April 4, 1841 saw President William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of the United States, die of pneumonia after only 31 days in office. Twenty-four years later to the day, President Abraham Lincoln would be haunted by a disturbing dream. As Lincoln’s close friend Ward Hill Lamon recollected:
… the President had dreams on this night in 1865 of “the subdued sobs of mourners” and a corpse lying on a catafalque in the White House East Room. In the dream, Lincoln supposedly asked a soldier standing guard “Who is dead in the White House?” to which the soldier replied, “The President. He was killed by an assassin.” On April 11, he told Lamon that the dream had “strangely annoyed” him ever since. Ten days after having the dream, Lincoln was shot dead by an assassin while attending the theater. (History Channel)
Fifty-three years later, in 1918, April 4 marked the end of the second Battle of the Somme, leaving over 500,000 combatants on both sides either killed or captured.
In 1949, April 4 saw the NATO Pact signed after relations with the Soviet Union deteriorated rapidly the previous year — largely over the proposed recovery and eventual rearmament of Germany — and the world was plunged into what became known as the ‘Cold War’.
Then, April 4, 1960 was the day Ben Hur was presented 11 Academy Awards, and it was also the day that Muddy Waters celebrated his 47th birthday whilst Maya Angelou celebrated her 32nd.
In 1982, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, finished a single National Hockey League season with a staggering 212 points on April 4. And, of course, as immortalized in the U2 song, on April 4th, 1968, a shot rang out in the Memphis sky which tragically took the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
But April 4 also has special significance in the history books of Japan: in 1884 that day saw the birth of Isoroku Yamamoto, the man who would become perhaps Japan’s greatest military strategist and the architect of the surprise attack, on December 7th, 1941, on US naval forces stationed at Pearl Harbor.
Admiral Yamamoto convinced the government of Hideki Tojo that only a surprise attack of immense force would be enough to cripple the US fleet and allow Japan any chance of victory; and he meticulously planned an air strike of huge scale and complexity that delivered shock and awe in the skies over the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
Wave upon wave of dive bombers, torpedo planes, and deadly Mitsubishi Zero fighters descended upon Pearl Harbor, sinking several battleships (including the USS Oklahoma), destroying 180 aircraft, and crippling the US Pacific Fleet. This huge show of force by Japan was meant to win the war in a day, because Yamamoto saw no way that Japan could prevail in a long, drawn-out conflict with the mighty United States of America.
Of course, history would prove that Yamamoto was correct, but no surprise attack would have been sufficient to close out a conflict on the scale of World War II. After the initial effects of such tactics are countered, time has a habit of turning the tide and making the seemingly impossible … actually impossible.
I have written previously about the unfolding Global Currency War; but this week, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda unleashed a set of monetary measures so extreme that I feel certain April 4th, 2013 will come to take its place in the pantheon of great April 4ths.
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