hapsburg art. The first showing of this collection in the U.S.
1954   Mass innoculation begins as Salk’s polio vaccine is given to children for first time.
1955   Eight nations meet in Bangkok for the first SEATO council.
1960   Whites join Negro students in a sit-in at a Winston-Salem, N.C. Woolworth store.
1964   The U.S. and Britain recognize the new Zanzibar government.
1967   American troops begin the largest offensive of the war, near the Cambodian border.
1972   Black activist Angela Davis is released from jail where she was held for kidnapping , conspiracy and murder.
1991   French forces unofficially start the Persian Gulf ground war by crossing the Saudi-Iraqi border.
Born on February 23
1633   Samuel Pepys, English diarist.
1685   George F. Handel, German composer.
1743   Meyer Amschel Rothschild, banker and founder of the Rothschild dynasty in Europe.
1868   W.E.B. [William Edward Burghardt] Du Bois, U.S. historian and civil rights leader, founder of what became the NAACP.
1883   Victor Fleming, film director (The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind)
1899   Erich Kastner, German poet, novelist and children’s author (Emil and the Detectives).
1904   William Shirer, CBS broadcaster and author (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich).
1924   Allan MacLeod Cormack, physicist, developed the CAT scan.

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Today In History. What Happened This Day In History


Today In History. What Happened This Day In History

A chronological timetable of historical events that occurred on this day in history. Historical facts of the day in the areas of military, politics, science, music, sports, arts, entertainment and more. Discover what happened today in history.

February 22

1349   Jews are expelled from Zurich, Switzerland.
1613   Mikhail Romanov is elected czar of Russia.
1732   George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
1797   The last invasion of Britain takes place when some 1,400 Frenchmen land at Fishguard in Wales.
1819   Spain signs a treaty with the United States ceding eastern Florida.
1825   Russia and Britain establish the Alaska/Canada boundary.
1862   Jefferson Davis is inaugurated president of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va. for the second time.
1864   Nathan Bedford Forrest’s brother, Jeffrey, is killed at Okolona, Mississippi.
1865   Federal troops capture Wilmington, N.C.
1879   Frank Winfield Woolworth’s ‘nothing over five cents’ shop opens at Utica, New York. It is the first chain store.
1902   A fistfight breaks out in the Senate. Senator Benjamin Tillman suffers a bloody nose for accusing Senator John McLaurin of bias on the Philippine tariff issue.
1909   The Great White Fleet returns to Norfolk, Virginia, from an around-the-world show of naval power.
1911   Canadian Parliament votes to preserve the union with the British Empire.
1920   The American Relief Administration appeals to the public to pressure Congress to aid starving European cities.
1924   Columbia University declares radio education a success.
1926   Pope Pius rejects Mussolini’s offer of aid to the Vatican.
1932   Adolf Hitler is the Nazi Party candidate for the presidential elections in Germany.
1935   All plane flights over the White House are barred because they are disturbing President Roosevelt’s sleep.
1942   President Franklin Roosevelt orders Gen. Douglas MacArthur to leave the Philippines.
1951   The Atomic Energy Commission discloses information about the first atom-powered airplane.
1952   French forces evacuate Hoa Binh in Indochina.
1954   U.S. is to install 60 Thor nuclear missiles in Britain.
1962   A Soviet bid for new Geneva arms talks is turned down by the U.S.
1963   Moscow warns the U.S. that an attack on Cuba would mean war.
1967   Operation Junction City becomes the largest U.S. operation in Vietnam.
1984   Britain and the U.S. send warships to the Persian Gulf following an Iranian offensive against Iraq.
Born on February 22
1403   Charles VII, King of France.
1732   George Washington, Commander-in-chief of Continental forces during the American Revolution and first U.S. President.
1778   Rembrandt Peale, American painter known for portraits of U.S. founding fathers.
1857   Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout Movement.
1857   Heinrich Hertz, German physicist, the first person to broadcast and receive radio waves.
1892   Edna St. Vincent Millay, poet.
1900   Sean O’Faolain, Irish short story writer.
1925   Edward Gorey, American writer and illustrator.
1932   Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts Senator, brother of John F. Kennedy.
1944   Jonathan Demme, film director (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia).

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today’s image: George Washington


George Washington

George Washington, born February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, is revered as the ‘Father of His Country’ for the great services he rendered during America’s birth and infancy–a period of nearly 20 years. Well respected by Americans for his military exploits during the Seven Years’ War, Washington commanded the Continental Army that won American independence from Britain in 1783. In 1787, Washington was elected president of the Constitutional Convention that created the form of American democratic government that survives to this day. Washington was also elected in 1787 as the first president of the United States, serving two terms. One of his officers, ‘Light-horse Harry’ Lee, summed up how Americans felt about George Washington: ‘First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.’ George Washington died at his Mount Vernon home on December 14, 1799, at the age of 67.

