Events & Issues in US History 1900-1940

Events & Issues in US History 1900-1940



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Events & Issues in US History 1900-1940 - History

Photo above: Troops from the United States and other Allied nations land on the beach at Normandy, France in 1944, beginning the western European invasion that would lead to defeat of Nazi Germany. Courtesy National Archives. Right: British military officers in the North African desert in 1941. Courtesy Library of Congress.

U.S. Timeline - The 1940s

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April 1, 1940 - The 1940 census indicates a United States population of 132,164,569. This represented an increase of 7.3% since 1930, the lowest rate of increase in the 20th century. The center of the United States population was geographically placed two miles southeast by east of Carlisle, Indiana.

June 3, 1940 - The United States government approves a sale of surplus war material to Great Britain.

November 5, 1940 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt continues his dominance of presidential politics with a 449 to 82 Electoral College victory over Republican candidate Wendell Wilkie, winning his third presidential election. Roosevelt becomes the first man to hold office for three terms.

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February 19, 1942 - Executive order 9066 is signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, confining 110,000 Japanese Americans, including 75,000 citizens, on the West Coast into relocation camps during World War II. The remains of the first of these detention camps resides in California's Manzanar National Historic Site. These camps would last for three years.

August 7, 1942 - The United States Marines land on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in the first American offensive of World War II. A naval battle would commence on November 12 for three days with the U.S. Navy able to retain control despite heavy losses.

June 21, 1943 - Race riots in Detroit and Harlem cause forty deaths and seven hundred injuries.

July 10, 1943 - The United States Army's 45th Infantry Division lands on the island of Sicily, starting the campaign of Allied invasion into Axis-controlled Europe. Nine days later, Rome is bombed by Allied forces. The conquest of Sicily would be completed on August 17 when U.S. forces under General Patton and British forces under Field Marshall Montgomery arrive.

November 28, 1943 - The Tehran Conference is held for three days, concluding in an agreement between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Josef Stalin about a planned June 1944 invasion of Europe with the code name Operation Overlord.

July 17, 1944 - The greatest continental U.S. tragedy of World War II occurs when two ships loading ammunition at Port Chicago Naval Weapons Station in California explodes. The accident killed three hundred and twenty people.

December 18, 1944 - The United States Supreme Court rules in the case of Korematsu vs. the United States, the wartime internment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast was valid during a time of war.

February 4-11, 1945 - President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and Premier Josef Stalin hold the Yalta Conference in the Soviet Union.

February 19, 1945 - Thirty thousand United States Marines land on Iwo Jima. On April 1, American troops invade Okinawa, beginning the Battle of Okinawa, which would continue until June 21.

March 1, 1945 - American troops cross the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany. Two weeks later, on March 18, twelve hundred and fifty U.S. bombers attack Berlin, causing Adolf Hitler to announce the destruction of his own industries and military installations one day later.

April 12, 1945 - President Roosevelt dies suddenly Vice President Harry S. Truman assumes the presidency and role as commander in chief of World War II.

August 6, 1945 - President Harry S. Truman gives the go-ahead for the use of the atomic bomb with the bombing of Hiroshima. Three days later, the second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. On August 15, Emperor Hirohito of Japan surrenders.

January 10, 1946 - The first meeting of the United Nations general assembly occurs after its founding on October 24, 1945 by fifty-one nations, including the Security Council nations of China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.A. These actions would lead to the disbanding of the League of Nations on April 18, when its mission was transferred to the U.N.

April 1, 1946 - Four hundred thousand mine workers begin to strike, with other industries following their lead.

March 12, 1947 - The Truman Doctrine is announced to the U.S. Congress. When passed it would grant $400 million in aid to Greece and Turkey to battle Communist terrorism. President Harry S. Truman implements the act on May 22.

April 2, 1947 - The United Nations Security Council unanimously approves the trusteeship of Pacific Islands formerly controlled by Japan to the United States.

April 1, 1948 - The Soviet Union begins its land blockade of the Allied sectors of Berlin, Germany. A counter blockade by the west was put into effect, as well as a British and U.S. airlift of supplies and food, until both blockades were lifted on September 30, 1949.

December 15, 1948 - Alger Hiss, former State Department official, is indicted for perjury in connection to denials of passing state secrets to a communist spy ring. He would be convicted of the conspiracy on January 21, 1950 and receive a five year sentence.


Events and Inventions of the First Decade of the 20th Century

The first decade of the 20th century resembled the one that had just ended more than it would resemble the rest of the century to come. For the most part, clothing, customs, and transportation remained as they had been. The changes associated with the 20th century would come in the future, with the exception of two major inventions: the airplane and the car.

In this first decade of the 20th century, Teddy Roosevelt became the youngest man ever to be inaugurated as president of the United States, and he was a popular one. His progressive agenda foretold a century of change.

February 8: Kodak introduces Brownie cameras. Manufacturer George Eastman would like a camera in every home, so the cameras sell for $1. Film was 15 cents, plus a 40 cent processing fee.

June 1900–September 1901: When the bloody uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion occurs in China, the protest against foreigners ultimately leads to the end of the last imperial dynasty—the Qing (1644–1912).

