Milestones: Wednesday, November 1, 2023
ACCUSED OF IMMORALITY — MICHELANGELO UNVEILED HIS SISTINE CHAPEL TO THE WORLD FOR THE FIRST TIME ON ALL SAINTS DAY, NOV. 1, 1512. Michelangelo painted over three hundred figures, on his back, lying on 60-foot-hifh scaffolding. The paintings and figures were based on the Book of Revelation and the Apocalypse or Last Judgment.Michelangelo depicts the moment when the angels blow the trumpets, Christ resurrects the dead, taking the righteous with him into Paradise and ordering the angels to throw the damned into hell. Michelangelo worked on the Sistine Chapel ceiling for four years, from 1508-1512.
A rather prudish Cardinal Oliviero Carafa accused Michelangelo of immorality and obscenity because he had painted the Biblical male figures true to form, that is, in the nude, with genitals visible. However, Cardinal Carafa died in 1511, before Michelangelo completed his masterpiece.
FIERCE PROPONENT OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS — EDWARD SAID, BORN ON NOV. 1, 1935 in Jerusalem, was an eminent Palestinian American public intellectual and the father of postcolonial studies. At the time, Jerusalem was still part of the British Mandate of Palestine. Born into a wealthy Christian Arab family, he eventually moved to the United States to attend boarding school as a teen. Earning degrees from Ivy League colleagues Princeton and Harvard, he became a full professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University in 1970. He published several influential scholarly books, and became an impassioned advocate for Palestinian political rights.
A member of the Palestine National Council from 1977 to 1991, Professor Said supported the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine for most of his career. However, growing disillusioned with the outcome of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Said suggested that the only path forward was a single, democratic, binational state.
UNITED IN SPIRIT OF COOPERATION — THE EUROPEAN UNION FORMALLY CAME INTO BEING ON NOV. 1, 1993, when the Maastricht Treaty took effect. Originally drafted in 1991 when delegates at the European Community meeting convened at Maastricht in the Netherlands, the treaty was signed in 1992 and took effect the following year. This agreement proposed a strengthened European parliament, the creation of a central European bank, and common foreign and security policies. The treaty also led to the establishment of a single European currency, to be known as the “euro.” The first 12 nations to ratify the Maastricht Treaty on European Union were Great Britain, France, Germany, the Irish Republic, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Austria, Finland and Sweden joined two years later. Nations that had fought each other during the World Wars finally had built common ground and economic cooperation. Great Britain, however, broke up the party in 2016 by voting to leave the European Union. In what came to be known as “Brexit.” the founding nation’s official exit was pushed later in time and took effect officially in January 2020.
However, within a year, the European Parliament officially approved the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (that had already been implemented) that dealt with travel and border controls, trade in goods such as flowers and food; and security with regard to crime and terror threats.
COLONIAL PUSHBACK — BRITISH PARLIAMENT IMPOSED THE STAMP ACT AGAINST THE COLONIES IN AMERICA ON Nov. 1, 1765, without even first debating the issue. A taxation measure to bring in revenue for Britain’s military operations in the colonies, the Stamp Act compelled the colonists to use special stamped paper in the printing of newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, and playing cards, and to emboss the stamp on all commercial and legal papers. Incensed, the American colonists gave immediate resistance. Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, who later became a Founding Father, organized the secret Sons of Liberty, who planned protests. The colonies’ respective legislatures passed resolutions against the Stamp Act and the colonists started boycotting British goods. They also attacked the customs houses and even the homes of tax collectors.
After an appeal from Benjamin Franklin, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766, but negated any relief from that action by immediately passing the Declaratory Acts, asserting that the British government had free and total legislative power over the colonies. Further enraged, the colonists continued resisting additional punitive measures from England until they launched the American Revolution in 1775.
UNHARMED AND UNFAZED — TWO ‘INDEPENDISTAS,” political activists fighting for Puerto Rico’s independence from the United States, chose the wrong man to pick on: President Harry S. Truman. Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo on Nov. 1, 1950, staged an invasion of Blair House, where the Trumans were staying during the White House Renovation. The would-be assassins started firing their guns, but were stopped at the entryway to Blair House. Secret Service Agent Leslie Coffelt was mortally wounded while fighting off Torresola and Collazo, the latter of whom confessed that their attack was poorly strategized. Moreover, Truman himself had advocated for greater autonomy for Puerto Rico. The island had become a U.S. territory under the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War in 1898. Two decades after that, in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act, declared residents of Puerto Rico to be United States citizens.
Truman was both unharmed and unfazed by the assassination attempt and went about his day, saying, “A president has to expect these things,” Although Collazo got the death sentence (Torresola having been killed in the attempt), Truman forgave him and commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.
See previous milestones, here.
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