Thursday, December 27, 2012

The year 1913 was an important year in American, world history

This week’s paper marks the final edition of The Courant for the year 2012, and next week’s paper will be the first edition of the year 2013. Much has taken place in Conecuh County and in the rest of the world during the preceding year, and I’m sure that we’ll be able to say the same this time next year.

Next week, in this space, as I do on the first Thursday of every month, I’ll offer up my monthly review of all the interesting things that were happening in Conecuh County a century ago, way back in January 1913.

The year 1913 was an interesting year in history, and you might be surprised by some of the things that occurred during that year a century ago.

On Feb. 3, 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, which authorized the federal government to impose and collect income taxes.

Five days later, on Feb. 8, Russian pilot N. de Sackoff became the first pilot to be shot down in combat. His biplane was hit by ground fire after a bombing run he made on Fort Bezhani on the Aegean island of Levkas. He went down, but managed to repair his plane and fly back to his base.

On March 4, Woodrow Wilson, pictured above, succeeded William Howard Taft as the 28th President of the United States. Nine days later, on March 13, Pancho Villa returned to Mexico from the U.S. during the Mexican Revolution. Also on that day, Igor Sikorsky became the first person to pilot a four-engine aircraft. Two days later, the U.S. Army formed its first official aviation squadron, the 1st Aero Squadron, to scout for Mexican incursions across the border.

On April 8, the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, which resulted in the direct election of U.S. Senators. Also that month, New Jersey engineer Gideon Sundback patented the all-purpose zipper. On July 10, the highest temperature ever recorded in the world – 134 degrees F – occurred in Death Valley, Calif.

On Aug. 13, Harry Brearley invented stainless steel. On Sept. 9, Russian Army pilot Pyotr Nesterov became the first person to ever loop an airplane. He was flying over Kiev, Russia at the time.

On Oct. 10, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson triggered the explosion of the Gamboa Dike, which ended the construction of the Panama Canal. On Oct. 16, the first oil-fired battleship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, launched in Portsmouth, England. On Oct. 31, the Lincoln Highway, the first automobile road across the U.S., was dedicated.

In November of that year, the first air-to-air combat in history took place over Mexico when aircraft exchanged pistol shots during the Mexican Revolution. As best as can be determined, they scored no hits. The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 occurred between Nov. 7 and Nov. 11 that year, claiming 19 ships and over 250 lives.

On Dec. 1, the Ford Motor Co. introduced the first moving assembly line, sparking the era of mass production. On Dec. 23, Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act, which created the central banking system of the U.S. under the Federal Reserve System. Camel cigarettes also debuted that month as the first ever packaged cigarettes.

Individuals born in 1913 incuded future U.S. Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, comedian Red Skelton, American labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, French writer Albert Camus, track star Jesse Owens, pro football coach Vince Lombardi, and college football coaches Woody Hayes and Paul “Bear” Bryant. Famous American banker J.P. Morgan died on March 31, 1913.

Famous books that first hit the shelves in 1913 included “O Pioneers!” by Willa Cather and “Sons and Lovers” by D.H. Lawrence. Hollywood’s first feature film, “The Squaw Man,” was also made in 1913.

In the world of sports, Auburn, Harvard and the University of Chicago shared the college football national championship. The Philadelphia Athletics beat the New York Giants, four games to one, in the 1913 World Series. Also that year, the Brooklyn Dodgers moved into their new stadium, Ebbets Field.

As you can see, 1913 was an eventful year in American and world history. Who’s to say was 2013 will bring, but I’m sure that it will likely be as eventful as that remarkable year a century ago.

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