The North Light of Block Island, RI. Photograph by Michael Bogdanffy-Kriegh

… i have been taking note of dates in the landscape, mostly on buildings, but sometimes carved into concrete or other hard surfaces…

… when i encounter one, i like to look up the year in Wikipedia… it provides a list of the events of that year… here i stand in 2021 in front of a building finished in 1867… momentous things have happened in the United States this year… many of them are certain to make a similar list in another 145 years… will the list tell the story of the beginning of the end of democracy in the United States?…

… as the finishing touches were being put on the light house, these events were unfolding around the world1:

  • January 01: The Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge, renamed the John A. Roebling Bridge in 1983 is opened.
  • January 08: African-American men are given the right to vote in the District of Columbia.
  • February 03: The Late Tokugawa shogunate comes to an end when Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu abdicates and Prince Mutsuhito becomes Emperor Meiji of Japan.
  • February 15: The first performance of Johann Strauss II’s The Blue Danube is given by the Vienna Men’s Choral Association.
  • February 19: The Qing Dynasty defeats the Nien rebels in Hubei China at the Battle of Inlon River.
  • March 01: Nebraska is admitted as the 37th State of the United States.
  • March 30: Alaska is purchased from Alexander II of Russia for $7.2 million. This becomes known as Seward’s Folly.
  • May 01: The first political May Day march in Chicago.
  • May 07: Alfred Nobel patents dynamite in the UK.
  • May 29: The Austro-Hungarian Compromise is born through Act 12, establishing the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
  • June 19: Emperor Maximillian of Mexico is executed by a firing squad.
  • July 01: The Constitution of the North German Confederation comes into effect. It establishes a confederation of states under the leadership of Prussia and Otto von Bismarck.
  • September 14: The first volume of Das Kapital (Karl Marx) is published.
  • October 21: The Medicine Lodge Treaty is signed by southern Great Plains Indian leaders. It requires Native American Plains tribes to relocate to a reservation in Oklahoma.
  • November 02: The first issue of Harper’s Bazaar is published.
  • December 18: Charles Dickens gives his first public reading in the United States at a theater in New York City.

… the Earth pirouettes around the sun in a universe of unimaginable size, while the affairs of men unfold on it’s surface…

  1. … all events below from: this Wikipedia article on the year 1867… ↩︎