February 1920

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February 24, 1920: German Workers' Party Deputy Chairman Hitler unveils platform of new Nazi Party
February 10, 1920: Poland regains a seaport
February 13, 1920: U.S. Secretary of State Lansing fired by President Wilson
February 2, 1920: Soviet Union recognizes Estonian independence with treaty in Tartu

The following events occurred in February 1920:

Sunday, February 1, 1920Edit

An RCMP "Mountie" in 1931

Monday, February 2, 1920Edit

  • The Treaty of Tartu was signed between the Soviet Union and Estonia (referred to at the time as "Esthonia"), with the Soviets recognizing Estonia as an independent nation and renouncing claims to Estonian territory.[4][5] The pact, signed at the city of Tartu in Estonia, brought a successful end to the Estonian War of Independence after more than a year of fighting. The Soviet government also agreed to pay five million gold rubles and permission to purchase 2.5 million acres of Russian timber, in return for use of the Narova River for development of hydroelectric power.[2] Estonian independence would last for 20 years, but the nation would be annexed into the Soviet Union on August 6, 1940. The Republic of Estonia would remain part of the U.S.S.R. until August 20, 1991.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau announced that the death rate in the United States in 1918 was the highest on record, with 1,471,367 people dying, a rate of 18 per every 1,000 people.[6] Of the total, nearly one-third—477,467—had died in the Spanish influenza epidemic from either the flu or from complications with pneumonia.
  • Born: Han Young-suk, Korean folk dancer who preserved the art of the traditional Seungmu and Taepyeongmu Korean dances in the 20th century; in Cheonan, Chōsen, Japanese Empire (now Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, South Korea. Prior to her death, she was honored as one of the people designated as a Living National Treasure (ingan munhwage).

Tuesday, February 3, 1920Edit

Wednesday, February 4, 1920Edit

Thursday, February 5, 1920Edit

Friday, February 6, 1920Edit

Sir James Grant (1831-1920
  • France's Prime Minister, Alexandre Millerand, called for a vote of confidence on his government's foreign policy of strict adherence to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and received an endorsement of 518 to 68.[19][2]
  • The Commonwealth of Virginia became the third U.S. state to reject women's suffrage and the proposed 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as the vote in the state Senate failed, 10 to 24.[20] More than 30 years after the amendment had been ratified, Virginia's legislature would approve the amendment on February 21, 1952.

Saturday, February 7, 1920Edit

Fastest pilot, Sadi-Lecointe
  • The Soviet government established an agency to audit its civil servants, Rabkrin (an acronym for Raboche-Krestyanskaya Inspektsiya (the Workers'—Peasants' Inspectorate).[21]
  • French aviator Joseph Sadi-Lecointe set a new record for fastest time to travel one kilometer — 13.05 seconds — with an average speed of 275.86 kilometres per hour (171.41 mph) in a Nieuport-Delage NiD 29 airplane.[22]
  • Admiral Alexander Kolchak, the former Supreme Leader of Russia [23] was executed in a prison in Irkutsk, along with his former prime minister, Viktor Pepelyayev.
  • Having recovered from a stroke that had kept him bedridden for several months, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson confronted his Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, asking, "Is it true, as I have been told, that during my illness you have frequently called the heads of the executive departments of government into conference?", adding that if it was true, "Under our constitutional law and practice, no one but the president has the right to summon" cabinet members to a meeting, "and no one but the president and the congress has the right to ask their views or the views of any one of them on any public question." [24] Lansing responded two days later, conceding that he frequently called meetings "in view of the fact that we were denied communication with you." The response led Wilson to ask Lansing's resignation on February 11.
  • Died: Richard Bullock, 75, Cornwall-born American trickshot artist who portrayed "Deadwood Dick" in vaudeville

Sunday, February 8, 1920Edit

  • In Albania, the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed Tirana as the new nation's temporary capital, after the city of Durrës had served as the capital since 1918.[28] Tirana would still be the Balkan nation's capital a century later.
  • Prima ballerina Elena Smirnova performed in Russia for the final time, as the production of Romance of the Roses closed. Smirnova and other artists subsequently fled from the Soviet Union. She would never return to Russia, and would die in 1934.
  • Born:

Monday, February 9, 1920Edit

Lexington riot
  • The Svalbard islands, located above the Arctic Circle, were recognized as territory of Norway in the Spitsbergen Treaty signed in Paris by seven European nations.[2][29]
  • The Battle of Urfa began after a former Ottoman Empire official, Ali Saip Bey, had unsuccessfully demanded that a garrison of French occupation forces withdraw from the area that they were claiming as French territory.[30] The 473 soldiers defending Urfa would withstand a siege by Turkish and Kurdish forces for 61 days; almost all of the defenders would be killed after having been promised that they would receive safe passage following a surrender.
  • The U.S. Senate voted, 63 to 9, to allow consideration of the Treaty of Versailles again and referred it to the Foreign Relations Committee [31]
  • The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees and Railway Shop Workers, an American labor union, called for its 300,000 members to walk out on strike on February 17 if an agreement on wages could not be resolved with the U.S. Railroad Administration.[32]
  • Five people in Lexington, Kentucky, were killed by the state National Guard after attempting to storm the city jail to lynch Will Lockett (alias for Petrie Kimbrough), an African-American serial killer who had confessed to the killing of three women and a child, 10-year old Geneva Hardman.[33][34] Lockett would be executed by electric chair on March 11.
  • Born:
  • Died: David Ward King, 62, American inventor who created the horse-drawn King road drag, the first road grader, making the improvement of dirt roads possible.

Tuesday, February 10, 1920Edit

  • In a plebiscite taken in the former northern portion of the German Duchy of Schleswig, residents voted by a 3 to 1 margin to become part of the Kingdom of Denmark.[2][35] The formal transfer would take place on June 15 as the districts of Hadersleben, Apenrade, Sonderburg and Tondern became Haderslev, Aabenraa, Sønderborg and Tønder. The official results issued in Copenhagen were 75,023 Schleswig voters in favor of their land becoming part of Denmark, and 25,087 voting in favor of remaining part of Germany [36]
  • French Army troops, under the command of General Louis Albert Quérette, abandoned their garrison at the former Ottoman Empire city of Maraş and allowed the Turkish National Forces to reclaim the site, bringing an end to the Battle of Marash.[30] The French forces had been protecting 20,000 Armenian civilians who had been relocated to Maraş following the Armenian Genocide, and although more than 4,000 fled with the French troops, more than 8,000 left behind were killed when the Turks entered the city. Of the Armenians who did depart with the French troops, only 1,500 survived the winter weather during the retreat to another French fortress at İslâhiye.
  • There ceremony of the "Wedding to the Sea" (Zaślubiny Polski z morzem) was carried out as Poland regained territory from Germany along the Baltic Sea. Lieutenant General Józef Haller of the Polish Army carried out the symbolic union of Poland to the sea at the seaport town of Puck, formerly Putzig.[37]

Wednesday, February 11, 1920Edit

  • The British House of Commons voted to reject a resolution for nationalization of the nation's coal mines.[38] The vote, on whether to accept the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Coal Industry for nationlization, was defeated by a margin of 329 against and only 64 for.
  • Born: Prince Farouk of Egypt, son of Sultan Fuad of Egypt, King of Egypt from 1936 until his overthrow in 1952; in Cairo (d. 1965)

Thursday, February 12, 1920Edit

Friday, February 13, 1920Edit

NNL Founder Foster
  • U.S. President Wilson fired Secretary of State Robert Lansing, two days after asking Lansing to resign, stating "I feel it is my duty to accept your resignation, to take effect at once." [39] President Wilson reportedly stated in three letters that Secretary Lansing had usurped presidential authority by countermanding Wilson's foreign policy decisions.[40] One day after Wilson wrote to Lansing that "I am very much disappointed" and stated "it would relieve me of embarrassment, Mr. Secretary... if you would give your present office up, and afford me an opportunity to select someone whose mind would more willingly go along with mine." [24] On Thursday, Lansing formally presented his requested resignation.
  • The League of Nations admitted Switzerland as a neutral member [41][42] and appointed a commission to determine the future of the Saar valley.[43]
  • The Negro National League was established as the first African-American baseball league to last more than one season. Rube Foster and seven other team owners met in Kansas City to make plans to begin play starting on May 1. The initial teams were the Chicago American Giants, the traveling Chicago Giants and Cuban Stars, the Dayton Marcos, the Detroit Stars, the Indianapolis ABCs, the Kansas City Monarchs and the St. Louis Giants [44][45]
  • Born: A. Maruthakasi (pen name for Ayyamperumal Maruthakasiudayar) Tamil-language Indian songwriter and poet; in Melakudikadu, Trichinopoly District, Madras Province, British India (d. 1989).
  • Died: Otto Gross, 42, Austrian psychoanalyst

