Twenty-four and a quarter centuries and a year ago, a brief coup against Athenian ‘democratic’ rule established an oligarchy in place of Greece’s very limited democracy; nineteen hundred forty-nine years before this moment, Nero committed suicide, quoting Homer’s Iliad as he prepared to kill himself and encourage Rome’s descent into civil war; twelve hundred and ninety-six years ahead of today, fighters under the leadership of Odo of Aquitaine defeated a Moorish invading force at Toulouse; just a year more than a quarter century later, in 747, further unrest in the Mediterranean Levant occurred when Abu Muslim Khorasani rose up against the Umayyad rule as part of the Abbasid revolt; five hundred sixty-four years toward today, in 1311,Tuscan painter Duccio’s Maesta, a
masterful series of panels, was available for public view after the completion of its installation as the altarpiece of Sienna Cathedral; precisely two hundred twenty-three years more down the pike, in 1534, the expedition under the command of Jacques Cartier became the first set of modern Europeans to explore the Saint Lawrence River; a hundred and sixteen years subsequently, in 1650, slightly South in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the first incorporation occurred as the Harvard Corporation, which of course continues to this day; eighty-two additional years thereafter, in 1732, James Oglethorpe received another corporate charter to establish a penal colony in Georgia; three decades henceforth to the day, in 1762, the rising British empire besieged Spanish forces in the colony of Cuba at Havana, en route to a brief
conquest of the city; exactly two centuries and two years back, the Congress of Vienna wrapped up its recontextualization of the post-Napoleonic European environment, with one upshot’s being Luxemburg’s independence from France; twenty-eight years past that juncture, in 1843, a down-at-the-heels aristocratic Austrian family brought a baby girl into the world, who would marry into a wealthy family and then win a Nobel Prize in literature as Bertha von Suttner; thirteen years more in proximity to the present pass, in 1856, at least five hundred dedicated Mormons departed Iowa for a new paradisiacal home in Utah; nine years farther onward, in 1865, a baby girl was born en route to a life as a worker and activist, Helen Marot, a leader of the Shirtwaist Strike in New York City in 1910; a half decade beyond that point, in 1870, the iconic Charles Dickens heaved a final sigh; fifteen years closer to now, in 1885, the ‘European Imperial Project’ scored another coup against the rest of the world in France’s takeover of much of Indochina under the auspices of the Treaty of Tientsin that ended the Sino French war; half a dozen years hence, in 1891, the
baby boy was born who would mature as the well-loved composer and songwriter, Cole Porter; nine years closer to now, in 1900, around the world in India, a champion for poor and landless laborers in the Subcontinent, Birsa Munda, died in the custody of the British Raj under ‘mysterious circumstances;’ eight years yet later on, in 1908, a male infant became a part of the Kutner clan, destined to grow up as Luis Kutner and lead human rights activists in the founding of Amnesty International; exactly another seven years afterward, in 1915, William Jennings Bryan showed the stern commitment to nonviolence of which populism was capable when he resigned his position of secretary of state over President Wilson’s handling of the Lusitanian incident; two years more along time’s arc, in 1917, an Egyptian-English family bore a babe into the world who became the renowned thinker and historian, Eric Hobsbawm; another half a decade on the march to today, in 1922, the male child shouted out who would become the popular director and screenwriter, George Axelrod; an extra year down the road, in 1923, across the Mediterranean in Bulgaria, military leaders forestalled democracy and any hint of socialist inclinations with a coup; seven years after that evil interlude, in 1930, Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle died at the hands of an assassin, allegedly for failing to repay a $100,000 gambling debt to Al Capone; Donald Duck, a thousand four hundred and sixty-one days subsequent to that conjunction, in 1934, made a debut performance that started eighty-two years of Disney cartoons under that ‘brand;’ nine years laterstill, in 1943, a male child came into the world in the usual way further to the East, whose destiny was to become the Army veteran writer of war and science fiction novels, Joe Haldeman; precisely three hundred sixty-six days after that instant, across the Atlantic in 1944, Resistance killings of German soldiers by the Maquis du Lamousin, resulted in German reprisals that hung as many as a hundred people from lampposts and killed hundreds more in more prosaic fashion in and around Tulle, halfway between Paris and the Spanish frontier; four years subsequently, in 1948, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organization oversaw the creation of the International Council on Archives to foster cooperation in the safeguarding of human records and documentation of varied sorts of social significance; six years nearer to now, in 1954, during the Army-McCarthy Hearings, Joseph Welch called Joseph McCarthy a cruel and reckless person and questioned whether he had any ‘decency left,’ and a baby boy was born who would become the novelist whose specialty was the reinterpretation of iconic texts from different points of view, which he did for The Wizard of Oz and other tales as Gregory Maguire; two years more proximate to the present, in 1956, a baby girl came into the world in favorable circumstances who would end up the crime fiction specialist and Grand Old Party stalwart, Patricia Cornwell; three years closer in time to the current context, in 1959, America launched U.S.S. George Washington, the world’s first submarine capable of inflicting thermonuclear destruction via ballistic missiles; eight years afterward to the second, in 1967, Israel inflicted a military beating on Syria when it occupied the Golan Heights in the final day or two of the Six Day War; a year later, in 1968, Lyndon Johnson declared a ‘National Day of Mourning’ for the murdered Bobby Kennedy; four years after that sad commemoration, in 1972, a tragedy of engineering and environment and profit took place in South Dakota as a dam catastrophically failed, drowning almost two hundred fifty people and inundating tens of thousands in the process; seven hundred thirty days in even greater proximity to the present moment, in 1974, the Nobel Literary Laureate from Guatemala, Miguel Asturias, drew his final breath, and Portugal finally recognized the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; back in the Americas four years beyond that passage of time and space, in 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commemorated the hundred twenty-second anniversary of the departure from Iowa City by opening its priesthood to ‘all good men,’ specifically those whose skin was not White and whose ancestry was other than European; seven years even closer to the current context, in 1985, kidnapper-extortionists grabbed Thomas Sutherland in Beirut and held him captive six years before he gained his freedom; exactly fourteen years further on time’s path, in 1999,the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Yugoslavia culminated the Kosovo War with a treaty.