Friday, January 8, 2016

History: The Year is 1705

I've uploaded year 1705 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Halley's Comet and Death from the Skies! -- Edmond Halley predicts the reappearance of a comet that will one day bear his name. It is also the death of comets as a harbinger of doom. I talk a little about actual doom from an asteroid impact.

The New Virginia Slave Code -- Virginia defines in law that mulattoes are to be treated like full slaves. It is ugly but expected.

A Few Notable Mentions -- The line of King George the 1st is assured.

Halley's Comet and Death from the Skies!

Using Sir Issac Newton's orbital equations, Edmond Halley connects the sightings of a comet in the years 1456, 1531, 1607, and 1682 and declares them all the same comet returning every 75 to 76 years. He predicts that the next appearance of the comet will be in the year 1759. Halley will be long dead by then, but his fellow astronomers will be waiting. On December 25th, 1758 the comet will be spotted by an amateur astronomer and the comet will reach its closest approach to the Sun on March 13th, 1759. Informally it will become known as Halley's comet and in 1759 it will be made official. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The obvious significance of this prediction was that it provided proof of the validity of Newton's orbital equations. The non-obvious significance is that comets became predictable chucks of debris flying through the sky instead of the fearsome harbingers of doom. Finding one that showed up at predictable times meant that comets were simply part of nature, no more mystical than the planets, the Sun and the Moon. In the modern day such periodic visitors have become a source of fear once more. In 1910, people were certain that the tail of Halley's comet would brush the Earth's atmosphere and destroy all life, but we lived. The extinction of the dinosaurs was the result of an asteroid impact. Could we survive an impact with an asteroid when the dinosaurs could not? Some of us could... maybe. Luckily, the likelihood of such an impact is very, very small. [5] [6] [7] [8]

The New Virginia Slave Code

The laws concerning indentured servitude are well-defined in England, and what to do with the bastards born of such people is well-defined in England. It isn't pretty but it is established in custom and law. This is not true for Virginia slavery but it really hasn't been a problem until now. With the increase in African and Indian slaves, there are some legal questions. Indians and African slaves usually are not Christians and mulatto children are a new problem. Is that child supposed to be baptized? Is there a time limit to their bondage like there is for English bastards of indentured servants? The Virginia legislature has decided that slaves are the same as real estate, and not the same as indentured servants with a lifetime contract. Thus, a slave master is allowed to correct and punish a slave and if that "correction" results in the death of the slave, it is not considered murder. The mulatto children of such slaves (that is... the children created between slaves and non-slaves) are to be treated like slaves. [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Remember that English indentured servants were treated like virtual slaves and the only difference seems to have been that real slavery was for life and a real slave had no right to redress in court. (Indentured servants rarely did well in court, so they had to have an ironclad case or it went badly for them, but at least they stood a chance.) Virginia had a 30% death rate from disease for indentured servants, so Virginia farmers were forced to offer a few "perks" to at least give the appearance that the servants would do better in Virginia than if they stayed in England. West African slaves and Indian slaves had no such leverage with Virginia farmers. Mulattoes fell into a gray area and that is why Virginia had to clarify the law as the slave population grew.

A Few Notable Mentions

* The first town of the Carolina Province is incorporated. It is called "Bath" and it will serve as its capital for now.
* The capitol building in Williamsburg, Virginia is completed.
* Sophia of Hanover (Germany) is made a naturalized citizen of England. This makes her the heir apparent to the throne of England, but she will die two months before Queen Anne passes away and Sophia's son will become King George the 1st.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1705, Wikipedia.

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