Image: Library of Congress

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today’s birthday: George Washington (1732)


George Washington (1732)

Washington is often called the “Father of his Country” because of the central role he played in the founding of the United States. As commander of the Continental Army, he led colonial forces to victory over the British and served as the new nation’s first president. He then relinquished that power and retired after two terms, thereby setting a key precedent for republican democracy. What other precedent of the US presidency did Washington set? More… Discuss

today’s image Alexander Hamilton (Image: Library of Congress)



Alexander Hamilton
American patriot and statesman Alexander Hamilton, the illegitimate son of a Scottish merchant, was born on St. Croix probably on January 11, 1755. After showing remarkable promise in finance, the young Hamilton was sent by a benefactor to King’s College in New York. In 1776, Hamilton joined the Continental Army, where he soon joined George Washington’s staff. After the war, Hamilton became active in New York politics, gaining a reputation as a supporter of a strong central government. In the struggle for the ratification of the Constitution, Hamilton collaborated with James Madison and John Jay in writing the Federalist Papers, which were instrumental in the passage of the Constitution. In 1789, newly elected President George Washington named Hamilton secretary of the treasury. During his tenure, Hamilton established the National Bank, introduced an excise tax, suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion and spearheaded the effort for the federal government to assume the debts of the states. In the presidential election of 1800, Hamilton broke the deadlock between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr by supporting Jefferson. The enmity between Hamilton and his longtime political enemy Burr grew worse during the 1804 campaign for governor of New York. Finally, on July 11, at Weehawken, N.J., the two men fought a duel. Hamilton was shot and died the next day of his injuries.

Image: Library of Congress

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Muslim conquest of Egypt: “We have conquered Alexandria. In this city there are 4,000 palaces, 400 places of entertainment, and untold wealth. -‘Amr”


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Muslim conquest of EgyptPart of the Muslim conquests and the Arab–Byzantine WarsGiza Plateau - Great Sphinx with Pyramid of Khafre in background.JPG

Date 639–642
Location Egypt, Libya
Result Rashidun victory.
Territorial
changes
Muslims annexed Egypt, Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan.

BelligerentsEastern Roman EmpireRashidun CaliphateCommanders and leadersEmperor Heraclius
Theodorus
Aretion
Constans II

Cyrus of Alexandria

Caliph Umar
Amr ibn al-Aas
Zubair ibn al-Awam
Miqdad bin Al-Aswad
Ubaida bin As-Samit

Kharija bin Huzafa

At the commencement of the Muslim conquest of Egypt, Egypt was part of the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire with its capital at Constantinople. However, it had been conquered just a decade before by the Persian Empire under Khosrau II (616 to 629 AD). Emperor Heraclius re-captured Egypt after a series of campaigns against the Sassanid Persians, only to lose it to the Muslim Rashidun army ten years later. Before the Muslim conquest of Egypt had begun, the Eastern Romans had already lost the Levant and its Arab ally, the Ghassanid Kingdom, to the Muslims. All this left the Eastern Roman Empire dangerously exposed and vulnerable.[1]

Rashidun invasion of Egypt

Prologue

Rashidun army crossing the Egyptian border

 

Pyramids of Gizah.

In December 639 ‘Amr ibn al-‘As left for Egypt with a force of 4,000 troops. Most of the soldiers belonged to the Arab tribe of ‘Ak, although Al-Kindi mentions that one third of the soldiers belonged to the Arab tribe of Ghafik. The Arab soldiers were also joined by some Roman and Persian converts to Islam. However, ‘Umar, the Muslim caliph, reconsidered his orders to Amr, thinking it foolhardy to expect to conquer such a large country as Egypt with a mere 4,000 soldiers. Accordingly, he wrote a letter to ‘Amr commanding him to come back.[2]

The messenger, ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amr, caught up to Amr at Rafah, a little short of the Egyptian frontier. Guessing what might be in the letter, ‘Amr ordered the army to quicken its pace. Turning to ‘Uqbah, ‘Amr said that he would receive the caliph’s letter from him when the army had halted after the day’s journey. ‘Uqbah, being unaware of the contents of the letter, agreed and marched along with the army. The army halted for the night at Shajratein, a little valley near the city of El Arish, which ‘Amr knew to be beyond the Egyptian border.[3] ‘Amr then received and read the ‘Umar’s letter and went on to consult his companions as to the course of action to be adopted. The unanimous view was that as they had received the letter on Egyptian soil, they had permission to proceed.

When ‘Umar received the reply, he decided to watch further developments and started concentrating fresh forces at Madinah which could be dispatched to Egypt as reinforcements. On Eid al-Adha, the Muslim army marched from Shajratein to El Arish,[2] a small town lacking a garrison. The town put up no resistance, and the citizens offered allegiance on the usual terms. The Muslim soldiers celebrated the Eid festival there.

