Here’s something I thought up while going through the historical pictures on Shorpy.com:
You have the opportunity to make a visit to the past. You get to pick one calendar year in the history of the United States, starting with its first full year of existence after declaring independence, 1777, and ending with the last full calendar year, 2007.
Your visit will start a minute after midnight on the 1st of January of that year, and end a minute before midnight on December 31st.
The ground rules are as follows:
- This is a trip for education and/or entertainment. You may not interfere with history in any way. No assassinations, no “prescient” warning letters with details about the future mailed to world leaders, no procreation. You will be temporarily sterile for the duration of the trip, so you won’t be able to do silly stuff like being your own grandparent. Assume that any intentional attempt to influence history will cause the instant termination of your stay in the past. (No refunds.)
- You may not set your future self up for financial gain in any way. No mass purchase of IBM or GE stock during Black Friday of 1929, no Microsoft or Apple stock in the 1980s. No setting up of savings accounts or any other interest-bearing mechanism.
- You may not bring anything in, nor take anything out. You will enter the year with a set of period-appropriate clothing on your body, and another in a suitcase. You will also carry enough period currency with you to live comfortably and travel around at will for a year.
- You may not leave the continental United States for the duration of your visit, nor contact any of your ancestors. No trips to meet the great-grandparents before their kids emigrated to the New World, and no warnings or advice. Tough rule, I know…but we can’t have you telling your great-grandpa about the coming Depression or WWII, even if it wouldn’t influence history overall.
With these rules in mind, which year do you pick for your visit, and why? (Feel free to answer the question in Comments, or on your own blog.)