7.19.2017 Day in History

Today in Nicaragua, for all true-hearted scrappy scribes and stalwart citizens to commemorate, is Sandinista Day, or, equally apt, Liberation Day; as splits widened in the late Roman empire fifteen hundred thirty-three years ago, the military leader Leontius arrogated to himself the title of Emperor of the East, which some folks in what is now Turkey and Syria accepted till his beheading four years afterward; two centuries, two decades, and seven years subsequent to that instance of declining empire, in 711,a case of rising imperial extension took place at the Battle of Guadalete, after which Ummayyad fighters consolidated rule of almost the entire Iberian Peninsula, even extending into parts of what is now Southwester France; eleven centuries and fifty-one before our very own point in space and time, a different evolution of Islamic imperial sway, the Shia Fatimids, who controlled almost all of North Africa and parts of Palestine and the Levant, scored a significant victory over Byzantine forces at the Battle of Apamea, in what is now Syria; six hundred forty-three years back, the thinker and poet and progenitor of many of the aspects of the early Renaissance, Petrarch, lived out his final passionate scene; two hundred fourteen years henceforth, in 1588, English navies won a partial victory over the Spanish Armada at the Battle of Gravelines, off Spain’s rebellious colony, Holland; another century and four years onward toward

CC BY-NC-ND by Lynn (Gracie’s mom)

now, in 1692, across the wide North Atlantic, England’s colonial arbiters in Salem displayed a tendency, which still unfortunately exists in many contexts, to murder the innocent for fantastical or nonexistent crimes, in the event the hanging of four women as witches, including Sarah Good, whose curse against her accusers resonates through the ages that they will drink and drown in blood for their venal false witness and unjust prosecution; nine years beyond that unhappy moment, in 1701, another instance of corruption and pillage transpired as the Iroquois Confederation handed over a territory that included most of present day Illinois, all of Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, as well as parts of Ontario Canada, to the English, a gift of cohabitation in traditional ‘beaver-hunting’ territory that England and then the United States soon transformed into sovereign ownership; one hundred sixteen years thereafter, in 1817, in an at once wholly different and remarkably similar case of attempted colonial thievery, the Russian American Company’s factotum finally gave up on his goofy, even ridiculous scheme to take over the Hawaiian Islands for the Tsar; a decade and a half further along time’s march toward today, in 1832, the British Medical Association formally came into existence at a clinic in Worcester under the leadership of Sir Charles Hastings; eleven years later, in 1843, one of the mainly unheralded earthshaking events of history occurred, under the aegis of one of mainly unheralded great contributors to history, Isambard Brunel, who designed and oversaw the construction of the world’s first more or less modern screw-propulsion steamship, the SS Great Britain, which launched on this day; seven hundred thirty-one days after that, in 1845, the last great fire to afflict Manhattan ignited, destroying several hundred buildings and claiming the lives of roughly thirty civilians and firefighters; three years onward from that difficult instant, in 1848, the Seneca Convention started, inaugurating a formal—if decidedly petty bourgeois—process of building women’s suffrage, women’s

CC BY by Prince Roy

rights, and ultimately even feminism; sixteen additional years along the temporal arc, in 1864, around the globe in China, the nearly decade-and-a-half long, brutal and bloody Chinese Civil War, under the name of the Taiping Rebellion, came closer to its culmination with the loss of Nanjing by the insurrectionary fighters of the so-called Heavenly Kingdom of Peace; back around the planet in Europe a half dozen years hence, in 1870, a different sort of internecine struggle began with a French declaration of war against Germany to launch the Franco-Prussian War; seven years yet more advanced in today’s general direction, in 1877, across the Atlantic in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh workers in the railroad’s Great Strike of that year drove soldiers out of the city and took control of the operations of the railways themselves for a period of a couple of days; sixteen years yet later on, in 1893, back at Europe’s Eastern edge, a baby boy opened his eyes who would rise as the poet and playwright and critic, Vladimir Mayakovsky; a mere single spin farther around the solar flare, in 1894, a male child was born who would grow up as Percy Spencer, who invented the microwave oven by and by; a half decade farther down the pike, in 1898, in Berlin, a baby male entered our midst who would mature as the magisterial philosopher and political analyst Herbert Marcuse; twenty-one years afterward, in 1919, English veterans of the intentional slaughter of tens of millions of workers that we now call World War One reacted violently to a ‘patriotic celebration of peace’ at Luton’s Town Hall, in an abbreviated uprising in which the participants demanded work and benefits instead of cant and patronizing bullshit; just three hundred sixty-five days further along time’s inexorable movement toward today, in 1922, the male infant cried out who would end up as the historian and, miraculously, basically honest politician George McGovern; eighteen more years yet nearer to now, in 1940, the United States legislators extended the Hatch Act’s prohibition against Federal employees’ political activity to any State or local employees whose jobs in anyway depended on Federal funding, and Britain inaugurated its Army’s Intelligence Corps; seven hundred thirty days even closer to the current context, in 1942, one of history’s stranger collaborations took shape as Henry Ford convinced George Washington Carver to leave the Tuskegee Institute for Detroit to work on synthetic rubber processes, in consideration of which the school in Alabama became a longstanding beneficiary of Ford Foundation funding; half a decade beyond that and half a world away in 1947 Burma, the former Prime Minister of British Burma oversaw the assassination of the Aung San and other leaders of the ‘Shadow Government’ that was about to take charge of their country upon pending independence from England, and in happier tidings back on the other side of the world again, the baby boy bounced into our midst who would mature as the rocker and songwriter Bernie Leadon; nine years subsequently, in 1956, to punish Egypt for its friendly relations with the Soviet Union, the United States withdrew promised support for the Aswan High Dam on the Nile; four years still later, in Cairo in 1960, a male child came along to Armenian parents who would end up as the brilliant and evocative Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan; a year more along time’s path, in 1961, Westward in the Mediterranean, Tunisian troops and ships imposed a blockade of the naval base at Bizerte over which France had maintained control despite the former colony’s 1956 independence; a thousand ninety-six days still more proximate to the present pass, in 1964, South Vietnam’s puppet Prime Minister, at his U.S. hegemon’s behest, called for extending the civil conflict in the region to North Vietnam; eight years yet further down time’s path, in 1972, a significant skirmish took place in the twelve-year-long Dhofar Rebellion in Oman in which British advisers to the Gulf client state ended up fighting against Marxist South-Yemen-Supported guerillas; three years after that, in 1975, iconic performer and singer-songwriter Lefty Frizzell sang his swansong; a thousand four hundred sixty-one days along the arc toward today, in 1979, across the wide Atlantic in Nicaragua, Sandinista rebels succeeded in overthrowing the mass murderer and ‘great friend’ of the United States, Anastasio Somoza; a mere year more along the route to the here and now, in 1980, the Moscow Olympics officially opened, and establishment social scientist Hans Morgenthau died; another three hundred sixty-five days later, in 1981,France’s Francois Mitterand conveyed to Ronald Reagan the so-called Farewell Dossier, which evidenced that Soviet infiltrators had been absconding with U.S. technical secrets for years; eleven years in even greater proximity to our own passage, in 1992, Italian anti-mafia investigator and judge, Paolo Bortellino, died in a massive explosion from a car bomb that his targets among organized criminals, with the help of Italian police and intelligence collaborators, had planted in his Fiat; another eight years thereafter, in 2000, the beloved musicologist and collector of folk recordings Alan Lomax lived out his final day.