May 9, 1726: Five men arrested during a February raid of a molly house are publicly hanged at Tyburn. Margaret Clap – yes, that’s her real name – ran a brothel of sorts in London. “The clap” meaning venereal disease is said to have come about because so many sexually transmitted diseases are acquired at brothels and Mother Clap’s House was a very famous one in London. Mother Clap’s brothel was just a little different from many whorehouses. She ran a “molly house” or a brothel for homosexual men.
In 1726 in England, sodomy was a criminal act punishable by death. The main form of execution at the time was public hanging and Tyburn was one of the preeminent venues. There is some evidence that a fight between two mollies at Mother Clap’s House led one of them to go to the authorities to report crimes taking place. Police put the house under surveillance in December of 1725 and made their raid in February. Margaret had run her establishment from at least as early as 1724.
Margaret offered rooms to men and sold liquor. She made a profit on the drinks and accepted gifts from visitors. She did not take a percentage of monies as might be expected from a madam. She was interested in and sympathetic to the gay subculture. Her punishment after the raid was to stand in the pillory or stocks in Smithfield Market, pay a fine, and serve two years in prison. The public held sodomy to be a horrific crime and Margaret was physically accosted by many upright citizens. She fainted several times and fell off the pillory once. It is surmised that she died shortly after her release from the stocks. She was never heard from again.
Homosexuality is the sexual attraction to others of the same gender. Some cultures approved and encouraged this, such as ancient Greece, while others abhorred and outlawed the practice. Today, still, some cultures are more open to gay and lesbian encounters than others. There are social and political groups advocating for the rights of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. Even so, there are people and whole cultures who refuse to accept this lifestyle. There are still countries who punish homosexuality by life imprisonment and even more sadly, with the death penalty.
“When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” – Epitaph of Leonard P. Matlovich
“The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love heterosexuals. It’s just that they need more supervision.” – Lynn Lavner
“There is nothing wrong with going to bed with someone of your own sex. People should be very free with sex, they should draw the line at goats.” – Elton John
“If homosexuality is a disease, let’s all call in queer to work: ‘Hello. Can’t work today, still queer.’” – Robin Tyler
“My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.” – W. Somerset Maugham
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Tyburn was a village close to the current location of the Marble Arch in what is today the City of London. The village took its name from the boundary stream or Teo Bourne, a tributary of the River Thames. That stream no longer exists as the area has been filled in. The site became almost synonymous with capital punishment during the Middle Ages. It was used for executions with such frequency that a “Tyburn Tree” is another name for a scaffold for hanging. The first recorded hanging took place next to the then still existing stream in 1196. It remained the most popular hanging venue until the late 1700s.
Also on this day Xenu Was Here? – In 1950 L. Ron Hubbard published his book on Dianetics.
Crown Jewels Stolen – In 1671, Thomas Blood tried to steal the British Crown Jewels.
Lincoln Cathedral – In 1092, the church was consecrated.
May 8, 1877: A dog show opens at Gilmore’s Gardens in New York City. For more than a year, a group of sporting enthusiasts met regularly at a hotel bar. They told each other stories about their skillful marksmanship and excellent hunting dogs. They formed a club – named after the hotel. They pooled resources and opened a kennel to breed and train Pointers for hunting and field trials. The Westminster Breeding Association held a dog show in Philadelphia in 1876, the nation’s centennial. They enjoyed a successful event. They changed their name to the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC).
The Club sponsored the First Annual New York Bench Show of Dogs and rented the Hippodrome at Gilmore’s Gardens for 3 days at $500/day (≈ $9,625 today). The event drew 1,201 dogs and so much public interest, the venue was rented for a fourth day. Proceeds from the extra day were donated to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The catalog from the first year lists many dogs as “not for sale.” However, many others were for sale with prices from $50 (≈ $950 today) to $10,000 (≈ $192,500 today).
In 1878, the entry fee of $2/dog covered the care and feeding of the animal. By 1879, the WKC with the Philadelphia Kennel Club’s help, began to list rules and regulations for the event. It was not until 1884 when the American Kennel Club (AKC) was founded, that the rules became more standardized across the country. The AKC maintains a registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the US. They also promote and sanction the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show along with other international events.
