In Japan, today marks Setsubun, the day that commemorates the decline of Winter and the rise of Spring, an ancient holiday that tracks the Chinese Lunar New Year in some ways, while the United States celebrates Four Chaplains Day for the heroic work of four preachers on the sinking Dorchester who helped others board life boats and gave up their own life preservers to go down with the ship; in a dispute about Central Italian city-states’ rights and expectations vis-à-vis popes six hundred forty years ago, Pope Gregory XI’s minions oversaw slaughter by Papal Troops of upwards of 2,500 citizens of Cesena in what contemporary accounts called a “bloodbath;” ninety-one years subsequently, in 1468, one of history’s prime movers, Johannes Gutenberg, inhaled his last breath; two decades hence, in 1488, Portuguese sailor Bartolomeu Dias captained the first European ship to round the Cape of Good Hope; twenty-one years past that point in time and space, in 1509, a fleet of Portuguese naval craft battled and defeated a joint flotilla of ships from Ottoman, Venetian, and Egyptian sources, among others, to determine control over sea and land near Diu, India; a quarter century thereafter, in 1534, under orders of King Henry VIII, executioners at the Tower of London killed Irish Rebel ‘Silken’ Thomas and several of his collaborators; a century and three years subsequently, in 1637, across the English Channel, the ‘Tulip Bubble’ underwent the start of complete collapse in the Netherlands, a pattern of bursting the fanciful flights of capital that has continued to the present day; three hundred twenty-seven years back, Massachusetts Bay Colony issued the first paper currency in British North America; seven years short of a century yet later on, in 1783, Spain recognized the United States; in Massachusetts four years henceforth, in 1787, Boston-directed militias stamped out remaining Shays’ Rebellion forces, thereby showing the complexity and even hypocrisy at the heart of ‘America’s revolutionary experiment in freedom;’ two decades onward precisely, though four thousand miles or so South, in 1807, an English-led army captured Montevideo from the Spanish colonialists; two years later, back the same distance North, in 1809, the United States created the territory of Illinois from former indigenous lands, and a baby male opened his eyes who would rise as the briefly with us composer of the Wedding March, Felix Mendelssohn; two additional years onward in 1811, the baby boy was born who would become the tough and famed publisher, Horace Greeley; two further years beyond that, thirty-five hundred miles South in 1813, troops under San Martin’s leadership emerged victorious at the Battle of San Lorenzo in Argentina’s war for independence; in England thirteen years thereafter, in 1826, the male infant uttered his first cry who would mature into acclaimed journalist Walter Bagehot; fourteen hundred sixty-one days more in the direction of now, in 1830, a meeting in London among France, Russia, and England decided that Greece existed as an entity separate from the Ottoman Empire, a landmark in the development of nineteenth century imperialism; four years further along the temporal arc, in 1834, the Baptist college in North Carolina opened that would eventually, from its plantation origins, become Wake Forrest University; eight years further along, in 1842, just South in Georgia, a male child was born who would mature as the acclaimed poet of the South, Sydney Lanier; two years short of three decades afterward to the day, in 1870, the U.S. Congress approved the
Fifteenth Constitutional Amendment, which prohibited denying the franchise to Black men; four years exactly further on, in 1874, an infant female came into the world en route to a life as gadfly, feminist, and critic Gertrude Stein; twenty-three years past that point in time and space, in 1897, Greece and Turkey continued their millennia-long conflict with the Greco-Turkish War; a decade to the day subsequent to that conjunction, in 2007, the male child came along who would become the popular author of history, James Michener; three hundred sixty-five days later to the day, in 1908, the Supreme Court eviscerated working class actions in its own behalf with the rejection of the boycott against fancy hat makers who were of course insisting on their right to screw wage earners without consequences; another years after that, in 1909, across the Atlantic, the baby boy was born whose life unfolded as that of critic Simone Weil;
yet one more year farther down the pike, in 1910, Mother Jones addressed untold hundreds of brewery workers in Milwaukee about the depredations and insufferable conditions that women bottle washers faced in the beer industry, where she was organizing at the time; in Washington seven hundred thirty days afterward, in 1912, Lawrence Massachusetts was in the midst of the ‘Bread and Roses’ strike of well over 30,000 textile workers, most of them women, who faced police and paid operative violence and impunity throughout the long weeks of their attempt to better their lives; one more brief year forward, in 1913, Congress approved the Sixteenth Constitutional Amendment, a law that permitted taxation of income; four years later, luckily enough for war-supporters, in 1917, the U.S. sundered its diplomatic ties with Germany on the basis of the latter’s decision to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare; seven more years in today’s direction, in 1924, the male newborn took a first breath who would grow into iconic advocate of the working class and historian E.P. Thompson, while ‘across the pond’ the historian, President, and White supremacist Woodrow Wilson bid a final farewell; half a dozen years further along time’s pathway, around the world in the French colony of Vietnam in 1930, local activists formed the Vietnamese Communist Party to fight for social justice and national liberation;three more years more proximate to the present pass, in 1933, Adolf Hitler declared that the policy of ‘lebensraum,’ expansion toward the Slavic East, would be Germany’s objective moving forward; eight years yet nearer to now, in 1941, a Supreme Court majority upheld the Fair Labor Standards Act, which among its many ‘civilized’ provisions, finally outlawed child labor in the U.S.; nine years later, in 1950, Klaus Fuchs was arrested for passing atomic bomb information to the Soviets; a year later precisely, in 1951, the baby boy entered the fray who would grow up as gadfly, author, critic, and analyst Michael Ruppert; two years after the fact, in 1953, the renowned oceanographer Jacques Cousteau first published The Silent World; another five years forward, in 1958, a consortium of Western European countries formed a predecessor to the European Economic Community, Belelux; three years on the dot beyond that, in 1961, the U.S. Strategic Air Command and Department of
Defense instigated ‘Operation Looking Glass,’ through which a SAC aircraft was always airborne to control a U.S. thermonuclear counterstrike in the event of a sneak attack by Commies or others, a process that continued through 1991; a trek of three more years toward today, in 1964, nearly 500,000 New York City high school and middle school students boycotted their classes, demanding integrated schools; an additional two years in the future from that point, in 1966, the ninth Soviet Luna space mission managed the first controlled rocket descent onto the lunar surface; three years even closer to the current context, in 1969, Yasser Arafat assumed command of the Palestine Liberation Organization; three hundred sixty-five days later, in 1970, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opens hearings; three hundred sixty-five years thereafter, in 1971, New York policeman Frank Serpico nearly died from a drug-bust shooting, that his subsequent testimony indicated had occurred as a result of corruption among his fellow officers, who hoped to rid themselves of the dreaded ‘honest cop’ on their beat; thirty-three years prior to this exact juncture, a UCLA medical team performed the first woman-to-woman embryo transfer to result in a live birth; a year father along, in 1985, physicist and museum founder Frank Oppenheimer died; four years beyond that date, in 1989, a coup against Paraguayan ‘strongman’ Alfredo Stroessner took place, and brilliant actor and screenwriter John Cassevetes lived out his final scene.