July 29: Italy's King Umberto is assassinated after several years of social unrest and the imposition of martial law.

Max Planck (1858–1947) formulates the quantum theory, making the assumption that energy is made up of individual units he called quanta.

Sigmund Freud publishes his landmark work "The Interpretation of Dreams," introducing his theory of the unconscious as it is reflected in dreams.

January 1: Australia's six colonies joined together, becoming a commonwealth.

January 22: Britain's Queen Victoria dies, marking the end of the Victorian era her reign of more than 63 years had dominated the 19th century.

September 6: President William McKinley is assassinated, and at the age of 42, his vice president Theodore Roosevelt is inaugurated as the youngest U.S. president ever.

November 24: The first Nobel Prizes are awarded, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The peace prize goes to Frenchman Frédéric Passy and Swiss Jean Henry Dunant.

December 12: In Newfoundland, Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937) receives a radio signal from Cornwall, England, consisting of the Morse code for the letter "S." It is the first transatlantic transmission.

May 8: Mount Pelee on the West Indian island of Martinique erupts, producing one of the deadliest eruptions in history, obliterating the town of St. Pierre. It proves a landmark event for vulcanology.

May 31: The Second Boer War ends, ending the independence of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, and placing both under British control.

November 16: After President Teddy Roosevelt refuses to kill a tied-up bear during a hunting trip, Washington Post political cartoonist Clifford Berryman satirizes the event by drawing a cute fuzzy teddy bear. Morris Michtom and his wife soon decided to create a stuffed bear as a children's toy, calling it "Teddy's Bear."

The U.S. renews the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, making Chinese immigration permanently illegal and extending the rule to cover Hawaii and the Philippines.

January 18: Marconi sends the first complete transatlantic radio message from President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII.

The first license plates are issued in the U.S., by the state of Massachusetts. Plate No. 1 goes to Frederic Tudor, and it still is used by his descendants.

October 1–13: The first World Series is played in Major League Baseball between the American League Boston Americans and the National League Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh wins the best of nine games, 5-3.

October 10: British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst (1828–1928) founds the Women's Social and Political Union, a militant organization that will campaign for women's suffrage until 1917.

December 1: The first silent movie, "The Great Train Robbery," is released. A short western, it was written, produced, and directed by Edwin S. Porter and starred Broncho Billy Anderson and others.

December 17: The Wright Brothers succeed in making a powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, an event that would change the world and have a huge impact on the century to come.

February 8: The Russo-Japanese War begins, with the two imperialists squabbling over Korea and Manchuria.

February 23: Panama gains independence and sells the Panama Canal Zone to the U.S. for $10 million. Canal construction begins by the end of the year, as soon as the infrastructure is in place.

July 21: The Trans-Siberian Railway officially opens for business, connecting European Russia to Siberia and the remote far east.

October 3: Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955) opens the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida. It was one of the first of such schools for girls and would eventually become Bethune-Cookman University.

October 24: The first rapid transit subway line on the New York Subway makes its first run, running from the City Hall subway station to 145th street.

Albert Einstein proposes his Theory of Relativity explaining the behavior of objects in space and time it will have ​a profound influence on the way we understand the universe.

January 22: "Bloody Sunday" occurs when a peaceful demonstration at Tsar Nicholas II's (1868–1918) winter palace in St. Petersburg is fired upon by imperial forces and hundreds are killed or wounded. It is the first event of the violent phase of the Revolution of 1905 in Russia.

Freud publishes his famous Theory of Sexuality, in a collection of three essays in German that he will write and rewrite again and again during the rest of his career.

June 19: The first movie theater opens in the United States, the Nickelodeon in Pittsburgh, and is said to have shown "The Baffled Burglar."

Summer: Painters Henri Matisse and Andre Derain introduce fauvism to the art world in an exhibit at the annual Salon d'Automne in Paris.

February 10: The Royal Navy warship known as the HMS Dreadnaught is launched, sparking a worldwide arms race.

April 18: The San Francisco earthquake devastates the city. Estimated at a 7.9 magnitude, the quake kills up to 3,000 people and destroys as much as 80% of the city.

May 19: The first section of the Simplon Tunnel through the Alps is completed, connecting Brig, Switzerland and Domodossola, Italy.

W.K. Kellogg opens a new factory in Battle Creek, Michigan and hires 44 employees to produce the initial production batch of Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

November 4: U.S. muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair (1878–1968) publishes the final serial part of "The Jungle" in the Socialist newspaper, "Appeal to Reason." Based on his own investigative journalism at the meatpacking plants in Chicago, the novel shocks the public and leads to new federal food safety laws.

Finland, a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire, becomes the first European country to give women the right to vote, 14 years before this was achieved in the United States.

March: Typhoid Mary (1869–1938), a healthy carrier of the disease believed responsible for several northeast U.S. outbreaks of typhoid, is captured for the first time.

October 18: The Ten Rules of War are established at the Second Hague Peace Conference, defining 56 articles dealing with the treatment of sick and wounded, prisoners of war, and spies and including a list of prohibited weapons.

The first electric washing machine, called the Thor, is sold by Hurley Electric Laundry Equipment Company.