Conquering of Pelusium and Belbeis

In the later part of December 639 or in early January 640, the Muslim army reached Pelusium, an Eastern Roman garrison city that was considered Egypt’s eastern gate at the time. The Muslims siege of the town dragged on for two months. In February 640 an assault group led by a prominent field commander Huzaifah ibn Wala successfully assaulted and captured the fort and city.[4][5][6][7][8][9] Armanousa, the daughter of Cyrus who fiercely resisted the Muslims in Pelusium and fell hostage in their hands, was sent to her father in the Babylon Fortress.[10]

The losses incurred by the Arab Muslim army were ameliorated by the number of Sinai Bedouins who, taking the initiative, had joined them in conquering Egypt.[11] These Bedouins belonged to the tribes of Rashidah and Lakhm[12] The ease with which Pelusium fell to the Muslim Arabs, and the lack of Byzantine reinforcements to aid the city during the month-long siege is often attributed to the treachery of the Egyptian governor, Cyrus, who was also the Melchite (i.e., Byzantine–Chalcedonian Diaphysite) Patriarch of Alexandria.[13][11]

After the fall of Pelusium the Muslims marched to Bilbeis, 40 miles from Memphis via desert roads and besieged it. Belbeis was the first place in Egypt where the Byzantines showed some measure of resistance towards the Arab invaders. Two Christian monks accompanied by Cyrus of Alexandria and the famous Roman general Aretion came out to negotiate with ‘Amr ibn al-‘As. Aretion was previously the Byzantine governor of Jerusalem, and had fled to Egypt when the city fell to the Muslims. ‘Amr gave them three options: to either convert to Islam, or to pay Jizya, or to fight the Muslims. They requested three days to reflect, then – as mentions al-Tabari – requested two extra days. At the end of the five days, the two monks and the general decided to reject Islam and Jizya and fight the Muslims. They thus disobeyed their ruler, Cyrus of Alexandria, who wanted to surrender and pay Jizya. Cyrus subsequently left for the Babylon Fortress, while the two monks and Aretion decided to fight the Arabs. The fight resulted in the victory of the latter and the death of Aretion. ‘Amr ibn al-‘As subsequently attempted to convince the native Egyptians to aid the Arabs and surrender the city, based on the kinship between Egyptians and Arabs via Hagar.[14] When the Egyptians refused, the siege of Bilbeis was continued until the city fell after a month. Towards the end of March 640 the city surrendered to the Muslims.[13] With the fall of Belbeis, the Arabs were only one day away from the head of the Delta.

Siege of Babylon

 

Map detailing the route of the Muslims’ invasion of Egypt.

Amr had visualized that the conquest of Egypt would be a walkover. This expectation turned out to be wrong. Even at the outposts of Pelusium and Bilbeis the Muslims had met stiff resistance. The siege of Pelusium had lasted for two months and that of Bilbeis for one month. Both battles were preludes to the siege of Babylon, which was a larger and more important city. Here resistance on a larger scale was expected.[15] After the fall of Bilbeis the Muslims advanced to Babylon, near modern Cairo. The Muslims arrived at Babylon some time in May 640 AD.[16] Babylon was a fortified city, and the Romans had prepared it for a siege. Outside the city, a ditch had been dug, and a large force was positioned in the area between the ditch and the city walls. The Muslims besieged the fort of Babylon some time in May 640. The fort was a massive structure 60 ft. high with walls more than 6 ft. thick and studded with numerous towers and bastions. A Muslim force of some 4,000 men attacked the Roman positions unsuccessfully. Early Muslim sources place the strength of the Byzantine force in Babylon about six times the strength of the Muslim force.[17] For the next two months fighting remained inconclusive, with the Byzantines having the upper hand by repulsing every Muslim assault.[18]

Some time in May 640 AD, ‘Amr sent a detachment to raid the city of Fayoum. The Byzantines had anticipated this raid, and thus strongly guarded the roads leading to the city. They had also fortified their garrison in the nearby town of Lahun. When the Muslim Arabs realized that Fayoum was too strong for them to invade, they headed towards the Western Desert where they looted all the cattle and animals they could. They subsequently headed to Oxyrhynchus (Per-Medjed), which was defeated. The Arabs then returned to Lower Egypt down the River Nile.[19]

Reinforcements from Madinah

In July, ‘Amr wrote to ‘Umar requesting reinforcement; but before the letter reached him, the caliph had already dispatched the first reinforcement, which was 4000 strong. The army was composed mostly of the veterans of Syrian campaigns. Even with these reinforcements, ‘Amr was unsuccessful. By August 640, ‘Umar’s assembling of the 4000 strong elite force had been completed. It consisted of four columns. Each column was one thousand strong and appointed a commander each, while Zubair ibn al-Awam, a renowned warrior and commander, veteran of the Battle of Yarmouk and once a part of Khalid ibn Walid‘s elite force mobile guard, was appointed the supreme commander of army. ‘Umar had indeed offered Zubair the chief command and governorship of Egypt, but Zubair had declined the offer. Other commanders were Miqdad ibn al-Aswad; Ubaidah ibn as-Samit, and Kharijah ibn Huzaifah. These reinforcements arrived at Babylon sometime in September 640. The total strength of the Muslim force now rose to 12,000, quite a modest strength to resume the offensive.[3]

