Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A lot left to run

Here is John Derbyshire's delightful introduction to 1910 at the beginning of a recent speech:
Let me do a little scene-setting here. It is March of 1910 — just 100 years and change ago. William Howard Taft is in the White House; Edward the Seventh, very nearly Taft's equal in girth, was on the British throne. China's last Emperor was in the Forbidden City, and the Russian Empress was under the spell of Rasputin.

Mark Twain and Leo Tolstoy were still alive. The population of the U.S.A. was 92 million, including 450,000 veterans of the Civil War (North and South) and 162 households recorded in the census of that year as "living in polygamy." Thirteen percent of us were foreign born. Total government spending was eight percent of GDP.

The automobile was settling in, airplanes were still a novelty, Picasso was painting, Mahler was composing, Nijinsky was dancing, Caruso was singing, H.G. Wells was writing, and Mary Pickford had just started in the movies. The year's hit pop song was "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."

Adolf Hitler was living in a homeless shelter in Vienna, Lenin was writing angry pamphlets in cheap rooming houses, Stalin was on the run from the Tsar's secret police, FDR was a lawyer on Wall Street, Churchill was Trade Secretary in H.H. Asquith's cabinet, Gandhi was agitating for civil rights in South Africa, and Mao Tse-Tung was in high school. Barry Goldwater was in diapers and Ronald Reagan was a twinkle in his Dad's eye.

There was a lot of 20th century still to run.
Men versus the Man is available in its entirety at blessed Google Books.

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