Spanish painter Pablo Picasso (1883–1973) turns heads in the art world with his cubist painting "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon."

June 30: A huge and mysterious explosion called the Tunguska Event occurs in Siberia, possibly created by an asteroid or comet landing on Earth.

July 6: A group of exiles, students, civil servants, and soldiers called the Young Turks movement restores the Ottoman constitution of 1876, ushering in multiparty politics and a two-stage electoral system.

September 27: The first production Model-T automobile is released by Henry Ford's Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, Michigan.

December 26: Jack Johnson (1888–1946) boxes Canadian Tommy Burns (1881–1955) at the Sydney Stadium in Australia to become the first African-American boxer to be the world heavyweight champion.

December 28: An earthquake in Messina, Italy with an estimated magnitude of 7.1 destroys the cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria, and takes the lives of between 75,000 and 82,000 people.

De Agostini / Getty Images

February 5: U.S. chemist Leo Baekeland (1863–1944) presents his invention, the first synthetic plastic known as Bakelite, to the American Chemical Society.

February 12: The NAACP is founded by a group including W.E.B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, and Moorfield Storey.

April 6: After wintering near Cape Sheridan on Ellesmere Island, British explorer Robert Peary ​(1856–1920) reaches what he thinks is the North Pole, although modern studies of his field notes place him 150 miles short of his destination. His claim will be formally recognized by the U.S. in 1911.

October 26: Japan's former prime minister Prince Itō Hirobumi is assassinated by a Korean independence activist.


Impacts to Life Expectancy

There are many factors that impact the life expectancy of people and individuals. War, disease, genetics, diet, lifestyle, gender, and health are a few of those. As we explore this data, ask yourself about your own health, wellness, and how they impact your own life expectancy. The short story here is that life expectancy is expanding and people are living longer than they once did. Here is a closer look at that progress.

Men and Life Expectancy

In 1900, the expectation for white men was to live to age 47 and 12 percent of those born in 1900 would make it to age 65. In contrast, an African American man born in 1900 was only expected to live until the age of 33 and of those born in 1900, only 10 percent of them would live to reach age 65. For both white and African American men born in 1900, a mere four percent ( for each) would reach age 85.

By 1910 the life expectancy for white men grew by two years and those born in 1910 the expectancy was to live to 49 years of age. For African Americans, that decade saw only a single year improvement in life expectancy. Five percent of African American men born in 1910 would reach age 85, whereas, only four percent of white men born in that year would celebrate their 85th birthday.

In 1920, white men had an expectancy to live to age 54 and African Americans to age 46. In the 1920’s several medical breakthroughs occurred. We discovered things like vitamins, vaccines, and the introduction of new medications such as Sulfa – all helped to improve the life expectancy. [1]

At the end of the 1920’s (1929) the great depression started. It would last until 1939 when another incident – World War II – would begin. Both of those events caused premature death. Despite all this, life expectancy in the 1930’s rose for white men with an expectancy to live until the age of 60. For African American, the life expectancy for men was low – age 47. For African American men born in 1930, a decrease in the data appears – only four percent would reach the age of 85. A drop of one percent.

White men born in 1950 had a life expectancy of 67 – which today is the age of retirement. For African American men born in 1950, the life expectancy was 59 years of age – nearly a full decade earlier than that of white men. I fact, African American males have a life expectancy of age 68 only after the year 2000 and for white men, born in 2000, the life expectancy is age 75. A difference that parallels from 1950-2000.

In part, the jump in life expectancy in 1950 were improvements in medicine, such as the development of the external pacemaker in 1952 and the first successful open heart surgery in 1953. [2]

Read more about the advancements in medicine as a timeline.

Women and Life Expectancy

White women born in 1900 were expected to live until age 49 and of those women born in that decade, 12 percent would live to be age 65 and 4 percent to age 85. For African American women born in 1900, life was short. Their life expectancy was only 34 years and only 11 of those women would make it to age 65 and five percent would turn 85. For those women born in 1910, white women on average lived until age 52 and African American women to age 38. It would not be until the 1950’s that African American women would live to reach age 63. In 1950, white women had a life expectancy of 72. For those women born in 1950, 15 percent would reach age 65 and five percent of white women would make it to their 85th birthdays and six percent of African American women would reach age 85. Between 1900 and 1950 only 12 percent of white women would live to reach age 65 and 11 percent of African American women would live to age 65.

By the year 2000, White women had a life expectancy of 80 years and African American woman were expected to live to age 75.

What the data shows us that as technology improves and advancement in medicine and medical procedures improve, the life expectancy of men and women expand. Technological advancements, such as medical alert systems, have greatly contributed to increased life expectancy. Also, improved elder care found in nursing homes, convalescent homes, memory care facilities and assisted living facilities have all helped to improve the average life expectancy. A good example of this is the Gregor Mendel’s genetic experiment in 1866 – the first scientific description of genes and how they work. Today, we understand a fair bit more about genetics but there is much left to learn. As time passes, those people born today, well have a longer life expectancy than that of their parents. It is quite possible that as Americans, we could top the century mark for life expectancy for all men, women, and every heritage that calls the US home. What that means is that we must look to the future to make sure that we have in place the resources to meet our needs as we age. Those include savings, insurance, and a legal framework that helps us to enjoy the later years of our life, whatever our life expectancy should be.