Battle of Heliopolis

Ten miles from Babylon was Heliopolis.[20] The Muslim army reached Heliopolis in July 640.[21] It was the city of the Sun Temple of the Pharaohs, and was famous for its grandiose monuments and learning institutions.[22] There was the danger that forces from Heliopolis could attack the Muslims from the flank while it was engaged with the Roman army at Babylon. With some detachments ‘Amr and Zubair marched to Heliopolis. There was a cavalry clash near the current neighbourhood of Abbaseya. The engagement was not decisive although it resulted in the occupation of the fortress located between the current neighbourhoods of Abdyn and Azbakeya. The defeated Byzantine soldiers retreated to either the Babylon Fortress or the fortress of Nikiû.[23] At an unguarded point of the wall of Heliopolis, Zubair and some of his picked soldiers scaled the wall of the city, and after overpowering the guards, opened the gates for the main Muslim army to enter the city. Heliopolis was thus captured by the Muslims. ‘Amr and Zubair returned to Babylon.

Conquering of Fayoum and Babylon

When news of the Muslims’ victory at Heliopolis reached Fayoum, its Byzantine garrison under the command of Domentianus evacuated the city during the night and fled to Abuit. From Abuit, they fled down the Nile to Nikiu without informing the people of Fayoum and Abuit that they were abandoning their cities to the enemy. When news of this reached ‘Amr, he ordered a body of his troops to cross the Nile and invade Fayoum and Abuit. The Muslim soldiers captured the entire province of Fayoum without any resistance from the Byzantines.[24]

The Byzantine garrison at Babylon now grew bolder then ever before and had begun to sally forth across the ditch, though with little success. There had been a stalemate between the Muslim and Byzantine forces at Babylon, until the Muslim commanders devised an ingenious strategy and inflicted heavy casualties on the Byzantine forces by encircling them from three sides in one of their such sallies. The Byzantines were able to retreat back to the fort but were left too weak for any further offensive action. This situation forced the Byzantines to enter in negotiations with the Muslims. The Byzantine general Theodorus shifted his headquarters to the Isle of Rauda, whilst Cyrus of Alexandria, popularly known as Muqawqis in Muslim history entered in negotiations with the Muslims, which failed to give any productive results. Emissaries were also exchanged between Theodorus and ‘Amr, leading to ‘Amr meeting Theodorus in person. After fruitless negotiations, the Muslims acted on 20 December, when, in a night assault, a company of hand picked warriors led by Zubair managed to scale the wall, kill the guards and open the gates for the Muslim army to enter. The city of Babylon was captured by the Muslims on 21 December 640, using tactics similar to those used by Khalid ibn Walid at Damascus. However Theodorus and his army managed to slip away to the island of Rauda during the night.[25]

Surrender of Thebaid (Southeastern Egypt)

On the 22nd of December, Cyrus of Alexandria entered into a treaty with the Muslims.[26] By the treaty, Muslim sovereignty over the whole of Egypt, and effectively on Thebaid, was recognized, and the Egyptians agreed to pay Jizya at the rate of 2 diners per male adult.[27] The treaty was subject to the approval of the emperor Heraclius, but Cyrus stipulated that even if the emperor repudiated the treaty, he and the Copts of whom he was the High Priest would honor its terms, recognize the supremacy of the Muslims and pay them Jizya.[28] Cyrus submitted a report to Heraclius and asked for his approval to the terms of the treaty. He also offered reasons in justification of the acceptance of the terms of the treaty. ‘Amr submitted a detailed report to ‘Umar and asked for his further instructions. When ‘Umar received this report, he wrote back to say that he approved of the terms provided Heraclius agreed to submit to them.[29] He desired that as soon as the reactions of Heraclius were known, he should be informed so that further necessary instructions could be issued promptly.[30] Heraclius’s reaction to Cyrus’s report was violent. He removed him from the viceroyship of Egypt, but he remained the Head of the Coptic Church: this was a matter in which the emperor could not interfere. Heraclius sent strict orders to the commander-in-chief of the Byzantine forces in Egypt that the Muslims should be driven out from Egypt. Cyrus waited on ‘Amr and told him that Heraclius had repudiated the treaty of Babylon. He assured ‘Amr that so far as the Copts were concerned the terms of the treaty would be followed. ‘Amr reported these developments to ‘Umar. ‘Umar desired that before the Byzantines could gather further strength the Muslims should strike at them and drive them from Alexandria. It is recorded that Cyrus requested three favors from the Muslims, namely:

  1. Do not break your treaty with the Copts;
  2. If the Byzantines after this repudiation ask for peace, do not make peace with them, but treat them as captives and slaves; and
  3. When I am dead allow me to be buried in the Church of St. John at Alexandria.[3][31]

This position was to the advantage of the Muslims as the Copts were the natives of the land of Egypt and[32] both the Byzantines and the Muslims were strangers. Though some Copts from personal considerations continued to support the Byzantines, the sympathies of the Copts were now by and large with the Muslims. The Copts were not supposed to fight against the Byzantines on behalf of the Muslims, but they undertook to help the Muslims in the promotion of war effort and in the provision of stores, build roads and bridges for them, and provide them moral support.[33]

March to Alexandria

 

Ancient Roman theaters in Alexandria.