The Westminster Show is held yearly for three days at Madison Square Garden. It is second only to Crufts – an international show held in the UK – for size and prestige. The Westminster Show is so popular, the AKC has required dogs to have already earned Championship status before entering. Even so, there were 2,581 dogs from around the world entered in the 2005 Show. Few dogs have won Best in Show more than once (1 triple winner; 6 double) and males have taken the title 67 times while females have won 35 times.
“For the fifth year in succession I have poured over the catalogue of dogs in the show at Madison Square Garden without finding a dog named Rover, Towser, Sport, Spot or Fido.” – Westbrook Pegler
“When a dog show is over, whether you’ve won or lost doesn’t matter. As long as you’ve gone home with the best dog, everything’s fine.” – Pat Tetrault
“Properly trained, a man can be dog’s best friend.” – Corey Ford
“If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.” – Will Rogers
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Crufts has headquarters in Birmingham, United Kingdom. It was formed in 1891. It is more than just a dog show and also includes an associated trade show with wares of interest to dog lovers. Competitions are centered around dog agility, obedience, flyball (a dog race where dogs compete against each other as they run a course over a line of hurdles until they reach a box where the trained dog presses a pad which shoots up a tennis ball which the dog must catch and then return the ball to its human), and “heelwork to music” which is doggy dancing. This popular contest is also not open to all comers, but the dogs must pre-qualify before being registered for the events. It is estimated that about 28,000 dogs take part each year with about 160,000 humans attending the show.
Also on this day Saint-Pierre, Martinique – In 1902 a volcano erupts and destroys Saint-Pierre, Martinique.
Shoot Out - In 1984, a shooting at the Quebec National Assembly took place.
One Down – In 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered.
May 7, 1915: The RMS Lusitania is sunk by a German submarine, U-20. The Lusitania was a luxury liner operated through the British Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company. Built by John Brown and Company in Scotland, she was launched on June 7, 1906. Luxury liners were the space race of the early 20th century with several shipping lines competing for the best, fastest, and most luxurious ships ever. One of Cunard’s biggest competitors was the White Star Line, builder of the Titanic. The Lusitania is second only to the Titanic for civilian casualties at sea.
The Lusitania was 787 feet long and 87.5 feet at the beam. She had four funnels and two masts. The steel ship weighed 31,550 GRT. Twenty-five Scotch boilers turned four triple-bladed propellers producing an average speed of 25 knots (28.8 mph). She could accommodate 552 first class passengers, 460 second class, and 1,186 third class while it took a crew of 850 to operate the ship. Her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York City took six days. She made 202 crossings during her eight years in service.
The Lusitania left Pier 54 in New York City on May 1, 1915 despite warnings from the German Embassy in Washington, issued on April 22. The warning, printed right next to an ad for the Lusitania’s return trip, said there was a state of war between Germany and Great Britain and her allies. Germany considered the waters off the British Isles to be a war zone and had every intention of sinking any ships they encountered. Regardless of this warning, nearly 2,000 people were aboard the ship – many of them influential people from both Britain and the US.
On May 5 and 6, U-20 sank three vessels around Fastnet Rock. All British ships, including the Lusitania, were warned. Captain Turner took precautions aboard the Lusitania including preparing the lifeboats. At 11:00 AM on May 7, another warning was sent to Cap. Turner who then adjusted the course of the ship, trying to avoid the German U-boat. Turner had to slow the ship because of fog. Only 43 miles out from port at 2:10 PM, the Lusitania was hit under the bridge by a torpedo and a larger secondary explosion worsened the damaged ship’s chances. She sunk in 18 minutes taking the lives of 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard.
“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.” – George William Curtis
“As far as sinking a ship with a bomb is concerned, you just can’t do it.” – Clark Howell Woodward
“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.” – John Paul Jones
“Every ship is a romantic object, except that we sail in.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: The term U-boat is an Anglicized version of the German U-Boot which itself was a shortening of Unterseeboot. The German word refers to any submarine, but the English translation refers to military submarines only, particularly those used during the two World Wars. These boats were especially useful to the German cause in the realm of economic warfare. They were used in both commerce raiding and blockade building. They were also, of course, used as naval warships. The first German sub was built in 1850 and could hold two men. It sunk on its maiden voyage. It was found at the bottom of the Kiel harbor during dredging in 1887 and was raised in 1903. It was then placed in a museum and remains there to this day.
