|Born||23 Jul 1892|
|Died||27 Aug 1975|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseHaile Selassie was born Tafari Makonnen in the village of Ejersa Goro of Harar Province to the governor Ras (Duke) Makonnen Woldemikael Gudessa and Woyzero (Lady) Yeshimebet Ali Abajifar. His family claimed to be directly descended from Queen Makeda and King Solomon, thus considered aristocratic. He was made Dejazmatch (Count) at the age of 13, attended Menelik II School for Nobles, and later became the governor of Harar on 11 Apr 1911. He was made Inderase (Regent) in 1916, in which role he was responsible for entering Abyssinia into the League of Nations in 1923 and abolishing slavery in 1924. He was crowned Negus (King) under Empress Zewditu in 1928, and after two years of political instability he was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie ("Might of the Trinity") of Abyssinia on 2 Nov 1930. His coronation ceremony was attended by high profile European figures such as Prince Henry of Britain, Duke of Gloucester of Britain, Marshal Franchet d'Esperey of France, and Prince of Udine of Italy. On 16 Jul 1931, Emperor Haile Selassie introduced the nation's first constitution.
ww2dbaseOn 3 Oct 1935, Haile Selassie's nation was invaded by Italian troops on two fronts after more than a year of border violations by Italy. Haile Selassie personally directed campaigns against the Italian troops in northern Abyssinia, but the better equipped Italian troops, coupled with the willingness to deploy chemical weapons, frustrated the Abyssinian Emperor. After a series of defeats, Haile Selassie fled from the capital of Addis Ababa on 2 May 1936 to neighboring Djibouti, from which he boarded a British ship for Palestine. Later in that year, he addressed the League of Nations, successful in convincing the League of Nations, which already accused Italy as the aggressor in the conflict, to impose sanctions on Italy. "What answer shall I take back to my people?" He asked the League of Nations during his speech. "It is us today, it will be you tomorrow", he predicted if the League of Nations permits Italian aggression. The sanctions imposed by the League of Nations, however, was partial and rather ineffective in deterring Italian aggression. For one, oil did not appear in the list of boycotted items. Despite of his failure to gather international support for his country at the League of Nations, he became a symbol of anti-Facism in Africa, and became Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" for 1936.
ww2dbaseBetween 1936 and 1941 Haile Selassie was in exile in Bath, Britain, powerless as he received news of his family in Abyssinia persecuted by the Italians. In 1941, following Britain's successful efforts to liberate Abyssinia, Haile Selassie returned to his country. Despite his earlier failures at the League of Nations to gather support, he continued to place his faith in international organizations; in 1945 he secured a seat at the United Nations for Ethiopia, the preferred name of modern Abyssinia. In 1951, with UN support, Eritrea was admitted into the Empire of Ethiopia as a federated state. In 1955, he introduced a democratically elected lower house of parliament. His policies were considered by most as conservative, but he aligned his nation closer to the European powers than the rest of Africa.
ww2dbaseSince 1930, Haile Selassie had been viewed as a deity to the followers of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica, although the devout Orthodox Christian Emperor denied such belief. Although he was friendly toward the Rastafari, he also expressed concern that its followers were misguided.
ww2dbaseIn Sep 1974, a Marxist uprising saw Haile Selassie's house arrest. A year later in Aug 1975, he died from what the new government reported as post-operation complications, but the doctors denied such claims. It was wide believed that the former Emperor was assassinated in his sleep. His remains were hastily buried beneath the president's personal office in 1975; on 5 Nov 2000 he was given a new burial by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Last Major Revision: Dec 2005
Haile Selassie Timeline
|23 Jul 1892||Haile Selassie was born.|
|2 Nov 1930||King Tafari was made Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia.|
|2 May 1936||Exhausted and heartbroken the Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) travelled by train to Djibouti in French Somaliland where he boarded the British cruiser HMS Enterprise to sail into exile.|
|19 Jan 1941||Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia crossed the border between Sudan and Italian Eritrea, traveling toward his home country behind advancing British and Commonwealth troops.|
|5 May 1941||Abyssinian Emperor Haile Selassie returned to his capital Addis Ababa. He had fled the city exactly five years during the Italian invasion.|
|14 Oct 1954||Emperor Haile Selassie I of Abyssinia was made a Stranger Knight of the British Order of the Garter.|
|27 Aug 1975||Haile Selassie passed away.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945