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Old 01-01-2009, 09:36 PM  
Amnorix Amnorix is offline
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This Day in History

Today...
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Old 02-05-2009, 01:46 PM   #151
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenson71 View Post
Since this is a history thread, I have a histoiography question for everyone:

Is it possible to rank historical events as to their significance?

On one hand, it seems like because everything builds off from the past, it would only be deduced that the most significant thing would be the very first event in human history. There's no WWII without WWI, and no WWI without the half of a dozen or so factors that directly influenced it, and those factors had beginnings and so on. I asked a professor of history this, and she said she wouldn't do rankings, as a historian herself.

On the other hand, it seems obvious that some events are more important than others. Princip shooting the Archduke is a more significant and influential event than say, Babe Ruth being traded to the Yankees, for an extreme example. And this thinking is definitely seeing in this thread, where we list the "more important" events for one particular day in history.

A while back, I got a Times book that I loved and still do today. It ranked the most significant events, in their view, from the past 1000 years. Their top choice was Gutenburg printing the Bible. Is this ranking, and other rankings like it, legitimate?
An interesting question. The problem is that you have to put limitations on things, or else you get into the spiral of ever-increasing consequences of the action. But for Princip's father having an itch in his pants, Princip is never born, therefore he never shoots Ferdinand, therefore there is no WWI, therefore there is no WWII, and compared to that things like D-Day and Stalingrad and Midway are clearly less important because they would not have happened...

Obviously, I'm making decisions about what historical events are "important", every time I post a new day's events in this thread. Nonetheless, I contend that what you suggest is a pointless exercise. The problem is that the further bakc you go, the more significant almost anything becomes as a result of the ever widening consequences of the act. Without Caesar there is no Roman Empire, which affects alot more than when/where the printing press is discovered.
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:01 PM   #152
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I agree with everything you've said. Then the limitations, trying to find them, and though maybe they are always undefinable to the exact, seem to me to be things that go right along with historical inquiry.

My thoughts for now is that I do feel we can rank events in their significance. I think we must be able to. It's just a recognition of the events that have caused a larger ripple effect to occur in the world. So, as of now, I think my history professor was wrong in this regard, if she understood what I was asking her.
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:03 PM   #153
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Now I remember something else she said too. "As a historian, I wouldn't do that, but if I did, I would probably agree with that choice." Hmmm.
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:23 PM   #154
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Quote:
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Now I remember something else she said too. "As a historian, I wouldn't do that, but if I did, I would probably agree with that choice." Hmmm.
I guess. I think the best you can do is group things into categories. The other problem is sheer volume. It's also somewhat hard to compare events that may have had a transcendent effect on one part of the world with events that had that same effect in a different part of the world. How do you compare the unexpected rise of the Mongol Empire, to the Greek conquest of most of the known world under Alexander, to the Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon and the transformation of the Republic to an Empire? I honestly don't have the faintest idea.

Then overlay that with such things as the advent of monotheism by the Jews -- how does that compare? In some ways that's the single most important religious "event" of all, given how much flowed from it. Or should we say that it was the birth of Christ, or Mohammed, given the relative impact of the Christians and Muslims compared to the relatively small and short-lived Jewish kingdom?

It's impossible, and I'm honestly just not sure it's worth the effort.
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:23 PM   #155
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Now I remember something else she said too. "As a historian, I wouldn't do that, but if I did, I would probably agree with that choice." Hmmm.
No logician she...
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Old 02-05-2009, 03:34 PM   #156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenson71 View Post
Since this is a history thread, I have a histoiography question for everyone:

Is it possible to rank historical events as to their significance?

On one hand, it seems like because everything builds off from the past, it would only be deduced that the most significant thing would be the very first event in human history. There's no WWII without WWI, and no WWI without the half of a dozen or so factors that directly influenced it, and those factors had beginnings and so on. I asked a professor of history this, and she said she wouldn't do rankings, as a historian herself.

On the other hand, it seems obvious that some events are more important than others. Princip shooting the Archduke is a more significant and influential event than say, Babe Ruth being traded to the Yankees, for an extreme example. And this thinking is definitely seeing in this thread, where we list the "more important" events for one particular day in history.

A while back, I got a Times book that I loved and still do today. It ranked the most significant events, in their view, from the past 1000 years. Their top choice was Gutenburg printing the Bible. Is this ranking, and other rankings like it, legitimate?
I might propose that "importance" be measured in terms of the amount that the event itself bent the arc of history. Certainly everything builds off the past so you have a pyramiding effect, but I could argue that the birth of Julius Caesar was not in and of itself an important event. It was a baby being born. Big deal. Travis Henry creates babies twice a year. The big event was Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, because that event bent the arc of history pretty strongly.