Also on this day US Patent # 203,517 – In 1878 a US patent is granted for a fire escape ladder.
Out of the Ashes – In 1946, Japan’s new electronics company formed.
American Medical Association – In 1847, the AMA was founded.
May 6, 1994: The Channel Tunnel linking England and France opens. The 31.4 mile undersea rail tunnel connects Folkestone, England with Coquelles, France. The tunnel was built through a chalk marl stratum for the majority of its length. The White Cliffs of Dover, which are near Folkestone, are made of a similar substance. Chalk is calcium carbonate, similar to limestone, and comes in a range of colors. Geological studies showed strata with subdivisions of Glauconitic Marl, Plenus Marl, Chalk Marl, and Grey Chalk. The Chalk Marl strata contained a high proportion of clay, making it more waterproof.
The strata on the French side showed a slightly different composition. Because of variations in the geological features, construction went more quickly on the British side. They were able to progress an average of 500 feet per week with their best week pushing forward 1,400 feet. The French side averaged 360 feet per week with their best week showing 1,060 feet of progress. It took seven years of construction efforts after decades of studies and planning showed feasibility for the tunnel (first proposed in the 18th century) and funding issues were resolved.
The Channel Tunnel or Chunnel is operated by Eurotunnel. There were 18 design development studies to assure safety. The lifespan is 120 years meaning the Chunnel should show no deterioration for at least that span of time. About 13,000 engineers, technicians, and workers built the two Running Tunnels and the Service Tunnel. The two main tunnels are 100 feet apart. Each Running Tunnel carries a single track railway. They are connected to the Service Tunnel by Cross Passages every 1,230 feet. Two caverns were also excavated allowing trains to change tunnels if needed. They are called the English and French Crossovers.
There have been three fires in the Chunnel. The first, in 1996, caused extensive damage and took six months to repair. A small fire in 2006 caused the tunnel to close for several hours. A third fire on September 11, 2008 caused both tunnels to close with the undamaged South Tunnel reopening in two days. The North Tunnel remained closed until it could be repaired. The remarkable construction has been deemed by some as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Millions of tonnes of freight and millions of passengers continue to flow back and forth under the English Channel yearly.
“Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.” – H Ross Perot
“To strive consciously for an object and to engage in engineering – that is, incessantly and eternally to make new roads, wherever they may lead.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“To define it rudely but not ineptly, engineering is the art of doing that well with one dollar, which any bungler can do with two after a fashion.” – Arthur Wellesley
“The engineering is secondary to the vision.” – Cynthia Ozick
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Eurotunnel was founded in 1986 and manages and operates the Channel Tunnel which includes vehicle shuttle service, as well as freight and passenger trains used in the Chunnel. They are listed on both the London Stock Exchange and the Euronext Paris. The last year for figures was 2010 and in that year they had a revenue of €736.6 million with an operating income of €189.9 million. They garnered a profit of €56.8 million in that year. They have total assets listed as €7.184 billion with a total equity of €2.820 billion. They employ 2,310 people. In June 2012, they acquired the assets of SeaFrance ferries which is not included in the above numbers.
Also on this day “Oh, the humanity!” – In 1937 the Hindenburg burns while docking.
Francis Xavier – In 1542, Francis Xavier reached Old Goa.
Phoenix Park – In 1882, Lord Frederick Cavendish was murdered.
May 5, 1862: The Battle of Puebla is fought near Puebla, Mexico. In 1861, Napoleon III had visions of an expanding empire. He not only wished to control all of Europe, but the New World looked promising as well. Mexico owed debts to Great Britain, Spain, and France so Napoleon sent troops to collect the money. Mexican President Benito Juarez announced a cancellation of debts and refused to pay anything to European nations. French troops landed at Veracruz on December 8, 1861.
