January 23, 2012

Illustrations and Explanations of Wonderful Machines

Qi qi tu shuo (Illustrations and explanations of wonderful machines) is the first Chinese translation of a work that introduced Western mechanics and machine engineering to China. It was dictated by Deng Yuhan and recorded and translated by Wang Zheng (1571–1644). Deng Yuhan was the Chinese name of Johann Terrenz (1576-1630), a Jesuit missionary who was born in Konstanz, Germany and came to China in the late Ming era. A talented man with wide-ranging knowledge, Terrenz mastered many languages and was also a renowned physician, botanist, and astronomer. Early on, he worked in the area of Zhejiang Province.  He was then summoned to Beijing to assist Xu Guangqi in the revision of the calendar, but he died on May 13, 1630, before the work was finished. Wang Zheng, a native of Jingyang, Shaanxi Province, converted to Catholicism at the age of 52 and took the name Philippe. Interested in applied technology, Wang saw the 7000-volume collection of Western books brought to China by Jin Nige (Nicolaus Trigault, 1577–1628), among which were books on science and technology with finely printed illustrations, from which he could envision how to construct pieces of equipment. He asked for help from Terrenz, who made use of works by Vitruvius, Simon de Bruges, Georgius Agricola, Agostino Ramelli, and others. While Terrenz went through the books, giving explanations, Wang made notes. Terrenz used more than 50 illustrations, depicting machines for lifting, moving, and shifting heavy weights; machines for diverting water, turning millstones, and cutting wood, stone, and rocks; and such devices as a sundial and a fire engine. The translated texts were issued in three volumes. All the illustrations were annotated, with those relating to irrigation for agriculture being especially detailed. The earliest edition of the book was printed in the first year of the Chongzhen reign (1628) of the last Ming emperor, by Wu Weizhong, an assistant instructor at the Confucian school in Yangzhou. The work’s original title was Yuan Xi qi qi tu shuo lu zui (The best illustrations and descriptions of extraordinary devices of the Far West) and it was printed together with Wang Zheng’s Zhu qi tu shuo (Illustrations of various devices). The title was later shortened to its present form. Errors can be found in the book, for example, to save time the engravers changed the shape of a gear into a simple circle. This is a handwritten copy of the original work in the Wen yuan ge collection. During the time of the Boxer Rebellion, the work was damaged. Only juan 3 remains, with the first page of the first leaf missing.

Haitian Refugee Boat on the Beach at the Naval Station Key West

This image, taken by Key West photographer Cory McDonald in the 1970s, shows one of countless vessels abandoned by “boat people” from Haiti after they completed the perilous journey to the United States. An accompanying note indicates that the boat had had 52 people on it, and that the photograph was taken at sunrise after a nighttime arrival. Since the beginning of the François Duvalier (“Papa Doc”) regime in 1964, political and economic pressures drove many Haitians out of their country and to the United States. The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) reported that between 1972 and 1981 55,000 undocumented boat people arrived in Florida. The actual number may have been almost double that, as many of the arrivals escaped detection. About 85 percent of the boat people settled in Miami.

Bill of Rights

During the debates on the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, its opponents charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolutionary War, so they demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions, in their formal ratification of the Constitution, asked for such amendments. Others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered. On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States therefore proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution that met the arguments most frequently advanced against it. The first two proposed amendments, which concerned the number of constituents for each representative and the compensation of congressmen, were not ratified. Articles 3 to 12, however, were ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures and constitute the first ten amendments of the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.

Clarence Earl Gideon, Petitioner, vs. Louis L. Wainwright, Director, Department of Corrections, Respondent

In the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed the right of an individual to legal counsel, even in cases not involving capital offenses. Clarence Earl Gideon was convicted of burglary and sentenced to five years imprisonment in a case in which the trial judge had refused his request for counsel. As an inmate, Gideon wrote and filed a lawsuit against the secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, asking for a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that he had been denied legal counsel and thus imprisoned illegally. The Florida Supreme Court confirmed the earlier circuit court ruling, denying Gideon’s appeal. In 1963, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the ruling of the Florida court, thereby establishing the principle that state courts were required to provide defendants in criminal cases with legal counsel. The then U.S. attorney general, and later senator, Robert F. Kennedy described the case as having changed the course of American legal history. This document is the decision of the court when the case was retried (this time with representation for Gideon) five months after the Supreme Court decision. Gideon was acquitted.

Into the Jaws of Death: United States Troops Wading Through Water and Nazi Gunfire

This photograph from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York, shows American soldiers landing in Normandy, France, on the morning of June 6, 1944, the beginning of the long-awaited invasion to liberate continental Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany. Most of the troops that came ashore were from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada, with smaller contingents from France, Poland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and the Netherlands. The invading forces confronted formidable obstacles. German defenses included thousands of soldiers dug into bunkers, artillery, mines, barbed wire, machine guns, and hazards to prevent landing craft from coming ashore. Allied casualties (killed, wounded, missing in action, and taken prisoner) on June 6 totaled over 10,000--6,603 U.S., about 2,700 British, and 946 Canadian--of which 2,500 were killed. However, by the end of the day 155,000 Allied soldiers were ashore and in control of more than 200 square kilometers of the French coast.

The Attack of Manilla, October 1762

The Seven Years' War (1756-63) was a world-wide conflict between Britain and France that also involved Spain as an ally of France. In 1762, the British sent Admiral William Draper, with an expeditionary force of some 2,000 European and Indian (Sepoy) soldiers, to attack Manila in the Spanish colony of the Philippines. The Spanish offered little opposition, and on October 2, 1762, the acting governor-general, Archbishop Manuel Antonio Rojo, surrendered the city. The British occupation lasted until 1764, when the Philippines reverted to Spanish control as part of the peace settlement. This map depicts where the British landed and the assault from the south. It shows the British warships (some of which are individually identified) and many other features, including roads, houses, churches, vegetation, and cultivated fields.