The Byzantine commanders knew that the next target of the Muslims would be Alexandria. They accordingly prepared for the expected siege of the city. Their strategy was to keep the Muslims away from Alexandria by destroying their power through continued sallies and attacks from the fort. Even if this did not keep them away, it would weaken them morally and physically. It would be more of a war of patience than strength.[34] In February 641, ‘Amr set off for Alexandria from Babylon with his army. All along the road from Babylon to Alexandria, the Byzantines had left regiments to delay, and if possible, inflict losses on the advancing Muslims. On the third day of their march from Babylon the Muslims’ advance guard encountered a Byzantine detachment at Tarnut on the west bank of the Nile.[35] The Byzantines failed to inflict heavy losses, but they were able to delay the advance by one more day. The Muslim commanders decided to halt the main army at Tarnut and send the advance guard cavalry forward to clear the way from the possible Byzantine detachments. This was done so that the main army could reach Alexandria as soon as possible without being delayed by Byzantine regiments mid-way. Twenty miles from Tarnut, the Byzantine detachment that had withdrawn from Tarnut the day before, joined the detachment already present at Shareek to form a strong offensive force. They attacked and routed the Muslim advance guard. The next day, before the Byzantines could resume their offensive to annihilate the Muslim advance guard completely, the main Muslim army arrived, prompting the Byzantines to withdraw. At this point the Muslim commanders decided not to send forward the advance guard, so the whole army marched forward, beginning the following day. The Muslims reached Sulteis where they encountered a Byzantine detachment. Hard fighting followed, but the Byzantine resistance soon broke down and they withdrew to Alexandria. The Muslims halted at Sulteis for a day. Alexandria was still two days’ march from Sulteis. After one day’s march the Muslim forces arrived at Kirayun, twelve miles from Alexandria. Here the Muslim advance to Alexandria was blocked by a Byzantine detachment about 20,000 strong. The strategy of the Byzantines was that either the Muslims would be driven away before they actually arrived at Alexandria, or that they would be as weak as possible if they did. The two armies were deployed and fighting followed, but action remained indecisive,.[3] This state of affairs persisted for ten days. On the tenth day the Muslims launched a vigorous assault. The Byzantines were defeated and they retreated to Alexandria. The way to Alexandria was now cleared, and the Muslim forces resumed the march from Kirayun and reached the outskirts of Alexandria in March 641 AD.

Conquest of Alexandria and fall of Egypt

The Muslims laid siege to Alexandria in March 641 AD.[36] The city was heavily fortified: there were walls within walls, and forts within forts. There was no dearth of provisions and food supply in the city. The city also had direct access to the sea, and through the sea route help from Constantinople in the form of men and supplies could come at any time.

As ‘Amr surveyed the military situation, he felt that Alexandria would be a hard nut to crack.[37] The Byzantines had high stakes in Alexandria, and they were determined to offer stiff resistance to the Muslims. They mounted catapults on the walls of the city, and these engines pounded the Muslims with boulders. This caused considerable damage to the Muslims and ‘Amr ordered his men back from the advance position so that they might be beyond the range of the missiles. A see-saw war followed.[3] When the Muslims tried to go close to the city they were hit with missiles. When the Byzantines sallied from the fort, they were invariably beaten back by the Muslims.

It is said that Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, collected a large army at Constantinople. He intended to march at the head of these reinforcements personally to Alexandria. But before he could finalize the arrangements, he died. The troops mustered at Constantinople dispersed, and consequently no help came to Alexandria. This further demoralized the Byzantines. The siege dragged on for six months, and in Madinah ‘Umar got impatient. In a letter addressed to ‘Amr, the caliph expressed his concern at the inordinate delay in the invasion of Egypt. He further instructed that the new field commander would be ‘Ubaidah, and he would launch an assault on the fort of Alexandria. ‘Ubaidah’s assault was successful and Alexandria was captured by the Muslims in September 641. Thousands of Byzantine soldiers were killed or taken captive while others managed to flee to Constantinople on ships that had been anchored in the port. Some wealthy traders also left.[38]

On behalf of the Egyptians, Cyrus of Alexandria sued for peace, and his request was granted. After the invasion of Egypt ‘Amr is reported to have written to Caliph ‘Umar:

“We have conquered Alexandria. In this city there are 4,000 palaces, 400 places of entertainment, and untold wealth.”

