History Articles

History of July: Where Do We Get That Name?

July 1, 2021 /
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July

Gaius Julius Caesar

HISTORY OF JULY

The month of July was renamed for Julius Caesar, who was born in that month. Before that, it was called Quintilis in Latin, meaning the fifth month in the ancient Roman calendar. This was before January became the first month of the calendar year about the year 450 BC. We currently use the more contemporary Gregorian calendar — recent as in AD 1582 — which makes use of Anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord” counting from the birth of Jesus. As we’ve previously discussed, in this calendar, Jesus was born curiously 4 to 6 years BC or “Before Christ.”

 

Calendar and Julius

July

Julian calendar in stone

The Gregorian calendar was a reform of the Julian calendar, which was itself a reform of the previous Roman calendar. The Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar himself in 46 BC, where he added — probably after returning from an African military campaign in late Quntilis (July) — an additional 67 days by putting two intercalary months between November and December, as Cicero tells us at the time. This took care of some of the leap year problems. The Romans, after his death, renamed Quintilis to Iulius (July) in honor of his birth month.

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History of Independence Day: Was the Declaration of Independence really signed on July 4, 1776?

June 30, 2021 /
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Declaration of IndependenceHISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Day or the Fourth of July celebrates the adoption by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the severance of the allegiance of the American colonies to Great Britain. It is the most significant secular holiday in the United States, observed in all the states, territories, and dependencies.

Although it is assumed that the Continental Congress unanimously signed the document on the 4th of July, in fact, not all delegates were present, and there were no signers at all, contrary to the theatrical musical 1776. Here is what really happened. (more…)

History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 4, Rock & Roll

June 29, 2021 /
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Rock & RollHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: PART 4, ROCK & ROLL

It was twenty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile

 

Rock & Roll in the late ’60s was exemplified when The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the U.S. on June 2, 1967. It was released in the U.K. the day before. No other rock & roll album defined the soundtrack of the Summer of Love better than Sgt. Pepper. It captured the fantasy, psychedelics, love, and drugs of 1967. Especially with the last song, “A Day In The Life,” which urged

I’d love to turn you on.”

In 1967 I was on a school field trip to San Francisco. Directly across the street from Ghirardelli Square was a record store where I bought my copy of Sgt. Pepper. It felt almost scandalous to bring it home to my small town because “everyone knows it’s all about drugs,” or so people thought. I did now know it at the time, but that was not entirely incorrect, as we’ll see.

Four years ago this June, the six-disc boxed set 50th Anniversary (Remix) Edition of Sgt. Pepper was released by Giles Martin, the son of the original Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin.

In this, the final article in the series on the 54th anniversary of the Summer of Love, I’ll discuss the significance of Sgt. Pepper as it kicked off that iconic summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.
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History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 3, Drugs

June 28, 2021 /
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Summer of Love

HISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: DRUGS

When I was a Resident Assistant at Berkeley in the early ’70s, a local police officer I knew gave me a tour down Telegraph Avenue. He told me:

“All the major drug deals on the West Coast go down within a two block stretch of Telegraph Avenue. The dealers and streetpeople are what’s left of the Flower Children.”

All this was within blocks of the nearby University of California campus. To say that drugs were rampant at Berkeley is an understatement: as an RA, I was called upon to take students who were too high on marijuana or LSD down to the Student Health Center. My saddest duty was checking out the room of a student who had committed suicide. On his wall were comic-strip blotters of LSD.

Berkeley, the counterpart foci of Haight-Ashbury, on the ellipse of the San Francisco Bay, reflected the tone and mood of the Summer of Love. In this third article on this period from over 50 years ago, I discuss the topic of drugs in “sex, drugs, and rock & roll.”

Berkeley was the West Coast hub of drugs, as Boston was the East Coast hub. Drugs were shipped into Vallejo, a port town 30 minutes north of Berkeley, and drug trades were made on “Telegraph Avenue.” Michael Crichton popularized the Berkeley drug trade in his 1970 novel — written under the pseudonym Michael Douglas along with his 19-year old brother Douglas — called Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues.
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History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 2, Sex

June 27, 2021 /
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Make Love Not WarHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: PART 2, SEX

“Make love, not war,” and the call for “free love” represented a cultural shift in mores. Even The Beatles sang that “All You Need Is Love.” If the ’60s was the time of the “sexual revolution,” the natural question is: who won? There were both winners and losers. In our first article on the Summer of Love, we talked about the general environment of 1967. In this article, we’ll discuss the role of sex in “sex, drugs, and rock & roll.”

 

The Baby Boom

More babies were born in the western world between 1946 and 1964 than during any previous period in recorded history, at least until the “Millennial Generation.” In the U.S., this post-war “bloom” of children was called the Baby Boom Generation. It represented a relatively prosperous generation of children born to a middle class with more access to education and entertainment than any generation before it. In 1966, Time magazine declared that the “Generation 25 and Under” would be its “Persons of the Year.” (more…)

History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 1 – Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

June 26, 2021 /
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Summer of LoveHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: SEX, DRUGS, AND ROCK & ROLL

The Summer of Love was fifty-four years ago, the Summer of 1967, with its epicenter in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. It was a summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Both San Francisco and Liverpool celebrated it in 1997. While not limited to San Francisco — New York and London were involved — no other city but San Francisco attracted almost 100,000 young people who converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. This mood was captured at the time by the hit single by Scott McKenzie, “San Francisco,” with its lyric

“If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.”

It was a unique time, just one summer. Ironically, the song was written by John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas to promote that the June 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival.

Haight Ashbury

Haight Ashbury District

In the following year, both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. would be assassinated. Woodstock was still two years away. But at the time, there had never been anything quite like it. I recall my father driving me through Haight-Ashbury at the time, saying, “Look at that!” with carnival-like amusement, baffled by the hair and clothes.

