March 1, 1997

With Hong Kong preparing, with trepidation, for a traumatic political revolution later in the year, the Far East will be in many minds as summer approaches.

Eighty-five years ago, in 1912, it was in the mind of at least one American. Rumors were racing back and forth across the Pacific that Japanese interests were considering buying some property in Baja California. Although Baja belonged to Mexico, U. S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge was concerned. On July 31st, he introduced the Lodge Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, amending the 1823 policy designed by U. S. President James Monroe to warn off colony-seekers from outside the Americas. Lodge extended it to include foreign business interests.

China's eyes are focused inwards. The Manchu or Ching dynasty has vanished with the beginning of the year, as the Republic of China is born, with Sun Yat-sen as its provisional president. The U. S. Congress sends its congratulations. A new era seems to be opening as the Panama-Pacific Exhibition is held in San Francisco.

On the Indian subcontinent novelist Lawrence Durrell is born in Darjeeling on February 27th.

There are several Asia-related deaths in the United States in 1912. Both men have had their influence on the Far East. In Milwaukee, General Arthur MacArthur, veteran of both the U. S. Civil War and the Spanish-American War, and recently a military governor of the Philippines, dies. His son Douglas will have a far greater impact on the region.

But perhaps the greatest influence on the lives of ordinary Asians is wielded in part by the man who dies in Pulteney, New York, this year. Francis C. Pollay and Jonathan Goble were sailors in Commodore Perry's squadron as it opened Japan to the Western world in 1853. Pollay returned home to become a maker of wagons, while Goble married and became a missionary in Japan. His wife later became an invalid and had problems getting around. He designed a two-wheeled vehicle that could be pulled by one person. He sent his sketches back to the States, where Pollay built the world's first jinrickshaw and shipped the parts back to Japan for assembly. The rest is history.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.

© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte