5.22.2017 Day in History

Today is International Biodiversity Day; in what is now Western Turkey, two thousand three hundred fifty-one years ago, Macedonian fighters under the leadership of Alexander crushed the forces of a third Darius of Persia at the Battle of Granicus; eleven hundred sixty-four years prior to the present pass, Byzantine naval forces attacked and plundered Damietta, a port at the mouth of the Nile that Byzantium’s rulers had long wish to conquer and control; six hundred forty years ahead of today’s beginning, an eleventh Pope Gregory issued five pronouncements that denounced the work and ideas of the English Catholic reformer, and predecessor to a Protestant movement, John Wycliffe; two hundred thirty-four years in advance of this moment in time, a baby boy was born who grew up to become the engineer, thinker, and inventor William Sturgeon, who patented an electromagnet and electric motor in England; two centuries and ten years in before the here-and-now, a grand jury agreed to indict the former Vice President, Aaron Burr, for treason; a dozen years hence, in 1819, the first steamship to traverse the Atlantic, S.S. Savannah, left Savannah, Georgia, bound for London; seven years thereafter, in 1826, the iconic H.M.S. Beagle first set sail on an imperial surveying mission to South America, without Charles Darwin yet among the passengers and crew; one hundred seventy-three years back, the upper-class couple Robert and Katherine Cassatt brought a daughter into the world who grew up as the artist and expatriate, Mary Cassatt; four years340px-Mary_Cassatt_-_Portrait_of_the_Artist_-_MMA_1975.319.1 henceforth, in 1848, the Caribbean island nation of Martinique eliminated slavery from its shores; eight years after that juncture, in 1856, in another incident of slavery’s tumult, South Carolina’s Congressman Brooks severely beat and permanently disabled Massachusetts’ Senator Sumner because of the latter’s opposition to chattel bondage in Kansas; in another marker on the same journey, sixteen years beyond that point in time, in 1872, President and former Union General U.S. Grant signed an amnesty for former Confederate rebels that restored full civil rights to all but around 500 previous insurgents; thirteen decades and two years prior to our day, iconic storyteller and moral philosopher Victor Hugo breathed his last; a hundred eleven years before this instant, the Wright Brothers received a patent for their “flying machine;” eight years further along time’s arc, in 1914, a baby boy was born who would mature as the journalist and annalist of contemporary life, Vance Packard; ninety years ago, a male infant uttered his first cry en route to a life as writer and thinker and Paris Review cofounder, Peter Matthiesson; nine years more proximate to the present, in 1936,another male child came along who would grow up as the inspirational thinker and writer, M. Scott Peck; six years later, in 1942, the Congress of Industrial Organizations’ Steelworkers Organizing Committee began to call itself the United Steelworkers of America; three years to the day subsequently, in 1945, in the rubble of war’s end in Europe, U.S. Army Intelligence officers began to suggest actions that took shape as Operation Paperclip, the smuggling of Nazi intellectuals, especially rocket scientists, to the West; seven hundred and thirty days nearer to

Harry Truman at Desk Announcing End of WWII By Abbie Rowe, 1905-1967, Photographer
Harry Truman at Desk Announcing End of WWII By Abbie Rowe, 1905-1967, Photographer

now, in 1947, Harry Truman signed legislation that acted as the inception of the so-called Truman Doctrine during the Cold War, of throwing money at nations where a ‘threat of communist insurrection’ loomed large, in this first case the provision of $400 million in loans and credits to Turkey and Greece; eleven years beyond that conjunction, around the globe in 1958, island wide riots in Sri Lanka foretold the ethnic and political battles that would mark the soon-to-be new nation; six years hence, in 1964, back in the District of Columbia, Lyndon Johnson delivered his ‘Great Society’ address, in which he promised a war on poverty and other measures to relieve social distress and increase social equality; three years closer to today, in 1967, the great poet Langston Hughes heaved a final sigh; a quarter century back, North and South Yemen joined their fates to form the Republic of Yemen; a dozen years henceforth, in 2002, seven thousand miles West in North America, an Alabama jury convicted Ku Klux Klansman Robert Cherry of murder in the bombing deaths of four young girls in the 1963 at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church. From Wikipedia Day in History