2.23.2017 Day in History

An anachronistic fifteenth-century miniature depicting the sack of 410
An anachronistic fifteenth-century miniature depicting the sack of 410

On this day, the festival of Terminalia, held in honor of Terminus, occurred in Ancient Rome, and it marked Red Army Day in Soviet Russia; in the Turkish reaches of the Roman Empire one thousand seven hundred and fourteen years ago, Diocletian ordered the destruction of the Christian Church in Nicomedia, inaugurating almost a decade of severe persecution; not quite twenty-three decades subsequently, in 532, Byzantium’s Emperor Justinian called for construction of a new place of worship in nearby Constantinople, which would become the renowned Hagia Sophia; nine hundred twenty-three years later, in 1455, the publication of the Gutenberg Bible first took place, the inaugural Western book printed with movable type; only one year less than an entire century afterward, more or less seven thousand miles Southwest in Spanish Chile, in 1554, Mapuche fighters

CC BY-NC-ND by wallyg
CC BY-NC-ND by wallyg

decimated the Spanish at the Battle of Marihueno; three hundred eighty-four years before the here and now, the baby boy opened his eyes who would rise as the administrator and tell-all diarist, Samuel Pepys; a hundred ninety-seven years ahead of today, meanwhile, working class and other disaffected plotters who were conspiring to murder the entire British cabinet fell into the hands of the police as a result of an informer in their midst; just three hundred sixty-six days forward from that, in 1821, the renowned English poet John Keats drew his last breath; a decade and a half further along the temporal arc, in 1836 in faraway Texas, the Battle of the Alamo began in San Antonio; eleven years yet later on, in 1847, American troops during the Mexican American War, under future president General Zachary Taylor, defeated Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna, who had commanded the temporary victors at the Alamo; eight additional years toward the present pass, in 1855, the brilliant thinker and physicist Carl Friederich Gauss took a final breath; half a dozen years thereafter, in 1861, Secret Service agents successfully spirited the President-elect through Baltimore and into the District of Columbia, supposedly thwarting would-be assassins in the process; seven years henceforth, in 1868, a male baby was born who would become the radical spokesman for Black people, William Edward Burqhart Dubois; another seven hundred thirty-one days further along, in 1870, Mississippi reentered the Union, an erstwhile ‘Reconstructed’ polity; thirteen years past that point, in 1883, Alabama became the first jurisdiction in the Americas to enact a formal Anti-Trust law, and an infant male called out who would

By Allan Ajifo
By Allan Ajifo

mature as Karl Jaspers, a German psychiatrist and philosopher; two years subsequent to that conjunction, in 1885, French imperial fighters won a key battle over Vietnamese resistance in the Tonkin region of Indochina; another two years later still, in 1887,the Hall siblings, Albert and Julia, first demonstrated the capacity to create pure Aluminum metal; one hundred nineteen years back,  Émile Zola faced imprisonment in France after writing “J’accuse,” a letter that condemned the French government of anti-Semitism and wrongfully imprisoning Captain Alfred Dreyfus; half a decade after that instant in time and space, in 1903, Cuba acceded to U.S. imperial extortion and leased Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity;’ a single year more in the direction of now, in 1904, the faux journalism of William Randolph Hearst began to ‘investigate’ the sinister aspects of Japanese immigration, with the intention of passing legislation to reduce or exclude such incursions, ‘Open Door’ or not, and the baby male took a first breath who would end up writing and researching history and war as William Shirer; thirteen years yet nearer to now, in 1917, the first demonstrations occurred that culminated in the February Revolution in Saint Petersburg, Russia; a decade afterward,

October Revolution - public domain
October Revolution – public domain

in 1927, German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg wrote a letter to fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli, in which he described his uncertainty principle for the first time, and on the other side of the Atlantic, the Radio Act of 1927, a huge gift to monopoly media, started the regulation of broadcasting that put advertising at the center of mass media in America; thirteen years even closer to the current context, in 1940, Woodie Guthrie, fresh from a frost trek hitchhiking and hoboing  across the United States, penned his first draft of the iconic, “This Land Is Your Land;” a single year hence, in 1941, more in keeping with the corporate agendas of power in the land, Glenn Seaborg, who had already  shown the ability to create Plutonium by bombarding Uranium ‘heavy’

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory flickr
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory flickr

Hydrogen, isolated and collected a small sample of the lethal element that almost never occurs naturally; a thousand ninety-five days further down the pike, in 1944, a baby boy shouted out who would grow into the rocker and crooner and songwriter, Johnny Winter; a short year later and close enough to halfway round the globe, in 1945, U.S. troops and Filipino guerillas liberated the infamous Los Banos internment camp and the country’s capital in Manila on the same day; two years farther along time’s path, in 1947, a key actor in modern political economy, the International Organization for Standardization, first came into existence in Geneva; two years later, in 1949,  César Aira, Argentine writer and translator, was born; seven more years along the road, in 1954, the first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh; two decades nearer to now exactly, in 1974, the Symbionese Liberation Army demanded $4 million before it would release kidnap victim, and eventually collaborator, Patty dioxin_times beachHearst; nine extra years past that point, in 1983, the Environmental Protection Agency elected to purchase the community of Times Beach, near St. Louis, because of the level of toxic pollution there; another year onward to the day, in 1984, well-liked author Jessamyn West, Richard Nixon’s Quaker cousin, breathed her last; seven years past that juncture, in 1991, Saudi troops invaded Iraq and inaugurated the ground phase of that brutal, bloody conflict; a dozen years yet later on, in 2003, the sociologist and thinker Thomas K. Merton died; two years subsequently, in 2005, France briefly mandated that teachers instruct their pupils about the “positive values” of colonialism despite a firestorm of protest against such falsification; three years after that exact day, in 2008, Scottish-American union leader Douglas Fraser met his end.