I think that's a better look, because otherwise everything traces back to lightning striking a protoplasm or some giant spider eating the last giant scorpion or God deciding that Eve would look great with big mammary glands.
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Old 02-05-2009, 03:39 PM   #157
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1885. King Leopold of Belgium claims the Congo as his personal property. His atrocities there would later lead to serious recriminations and become one of the first international scandals of the 20th century.

Interestingly, he ended up with the largest ball collection in the world after keeping ones accidentally thrown into the Congo by children in Angola and Uganda.
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Old 02-05-2009, 03:47 PM   #158
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An interesting question. The problem is that you have to put limitations on things, or else you get into the spiral of ever-increasing consequences of the action. But for Princip's father having an itch in his pants, Princip is never born, therefore he never shoots Ferdinand, therefore there is no WWI, therefore there is no WWII, and compared to that things like D-Day and Stalingrad and Midway are clearly less important because they would not have happened...

Obviously, I'm making decisions about what historical events are "important", every time I post a new day's events in this thread. Nonetheless, I contend that what you suggest is a pointless exercise. The problem is that the further bakc you go, the more significant almost anything becomes as a result of the ever widening consequences of the act. Without Caesar there is no Roman Empire, which affects alot more than when/where the printing press is discovered.
Without a Greek victory at Salamis, Greece is overrun. No tradition of Athenian Democracy, no "Western Civilization" as we know it.

Then again, if Ar-Pharazôn hadn't sent his fleet West to Aman....
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:25 PM   #159
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February 6

1778. America and the French sign the Treaty of Alliance, paving the way for the French to join the American Revolutionary War and the path to ultimate American victory.

1819. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founded Singapore, which goes on to be one of the most critical parts of the British Empire for the next 125+ years.

1862. General Ulysses S. Grant gives the Union its first victory of the war, at the Battle of Fort Henry.

1959. Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments files for the first patent for an integrated circuit.
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:36 PM   #160
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February 7. A pretty serious yawner.

1807. The Battle of Eylau begins. A battle between Russian and Prussian forces against Napoleon, the result of the battle is inconclusive, the first check against the Grand Armee which had previously crushed all opponents.

1904. A fire in Baltimore, Maryland, destroys over 1500 buildings in just 30 hours.

1962. America bans all imports/exports from/to Cuba, causing mass depression among serious cigar smokers.
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:51 PM   #161
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February 8.

1587. Mary, Queen of Scots, is executed on suspicion of trying to overthrow her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

1692. A doctor in the town of Salem, Massachusetts, suggests that two girls in the family of the village minister may be suffering from bewitchment. This begins the Salem Witch Trials. Before all is said and done, nearly everyone (seemingly) is accused, over 150 are formally arrested and imprisoned, with 19 executed. 5 men and 14 women, most are hanged, one is crushed to death under stones while refusing to confess, and several more die in prison.

1904. The Japanese launch a successful surprise attack on the Russian Naval Base at Port Arthur. This commences the Russo-Japanese War. The immediate attacks badly damage the two heaviest battleships of the Russian Asian Fleet (keep in mind that this is pre-aircraft carrier days, and the battleships were the most important ships of any fleet). Subsequently, the Japanese launch additional attacks, then a blockade of Port Arthur, and then a siege, with Port Arthur subsequently falling to hte Japanese. A relief fleet sent by Russia sails from the Baltic to the area, a trip of 18,000 miles (because the British refuse to let it use the Suez Canal), only to have the Japanese spot the fleet, cross teh T, and inflict a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Tsushima. President Roosevelt negotiates a treaty between the Russians and Japanese at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which results in the Treaty of Portsmouth.

The impact of this war was significant. It was the first defeat of a European power by an Asian country in the modern era, and resulted in significant Russian surrenders of territories/claims in Korea, Manchuria and Sakhalin Island. It also greatly weakened the Tsarist leadership in Russia, which would only survive for another 13 years.

1910. The Boy Scouts of America is founded.

1943. The Battle of Guadalcanal ends with the last Japanese troops having evacuated.

1971. The Nasdaq stock market index debuts.
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Old 02-08-2009, 07:15 PM   #162
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February 9.

1621. Pope Gregory XV is elected, the last Pope to be elected by acclamation rather than ballot.

1775. British Parliament declares Massachusetts colony in rebellion.

1825. After none of the candidates receives a majority of the popular vote, the US House of Representatives selects John Quincy Adams as President. Future President Andrew Jackson, the other primary contender, is extremely annoyed to say the least.

