The Easter Rising was the seminal event of April 1916 in Ireland and indeed in much of the world. But there were other incredible events and breakthroughs that year that stand out, making it a remarkable 12 months.
The World War I Battle of Verdun in France was fought with 300,000 killed. A few months later the Battle of the Somme saw one million injured or killed. The 485 killed in the Rising seems tiny in comparison.
Incredible that John Redmond’s advice to young Irish to fight and die for the British Army is still seen by some misguided commentators as a noble call to action, much preferable to the Easter Rising
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., the population had just topped 100 million, one-third what it is today, and Woodrow Wilson was president. The vice president was Thomas Marshall who has disappeared in history.
The elections in the House that year were fascinating as Republicans won the most seats but Democrats ruled in coalition with several progressives and socialists, the only time ever the largest party did not get to rule.
On the military front, U.S. General Jack Pershing Arrived in Fort Bliss, Texas on April 24 to prepare to cross into Mexico and seek out the famous Pancho Villa because of border incursions (sounds familiar). He never caught up with him, but amazingly Villa was eventually ordered killed by the Mexican president Alvaro Obregon, a Hispani-cized version of O’Brien.
Meanwhile, a relatively obscure scientist called Albert Einstein, a former clerk in a patent office, published a theory about time, space and gravity that became known as the Theory of Relativity which changed everything.
Something phenomenal for women was happening too in 1916. Irish American Margaret Sanger opened the first ever birth control clinic at 46 Amboy Street in Brooklyn and transformed the lives of millions. She served 100 women that first day, but 10 days later was shut down by police. She treated 400 women in those 10 days.
Women were slowly grasping at freedom. Montana voters elected 36-year-old Republican Jeannette Rankin to the House, the first woman to serve in the Congress. A pacifist, she voted against both world wars and wanted America to stay neutral.
In Russia, the country’s participation in the World War was deeply impacting the tsar’s popularity. It came to a head in December when his closest advisor, Rasputin the bewitched monk, was finally killed after several efforts to assassinate him failed.
By the end of the year the tsar was told his troops were no longer loyal, paving the way for the Bolshevik revolution.
In baseball the Boston Red Sox – yes, the Red Sox -- won their last World Series for a very long time, while in Hollywood Charlie Chaplin, the greatest talent of his day, signed with Mutual Studios for the astronomical sum of $10,000 a week.
So 1916 was certainly an eventful year in many other places than Ireland. In fact one could argue it is one of the most significant years of the century and the Irish, by showing the way to revolution, certainly played their part.