2 March 1859

The two-day Great Slave Auction, the largest such auction in United States history, begins.

The “Great Slave Auction” occurred in 1859 at the Ten Broeck Race Course near Savannah, Georgia. This infamous event is often cited as the largest single sale of enslaved people in United States history.

The auction took place over two days, starting on March 2nd, 1859, and was orchestrated by Pierce M. Butler, a wealthy plantation owner who had fallen into financial ruin. Butler inherited a significant number of enslaved individuals but found himself heavily indebted due to mismanagement and lavish spending.

To settle his debts, Butler decided to liquidate his assets, which included the human beings he held as slaves. The sale attracted buyers from across the South, as well as from other parts of the United States. The enslaved individuals up for sale were paraded before potential buyers, who assessed their physical attributes, skills, and health. Families were often separated, and the auction was marked by scenes of heartbreak and despair as people were torn from their loved ones.

The auction was a stark reminder of the dehumanizing cruelty of slavery and the commodification of human lives. It also highlighted the economic foundation upon which slavery rested in the antebellum South. The event drew condemnation from abolitionists and others opposed to the institution of slavery, further fueling the tensions that would eventually lead to the American Civil War.

While the Great Slave Auction is one of the most notorious examples of the buying and selling of enslaved people in the United States, it is just one among countless similar auctions that took place throughout the country during the era of American slavery.

2 March 1992

Start of the war in Transnistria.

The war in Transnistria was a conflict that occurred between 1990 and 1992 in the breakaway region of Transnistria, which is located in eastern Moldova.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, tensions rose between the majority ethnic Romanians in Moldova and the minority ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. In Transnistria, which was home to a large Russian-speaking population, a separatist movement emerged that sought to break away from Moldova and join the Russian Federation.

In 1990, the Transnistrian authorities declared independence from Moldova, which led to an armed conflict between the Moldovan government and Transnistrian separatists, who were supported by Russian forces. The fighting continued for two years, until a ceasefire was declared in 1992.

The conflict resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people and the displacement of thousands. Today, Transnistria remains a self-declared independent state, but it is not recognized by the international community, and its status remains unresolved.

2 March 1946

Ho Chi Minh is elected the President of North Vietnam.

H? Chí Minh, 19 May 1890 – 2 September 1969, born Nguy?n Sinh Cung, also known as Nguy?n T?t Thành, Nguy?n Ái Qu?c, Bác H? or simply Bác, was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who was Chairman and First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Vietnam. He was also Prime Minister 1945–1955 and President 1945–1969 of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. He was a key figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 as well as the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

H? Chí Minh led the Vi?t Minh independence movement from 1941 onward, establishing the Communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and defeating the French Union in 1954 at the battle of ?i?n Biên Ph?. He officially stepped down from power in 1965 due to health problems. After the war, Saigon, the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

Any description of H? Chí Minh’s life before he came to power in Vietnam is necessarily fraught with ambiguity. He is known to have used at least 50 :582 and perhaps as many as 200 pseudonyms. Both his place and date of birth are subjects of academic debate since neither is known with certainty. At least four existing official biographies vary on names, dates, places and other hard facts while unofficial biographies vary even more widely.

The 1954 Geneva Accords concluded between France and the Vi?t Minh, allowing the latter’s forces to regroup in the North whilst anti-Communist groups settled in the South. His Democratic Republic of Vietnam relocated to Hanoi and became the government of North Vietnam, a Communist-led one-party state. Following the Geneva Accords, there was to be a 300-day period in which people could freely move between the two regions of Vietnam, later known as South Vietnam and North Vietnam. During the 300 days, Di?m and CIA adviser Colonel Edward Lansdale staged a campaign to convince people to move to South Vietnam. The campaign was particularly focused on Vietnam’s Catholics, who were to provide Di?m’s power base in his later years, with the use of the slogan “God has gone south”. Between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people migrated to the South, mostly Catholics. At the start of 1955, French Indochina was dissolved, leaving Di?m in temporary control of the South.

All the parties at Geneva called for reunification elections, but they could not agree on the details. Recently appointed Vi?t Minh acting foreign minister Pham Van Dong proposed elections under the supervision of “local commissions”. The United States, with the support of Britain and the Associated States of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, suggested United Nations supervision. This plan was rejected by Soviet representative Vyacheslav Molotov, who argued for a commission composed of an equal number of communist and non-communist members, which could determine “important” issues only by unanimous agreement. :89, 91, 97 The negotiators were unable to agree on a date for the elections for reunification. North Vietnam argued that the elections should be held within six months of the ceasefire while the Western allies sought to have no deadline. Molotov proposed June 1955, then later softened this to any time in 1955 and finally July 1956. :610 The Diem government supported reunification elections, but only with effective international supervision, arguing that genuinely free elections were otherwise impossible in the totalitarian North. :107 By the afternoon of 20 July, the remaining outstanding issues were resolved as the parties agreed that the partition line should be at the 17th parallel and the elections for a reunified government should be held in July 1956, two years after the ceasefire. :604 The Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam was only signed by the French and Vi?t Minh military commands, with no participation or consultation of the State of Vietnam. :97 Based on a proposal by Chinese delegation head Zhou Enlai, an International Control Commission chaired by India, with Canada and Poland as members, was placed in charge of supervising the ceasefire. :603 :90,97 Because issues were to be decided unanimously, Poland’s presence in the ICC provided the Communists with effective veto power over supervision of the treaty. :97–98 The unsigned Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference called for reunification elections, which the majority of delegates expected to be supervised by the ICC. The Vi?t Minh never accepted ICC authority over such elections, insisting that the ICC’s “competence was to be limited to the supervision and control of the implementation of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities by both parties”. :99 Of the nine nations represented, only the United States and the State of Vietnam refused to accept the declaration. Undersecretary of state Walter Bedell Smith delivered a “unilateral declaration” of the United States position, reiterating: “We shall seek to achieve unity through free elections supervised by the United Nations to ensure that they are conducted fairly”.

2 March 1956

Morocco gets its independence from France.

March the 2nd, 1956 is a date almost forgotten in Morocco, yet it officially commemorates the day Morocco gained its independence. On that day, the page of the French protectorate was officially turned by putting an end to the Fes treaty concluded on the 30th of March, 1912. An event that was the fruit of a week-long negotiation between King Mohammed V and the French President Guy Mollet. Under the reign of the late monarch, Moroccans used to celebrate the Independence Day on March the 2nd.

It was only with the accession of Hassan II to the throne on March the 3rd, 1961, that a change occurred. Textbooks, media, the administration and the majority of political parties have all contributed to anchoring this change, rendering homage to the generations that have contributed to this victory.

Honoring the past generations

November the 18th was then the chosen date to celebrate the independence of Morocco, it is also an important day in the Kingdom’s history. Two days after his return from exile, on November 16, 1955, first in Corsica and then in Madagascar, the Sultan delivered a memorable speech to the nation. In front of a jubilant crowd, he said he was fully determined to recover all the regions still under the French, Spanish and international control. From 1927 to 1961, Moroccans commemorated the accession of Mohammed V’s throne every November 18.

For decades, March the 2nd has entered a long-imposed hibernation. It was only with the wave of the «Arab Spring» in 2011 that was approaching the Moroccan coast that the date came out of its lethargy. In the aftermath of the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia on January the 14th, 2011, Moroccan netizens from the left had proposed to organize a march on March the 2nd asking for democracy and social justice. A way for them to honor the forgotten date. The attempt was inconclusive and the oblivion still goes on.

2 March 1859

The Great Slave Auction, the largest such auction in United States history, starts.

The Great Slave Auction in March 1859 is regarded as the largest sale of enslaved people before the American Civil War. To satisfy significant debts, absentee owner and Philadelphian Pierce Mease Butler, authorized the sale of approximately 436 men, women, children, and infants to be sold over the course of two days at the Ten Broeck Race Course, two miles outside of Savannah, Georgia.

he Butlers of South Carolina and Philadelphia were owners of slave plantations located on the Sea Islands of Georgia. The patriarch of the family, Major Pierce Butler, owned hundreds of slaves who labored over rice and cotton crops, thus amassing him the family’s wealth. Butler was one of the wealthiest and most powerful slave owners in the United States. Upon his death, his biggest dilemma was which heir to leave his wealth. Estranged from his son, Major Butler left his estate to his two grandsons, Pierce M. Butler and John A. Butler.

Pierce M. Butler was everything his grandfather detested in men. Pierce was devoid of business sense and degenerate in his personal habits. Butler frequently engaged in risky business speculations, which resulted in financial loss in the Crash of 1857, and his elaborate spending. However, it would be his incorrigible gambling that landed him in the most trouble. Butler had accrued a considerable amount of gambling debt over the years. To satisfy his financial obligations, the management of Butler’s estate was transferred to trustees. At first, the trustees sold Butler’s Philadelphia mansion for $30,000 as well as other properties; unfortunately, it was not enough to satisfy creditors. The only commodities of value that remained were the slaves he owned on his Georgia plantations.