Little Bits of History

Good Will

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2015
Current US Embassy in the Netherlands*

Current US Embassy in the Netherlands*

April 19, 1782: John Adams is received by the States-General of the Dutch Republic and becomes the first ambassador for the US. Morocco was the first nation to seek diplomatic relations with the US and did so in December 1777. Benjamin Franklin established the first overseas mission for the US in Paris in 1779. On this date, Adams established the first ambassadorship and the house he purchased at Fluwelen Burgwal 18 became the first American embassy anywhere in the world. Today, the embassy in The Hague is located at Lange Voorhout 102, 2514 EJ The Hague and was opened on July 4, 1959.

Diplomatic relations are essential to the smooth operation of many facets of our daily existence. Before the world was connected by instantaneous communication, the global community still needed to operate more effectively and efficiently. To do so meant less misunderstanding. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 formally defined and recognized ambassadors. Prior to this new definition, ambassadors were considered to be the personal envoy of the chief executive of a foreign country and to speak on his behalf. Their position made it possible for them to meet personally with the head of state of the host country. Prior to our technologically advanced era, ambassadors were given far greater power to execute national prerogatives.

The embassy is a permanent diplomatic mission as well as the building or section of a building in which the world of the diplomatic mission is carried out. The office space of the building is technically called the chancery. Members of the mission may live off site or within the embassy. These are located in the capital of the host country. Since 1945, all nations have been recognized as equals and ambassadors or their equivalents are sent to all countries with which one maintains diplomatic relations. There are also satellites where Consuls also represent their country. There can only be one ambassador from a country to the foreign power, but there can be several Consuls residing in other large cities of the hosting country.

The American embassy for Canada is in Ottawa, but there are six consulates general and one consulate also in Canada spanning coast to coast. To the south, America has an embassy in Mexico City and eighteen other presences ranging from a consulate or consular agency to a consulate general. Their largest diplomatic presence in Asia is in China where there is an embassy and six satellites. In Europe, Italy, Germany and France have six satellites in addition to their embassy. The Netherlands hosts the ambassador as well as two satellite consulates general. The Middle East has been a challenge to diplomatic relations and the embassy in Yemen suspended operations on February 11, 2015 due to deteriorating security. The embassy in Libya suspended operations on July 26, 2014. It is also interesting to note that the embassy to the Holy See is located outside Vatican territory and is located in Rome.

Ambassadors are the eye and ear of states. – Francesco Guicciardini

An ambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country. – Sir Henry Wotton

An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle. – Walter Bagehot

The function of a briefing paper is to prevent the ambassador from saying something dreadfully indiscreet. I sometimes think its true object is to prevent the ambassador from saying anything at all. – Kingman Brewster, Jr.

Also on this day: Look It Up – In 1928, the last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
Trippin’ – In 1943, Albert Hofmann tried LSD.
Sex Is Obscene  – In 1927, Mae West was sentenced to jail for her play, Sex.
Jump – In 1919, Leslie Leroy Irvin jumped from a plane.
Boston Marathon – In 1897, the first Boston Marathon was run.

* “Amerikaanse ambassade in Den Haag” by Pvt pauline – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 18, 2015
Ezra Pound in 1913

Ezra Pound in 1913

April 18, 1958: Ezra Pound is found to be incurable and released from St. Elizabeths insane asylum. Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was born on October 30, 1885 in Idaho Territory. He was an only child. He was a descendant of William Wadsworth. When Ezra was 18 months old, his mother took him and moved them back to New York. Her husband followed two years later and the family settled in Pennsylvania. Ezra was educated in a series of dame schools, some run by Quakers. He was eleven the first time he had any of his work published – a limerick about William Jennings Bryan, the unsuccessful presidential candidate. His studies continued with his interest mainly in poetry. He learned several languages in his pursuits.

Pound traveled extensively, usually getting into some sort of trouble in the process. He self published a book of his poetry in 1908 which was well received. He ended up in London that same year and lived there almost continuously for twelve years. Although he arrived broke with only £3 to his name, he managed to survive, and even thrive after getting a bookseller to display his book in the window. He was able to meet influential writers of the time and his 1909 collection of poems, Personae, was his first commercial success. World War I left him delusioned with mankind. After the war, he settled in Paris for a few years. He then moved to Italy after suffering what Ernest Hemingway called a small nervous breakdown.

Pound felt the underlying cause of World War I was finance capitalism, something he called usury. He felt fascism was the answer to the problem and eventually was able to meet Benito Mussolini to whom he offered economic advice. He was smitten with the fascist cause and embraced Hitler’s Nazism. His involvement in politics overshadowed his poetic work. He began broadcasting his political ideas over Rome Radio and criticized the US and Roosevelt as well as offering anti-Semitic views. Pound was in Rome when Italy surrendered. He was arrested and continued to vilify the US and embrace Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese war machine.

