This Day in History
February 22: The Signing of the Enabling Act of 1889, the Bombing of Nijmegen, and Other Events of the Date
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February 22: The Signing of the Enabling Act of 1889, the Bombing of Nijmegen, and Other Events of the Date


A number of important events have taken place on February 22 in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.

1889 - The Signing of the Enabling Act of 1889

As America expanded Westward in the late 19th century, new territories were gaining statehood. The Enabling Act of 1889 (25 Stat. 676, chs. 180, 276–284, enacted February 22, 1889) was a statute that permitted the entrance of Montana and Washington into the United States of America, as well as the splitting of the Territory of Dakota into North Dakota and South Dakota. The Territory of Dakota was to be split on the "seventh standard parallel produced due west to the western boundary." The initial convention centers chosen for North Dakota and South Dakota were Bismarck and Sioux Falls respectively, but the latter was later changed to the city of Pierre.

Legal residents of all of the above-mentioned territories were now permitted voting rights for state representatives, as well as the right to choose delegates who organized political conventions in their respective states. Soon after the Enabling Act was passed, each of the newly formed states was to hold an election for congressional representatives, and submit their results by the 15th of April, 1889. Montana, Washington, and North Dakota were all entitled to one representative in the United States House of Representatives at the time of the bill’s passing, while South Dakota was allowed two due to its higher population.

The North Dakota constitution was built and structured in a less complex manner than that of South Dakota. Every delegate from the southern state was to present a ballot reading either "For the Sioux Falls constitution" or "Against the Sioux Falls constitution." If the latter was the majority, the constitution would be revised and resubmitted until the majority of delegates agreed on its passing.

The statehood of North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Montana also included religious tolerance, stating that no inhabitant of any of the above states could be harassed on account of their religious beliefs. However, while religious tolerance was mandated, all public land in the territories of the new states was to be become government property (including Indian reservations and unclaimed land).

1899 - Philippine–American War: Second Battle of Caloocan

The Second Battle of Caloocan, alternately called the Second Battle of Manila, was fought from February 22 to 24, 1899, in Caloocan during the Philippine–American War. The battle featured a Filipino counterattack aimed at gaining Manila from the Americans that failed to regain Manila mainly because of a lack of coordination among Filipino units and a lack of artillery support.

39 Americans and 500 Filipinos were counted as casualties. Following the battle, Filipino General Luna disarmed the Kawit Battalion for their insubordination. But Aguinaldo countered the act by putting them in a new command, that of Major Ramos. Upon learning of the reinstatement of the Kawit Battalion, Luna offered his resignation on February 28.

The Americans also acted in their own area by banning the entry of armed Filipinos in Manila and instituting a system of passage cards for everyone entering the city. As the Americans ceased operations while they waited for reinforcements to arrive, a period of comparative peace followed after the battle, except for limited activity by small bands of Filipinos guerrillas. Lawton's reinforcements finally began to arrive between March 10 and 23.

1944 – Second World War: Western Front: Bombing of Nijmegen

The Bombing of Nijmegen was an unplanned aerial raid by the United States Army Air Forces on the city in the Netherlands, then occupied by Nazi Germany. In terms of the number of victims, it was one of the largest bombardments of a Dutch city during World War II.

Officially, nearly 800 people (almost all of them civilians) were killed by accident due to careless bombing, but because people that were in hiding could not be counted, the actual death toll is probably higher. A large part of the historic city center was destroyed, including St. Stephen's Church. St. Augustine's Church and Nijmegen railway station (the intended target) were heavily damaged as well.

Because the Dutch government-in-exile in London, which was able to reestablish itself on the continent in early 1945 thanks to the U.S. Army and other Allies' military efforts, tried to avoid criticism against the countries it was relying on for its liberation and future security, it and local authorities largely remained silent on the misfortunate events for decades after, leaving survivors with unaddressed grief and questions, and allowing wild conspiracy theories to thrive.

Although officials long maintained it had been an “erroneous bombardment,” as if Nijmegen was the wrong target, historical research has shown that the attack was definitely intentional, but had been executed terribly.

These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on February 21, at least in our view.

Author: USA Really