The Treaty of London had been signed in 1861 by Great Britain, Spain, and France and all three nations sent troops to force Juarez to honor his debts. By April of 1862, both Britain and Spain felt the French armies were not trying to force repayment of debts, but were trying to conquer Mexico and establish a foothold in Central America. The Spanish and British troops left while the French remained and continued their “intervention” in Mexico which was called the Maximilian Affair.
French forces were supposed to withdraw to the coast, but many of the soldiers had become ill and remained in the area. The Mexicans thought they had no intention of leaving and wished to continue hostilities in the region. Negotiations offsite had broken down, as well. The battle at Puebla found General Ignacio Zaragoza leading about 4,500 Mexican soldiers, mostly veterans of the Reform Wars of 1857-1860. General Charles de Lorencez led the Second French Empire forces of about 6,000 soldiers. Fighting broke out and while the Mexicans were routed later, on this day they won the battle and a moral victory.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle at Puebla. Mexican Independence Day is September 16. While Maximilian I eventually became President of Mexico, it didn’t last and when Juarez regained power, Maximilian was executed. May 5 is not a Mexican national holiday but is celebrated regionally in Mexico. The US holds a greater reverence for the date and hold celebrations in many major cities, especially those with a large Mexican population. The day honors Mexican pride and culture in much the same way that cross cultural celebrants honor Irish pride on one day in March – St. Patrick’s Day.
“Cinco de Mayo has come to represent a celebration of the contributions that Mexican Americans and all Hispanics have made to America.” – Joe Baca
“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? “- Pablo Casals
“To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.” – George Santayana
“To him in whom love dwells, the whole world is but one family.” – Buddha
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Benito Juarez was born in 1806 in Oaxaca and was from the Zapotec people, an indigenous group from the south of current-day Mexico. He began life in a small adobe home and of peasant birth, became an orphan at the age of three, and was raised by an uncle. He worked the corn fields and as a shepherd until he turned twelve. He left the region and walked to the city of Oaxaca de Juarez to attend school. He took a job as a domestic servant to a lay Franciscan, Antonio Salanueva, who was impressed with the boy’s intelligence and thirst for knowledge. With Salanueva’s help, he was educated in the city’s seminary. He became a lawyer in 1834 and a judge in 1841. He entered politics in 1847 and served first as governor of Oaxaca and then five terms as President of Mexico.
Also on this day Monkey Trial – In 1925 John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution.
Turning Straw Into Gold – In 1809, the first patent was granted to a woman in the US.
Music Hall – In 1891, what we know as Carnegie Hall opened.
May 4, 1855: William Walker and 60 men leave San Francisco for Nicaragua. Walker, an American mercenary and filibuster had already made attempts to conquer portions of Latin America. A military filibusterer is a private person who engages in unauthorized warfare in a foreign nation. Walker had attempted to take over Baja California and Sonora (both parts of Mexico) in 1853. Upon his return to California, he was placed on trial for conducting an illegal war. Filibustering was popular in the Southern and Western US. It took the jury eight minutes to acquit the accused.
Walker was born in Tennessee in 1824. He graduated from the University of Nashville summa cum laude at the age of 14. He traveled in Europe and studied medicine. He received a medical degree by age 19. He went on to study law and worked for a short time as a lawyer in New Orleans. He also wrote for two different newspapers. After his failed attempt at colonizing Mexico, he regrouped and planned to invade Nicaragua. With the tacit support of President Castellón, Walker brought 60 “colonists” to Nicaraguan shores. There he was met by 170 locals and another 100 American reinforcements.
On September 1, Walker’s forces defeated the Nicaraguan national army and on October 13 he captured the capital. In Granada, Walker took control of the country first as commander of the army and on July 12, 1856 he was elected President of the country. His regime was recognized by US President Franklin Pierce. A journalist in Nicaragua sent reports back to the US accusing Walker of setting up a slave holding republic. The journalist, sentenced to death by Walker, escaped.
Trade from the east coast to the west coast of the US went by sea and traveled via Nicaragua to send goods from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Cornelius Vanderbilt initially backed Walker, but the two powerful men fought over the lucrative route. Vanderbilt convinced the US to withdraw recognition of Walker’s regime and skirmishes once again took place in Latin America, this time with Walker’s forces defeated. By May 1, 1857, Walker was out of a job. He returned to the US. He wrote a book about the experience and returned once again to filibustering, this time in Honduras. He was captured and executed by firing squad on September 12, 1860. He was 36 years old.