Pound was transferred to the us on November 15, 1945 and brought up on charges of treason. He was admitted to St. Elizabeths Hospital and held in their prison ward. His lawyer asked that he be found to be insane. He was moved to a different part of the hospital. While still a patient, many of the intelligentsia and writing community worked to assure the release of Pound. In 1957, several publications began a campaign to secure his release. Thurman Arnold served as his pro bono lawyer and with the help of the hospital superintendent, it was decided that Pound was insane and incurable and would not benefit from any further treatment. He was released from prison. He died in Venice in 1972 at the age of 87.

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.

A general loathing of a gang or sect usually has some sound basis in instinct.

Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing. The rest is mere sheep-herding.

Literature does not exist in a vacuum. Writers as such have a definite social function exactly proportional to their ability as writers. This is their main use. – all from Ezra Pound

Also on this day: The Great Quake – In 1906 a large earthquake devastates San Francisco.
The House that Ruth Built – In 1923, Yankee Stadium opened.
One if by Land; Two if by Sea – In 1775, Paul Revere took a ride through the countryside.
Suicide Bomber – In 1983, the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon was destroyed.
Puzzling – In 1924, Simon & Schuster published a crossword puzzle book.

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And the War Finally Ends

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 17, 2015
Isles of Scilly as viewed from above by NASA

Isles of Scilly as viewed from above by NASA

April 17, 1986: The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War finally ends. The belligerents were the Isles of Scilly and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Also called Driehonderdvijfendertigjarige Oorlog in Dutch, it is sometimes referred to as a theoretical war. It was a bloodless war as no shots were ever fired. There is some doubt as to whether or not there was ever a war declared, but the treaty was finally signed in order to end it.

The English Civil War was fought between Royalists (supporting the monarchy) and Parliamentarians (supporting Parliament) between 1642 and 1652. The Second English Civil War was a subset of this war and battles were fought from February 1648 to January 1649 when the King, Charles I, was executed. During this time, Oliver Cromwell fought against the Royalists and pushed them to the very edges of the Kingdom of England. The entire mainland fell under his and the Parliamentarians’ control. The Royal Navy fled to the Isles of Scilly 28 miles off the Cornish coast in southwest Great Britain. The archipelago of five inhabited and several small islets was then owned by Royalist John Granville who would later be richly rewarded for his help.

The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands or the Dutch Republic lasted from 1581-1795 and included Holland, Utrecht, Brabant, Flanders, Hainaut, Liege, and Luxembourg. Their navy had been assisted by a number of British rulers beginning with Elizabeth I who helped during the Eighty Years’ War and ended with the Treaty of Munster which legalized the Dutch independence from Spain. The Netherlands wanted to maintain good relations with England and needed to side with whomever was going to win the Civil War. Their Navy suffered huge losses from the Royalist Navy and on March 30, 1651 Admiral Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp arrived on Scilly and demanded reparations from the Royalists.

Since most of England was in the Parliamentarian’s control and the Royalists refused to meet the demands of the Admiral, he declared war upon the Isles of Scilly. In June 1651, the Parliamentarian naval forces under Admiral Robert Blake forced a surrender from the Royal Navy. With the Dutch Navy no longer under any threat, they left. Since this was such an obscure little war without any shots being fired, no official peace treaty was forthcoming. In 1985, a Scilly historian asked for the matter to be looked into and the Dutch Embassy in London found that the war had been declared and no treaty had ever ended it. So on this day, the treaty was signed and the war ended after more than three centuries.

Tromp came to Pendennis and related that he had been to Scilly to demand reparation for the Dutch ships and goods taken by them; and receiving no satisfactory answer, he had, according to his Commission, declared war on them. – Bulstroke Whitelocke

A man-of-war is the best ambassador. – Oliver Cromwell

War is the statesman’s game, the priest’s delight, the lawyer’s jest, the hired assassin’s trade. – Percy Bysshe Shelley

Have you ever thought that war is a madhouse and that everyone in the war is a patient? – Oriana Fallaci

Also on this day: America’s Renaissance Man – In 1790, Benjamin Franklin dies.
FedEx – In 1973, FedEx began operation.
Stories – In 1397, Chaucer presented the Canterbury Tales for the first time.
Frenchman Takes Off – In 1942, Henri Giraud escaped a POW prison.
Snooker – In 1875, the game was invented.

