<< Mar 30|          HISTORY “4” “2”DAY          |Apr 01 >>
Events, deaths, births, of 31 MAR

[For Mar 31 Julian go to Gregorian date:
1583~1699: Apr 101700s: Apr 111800s: Apr 121900~2099: Apr 13]
• Spain to Jews: Get out !... • Japan opens up to US trade... • Dalai Lama begins exile... • LBJ will seek peace in Vietnam, not reelection... • Guillotinés par la Terreur... • Descartes est né... • Eiffel Tower opens... • Gogol is born… • Warsaw Pact ends... • Movie Production Code... • Discrimination banned in Hollywood... • Dickens' first novel... • Western novelist born... • MS Bob is shipped... • IBM boss fires workers, gets millions... • eWorld shut down... • E*Trade adds online mortgages... • North Vietnamese offensive... • US President lies about intentions for Vietnam... • Cyber~scandal at Salomon... • Disguised German cruiser sails to sink Allied shipping...
AMR price chartOn a 31 March:
2003 The news come out that American Airlines (AMR) has reached agreements for the wage concession it needs to avoid Chapter 11 bankruptcy, from its employee's three main unions: mechanics, flight attendants, pilots. The agreements have yet to be signed by the negotiatiors, and then ratified by votes of the unions' members. On the New York Stock Exchange, 28 million of the 156 million AMR shares are traded, surging from their previous close and today's 09:30 opening of $1.58, and today's 09:41 intraday low of $1.30 to an 13:59 intraday high of $2.50 and close at 16:00 at $2.10. They had traded as high as $43.75 on 05 January 2001. [5~year price chart >]
     After the markets close, it is announced that the wage and benefit cuts are worth an estimated $660 million from the 13'500-member pilots' union, $340 million from the 26'000 flight attendants, and $620 million from 35'000 members of the Transport Workers Union, which includes mechanics.
      Despite AMR's uncertain future, which may still bring bankruptcy, on 01 Apr 2003, AMR is upgraded by JP Morgan from Underweight to Neutral, and by Goldman Sachs from Underperform to Outperform; and 28 million AMR shares are traded, reaching an intraday high of $3.03 and closing at $2.90. On 03 Apr 2003, 35 million AMR shares are traded, reaching an intraday high of $4.28 and closing at $4.25.
2003 The US State Department publishes its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002. which cover 196 countries.
2002 In Ha'aretz, Uzi Benziman exposes the senselessness of the Israeli attack on the Palestinians started on 29 March 2002.
2001 El presidente de la Generalitat, Jordi Pujol i Soley, anuncia su intención de no presentarse a las elecciones autonómicas de 2003 y presenta a su 'delfín', Artur Mas, como nuevo candidato de CiU (Convergencia i Unió) a la presidencia.
2001 La novela Rabos de lagartija del escritor Juan Marsé recibe el Premio de la Crítica.
2000 The U.N. Security Council decided to let Iraq spend more money to repair its oil industry - an investment intended to boost the amount of food and medicine Baghdad could buy through the U.N. humanitarian program.
1999 Four New York City police officers are charged with murder for killing Amadou Diallo, an innocent unarmed African immigrant, in a hail of bullets.The officers would be acquitted.(one more example of the license to kill innocent people given to police and the armed forces.)
1999 La tabacalera Philip Morris es condenada a pagar 12'300 millones de pesetas a la familia de un fumador que murió a causa de un cáncer de pulmón en Portland (Oregón).
1998 The United Nations imposes an arms embargo on Yugoslavia (in fact Serbia) for its violent repression of Kosovo.
1998 Cyberporn banned at Salomon Smith Barney.       ^top^
      Salomon Smith Barney fires two executives who have used the firm’s computer system to "transmit" smut. Then Salomon managing director John Donnelly sends a company-wide memo that forbids using the company’s "facilities" to spread "offensive images or text." According to the memo, "Anyone engaging in such activity should assume that he or she will be terminated." Salomon Smith Barney, a member of the Travelers Group family, refused to divulge the names of the offending employees.
1998 E*Trade adds online mortgages.       ^top^
      E*Trade, a popular stock and mutual fund trading site, announced that users would soon be able to shop for home mortgages through the site. The addition of mortgage services indicated a move by E*Trade toward becoming a financial hub, offering a variety of financial services and products. E*Trade announced it would link users searching for mortgages to e-Loan, a separate company offering online mortgages. Throughout 1998, commerce sites sought to become "portals": default sites with a following of loyal users who trusted the site to refer them to other reputable online merchants.
1998 El poeta chileno Gonzalo Rojas gana el Premio Octavio Paz, dotado con $100'000 (15 millones de pesetas), en reconocimiento al conjunto de su obra.
1996 Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced a halt to combat operations in Chechnya, limited troop withdrawals and a willingness to hold indirect talks with the rebels' leader.
1996 eWorld shut down.       ^top^
      Apple Computer discontinues its struggling 2-year-old online service eWorld. Like many other online services, eWorld suffered when the Internet's popularity exploded in 1994 and 1995. The demise of eWorld was the first high-profile decision made by Apple's new chairman and CEO, Gilbert Amelio, hired earlier in the year.
1995 Microsoft ships Bob computer interface.       ^top^
      Microsoft ships Bob, a much ballyhooed "social interface". The product, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas the previous January, converted the user's desktop into a cartoon office. The product was designed to make the computing experience feel more natural by incorporating friendly icons like a phone, desk, file cabinets, and cute characters, such as dogs and a talking paper clip, to guide users through their tasks. The product was developed under the direction of Microsoft's marketing manager Melinda French, Bill Gates's new bride. The product flopped when the public failed to become interested in computer advice from adorable animated characters. The spirit of Bob lives, though, in the animated paper clip that offers pointers to users of Microsoft Word. The addition of "assistants" was meant to give basic software users access to the increasingly sophisticated but often little-known features included in the application.
1993 IBM workers laid off, top executive gets millions.       ^top^
      Lou Gerstner was approved as IBM's next chairman at a salary of $3.5 million in 1993-$2 million in base salary and a $1.5 million bonus for reaching performance goals. He was also granted substantial stock options. The salary made him the highest-paid IBM executive in history. IBM's departing chairman, John Akers, was paid about $1.3 million in salary and bonus in 1992. The compensation package was announced at about the same time that 2500 IBM employees in New York were given layoff notices.
1992 Boris Nikolaievich Yeltsin firma en Moscú el Tratado de la Federación con 18 repúblicas rusas.
1991 Communists won Albania's first multiparty elections in 50 years, but democratic opponents scored victories in major cities.
1991 Voters in the Soviet republic of Georgia overwhelmingly endorsed independence.
1991 Warsaw Pact ends.       ^top^
      After 36 years in existence, the Warsaw Pact-the military alliance between the Soviet Union and its eastern European satellites-comes to an end. The action was yet another sign that the Soviet Union was losing control over its former allies and that the Cold War was falling apart. The Warsaw Pact was formed in 1955, primarily as a response to the decision by the United States and its western European allies to include a rearmed West Germany in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO had begun in 1949 as a defensive military alliance between the United States, Canada, and several European nations to thwart possible Soviet expansion into Western Europe. In 1954, NATO nations voted to allow a rearmed West Germany into the organization.
      The Soviets responded with the establishment of the Warsaw Pact. The original members included the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Albania. Although the Soviets claimed that the organization was a defensive alliance, it soon became clear that the primary purpose of the pact was to reinforce communist dominance in Eastern Europe. In Hungary in 1956, and then again in Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Soviets invoked the pact to legitimize its interventions in squelching anticommunist revolutions.
      By the late-1980s, however, anti-Soviet and anticommunist movements throughout Eastern Europe began to crack the Warsaw Pact. In 1990, East Germany left the Warsaw Pact in preparation for its reunification with West Germany. Poland and Czechoslovakia also indicated their strong desire to withdraw. Faced with these protests--and suffering from a faltering economy and unstable political situation--the Soviet Union bowed to the inevitable. In March 1991, Soviet military commanders relinquished their control of Warsaw Pact forces. A few months later, the pact's Political Consultative Committee met for one final time and formally recognized what had already effectively occurred-the Warsaw Pact was no more.
1990 Hélène de Monferrand logra el premio Goncourt con su novela Opera prima.
1990 José María Aznar López asume la presidencia del PP (Partido Popular español) tras el X Congreso del partido celebrado en Sevilla.
1989 Yaser Arafat es proclamado presidente de Palestina por decisión unánime de los 70 miembros del Comité Central de la OLP (Organización para la Liberación de Palestina), reunidos en Túnez.
1989 Donald Trump purchases Eastern's Northeast Shuttle.
1984 El presidente libanés, Amin Gemayel, decreta el fin de la misión de la fuerza multinacional en su territorio.
1976 The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that coma patient Karen Anne Quinlan could be disconnected from her respirator. It does not result in her death. She remains comatose, and dies in 1985.
