Tara Hill

Was 1913 an Unlucky Year?


Have you ever sat and wondered what happened in the year 1913? It seems like a random year to think about but I am particularly interested in it because, unlike popular opinion, I believe that thirteen is a lucky number. Recently, I have read some articles that say people in the U.S. portray 1913 as a very bad year. This interested me even further since the number thirteen is so stigmatized. I want to find out what happened in 1913 that made people think of it as such a bad year for the U.S. I also want to discover what was happening around the world during this time. The story of 1913 unfolds…

The year of 1913 started on a Wednesday. It turns out that not much happened during the month of January. However, a general election for the House of Assembly was held in Tasmania, an Australian state, on January 23rd. This election was triggered by an early dissolution of parliament. On the first of February, New York City’s Grand Central Terminal reopened after being rebuilt and became the world’s largest train station. A couple days later, on February 3rd, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. This allowed the Federal government to necessitate and collect income taxes. On February 9th, a series of large meteors moved slowly from northwest to southeast. These meteors were seen over North America, especially in Canada. The Armory show opened in New York City on the 17th of February, which displayed works of artists who ended up becoming some of the most influential painters of the early 20th century. There was a smile on every kid’s face as prizes were included in Cracker Jack candy boxes for the first time on February 19th. On February 22nd, which was during the Mexican Revolution, President Francisco I. Madero and vice president Pino Suarez were assassinated.

The months of March and April seemed to consist of more happenings and events than January and February. In Europe, the House of Romanov celebrated the 300th anniversary of its succession to the throne in the middle of an outburst of monarchist sentiment in Russia. In China, Yuan Shikai used military force to dissolve China’s parliament and he came to rule as a dictator. The Australian people called Canberra their capital on the 12th of March. Moving to the United States, the Department of Commerce and United States Department of Labor were created by splitting the duties of the ten year old Department of Commerce and Labor on March 4th. On the same day, Woodrow Wilson is sworn in as the 28th president of the United States, succeeding William Howard Taft. On March 5-7, during the First Battle of Bud Dajo, American troops defeated Moro rebels in the Philippines. A couple weeks later, on the 18th of March, George I of Greece was assassinated. Meanwhile, two days of rain in the Miami Valley flooded the area. This marked the worst natural disaster in Ohio’s recorded history at that time. On April 8th, the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which required the direct election of Senators, was ratified. On April 24th, the Woolworth Building opened in New York City. Not long after, the Pravda newspaper, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, began publications in Saint Petersburg. Five days later, a Swedish engineer by the name of Gideon Sundback patented the all-purpose zipper!

The months of May and June were full of history and many firsts! Starting off, The Paul Emile Chabas painting called September Morn created a national commotion in the United States. This resulted in a court case in Illinois. The Indian film industry began on May 3rd with the first full length Indian featured film called Raja Harishchandra. On the 13th, Igor Silorsky took to the sky and became the first person to pilot a four-engine aircraft. One day later, New York Governor William Sulzer approved the charter for the Rockefeller Foundation, which began operations with a $100,000,000 donation from John D. Rockefeller. At the end of May, during the First Balkan War, a peace treaty was signed in London, which ended the war. Also, Albania became an independent nation. On June 15th, U.S. troops under the command of General John ‘Black Jack’ Pershing mass murdered an estimated 2,000 Philippine men, women, and children at Bud Bagsak. Meanwhile, on the continent of Australia, Joseph Cook became the 6th Prime Minister of Australia .

In the month of July, Death Valley, California reached a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit, which was the highest temperature recorded in the United States as of 2003. On August 4th, in China, the province of Chungking declared its independence. Chinese Republican forces then squashed the rebellion in a few weeks. Six days later on August 10th, the second Balkan War officially ended when delegates signed the Treaty of Bucharest. On another note, Stainless steel was brought into the world on August 13th by a man named Harry Brearly in Sheffield.

In the month of September, traveling became smoother as the first U.S. coast to coast highway opened. In October, the United States Revenue Act of 1913 re-imposed the federal income tax and lowered basic tariff rates down from 40% all the way to 25%. Henry Ford introduced the assembly line on the 7th of October. On October 10th, United States President Woodrow Wilson generated the explosion of the Gamboa Dike, which ended construction on the Panama Canal. The people of Germany felt safer when the DLRG (German Life Saving Society), which is a relief organization dedicated to saving lives, was founded on October 19th.

In early November, the United States introduced an income tax. In Africa, the famous Mohandas Gandhi was arrested when he was found leading a march of Indian miners in South Africa. Meanwhile, the Great Lake Storm of 1913 killed more than 250 people. The first non-sectarian sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, was founded in New York at Hunter College. On the first of December, the Ford Motor Company kicked it into high gear when they introduced the first ever moving assembly line. This sparked an era of mass production as it drastically cut down time. Also on December 1st, the largest and most heavily populated of the Greek Islands, Crete, obtained self rule from Turkey after the first Balkan War and was annexed by Greece. At the end of December, people put their thinking caps on as the first crossword puzzle was published in the New York World. Two days later on the 23rd, the Federal Reserve Act, created by Woodrow Wilson, became a law. Also in the month of December, the Gateway of India was built at Mumbai to honor the first entry of Queen Victoria into India. On December 29th, the first serial motion picture came into existence. It was called the Unwelcome Throne and was released by Selings Polyscope.

So, there you have the major events that made history during the year of 1913. Was 1913 an unlucky year like some people in the United States say? Sure, some bad stuff happened but in my opinion, every year has its ups and downs. Many Americans think the creation of federal income tax and passage of the 16th and 17th Amendments changed America for the worse. However, that view is strictly opinion based. I still hold the number thirteen as a lucky number and think worse things have happened in both previous and future years!