The Shocking Savagery of America’s Early History

It’s all a bit of a blur, isn’t it? That little-remembered century� to 1700—that began with the founding (and foundering) of the first permanent English settlement in America, the one called Jamestown, whose endemic perils portended failure for the dream of a New World. The century that saw all the disease-ridden, barely civilized successors to Jamestown slaughtering and getting slaughtered by the Original Inhabitants, hanging on by their fingernails to some fetid coastal swampland until Pocahontas saved Thanksgiving. No, that’s not right, is it? I said it was a blur.

From This Story

The ”peaceful” Pilgrims massacred the Pequots and destroyed their fort near Stonington, Connecticut, in 1637. A 19th-century wood engraving (above) depicts the slaughter. (The Granger Collection, NYC) Historian Bernard Bailyn. (Photograph by Jared Leeds)

Photo Gallery

Enter Bernard Bailyn, the greatest historian of early America alive today. Now over 90 and ensconced at Harvard for more than six decades, Bailyn has recently published another one of his epoch-making grand narrative syntheses, The Barbarous Years, casting a light on the darkness, filling in the blank canvas with what he’s gleaned from what seems like every last scrap of crumbling diary page, every surviving chattel slave receipt and ship’s passenger manifest of the living and dead, every fearful sermon about the Antichrist that survived in the blackened embers of the burned-out churches.

Bailyn has not painted a pretty picture. Little wonder he calls it The Barbarous Years and spares us no details of the terror, desperation, degradation and widespread torture—do you really know what being “flayed alive” means? (The skin is torn from the face and head and the prisoner is disemboweled while still alive.) And yet somehow amid the merciless massacres were elements that gave birth to the rudiments of civilization—or in Bailyn’s evocative phrase, the fragile “integument of civility”—that would evolve 100 years later into a virtual Renaissance culture, a bustling string of self-governing, self-sufficient, defiantly expansionist colonies alive with an increasingly sophisticated and literate political and intellectual culture that would coalesce into the rationale for the birth of American independence. All the while shaping, and sometimes misshaping, the American character. It’s a grand drama in which the glimmers of enlightenment barely survive the savagery, what Yeats called “the blood-dimmed tide,” the brutal establishment of slavery, the race wars with the original inhabitants that Bailyn is not afraid to call “genocidal,” the full, horrifying details of which have virtually been erased.

“In truth, I didn’t think anyone sat around erasing it,” Bailyn tells me when I visit him in his spacious, document-stuffed study in Harvard’s Widener Library. He’s a wiry, remarkably fit-looking fellow, energetically jumping out of his chair to open up a file drawer and show me copies of one of his most-prized documentary finds: the handwritten British government survey records of America-bound colonists made in the 1770s, which lists the name, origin, occupation and age of the departing, one of the few islands of hard data about who the early Americans were.

“Nobody sat around erasing this history,” he says in an even tone, “but it’s forgotten.”

“Yes,” he agrees. “Look at the ‘peaceful’ Pilgrims. Our William Bradford. He goes to see the Pequot War battlefield and he is appalled. He said, ‘The stink’ [of heaps of dead bodies] was too much.”

Bailyn is speaking of one of the early and bloodiest encounters, between our peaceful pumpkin pie-eating Pilgrims and the original inhabitants of the land they wanted to seize, the Pequots. But for Bailyn, the mercenary motive is less salient than the theological.

“The ferocity of that little war is just unbelievable,” Bailyn says. “The butchering that went on cannot be explained by trying to get hold of a piece of land. They were really struggling with this central issue for them, of the advent of the Antichrist.”

Suddenly, I felt a chill from the wintry New England air outside enter into the warmth of his study.


Tulsa isn’t the only race massacre you were never taught in school. Here are others.

With President Biden commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre Tuesday, many Americans are learning for the first time about the nation’s long history of racist rampages, particularly during (but not limited to) the period from the 1870s to the 1920s — considered by many a nadir in the fight for Black civil rights.

This new awareness has prompted calls from many, including musician and activist Common, to learn more about these incidents. On Monday he posted to social media a map of part of the United States with locations and dates of other massacres against Black people. “Pick a massacre and research it!” it read.

The motto of The Washington Post’s Retropolis is “The past, rediscovered,” and perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than in the changing understanding of these incidents. In the past, they often were misreported as “race riots,” a smokescreen that obscured honest historiography (writing of history).

If you want to read accurate accounts (i.e., better than Wikipedia) of many of the incidents that occurred during this bleak period, here are the ones Retropolis has covered.*

Colfax, La., 1873: This was a direct attack on Black men getting the right to vote during Reconstruction. After Whites contested the result of the 1872 election, Black men and a mostly Black state militia holed up around the parish courthouse to protect the local government. On Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, they were surrounded by a White mob that set the courthouse on fire and shot anyone who emerged. It is estimated that 62 to 81 African Americans were killed.

Wilmington, N.C., 1898: This incident is better described as a successful coup d’etat, in which white supremacists overthrew the results of a local election. In the process, they killed dozens of Black people and burned down much of Wilmington’s prosperous Black neighborhood. Black families ran into the woods to hide while others were forced to leave by train, never to return.

Washington, D.C., 1919: For weeks, police and the press, including The Washington Post, whipped up hysteria over an alleged “Negro fiend” attacking White women. Things boiled over on July 19, 1919, with White posses hunting Black men. The violence lasted for nearly a week before it was extinguished by a long summer rain. This is one of the few “race riots” in which more White people may have been killed by Blacks defending themselves — many were soldiers returning home from World War I — than Blacks murdered by White mobs.

Elaine, Ark., 1919: There were dozens of racist attacks and massacres across the country in the Red Summer of 1919. One of the worst was in Elaine, Ark., in which at least 200 Black farmers and their families were slaughtered. The farmers had recently unionized and were planning to bypass the unfair sharecropping system.

Ocoee, Fla., 1920: It was the presidential election during which White women voted for the first time, but for Black Americans, it was more of the same: Jim Crow laws and disenfranchisement. In Ocoee, Fla., when local Black men and women attempted to vote, White mobs responded by burning a Black church and killing at least six people some say the death toll was more like 60. Some survivors claimed bodies were dumped in a mass grave, as in Tulsa. Ocoee officials have made no attempt to investigate the claim. City officials apologized and installed a memorial plaque in 2020. It was the worst instance of Election Day violence in American history.

Tulsa, 1921: On May 31, 1921, a White mob descended on “Black Wall Street,” a prosperous Black neighborhood in Tulsa. Over the next two days, they murdered more than 300 people, burned down 40 city blocks and left 10,000 Black residents homeless. A mass grave that may contain the remains of the victims has recently been discovered. Survivors have been petitioning for reparations for decades, and as recently as last week.


Events & Issues in US History 1900-1940 - History

Review - "Chronology" offers a fascinating series of snapshots throughout American history, including things I really haven't thought about, such as. what was life like here before the European explorers showed up? Some of the chapters are essays about specific topics or time periods, and others are the actual text of documents from our history. Even if you think you know American history, I'll bet you'll find something you didn't know, or an aspect you never thought about!"

Timeline Book

Book Reviews

Great Book for the Context of History - I'd say this would be great for anyone from age 12 and up who needs to know the context of history or the history buff who wants to be reminded where and when things happened. Recommended.

Very Good Complilation - This was a great refresher for someone who was very big into my history lessons. Great for quizzing your kids.

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  • The Timeline of America's Best History from americasbesthistory.com has been used by the video department of the Freemasons Association as a reference source in a documentary on the Masons in history.

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A History of Getting Hammered, and Why Some of Us Should Keep Doing It

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DRUNK
How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization
By Edward Slingerland

Frederick the Great of Prussia had a problem: His soldiers were drinking coffee instead of beer. “This must be prevented,” he wrote in a 1777 tirade on the “disgusting” new fad sweeping the kingdom. Why would any commander want a bunch of guys with guns quaffing liquid neurotoxins instead of wholesome brews rarely associated with brawling, karaoke and regrettable tattoos (to say nothing of liver damage and hangovers)? Caffeinated armies might sound more dependable than their tipsy counterparts — but the king recognized that beer was a uniquely powerful bonding agent, and key to morale.

He was not the first to intuit its practical applications. For thousands of years cultures around the world have “implicitly understood that the sober, rational, calculating individual mind is a barrier to social trust,” Edward Slingerland writes in “Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization,” an effervescent new study that’s equal parts anthropology, psychology and evolutionary biology. Drawing on recent experiments, Neolithic burials, eclectic myths and global literature, Slingerland teases out the evolutionary advantages and enduring benefits of getting blitzed. It’s a rowdy banquet of a book in which the ancient Roman historian Tacitus, Lord Byron, Timothy Leary, George Washington, the Chinese poet Tao Yuanming and many others toast the merits of drowning Apollonian reason in Dionysian abandon. We visit wine-soaked temple orgies in ancient Egypt, the chicha-brewing capital of the Inca Empire, Fijian villages, Irish pubs and the official “whiskey room” at a Google campus, knocking back bits of evidence from Burning Man and “Beowulf” along the way.

Although Slingerland, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia, extols the pleasures of drinking in moderation — and occasionally in excess — for their own hedonic sake, the functional upsides of intoxication are his primary concern. Drinking not only allows wary, self-interested individuals to drop their guard and collaborate, he writes, it also facilitates the creativity and playfulness our species needs to innovate and survive. A negroni will essentially wipe out the prefrontal cortex, the site of pragmatic, grown-up thinking. Zap the same region with a transcranial magnet and you’ll get the same results: happier, less inhibited, more childlike adults. Given that transcranial magnets are “expensive, not very portable and typically not welcome at parties,” alcohol remains a handy, low-tech tool to get good will and fresh ideas flowing.

