This Day in History: Nov. 2

1889: North and South Dakota achieve statehood: The Dakota territory, named for a group of Sioux people, was sparsely populated by farmers, ranchers, and miners. The mining in the western part of the territory made it prosperous enough for statehood. It also led to conflicts over ownership of the Black Hills, which are sacred to the Sioux but also rich in mineral resources. On this day in 1889, North Dakota and South Dakota were both admitted to the union as states.

1917: British support a Jewish home in Palestine with the Balfour Declaration: The region that now encompasses Israel and Palestine has been under the control of many different powers through the millennia. Prior to World War I, it had been Ottoman territory and had a Jewish minority. The Balfour Declaration was originally written in a letter from UK Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild. It was issued as a public statement, reading “His Majesty’s government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people … it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” The declaration led to the British Mandate of Palestine, and eventually to the founding of the nation of Israel.

1920: First commercial radio station, KDKA, broadcasts from Pittsburgh: Radio transmitters first had widespread use during WWI. After the war the U.S. Government and the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company of East Pittsburgh were looking for commercial uses for the technology. Westinghouse began selling radio receivers, and KDKA broadcast election results so customers would have something to listen to on their radio.

1930: Haile Selassie crowned emperor of Ethiopia: The name might not sound familiar, but Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, had an undisputed impact on the world. Ethiopia is an ancient country, one of the first Christian nations, and the longest in Africa to successfully resist western colonizers. Haile Selassie was born to a long line of Ethiopian royalty. When Fascist Italy invaded in 1936, he appealed to the League of Nations for help. He continued to rule until 1975 when he was deposed by a group of communist military leaders called the Derg. The most interesting thing about him is that a Jamaican religious group, the Rastafari, believe he was an incarnation of God. He remained Ethiopian Orthodox, and denied claims to divinity. But when he sent an archbishop to draw Rastafarians into the Ethiopian Church, he did not correct his Rastafarian followers.

1936: BBC creates BBC Television service: Nov. 2 is a big day for broadcast media. On this day in 1936 the British Broadcasting Corporation created the BBC Television Service. BBC had been broadcasting radio. Its first television broadcast took place from Alexandra Palace. In May of the following year it broadcast the coronation of King George VI and Queen Mother Elizabeth (parents of the current Queen Elizabeth). In 1939 the broadcasts abruptly stopped during a Mickey Mouse cartoon, with the outbreak of WWII. That same cartoon was one of the first things broadcast when it resumed service in 1946.

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