this day in history

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February 19th 1942: Japanese internment begins

On this day in 1942, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 which allowed the military to relocate Japanese-Americans to internment camps. A climate of paranoia descended on the US following the attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan, which prompted the US to join the Second World War. Americans of Japanese ancestry became targets for persecution, as there were fears that they would collude with Japan and pose a national security threat. This came to a head with FDR’s executive order, which led to 120,000 Japanese-Americans being rounded up and held in camps. The constitutionality of the controversial measure was upheld by the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. United States (1944). Interned Americans suffered great material and personal hardship, with most people losing their property and some losing their lives to illness or the violence of camp sentries. The victims of internment and their families eventually received an official government apology in 1988 and reparations began in the 1990s. This dark episode of American history is often forgotten in the narrative of US involvement in the Second World War, but Japanese internment poses a stark reminder of the dangers of paranoia and scapegoating.

Happy Anniversary ❤

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March 8th 1935: Hachikō the dog dies

On this day in 1935, the world famous dog Hachikō died. Hachikō was a dog from Japan who became famous worldwide for his extraordinary loyalty to his owner - Hidesaburō Ueno. Ueno was a professor at the University of Tokyo, and each day Hachikō would greet him at Shibuya Station when he returned from work. One day in May 1925, Ueno did not return. He had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died, so he never met Hachikō at the station that day. However, every day for the next nine years, Hachikō waited at the station, appearing precisely when the train was due. Hachikō attracted the attention of many people, including one of Ueno’s former students who published articles about the dog. The Japanese considered his loyalty and faithfulness to his master an example of family loyalty for all to follow. On this day in 1935, Hachikō was found dead on a street in Shibuya; he had died from terminal cancer and worms. His legacy lives on, with a bronze statue of him erected at Shibuya Station and many films made about his life.

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Happy Birthday to Charles Darwin! Born February 12, 1809, in Shrewsbury, England, Charles Darwin became one of the world’s most influential scientists. The Darwin Manuscripts Project has compiled full-color, high-resolution images of faithfully transcribed Darwin’s work.In these documents, you can trace the development of Darwin as a thinker and you will meet Darwin as a keen-eyed collector, an inspired observer, and a determined experimenter. You will also find Darwin the shrewd reader, attuned to his cultural context, and the strategic writer, ever reconsidering and revising. 

Explore the Darwin Manuscript Project here. 

May 10

Constantine is unusual among comic book characters in that he has aged in real time since his creation. During the first year of his solo series, Constantine celebrated his 35th birthday. In the relevant issue Constantine is reading a newspaper when he notices the date on the cover is his birthday, making his date of birth May 10, 1953. In Hellblazer, it was mentioned multiple times that the aging process of Constantine himself might be different due to the demon blood that he obtained from Nergal. His mother, Mary Anne, died giving birth to John and his stillborn twin brother because an earlier abortion—forced on her by John’s father, Thomas—had weakened her womb. Because he was unable to accept responsibility for his wife’s death, Thomas blamed John and the pair grew up with a deep dislike for one another. Constantine is shown to be someone with a wide and international circle of contacts and allies, and is adept at making friends. At the same time, his close friends inevitably suffer or are outright killed simply by being in his life; this has left a severe mark on him. Constantine also has a reputation as being one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world. Despite this, Constantine rarely uses magic, instead choosing to use his wits to trick his opponents.

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March 1st 1692: The Salem Witch Trials begin

On this day in 1692, three women were brought before local magistrates in Salem Village, Massachusetts, thus beginning the infamous Salem Witch Trials. The women were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba and all three had been accused of witchcraft after local girls began experiencing strange fits. Given the lack of medical knowledge at the time and the preponderance of beliefs in the supernatural, witchcraft was the only logical explanation for their condition. The accused women matched the description of the stereotypical witch: Good was a beggar, Osborne rarely went to church and Tituba was a slave of different ethnicity. The women were interrogated by magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin and Tituba eventually confessed to witchcraft, claiming Good and Osborne were her co-conspirators. The three were then sent to jail; Osborne died in jail, Good was hanged and Tituba (as a useful confessor) was kept alive and eventually released after the trials ended. The initial interrogation was followed by many more accusations of witchcraft throughout the village and the surrounding area, fueled perhaps by local rivalries, poisoned grain or just mass fear. The manhunt resulted in 19 ‘witches’ being hanged, one pressed to death and hundreds more imprisoned in horrendous conditions. The event is a famous example of mass hysteria and has become a cautionary tale for religious extremism and false accusations.