The permanent loss of Egypt meant a loss of a huge amount of Byzantium’s food and money. The loss of Egypt and Syria, followed later by the invasion of the Exarchate of Africa also meant that the Mediterranean, long referred to as the “Roman lake”, was now contested between two powers: the Muslim Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire. In these events, the Byzantine Empire, although sorely tested, would be able to hold on to Anatolia, while the mighty walls of Constantinople would save it during two great Arab sieges, from the fate of the Persian Empire.[39]

An attempt was made in the year 645 to regain Alexandria for the Byzantine Empire, but it was retaken by ‘Amr in 646. In 654 an invasion fleet sent by Constans II was repulsed. From that time no serious effort was made by the Byzantines to regain possession of the country.

Invasion of Nubia

The land of Nubia lay to the south of Egypt. It stretched from Aswan to Khartoum and from the Red Sea to the Libyan Desert. The Nubians were Christians and were ruled by a king. The capital of the kingdom was Dongola. In the summer of 642, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As sent an expedition to Nubia under the command of his cousin ‘Uqbah ibn Nafi. The expedition was ordered by ‘Amr on his own account. It was not a whole scale invasion but merely a pre-emptive raid to show the arrival of a new ruling in Egypt to the bordering kingdoms.[40] ‘Uqbah ibn Nafi, who later made a great name for himself as the Conqueror of Africa, and led his horse to the Atlantic came in for an unhappy experience in Nubia. In Nubia, no pitched battle was fought. There were only skirmishes and haphazard engagements and in such type of warfare the Nubians excelled at. They were skilful archers and subjected the Muslims to a merciless barrage of arrows. These arrows were aimed at the eyes and in the encounter 250 Muslims lost their eyes.

The Nubians were very fast in their movements.[13] The Muslim cavalry was known for its speed and mobility, but it was no match for the Nubian horse riders. The Nubians would strike hard against the Muslims, and then vanish before the Muslims could recover their balance and take counter action. The hit-and-run raids by the Nubians caused considerable damage to the Muslims. ‘Uqbah wrote to ‘Amr of this state of affairs.[41] He said that the Nubians avoided pitched battle, and in the guerilla tactics that they followed the Muslims suffered badly. ‘Uqbah further came to know that Nubia was a very poor land, and there was nothing therein worth fighting for.[citation needed] Thereupon ‘Amr ordered ‘Uqbah to withdraw from Nubia. ‘Uqbah accordingly pulled out of Nubia with his forces.

Conquest of North Africa

After the preemptive raid on Nubia in the south ‘Amr decided to undertake campaigns in the west, so as to secure the western borders of Egypt and clear the region of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan from Byzantine influence. Some time in September 642, ‘Amr led his troops west. After one month of marching the Muslim forces reached the city of Pentapolis. From Burqa, ‘Uqbah bin Nafi was sent at the head of a column to undertake a campaign against Fezzan. ‘Uqbah marched to Zaweela, the capital of Fezzan. No resistance was offered, and the entire district of Fezzan, what is present day north-western Libya, submitted to the Muslims. ‘Uqbah then returned to Burqa. Soon after the Muslim army marched westward from Burqa. They arrived at Tripoli in the spring of 643 C.E. and laid siege to the city. The city fell after a siege of one month. From Tripoli, ‘Amr sent a detachment to Sabratha, a city forty miles from Tripoli. The city put up feeble resistance, and soon surrendered and agreed to pay Jizya. From Tripoli, ‘Amr is reported to have written to the caliph the details of the operations in the following words:

“We have conquered Burqa, Tripoli and Sabratha. The way to the west is clear, and if the Commander of the Faithful wishes to conquer more lands, we could do so with the grace of God.”

‘Umar, whose armies were already engaged in a massive campaign of conquering the Sassanid Empire did not wanted to engage himself further along north Africa, when Muslim rule in Egypt was as yet insecure. The caliph accordingly disapproved of any further advances and ordered ‘Amr to first consolidate the Muslims’ position in Egypt, and issued strict orders that there should be no further campaigning. ‘Amr obeyed, abandoning Tripoli and Burqa and returning to Fustat. This was towards the close of the year 643 AD.[42]

Stance of the Egyptians towards the invading Muslims

The Muslims were assisted by some Copts, who resented the persecutions of the Byzantines, and of these some turned to Islam. Others sided with the Byzantines, hoping that they would provide a defense against the Arab invaders.[43]

In return for a tribute of money and food for the occupying troops, the Christian inhabitants of Egypt were excused from military service and left free in the observance of their religion and the administration of their affairs. This system was a new institution, as a mandate by a religion. But it was adopted as an institution, by the Muslims from previous poll tax systems in the ancient Middle East. Indeed, the Egyptians had been subject to it – as non-Romans – during Roman rule before the adoption of Christianity by the Roman state. After that, all non-Christian subjects of the Roman Empire had to pay it, including non-Christian Egyptians. The Persians also had a similar poll tax system.