Gettin’ Outta Dodge

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 16, 2015
Bat Masterson in 1879

Bat Masterson in 1879

April 16, 1881: Bat Masterson arrives in Dodge City, Kansas. William Barclay “Bat” Masterson was born in 1853 in Quebec. He was a prominent figure in the Old Wild West of American folklore. He had two brothers, James and Ed; both were lawmen. The family moved to Wichita, Kansas in the 1850s. Eventually there were five brothers and two sisters born to the Irish immigrants. Ed, Bat, and Jim left the family farm to become buffalo hunters. Bat, out on his own, fought in the Battle of the Adobe Walls in Texas and then spent time working as a scout for the US Army. In 1876, Bat participated in his first gunfight – over a girl. The soldier who attacked him and the girl in question were both killed while Bat recovered from a gunshot wound to the pelvis.

In 1877, Bat joined his brothers in Dodge City who were both working with the US Marshals. The confrontational Bat was soon in trouble with the law, but after his release from jail, he served as a deputy with Wyatt Earp and Bat was soon elected county sheriff for Ford County, Kansas. He was cleaning up the area and gaining the confidence of the citizenry. Although still sheriff, he took part in a conflict in Colorado regarding railroads. Ed, the eldest brother, was killed in the line of duty in 1878. He was 25 years old at the time. The assailants were not aware that Bat had returned and he managed to kill the man who shot his brother.

Bat left town and made his living as a gambler and moved around the Wild West. Wyatt Earp invited Bat to Tombstone, Arizona so that he might manage a gambling concession in a saloon. While there, he received an urgent, unsigned telegram stating that two men were trying to kill his younger brother, Jim. He returned to Dodge City on this day. Updergraff and Peacock were Jim’s partners, running a saloon. Peacock was a dishonest drunk and Jim demanded Updergraff, his brother-in-law, fire him. Threats were made and the telegram sent. Bat got off the train and recognized the two men who were supposed to be threatening his brother. Shots were fired; Updergraff was wounded (but eventually recovered). Bat was arrested and later found out his brother had not been in danger. Since citizens had randomly participated in the shoot-out, no one knew who had wounded Updergraff. Bat was fined $8.00 and released. He and Jim left Dodge City. It was Bat’s last gunfight.

Jim died in 1895 at the age of 39. Bat lived much longer, dying in 1921 at the age of 67. He had lived through a raucous, lawless time in the Wild West. His latest biographer concludes that aside from sanctioned fighting (wars/raids), he used his gun against other people only six times, far less than some of the other gunslingers of his day. His fame is attributed to a joke played on a gullible journalist in August 1881. A wide-eyed naïve journalist asked a Colorado resident about tales of the lawless west and his host pointed to a nearby young man (Bat Masterson) and said he had killed 26 men and then gave details. Masterson’s fame was based on lies.


We are rough men and used to rough ways. – Bob Younger to a newspaper reporter following the 1876 Northfield, Minnesota raid

For my handling of the situation at Tombstone, I have no regrets. Were it to be done again, I would do it exactly as I did it at the time. – Wyatt Earp

Never run a bluff with a six-gun. – Bat Masterson

Also on this day: Little Sure Shot – In 1922, a little old lady performs a remarkable marksmanship feat.
Goya Sunk – In 1945, the Russians sunk the German refugee ship.
High Flyer – In 1912. Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Taking Marbles; Leaving – In 1858, the Wernerian Natural History Society ceased to exist.
Great Neighbors – In 1818, the Rush-Bagot Treaty was ratified in the US.

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Boston Marathon Bombings

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 15, 2015
Site of the first bomb last at the Boston Marathon bombings*

Site of the first bomb last at the Boston Marathon bombings*

April 15, 2013: The Boston Marathon bombings take place. The Boston Marathon had been an annual event in Boston since 1897. It has traditionally been held on the third Monday in April, Patriots’ Day. In 2013 there had been no indication of any problems but the area was swept for bombs twice before the explosions took place, the last about one hour before the explosions. People were permitted to come and go as they pleased and were permitted to carry bags into the area. At 2.49 PM, about two hours after the winner had crossed the finish line, but with more than 5,700 runners yet to complete the 26.2 mile course, two bombs detonated on Boylston Street. The time on the finish line clock read 04:09:43 – the elapsed time since the race began. Thirteen seconds later, the second bomb exploded.

