Saturday, September 25, 2010

August 1st in History

30 BC   Octavian (later known as Augustus) enters Alexandria, Egypt, bringing it under the control of the Roman Republic.  Augustus gave his own name to the month of August, and renamed July at the same time in honor of his great uncle Julius Caesar, in 8 BC, who had posthumously adopted him.  Augustus was responsible for the Pax Romana.  He was succeeded by his step-son, former son-in-law, and adopted son, Tiberius.  Unlike many of his predecessors and successors, Augustus managed to die of natural causes.

  10 BC   Birth of the Emperor Claudius, emperor in between the notorious Caligula and Nero. Claudius was responsible for the Roman conquest of Britain and the annexation of Judea. He was the grandson of Marc Antony and the sister of Octavian (later Augustus, see above) and great great grand-nephew of Julius Ceasar. First emperor by declaration of the Praetorian Guard instead of the senate, he was also the first emperor born outside of Italia.  He is believed to have been poisoned by his wife to ensure the succession as emperor of his grand-nephew/ second cousin twice-removed/ stepson/ son-in-law/ adopted son Nero, instead of Claudius's son by his second wife, Brittanicus, whom Nero murdered shortly after becoming emperor.

A review of ancient Roman and Byzantine history, especially the whos who of assasinations to achieve power, provides an interesting context to modern election year politics.

Justinian I

 527   Justinian I becomes the sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire. He was the last Emperor to speak Latin.

 902    Taormina, the last Byzantine stronghold in Sicily, is captured by the Muslim Aghlabid army as part of the competing territorial claims of the Muslims and Christians.  The Aghlabid emirs governed part of northwestern Africa as part of the Abbasid Caliphate.  It had been the Roman Province of Africa (see Augustus, above), which metamorphosed to the name Ifriqiya, throughout the middle ages.

1291   The Swiss Confederation is formed with the signature of the Federal Charter. Switzerland celebrates August 1st as the Swiss National Holiday.

1619   First African slaves arrive in Jamestown, Virginia. Slaves had been imported to parts of Florida in the mid 1500s.  In more northern colonies, black slaves were owned not only by whites, but also free blacks owned black slaves as did a few Native Americans.  While most slaves were black, a few were white.

1770    Birth of William Clark, half of the duo of Lewis and Clark, significant for their exploration westward which ultimately contributed to the U.S. westward national expansion. 

1790   The first U.S. census was completed, showing a population of nearly 4 million people.

1800   The Act of Union 1800 merges the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The country of Ireland, the Irish Free State gained freedom from English rule in 1922 with the Anglo-Irish Treaty.  Northern Ireland technically became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by an act of Parliament in 1927.  All of which contributed to  the geo-political and religious Anglo-Irish conflict.

1831 London Bridge, in Arizona

1831 – A new London Bridge opens. A series of bridges had existed on the same location over the Thames dating back to the ancient Romans.  For several hundred years it was a prime location to display the decapitated heads of important enemies, including William Wallace, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell.  There were as many as 30 decapitated heads on display at a time. The previous bridge to the 1831 version was over 600 years old when it was replaced.  At its busiest, an estimated 8,000 people walked across and  over 900 vehicles crossed.  It was widened a century later. The 1831 bridge was eventually sold in 1967 and moved to Arizona. and a new bridge built which opened in 1972.  Unlike the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, which collapsed on August 1, 2007 none of the London Bridge  have ever actually fallen down.  An early version in 1014 was deliberately destroyed, and one version of London Bridge did burn down.  The 1014 incident is thought to be the origin of the many versions of the nursery rhyme.

1830s political cartoon
from an English magazine

1834   Slavery is abolished in the British Empire as the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force.

1838   Non-labourer slaves in most of the British Empire are emancipated.

1840    Labourer slaves in most of the British Empire are emancipated.

1876    Colorado was admitted to the union as the 38th state, as part of the national expansion westward.

1902    The United States buys the rights to the Panama Canal from France, and then completes the canal in 1914.  The Canal made an enormous change to shipping traffic.  Nearly 28,000 died in building the canal, from malaria and yellow fever.  Panama resumed sole control of the Canal Zone from the United States in 1999.  Senator John McCain was born in the Canal Zone while it was under sole U.S. control.

1914   Germany declares war on Russia at the opening of World War I. The Swiss Army mobilises because of World War I but maintains their neutrality.  Lenin hides out in Switzerland for the duration of WW I.

1927   The Nanchang Uprising marks the first significant battle in the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang and Communist Party of China which results in China becoming a communist country. This day is commemorated as the anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army.

1941 Jeep

1936   Hitler uses the 1935 Olympics in Berlin as a propaganda tool, beginning with his appearance at the opening ceremonies with 100,000 people saluting him.

1941   The first Jeep is produced for use in WW II, the original off-road vehicle.

1944    Anne Frank makes the last entry in her diary. She and her family were rounded up and transported to a concentration camp at Bergen-Belsem where Frank died of typhus.
           Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupation breaks out in Warsaw, Poland.

1966    Purges of intellectuals and imperialists becomes official People's Republic of China policy at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

original MTV logo in 1981

1981   Debut of MTV as a small cable system programming in norther New Jersey, with a few thousand potential viewers.

1988   Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh began broadcasting his nationally syndicated radio program.

2001   Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has a Ten Commandments monument installed in the judiciary building, leading to a lawsuit to have it removed and his own removal from office. Another round in the religious right position that we are a Christian nation in which people of other faiths are merely tolerated, attempting to insert religion  - specifically Christianity into government, versus the position that the United States is a secular nation comprised of people of many equally regarded religious faiths.

2007   The I-35W Mississippi River Bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapses during the evening rush hour, killing 13
If there can be any good thing to come out of this tragedy, it will be the improvement and necessary deferred maintenance of our national infrastructure.
So far, no nursery rhymes.

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