For our ancestors, inebriation was especially essential, “a robust and elegant response to the challenges of getting a selfish, suspicious, narrowly goal-oriented primate to loosen up and connect with strangers.” This is why hunter-gatherers likely began producing beer and wine before bread. Brewing vats and drinking vessels at a 12,000-year-old site in what is now eastern Turkey suggest that people were “gathering in groups, fermenting grain or grapes, playing music and then getting truly hammered before we’d even figured out agriculture.” Then, when humans did begin to settle down, sow crops and domesticate livestock, it was alcohol that allowed them to do so in increasingly large numbers, giving rise to towns and cities. “It is no accident that, in the brutal competition of cultural groups from which civilizations emerged, it is the drinkers, smokers and trippers who emerged triumphant,” Slingerland writes: Human society would not exist without ample lubrication.

Slingerland is adamant that chemically induced communion is just as valuable (and perhaps particularly necessary) in modern times, but he does address alcohol’s more obvious medical and economic costs, the devastating effects of addiction and the subtle, pernicious ways in which drinking can alienate and exclude outsiders. Some readers might find the treatment cursory given the gravity of these issues, but Slingerland simply argues that they have been well documented, whereas serious scholarly work on the value of intoxication is surprisingly scant. As a result, poor alcohol stands “defenseless” against doctors and government policymakers who paint it as pure vice. Slingerland takes up the cause with all the chivalry of a knight-errant, and his infectious passion makes this book a romp as well as a refreshingly erudite rejoinder to the prevailing wisdom.


By that time, the virus had killed more than 1.25 million people.

"This is a day to remember, frankly, in a year to forget," British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, according to the Associated Press.

Two other companies, Moderna and Astrazeneca, had by this point also announced promising trial results. But Astrazeneca's came under scrutiny, since it turned out that researchers had given some participants a half-dose for their first shot by mistake. Among the group that got a half-dose followed by a full dose, the vaccine was found to be 90% effective. Among the rest of the trial participants, who got two full doses, the vaccine showed 60% effectiveness. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot told Bloomberg that the company would likely launch a new global trial of the vaccine because of the skewed data.


Romania's History

Romania's history has not been as idyllically peaceful as its geography.
Over the centuries, various migrating people invaded Romania.
Romania's historical provinces Wallachia and Moldova offered furious resistance to the invading Ottoman Turks.
Transylvania was successively under Habsburg, Ottoman, Hungarian or Wallachian rule,
while remaining an (semi) autonomous province.

Romania's post WWII history as a communist-block nation is more widely known, primarily due to the excesses of the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. In December 1989 a national uprising led to his overthrow.
The 1991 Constitution re-established Romania as a republic with a multiparty system, market economy and individual rights of free speech, religion and private ownership.

Some of the history that has shaped Romania
What is now Romania has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age
as evidenced by carved stone tools unearthed there.

10,000 B.C.
Approximate date of the first known art in present day Romania: cave paintings in northwest Transylvania.

4,000 B.C.
Approximate date of pottery (dated to the Neolithic Age) that is found in all regions of Romania.

3,000 B.C.
Thracian tribes of Indo-European origin, who migrated from Asia, occupied the actual territory of Romania.

2,000 B.C.
A distinctive Thracian sub-group emerged in what is now Romania.
The Greeks called these people Getae, but to the Romans they were Dacians.
Herodotus called them "the fairest and most courageous of men"
because they believed in the immortality of the soul and were not afraid to die.

700 B.C.
Greeks arrived and settled near the Black Sea.
The cities of Histria, Tomis (now Constanta) and Callatis (now Mangalia) were established.
Western-style civilization developed significantly.

70-44 B.C.
Dacian king Burebista controlled the territory of modern-day Romania.
Burebista created a powerful Dacian kingdom.

100 A.D.
Dacian civilization reaches its peak.

106 A.D.
Romans conquer and colonize Dacia (modern-today Romania).

106 - 274 A.D.
Dacia is a province of the Roman Empire.
Dacians gradually adopt numerous elements of the conquerors' language.

271 A.D.
After fighting off the barbarian Goths, most Roman troops abandon Dacia.

4th Century
Christianity is adopted by the Daco-Roman, Latin-speaking people.

4th - 9th Centuries
Nomadic tribes from Asia and Europe (Goths, Visigoths, Huns, Slavs) invade Dacia.

896 — late 1100s
Magyars (Hungarians) invade regions in western and central present-day Romania
(Crisana, Banat and Transylvania).
The local population — Romanians - were the only Latin people in the eastern part of the former Roman Empire and the only Latin people to belong to the Orthodox faith.
The oldest extant Hungarian chronicle, "Gesta Hungarorum" or The Deeds of the Hungarians,
(based on older chronicles) documents the battles between the local population in Transylvania,
lead by six local rulers, and the invading Magyars.

12th Century
Saxon (German) settlers begin to establish several towns in Transylvania. (Germans were invited to settle in Transylvania by the king of Hungary who wanted to consolidate his position in the newly occupied territory).
Szeklers people - descendants from Attila's Huns - were also brought to eastern and southeastern Transylvania as border guards.

13th Century
The first formal division of the formerly unified Romanian population. The principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania are established. Transylvania becomes an autonomous principality under Magyar rule, until 1526. Magyar forces tried unsuccessfully to capture Wallachia and Moldavia.

14th-15th Centuries
Wallachia and Moldavia offered resistance to the Ottoman Empire expansion.