1972 Fighting intensifies with North Vietnamese offensive.       ^top^
      After firing more than 5000 rockets, artillery, and mortar shells on 12 South Vietnamese positions just below the Demilitarized Zone, the North Vietnamese Army launches ground assaults against South Vietnamese positions in Quang Tri Province. The attacks were thrown back, with 87 North Vietnamese killed. South Vietnamese fire bases Fuller, Mai Loc, Holcomb, Pioneer, and two smaller bases near the Demilitarized Zone were abandoned as the North Vietnamese pushed the defenders back toward their rear bases. At the same time, attacks against three bases west of Saigon forced the South Vietnamese to abandon six outposts along the Cambodian border. These were a continuation of the opening attacks of the North Vietnamese Nguyen Hue Offensive, a major coordinated communist offensive initiated on 30 March. Committing almost their entire army to the offensive, the North Vietnamese launched a massive three-pronged attack. In the initial attack, four North Vietnamese divisions attacked directly across the Demilitarized Zone into Quang Tri province. Following the assault in Quang Tri province, the North Vietnamese launched two more major attacks: at An Loc in Binh Long Province, 60 miles north of Saigon, and at Kontum in the Central Highlands. With the three attacks, the North Vietnamese had committed 500 tanks and 150'000 regular soldiers (as well as thousands of Viet Cong) supported by heavy rocket and artillery fire. After initial successes, especially against the newly formed South Vietnamese 3rd Division in Quang Tri, the North Vietnamese attack was stopped cold by the combination of defending South Vietnamese divisions (along with their US advisers) and massive American airpower. Estimates placed the North Vietnamese losses at more than 100'000 and at least one-half of their tanks and large caliber artillery.
1970 Discrimination banned in Hollywood.       ^top^
      In response to government scrutiny of Hollywood hiring practices, studios agree on this day in 1970 to increase minority employment and adopt an equal-opportunity employment agreement worked out with the Justice Department banning discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had been warning the industry for more than a year to change its ways or face a government lawsuit.
1968 Seeking peace in Vietnam, US President Johnson not to seek reelection.       ^top^
     In a televised speech, President Lyndon B. Johnson announces a partial halt of bombing missions over North Vietnam and proposes peace talks. He said he had ordered "unilaterally" a halt to air and naval bombardments of North Vietnam "except in the area north of the Demilitarized Zone, where the continuing enemy build-up directly threatens Allied forward positions." He also stated that he was sending 13'500 more troops to Vietnam and would request further defense expenditures--$2.5 billion in fiscal year 1968 and $2.6 billion in fiscal year 1969--to finance recent troop build-ups, re-equip the South Vietnamese Army, and meet "responsibilities in Korea." In closing, citing national divisions over the war, Johnson declares "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president."
      A native of the hill country of Texas, Johnson was elected as a democrat to the House of Representatives in 1937. Proving himself as an energetic and colorful politician, he moved to the Senate in 1949, where he was appointed majority leader in 1955.
      In 1960, he served as John F. Kennedy’s vice-presidential running mate, and his presence helped Kennedy carry a close election against Republican candidate Richard Nixon.
      After Kennedy’s assassination on 22 November 1963, Johnson was sworn in as the thirty-sixth president of the United States, and, one year later, won a landslide victory over Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. An admirer of the liberal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Johnson encouraged legislation to broaden and expand the New Deal, in the hope of creating what he called the Great Society--an America based on liberal ideals of economic equality.
      Johnson also continued Kennedy’s program of civil rights reform and also the former president’s escalation of the US military involvement in Vietnam. By 1965, North Vietnamese offensives against South Vietnam left President Johnson with two choices: escalate US involvement or withdraw. Johnson ordered the former, and troop levels immediately jumped to over 300'000 as US air forces commenced the largest bombing campaign in history.
      Over the next few years, the extended length of the war, the high number of US casualties, and the exposure of US involvement in war crimes such as the massacre at My Lai helped to turn many in the United States against the Vietnam War--and thus the Johnson administration. Faced with what he perceived to be his responsibility in creating a perilous national division, President Johnson announced on 31 March 1968 that he would not seek reelection.
      On 20 January 1969, Johnson left the White House, and began his first day in thirty-four years as a private citizen. He retired to his ranch in Texas, and, in 1972, died of a heart attack.
1966 25`000 anti war demonstrators march in NYC
1965 Johnson publicly denies actions contemplated in Vietnam.       ^top^
      Responding to questions from reporters about the situation in Vietnam, President Johnson says, "I know of no far-reaching strategy that is being suggested or promulgated." Early in the month, Johnson had sent 3,500 Marines to Da Nang to secure the US airbase there. These troops were ostensibly there only for defensive purposes, but Johnson, despite his protestations to the contrary, was already considering giving the authorization for the US troops to go from defensive to offensive tactics. This was a sensitive area, since such an authorization could (and did) lead to escalation in the war and a subsequent increase in the American commitment to it.
1959 Dalai Lama begins exile       ^top^
      The Dalai Lama, fleeing the Chinese suppression of a national uprising in Tibet, crosses the border into India, where he is granted political asylum.
      Born in Taktser, China, as Tensin Gyatso, he was designated the fourteenth Dalai Lama in 1940, a position that eventually made him the religious and political leader of Tibet.
      At the beginning of the twentieth century, Tibet increasingly came under Chinese control, and, in 1950, the country was invaded by Communist China. In 1951, a Tibetan-Chinese agreement was signed in which the nation became a "national autonomous region" of China supposedly under the traditional rule of the Dalai Lama, but under the actual control of a Chinese Communist Commission.
      The highly religious people of Tibet, who practice a unique form of Buddhism, suffered under Communist China’s anti-religious legislation. After years of scattered protests, a full-scale revolt broke out in March of 1959, and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee as the uprising was crushed by Chinese troops. On 31 March 1969, he began a permanent exile in India, settling at Dharamsala in Punjab, where he established a democratically-based shadow Tibetan government. Back in Tibet, the Chinese adopted brutal repressive measures against the Tibetans, provoking charges from the Dalai Lama of genocide.
      With the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China, the Chinese suppression of Tibetan Buddhism escalated, and practice of the religion was banned as thousands of monasteries were destroyed. Although the ban was lifted in 1976, protests in Tibet continued, and the exiled Dalai Lama won widespread international support of the Tibetan independence movement. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of his commitment to the nonviolent liberation of his country and his religion.
1958 Nikita Sergeievich Kruschov anuncia que la URSS ha decidido unilateralmente poner fin a sus pruebas con armamento nucleares
1953 UN Security Council nominates Dag Hammarskjöld secretary-general.
1949 Newfoundland becomes Canada's 10th province.
1941 El Afrika Korps alemán inicia su ofensiva en la Cirenaica durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.
1940 Karelo-Finnish SSR becomes 12th Soviet republic (until 1956)
1940 Disguised Germany cruiser sails on mission to sink Allied shipping.      ^top^
      The German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis sets off on a mission to catch and sink Allied merchant ships. By the time the Atlantis set sail from Germany, the Allies had already lost more than 750'000 tons worth of shipping, the direct result of German submarine attacks. They had also lost another 281'000 tons because of mines, and 36'000 tons as the result of German air raids. The Germans had lost just eighteen submarines. The Atlantis had been a merchant ship itself, but was converted to a commerce raider with six 150-mm guns, 93 mines ready to plant, and two aircraft fit for spying out Allied ships to sink. The Atlantis assumed various disguises in order to integrate itself into any shipping milieu inconspicuously. Commanded by Capt. Bernhard Rogge, the Atlantis roamed the Atlantic and Indian oceans. She sank a total of 22 merchant ships (146'000 tons in all) and proved a terror to the British Royal Navy. The Atlantis's career finally came to an end on 22 November 1941, when it was sunk by the British cruiser Devonshire as the German marauder was refueling a U-boat.
1939 Britain and France agree to support Poland if invaded by Germany
1933 US Congress authorizes Civilian Conservation Corps
1930 Movie Production Code introduced.       ^top^
      The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America adopt the Production Code. For the next three decades, the Code imposed strict guidelines on the cinematic treatment of sex, crime, religion, violence, and other controversial subjects. The Code was the industry's attempt to avoid government censorship, as public demand for morally acceptable movies increased with the advent of sound and the growing popularity of cinema. To avoid government censorship, the heads of the major Hollywood studios created a self-regulating association, the MPPDA, and hired Will H. Hays, the former US postmaster general under President Harding and past chairman of the Republic National Committee, to head the new group. Hays wielded such power that the MPPDA came to be called the "Hays Office," and the Production Code adopted in 1930 was commonly referred to as the "Hays Code."