On the twentieth of Maskaram Byzantine general Theodorus and all his troops and officers set out and proceeded to the island of Cyprus, abandoning the city of Alexandria. Thereupon ‘Amr, the Muslim commander, made his entry into the city of Alexandria. The inhabitants received him with respect, for they were in great tribulation and affliction. ‘Amr exacted the taxes which had been determined upon, but he took none of the property of the churches, and he committed no act of spoliation or plunder.

Egypt under Muslim rule

 

Rashidun Empire at its peak under third Rashidun Caliph, Uthman- 654

  Strongholds of Rashidun Caliphate

Muslims gained control over Egypt due to a variety of factors, including internal Byzantine politics, religious zeal and the difficulty of maintaining a large empire. The Byzantines did attempt to regain Alexandria, but it was retaken by ‘Amr in 646. In 654 an invasion fleet sent by Constans II was repelled. From that time no serious effort was made by the Byzantines to regain possession of Egypt.

Amr ibn al-Aas had popular support in Egypt amongst the Coptic Christian population. In the book “The Great Arab Conquests” Hugh Kennedy writes that Cyrus the Roman governor had expelled the Coptic patriarch Benjamin into exile. When Amr occupied Alexandria, a Coptic nobleman (duqs) called Sanutius persuaded him to send out a proclamation of safe conduct for Benjamin and an invitation to return to Alexandria. When he arrived, after thirteen years in concealment, Amr treated him with respect. He was then instructed by the governor to resume control over the Coptic Church. He arranged for the restoration of the monasteries in the Wadi Natrun that had been ruined by the Chalcedonian Christians, which still exists as a functioning monastery in the present day.” [44]

On Amr’s return the Egyptian population also worked with Amr.[45] In the book “The Great Arab Conquests” Hugh Kennedy writes “The pious biographer of Coptic patriarch Benjamin presents us with the striking image of the patriarch prayed for the success of the Muslim commander Amr against the Christians of the Cyrenaica. Benjamin survived for almost twenty years after the fall of Egypt to the Muslims, dying of full years and honour in 661. His body was laid to rest in the monastery of St Macarius, where he is still venerated as a saint. There can be no doubt that he played a major role in the survival of the Coptic Church” [44] Coptic patriarch Benjamin also prayed for Amr when he moved to take Libya.[46]

In the book “The Great Arab Conquests” Hugh Kennedy writes “Even more striking is the verdict of John of Nikiu. John was no admirer of Muslim government and was fierce in his denunciation, but he says of Amr: ‘He extracted the taxes which had been determined upon but he took none of the property of the churches, and he committed no act of spoliation or plunder, and he preserved them throughout all his days'”[47] He writes “Of all the early Muslim conquests, that of Egypt was the swiftest and most complete. Within a space of two years the country had come entirely under Arab rule. Even more remarkably, it has remained under Muslim rule ever since. Seldom in history can so massive a political change have happened so swiftly and been so long lasting” [47]

Uqba ibn Nafi then used Egypt as a launch pad to move across North Africa all the way to the Atlantic ocean.[48] In the book “The Great Arab Conquests” Hugh Kennedy writes “When Uqba reached the Atlantic. The moment has passed into legend. He is said to have ridden his horse into the sea until the water came up to its belly. He shouted out ‘O Lord, if the sea did not stop me, I would go through lands like Alexander the Great (Dhu’l l-Qarnayan), defending your faith’ The image of the Arab warrior whose progress in conquering in the name of God was halted only by the ocean remains one of the most arresting and memorable in the whole history of the conquests.[49]

Fustat, the new capital

With the fall of Alexandria the Muslims were the masters of Egypt. At the time of their Egyptian campaign, Alexandria was the capital of the country. When Alexandria was captured by the Muslims, the houses vacated by the Byzantines were occupied by the Muslims. The Muslims were impressed and attracted by Alexandria, “the queen of cities”. ‘Amr wished for Alexandria to remain the capital of Muslim Egypt.[3] He wrote to Caliph ‘Umar seeking his permission to do this. ‘Umar rejected the proposal on the basis that Alexandria was a maritime city and there would always be a danger of Byzantine naval attacks.[50]

He suggested that the capital should be established further inland at a central place, where no mass of water intervened between it and Arabia.[51] As per the treaty with Cyrus of Alexandria, the wealth of the Egyptians in Alexandria was spared and that of Romans and Greeks was taken as booty. Greek citizens were given a choice, to return to Greek territories safely without their wealth, or to stay in Alexandria and pay Jizya. Some chose to stay, while others went to Byzantine lands.