“People cannot tell the difference between mercenaries and soldiers because they all wore the same uniform, had the same weapons, spoke the same language and came from the same place.” – Agim Hasku
“No man can sit down and withhold his hands from the warfare against wrong and get peace from his acquiescence.” – Woodrow T. Wilson
“There is such a thing as legitimate warfare: war has its laws; there are things which may fairly be done, and things which may not be done.” – John Henry Newman
“I don’t know whether war is an interlude during peace, or peace an interlude during war.” – Georges Clemenceau
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Francisco Castellón was born in 1815 in León and was both a lawyer and then prime minister under Patricio Rivas. He was out of office in 1841 and reappointed in 1843. He was minister to England and upon his return, PM again from 1851-1853. In 1853 he was the Liberal Party candidate for Supreme Director of Nicaragua running against Fruto Chamorro of the Conservative Party. Chamorro won amidst claims of voter fraud and he immediately moved the government from Managua to Granada. While the Liberals were not present he began to make changes to the government. Many Liberals, including Castellón, were outraged and established a second government with Castellón elected as President on June 11, 1854. After initial success in fighting Chamorro, Castellón ran into troubles and invited William Walker in to help.
Also on this day The Little General – In 1814 Napoleon I is exiled to Elba.
First and Only – In 1979, Margaret Thatcher was elected.
Boom – In 1988, a large explosion outside Las Vegas was the start of the PEPCON fire.
May 3, 1960: The Anne Frank House opens. Anne Frank was born in 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. Her father, Otto, had served with distinction as a German officer in World War I. The family was Jewish, but did not strictly follow all religious tradition. Otto was sent to The Netherlands in 1933 in order to open a branch for Opekta, makers of pectin, a substance used in making jellies. Otto found a place for the business and sent for his family to join him in 1934. Anne and her sister, Margot, were enrolled in school. Margot excelled with numbers; Anne with words.
Otto began a second business in Amsterdam. When the Germans invaded in 1940, the savvy businessman sold his shares in both businesses to non-Jewish friends. Sanctions were imposed against Jews and as they became more extreme, the family began planning a means of escape. On Anne’s 13th birthday, she received a diary. Early entries list changes since the German occupation and restrictions placed on Jews along with everyday mundane events.
On July 6, 1942, the family went into hiding rather than surrendering Margot to a work camp. Otto and Edith and their two daughters entered the hiding place above the Opekta offices. The Achterhuis (the rear portion of a house) was three stories and appeared deserted from the outside. On the first level were two small rooms and a bathroom. Over that were one larger and one smaller room. From the smaller room, a ladder led to the attic. The door to this secret space was blocked by a bookcase. Four employees plus two of their family members were the only people who knew Jews were hiding in the Secret Annex. They provided safety and brought food – and eventually, they brought four more people to hide.
Anne continued to write in her diary. An unknown informer alerted the German Security Police to people hiding at Opekta. The Secret Annex was raided on August 4, 1944. Only Otto survived the concentration camps. After the war, Otto Frank found his daughter’s diary and published the work in 1947. The building where the Franks hid was in disrepair and was almost demolished. Renovations led to the opening of the building as a museum (the Secret Annex was left as it had been in the 1940s). In 1960, there were 9,000 visitors and in 1970 there were 180,000. With all the traffic, repairs were again needed and the building next door was added to the museum. In 2007, more than 1,000,000 visitors paid their respects to the young author.
