How geographers, inventors and assassins mark May 22nd

TODAY in History (May 22), Geographers celebrate the publishing of what’s generally considered “the first true modern Atlas” in 1570. Compiled by the Brabantian cartographer and geographer Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598), the 70-map Atlas was known as Theatrum Orbis Terrarum: Latin for ‘Theatre of the World...’ [For details, google ].

For the Creative, the Wright Brothers, Wilber (1867-1912) and Orville (1871-1948), were granted US Patent Number 821,393 on May 22, 1906 for new and useful improvement in ‘Flying-Machines.’

The two American siblings “are widely credited with inventing and building the world’s first flyable airplane – dubbed ‘The Wright Flyer’ – and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight on December 17, 1903...” With only ‘four years of high school education,’ Wilber was “an Editor, bicycle manufacturer and retailer” in his early years.

His younger brother Orville (‘3 years of high school education’) started out in life as “a printer/publisher, as well as a bicycle manufacturer and retailer.”

Thereafter, both brothers teamed up to become “airplane inventors, manufacturers and pilot trainers... the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixedwing powered flight possible.”

We’re told “the Brothers’ breakthrough was their creation of a three-axis control system which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium.

This method remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds.” [See ‘Wagging its Tail. The Wright Story – Inventing the Airplane;’ ]. Oh! I don’t know... Still on inventions, though... Historians tell us that, on May 22, 1849, “future US President Abraham ‘Abe’ Thomas Lincoln (1809-1865) was issued a patent for an invention to lift-boats – making him the only US President to ever hold a patent!”

A lift-boat is “a self-propelled, self-elevating vessel with a relatively large open deck capable of carrying equipment and supplies in support of various offshore mineral exploration and production, offshore construction activities.”

Now that you know this technicality, we must also remember that Abe Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States from 1861 until he died from a Confederacy-sympathetic assassin’s bullet on April 15, 1865. Lincoln was one of the more illustrious sons of the American soil north of Mexico and South of Canada.

He led the nation through the American Civil War (April 12, 1861-May 9, 1865), described as “the country’s bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis ... began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of Black people...”

The war broke out on April 12, 1861, shortly after Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the 34 United States on March 4, 1861.

That was when seven ‘Southern States’ [South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas] declared secession from the US to form a Confederation of American States. In due course of time and internecine battles – and 23 days after Lincoln was assassinated – the Confederacy lost the war and was formally dissolved, thus preserving US territorial integrity.

Slavery was also formally abolished (at least on the books), et cetera, et cetera... Basically, Lincoln is credited with preserving the Union of American States (the 50-states strong USA today); abolishing slavery; strengthening the Federal Government – and, and, and... Well, that’s enough said for our Abe Lincoln...

Oh, oh, oh... talking of the assassinated President Lincoln – and of ‘assassinations’ in general – how many people know regarding the origin of the term ‘Assassin,’ pray?

Perhaps as the Sisters of Fate would have it, May 22 in year-1176 was the day when “the ‘Hashshashin’ attempted to assassinate Saladin near Aleppo.” You don’t get it? Well... Mr. An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub – popular as ‘Salah ad-Din,’ or simply: ‘Saladin’ (circa. 1137- March 4, 1193) – was the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid Dynasty.

A Sunni Muslim of Kurdish ethnicity, Saladin led the Muslim military campaign against the Crusader States in the Levant. At the height of his power, his Sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Upper Mesopotamia, the Hejaz, Yemen...

The failed attempt on the Sultan’s life on May 22, 1176 was made by the ‘Hashshashin,’ a term that was in due course corrupted into ‘Assassins.’ It’s generally acknowledged that the term ‘assassins’ comes from the Arabic word ‘hashishi,’ meaning “hashish users.” Alternatively, it comes from ‘Asāsiyyūn,’ describing disciples of their Grand Master Hassan-i Sabbah.

However, it was arguably corrupted by foreigners – including the itinerant Italian Marco Polo (1245-1324) – into hashishusing ‘assassins...’ In due course of time and events, “Chroniclers – including widely-travelled Marco Polo (1254-1324) – claimed that Sabbah followers committed political murders (assassinations) while under the influence of narcotic drugs, including hashish.

Hence the somewhat derogatory nickname ‘Hashshashin/Assassins.’ Now that you know... Cheers! [israellyimo@gmail.com].

Author: Karl Lyimo

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