Saturday, February 14, 1920Edit

  • Most of the 515 suspected American subversives detained on Ellis Island were released after posting bail, while charges were dismissed on another 100 after the cases were processed. The others were held to await deportation.[43]
  • Died:

Sunday, February 15, 1920Edit

Monday, February 16, 1920Edit

  • The Allies of World War I accepted a proposal, by Germany, that accused war criminals would be tried by German courts at Leipzig, with the understanding that the arrangement would continue for as long as it appeared that the trials were being conducted in good faith.[49] The German government also agreed that the charges against each indicted defendant would be published by the government for use by the media.
  • The Supreme Court of Iceland, the Hæstiréttur, held its first session as the highest court in that nation.[50] Previously, cases decided by the National High Court (the Landsyfirréttur of Reykjavik) were reviewable by the Supreme Court of Denmark.
  • Born:
  • Died: Edward Jones, 65, co-founder (with Charles Dow of Dow Jones & Company and the Wall Street Journal; his name lives on in the stock market price index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average [51]

Tuesday, February 17, 1920Edit

Former premier Caillaux

Wednesday, February 18, 1920Edit

President Deschanel

Thursday, February 19, 1920Edit

  • The Russian port of Arkhangelsk, part of the Severnaya Oblast region defended by the White Army of Admiral Kolchak, was entered and occupied by the Soviet Bolshevik army;[59] Murmansk, the last bastion of the White Army, would fall on March 13.[60] Most of the White Army government officials had evacuated to Norway the week before.
  • China's Foreign Minister Lou Tseng-Tsiang (Lu Zhengxiang) and Vice Foreign Minister Chen Lu resigned in protest after interference by conservatives during negotiations with Japan over the Shandong peninsula.[43]
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that average wages had risen during 1919 by at least 25%, and in some cases, as high as 125%, in eleven leading industries. The BLS also concluded that the number of employees had risen by as much as 50% in some of the businesses surveyed.[43]
  • Shareholders of the Grand Trunk Railway in Canada voted to turn operation of the system over to the Canadian government.[43]
  • Khosrov bey Sultanov, assigned to be the Governor of Karabakh, a primarily Armenian area claimed by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, met with a council of Armenian leaders and demanded that they agree to the incorporation of the area into Azerbaijan. After the Armenians met and rejected the demand, Azerbaijan troops carried out a massacre of civilians on March 22.
  • The U.S. Navy demonstrated its new weapon to reporters, an artillery shell powerful enough to penetrate more than 13 inches (330 mm) of armor siding.[61] The new shell, produced at the naval ordnance plant in South Charleston, West Virginia, was fired on the Navy's proving grounds at Indian Head, Maryland.
  • Born:
  • Died: Georges Fragerolle, 64, French musician, composer, novelist and theatrical producer (d. 1980)

Friday, February 20, 1920Edit

  • The Communist Party of Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan Kommunist Partiyası), which favored a merger of the Azerbaijan Republic into a federation of Communist republics in the old Russian Empire, was formed at a meeting in Baku by delegates from four political parties (Hummet Party, Adalat Party, Ahrar Party and the Azerbaijan Bolsheviks), with Mirza Davud Huseynov of the Hummet party as its first General Secretary. By April, the Communists would have a majority in the Azerbaijan government; in 1922, they would join with parties in the Armenian and Georgian republics to create a federation and the independent nation would become part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the end of that year. The Azerbaijan Communists would remain in power until 1991.
  • Kin Canada, a Canadian service club, was founded as the Kinsmen of Canada at a meeting in Hamilton, Ontario. Plumbing supply salesman Harold A. Rogers created the group after his application to the Hamilton Rotary Club was denied.
  • The city of Metapa, in Nicaragua, was renamed Ciudad Darío in honor of its most famous native, poet Rubén Darío.
  • U.S. Customs authorities made their first reported confiscation of imported liquor since Prohibition had gone into effect a few weeks earlier. The yacht Genesee, owned by playboy W. K. Vanderbilt Jr., had been carrying "about $1,800 worth of spirituous liquors" (almost $24,000 in current USD buying power [62]) as it arrived at Key West, Florida after its departure from Cuba [63]
  • Born: Sri Madhava Ashish, Scottish aeronautical engineer who converted to Hinduism after moving to India in 1939, and became an author and advocate; as Alexander Phipps in Edinburgh (d. 1997)
  • Died:
Robert E. Peary (1856-1920)

Saturday, February 21, 1920Edit

Admiral Horthy

Sunday, February 22, 1920Edit

  • In the first standoff between the U.S. government and local level authorities since Prohibition went into effect, the U.S. Bureau of Prohibition, part of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (now the IRS) authorized the sending of prohibition agents to Iron County, Michigan to suppress what the U.S. media described as a new "Whiskey Rebellion" [65] Major A. V. Dalrymple, in charge of the central states, wired to his superiors at the B.O.P. for permission to have armed enforcement agents to deal with Iron County prosecutor Martin S. McDonough, who had taken seized alcohol back from B.O.P. agents on February 19.[66] The "rebellion" ended with an angry confrontation between Dalrymple and McDonough at a hotel in Iron Mountain, after which Dalrymple and his 16 agents departed without violence.
  • Born:
  • Died: Spencer Leigh Hughes, 61, popular British MP and journalist, renowned for his wit more than his political abilities. Described as "one of the cleverest after-dinner speakers of his time";[67] from a heart aneurysm suffered while he was speaking in public earlier in the month.

Monday, February 23, 1920Edit

  • The Soviet Army completed its consolidation of northern Russia by taking control of Murmansk.[43]
  • The UK's Secretary of War, Winston Churchill, announced that the British Army would be composed entirely of volunteers with the abolition of military conscription effective March 31. Churchill reported that the British had succeeded in recruiting enough new volunteers to reach 220,000 troops, around the world, with the exception of British India, and that persons who had been drafted would be released from the service by the end of April [68]
  • Born:

Tuesday, February 24, 1920Edit

Britannica boss Rosenwald
Nazi Chairman Drexler
  • The National Socialist German Workers' Party, colloquially known as the Nazi Party, was founded at a meeting at the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in Munich. With over 2,000 people in attendance, German Workers' Party (DAP) Chairman and founder Anton Drexler introduced Adolf Hitler, who then presented his German nationalist "25-Point Program" that changed the DAP's mission statement, its flag and its name to the new NSDAP. The term "Nazi" derived from the abbreviation for Nationalsozialistische.
  • The Dairy Council, which has promoted the consumption of milk in the United Kingdom for almost a century, was founded. During its first 63 years of existence, it was called the National Milk Publicity Council.
  • The rights to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published continuously since its founding in Great Britain in 1768, was purchased by American philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, the Chief Executive Officer of Sears, Roebuck and Company.
  • Soviet Army general Yakov Tryapitsyn and 4,000 troops entered the city of Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, which had been occupied by the Japanese Army's 14th Infantry Division, a Russian White Army garrison, and 6,000 Russian and Japanese civilians. Outnumbered by 4,000 Soviet troops against the combine Japanese and White Russian force of 650, the Japanese commander allowed the Soviets to enter the city. General Trapitsyn's men then began a roundup of the White Russian troops for execution.
  • The League of Nations Supreme Council decided that it would not recognize the Soviet Union as the government of Russia until outrages by the Bolsheviks were halted, but said that the League nations would resume trade with Russia, and that neighboring nations would receive "every possible support" from the League if they were attacked by the Soviets.[43]
  • Mathias Erzberger was forced to resign as Germany's Minister of Finance after his financial scandals were revealed in testimony during a lawsuit he had brought against Dr. Karl Helfferich for libel [43]
  • The U.S. state of Maryland rejected the 19th Amendment for women's suffrage nationwide. In 1941, Maryland would become the first of nine southern states to reverse its decision to reject the amendment.
  • Born: V. Nanammal, Indian yoga teacher who trained over one million students during her 45-year career, in Coimbatore, Madras Presidency (now Tamil Nadu state) (d. 2019)