By the end of 1967, many of the hippies and San Franciscan musicians from the Summer of Love had moved on. In its wake were street people, drug addiction, and panhandling. But let’s look at that one brief shining moment in history.
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History of The Beatles All You Need Is Love

June 25, 2021 /
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All You Need Is LoveHISTORY OF ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

On June 25, 1967, The Beatles released the song “All You Need Is Love.”

At that time, they participated in the Our World TV show, which used the recently constructed satellite system and broadcast their performance across the globe. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said later,

“It was the first worldwide satellite broadcast ever,”

 

Impact of All You Need Is Love

With “All You Need Is Love,” the Beatles released the anthem of flower power — during the Summer of Love — as I’ve written previously about the prominence that summer of their recently released album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Global_Beatles_Day_promotional_posterIt was broadcast live on TV in 24 countries to over 400 million viewers. The single was later included in the U.S. version of the album Magical Mystery Tour, and in the animated movie Yellow Submarine. Since 2009,  Global Beatles Day, an international celebration of the Beatles’ music and social message, takes place on June 25 each year in tribute

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History of St. John the Baptist Day

June 24, 2021 /
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St John the BaptistHISTORY OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST DAY

The Feast of St. John the Baptist, or the Nativity of St John the Forerunner, sometimes called St. John the Baptist Day, is celebrated on June 24 in many places around the world, though not much in the United States, as we’ll see below.

Celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist goes back at least a millennium and a half. At the Council of Agde, it mentions the feast in 506 AD in its list of festivals. Most saints’ festivals are tied to their death, but John’s is an exception, being tied to his birth.

This famous painting of John the Baptist at left by Leonardo da Vinci, believed to be his last painting, hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

 

Who was St. John the Baptist?

John the BaptistJohn the Baptizer (he wasn’t a member of the Baptist denomination) was a contemporary of Jesus and the son of Jesus’ mother’s sister Elizabeth, making him Jesus’ cousin. As John grew up he became a prophet in the tradition of Old Testament prophets. No prophet had been recorded since the time of Malachi some 400 years earlier. His ministry attracted large crowds and his message, in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, was:

“Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

He operated along the Jordan River in the province of Judea some 2,000 years ago. When people responded to his call for repentance he baptized them in the Jordan River. (more…)

Science of the Summer Solstice

June 20, 2021 /
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Summer Solstice SCIENCE OF THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

The word Solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, meaning “Sun, standing-still.” This year the Summer Solstice occurs on June 20 at 21:44 UTC, Coordinated Universal Time, or Zulu Time, or roughly Greenwich Mean Time. Greenwich, England, is the prime meridian — the zero point for longitude lines.

Why is UTC the abbreviation for Coordinated Universal Time? The acronym came about as a compromise between English and French speakers: Coordinated Universal Time would normally be abbreviated as CUT, and the French name, Temps Universel Coordonné, would be TUC.

 

Summer Time and the Summer Solstice

This is also known as the Northern Solstice because the Sun is positioned directly above the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere. This time of year is known as Midsummer, though the official Midsummer Day is actually celebrated on June 24, thanks to differences between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Christian festivals during this time of year are related to the Birth of St. John the Baptist. In Bolivia and Peru, it’s called the Festival of San Juan.
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History of Father’s Day: the Beginning

June 19, 2021 /
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Fathers DayHISTORY OF FATHERS DAY

[NOTE: I wrote a more extended and more serious version of this article for CBS.com a couple of years ago. It has been published on their network of sites for major cities around the country. You can find an example here.]

 

Origin of Fathers Day

The celebration of Father’s Day goes back all the way to the beginning, actually to the Garden of Eden when Abel gave his father Adam a razor while his brother Cain gave his father a snake-skin tie. This was the beginning of Cain’s downward slide.

 

Contrasts

Scholars have debated for ages why Mother’s Day seems to be more honored than Father’s Day. A parallel has been drawn between this phenomenon and that of the difference in popularity between the Irish patron saint and the Italian patron saint.
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History of Juneteenth: and the Emancipation Proclamation

June 18, 2021 /
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Juneteenth

Juneteenth Stamp

HISTORY OF JUNETEENTH

June Nineteenth, or Juneteenth, marks the celebration of the emancipation of African-American slaves in Texas in 1865. While the annual celebration started in Texas the following year in 1866 — and became an official Texas state holiday there in 1980 — this formerly obscure holiday is now observed across the United States and around the world. Yesterday, Congress and the President made it an official federal holiday. It is celebrated with church-centered celebrations, parades, fairs, backyard parties, games, contests, and cookouts.

 

Origin of Juneteenth

Originally it began in Galveston, Texas, to mark the arrival of U.S. Army Major General Gordon Granger, along with 20,000 Union Army troops, who arrived two months after the end of the American Civil War to read General Order Number 3, which announced that “all slaves are free.” It read:

Gordon Granger

Major General Gordon Granger

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

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History of Flag Day

June 14, 2021 /
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Flag DayHISTORY OF FLAG DAY

June 14 is the day the United States celebrates Flag Day. While it may not be as widely celebrated as other American holidays, it is one of the oldest. It was resolved by the Second Continental Congress in 1777, even before the conclusion of the American War of Independence, the Revolutionary War.

 

Grassroots

In 1885, BJ Cigrand, a Wisconsin schoolteacher, initiated a “Flag Birthday” for his students on June 14. His continual promotion of this “Flag Day” inspired New York kindergarten teacher George Balch in 1889 to have similar observances for his students, and the State Board of Education for the state followed suit. The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia had a Flag Day in 1891, and the following year so did the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution. Other state organizations in New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois followed suit.
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