April 30, 1789: George Washington takes the oath of office and becomes the first elected President of the United States. He spoke from the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City and his opening greeting was, “Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives.” There were nearly 4 million people living in the new country.
Washington had hoped to retire to farming after the war, but with the call to further duty he assumed the mantle of leadership again. This time in pursuit of peace and harmony. Washington resided at The President’s House in Philadelphia during his terms as leader. It has since been torn down but once stood one block north of Independence Hall. Ironically, the entrance to the new Liberty Bell Center is built at the site where slave quarters once stood to house the nine slaves Washington brought with him to Philadelphia, two of whom escaped.
The 3-story house was built in 1767-1769 by Mrs. Mary Lawrence Masters, one of the richest women in the city. Her daughter married Richard Penn, lieutenant-governor of the colony and grandson of the founder of the Pennsylvania. She gave them the house as a wedding present. During the Revolutionary War, the house suffered a fire and was extensively damaged. Robert Morris rebuilt the house and took ownership in 1785. He restored the house to its original floor plan with 6 bedrooms and 4 servant rooms but added significantly to the outbuildings. The kitchen was given a second story as well. Kitchens were separated from the main houses of the time in order to limit fire hazards.
Morris offered the house to Washington while the new Federal City, now Washington DC, was being built. The house was not large enough for Washington and his staff and a 2-story addition was built on the south side along with many significant additions to the outbuildings. Both Washington and Adams lived there until the new buildings were ready in 1800. By 1832 the President’s House was gutted and turned into three separate stores. These, too, eventually fell into disrepair and were demolished over time with the final assault on the area completed in 1951 without realizing the significance of the buildings. The area is now known as an archeological site and study continues with government funding.
“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
“I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an ‘Honest Man.’”
“The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”
“Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.” – all from George Washington
April 29, 1945: The Nazi Concentration Camp, Dachau, is liberated by US troops. Dachau was the first concentration camp to be used by the Nazis and opened on March 22, 1933. It was located on the site of an abandoned munitions factory near the town of Dachau, about ten miles northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria. Heinrich Himmler called the camp “the first concentration camp for political prisoners.” It served as the prototype for all the other concentration camps erected by the Nazis.
Almost every community it Germany lost citizens to this camp located in southern Germany or others that followed. Soon the newspapers were reporting “the removal of enemies of the Reich to concentration camps.” By 1935 there was a jingle stating, “Dear God, make me dumb, that I may not to Dachau come.” And yet people kept coming. Across the entrance gate were the words “Arbeit macht frei” or “through work one will be free.” The camp was in use from 1933 to 1960. The first twelve years it was used an an internment center for the Third Reich. Between 1933-38 it was used for political prisoners. Between 1939-45 it was used for prisoners from all nations of occupied territories. Between 1945-48 it housed SS officers waiting trial. After 1948 it housed expelled Germans from Czechoslovakia and was also used as a base by the US.
Due to the chaos of war and the inadequate records remaining, it is impossible to know the exact statistics for the camp. We do not know how many people were brought to Dachau. We do not know how many people died there. It is believed there were over 200,000 prisoners from more than 30 countries housed there during the war years. It is thought that ⅔ of the prisoners were political prisoners and ⅓ were Jews. It is believed that 25,613 people died here and at least another 10,000 were killed in the subcamps. Surviving records show 206,206 prisoners were brought in and 31,951 deaths were also recorded.
On April 24, 1945, about 140 prominent prisoners were transferred to Tyrol. On April 27, Victor Maurer, a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross was allowed entry to distribute food. Only 800 survivors arrived on a train from Buchenwald. Over 2,300 corpses remained on the train. On April 28, the camp commander fled, taking most of the regular guards and administrators of the camp. On April 29, a white flag was raised from the watchtowers and the camp was surrendered formally. About 32,000 people were finally freed.
“As we moved down along the west side of the concentration camp and approached the southwest corner, three people approached down the road under a flag of truce. We met these people about 75 yards north of the southwest entrance to the camp.”
“These three people were a Swiss Red Cross representative and two SS troopers who said they were the camp commander and assistant camp commander and that they had come into the camp on the night of the 28th to take over from the regular camp personnel for the purpose of turning the camp over to the advancing Americans.”
“The Swiss Red Cross representative acted as interpreter and stated that there were about 100 SS guards in the camp who had their arms stacked except for the people in the tower. He said he had given instructions that there would be no shots fired and it would take about 50 men to relieve the guards, as there were 42,000 half-crazed prisoners of war in the camp, many of them typhus infected.”
