Millennium madness

Edward Moses

I guess there is at least one good investigative reporter left in the United States.

That reporter would be Harry Levins, senior writer of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

He wrote an article about when the world celebrated the beginning of the 20th century.

It would appear that only Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm observed the beginning of the 20th century on Jan. 1, 1900.

A historian named Walter Lord notes in “The Good Year:” “As the newspaper patiently explained, the first century obviously ended with the year 100, so the l9th had to end with the year 1900.”

True, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm (wasn’t he the one who started World War I?) had proclaimed Jan. 1, 1900, as the start of the new century.

But the Kaiser was an impetuous sort, and on this question, he stood more or less alone.

As Lord writes, “Elsewhere, mathematics prevailed, and the big celebration was postponed for another year.”

It would appear that the United States celebrated the beginning of the 20th century on Jan. 1, 1901. Therefore it stands to reason that the 21st century and the new millennium should begin on Jan. 1, 2001. Are we rewriting history?

On Dec. 31,1899, The Post-Dispatch ran a headline, “America’s Progress in 100 Years Reviewed by Leaders.”

But the sub-headline carried a small-print hedge: “A Symposium of Carefully Written Articles on The Century Which Ends December 31, 1900.”

I wish that the Des Moines Register, WHO-TV, WHO Radio, WOI-TV, KCCI-TV and PAX-TV were as diligent about the end of the 20th century as the newspapers in the past on the end of the 19th century.

Based on history, Dec. 31,1999 the United States has been in the 20th century for only 99 years. STOP THE MILLENNlUM MADNESS.

Edward Moses