“The events of the Holocaust viewed through the eyes of Anne Frank are a unique and damming testament to the dreadful atrocities of that period of our history.” – Charles Kennedy
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.” – Anne Frank
“And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if there weren’t any other people living in the world.” – Anne Frank
“I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.” – Anne Frank
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: The seven people who died at the hands of the Nazis were Hermann van Pels (died only three weeks after arrival at Auschwitz), Friz Pfeffer (died December 20, 1944 at Neuengamme), Edith Frank (died January 1945 at Auschwitz), Anne and Margot Frank (died within three days of each other in March 1945 at Bergen-Belsen), Auguste van Pels (died in April or May 1945 at Theresienstadt), and Peter van Pels (died in May 1945 at Mauthausen). The three major suspects for turning in the people in the Secret Annex were Wilhelm van Maaren, Lena van Bladeren-Hartog, and Tonny Ahlers. Van Maaren was mentioned above, Lena was the wife of van Maaren’s assistant and implicated in Melissa Muller’s Anne Frank: the Biography. Ahlers was a Dutch Nazi and petty criminal. He was implicated in Carol Ann Lee’s book, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank.
May 2, 1230: William de Braose, 10th Baron Abergavenny meets his untimely death. The Baron’s father had already garnered the animosity of King John of England since he had supported King Richard I. The Barons were Marcher Lords, or lords along the “march” or borders of England. These Marcher Lords were powerful men who protected and guarded the border areas near Wales and Scotland. The de Braose family had been placed there years earlier, in happier times.
William de Braose, the eldest son of Reginald de Braose, was not well liked by the Welsh of the region. None of the de Braose lineage was liked, and the locals gave the name Gwilym Ddu, or Black William, to the despised young noble. William succeeded his father into various lordship positions in 1228. His birth year is unknown but he was somewhere between the ages of 24 and 31 years old when he became the 10th Baron.
By 1228, William was already married and his four daughters were born. Girls were married earlier in those days. (William’s own mother was between the ages of 11 and 18 when he was born.) William was captured by Llywelyn the Great, the Welsh leader or Tywysog, that same year. William was ransomed for £2,000. He also formed an alliance with the Welsh sovereign by betrothing his 6-year-old daughter to Llywelyn’s only legitimate son, who was 20-years-old at the time.
Two years later, William returned for an Easter visit. He was discovered in Tywysog Llywelyn’s private bedchamber with Mrs. L – Jean, Lady of Wales. There is no record of how the Lady felt, but Llywelyn was not amused. William was taken to the marshlands at the foot of the royal home, Garth Celyn, where he was publicly hanged. The area is still called the Hanging Marsh. This did not, however, destroy the betrothal between Isabella de Braose and Dafydd ap Llywelyn. William’s wife retained some control over his properties, but the Barony went to John de Braose, William’s cousin.
“In this year William de Breos the Younger, lord of Brycheiniog, was hanged by the Lord Llywelyn in Gwynedd, after he had been caught in Llywelyn’s chamber with the king of England’s daughter, Llywelyn’s wife.” – Chronicle of Ystrad Fflur’s entry for 1230
“A virtuous wife is a man’s best treasure.” – Muhammad
“Saw a wedding in the church; and strange to say what delight we married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition.” – Samuel Pepys
Anonymous: Should I marry?
Socrates: Whichever you do you will repent it.
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Infidelity arises when one’s partner has broken a set of expectations, either privately held or customarily the norm, and this results in jealousy by the offended partner. This can be sexual in nature or emotional infidelity. The offended partner can experience rage or betrayal and it is often damaging to one’s sexual confidence and self-image. The University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, considered to be the gold standard in this field, reported that 12% of men and 7% of women confessed to infidelity, but these numbers are malleable depending on the year reported. There is unresolved discourse concerning the different numbers according to gender and the reasons for this. However, studies have shown that men are more likely to be unfaithful if they are sexually frustrated while women seek outside relationships if they are unsatisfied emotionally.
May 1, 1786: Le nozze di Figaro, ossta la folle giornata premieres in Vienna, Austria. The work is known in English as The Marriage of Figaro or the Day of Madness. It is a comic opera based on the 1784 stage comedy La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro written by Frenchman Pierre Beaumarchais. The opera is presented in Italian and the libretto, or text, was written by Venetian Lorenzo Da Ponte with the music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The French play had been banned in Vienna because of its satirical view of the aristocracy. The opera is one of Mozart’s most successful.
Figaro opened at the Burgtheater, which was created by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria in 1741. It is the Austrian national Theater and seats more than 1,000 patrons. Figaro was one of three Mozart operas premiering at the prestigious venue. Mozart, himself, directed the first two performances and Franz Weigl took over the for the remainder of the run – 7 additional performances. The audience was so taken with the opera, five arias were given an encore the first night.