“He asked if I were an officer of the American army, to which I replied, ‘Yes, I am Assistant Division Commander of the 42nd Division and will accept the surrender of the camp in the name of the Rainbow Division for the American army.’” – Brig. Gen. Henning Linden’s official “Report on Surrender of Dachau Concentration Camp”
April 28, 1967: Expo 67 opens in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was considered to be the most successful World’s Fair of the century. There were 50 million visitors (including your author) and 62 nations participated in the event. There was a record crowd on the third day of the Expo with 569,000 visitors on that day alone. The year coincided with Canada’s centennial year. It was originally to have been held in Moscow, Russia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, but the Soviet Union backed out and the fair was offered to Canada in 1962. After the fair closed in October 1967, the site and many of the pavilions remained open as exhibits called Man and His World.
The exhibition did not get a smooth start. In 1963, a computer program had predicted the project was doomed and there was not enough time to get ready so many of the top organizers resigned. Or else it was due to a new government coming into power and switching appointees. It was in May 1963 that a theme for the fair was selected. They chose “Man and His World” based on a book written in 1939 by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
There were seventeen theme elements for Man the His World including: Du Pont Auditoriaum of Canada, Habitat 67, Labyrinth, Man and his Health, Man in the Community, Man the Explorer with four sub-themes, Man the Creator with three sub-themes, Man the Producer with three sub-themes, and Man the Provider. Construction began on August 13, 1963 when the first front loader of fill dirt was dumped. Twenty-five million tons of fill dirt followed. There were only 1,042 days to complete the building of Expo 67. On opening day, everything was ready.
One of the notable features of Expo 67 was the World Festival of Art and Entertainment which featured art galleries, operas, ballets and theater companies, orchestras jazz groups, and pop musicians. There was an amusement park that remained open nightly until 2:30 AM even though the park itself closed at 10 PM. Many notable people arrived including Queen Elizabeth II, Lyndon Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Charles de Gaulle. Many countries participated in the event but notably Spain was absent, South Africa was banned due to apartheid, and China did not participate. Many countries in South America also did not take part. The revenues were $221,239,872 and the cost of the Expo was $431,904,683 for a deficit of over $210 million. But I had fun.
“The cannonade of fireworks which marked the opening of Expo…may in retrospect turn out to have been one of those rare moments that changed the direction of a nation’s history…This is the greatest thing we have ever done as a nation and surely the modernization of Canada — of its skylines, of its styles, its institutions — will be dated from this occasion and from this fair…The more you see of it, the more you’re overwhelmed by a feeling that if this is possible, that if this little sub-arctic, self-obsessed country of 20,000,000 people can put on this kind of show, then it can do almost anything.” – Peter C. Newman
“Still, Expo is regarded as the best world’s fair ever. Its success changed the world’s view of Canada, and more importantly, it changed the way Canadians viewed themselves. For the first time the country basked in the pride and the glory of its talents and accomplishments. A nation had come of age.” – Raj Ahluwalia
“When the lights go out for the last time, when the crowds have left the pavilions and the avenues, a World Exhibition begins a new life. Less glittering but more profound, this new life is nourished in the souls of those who visited the Exhibition, and it will blossom into a legend for generations to come.” – Pierre Dupuy
“The official name was “The 1967 Universal and International Exhibition in Montréal / L’Exposition universelle et internationale de 1967 à Montreal”. A bit of a mouthful. It needed a more convenient name.” – Yves Jasmin
April 27, 1887: George Thomas Morton performs the first successful appendectomy in the United States. He saved the life of a 26-year-old man stricken with an inflamed appendix or appendicitis. George was the son of Dr. Morton who introduced anesthesia to the US in 1846 (see March 30).
The appendix is usually about the size and shape of one’s little finger, although it can be longer. The longest on record was measured as 9.2 inches and found during surgery on a Pakistani man in 2003. The appendix is located at the cecum, part of the colon. It serves no known function. It is a vestigial structure, meaning that it is a holdover from our historic past.
The appendix can become inflamed for a variety of reasons and the infection can spread to the wall of the organ. If the appendix bursts or ruptures, the infection can spread to the entire abdominal cavity and cause serious illness or even death. There is no definitive test for appendicitis, but “rebound tenderness” which is pain caused when pressure is released from the right, lower quadrant of the abdomen is indicative of the problem. Surgery to remove the appendix can be via a McBurney incision or more recently via a laparoscopic procedure. In the latter, several puncture wounds are made and a camera and light are used to put images on a TV screen while instruments are used to excise the organ via other portals.
