Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Seventies: a mega-exciting decade by Suz deMello

By any standard, the 1770s were a decade of transition in many parts of the world. Certainly for Americans, the birth of our nation was notable. 

The year 1770 saw the discovery of Australia by Captain Cook, as well as the Boston Massacre, thousands of miles away. 

"1770 Boston Massacre by Revere detail CustomHouse"
Engrav'd Printed & Sold by Paul Revere Boston.
The print was copied by Revere from a design by Henry Pelham 

Fourteen year-old Marie Antoinette married Louis-Auguste, eventually becoming a symbol of French royal excess.

Emperor Go-Momozono ascended the Japanese throne in 1771.

In 1772, the Great Powers of Central and Eastern Europe--Russia, Austria and Prussia-- partitioned Poland.

Mission at Carmel, California
image by Stephen Lea
My part of the world, northern California, was explored by the Portola expedition that same year. The rest of the decade saw the establishment of Catholic missions up and down the California coast along with the subjugation of the local population.

1773 saw the destruction of Guatemala's capital by an earthquake. The Boston Tea Party took place, an event not characterized by fine china and civility.

The next three years saw additional erosion of the relationship between Britain and the Colonies, culminating in the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence.

Watt's steam engine
image by Digby Dalton
As importantly, James Watt built the first steam engine in 1776. Possibly the most important even of the decade, this invention started the Industrial Revolution.

In 1778, France and the Continental Congress allied, a turning point in the war.
Cook "discovered" the Hawaiian Islands. 

The La Scala opera house in Milan opened.

England isn't popular--Spain declared war against that nation in 1779.

This is just a smattering of the momentous events that took place in that decade, from the first recorded town cricket match in Horsham (1771) to the founding of the city of Tampere, Finland, in 1779.

Yes, it's good to remember the Seventies!


  1. Hey Suz-
    What a great idea! Loved the concept of shifting to another century!

    Reminds me of Barbara Tuchman's work: "A Distant Mirror. The Calamitous Fourteenth Century"

    BTW- Great meeting you last weekend at the Leather, Lace and Lust reading in SF. You did a great job with the introductions. And your reading strengths are enviable.

  2. Very clever take on the topic. I had no idea the first steam engine was created in the 18th century. I thought it was in the 19th. Thanks for the new trivia for my brain.

  3. Funny, I can't remember a thing about the 1770's - long term memory loss?

  4. Brilliant! I wish I'd thought of it, but it's just as well I didn't because you did it so well. Hmm, it might be interesting to do a "70s century by century" piece, but I might rather go with the 60s. Except that would mean getting bogged down in our Civil War, and we're still stuck in that bog all too firmly.

  5. OMG I love you so much for writing about the 1770s instead of the 1970s! As others have said, brilliant!

  6. Oh dear. Given my love affair with all things Victorian, I really should have written about the 1870s... Brilliant notion, Suz!

  7. LOLOL everyone! Glad you enjoyed.Thanks for the compliments.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.