      The Code required that no film should "lower the standards of those who see it. Hence, the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil, or sin." The Code specifically prohibited the portrayal of illegal drug trafficking, "sex perversion," and profanity. It also prohibited the portrayal of clergy members as comic characters or villains, and the portrayal of interracial relationships. The Code deeply influenced the kinds of films that were made until the late 1960s, when the standards were revised in response to social change. New standards adopted in 1966 permitted more liberal portrayals of sexual content but imposed heavier restrictions on violence. In 1968, the Code was replaced by the movie ratings system, which greatly expanded the range of permissible subjects for film. The first ratings system included categories G (for general audience), MGP (all ages admitted but parental guidance suggested), and R (no one under 16 admitted). In 1970, MGP was replaced by PG (parental guidance suggested) and R movies (no one under 17 admitted without a parent or guardian). In 1984, the PG-13 rating was added, and the X rating was phased out in 1990 in favor of NC-17.
1928 Se disuelve el Reichstag alemán.
1920 Concluye en Francia el servicio militar obligatorio; el nuevo ejército contará con 220'000 voluntarios.
1918 first daylight savings time in US goes into effect
1917 The US takes possession of the Danish West Indies. Renamed the Virgin Islands, this chain consists of St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and about 50 other small islands, most of which are uninhabited. They are about 65 kilometers east of Puerto Rico at the end of the Greater Antilles. The US purchased the islands from Denmark for $25 million because of their strategic location in relation to the Panama Canal.
1914 El conde Ferdinand Zeppelin establece un nuevo récord de altitud, con 3065 metros.
1903 El matrimonio Curie (Marie y Pierre) explica las propiedades del radio ante la Academia de Ciencias de Londres.
1880 first town completely illuminated by electric lighting (Wabash, IN)
1868 Chinese Embassy arrives aboard steamship China
1865 Battle of White Oak Road, Virginia
1865 Engagement at Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia
1865 Siege at Spanish Fort, Alabama continues
1862 Civil War action at Island #10 on the Mississippi River
1861 Confederacy takes over mint at New Orleans
1854 US–Japan treaty of Kanagawa.       ^top^
      In Tokyo, Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, representing the US government, signs the Treaty of Kanagawa with the Japanese government, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakotade to American trade and permitting the establishment of a US consulate in Japan.
      On 08 July 1853, Commodore Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay with a squadron of four US vessels. For a time, Japanese officials refused to speak with Perry, but, on 14 July, they accepted letters from US President Millard Fillmore, making the United States the first western nation to establish relations with Japan since it was declared closed to foreigners in 1683.
      After giving Japan time to consider the establishment of external relations, Perry returned to Tokyo in March 1854, and on 31 March, signs the Treaty of Kanagawa, which opens Japan to trade with the US, and thus the West.
      On 25 April 1860, the first Japanese diplomats to visit a foreign power reached Washington, D.C., and remained in the US capital for several weeks discussing expansion of trade with the United States.
1850 US Population is 23'191'876 (Black population: 3'638'808 (15.7%)
US President Martin Van Buren reduces the work day of federal employees to ten hours.
1836 First installment of The Pickwick Papers, Dickens's first novel       ^top^
      The first monthly installment of what would become The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, by 24-year-old writer Charles Dickens, is published under the pseudonym Boz as Sketches by Boz. The short sketches were originally commissioned as captions for humorous drawings by caricaturist Robert Seymour, but Dickens' whimsical stories about the kindly Samuel Pickwick and his fellow club members soon became popular in their own right. Only 400 copies were printed of the first installment, but by the 15th episode, 40'000 copies were printed. When the stories were published in book form in 1837, Dickens quickly became the most popular author of the day.
      Dickens was born in 1812 and attended school in Portsmouth. His father, a clerk in the navy pay office, was thrown in debtors' prison in 1824, and 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a factory. The miserable treatment of children and the institution of the debtors' jail became topics of several Dickens novels. In his late teens, Dickens became a reporter and started publishing humorous short stories when he was 21.
      In 1836, Dickens married Catherine Hogarth, with whom he would have nine children.
      In 1838, Dickens published Oliver Twist, followed by Nicholas Nickleby (1839). In 1841, Dickens published two more novels, then spent five months in the US, where he was hailed as a literary hero.
      Dickens churned out major novels every year or two, usually serialized in his own circular. Among his most important works are David Copperfield (1850), Great Expectations (1861), and A Tale of Two Cities (1859). Beginning in 1850, he published his own weekly circular of fiction, poetry, and essays called Household Words. In 1858, Dickens separated from his wife and began a long affair with a young actress named Ellen Ternan. In the late 1850s, he began a series of public readings, which became immensely popular. He died in 1870 at the age of 58, with his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, still unfinished.
  • American Notes for General Circulation: 1 (1842)
  • American Notes for General Circulation: 2 (1842)
  • American Notes for General Circulation (1874)
  • Barnaby Rudge (PDF)
  • Barnaby Rudge
  • Barnaby Rudge (zipped PDF)
  • A Child's History of England
  • A Christmas Carol
  • A Christmas Carol (PDF)
  • A Christmas Carol (zipped PDF)
  • A Christmas Carol: The Reading Version
  • David Copperfield
  • David Copperfield (zipped PDF)
  • Dombey and Son (PDF)
  • Great Expectations
  • Great Expectations (PDF)
  • Great Expectations (zipped PDF)
  • The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain
  • The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices
  • Letters of Charles Dickens to Wilkie Collins
  • The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (PDF)
  • The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (zipped PDF)
  • The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
  • The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (zipped PDF)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop
  • The Old Curiosity Shop
  • The Old Curiosity Shop (zipped PDF)
  • The Perils of Certain English Prisoners
  • Bleak House
  • Bleak House
  • Bleak House (zipped PDF)
  • Little Dorrit
  • Little Dorrit (PDF)
  • Little Dorrit (zipped PDF)
  • Hard Times
  • Hard Times
  • Hard Times (zipped PDF)
  • The Chimes
  • The Chimes
  • The Battle of Life
  • The Holly Tree
  • Hunted Down
  • The Lamplighter
  • The Cricket on the Hearth
  • Doctor Marigold
  • The Life of Our Lord
  • Mugby Junction
  • A Message from the Sea
  • Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy
  • Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings
  • To Be Read at Dusk
  • Tom Tiddler's Ground
  • Pictures from Italy
  • Reprinted Pieces
  • Sketches by Boz
  • Somebody's Luggage
  • Mudfog and Other Sketches
  • Master Humphrey's Clock
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • Oliver Twist
  • Oliver Twist (PDF)
  • Oliver Twist (zipped PDF)
  • Our Mutual Friend
  • Our Mutual Friend (PDF)
  • The Pickwick Papers
  • The Pickwick Papers
  • The Pickwick Papers (zipped PDF)
  • The Seven Poor Travellers
  • Sketches of Young Couples
  • Sketches of Young Gentlemen
  • Speeches, Literary and Social
  • Sunday Under Three Heads
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • A Tale of Two Cities (zipped PDF)
  • The Uncommercial Traveller
  • The Wreck of the Golden Mary
    co-author of:
  • No Thoroughfare
  • No Thoroughfare
    editor of:
  • A House to Let
  • 1829 El cardenal Castiglioni es elegido Papa con el nombre de Pío VIII.
    1814 Forces allied against Napoléon capture Paris.
    1745 Jews are expelled from Prague.
    1651 Great earthquake at Cuzco, Peru.
    1621 Felipe IV se corona rey de España.
    1547 Henri II se corona rey de Francia.
    1492 Jews to be expelled from Spain       ^top^
          In Spain, a royal edict is issued by the nation’s Catholic rulers declaring that all Jews who refuse to convert to Christianity will be expelled from the country.
          The legislation comes three months after the kingdom of Granada, the last Muslim foothold in Spain, fell to the Christian forces of King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I.
          Most Spanish Jews chose exile rather than the renunciation of their religion and culture, and the Spanish economy suffered with the loss of an important portion of its workforce. Many Spanish Jews went to North Africa, the Netherlands, and the Americas, where their skills, capital, and commercial connections benefited their hosts.      Among those who chose conversion, some risked their lives by secretly practicing Judaism, while many sincere converts were nonetheless persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition.
          The Spanish Muslims, or Moors, were not immediately expelled, but, after an uprising in 1502, they were ordered to convert to Christianity. The next century saw a number of bloody persecutions of Spanish Muslims, and in 1609, the last Moors still adhering to Islam were expelled from Spain.
    — Los Reyes Católicos, Isabel y Fernando, firman en Granada un decreto que obliga a los judíos a elegir entre la conversión al cristianismo o la expulsión de España.
    Deaths which occurred on a March 31:       ^top^
    2003 Asil Nashaf, 5, Israeli Arab girl, late in the evening, stabbed dozens of times by her boy cousin, 14, who had taken her to his home and tried to rape her. After the murder he throws her body out of the window, in Taibeh, Israel.
    2003 Ten of the 15 Iraqi civilians in a van shot by cannon by US soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division, late in the afternoon, near Karbala, Iraq, just because the van was approaching a roadblock and did not turn around as the soldiers expected would be the result of two warning shots, fired too late, and machine gun fire into the van's radiator. Five of the dead are below the age of 5. One survivor, a woman, is unhurt. One of the four wounded is pregnant, another one is a man who would later die of his injuries. The victims, crowded into the van with all their possessions that they could fit in, must have been refugees. [Washington Post on-the-scene report]
    2002 A Palestinian suicide bomber in the commercial center of the Jewish enclave settlement of Efrat, West Bank, at about 17:00. Four Israelis are wounded, none killed. The al-Aqsa intifada body count now stands at 1262 Palestinians and 403 Israelis.
    2002 Israelis Dov Chernobroda, 67; Shimon Koren, 55; his sons Ran Koren, 18, and Gal Koren, 15; Moshe Levin, 52; Danielle Manchell, 22; Orly Ofir, 16; Aviel Ron, 54; his son Ofer Ron, 18, and daughter Anat Ron, 21; Ya'akov Shani, 53; Adi Shiran, 17; Daniel Carlos Wegman, 50, all 13 of Haifa; Suheil Adawi, 32, of Turan; and Shadi Tobassi, 18, suicide bomber of Hamas from the Jenin refugee camp, West Bank, but an Israeli citizen, in the Arab-managed Matza restaurant of the gas station near the Grand Canyon shopping mall in Haifa, Israel, at about 14:40. Some forty persons are wounded.
    2002 Murad 'Awaisa, 17, sick Palestinian, shot near the heart and in the leg, at 20:00 while emprisoned, beaten and cruelly mistreated since 13:00 by Israeli soldiers in an apartment of the building in which he lived in Ramallah, West Bank.
    Bella Abzugss2002 Crane operator and three construction workers as two cranes fall from the 60th floor of a high-rise building under construction due to 6.8 earthquake centered near Hualien, Taiwan, 10 km deep. Some 200 persons are injured. Tremors frequently shake Taiwan, but most cause little or no damage. However, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in September 1999 killed 2,378 people and destroyed more than 40'000 homes.
    2001 Yousif Kuwa Mekki, político sudanés.
    1998 Bella Savitzky Abzug, colorful former New York Congresswoman, born on 24 July 1920. [photo >]
    1995 Selena Quintanilla Pérez, 23, Mexican-American singer, shot to death in Corpus Christi, Texas, by the founder of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, who would be sentenced to life in prison.
    1995 Roberto Juarroz, poeta, escritor y académico argentino.
    1986 All 159 passengers and 8 crew members aboard Mexicana Airlines Flight 940, a Boeing 727 which crashes at 09:11 near Maravatio, in a remote mountainous region of Mexico. A tire had been filled with air instead of nitrogen; overheated it exploded in the wheel well as the plane was climbing through the 8800-meter level after take off. This damaged the hydraulic lines and electrical wiring resulting in loss of control of the plane.
    1971 Youden, mathematician.
    1965 Mario Mafai, Italian artist born on 12 February 1902.
    1965:: 45 of the 48 passengers and all 5 crew members of a Convair CV-440-62 of Iberia Airlines which, stalls and crashes into the sea at 08:04, 18 km off the coast of Tangiers, Morocco, near Cape Espartel.
    1931 Notre Dame football coach (born 04 Mar 1888) Knute Rockne and all other 5 passengers and 2 crew members aboard a Fokker F10A Trimotor which crashes into a wheat field near Bazaar, Kansas. Wing-aileron flutter, brought about by moisture leaking into the wing's interior, had weakened the glue that bonded the wooden spars of one of the wings, when, shortly after taking off from Kansas City, the plane penetrated a thunderstorm and experienced strong turbulence and icing, so that the wing fell off.
    1927 (or in 1914?) Vicente March y Marco, Spanish painter born on 27 (22?) December 1859. — MORE ON MARCH AT ART “4” MARCH with links to images.
    1925 Armando Spadini, Italian painter born on 29 July 1883. — more with links to two images.
    1920 Bachmann, mathematician.
    1910 Jean Moreas, poeta francés.
    1886 Francis Augustus Silva, US Hudson River School painter specialized in Landscapes, born in 1835. — link to an image.
    1877 Cournot, mathematician.
    1866 Johan Hendrik Louis Meyer (or Meijer), Dutch artist born on 09 March 1809.
    1850 John Caldwell Calhoun       ^top^
         Born on 18 March 1782, he was US Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson [1825-1832], the first VP to resign office: became a US Senator
          John C. Calhoun was born near Abbeville, South Carolina, on 18 March 1782. Calhoun became a congressman, senator, secretary of war, secretary of state, and vice president of the United States. A formidable theorist, Calhoun was also known for his irascible temperament. Even his protégé James Hammond allowed that Calhoun was "wanting in judgement in the managing of men." Calhoun is remembered for his determined defense of the institution of slavery. During the course of his career, he reversed his stand as a nationalist and advocated states' rights as a means of preserving slavery in the South. As a South Carolina senator, Calhoun used the argument of states' rights to protect slavery in what is known as the Nullification Crisis of 1832-1833.
    1837 John Constable, English Romantic painter specialized in Landscapes, born on 11 June 1776. — MORE ON CONSTABLE AT ART “4” MARCH with links to images.
    1816 Francis Asbury, 70, pioneer Methodist bishop. Sent to America in 1771 by John Wesley, he saw the new denomination grow from under 500 members to over 200,000 by the time of his death.
    1794 BRIFFON Pierre Jean, fils, domicilié à Verdun, canton de Grenade, département de la Haute Garonne, condamné à mort comme contre-révolutionnaire le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
    1794 BERARD Jean Louis, domicilié à Cuers, canton d'Hières, département du Var, condamné à mort comme émigré, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel du département du Var.
    1794 CHENU Jacques Marie, prêtre, domicilié à Paramé, département d'Ille-et-Vilaine, condamné à mort comme réfractaire à la loi, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
    1794 HERBERT Anne Guillaume, prêtre, domicilié à Vitré, département d’Ille-et-Vilaine, condamné à mort, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département comme réfractaire.
    1794 COLMONT Bruneau Clément, cultivateur, domicilié à Givry, département de la Saône et Loire, condamné à mort comme émigré, le 11 germinal an 2, par la le tribunal criminel du département de la Côte d'Or.
    1794 DELOR Pierre, domicilié à Camburat, département du Lot, condamné à mort comme chef d’émigré contre-révolutionnaire, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
    1794 DURAND François, (dit Canary), tailleur d'habits, domicilié à Aucanville, département de la Haute Garonne, condamné à mort comme contre-révolutionnaire le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
    1794 GAILLARD Philippe Bathélemi Simon, garçon papetier, âgé de 26 ans, né à Cormeille en Parisis, département de la Seine et Oise, domicilié à Paris, département de la Seine, condamné à mort le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal révolutionnaire séant à Paris, comme contre-révolutionnaire, ayant tenu lors du recrutement pour le département de l'Eure, des propos tendant à ébranler la fidélité des citoyens envers la République.
    1794 HOLLET Jean François, bijoutier en cuivre, âgé de 34 ans, né à Luciennes, département de la Seine et Oise, domicilié à Paris, département de la Seine, condamné à mort, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal révolutionnaire de Paris, comme contre-révolutionnaire.
    1794 LEGER Louis Marie Joseph, âgé de 45 ans, né à Arras, négociant, veuf de Denis N., guillotiné à Arras le 11 germinal an II
    1794 LAPLAISE Jean, père, domicilié à Camburat, département du Lot, condamné à mort le 11 germinal an 2, par la commission militaire de Nantes, comme brigand de la Vendée.
    1794 LAVERGNE-CHAMP-LAURIER Louis François, âgé de 50 ans, né et domicilié à Angoulême département de la Charente, ci-devant, capitaine au cinquième régiment, ensuite lieutenant-colonel commandant militaire à Longwy, condamné à mort, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal révolutionnaire de Paris, comme convaincu d'avoir des intelligences avec les ennemis de la France, pour leur livrer les frontières, principalement Longwy.
    1794 REGNIER Victoire, femme Lavergne, âgée d’environ 26 ans, native d’Angoulême, domiciliée à Paris, département de la Seine, condamnée à mort, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal révolutionnaire de Paris, comme contre-révolutionnaire, ayant crié "Vive le roi" dans l’une des salles qui précède celle de l’audience du tribunal où elle venait d’assister au jugement de mort rendu contre son marie, et afin de terminer ses jours avec lui.
    1794 MOREAU Joseph, menuisier, domicilié à Baume, département du Doubs condamné à mort, comme émigré, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
    1794 MOUTON François, notaire, domicilié à Cogalin, département du Var, condamné à mort, comme contre-révolutionnaire, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
    1794 NEGRE Jean, ci-devant fermier de Barbotan, ex comte, ex constituant, âgé de 61 ans, né à Havange, département du Lot, domicilié à Bezai, département du Lot et Garonne, condamné à mort le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal révolutionnaire séant à Paris, comme convaincu d’avoir eu des intelligences avec les ennemis extérieurs de la République.
    1794 RAMES Jean Pierre, tailleur, domicilié à Lissac, département du Lot, condamné à mort, le 11 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département comme chef d’émeute contre-révolutionnaire.
    1793 SANIAL Mathieu, domestique, domicilié à Laussonne, département de la Haute-Loire, condamné à mort par le tribunal criminel du dit département.
    1763 Jan Peeter Verdussen, Flemish artist born in 1700.
    1727 Isaac Newton, 83, mathematician
    1631 John Donne, Anglican priest, Metaphysical poet, dies (birth date unknown)
    1624 Lavanha, mathematician.
    1621 Felipe III, rey de España.
    1567 Philip the Magnanimous (Philipp der Grossmütige), born on 13 November 1504, landgrave (Landgraf) of Hesse (1509–1567), one of the great figures of German Protestantism, who championed the independence of German princes against the Holy Roman emperor Charles V [24 Feb 1500 – 21 Sep 1558].
    1547 François I, rey de Francia.
    1493 Martín Alonso Yáñez Pinzón, navegante español que acompañó a Colón a América.
    1204 Leonor de Aquitania, duquesa de Aquitania y reina de Francia e Inglaterra.
    Births which occurred on a March 31:       ^top^
    1948 Albert Gore Jr Wash DC, (Sen-D-Tenn, 45th US Vice President, under Bill Clinton. Democratic Presidential candidate in 2000, got the most votes, but lost to G.W.Bush 4-to-5 in the Supreme Court)
    1947 César Gaviria Trujillo, político y presidente de Colombia.
    1945 The Glass Menagerie, play by Tennessee Williams, opens on Broadway.
    1934 Carlo Rubbia, físico italiano, Premio Nobel 1984.
    1931 Las lanzas coloradas, de Arturo Uslar Pietri, se publica.
    1927 Cesar Chavez, Yuma, Arizona, grandson of Mexican immigrants, son of migrant farm workers, migrant worker himself, then, inspired by Gandhi and Saul Alinsky, organizer and leader of migrant farm workers in the US (United Farm Workers). After a 5-year boycott of table grapes, Chavez got growers to sign a contract on 30 June 1970. He had less success later, as growers signed sweetheart contracts with the corrupt Teamsters union. Chavez died on 23 April 1993.
    1927 Eduardo Martínez Somalo, religioso español, camarlengo de la Iglesia Católica.
    1914 Octavio Paz Lozano, Mexican Nobel Prize-winning poet, writer and diplomat who died on 19 April 1998.
    1910 Edward Brian Seago, British painter who died in 1974. — MORE ON SEAGO AT ART “4” MARCH with links to images.
    1902 André Lanskoy, French artist who died on 22 August 1976. — more
    1895 Vardis Fisher, Western novelist.       ^top^
          Vardis Fisher, a gifted novelist who dealt with both the myth and reality of the American West, is born in Annis, Idaho. Fisher, educated at the University of Utah and the University of Chicago, was one of the most important forces for establishing a uniquely western voice in American literature. His greatest influence as a writer came through the many western novels he published, but he also taught English periodically throughout his career. Among the students he influenced was the great western writer Wallace Stegner.
     tour Eiffel     Fisher established his distinctive style and themes with his first novel, Toilers of the Hills (1928). The hero, Dock Hunter, embraces the prevalent myth that he can successfully farm the high dry lands of Idaho without irrigation. Even after repeated failures, Hunter refuses to admit that the idea might be wrong and instead redoubles his futile efforts. Fisher's best-known novel, Children of God, garnered considerable attention for its honest depiction of Mormon bigotry, but the central theme was similar to that of his first book: the dangers of obsessively following an idea, and the human power to ignore grim reality in favor of fantasy.
          Later in his career, Fisher wrote several historical novels set in the West, including a highly fictionalized but entertaining account of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Tale of Valor (1958). Fisher's research for that novel led him to write a follow-up work of non-fiction called Suicide or Murder? in which he made the controversial case that Meriwether Lewis might have been a victim of murder rather than suicide. His last novel, Mountain Man, celebrated the footloose life of the 19th century mountain men and became the primary fictional source for Robert Redford's popular 1972 film Jeremiah Johnson.
    1890 Sir Lawrence Bragg, Australian-born English Nobel Prize-winning physicist who died on 01 July 1971.
    1889 Eiffel Tower is dedicated.      ^top^
         The Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower's designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers. In 1889, to honor of the centenary of the French Revolution, the French government planned an international exposition and announced a design competition for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. Out of more than 100 designs submitted, the Centennial Committee chose Eiffel's plan of an open-lattice wrought-iron tower that would reach 300 meters above Paris and be the world's tallest man-made structure. Eiffel, a noted bridge builder, was a master of metal construction and designed the framework of the Statue of Liberty that had recently been erected in New York Harbor. Eiffel's tower was greeted with skepticism from critics who argued that it would be structurally unsound, and indignation from others who thought it would be an eyesore in the heart of Paris. Unperturbed, Eiffel completed his great tower under budget in just two years. Only one worker lost his life during construction, which at the time was a remarkably low casualty number for a project of that magnitude. The light, airy structure was by all accounts a technological wonder and within a few decades came to be regarded as an architectural masterpiece.
          The Eiffel Tower is 300 meters tall and consists of an iron framework supported on four masonry piers, from which rise four columns that unite to form a single vertical tower. Platforms, each with an observation deck, are at three levels. Elevators ascend the piers on a curve, and Eiffel contracted the Otis Elevator Company of the United States to design the tower's famous glass-cage elevators. The elevators were not completed by 31 March 1889, however, so Gustave Eiffel ascended the tower's stairs with a few hardy companions and raised an enormous French flag on the structure's flagpole. Fireworks were then set off from the second platform. Eiffel and his party descended, and the architect addressed the guests and about 200 workers. In early May, the Paris International Exposition opened, and the tower served as the entrance gateway to the giant fair. The Eiffel Tower remained the world's tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. Incredibly, the Eiffel Tower was almost demolished when the International Exposition's 20-year lease on the land expired in 1909, but its value as an antenna for radio transmission saved it. It remains largely unchanged today and is one of the world's premier tourist attractions.
    1885 Julius Mordecai Pinkas (or Jules Pascin), Bulgarian French Expressionist painter who died on 01 June 1930. — MORE ON PINKAS AT ART “4” MARCH with links to images.
    1872 Arthur Griffith, Irish journalist, principal founder of Sinn Fein (“We Ourselves”), vice-president of the Irish republic from 21 January 1919, president from 10 January 1922.. He died on 12 August 1922.
    1848 Korteweg, mathematician.
    1843 Kristian Peter Henrik Zahrtmann, Danish artist who died on 22 June 1917. — more with link to an image.
    1811 Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen Germany, chemist (Bunsen Burner)
    1809 (19 Mar Julian) Nikolay Vasil'evich Gogol', born in the Ukraine, he would be the father of 19th-century Russian realism, a humorist, dramatist, and novelist, whose novel Myortvye Dushi (Dead Souls) and short story Shinel (The Overcoat) are considered the foundations of the great 19th-century tradition of Russian Realism. Gogol died on 04 March (21 Feb Julian) 1852. — GOGOL ONLINE (in English translations): Dead SoulsTaras Bulba and Other TalesTaras Bulba and Other Tales — (in Russian original): Mertvye Dushi Vechera na Khutore bliz Dikan'ki, Chast' 1, Chast' 2Revisor
    More about Gogol (with the Russian characters showing correctly in Unicode)
    1809 Edward FitzGerald England, writer (Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam). He died on 14 June 1883.
    1806 Kirkman, mathematician.
    1798 Michael Neher, German artist who died on 04 December 1876.
    1796 Carl Friedrich Zimmermann, German artist who died on 31 July 1820.
    1795 Louis Richard, mathematician
    1732 Franz Joseph Haydn Austria, composer, help develop classical style, father of the symphony. He died on 31 May 1809.
    1730 Étienne Bézout, French mathematician who died on 27 September 1783.
    ^ 1596 René Descartes French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher; he thought, therefore he was. He stopped thinking in this world on 11 February 1650. {He was not a Methodist}
         Because he was one of the first to oppose scholastic Aristotelianism, he has been called the father of modern philosophy. He began by methodically doubting knowledge based on authority, the senses, and reason, then found certainty in the intuition that, when he is thinking, he exists; this he expressed in the famous statement “I think, therefore I am.” He developed a dualistic system in which he distinguished radically between mind, the essence of which is thinking, and matter, the essence of which is extension in three dimensions. Descartes's metaphysical system is intuitionist, derived by reason from innate ideas, but his physics and physiology, based on sensory knowledge, are mechanistic and empiricist.