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February 22nd 1943: White Rose group executed

On this day in 1943, three members of the peaceful resistance movement in Nazi Germany, the White Rose, were executed. The White Rose, comprising students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor, began in June 1942. The group secretly distributed leaflets protesting against the regime of Adolf Hitler and the war being waged in Europe, highlighting the repressive nature of the Nazi police state and drawing attention to the mistreatment of Jews. The group took precautions to avoid capture by keeping the White Rose group very small. However, on 18th February 1943, the siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl were discovered distributing leaflets by a university janitor, who informed the Gestapo. Hans and Sophie were arrested and immediately admitted guilt, hoping to avoid being coerced into implicating their fellow members of the White Rose, but after further interrogation were forced to give up the names. Four days later, the Scholls and Christoph Probst - some of the founding members of the group - were put on trial and found guilty of treason; they were sentenced to death. That same day, February 22nd, the three were executed by beheading at Stadelheim Prison. After their executions, the remaining members were arrested and killed, thus ending the White Rose resistance movement. The White Rose, alongside other groups like the Edelweiss Pirates, are an important example of Germans speaking out against Hitler’s regime, and their deaths are yet another in the litany of Nazi crimes.

“We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”

The Battle of St. Vincent, 14th February 1797 by Geoff Hunt.

This scene hinges on the actions of Nelson, then a commodore (having no fewer than four admirals superior to him actually present on the day). In a characteristic combination of eagerness, daring and independence that bordered on insubordination, he ordered his ship, the Captain, 74 guns, to “cut the corner” on a rather slow fleet manoeuvre and so got into action with the Spanish flagship, the 130-gun Santisima Trinidad, and at least two other first-rate battle ships before the rest of the British fleet caught up with him. The British ship Culloden is about to reach the battered Captain before passing on to the Spanish flagship. In the confused fighting that followed, Nelson was to perform his well-known feat of capturing an 80-gun ship, the San Nicholas, and using her as a bridge to capture another even larger, the 112-gun San Josef. The ship entering at extreme left is the 98-gun Prince George, which was to play a major role in knocking out the San Josef.

March 22

Abe Sapien began his life as Langdon Everett Caul, a Victorian scientist and businessman who became involved with the Oannes Society, an occult organization who believed in life and all knowledge having come from the sea. After retrieving a strange jellyfish-like deity from an underwater ruin, Caul and the other members performed an arcane ritual that inadvertently ended with the creature’s release and Caul being turned into an ichthyo sapien. Believing him to be Oannes reborn, the society sealed the developing icthyo sapien’s body in a tube of water in the hidden laboratory beneath a Washington, D.C.. hospital until such time as he was fully formed. Forced to abandon the site by the outbreak of the American Civil War, the Society never found occasion to return for Caul, and there he stayed until he was found by workmen in November 1978. With no memory of his life before, the icthyo sapien received a new name. Abe Sapien was taken to the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) for a gruelling round of research by curious BPRD scientists, and was saved from vivisection by an empathetic Hellboy. Thereafter, Abe entered the ranks of the BPRD as a valued field agent. He first appeared in Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction (March 22, 1994).

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February 25th 1947: Prussia ceases to exist

On this day in 1947, the state of Prussia, which had existed since 1525, ceased to exist. Prussia was a German kingdom, and in the nineteenth century became its most powerful state, rising in strength to challenge other established European powers. Otto von Bismarck aimed to unite all German states under the domination of Prussia, which was achieved through the German Unification Wars (Austro-Prussian War 1866 & Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871). As Prussia merged with Germany it lost its distinctive identity and in 1918 the royalty abdicated and nobility lost most of its political power. Under Nazi rule, Prussia lost its identity even more, with centralisation policies removing its autonomy. Prussia lost some territory in the post-war division of Germany into zones and the Western allies sought its full abolition. This was secured in Law 46 by the Allied Control Council, citing Prussia’s association with past militarism as the reason. Former Prussian territory was then re-organised. Prussia has since been vilified by Germans as a symbol of the militarism and obedience that led to the Nazi rise to power.

Some Historic Dates In April

April 15, 1912: sinking of the Titanic

Originally posted by ein-bleistift-und-radiergummi

April 16, 1746: Battle of Culloden Moor

Originally posted by thebookboyfriendharem

April 19, 1775: The beginning of the American Revolution with the “Shot Heard Round the World” (The Battle of Lexington and Concord)

Originally posted by bantarleton

HMS Curieux Captures Dame Ernouf, 8 February 1805, by Francis Sartorius Jr.

On 8 February 1805, Curieux chased the French privateer Dame Ernouf (or Madame Ernouf) for twelve hours before she able to bring her to action. After forty minutes of hard fighting Dame Ernouf, which had a crew almost double in size relative to that of Curieux, maneuvered to attempt a boarding. Captain Bettesworth anticipated this and put his helm a-starboard, catching his opponent’s jib-boom so that he could rake the French vessel. Unable to fight back, the Dame Ernouff struck.The action cost Curieux five men killed and four wounded, including Bettesworth, who took a hit in his head from a musket ball. Dame Ernouf had 30 men killed and 41 wounded.

On this day in history, April 14, 1939 – The Grapes of Wrath, by American author John Steinbeck is first published by the Viking Press.

From our stacks: Dust jacket from The Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck. New York: Viking Press, 1939. Jacket illustration by Elmer Hader.