Wednesday, February 25, 1920Edit

  • Dr. Anna Weld and Professor Leila Andrews became the first and second women to be admitted into the American College of Physicians[69]
  • Within a month of the beginning of Prohibition, the U.S. House rejected the Igoe proposal to repeal the Volstead Act, which provided for enforcement of the ban against liquor [43]
  • Born:
  • Died:
    • James Gayley, 64, American inventor and metallurgist who made improvements in the production of steel and iron.
    • John Charles Olmsted, 68, American landscape architect

Thursday, February 26, 1920Edit

"Dr. Caligari" and crew

Friday, February 27, 1920Edit

Major Schroeder in his Le Père airplane
  • Prime Minister Millerand of France issued an order drafting striking railroad workers into the French Army, after a nationwide walkout had stopped service on three of the nation's five railway lines. The strike ended three days later, on March 1.[43]
  • The British government released the text of proposed legislation in the House of Commons providing for Irish Home Rule, with an autonomous government and a dual parliament.[43]
  • French troops in Syria, formerly territory of the Ottoman Empire, were forced to retreat from Aleppo after heavy fighting. A French study concluded that at least 20,000 Armenians had been massacred by the Ottoman military.[43]
  • U.S. Army Major R. W. Schroeder took off from McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio and set a new world record for highest altitude obtained by a human being, but lost consciousness after reaching an altitude later determined to be 36,020 feet (10,980 m). His plane fell more than six miles before Schroeder was able to regain control of it 2,000 feet (610 m) before impact.[70] Major Schroeder was trying to reach an altitude of 40,000 feet (12,000 m) in his unpressurized, open cockpit Packard-Le Père plane.

Saturday, February 28, 1920Edit

  • The patent application for the mass production of silica gel was filed by its inventor, chemistry professor Walter A. Patrick of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, under the title "Process of producing gels for catalytic and adsorbent purposes".[71] U.S. Patent No. 1,577,186 was not granted until more than six years later, on March 16, 1926. Silica gel is now widely used in packaging as a means of keeping perishable products dry by removing moisture from the air within the package.
  • U.S. President Wilson signed the Esch–Cummins Act, returning control of the nation's railroads to their corporate owners, effective at 12:01 a.m. on March 1. "Thus ends twenty-six months of federal control and operation of the lines," a reporter noted [72]
  • President Wilson also said in a statement to U.S. Senate leaders that if the Senate failed to ratify all of the articles of the Treaty of Versailles, he would decline to sign the ratification bill, exercising the pocket veto of the legislation. At issue was Article 10 of the Treaty [73]
  • Italy began the blockade of the disputed city of Fiume.[43]
  • Greece ratified the Treaty of Versailles.[43]
  • The Emperor of Japan dissolved the nation's legislature, the Diet, because of disagreements between the Cabinet and the Diet over extended male suffrage. Under the law, new elections were required within five months.[43]
  • Mexican bandits crossed the border into the U.S. state of Arizona and killed an American storekeeper at the mining town of Ruby.

Sunday, February 29, 1920Edit

  • The freighter ship SS Cubadist (a tanker for the Cuba Distilling Company) made its last communication after departing from Havana en route to Baltimore with a cargo of molasses. At that time, it identified its position as 111 nautical miles (206 km; 128 mi) south-southwest of Cape Hatteras and North Carolina. The ship and its crew of 40 were never seen again, and was believed to have been lost in a gale that swept through that area of the Atlantic Ocean.[74]


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  3. ^ "Russia Asks World Trade— Soviets Put O.K. on Deal with Allies", Chicago Daily Tribune, February 2, 1920, p1
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