          Descartes was born in La Haye (now Descartes), France. Although La Haye was in Touraine, Descartes's family connections were south across the Creuse River in Poitou, where his father, Joachim, owned farms and houses in Châtellerault and Poitiers. Because Joachim was a councilor in the Parliament of Brittany in Rennes, Descartes inherited a low rank of nobility. Descartes's mother died when he was one year old. His father remarried in Rennes, leaving him in La Haye to be raised by his maternal grandmother and a nurse and probably also by his great-uncle Michel Ferrand, lieutenant general (court judge) in Châtellerault. The Descartes family was Roman Catholic, but Poitou was a Huguenot stronghold and Châtellerault a “secure city,” in which the Edict of Nantes, which gave Protestants freedom of worship in France, was worked out in 1597–1598. Descartes returned to Poitou regularly until 1628.
          In 1606 Descartes was sent to the Jesuit college at La Flèche, established in 1604 by Henri IV. At La Flèche 1200 young gentlemen were trained for careers in military engineering, the judiciary, and government administration. Besides classical studies, science, mathematics, and metaphysics, students were taught acting, music, poetry, dancing, riding, and fencing. Descartes's philosophy professor was Father François Véron, known later as the scourge of the Protestants. Aristotle was taught from scholastic texts. In addition, Descartes received special attention from a relative, Father Charlet, later rector of La Flèche. In 1610 Descartes participated in an imposing ceremony in which the heart of Henry IV [13 Dec 1553 – 14 May 1610] was placed in the cathedral of La Flèche. Henry IV's assassination had destroyed the hope of religious tolerance in France and Germany.
          In 1614 Descartes went to Poitiers, where he took a law degree in 1616. At this time Huguenot Poitiers was in virtual revolt against Louis XIII [27 Sep 1601 – 14 May 1643]. Descartes's father probably expected him to enter Parliament, but, because the legal age for that was 27, Descartes had seven years to wait. In 1618 he went to Breda in the Netherlands for 15 months as a student in mathematics and military architecture in the peacetime army of the Protestant ruler, Maurice, prince of Orange [13 Nov 1567 – 23 Apr 1625]. There Descartes met the physicist Isaac Beeckman, who encouraged him in science and mathematics and for whom Descartes wrote his Musicae Compendium (written 1618, published 1650).
          During the period 1619 to 1628, Descartes traveled in northern and southern Europe, saying that he was studying the book of the world. While in Bohemia in 1619, he had three dreams that defined for him his career as a scientist and a philosopher seeking knowledge for the benefit of humanity. By 1620 he had conceived of a universal method of deductive reasoning,applicable to all the sciences. He had also investigated reports of esoteric knowledge such as theosophical claims to command nature. Although disappointed with the followers of the magician Raymond Lulle and the alchemist Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim [14 Sep 1486 – 18 Feb 1535], Descartes was impressed by the German mathematician and Rosicrucian Johann Faulhaber.
          Descartes shared a number of Rosicrucian goals and habits of life. Like Rosicrucians, he lived a single, secluded life, changing residence often (during his 22 years in the Netherlands, he lived in 18 different places), practiced medicine without charge, tried to increase human longevity, and expressed optimism about the ability of science to improve the human condition. At the end of his life, he left a chest of personal papers, none of which has survived, with his close friend, the Rosicrucian physician Corneille van Hogelande, who handled his affairs in the Netherlands. Descartes, however, rejected the Rosicrucians' magical and mystical beliefs. For him it was a time of hope for revolution in science. The English philosopher Francis Bacon [22 Jan 1561 – 09 Apr 1626], in Advancement of Learning (1605), had already proposed a new science of observation and experiment to replace the traditional Aristotelian science, as did Descartes later.
          In 1620 Descartes was in the Roman Catholic army of Maximilian I, duke of Bavaria [17 Apr 1573 – 27 Sep 1651], who defeated the Protestants in Bohemia. There is, however, no evidence that Descartes ever participated in any battles; he said military life was idle, stupid, immoral, and cruel. In 1622 Descartes moved to Paris. There he gambled, rode, fenced, and went to the court, concerts, and the theatre. Among his friends were the poets Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac [1597 – 18 Feb 1654], who dedicated his Le Socrate chrétien (1652) to Descartes, and Théophile de Viau [1590 – 25 Sep 1626], who was burned in effigy and imprisoned in 1623 for writing verses mocking religious themes. Descartes also made friends with the mathematician Claude Mydorge [1585 – Jul 1647] and with Father Marin Mersenne [08 Sep 1588 – 01 Sep 1648], a man of universal learning who during his lifetime wrote thousands of letters to hundreds of scholars, writers, mathematicians, and scientists, keeping everyone aware, despite his almost unreadable handwriting, of what everyone else was doing. Mersenne was Descartes's main contact with the larger intellectual world. Descartes regularly hid from his friends in order to work, writing treatises, now lost, on fencing and metals. He acquired a high reputation long before he published anything.
          At a talk in 1628, Descartes denied the alchemist Chandoux's claim that probabilities are as good as certainties in science and demonstrated his own method for attaining certainty. The Cardinal de Bérulle [04 Feb 1575 – 02 Oct 1629], who had founded the Oratorian teaching order in 1611 to rival the Jesuit order and who was forming the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, a militant, secret society of laymen to fight Protestantism, was impressed and invited Descartes to a conference. Bérulle was a strange combination of astute politician, courtier, and mystic who often advised the Queen Mother and talked familiarly with God and angels every day. Many commentators speculate that Bérulle urged Descartes to write an Augustinian metaphysics to replace Jesuit teaching. There can be no question that, in one way or another, Bérulle tried to recruit Descartes to the Catholic cause. The result, however,was that within weeks Descartes left for the Netherlands, which was Protestant, took great precautions to conceal his whereabouts, and did not return to France for 16 years. Rather than taking Bérulle as director of his conscience, as some argue, it is probable that Descartes, who was a Roman Catholic but not an enthusiast, who was accused of being a Rosicrucian, who was from a Huguenot province, who glorified reason, and who advocated religious tolerance, was frightened by the mystical, militant Bérulle.
          Descartes said that he went to the Netherlands to enjoy a greater liberty than was available anyplace else and to avoid the distractions of Paris and friends so that he could have the leisure and solitude to think. (He had inherited enough money and property to live independently.) The Netherlands was a haven of tolerance. Descartes could be an original, independent thinker there without fear, for example, of being burned for giving natural explanations of miracles, as was Lucilio Vanini in 1619, or of being drafted as a soldier for the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation. He opposed vows that restricted liberty and said, when accused of having illegitimate children, that, after all, he was a man and had taken no vows of chastity. In France, by contrast, religious intolerance was mounting. The Jews were expelled in1615, and the last Protestant stronghold, La Rochelle, besieged for 14 months with Bérulle's participation, capitulated unconditionally on 01 November 1628, only weeks before Descartes's departure. Catholic commentators insist that Descartes would have been safe in France, but the Parliament of Paris passed a decree in 1624 forbidding attacks on Aristotle on pain of death. Although the Catholic priests Mersenne and Pierre Gassendi [22 Jan 1592 – 24 Oct 1655] did publish attacks without being persecuted, heretics continued to be burned, and laymen lacked church protection. Descartes may have felt in some jeopardy because of his friendship with such libertines as Father Claude Picot, a bon vivant known as “the Atheist Priest,” with whom Descartes left his financial affairs in France.
          In 1629 Descartes went to the university at Franeker, where he stayed with a Roman Catholic family and wrote the first draft of his Meditationes. He registered at the University of Leiden in 1630, where he gained as a disciple the physician Henri Reneri. In 1631 he visited Denmark and in 1633–34 was in Germany with the physician and alchemist Étienne de Villebressieu, who invented siege engines, a portable bridge, and a two-wheeled stretcher. The physician Henri Regius taught Descartes's views at the University of Utrecht in 1639, starting a fierce controversy with the Calvinist theologian Gisbertus Voetius [1589-1676] that continued until the end of Descartes's life. In his Letter to Voetius of 1648, Descartes made a plea for religious tolerance and the rights of man. He said that he wrote not only for Christians but also for Turks, meaning libertines, infidels, deists, and atheists. He argued that, because Protestants and Roman Catholics worship the same God, both can hope for heaven. When the controversy became intense, however, Descartes sought the protection of the French ambassador and of his friend Constantijn Huygens [04 Sep 1596 – 28 Mar 1687], secretary to Prince Frederick Henry [29 Jan 1584 – 14 Mar 1647], ruler of the Dutch Republic.
          In 1635 Descartes's daughter Francine was born to Helena Jans and was baptized in the Reformed Church in Deventer. Although Francine is referred to as Descartes's illegitimate daughter, her baptism is recorded in a register for legitimate births. Descartes said that his greatest sorrow was Francine's death of scarlet fever at the age of five and that he was not a philosopher who believed that one must refrain from tears to prove oneself a man.
          In 1633 Descartes was about to publish Le Monde (published 1664), when he heard that the Italian astronomer Galileo [15 Feb 1664 – 08 Jan 1642] Galilei had been condemned in Rome for publishing the view that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Because this Copernican position is central to Descartes's cosmology and physics, he suppressed Le Monde, hoping that the church would retract its condemnation and make it possible for him to publish his work later. He feared the church, but he also hoped that his physics would one day replace Aristotle's in church doctrine.
          In 1637 Descartes published Discours de la méthode, one of the first important modern philosophical works not written in Latin. Descartes said that he wrote in French so that all who had good sense, including women, could read his work and learn to use their reason to think for themselves. He believed that everyone could tell true from false by the natural light of reason. In three essays forming part of the Discours de la méthode, he illustrated his method for utilizing reason in the search for truth in the sciences. In Dioptrics he then presented the law of refraction, in Meteorology he explained the rainbow, and in Geometry he gave an exposition of analytic geometry, which is a method of representing geometric figures with algebraic equations that made many previously unsolvable problems solvable. He also introduced the conventions of representing known numerical quantities with a, b, c, . . . , unknowns with x, y, z, . . . , and squares, cubes, and other powers with numerical superscripts, as in x 2, x 3, . . . , which made algebraic notation much clearer than it had been before.
          In Discours de la méthode and in Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii, written by 1628 but not published until 1701, Descartes gave four rules for reasoning: (1) Accept nothing as true that is not self-evident. (2) Divide problems into their simplest parts. (3) Solve problems by proceeding from simple to complex. (4) Recheck the reasoning. These rules are a direct application of mathematical procedures. Descartes insisted that key notions and the limits of each problem must be clearly defined.
          In Discours de la méthode he also provided a provisional moral code (later presented as final) for use while seeking truth: (1) Obey local customs and laws. (2) Make decisions on the best evidence and then stick to them firmly as though they were certain. (3) Change desires rather than the world. (4) Always seek truth. This code exhibits Descartes's prudential conservatism, decisiveness, stoicism, and dedication. For Descartes all knowledge was like a tree—with metaphysics forming the roots, physics the trunk, and medicine, mechanics, and morals the branches—on which the fruit of knowledge is produced.
          In 1641 Descartes published in Latin (because it was dedicated to the Jesuit professors at the Sorbonne in Paris) Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animæ immortalitas demonstrantur. . Mersenne submitted it before publication to eminent thinkers, among whom were the Jansenist philosopher and theologian Antoine Arnauld [06 Feb 1612 – 08 Aug 1694], the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes [05 Apr 1588 – 04 Dec 1679], and the Epicurean atomist Pierre Gassendi [22 Jan 1592 – 24 Oct 1655]. Mersenne collected their critical responses and published them with the Meditationes. Even though Descartes said that the Jesuit priest Pierre Bourdin, a respondent added in the second edition (1642), was a fool, these objections and replies constitute a landmark of cooperative discussion in philosophy and science at a time when dogmatism was the rule.
          Descartes begins Meditationes with methodic doubt, rejecting as though false all types of knowledge by which he was ever deceived. His arguments derive from the Pyrrhonism of the Greek skeptic Sextus Empiricus as reflected in the skeptical writings of Michel de Montaigne [28 Feb 1533 – 23 Sep 1592] and Pierre Charron [1541 – 16 Nov 1603]. Thus knowledge based on authority is set aside because even experts are sometimes wrong. Knowledge from sensory experience is declared untrustworthy because people sometimes mistake one thing for another, as with mirages. Knowledge based on reasoning is rejected as unreliable because one often makes mistakes as, for example, when adding. Finally, knowledge may be illusory because it comes from dreams or insanity or from a demon able to deceive men by making them think that they are experiencing the real world when they are not. Descartes finds certainty in the intuition that when he is thinking, even if deceived, he exists: “Cogito, ergo sum”. The cogito is a logically self-evident truth that gives certain knowledge of a particular thing's existence—that is, one's self—but the cogito justifies accepting as certain only the existence of the person who thinks it. If all one ever knew for certain was that one exists and if one adhered to Descartes's method of doubting all that is uncertain, then one would be reduced to solipsism, the view that nothing exists but one's individual self and thoughts. To escape this, Descartes argues that all ideas that are as clear and distinct as the cogito must be true, for, if they were not, the cogito also, as a member of the class of clear and distinct ideas, could be doubted. Since “Cogito, ergo sum” cannot be doubted, all clear and distinct ideas must be true.
          On the basis of clear and distinct innate ideas, Descartes then establishes that each mind is a spiritual substance and each body a part of one material substance. The mind or soul is immortal because it is unextended and cannot be broken into parts, as can extended bodies. Descartes also advances proof for the existence of God. He begins with the statement that he has an innate idea of God as a perfect being and then intuits that God necessarily exists, because, if he did not, he would not be perfect. This ontological proof for the existence of God is at the heart of Descartes's rationalism, for it establishes certain knowledge about an existing thing solely on the basis of reasoning from innate ideas, with no help from sensory experience. Descartes then argues that, because God is perfect, he does not deceive human beings; therefore the world exists. Thus Descartes claims to have given metaphysical foundations for the existence of his own mind, of God, and of the world.
          A famous objection to Descartes's procedure is Arnauld's Cartesian Circle, which exposes the circularity inherent in Descartes's reasoning. To know that God exists, one must trust the clear and distinct idea of God; but, to know that clear and distinct ideas are true, one must know that God exists and does not deceive man. Descartes the rationalist rejected magic, but he failed to see that his ontological proof is word-magic based on the superstition that things can be determined by ideas and thoughts. In opposition to Descartes's rationalism, empiricists hold that descriptions of things must come after, not before, one knows by experience that they exist.
          Descartes's goal was to be master of nature. He provided understanding of the trunk of the tree of knowledge in The World, Dioptrics, Meteorology, and Geometry and revealed its roots in Meditations; he then spent the rest of his life working on the branches of mechanics, medicine, and morals. Mechanics is the basis of his medicine, or physiology, which in turn is the basis of his moral psychology. Descartes believed that all material bodies, including the human body, are machines that operate by mechanical principles. In his physiological studies, he dissected animal bodies to show how their parts move. He argued that, because animals have no souls, they do not think or feel; thus vivisection, which Descartes pioneered, is permitted. He also described the circulation of the blood but came to the erroneous conclusion that heat in the heart expands the blood, causing its expulsion. Descartes's L'Homme, et un traité de la formation du foetus was published in 1664.
          In 1641 Descartes was visited by Picot and Jacques Vallée Desbarreaux, known as “the Grand Debauché,” who had published the libertine poet Théophile de Viau. Descartes used them as models for characters (he was himself model for a third) in his dialogue Recherche de la Vérité (1701). In 1642 Samuel Sorbière, the French translator of Sextus and Hobbes, visited Descartes and wrote a charming description of him as host. Descartes then lived in the small but very elegant château of Endegeest, outside Leiden, near the court in The Hague.
          In 1644 Descartes published Principia Philosophiae, a compilation of his physics and metaphysics. He dedicated this work to Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Elizabeth Stuart, titular queen of Bohemia, who was in exile in The Hague, for he had developed his moral philosophy in correspondence with her. According to Descartes, a human being is a union of mind and body, two dissimilar substances that interact in the pineal gland. He reasoned that the pineal gland must be the uniting point because it is the only non-double organ in the brain, and double reports, as from two eyes, must have one place to merge. He argued that each action on a person's sense organs causes subtle matter to move through tubular nerves to the pineal gland, causing it to vibrate distinctively. These vibrations give rise to emotions and passions and also cause the body to act. Bodily action is thus the final outcome of a reflex arc that begins with external stimuli and involves first an internal response, as, for example, when a soldier sees the enemy, feels fear, and flees. The mind cannot change bodily reactions directly (for example, it cannot will the body to fight) but it can change the pineal vibrations from those that cause fear and fleeing to those that cause courage and fighting.
          Descartes furthermore argued that men can be conditioned by experience to have specific emotional responses. He, for example, had been conditioned to be attracted to cross-eyed women because he had loved a cross-eyed playmate as a child. When he remembered this fact, however, he was able to rid himself of his passion. This insight was the basis for Descartes's defense of free will and of the mind's ability to control the body. Despite such arguments in defense of free will, in his Les Passions de l'âme, dedicated in 1649 to Queen Christina of Sweden, Descartes holds that most bodily actions are determined by external material causes.
          Descartes's morality was anti-Christian in that, in contrast to Calvinists and Jansenists, he suggested that grace is not necessary for salvation but that human beings are virtuous and able to achieve salvation when they do their best to find and act upon truth. His optimism about the ability of human reason and will to find truth and reach salvation is in stark contrast with the pessimism of the Jansenist (predestinarian) apologist and mathematician Blaise Pascal [19 Jun 1623 – 19 Aug 1662], who believed that salvation comes only as a gift of God's grace. Descartes was correctly accused of holding the view of Jacobus Arminius [10 Oct 1560 – 19 Oct 1609], an anti-Calvinist Dutch theologian, that virtuous behavior depends on free will rather than on grace. Descartes also held that, unless people believe in God and immortality, they will see no reason to be moral.
