World History 1878

About the history of the world in 1878, Bismarck outlaws socialists, the microphone is invented, the H.M.S. Pinafore debuts.



* In Mannheim, Germany, engineer Karl Benz, 34, began work on his motorized tricycle, the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine. Complete with electric ignition and differential gears, the water-cooled auto went for its first demonstration run through the streets of Mannheim in 1885. Two years later, Benz sold his first car to Emile Roger of Paris, who opened a Benz franchise in that city. A fourth wheel was soon added for stability, and by century's end Benz autos were negotiating the steepest hills and attaining speeds up to 14 mph on the straightaway.

* As German Socialists began to grow ever so slightly in popularity (9% of the vote in the 1877 elections), Chancellor Otto von Bismarck outlawed the party. All Socialists and Communists were forbidden to hold meetings, to run for office, or to print a newspaper. During the dozen years the edict remained in effect, police exiled 900 persons from their hometowns and jailed another 1,500.

* Heinrich von Treitschke, 44, put the finishing touches on the first five volumes of his History of Germany in the 19th Century. This work, which dominated German thought for years to come, proclaimed that his country's military might guaranteed its preeminence in Europe and that the innate superiority of Prussians over other German minorities ensured Prussian dominance within the nation. Only the strong had a right to exist, he maintained. And anything that might stand in the way of Prussian progress-dissent, civil rights, parliamentary delay, Jews-must be crushed.

Jan. Prof. David Edward Hughes, 47, demonstrated his invention, the microphone, at the London office of the Submarine Telegraph Company.

May 25 The comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore, or The Lass That Loved a Sailor, premiered to a modest house at the Opera Comique in London. With lyrics by William Gilbert, 42, and music by Arthur Sullivan, 36, the operetta was the first to include the chorus as an integral part of the plot. Pinafore nearly folded during the first month, but the cast's acceptance of a one-third cut in salary enabled it to continue. By August, the satire on Victorian class-consciousness was playing to packed houses. It ran for 700 performances.

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