Today in History, April 16, 1947:
The Texas City Disaster, the worst industrial disaster in US History.
A French ship, the SS Grandcamp, loaded with 2300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in the port city of Texas City, across from Galveston, explodes in the channel leading to Houston, devastating the docks and the town.
All but one of the town’s firefighters were killed, and several other fires were ignited on other ships and in the oil town in the following days. Most of the city was destroyed, and at least 581 people were killed.
Today in History, April 14, 1865:
Within a week of the surrender at Appomattox, a coward assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.
If you were old enough on 9/11, you experienced the indescribable loss, grief, and helplessness we all experienced.
I use this in an attempt to fathom the emotions Americans must have felt at the loss of Lincoln. He had led them through the most traumatic time in our nation’s history…the times ahead were still uncertain. How would the North and South reunite? Was the war really over? They needed his steady hand on the rudder stearing the ship of state more than ever.
And suddenly Abraham was gone.
I post “O Captain! My Captain!” By Walt Whitman almost every year on this date, because I believe he came closest to capturing the grief the nation must have felt.
Today in History, April 13, 1941:
The Russian and Japanese governments sign a non-aggression treaty. The treaty gave both nations much needed cover.
The Russians didn’t have to fight the Japanese in Manchuria, freeing up hundreds of thousands of troops to fight the Germans.
The Japanese, likewise, freed up hundreds of thousands of troops to fight the Americans. FDR encouraged Stalin at Malta to declare war on Japan after the defeat of Germany.
They did so, conveniently, between the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ostensibly after the war was over, invading Manchuria and demanding the northern islands of Japan for their “effort”.
Today in History, April 11, 1938:
The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America is founded by Owen Clifton Cash, Rupert I. Hall, and 24 other men at the Tulsa Club in Tulsa, OK. (Encyclopedia Britannica). For an example of Barbershop Quartet Harmonizing, also my favorite Beatles song.
Today in History, April 10, 1710:
The Statute of Anne. The English Parliament passes the first statute awarding authors rights of copy.
Prior to this act, what little rights or restrictions on copying books and other works that existed in England protected the Stationer’s Company, and was enforced by the company.
With the Statute of Anne, the government enforced the rules, and gave the original author rights to copy their work for 14 years, after which they could obtain another 14. After the 28 years lapsed, the work defaulted to the public domain.
Much as we have seen with internet hijacking of artist’s work today, author’s work was being reproduced in poor or changed quality, taking away creative incentive. The Statute of Anne was revolutionary in publishing.
Other nations followed suit in the coming years (America in 1790). In 1886 the Berne Convention in Switzerland led to an agreement among several nations to recognize each other’s copyrights. The US would not join until 1986 (according to Britannica.)
Today in History, April 9, 1937:
A Kamikaze in….London.
In the 1930’s most nations were attempting to set aircraft range records…for the sake of doing so and for military purposes.
The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun sponsored the flight of the “Kamikaze-Go”, a long range reconnaissance aircraft from Tokyo to London in honor of the coronation of King George VI.
Arriving at it’s destination in a little over 51 hours, the aircraft was greeted in London by cheering crowds.
It’s pilot, Masaaki Iinuma, became a Japanese national hero, hailed as the Japanese Lindbergh. He and his navigator, Kenji Tsukagoshi would both be killed during WWII.
The aircraft would crash, be recovered, and placed in a museum which would be destroyed by aerial bombardment.
The aircraft type would be used as a long range recon plane during the war. The whole thing began as the Japanese designed aircraft that could reach their far-ranging territories.