Time in history is a kind of relationship. We can look at several historical events that all happened at the same time, and that together tell a story about that period or era. Or we can look at the development of an idea over the period, and learn how and why it changed. And we can consider the relationship between the past and the present, or the future and therefore the past (which is today!). The present is the result of choices that we made and the beliefs they held in the past, while the past, in being retold, is in some way remade in the present. The future will be the result of the coming together of several areas developing today.
Let’s take a look at what happened in world history on September 16:
1810: Mexican War of Independence begins
Mexico, once known as New Spain, was a colony harshly ruled by the kingdom of Spain for over 300 years. The native population was oppressed, farmland and personal wealth were confiscated and only Spaniards were allowed to hold political posts. Finally, a Catholic priest in the town of Delores named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla had enough.
On September 16, 1810, he rang his church’s bell and delivered a speech now known as the Grito de Delores (Cry of Delores), demanding the end of Spanish rule. This begun the brutal Mexican War of Independence, which lasted over a decade. On August 24, 1821, Spain withdrew and officially recognized Mexico as an independent country. Today, Father Costilla is known as the Father of Mexican Independence. Mexican Independence Day has been celebrated every year since that momentous day on September 16, 1810.
1908: William Durant founded General Motors
William Crapo Durant had built a successful carriage business from nothing. The Durant-Dort factories of Flint, Mich., offered a range of models from cheap to luxurious and built their parts at a string of plants to control supply and quality. So when the demand for automobiles blossomed at the turn of the 20th century, Durant already had a strategy in mind for conquering the overrun market, staring with the Buick brand that he had made the best-seller of the country.
On this date in 1908, Durant spent $2,000 to incorporate General Motors in Hudson County, N.J., as a way to raise money through various stock swaps; within a couple of weeks, Durant had raised $12 million, which he used to buy independent automakers such as Buick, Oldsmobile, and Oakland, accumulating 17 by 1910. (The board turned down his bid to Henry Ford, who was willing to sell Ford but wanted cash up front.) Wall Street was Durant’s gambling hall, and while his victories allowed Durant to assemble an empire, the house always wins, Durant was eventually fired by GM’s bankers, came back, was fired again, and lost his fortune in the year 1929 crash. In his post-GM years, Durant tried every business he could think of, including bowling alleys, before dying broke in the year 1947.