Originally created 01/20/99

Argument over start of the century is nothing new

The year 1900 began in Georgia with ice and snow sweeping much of the state, along with a debate about whether the year marked the beginning of a new century or the last year of an old one.

Among forerunners of those today who insist that the year 2000 will be the last year of the millennium -- since there was no year zero -- was The Atlanta Constitution.

"We have come, hot foot, upon another New Year the like of which none who read these lines will ever see again. It is a new year, and yet it is the oldest and the last year of the nineteenth century. One year from today, we shall be celebrating the first day of the first year of the twentieth century of the Christian era," The Constitution editorialized on Jan. 1, 1900.

A news account elsewhere in The Constitution that day wasn't as definite.

"Not in the memory of living man has the coming of a new year been heralded with so much discussion. The end of the century question for weeks and months has occupied to the practical exclusion of other topics the attention of men of all classes and conditions. ..."

The topic provided the basis of an advertisement for Eiseman Brothers clothiers: "Is this the 20th Century? Quite a perplexing question."

However, the ad went on, "it requires no great amount of reason" to determine that Eiseman Brothers was the place to shop for the New Year.

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