This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
February 27 is the 58th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 307 days remaining until the end of the year (308 in leap years).
On this day in 1827, New Orleanians take to the streets for Mardi Gras with groups of masked and costumed students dance through the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, marking the beginning of the city’s famous Mardi Gras celebrations.
The celebration of Carnival–or the weeks between Twelfth Night on January 6 and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian period of Lent–spread from Rome across Europe and later to the Americas. Nowhere in the United States is Carnival celebrated as grandly as in New Orleans, famous for its over-the-top parades and parties for Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday), the last day of the Carnival season.
The celebration of Mardi Gras was brought to Louisiana by early French settlers. The first record of the holiday being celebrated in Louisiana was at the mouth of the Mississippi River in what is now lower Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, on March 3, 1699. Iberville, Bienville, and their men celebrated it as part of an observance of Catholic practice.
The starting date of festivities in New Orleans is unknown. An account from 1743 notes that the custom of Carnival balls was already established. Processions and wearing of masks in the streets on Mardi Gras took place. They were sometimes prohibited by law, and were quickly renewed whenever such restrictions were lifted or enforcement waned. In 1833 Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville, a rich plantation owner of French descent, raised money to fund an official Mardi Gras celebration.
James R. Creecy in his book Scenes in the South, and Other Miscellaneous Pieces describes New Orleans Mardi Gras in 1835:
Shrove Tuesday is a day to be remembered by strangers in New Orleans, for that is the day for fun, frolic, and comic masquerading. All of the mischief of the city is alive and wide awake in active operation. Men and boys, women and girls, bond and free, white and black, yellow and brown, exert themselves to invent and appear in grotesque, quizzical, diabolic, horrible, strange masks, and disguises. Human bodies are seen with heads of beasts and birds, beasts and birds with human heads; demi-beasts, demi-fishes, snakes’ heads and bodies with arms of apes; man-bats from the moon; mermaids; satyrs, beggars, monks, and robbers parade and march on foot, on horseback, in wagons, carts, coaches, cars, etc., in rich confusion, up and down the streets, wildly shouting, singing, laughing, drumming, fiddling, fifeing, and all throwing flour broadcast as they wend their reckless way.
On Mardi Gras of 1857, the Mystick Krewe of Comus held its first parade. Comus is the oldest continuously active Mardi Gras organization. It started a number of continuing traditions. It is considered the first Carnival krewe in the modern sense. According to one historian, “Comus was aggressively English in its celebration of what New Orleans had always considered a French festival. It is hard to think of a clearer assertion than this parade that the lead in the holiday had passed from French-speakers to Anglo-Americans. . . .To a certain extent, Americans ‘Americanized’ New Orleans and its Creoles. To a certain extent, New Orleans ‘creolized’ the Americans. Thus the wonder of Anglo-Americans boasting of how their business prowess helped them construct a more elaborate version of the old Creole Carnival. The lead in organized Carnival passed from Creole to American just as political and economic power did over the course of the nineteenth century. The spectacle of Creole-American Carnival, with Americans using Carnival forms to compete with Creoles in the ballrooms and on the streets, represents the creation of a New Orleans culture neither entirely Creole nor entirely American.”
In 1875 Louisiana declared Mardi Gras a legal state holiday. War, economic, political, and weather conditions sometimes led to cancellation of some or all major parades, especially during the American Civil War, World War I and World War II, but the city has always celebrated Carnival.
380 – Edict of Thessalonica: Emperor Theodosius I, with co-emperors Gratian and Valentinian II, declare their wish that all Roman citizens convert to trinitarian Christianity.
425 – The University of Constantinople is founded by Emperor Theodosius II at the urging of his wife Aelia Eudocia.
907 – Abaoji, a Khitan chieftain, is enthroned as Emperor Taizu, establishing the Liao Dynasty in northern China.
1560 – The Treaty of Berwick, which would expel the French from Scotland, is signed by England and the Congregation of Scotland.
1594 – Henry IV is crowned King of France.
1617 – Sweden and Russia sign the Treaty of Stolbovo, ending the Ingrian War and shutting Russia out of the Baltic Sea.
1626 – Yuan Chonghuan is appointed Governor of Liaodong, after he led the Chinese into a great victory against the Manchurians under Nurhaci.
1700 – The island of New Britain is discovered.
1801 – Pursuant to the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801, Washington, D.C. is placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress.
1812 – Manuel Belgrano raises the Flag of Argentina in the city of Rosario for the first time.
1812 – Poet Lord Byron gives his first address as a member of the House of Lords, in defense of Luddite violence against Industrialism in his home county of Nottinghamshire.
1844 – The Dominican Republic gains independence from Haiti.
1860 – Abraham Lincoln makes a speech at Cooper Union in the city of New York that is largely responsible for his election to the Presidency.
1861 – Russian troops fire on a crowd in Warsaw protesting against Russian rule over Poland, killing five protesters.
1864 – American Civil War: The first Northern prisoners arrive at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia.
1870 – The current flag of Japan is first adopted as the national flag for Japanese merchant ships.
1900 – Second Boer War: In South Africa, British military leaders receive an unconditional notice of surrender from Boer General Piet Cronje at the Battle of Paardeberg.
1900 – The British Labour Party is founded.
1921 – The International Working Union of Socialist Parties is founded in Vienna.
1922 – A challenge to the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, allowing women the right to vote, is rebuffed by the Supreme Court of the United States in Leser v. Garnett.
1933 – Reichstag fire: Germany’s parliament building in Berlin, the Reichstag, is set on fire.
1939 – United States labor law: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that sit-down strikes violate property owners’ rights and are therefore illegal.
1940 – Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14
1942 – World War II: During the Battle of the Java Sea, an allied strike force is defeated by a Japanese task force in the Java Sea in the Dutch East Indies
1943 – The Rosenstrasse protest starts in Berlin
1951 – The Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution, limiting Presidents to two terms, is ratified.
1963 – The Dominican Republic receives its first democratically elected president, Juan Bosch, since the end of the dictatorship led by Rafael Trujillo.
1964 – The government of Italy asks for help to keep the Leaning Tower of Pisa from toppling over.
1971 – Doctors in the first Dutch abortion clinic (the Mildredhuis in Arnhem) start to perform aborti provocati.
1973 – The American Indian Movement occupies Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
1974 – People magazine is published for the first time.
1976 – The formerly Spanish territory of Western Sahara, under the auspices of the Polisario Front declares independence as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
1986 – The United States Senate allows its debates to be televised on a trial basis.
1991 – Gulf War: U.S. President George H. W. Bush announces that “Kuwait is liberated”.
1999 – Olusegun Obasanjo becomes Nigeria’s first elected president since mid-1983.
2004 – A bombing of a Superferry by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines’ worst terrorist attack kills 116.
2007 – The Chinese Correction: the Shanghai Stock Exchange falls 9%, the largest drop in 10 years.
2010 – An earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale strikes central parts of Chile leaving over 500 victims, and thousands injured. The quake triggered a tsunami which struck Hawaii shortly after.
2012 – A section of a nine-story apartment building in the city of Astrakhan, Russia, collapses in a natural gas explosion, killing ten people and injuring at least 12 others.
2013 – At least 19 people are killed when a fire breaks out at an illegal market in Kolkata, India.
2013 – Five people (including the perpetrator) are killed and five others injured in a shooting at a factory in Menznau, Switzerland.
* Christian Feast Day:
o Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
o February 27 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* National Day, celebrates the first independence of Dominican Republic from Haiti in 1844.
* The second day of Ayyam-i-Há (Baha’i Faith)