The year was 1927 and a joyous crowd greeted Charles Lindbergh in France after he completed the first trans-Atlantic flight, covering 3,610 miles in thirty-three and a half hours. His reception when he arrived back in the U.S. aboard the â€œU.S.S. Memphisâ€ was even greater where he was honored in Washington, D.C., and in New Yorkâ€”more than 4 million people lined a parade route to catch a glimpse of the aviator that had taken the world by storm.
Across the country, another pioneer was following his dream. Philo T. Farnsworth had an idea for an invention he called television and in January 1927 he applied for a patent. In September of 1927, he successfully broadcasted his first image over a chemistry flask that he used as his first picture tube and an industry was born that transformed the world.
Mexico had been struggling with the separation of church and state and in 1917 a series of laws were enacted that forbid worship outside of churches, restricted religious organizations’ rights to hold property, and deprived church officials of basic rights. At first the laws were only selectively applied, but with changes in the country’s leadership, the laws were enforced more stringently and sometimes brutally. Resistance started with several uprisings in 1926 and on 1 January a formal rebellion began with a proclamation by the rebel forces. The Cristeros War was set into motion and would continue until an agreement was reached in 1929.
Unusually heavy rains in the central U.S. that persisted from late 1926 through the spring of 1927 caused catastrophic flooding. The Mississippi River grew more than seventy miles wide in some places. The area affected was roughly the size of New England.
Up to that time, flood control had relied on a series of levees. As the need arose, levees were built higher. But they were no match for the flood of 1927. On 16 April, a 1,200-foot section of a levee failed flooding 175,000 acres. Five days later, a levee at Mounds Landing, near Greenville, Mississippi, burst open. The raging waters took the lives of African American work crews that were trying to shore up the levee. As Greenville, Mississippi, was inundated with ten feet of water, people were stranded on rooftops and refugees from surrounding areas, many African American, poured in. Conditions in refugee camps were horrible and abuses begin to surface in newspapers but little was done to alleviate the conditions.
All told, more than 700,000 were forced from their homes and 246 lives were lost. Property damage totaled 350 million dollars, or about 5 billion in today’s terms.
A December cold snap in Europe wreaked havoc in the weeks before Christmas. In London and Paris, rain falling on 21 December soon froze leaving a treacherous icy glaze on the streets. According to the Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) of 21 December 1927,
“Paris and the suburbs awoke this morning to find the streets and sidewalks covered with ice, and before long the four largest hospitals had 1,100 accident cases.”
The report from Russia read,
“Moscow today was gripped by a cold wave with [the] thermometer registering 25 degrees below zero, with reports from other parts of the country telling of unprecedentedly [sic] deep snows.
“The entire population of Tula was called to dig out six passenger and twenty-one freight trains stalled by snow in the Ukraine.”
AWJ Editorâ€™ Note:Â TheÂ image above isÂ from the Mississippi River Flood of 1927.Â Search the Library of Congress Photo CollectionÂ for other views of the disaster.