12.02.2016 Day in History

slavery racism brutalityToday is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, a shameful admission and an awful necessity; 1409 in what would be Germany four and half centuries later, six hundred seven years ago, the University of Leipzig first opened its doors to students; a hundred eighty-five years later, in 1594, the philosopher, mathematician, and mapmaker Gerardos Mercactor lived out his final day; a hundred three years subsequently, in 1697, St. Paul’s Cathedral began hosting services in London; another hundred sixty-six years onward, in 1763, across the pond in the Rhode Island English colony, a young congregation of Jewish folks consecrated the first synagogue in what would become soon enough the United States; 1804 two hundred twelve years prior to the present day, Napoleon arrogated to himself the first imperial French crown in a millennia; a decade afterward, in 1814, the Marquis de Sade breathed his last; President James Monroe just shy of another ten years past that juncture, in 1823, issued his famous ‘Doctrine,’ in his State of the Union presentation, warning of U.S. displeasure in strong enough terms to suggest warlike consequences should Europeans try to extend colonies among any of the American mountain Mormon_row_barn_grand_teton_national_parkrepublics; twenty-two years hence, in 1845, James Polk argued in his State of the Union message that the Manifest Destiny of the United States was to expand Westward across the North American continent; John Brown dropped from the gallows fourteen years beyond that moment, in 1859, in Jefferson County, Virginia, near where he had led a raid on the Federal armory at Harper’s Ferry as a hoped-for spark for slave uprising and an exit from slavery itself; eight years after that, in 1867, Charles Dickens gave his first American reading in Boston; fourteen years more along the temporal road, in 1881, Jenny von Westphalen, the partner of Karl Marx and mother of seven children with him, breathed her last; eighteen years more proximate to now, in 1899, half a world away in America’s Philippine depredations, a force of 500 Yanks annihilated sixty Filipinos who were covering the retreat of their guerilla leader Aguinaldo; a decade more proximate to the present pass, in 1909, a baby boy first cried out en route to a life as the successful progressive thinker and writer and activist, Joseph Lash; two years later, a Chicago ‘slugger’, paid $50 by labor unions for discouraging scabs, described his job in an interview: “Oh, there ain’t nothing to it. I gets my fifty, then I goes out and finds the guy they wanna have slugged, then I gives it to ‘im;” only weeks after the Russian’s Red October exactly another six years farther along, in 1917, Germany and Russia signed the Brest-Litovsk agreement by the terms of which the war on the Eastern front ceased; a decade later precisely, in 1927, Ford Motor Company introduced its second mass-produced automobile, the Model-A, after nearly two decades of Model-T production; a male infant two years after that, in 1929, came into the world en route to becoming acclaimed historian of slavery Leon Litwack; three hundred sixty-five days onward from that instant, in 1930, as the grip of a depressed economy seemed to tighten inexorably, Herbert Hoover proposed in his State of the Union speech that the country develop a $150 million public works program to alleviate economic distress; John Ringling, cofounder of the famous circus, died six years subsequent to that juncture, in 1936, on what would have been his brother’s seventy-third birthday had Charles not died a decade prior; Enrico Fermi led scientists and technicians another half a dozen years forward in time, in 1942, in the Manhattan Engineering District’s Chicago operations to attain a self-sustaining nuclear jerusalem israel tower davidchain reaction using enriched Uranium; five years further on, in 1947, massive riots erupted in Jerusalem at the announced partition of Palestine; three hundred sixty-six days beyond that, in 1948, the baby boy was born destined to write novels and stories as T. Coraghessan Boyle; 1954 in a nearly three-to-one vote sixty-two years back, the U.S. Senate censured one of their own, Joseph McCarthy, for bringing disrepute onto the upper chamber of the Legislature, and the United States agreed to a treaty that guaranteed its support for the Nationalist Chinese in Taiwan; another seven hundred thirty-one days down the pike, in 1956, the Granma succeeded in delivering Fidel Castro and Che Gueverra and their comrades, who were seeking to overthrow the U.S. backed Batista government; five years henceforth, in 1961, Fidel Castro addressed the Cuban people to announce his commitment to socialism and Marxism and to declare the intention of the revolution to promote a communist state in Cuba; a year later to the day, in 1962, Senator Mike Mansfield returns from Vietnam after a trip that President Kennedy asked him to make to report critically and equivocally on how things were going in Southeast Asia; eight years nearer to now, in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency began its work; a decade after that day precisely, in 1980, military personnel in El Salvador targeted and killed four American nuns as punishment for their work for the poor and oppressed in the Central American nation; two years afterward, in 1982, surgeons at the University of Utah implanted the first artificial heart in a surviving patient; two years henceforth, in 1984, a disastrous cyanide lead occurred at a sloppily maintained and highly profitable Indian plant in Bhopal, killing over time plus or minus 25,000 people and facing only relatively paltry consequences as a result; four year beyond that terrible tragedy, in 1988, Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan; Canadian author Robertson Davies expired thirteen closer to now, in 1995, and workers at the Caterpillar Corporation rejected their union-negotiated contract with the company only to have the United Autoworkers leadership give up and impose the agreement by fiat; half a dozen years farther along time’s path, in 2001, Enron filed for bankruptcy; a year beyond that, in 2002, the great thinker and humanist Ivan Illich drew a final breath; a half decade beyond that, in 2007, the American literary critic, novelist, and short story writer Elizabeth Hardwick breathed her last, exactly one year later, in 2008, we lost Odetta, the beloved singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress; one year yet later still, in 2009, Walmart faced forty million dollars in fines for treating some eighty thousand Massachusetts employees like slaves, which meant at most a few hundred dollar per damaged worker; a year ago, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and wounded 22 at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernadino, California.