Dr. Morton, following in his father’s footsteps, became a doctor in 1856 and took up the field of surgery. He was active in the Civil War both as a surgeon and as a gifted administrator. After the war, he founded many hospitals in Pennsylvania. He was also on the boards of many worthwhile organizations such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Pennsylvanian Society for the Restriction of Vivisection. He was a prolific writer on many topics that included the proper methodology for blood transfusions. He continued with many other interests and even today there are people with a foot neuralgia that are diagnosed as having a Morton’s neuroma, named for the doctor.
“In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.” – Cicero
“Restore a man to his health, his purse lies open to thee.” – Robert Burton
“I learned a long time ago that minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else, not you.” – Bill Walton
“Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the Culprit – Life!” – Emily Dickinson
April 26, 1964: Tanganyika and Zanzibar merge. They became the United Republic of Tanzania. The country is located in East Africa and bordered by Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Congo, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique as well as the Indian Ocean. The unitary republic is composed of 26 regions and covers 364,898 square miles. There are about 43 million people living there. The capital is located at Dodoma today however prior to 1996 it was at Dar es Salaam. Even now, many of the official offices are still at Salaam and it remains the major seaport of the nation.
The area is one of the oldest inhabited by humans. Fossil remains show pre-human hominids dating back more than two million years. Hunter-gatherers lived there until about 2,000 years ago when Bantu-speaking people migrated to the region. Other groups migrated in and continued to do so until the 18th century. Travelers as well as merchants arrived on the shores both from Persian Gulf and from India. Since the 9th century, Islam has been practiced there. The region of Zanzibar became the center for the Arab slave trade with 65-90% of the Arab-Swahili Zanzibar population enslaved.
Imperial Germany conquered Tanganyika in the late 19th century as well as parts of Rwanda and Burundi. The area became a battleground in World War I and after the war, the region was designated a British Mandate with a small portion of land ceded to Belgium. British rule of the area came to a relatively peaceful end in 1961. A revolution in Zanzibar took place in 1963 ridding the country of its Arab control. The two small nations then combined on this date.
Tanzania’s economy is based mostly on agriculture. About half of the Gross Domestic Product comes from this source as do about 85% of exports. Agriculture provides employment for about 80% of the workforce. Amazingly, all this done on only about 4% of the land area because of topography and climate. Tanzania also has gold and natural gas resources. Industry is limited and consists mostly of processing the agricultural products. The world-famous Serengeti Park is located here. The major language of Tanzania is Swahili, however English is used in higher courts and higher education. The President of the country is Jakaya Kikwete and the Prime Minister is Mizengo Pinda.
“I pointed out to you the stars (the moon) and all you saw was the tip of my finger.” – Tanzania Proverb
“One who bathes willingly with cold water doesn’t feel the cold.” – Tanzania Proverb
“Leonard Totten is trekking to Tanzania in aid of Action Cancer and has raised over £18,000 over the last few years . He and some other people are going to do the trek.” – Belfast Telegraph
“The Europeans and Americans residing in the town of Zanzibar are either Government officials, independent merchants, or agents for a few great mercantile houses in Europe and America.” – Henry Morton Stanley
April 25, 1684: A patent is granted for a thimble. These handy gadgets have been around for eons. They were used to protect the fingers as a needle was pushed through fabric or leather while sewing. As long as 30,000 years ago early mastodon hunters were using the ivory tusks to create buttons by drilling holes through disks of the substance. They then used bone rings to protect hands while attaching the buttons to heavy leather garments.
The miniature cup-shaped item that we call thimbles today first made an appearance in the Etruscan area of what is modern day Italy. About 2,500 years ago, as the Etruscans moved north into the area that is now Germany, they took their technology with them and it eventually spread across Europe.
Thimbles can be made out of any strong element. Metals, leather, rubber, wood, glass, China, bone, horn, ivory, marble, bog oak, and mother of pearl have been used. They have been decorated with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, cinnabar, agate, moonstone, and amber. In pre Industrial Revolution times they were hand made and the dimples on them were less uniform.
In the 15th century, most thimbles were made of copper and the metal would stain the cloth as one sewed. In Germany it was discovered that adding a special soil to the copper made a metal that was a beautiful color and stain resistant. It also stank to high heaven. The metallurgists were moved out of the city. An industrious unnamed scientist figured out that the ingredient in the soil that made the difference was zinc. Copper and zinc make the alloy known as brass. The secret stayed in Nuremburg for 200 years where most of the European thimbles were made. Today with mills pressing out sheets of metal, and machines making thimbles in mass quantities, they are standardized and very inexpensive.