‘Amr next proceeded to choose a suitable site for the capital of Egypt. His choice fell on the site where he had pitched his tent at the time of the battle of Babylon. His tent had been fixed about a quarter of a mile north east of the fort. It is reported that after the battle was over, and the army was about to march to Alexandria, the men began to pull down the tent and pack it for the journey, when it was found that a dove had nested on top of the tent and laid eggs. ‘Amr ordered that the tent should remain standing where it was. The army marched away but the tent remained standing in the plain of Babylon. In this unusual episode ‘Amr saw a sign from Heaven. He decided “where the dove laid its nest, let the people build their city”. As ‘Amr’s tent was to be the focal point of the city, the city was called Fustat, which in Arabic means the tent. The first structure to be built was the mosque which later became famous as Mosque of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As.[43] The city of Fustat was built due east of Babylon. In the course of time, Fustat extended to include the old town of Babylon. It grew to become a bustling city and the commercial centre of Egypt.[52]

Reforms of Caliph Umar

To consolidate his rule in Egypt, ‘Umar imposed the jizya on Egyptians. However, during later Umayyad rule higher taxes were imposed on the Egyptians.

By ‘Umar’s permission, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As decided to build a canal to join the Nile with the Red Sea; it would help the traders and Arabia would flourish through this new trade route. Moreover it would open new markets for the Egyptian merchants and open for them an easy route for the markets of Arabia and Iraq. This project was presented to Caliph ‘Umar, who approved it. A canal was dug, and within a few months was opened for merchants. It was named Nahar Amir ul-Mu’mineen i.e. The canal of Commander of the Faithful referring to the title of the Caliph ‘Umar.[53]

Amr proposed another project: digging a canal that would join the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.[54] The project was once again sent to ‘Umar for approval, but Umar viewed it as a threat to national security and rejected on the basis that it would open a way for Byzantine navy to enter the Red Sea via that canal and posing a threat to Madinah itself.[3] This project however was completed in the form of what is now known as the Suez Canal 1300 years later. Each year the caliph instructed a large amount of jizya to be used on the building and repairing of canals and bridges.[55] The Arabs remained in control of the country from this point until 1250, when it fell under the control of the Mamelukes.

this day in the yesteryear: George Washington Resigns as Commander-in-Chief (1783)


George Washington Resigns as Commander-in-Chief (1783)

After demonstrating exemplary leadership as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, George Washington resigned his commission and retired to Mount Vernon, Virginia. By resigning his military post, Washington established the important precedent that civilian-elected officials possess ultimate authority over the armed forces. After a brief retirement, he was elected the country’s first president. Why was he given a posthumous military promotion in 1976? More… Discuss

Fireworks


Fireworks

Fireworks, which are generally believed to have been invented by the Chinese, have been used throughout history to celebrate happy occasions. In 1789, George Washington’s inauguration was accompanied by a display, and today, fireworks help mark Independence Day in the US, Diwali in India, Bastille Day in France, and New Year’s Eve around the world. In 1999, Disney World began launching fireworks with compressed air rather than gunpowder. What are the advantages of this type of launch? More… Discuss

quotation: Alexander Hamilton


Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) Discuss

today’s birthday: Marquis de Lafayette (1757)


Marquis de Lafayette (1757)

Lafayette was a French aristocrat most famous for his participation in the American and French revolutions. He fought with distinction in the American Revolution, becoming a close friend of George Washington. Upon returning to France, “the Hero of Two Worlds” turned his attentions to his home country, helping draft the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and pushing for a constitutional monarchy. Lafayette is one of only seven people to have been accorded what honor by the US? More… Discuss

today’s birthday: Henry Knox (1750)


Henry Knox (1750)

A bookseller, Knox became active in the colonial militia in the lead-up to the American Revolution. Upon the outbreak of war with England, he volunteered for the revolutionary forces and soon proved himself a capable tactician and leader. He was so highly regarded that he was chosen to succeed George Washington as commander of the army at the war’s end and later served as the first US secretary of war. What did Knox accidentally swallow that caused an infection that claimed his life? More… Discuss

quotation: Alexander Hamilton – Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint.


Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint.

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) Discuss

Presidents’ Day (Washington’s Birthday) in United States


George Washington statue in the Boston Public Garden

George Washington statue in the Boston Public Garden (one click away from the story)

TODAY’S HOLIDAY: LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY (PRESIDENTS’ DAY)


Lincoln’s Birthday

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was born on Feb. 12, 1809. A wreath-laying ceremony and reading of the Gettysburg Address at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., are traditional on Feb. 12. Lincoln’s actual birthday is a legal holiday in 11 states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia. In most other states, Lincoln’s and George Washington’s birthdays are combined for a legal holiday on the third Monday in February calledPresidents’ DayMore… Discuss

 

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Today’s Birthday: James Monroe (1758)


James Monroe (1758)

Monroe was the fifth president of the US. After serving in the American Revolution, he was elected to the Senate, where he opposed the administration of George Washington. He nevertheless became Washington’s minister to France and later helped to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. With Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, he developed the principles of US foreign policy later called the Monroe Doctrine. Monroe served two terms as president, presiding in a period that became known as what? More… Discuss