Beaumarchais did more than write plays. He was a watch-maker and inventor, a musician and publisher. He was a politician, arms-dealer, fugitive, spy, and revolutionary in both France and America. Da Ponte was born a Jew, converted to Catholicism, and became a priest. He took a mistress, a married woman, and after the birth of their child, was reprimanded. So Da Ponte and his mistress opened a brothel. Charged with illicit behavior, they were banished from Venice. In Austria, he became a Poet of the Theatres after admitting he had written nothing as yet.
Mozart was a child prodigy skilled in both writing and playing music. He toured Europe while a child and teen, performing before many royal courts. He wed at age 26. His writing blossomed after marrying a woman his family had not approved. He wrote more than 600 compositions including masterpieces of several forms. Symphonies, concertante, chamber music, choral music, and operas flowed from his pen. He became relatively famous but never achieved financial gain commensurate with his skill. He died at the age of 35.
“[T]o talk well and eloquently is a very great art, but that an equally great one is to know the right moment to stop.”
“Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.”
“Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, I hear them all at once. What a delight this is! All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing, lively dream.”
“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” – all from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: The Marriage of Figaro is a continuation of the story line from The Barber of Seville, also written by Pierre Beaumarchais. The two plays are part of a trilogy, ending with The Guilty Mother. Figaro takes place several years after the first play’s date. Rosina is a Countess and Count Almaviva is no longer the romantic youth he once was. He has given Figaro a job in his court since he is too busy chasing other women, especially Figaro’s betrothed, Susanna. The antics of the aristocracy finally ends happily with Figaro and Susanna wed and the Count and Countess reconciled. Although written in French, the play takes places in Seville, Spain.
April 30, 1803: The United States under President Jefferson purchases a large tract of land from France under Napoleon Bonaparte. The Louisiana Purchase encompassed 828,000 square miles. The cost was 60 million francs ($11,250,000) plus cancellation of 20 million francs in debts ($3,750,000). The $15 million plus interest came to $23,213,568. Using today’s currency values, that would be a $214 million price tag and $332 million in total cost. That means the land was purchased for less than three cents per acre.
The Louisiana Purchase was at first seen as unconstitutional, but no reference to expansion protocols was mentioned in the revered document. The land purchased contained portions of at least fifteen future US states and two Canadian provinces. With the acquisition of the land, the young country doubled in size. The land is about ¼ of the total area of the US today. The Alaska Purchase of 1867 increased the US by 586,412 square miles at a cost of $7.2 million.
Jefferson was the third President of the US and held that office from 1801 to 1809. The election of 1800 between Jefferson and Aaron Burr ended with the electoral college in a tie. Alexander Hamilton convinced the House of Representatives Jefferson was a lesser evil than Burr. After 36 ballots were cast, the House finally gave the Presidency to Jefferson with Burr becoming the Vice President.
Obtaining the territory from France essentially ended the threat of expanding French territories close to the new nation. There was still the problem of Spain owning territory, but it was not taken to be as serious as the threat from Napoleon and France. James Monroe and Robert Livingston signed the Purchase Treaty on April 30. Americans were told of the purchase on July 4 when the official announcement was made. The Senate ratified the treaty on October 20 with a vote of 24 to 7. France officially transferred the territory on December 20 and the US took formal possession on December 30. However, the land was mostly settled by Native Americans and many more treaties and exchanges of funds would follow.
“I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.”
“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.”
“I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.”
“Information is the currency of democracy.”
“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” – all from Thomas Jefferson
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: The land included in the Louisiana Purchase was variously owned by different European powers. Both Spain and France laid claim to areas of what is now the contiguous US. In 1795, Spain was in control of New Orleans and a treaty was signed allowing Americans to use the port with “right of deposit” meaning they could store goods for export. However, that treaty was revoked in 1798, much to the chagrin of traders along the Mississippi and government officials. In 1800, in a secret treaty, Spain ceded the land to France in the Treaty of San Ildefonso. It remained a secret until the French finally took power and control in November 1803.
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