” A stitch in time, saves nine.” – American proverb
“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” – Bible
“I think sewing is a stress release. I’m not sure people are born quilters, but I do think it’s in their make up to get such joy from it. It’s a way to express yourself.” – Connie Baker
“Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing.” – unknown
“Veni, Vidi, Velcro. I came, I saw, I stuck around.” – unknown
Also on this day:
“Off With Their Heads” – The Queen of Hearts – In 1792 the first person is executed by the more humane method of guillotine.
Semiconductor – In 1961, Robert Noyce patented the semiconductor and opened the computer age.
April 24, 1907: Hersheypark is opened for the exclusive entertainment of the Hershey Company employees and their families. Milton S. Hershey dropped out of school at age 12 and was apprenticed to a printer. He disliked the job and made sure to do it poorly. He was terminated and next worked for a candy maker. He much preferred this work. He started a candy company in 1876, but it failed. He moved to Colorado and worked in another candy shop. There he learned how to make caramels. He began his own company back in Pennsylvania, the Lancaster Caramel Company.
The Hershey Company was founded on February 9, 1894 using the proceeds from selling the fantastically successful caramel company. He received $1,000,000 [about $24,600,000 in today’s dollars] in the sale. He then began to concentrate on making chocolates rather than caramels. He renamed the town Hershey in later years. He was successful in selling sweet chocolates, but thought the wave of the future would be milk chocolate. He purchased a milk-processing plant in 1896 in order to work towards this new type of confection. By 1899, he had developed the Hershey process.
Hershey built a chocolate plant in 1903 in his home town, Derry Church, Pennsylvania. In 1907, a new candy was introduced, the Hershey Kiss. At first these were wrapped by hand but a wrapping machine was developed in 1921. More products were added to the line, the company remains in business as a publicly traded entity. Their revenues for 2010 were $5.671 billion with a income of $510 million.
The park remains open as well, but it is no longer solely for the employees and their families. All of us can go to Hershey, Pennsylvania and enter into the land of chocolate and fun. The park is open during the summer and has special days for Halloween and is open again for Christmas. There are rides, live shows, and an associated zoo and wildlife park. There are eleven roller coasters in the park, nine water rides and over twenty rides built for the smaller park enthusiasts. Tickets cost $53.95 for attendees between the ages of nine and 54. Children under two are free. Children from three to eight and adults from 55-69 are $32.95 each while seniors over age 70 can have a day at the park for $21.95. There are also deals for combined days and season passes are available.
“Caramels are only a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing.” – Milton Snavely Hershey
“There’s nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate.” – Linda Grayson
“Make a list of important things to do today. At the top of your list, put “eat chocolate.” Now, you’ll get at least one thing done today.” – Gina Hayes
“Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. Chocolate isn’t like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good.” – Lora Brody
April 23, 1867: William E. Lincoln of Providence, Rhode Island receives United States patent #64,117 for the zoetrope, the first animated picture machine. The machine held a series of pictures inside a cylinder that could be viewed between slits while spinning the contraption. This created an illusion of movement. It is the same principle as used in a flip book where the rapidly changing pictures give the illusion of movement of the drawn images.
Today we take motion pictures for granted, but the history of cinema is long. The caves at Grotte de Lascaux in France are the earliest drawings we have left from pre-historic man. These pictures show the concept of illustrated movement for the animals drawn by these early artists. The use of shadow and light as well as perspective, give the idea of movement.
The study of shadow and light was a precursor to the modern use of cameras, still or moving. The earliest lenses used for magnification have been dated to 721-705 BC. There were quartz lenses excavated at the archeological sites of Nineveh which date to 600 BC. The study of light and shadow interplay to give the illusion of movement continued through the ancient Greek, Oriental, and Roman eras.
Leonardo da Vince in 1500 described with accuracy a camera obscura. He did this in his backward writing and it went undiscovered for over 200 years. Throughout the Renaissance, there continued an enlightenment casting its shadow over the interplay of focused light. It was noted that the illusion of movement could be found by a picture painted on each side of disk and then rotating the disk quickly. Stereoscopic pictures, like today’s Viewmaster slides, gave a three-dimensional effect.
Finally pictures could be taken using light focused on film. The time continued to decrease from hours to just minutes. The film changed from a cartridge allowing for a single exposure, to film that could make copies. Then roll film was produced. The first movie that survives is a 3-second view of traffic moving along the street. It is in 20 frames and was taken in October 1888.
“It’s not an optical illusion, it just looks like one.” – Phil White
“Science is simply common sense at its best – that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.” – Thomas Henry Huxley
“Never fear shadows. They simply mean there is a light shining somewhere nearby.” – unknown
“Our ideals, like pictures, are made from lights and shadows.” – Joseph Joubert
April 22, 1889: At high noon, the Land Run of 1889 begins. This was the first land run into the Unassigned Lands which today is part of six counties in what is now the state of Oklahoma. There were two million acres of land available in what was considered some of the best unoccupied public lands in the United States. There were about 50,000 people awaiting their chance to claim land. The land had become available after the enactment of the Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889. The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed for settlers to claim up to 160 acres each.
Some of those participating arrived early and hid out until the legal time to begin claims. They were then poised to snap up the choicest regions for themselves. These people became known as “sooners” and their claims were legally contested by those who were playing by the rules. The US Department of the Interior adjudicated. Those who had waited until the legal time to enter the area were called “boomers”. By the end of the day, both Oklahoma City and Guthrie were established with around 10,000 people living in each city.
In Oklahoma City, the boom was just beginning. The population doubled in the next decade. It had become the population and commercial hub for the new state. The city continued to grow through the Second World War. After the War, the population began to wane and by the 1970s, “white flight” overtook the city. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 brought the city to the nation’s attention when 168 people died in the explosion. Today, Oklahoma City has a population of 580,000 and is once again a thriving metropolis and is the capital.
Guthrie originated as a railroad station in 1887. It was then called Deer Creek on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. The name was changed to Guthrie for John Guthrie of Topeka. A post office was added prior to the land run, and on this day, after the cannons announced it was safe to stake a claim, the town boomed. It became the territorial and then the state capital, but in June 1911 the latter designation went to OK City. With the move of the capital, the economic base for Guthrie was lost. Since it advanced slowly, much of the Victorian grandeur of the old city remains. Today, with a population under 10,000, Guthrie is a stop on the historical tourist route, having been named a national Historic Landmark in 1999.
“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” – Mark Twain
“Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring.” – Mae West
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” – Tony Robbins
“You who live your lives in cities or among peaceful ways cannot always tell whether your friends are the kind who would go through fire for you. But on the Plains one’s friends have an opportunity to prove their mettle.” – Buffalo Bill
April 21, 1509: Henry VIII becomes King of England. Henry VII was King of England from August 22, 1485 after being victorious in the Wars of the Roses. He reigned for 23 years and brought a bit of peace to a war ravaged island. His eldest son, Arthur was set to take over the throne at his father’s death. However, Arthur predeceased his father and all of a sudden the spare heir was set to ascend to the kingship. Henry was 17 years old at his coronation.
Arthur had died in 1502 at the age of 15. He was married to Catherine of Aragon on November 14, 1501. By April 2, 1502, the Prince of Wales was dead, having suddenly taken ill. There is much speculation about what the illness may have been. His wife was also taken ill, but she recovered. After it was certain the Princess of Wales was not carrying Arthur’s child, Henry was elevated to the title of Prince of Wales and was next in line for his father’s throne. Henry VII did not want to return either Catherine or her dowry. Instead, he arranged for his son Henry to marry his sister-in-law. A special dispensation was granted by Pope Julius II. Eventually the young couple married on June 11, 1509. Their double coronation took place on June 24, 1509.
Henry VIII began to believe that God was punishing him for what he thought was an illegal marriage between him and his sister-in-law. So he asked the Pope for a dissolution to the marriage. Henry was desperate for a male heir to take the throne after his own death and forestall more civil wars. He and Catherine had a daughter, Mary, but that did not help ease the King’s mind. Only a son would do. It was thought women were incapable of rule. After years of maneuvering and fighting with the Catholic Church as well as other nations on mainland Europe, Henry divorced Catherine and married Anne Boleyn.
Anne had another daughter, Elizabeth, and again this was seen as God’s disapproval. Anne was disposed of and Henry was smitten by a young court woman, Jane Seymour. Jane finally consented to marry the King and remarkably, a son was born. However, he was not a hale and healthy son and Jane died of complications of the delivery. Henry next married Anne of Cleves in an arranged marriage meant to solidify political standing. Henry hated Anne and they soon parted. Next up was Catherine Howard, but she didn’t last very long either. Catherine Parr was Henry’s final wife. She may have met the fate of some of Henry’s other wives, but Henry died and his son, Edward VI ascended to the throne – at least for a short time.
“…to wish myself (specially an evening) in my sweetheart’s arms, whose pretty ducks [breasts] I trust shortly to kiss.” [in a letter to Anne Boleyn]
“You have sent me a Flanders mare!” [about Anne of Cleves]
“Rose without a thorn.” [describing Catherine Howard]
“[M]ost dearly and most entirely beloved wife.” [referring to Catherine Parr] – all from King Henry VIII