Many of my Facebook friends have asked me to write an article on the History of April 19th. Why?
This date is slightly more likely to fall on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday (58 in 400 years each) than on Friday or Saturday (57) and somewhat less likely to occur on a Monday or Wednesday (56). But what important things have happened historically on this date in history? There are many, here are just three:
Reformation — April 19, 1529
Following the First Diet of Speyer, German Princes understood now that cujus regio, ejus religio — literally “Whose realm, his religion” or roughly “the religion of the Prince is the religion of his territory.” If a Prince followed Luther, so too could his people.
However, if the First Diet suspended the Edict of Worms, the Second Diet reinstated it or, more particularly, excluded toleration for Lutherans, Zwinglians, or Anabaptists. A group of German Princes, realizing this could mean the end of tolerance for Lutherans and Reformed, subsequently filed a formal legal “protest” and were hence called Protestants.
Revolution — April 19, 1775
In his Concord Hymn, Ralph Waldo Emerson recounts this episode of history with the words “the shot heard ’round the world.” Perhaps less well-known is that it was his own grandfather, the Reverend William Emerson, an ordinary country preacher, who played a role in the story.
The month before, on March 13, he had preached a sermon to the Concord militia of the “approaching storm of war and bloodshed,” calling them to “real service” based on moral and spiritual resolve trusting in God’s power to uphold them. He said:
“For my part, the more I reflect upon the movements of the British nation… the more satisfied I am that our military preparation here for our own defense is… justified in the eyes of the impartial world. Nay, for should we neglect to defend ourselves by military preparation, we could never answer it to God and to our own consciences…”
Reflection — Today, April 19
Why is April 19 important to you?
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian