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How Towns Around Woodstock Pushed to Cancel the Hippie Takeover

August 14, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Joseph G. Owen wasn’t exactly the target market for the Woodstock festival. But when he saw a sign advertising “3 Days of Peace & Music” while on vacation in Florida, he packed his bags and headed to New York.

Owen didn’t want to attend the festival—he wanted to stop it. The Wallkill town justice hurried home to New York and drafted a law that slapped strict regulations on events that drew over 5,000 people. After a raucous town board meeting, the ordinance passed, effectively banning the Woodstock festival, which had already sold over 50,000 tickets, from Wallkill.

But the Woodstock Music and Art Fair‘s expulsion from the tiny New York town was just the tip of the iceberg. During the months leading up to the iconic music festival, its organizers faced an all-out war from locals intent on pulling the plug on the event—and in response, Woodstock organizers pulled some shady tricks of their own, sidestepping local laws and making plenty of enemies as they finagled the logistics of the three-day event, which eventually attracted more than 400,000 attendees.

READ MORE: Woodstock 1969: How a Music Festival That Should’ve Been a Disaster Became Iconic Instead

Joel Rosenman and John Roberts in 1974.

The idea for the festival began as a flight of fancy. In 1967, John Roberts, heir to a denture glue fortune, was working on an idea for a TV show with his college friend Joel Rosenman about two young entrepreneurs who got involved in a variety of absurd business ventures. Roberts and Rosenman wanted to generate ideas for episodes, so they placed a seemingly simple ad in the classifieds sections of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal: “Young Men with Unlimited Capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions.”

The ad attracted plenty of crazy business ideas, but one in particular caught Roberts’ and Rosenman’s eye. Michael Lang, a music promoter who had orchestrated the recent Miami Pop Festival, and Artie Kornfeld, a producer at Columbia Records, proposed starting a music studio in Woodstock, New York, which had become a haven for counterculture icons like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and The Band.

Roberts and Rosenman weren’t interested in the studio, but were intrigued by the idea of tapping into the late-1960s counterculture. After a meeting, the foursome agreed to try organizing a massive music festival instead. Roberts agreed to put up …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Japan's Emperor Akihito abdicates

August 14, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On April 30, 2019, Japan’s 85-year-old Emperor Akihito steps down from the throne, becoming the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in over 200 years.

Akihito was born on December 23, 1933, the eldest son of Emperor Hirohito, who had ruled Japan since 1926. Akihito was born two years before the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the precursor to imperial Japan’s involvement in World War II. After World War II, as part of a sweeping set of reforms, the country adopted a new Western-style constitution, and the monarchy became purely symbolic (such as in England). Nevertheless, Akihito ascended to the throne after his father’s death in 1989.

While he had no political power, Akihito became an immensely popular figure in Japan. Unlike his father, who rarely appeared before the public, Akihito worked to move the imperial family “closer to the people.” He and his wife, Empress Michiko, made official visits to 18 countries and to all 47 Japanese Prefectures. He offered comfort after earthquakes, tsunamis and other tragedies, such as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. A staunch pacifist, he repeatedly expressed remorse for Japan’s actions during World War II.

Citing poor health, the emperor announced his desire to step down in 2016. No emperor had abdicated since 1817. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, on April 30, 2019. A new Japanese imperial era, Reiwa, was officially established.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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America's History of Slavery Began Long Before Jamestown

August 14, 2019 in History

By Crystal Ponti

In late August 1619, the White Lion, an English privateer commanded by John Jope, sailed into Point Comfort and dropped anchor in the James River. Virginia colonist John Rolfe documented the arrival of the ship and “20 and odd” Africans on board. His journal entry is immortalized in textbooks, with 1619 often used as a reference point for teaching the origins of slavery in America. But the history, it seems, is far more complicated than a single date.

It is believed the first Africans brought to the colony of Virginia, 400 years ago this month, were Kimbundu-speaking peoples from the kingdom of Ndongo, located in part of present-day Angola. Slave traders forced the captives to march several hundred miles to the coast to board the San Juan Bautista, one of at least 36 transatlantic Portuguese and Spanish slave ships.

The ship embarked with about 350 Africans on board, but hunger and disease took a swift toll. En route, about 150 captives died. Then, when the San Juan Bautista approached what is now Veracruz, Mexico in the summer of 1619, it encountered two ships, the White Lion and another English privateer, the Treasurer. The crews stormed the vulnerable slave ship and seized 50 to 60 of the remaining Africans. After, the pair sailed for Virginia.

As noted by Rolfe, when the White Lion arrived in what is now present-day Hampton, Virginia, the Africans were offloaded and “bought for victuals.” Governor Sir George Yeardley and head merchant Abraham Piersey acquired the majority of the captives, most of whom were kept in Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement.

The arrival of these “20 and odd” Africans to England’s mainland American colonies in 1619 is now a focal point in history curricula. The date and their story have become symbolic of slavery’s roots, despite captive Africans likely being present in the Americas in the 1400s and as early as 1526 in the region that would become the United States.

Some experts, including Michael Guasco, a professor at Davidson College and author of Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World, caution about placing too much emphasis on the year 1619.

“To ignore what had been happening with relative frequency in the broader Atlantic world over the preceding 100 years or so understates the real brutality of the ongoing slave trade, of which the 1619 group were …read more

Source: HISTORY