This Week in History…

Have you ever thought about what was happening on this very day, at this very moment, many centuries ago? Maybe a crown was being placed on Henry V at his coronation 6,000 years back, or maybe Rosa Parks was boarding a bus on a trip that would be monumental for decades to come.

Every day, we walk in the ancient footprints of those who ate, talked, and created the history that we are familiar with today. I think that it would be quite interesting if we took a look at some of these footprints and acknowledged the people who formed them. So many of these historical people partook in significant events, and thus created an endless record of events for this week, March 20-26. Still, it is fascinating to highlight just a few to think about as we go through our upcoming week.

On March 20, 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe left her footprint in the nation after she published her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin for public viewing. Stowe’s book had national reverberations in the country as American citizens from the North reached a new level of awareness about the horrors of slavery in the South (even though critics argued her account was exaggerated). Stowe awakened the Northern public to a stronger anti-slavery effort, and thus helped to bring emancipation to blacks everywhere in the United States in the 1860s.  Now, we can skip a little over 110 years later to 1969 on the very same day, and make it in time to see The Beatles singer John Lennon tie the knot and wed Yoko Ono in scenic Gibraltar.

March 21 has been a big day for history. In Eisenach, Germany in 1685, composer Johann Sebastian Bach was born to a life in which he would compose dozens of musical works that strongly enhanced the Baroque period of classical music in Western Europe.  In 1790 on this day, Thomas Jefferson became an important part of President Washington’s cabinet as Secretary of State. About 170 years later, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered the release of prisoners from San Francisco’s Alcatraz prison for, among other reasons, the inhumanity he saw there.

Over the course of the rest of this week in history, two albums produced by The Beatles were released; RCA debuted its first color televisions in 1954; and in 1989, the largest American oil spill took place in Alaska. This Tuesday marks the day of the very first movie witnessed by an audience in Paris in 1895, along with the passing of the Stamp Act in 1765. Ten years after the passing of the Stamp Act, colonist Patrick Henry inspired revolutionary sentiment in 1775 on March 23 with his famous quote, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
On this Thursday in history, the Tudor dynasty in England ended, finishing its line of succession of 118 years from 1485 to 1603. Then amidst World War II in 1941, on the very same day, Britain was attacked by Germany in North Africa.

This week closes with the anniversary of Maryland’s founding on March 25, 1634 and the passage of the Naturalization Act of 1790, which made it so that a United States citizenship applicant had to have lived in the nation for two years prior. This Saturday, March 26, marks a saddening day of death for Ludwig van Beethoven, a different German composer, in 1827 and for American poet Walt Whitman in 1892.

Our trip through time, of course, has only touched upon the births, deaths, and happenings of people and events of national and worldwide attention. We are missing galaxies of information and miles and miles of footprints. But thinking about even these several events is fascinating. How interesting is it to think that John Lennon would have so many milestones during this one week? Or that so many hugely influential artists have died and been born within this span of time? Even more than fascinating, the act of remembering is important, and acknowledging the people who filled the footprints that we follow every day is a wonderful and illuminating thing which we should never stop doing—that is, until we can leave our very own footprint in the world.

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