1526
Transylvania (a semi-autonomous principality) becomes subject to Ottoman (Turkish) authority.

16th-17th Century
Threatened by the Turks who conquered Hungary, the three Romanian provinces of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania are able to retain their autonomy by paying tribute to the Turks.
The principality of Transylvania prospered as a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire.

1600
Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania (map) are briefly united under Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave), prince of Wallachia. Unity lasted only one year after which, Michael the Brave was defeated by the Turks and Hapsburg forces. Transylvania came under Hapsburg rule while Turkish suzerainty continued in Wallachia and Moldavia.

1699
Transylvania and Bucovina (smaller region north of Moldavia)
are incorporated in the Habsburg Empire.

1765
Transylvania was declared a Grand Principality of Transylvania,
further consolidating its special separate status within the Habsburg Empire.

1821
Moldavia loses its eastern territory east of river Prut (also called Bessarabia) to Russia.

1856
The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia
— for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire -
secure their autonomy.

1859
Alexandru Ioan Cuza is elected to the thrones of Moldavia and Wallachia.

1862
Wallachia and Moldavia unite to form a national state: Romania.

1866
Carol I (German born) succeeds Alexandru Ioan Cuza, as prince of Romania.

1867
Transylvania falls under the direct rule of Hungary and a strong push for
Magyarisation (of names and official language) follows.

1877
On May 9 the Romanian parliament declared the independence of Romania from the Ottoman Empire.
A day later, the act was signed by Prince Carol I.

1881
Kingdom of Romania officially proclaimed.

1892
The leaders of the Romanians of Transylvania sent a Memorandum to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor,
Franz Joseph demanding an end to persecutions and Magyarization attempts.

1914
King Carol I dies. He is succeeded by his nephew King Ferdinand I (1914-1927).
Romania enters WWI on the side of the Triple Entente aiming to regain its lost territories
(part of Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina).

1918
During large public assemblies representatives of most towns, villages and local communities in Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bucovina declare union with Romania.

1930
Carol II, Ferdinand's I son, becomes king of Romania and establishes royal dictatorship.

1939
Germany demands a monopoly on Romanian exports (mainly oil, lumber and
agricultural products) in exchange for the guarantee of its borders.

1940
The Soviet Union annexes Bessarabia (eastern Romania - today Republic of Moldova)
and Northern Bucovina (NNE Romania).
Germany and Italy force Romania to cede Northern Transylvania to Hungary.
Widespread demonstrations against King Carol II. Marshall Ion Antonescu forces him to abdicate
in favor of his 19-year-old son Michael. Carol II flees Romania.

1941
Marshall Ion Antonescu imposes a military dictatorship.
In order to regain Bessarabia, Romania enters WWII against the Soviet Union.

1944
King Michael I engineers a royal coup and arrests Marshall Ion Antonescu.
Romania reenters war on the Allies side.

1945
The Yalta Agreement makes Romania part of the Soviet system.
Communist-dominated government installed.

1947
With Soviet troops on its territory, Romania enters the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union.
The communists, who gradually took the power, force King Michael I to abdicate
and proclaim Romania a People's Republic.
King Michael leaves the country and moves to Switzerland.

1950s
After Stalin's death, Romania begins to distance itself from Moscow.

1964
Romania declares autonomy within Communist Bloc.

1967
Nicolae Ceausescu becomes President of the Council of State merging leadership of state and party.

1968
Romania condemns the Soviet-led Warsaw Pacy invasion of Czechoslovakia
Romania's communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, earns praise and economic aid from the West.

1974
Romania was the first country of the Soviet Bloc to have official relations with the European Community.
(and sign a treaty that included Romania in the Community's Generalized System of Preferences).

1980s
Obsessed with repaying the national debt and megalomaniac building projects Ceausescu orders a ban on importation of any consumer products and commands exportation of all goods produced in Romania except minimum food supplies. Severe restrictions of civil rights are imposed.

1982
Romania calls on Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan.

1987
Ceausescu indicates Romania will not follow Soviet reform trends.

1989
Romanians unite in protests against the communist leadership and local demonstrations sparked a national uprising that finally ousted communist ruler Nicolae Ceausescu and his cabinet.

1990
First free, multi-party elections after WWII are held in Romania.

1991
Romanians vote for a new Constitution.

2004
Romania joins NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

2007
Romania becomes a member of the European Union.


The Long, Painful History of Police Brutality in the U.S.

Last month, hours after a jury acquitted former police officer Jeronimo Yanez of manslaughter in the shooting death of 32-year-old Philando Castile, protesters in St. Paul, Minnesota, shutdown Interstate 94. With signs that read: “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace,” the chant of “Philando, Philando” rang out as they marched down the highway in the dark of night.

The scene was familiar. A year earlier, massive protests had erupted when Yanez killed Castile, after pulling him over for a broken taillight. Dashcam footage shows Yanez firing through the open window of Castile’s car, seconds after Castile disclosed that he owned and was licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

A respected school nutritionist, Castile was one of 233 African-Americans shot and killed by police in 2016, a startling number when demographics are considered. African-Americans make up㺍 percent of the U.S. population but account for 24 percent of people fatally shot by police. According to the Washington Post, blacks are "2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers."

