HISTORY OF PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITIONS: WAS IT ALWAYS LIKE NOW?
We think that our most current change in Presidential administration is contentious. But our national history has seen worse. And it goes back over 200 years to the third Presidential election, and several since then.
Presidential Transition: from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson
Perhaps the most contentious election in all of U.S. history was that of 1800. The incumbent President, Federalist John Adams — who was the second President, having served as Vice President to the first President George Washington, ran against Democratic-Republican candidate Thomas Jefferson — Adams’ Vice President at the time — and Aaron Burr.
It was the first election where there was a change in the Presidential political party.
Jefferson had won, but the election was so tumultuous that Jefferson called it the “Revolution of 1800.” In a sense, it was a lengthy, bitter rematch of the 1796 election between the pro-French (think: French Revolution) and pro-decentralization Democratic-Republicans under Jefferson and Aaron Burr, against incumbent Adams’ pro-British and pro-centralization Federalists. (more…)
We know this polymath as a writer, publisher, printer, merchant, scientist, moral philosopher, international diplomat, and inventor.
Musically he invented the glass harmonica, but he also invented the Franklin stove and started the first lending library and fire brigade in Philadelphia.
He did experiments in electricity and developed the lightning rod. He was considered:
America’s best scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, and business strategist, and he was also one of its most practical, though not most profound, political thinkers. — Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Ben Franklin in America
Born on January 17, 1706 *, in Boston, he was one of the earliest and oldest of the American Founding Fathers. He served as a lobbyist to England, was first Ambassador to France, and has been called “The First American.”
HISTORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Born on January 15, 1929, we celebrate a holiday in honor of a man who was not a president, nor an explorer, nor a saint. Rather he was a Baptist minister and an American leader of the 1960s civil rights movement named for the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther after his father was inspired by a trip to Luther’s Wittenberg.
Though President Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1977, it was not until 1986 that a day was established on the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a federal holiday.
Epiphany occurs in the Christian calendar on January 6. It signifies the event of the Magi, or Wise Men, visiting the baby Jesus, and is known in some Latin cultures as Three Kings Day.
In the Eastern (Orthodox and Oriental) churches, it is known as the Feast of Theophany (God Manifest), commemorating Jesus’ baptism with the attendant appearance of the Holy Spirit as a dove and the voice of God the Father. This story is recounted in all four Gospels of the New Testament. This date is also tied to Jesus’ miracle of changing the water to wine at the Wedding at Cana in the Gospel of John, Chapter 2.
Christmas vs. Advent
So, the 12 Days of Christmas don’t end at Christmas; Advent does. Instead, the 12 days start with Christmas and end with Epiphany. These 12 days are sometimes called Christmastide. The subsequent “season” of Epiphany lasts from January 6 through the day before Lent. Some Latin American and European cultures extend this season to February 2 or Candlemas.
HISTORY OF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
As I mentioned previously, New Year’s Day celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March, but later changed to January by the Romans.
Where did we get the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and why at the beginning of the year?
Roman New Years Resolutions
The month of January gets its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks backward into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also the patron and protector of arches (Ianus in Latin), transitions, time, gates, doors, doorways, endings, and beginnings. He was also the patron of bridges, and we see this statue (pictured at left) set on the bridge Ponte Fabricio which crosses the Tiber River in Rome to Tiber Island, where it survives from its original construction in 62 BC during the time of Julius Caesar.
Even today, it is believed that if you touch the Janus head as you cross the bridge, it will bring good fortune. (The followers of the goddess Juno have a competing claim to the month of January, according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs.)
History of Telemachus: the Monk Who Ended the Roman Gladiatorial Games – January 1, A.D. 404
January 1, A.D. 404 marked the last known gladiatorial games in Rome. What part did an obscure Christian monk from the East play in this epic change in Roman entertainment?
This is the story of St. Telemachus, whose festival is celebrated today and has been remembered throughout the last 1600 years.
You may have never heard of the name. Or you know it as the name of the son of Homer’s Odysseus (Ulysses,) who was tutored and protected by Mentor while his father was away fighting the Trojan War.
Here’s the background of the little-known monk and how he brought an end to the Imperial gladiatorial games, and how the story has been adapted over the centuries until that it was used less than 40 years ago by a President at an international event.
The church historian Theodoret, bishop of Cyrrhus in Syria, first told the story in the 5th century in his succinctly titled Ecclesiastical History, a History of the Church in 5 Books from A.D. 322 to the Death of Theodore of Mopsuestia A.D. 427. Theodoret relates how a monk from the eastern part of the Empire named Telemachus came to Rome and saw the gladiatorial games when:
“After gazing upon the combat from the amphitheatre, he descended into the arena, and tried to separate the gladiators. The sanguinary spectators, possessed by the demon who delights in the effusion of blood, were irritated at the interruption of their cruel sports, and stoned him who had occasioned the cessation.”
2020: IT WASN’T THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW DECADE?
With the beginning of the 2020 New Year, you saw articles everywhere that discussed the end of the decade or declared that 2020 was the beginning of the new decade. But 2021 is the beginning of the new decade.
Q: Isn’t 2020 the beginning of the new decade?
- 2020 is the beginning of a new decade — as any year is
- But it is not the beginning of the new decade
Q: But the year ends in Zero. If 2010 was the beginning of the decade, and 2000 was the beginning of the new millennium, how can 2020 not be the beginning of the new decade?
Because 2010 was not the beginning of the decade, as I explained a decade ago here. And 2000 was not the beginning of the Third Millennium. That is why Arthur C. Clarke was careful to name his space odyssey 2001, not 2000.
HISTORY OF NEW YEAR’S DAY
We have the ancient Romans to thank for celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1. It wasn’t always that way. Previous civilizations celebrated it in March to observe the “new year” of growth and fertility.
Before calendars existed, the time between seed sowing and harvesting was considered a cycle or a year. But the Romans moved the date of New Year to January 1, as I’ll explain below, but first a little on calendars.
The word Calendar gets its name from the first day of a month in the Roman (Latin) calendar: kalendae