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League of Nations instituted

On January 10, 1920, the League of Nations comes into being when the Covenant of the League of Nations, ratified by 42 nations in 1919, takes effect. Beneath the relief at the end of World War I lay a fear that another war to end all wars might occur. Thus, the League of Nations was established to resolve international crises and prevent such a recurrence. Although U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had proposed the organization, the U.S. Senate refused to approve American participation, citing fears that the League would reduce U.S. authority.

In November 1920, the League of Nations held its first meeting in Geneva. During the 1920s, the League incorporated new members and mediated minor international disputes but was often disregarded by the major world powers. The organization's authority, however, was not seriously challenged until the early 1930s, when a series of events exposed it as ineffectual. Japan quit the organization after its invasion of China was condemned, and the League was likewise powerless to prevent the rearmament of Germany and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The declaration of World War II was not even referred to by the then-virtually-defunct League.

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Griffith elected president of Irish Free State

Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Fein and one of the architects of the 1921 peace treaty with Britain, is elected president of the newly established Irish Free State.

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First meeting of the United Nations

The first General Assembly of the United Nations, comprising 51 nations, convenes at Westminster Central Hall in London, England. One week later, the U.N. Security Council met for the first time and established its rules of procedure. Then, on January 24, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution, a measure calling for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and... Read more >

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Texans Strike Oil

On this day in 1901, a drilling derrick at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas, produces an enormous gusher of crude oil, coating the landscape for hundreds of feet and signalling the advent of the American oil industry. The geyser was discovered at a depth of over 1,000 feet, flowed at an initial rate of approximately 100,000 barrels a day and took nine days to cap. Following the discovery, p... Read more >