3.13.2017 Day in History

"BattleOfHoms1299" by unknown - BNF Nouvelle acquisition française 886, fol. 31v[1].
“BattleOfHoms1299” by unknown – BNF Nouvelle acquisition française 886, fol. 31v[1].
Thirteen hundred ninety-three years ago, Muhammad’s troops won a key battle at Badr that marked a turning point in favor of the predominance of Islam in Arabia and adjacent lands; four hundred twenty-six years back, in Mali, Moroccan troops took a critical step in their conquest of Mali with the routing of a vastly larger Songhai Imperial army at Tondibi; across the Atlantic to the Northwest, two years shy of a half century later, in 1639, John Harvard’s name provided the basis for the name of what was to become one of the world’s premier universities; three hundred twenty years before the here-and-now, Spanish imperial soldiers captured the Itza Mayan capitol city in Guatemala, eliminating most resistance to Spain’s imprimatur in Central America; two hundred thirty-six years before today, English astronomer William Herschel first detected Uranus, the seventh 491px-Uranusandringsplanet in the Solar System; one hundred fifty-five years prior to the present pass, Union officers in the American Civil War received orders to stop returning fugitive slaves, fundamentally altering the course of the conflict and laying the basis for the Emancipation Proclamation later in the year; in a tacit admission of its impossible position three years hence, in 1865, the Confederate States of America accepted too late the necessity of arming Black slaves as defenders of their bondage; one hundred thirty-six years ago in the late Winter chill of St. Petersburg, assassins use bombs fatally to wound the second Czar Alexander of Russia; three years to the day subsequently, in 1884, and five thousand miles Southwest in ‘lower Egypt,’ Sudanese rebels inaugurated the siege of Khartoum that would end with the temporary overthrow of Egyptian-English rule a year later; sixteen years closer to the present, in 1900, a male infant entered the world who would grow up from his home in modern Turkey to win the first Nobel Prize as a Greek author, Giorgos Seferis, a poet of deep humanist sensibilities; half-a-dozen years more proximate to now, in 1906, the activist and fighter for women’s rights Susan B. Anthony breathed her last; ninety-six years back, an Austrian-born virulent anti-communist set himself up as warlord-in-chief of Mongolia, en route to defeat and death at the hands of Red Army forces; seventy-nine years before this very point in time, CBS Radio first broadcast its World News Roundup program, and the legendary barrister Clarence Darrow died; half-a-decade hence, in 1943, Nazi operatives almost completely exterminated the Jewish ghetto in Krakow, Poland, and the poet, Steven Vincent Benet, spent his final day alive; sixty-seven years ago, a baby boy was born who would mature as the actor and screenwriter William Macy; four years thereafter and half-a-world away, in 1954, North Vietnamese troops and guerillas began the artillery barrage that initiated the crushing defeat of the French colonial forces at Dien Bien Phu; three years later, in 1957, in Japan, Sei Itō’s 1950 translation of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover was found on appeal in Japan to be obscene; one years later still, in 1958, a baby girl uttered her first cry en route to a life as playwright and thinker Caryl Phillips; fifty-five years back, the Chairman of John Kennedy’s Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed Operation Northwoods, a ‘terrorist’ attack on Guantanamo Bay’s Naval Base as a pretext for invading Cuba, for

Bob Jagendorf
Bob Jagendorf

which proposal he received the sack from JFK; three hundred sixty-five days later, in 1963 Arizona, Ernesto Miranda found himself in jail for rape and kidnapping, without counsel, the end result of which was a famous Supreme Court expansion of the Fourth Amendment to include a purported right to have a lawyer present and to understand one’s rights as a criminal defendant; forty-two years prior to this precise juncture, the author and storyteller Ivo Andric, the first Yugoslav literary laureate, took his final breath; twenty-seven years before today’s conjunction in the calendar, the renowned philosopher and child psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim died; six years closer to this point, in 1996, the Polish filmmaker Krzsztof Kieslowski died during open heart surgery; seven years thereafter, in 2003, archaeologists in Italy discovered a human footprint there that was plus-or-minus 350,000 years old.