1861. The Confederate convention in Montgomery, Alabama, selects Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as provisional President.

1895. A new game, originally called mintonette, is invented. It soon becomes better known as volleyball.

1900. The Davis Cup competition is established.

1950. An alcoholic, previously unknown and insignificant junior Senator from Wisconsin makes a speech on Lincoln Day in Wheeling, Nebraska before the Republican Women's Club of Wheeling. Waving some papers around, he claims that he has a "list" of 205 members of the State Department that are members of the Communist Party and are shaping national policy. The senator was Joseph McCarthy, and the escalation in anti-Communist paranoia that resulted became known as McCarthyism. The era in which this occurred is generally known as the Second Red Scare, though clearly the Second Red Scare began before McCarthy made his famous speech.

1960. Joanne Woodward receives the first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1964. The Beatles perform for the first time on the Ed Sullivan show.

1965. The first US combat troops are sent to South Vietnam, beginning an episode in American history that would result in rioting, the near destruction of the Democratic Party, and the deaths of nearly 60,000 Americans (plus 300,000 US wounded).

1969. The first 747 test flight.
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:29 AM   #163
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February 7. A pretty serious yawner.

1807. The Battle of Eylau begins. A battle between Russian and Prussian forces against Napoleon, the result of the battle is inconclusive, the first check against the Grand Armee which had previously crushed all opponents.

1904. A fire in Baltimore, Maryland, destroys over 1500 buildings in just 30 hours.

1962. America bans all imports/exports from/to Cuba, causing mass depression among serious cigar smokers.
If you're going to do something of special historical significance, do it on February 7 so your chance of being highlighted as the "most significant" for years to come on lists like these is maximized.
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Old 02-10-2009, 10:28 AM   #164
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February 10.

An event of limited historical impact, but interesting. On this date, 1355, the St. Scholastica Day Riots occurred. Beginning as an argument between townspeople and two students of Oxford, the riots eventually left 60 scholars (mostly students, presumably) and 30 townspeople dead. The dispute was ultimately ended in favor of the school, and for the next 470 years, the town mayor and councilors marched bareheaded through the streets and paid the university one penny for each student who was killed. In 1825 the then-mayor refused to play the part, thus ending the tradition.

1763. The Treaty of Paris is signed, ending the French and Indian War between England and France. That war, generally ignored or forgotten, has had as much or more impact on the United States than nearly any other, as we might all be speaking French instead of English had the result gone the other way.

1906. England launches a new ship, the HMS Dreadnought. The ship gave its name to an entirely new class of warships. The decision to develop and launch the Dreadnought was not lightly undertaken by England, as it was so revolutionary that it essentially rendered every other ship in the world obsolete. Since England enjoyed effective naval supremacy, it resulted (as England knew it would) in a whole new round of a naval armaments race. The technologies introduced were all steam turbine engines, giving her a constant speed of 21 knots, and all big guns, which in combination meant she could move faster than any ship of her approximate size, and outgun every ship in the world. Her 10 12 inch turrets outgunned any other ship then afloat. All other battleships in the world were thereafter referred to as “dreadnought” or “pre-dreadnought” in class. The armaments race would continue until the Battle of Jutland.
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:11 AM   #165
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February 11.

660 BC. This is the traditional founding date of the Empire of Japan, by the first Emperor, Jimmu. While that is the traditional date and name, there is no concrete proof of his existence or that anything really special happened on this date.

1752. Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital in the United States, opens.

1808. Anthracite coal is first burned for fuel, experimentally.

1812. Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation, and future Vice President of the United States (under Madison), leads the Massachusetts legislature into redrawing district maps in Massachusetts such that the Federalists were concentrated into a few districts that they won. His party, the Democratic-Republicans, won all the other districts. His name lives on infamy as in the United STates, having given birth to the term "Gerrymandering".

1861. As the Southern states secede, the US House of Representatives passes a unanimous resolution guaranteeing noninterference with slavery in any state. This was part of a series of relatively desperate actions early in the war to try to keep key border slave states, such as Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee and others, in the Union.

1929. the Empire of Italy and the Vatican sign the Treaty of Lateran, thereby ending the "Roman question". As a result, the Vatican is henceforth an indepedent sovereignty within Italy.

1963. Julia Childs' show, The French Chef, debuts.

1978. China lifts a ban on the works of those radical Chinese dissidents, Aristotle, Shakespeare and Dickens.

1978. Forces loyal to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni completely overthrow the government of the old Shah of Iran, signaling the rise of Islamic radicalism.

1990. Nelson Mandela, a political prisoner for 27 years, is released in South Africa. In 1993 he would win the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 1994 become President of South Africa.
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