Monday, January 07, 2008

This Day In History

On today's date, January 7th the following events happened in the years noted (no particular order):

1782: The First Commercial Bank opens in North America

1789: George Washington is elected as the first president of the United States

1913: The process to obtain gasoline from crude oil is patented.

1924: George Gershwin begins work on "Rhapsody In Blue"

1927: Commercial phone service across the Atlantic begins.

1953: In the State of the Union Address, Harry Truman reveals the United States had developed the H-bomb

1954: Marian Anderson became the first African-American to sing at the Met, in "Un Ballo in maschera" (A clown in a mask)

1999: The Impeachment trial of Bill Clinton began.

UPDATE: (SadButTrue)
One other thing: It's CHRISTMAS DAY in the Eastern Orthodox religion. Seems they never accepted that new-fangled Gregorian calendar, since it was imposed by the heretical Catholic Pope Gregory II in 1582. In that year the month of October was only 21 days long in Catholic countries, putting the vernal equinox back to where it was at the time of the Council of Nicaea in 135. This was necessary for the 'correct' calculation of Easter.

"Accordingly, when the new calendar was put in use, the error accumulated in the 13 centuries since the Council of Nicaea was corrected by a deletion of ten days. The last day of the Julian calendar was Thursday October 4, 1582 and this was followed by the first day of the Gregorian calendar, Friday October 15, 1582 (the cycle of weekdays was not affected)." (Wikipedia)

The fact that Protestant countries rejected Gregory's reform led to what historians aptly refer to as the Years of Confusion, as one after another Protestant countries adopted the 'new style' calendar. England's reform was in 1752 - Czarist Russia didn't follow until the Bolshevik Revolution. As a result key historical events (like the Spanish Armada's attempted invasion of England in 1588) are reported as occurring on different days, depending on which side's account you're reading.

By the time England reformed their calendar the 10 day difference was now 13 days. It led to rioting in the streets, with people shouting, 'give us back our fortnight!' Landlords wanted their entire month's rent, and tenants understandably felt that was a rip off. Try to imagine an uneducated peasantry trying to cope with this. Many people felt that their lives had somehow been shortened by decree.

BTW, the Orthodox do NOT celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7. By their reckoning today is Dec. 25.

Notice that TODAY'S DATE is pivotal in the realm of Weapons, Communications Technology, Oil, and at the very least, the beginnings of our Republic. This just brings home to me that every day counts, doesn't matter what year it is.
Artists are a blessed counter balance to this madness. Witness both national treasures, Anderson and Gershwin.

Since I am enamored of musicians, I'll close with a video I found of Marian Anderson, talking and singing at the memorial of what I'll call a patron saint of this blog: Mahatma Ghandi. The first words of the narrator I think are as applicable to us as they are to the Hindi;

"A French poet once wrote: if you wish to influence the Indians, rather than a thousand missionaries, send one saint."

Since both Mahatma and Marian are gone, amongst others, please send more saints.

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