          Free will, Descartes stated, is the sign of God in human nature, and human beings can be praised or blamed according to their use of it. People are good only if they act in goodwill for the good of others; such generosity is the highest virtue. Descartes was Epicurean in his assertion that human passions are good in themselves and an extreme moral optimist in his belief that to understand the good is to want to do it; because passions are willings, to want something is to will it. He was also stoic, however, in his admonition that human beings should control their passions rather than change the world.
          Although Descartes wrote no political philosophy, he approved of Seneca's admonition to acquiesce in the order of things. He rejected the recommendation of Machiavelli [03 May 1469 – 21 Jun 1527] to lie to friends, because friendship is sacred and life's greatest joy. Human beings cannot exist alone but must be parts of social groups, such as nations and families, and it is better to do good for the group than for oneself.
          Descartes had been a puny child with a weak chest and was not expected to live. He therefore watched his health carefully and became almost a vegetarian. In 1639 he bragged that he had not been sick for 19 years and expected to live to be 100. He told Elizabeth to think of life as a comedy; bad thoughts cause bad dreams and bodily disorders. Because there is always more good than evil in life, one can always be content, no matter how poorly off one is.
          In his later years Descartes said that he had once hoped to learn to prolong life to a century or more, but he then saw that, in order to achieve that goal, the efforts of many generations would be required; he himself had not even learned to prevent a fever. Thus, he said, instead of continuing to hope for long life, he had found an easier way, namely to love life but not fear death. It is easy, he claimed, for a true philosopher to die tranquilly.
          After 16 years in the Netherlands, Descartes returned to France for brief visits in 1644, 1647, and 1648, on financial business and to oversee the translation into French of Principia Philosophiae, Meditationes, and Objections and Replies. (The translators were, respectively, Picot, the Duke de Luynes, and Claude Clerselier.) In 1647 he also met with Gassendi and Hobbes and suggested to Pascal the famous experiment of taking a barometer up Mount Puy-de-Dôme to determine the influence of the weight of the air. In Paris Descartes joined with Pierre d'Alibert, treasurer general of France, in a plan to establish a workshop school of arts and crafts in the Royal College. Picot returned with Descartes to the Netherlands for the winter of 1647–1648. During Descartes's final stay in Paris in 1648, the revolt of the nobility against the crown, known as the Fronde, broke out. As a result, Descartes left Paris precipitously on 17 August 1648, only days before his mortally ill old friend Mersenne died. Back at his retreat in Egmond, in the Netherlands, Descartes was visited by the young Frans Burman, whose Conversations (first published in 1896) gives a genial and illuminating picture of Descartes.
          Hector Pierre Chanut, Clerselier's brother-in-law, helped to procure a pension for Descartes from Louis XIV (which was never paid). Then Chanut, who was French resident and later ambassador to Sweden, gained an invitation for Descartes to the court of the Swedish monarch, Queen Christina [08 Dec 1626 – 19 Apr 1689], who by the close of the Thirty Years' War had become one of the most important and powerful monarchs in Europe. Descartes went reluctantly, arriving early in October 1649. He may have gone because he needed protection; the Fronde seemed to have destroyed his chances in Paris, and the Calvinist theologians were still harassing him in the Netherlands.
          The 22-year-old Christina perversely made the 53-year-old Descartes rise at 05:00 to give her philosophy lessons, even though she knew of his habit of meditating in bed until 11:00. [See Descartes Teaching Christina, painting by Dumesnil; 1728x2112pix, 470kb]. She also is said to have ordered him to write a ballet in verse, La Naissance de la paix (1649), celebrating Christina's role in the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War, and a comedy in five acts, now lost. In addition he wrote the statutes for a Swedish Academy of Arts and Sciences. While delivering these statutes to the Queen at 05:00 AM on 01 February 1650, Descartes caught a chill. In this land, where he said that in winter men's thoughts freeze like the water, Descartes developed pneumonia. He died in Stockholm on 11 February 1650. Many pious last words have been attributed to Descartes, but the most trustworthy report is probably that of his German valet, Schulter, who said that Descartes was in a coma and died without saying anything at all. The last thing Descartes wrote was a letter asking his brother to continue the pension Descartes had been paying to their old nurse.
          After his death, Descartes's papers came into the possession of Clerselier, a pious Catholic, who began the process of turning Descartes into a saint by cutting, adding to, and selectively publishing his letters. This cosmetic work culminated in 1691 in the massive biography by Father Adrien Baillet, who had previously published a 17-volume Lives of the Saints. Even while Descartes was still alive, there were questions as to whether he was a Roman Catholic apologist, primarily concerned with supporting Christian doctrine, or an atheist, concerned only with protecting himself with pious sentiments while establishing a deterministic, mechanistic, and materialistic physics.
          These questions remain difficult to answer, not least because many papers and manuscripts available to Clerselier and Baillet are now lost. The Roman Catholic church made its decision in 1667 by putting Descartes's works on the Index of Forbidden Books on the very day his bones were ceremoniously placed in Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont in Paris. During his lifetime, Protestant ministers in the Netherlands called him a Jesuit and a papist, but he said that they were intolerant, ignorant bigots. Up to about 1930, the majority of scholars, many of whom were religious, believed that Descartes's major concerns were metaphysical and religious. By the late 20th century, however, numerous commentators had come to believe that Descartes was a Catholic in the way he was a Frenchman and a royalist—that is, by birth and by politics.
         Descartes himself said that good sense is destroyed when one thinks too much of God. He once told the German protégée Anne-Maria de Schurman that she was wasting her intellect studying Hebrew and theology. He also was perfectly aware of, although he tried to conceal, the atheistic potential of his materialist physics and physiology. Descartes also seemed indifferent to the emotional depths of religion. Whereas Pascal trembled when he looked into the infinite universe and perceived the puniness and misery of man, Descartes rejected the view that human beings are essentially miserable and sinful. Instead he exulted in the power of human reason to understand the cosmos and to promote human happiness. He held that it was impertinent to pray to God to change things, insisting rather that human beings must try to improve themselves.
          The history of the original works of Descartes and their early translations into English is as follows: Musicae Compendium (written 1618, published 1650); Renatus Des-Cartes Excellent Compendium of Musick (1653); Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii (written 1628, published 1701); Le Monde de Mr Descartes; ou, le traité de la lumière (written 1633, published 1664);Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité dans les sciences. Plus la dioptrique; les meteores; et la geometrie (1637; A Discourse of a Method for the Wel-guiding of Reason, and the Discovery of Truth in Sciences, 1649); Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (1641; and its 2nd ed., with Objectiones Septimae, 1642; Six Metaphysical Meditations; Wherein It Is Proved That There Is a God, 1680); Principia Philosophiae (1644); and Les Passions de l'âme (1649; The Passions of the Soule, 1650).Descartes's correspondence has been collected in Lettres de Mr Descartes: où sont traittées plusieurs belles questions touchant la morale, physique, medecine, & les mathematiques, ed. by Claude Clerselier, 3 vol. (1666–67); and Correspondance, ed. by Charles Adam and Gaston Milhaud, 8 vol. (1936–63, reprinted 1970). The standard edition of complete works is the multivolume Oeuvres de Descartes, ed. by Charles Adam and Paul Tannery, published several times since it appeared in 12 vol. with a supplement in 1897–1913. See it in a later edition, 11 vol. in 13 (1974–82). It includes Descartes's correspondence.Modern translationsinto English, many with valuable commentaries, include such selections as The Philosophical Works of Descartes, trans. by Elizabeth S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross, 2 vol. (1911–12, reprinted 1978); The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, trans. by John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, and Dugald Murdoch, 2 vol. (1984–85); Descartes: Philosophical Letters, trans. and ed. by Anthony Kenny (1970, reprinted 1981); Descartes' Conversation with Burman, trans. by John Cottingham (1976); Le Monde; ou, traité de la lumière, trans. into English by Michael Sean Mahoney (1979); Treatise of Man, trans. by Thomas Steele Hall (1972); Discourse on Method, Optics, Geometry, and Meteorology, trans. by Paul J. Olscamp (1965); Principles of Philosophy, trans. by Valentine Rodger Miller and Reese P. Miller (1983); The Passions of the Soul, trans. by Stephen Voss (1989); and Descartes, His Moral Philosophy and Psychology.
    [Volume 1], Discours de la méthode [Volume 2], Suite des objections contre les méditations, avec les réponses [Volume 3], Les principes de la philosophie [Volume 4], Des passions de l'âme [Volume 5], La dioptrique [Volume 6], Correspondance [Volume 7], Correspondance [Volume 8], Correspondance [Volume 9], Correspondance [Volume 10], Correspondance [Volume 11]
    DESCARTES ONLINE (in English translations):
    Discourse on the MethodDiscourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the ReasonMeditations on First PhilosophyMeditations on the First Philosophy.

    Portrait below: René Descartes (1649, 19x14cm) by Frans Hals [1580-1666]

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    Des Cartes from the original Picture by Francis Hals (21x17cm; full size), by William Holl the Younger [1807-1871]
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