Today's stories are anything but a recent phenomenon. A cardboard placard in the collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture and on view in the new exhibition “More Than a Picture,” underscores that reality. 

“The message after 50 years is still unresolved,” remarks Samuel Egerton, who donated the poster to the Smithsonian after carrying it in protest during the 1963 March on Washington. (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, gift of Samuel Y. Edgerton)

The yellowing sign is a reminder of the continuous oppression and violence that has disproportionately shaken black communities for generations—“We Demand an End to Police Brutality Now!” is painted in red and white letters.

“The message after 50 years is still unresolved,” remarks Samuel Egerton, a college professor, who donated the poster to the museum. He carried it in protest during the 1963 March on Washington. Five decades later, the poster’s message rings alarmingly timely. Were it not for the yellowed edges, the placard could almost be mistaken for a sign from any of the Black Lives Matter marches of the past three years.

"There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?" said Martin Luther King, Jr. in his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech at the 1963 march. His words continue to resonate today after a long history of violent confrontations between African-American citizens and the police. "We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality."

"This idea of police brutality was very much on people’s minds in 1963, following on the years, decades really, of police abuse of power and then centuries of oppression of African-Americans," says William Pretzer, senior history curator at the museum.

A poster, collected in Baltimore, Maryland, by curators at the National Museum of African American History, following the death of Freddie Gray. (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)

Modern policing did not evolve into an organized institution until the 1830s and '40s when northern cities decided they needed better control over quickly growing populations. The first American police department was established in Boston in 1838. The communities most targeted by harsh tactics were recent European immigrants. But, as African-Americans fled the horrors of the Jim Crow south, they too became the victims of brutal and punitive policing in the northern cities where they sought refuge.

In 1929, the Illinois Association for Criminal Justice published the Illinois Crime Survey. Conducted between 1927 and 1928, the survey sought to analyze causes of high crime rates in Chicago and Cook County, especially among criminals associated with Al Capone. But also the survey provided data on police activity—although African-Americans made up just five percent of the area's population, they constituted 30 percent of the victims of police killings, the survey revealed.

"There was a lot of one-on-one conflict between police and citizens and a lot of it was initiated by the police," says Malcolm D. Holmes, a sociology professor at the University of Wyoming, who has researched and written about the topic of police brutality extensively.

That same year, President Herbert Hoover established the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement to investigate crime related to prohibition in addition to policing tactics. Between 1931 and 1932, the commission published the findings of its investigation in 14 volumes, one of which was titled “Report on Lawlessness in Law Enforcement.” The realities of police brutality came to light, even though the commission did not address racial disparities outright.

During the Civil Rights Era, though many of the movement's leaders advocated for peaceful protests, the 1960s were fraught with violent and destructive riots.

Police Disperse Marchers with Tear Gas by unidentified photographer, 1966 (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Howard Greenberg Gallery)

Aggressive dispersion tactics, such as police dogs and fire hoses, against individuals in peaceful protests and sit-ins were the most widely publicized examples of police brutality in that era. But it was the pervasive violent policing in communities of color that built distrust at a local, everyday level.

One of the deadliest riots occurred in Newark in 1967 after police officers severely beat black cab driver John Smith during a traffic stop. Twenty-six people died and many others were injured during the four days of unrest. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson organized the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to investigate the causes of these major riots.

The origins of the unrest in Newark weren't unique in a police versus citizen incident. The commission concluded "police actions were 'final' incidents before the outbreak of violence in 12 of the 24 surveyed disorders.”

The commission identified segregation and poverty as indicators and published recommendations for reducing social inequalities, recommending an “expansion and reorientation of the urban renewal program to give priority to projects directly assisting low-income households to obtain adequate housing.” Johnson, however, rejected the commission’s recommendations. 

Black newspapers reported incidents of police brutality throughout the early and mid-20th century and the popularization of radio storytelling spread those stories even further. In 1991, following the beating of cab driver Rodney King, video footage vividly told the story of police brutality on television to a much wider audience. The police officers, who were acquitted of the crime, had hit King more than 50 times with their batons.

Today, live streaming, tweets and Facebook posts have blasted the incidents of police brutality, beyond the black community and into the mainstream media. Philando Castile’s fiancée, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the car with her daughter when he was shot, streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on her phone using Facebook live.

"Modern technology allows, indeed insists, that the white community take notice of these kinds of situations and incidents," says Pretzer.

And as technology has evolved, so has the equipment of law enforcement. Police departments with military-grade equipment have become the norm in American cities. Images of police officers in helmets and body armor riding through neighborhoods in tanks accompany stories of protests whenever one of these incidents occurs.

"What we see is a continuation of an unequal relationship that has been exacerbated, made worse if you will, by the militarization and the increase in fire power of police forces around the country," says Pretzer.

The resolution to the problem, according to Pretzer, lies not only in improving these unbalanced police-community relationships, but, more importantly, in eradicating the social inequalities that perpetuate these relationships that sustain distrust and frustration on both sides.

'There’s a tendency to stereotype people as being more or less dangerous. There’s a reliance upon force that goes beyond what is necessary to accomplish police duty," says Holmes. "There’s a lot of this embedded in the police departments that helps foster this problem."