Two pressure cooker bombs exploded, throwing shrapnel into the gathered crowd. Windows were exploded by the blasts, furthering injury to the people standing nearby. No structural damage to the buildings was reported. Runners continued to cross the finish line until 2.57 PM, about 8 minutes after the blasts. Three people were killed and another 264 were injured. Rescue crews were on site to help with aid to runners and they immediately rushed in to help with the wounded. Additional Boston EMS and Boston Fire Department units were dispatched. Twenty-seven local hospitals received patients from the bombings. At least 14 people required amputations with some having traumatic amputations as a direct result from the blasts.

The race was halted and Boston Police used established emergency plans to reroute the remaining runners away from finish line. They were directed to Boston Common and Kenmore Square. A 15-block area of Boston was closed and nearby buildings, including the Lenox Hotel, were evacuated. The Massachusetts Army National Guard had been a presence at the race and they, too, were enlisted to help with the wounded. The scene was further thrown into confusion as people had dropped backpacks as they fled and each abandoned pack had to be treated as a potential bomb. No other bombs were found.

As a precaution, the Federal Aviation Administration restricted airspace over Boston and closed Boston’s Logan International Airport. Some traffic on the bay was also curtailed. Other cities in Massachusetts and surrounding states put their police forces on alert in case it was more than a local assault. Cell phone service was overloaded as people tried to find out if loved ones were injured. The American Red Cross, the Boston Police Department, and Google Person Finder all helped people contact each other. Several hotels were closed due to the explosions and many Boston area residents opened their homes to stranded runners and their families. Entrants who had completed at least half the race but were unable to finish because of the bombings were given automatic entry into the 2014 Boston Marathon, which ran smoothly.

When you run a marathon, you mean it. We’re built for running. We dream of flying. For now, though, we’re built for running. – Benjamin Cheever

The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can’t dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon. – Fred Lebow

If you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you’re normal. If you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal. – Rob de Castella

The marathon never ceases to be a race of joy, a race of wonder. – Hal Higdon

Also on this day: Going for the Gold – In 1896, the first Modern Olympic Games come to an end.
Cartography – in 1924, Rand McNally published its first atlas.
Leonardo – In 1452, Leonardo da Vinci was born.
Sunk – In 1912, the Titanic sunk.
Definitive – In 1755, Johnson’s dictionary was published.

* “1st Boston Marathon blast seen from 2nd floor and a half block away” by Aaron Tang – Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Color Not Colour

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 14, 2015
Noah Webster's handwritten draft of dictionary entries

Noah Webster’s handwritten draft of dictionary entries

April 14, 1828: Noah Webster copyrights his dictionary. Webster was born in West Hartford, Connecticut on October 16, 1758. Both his parents were descendants of provincial governors. His father was a deacon in the local church, a farmer, the captain of the town’s militia, and the founder of the local book society, a precursor to modern libraries. Although his father did not receive a college education, Noah and his siblings were schooled both at home and at the local one room primary school, something the young boy hated. This early dislike prompted him to attempt educational reform in the colonies and later in the newly freed US. Noah entered Yale University just before his 16th birthday. This coincided with the Revolutionary War and many of the classes were held elsewhere. Noah also served with the Connecticut militia.

His liberal education left him with few skills and he taught school and continued his studies in law, hoping to increase his earning potential. He passed the bar in 1781 but still could not find employment as a lawyer. He opened a private school in Connecticut which was a success. He began writing as a way to increase his income. He wrote political treatises as well as his own speller, grammar book, and reader for elementary schools. These sold remarkably well and enabled the author to spend time writing his famous dictionary. His Blue-Backed Speller became a staple in American classrooms. He felt the British aristocracy had corrupted the mother tongue and set out to standardize American spelling and pronunciation.

With the work done on his speller, arranged in such a way as to help children learn, he went on to help standardize American English even further. He published his first dictionary in 1806, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. It boasted an addition of 5,000 words to the number found in the best English dictionaries with a number of improvements, at least from his perspective. Even this was not good enough and the next year, he began work on an expanded work. He hoped to have a fully comprehensive book. It took him 26 years to complete An American Dictionary of the English Language. He learned 28 languages in order to help with his great opus. He wanted to standardize speech and because many different parts of the large country used different languages, they also spelled and pronounced words differently.

Webster finally completed his dictionary in 1825 while he was in Cambridge, England. His new and improved dictionary contained 70,000 words with 12,000 of them never having been included in a published dictionary prior to this. He preferred spellings to match pronunciation and while it is sometimes thought he was the author of the new spellings, he was actually just the most vocal advocate of established alternative spellings. He also included words that were quintessentially American such as skunk and squash, neither of which were part of the British vernacular. He was also a champion of copyright law and on this day, received the copyright for his book which in the first edition only sold 2,500 copies.

If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for the selfish or local purposes.

Language is the expression of ideas, and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas if they cannot retain an identity of language.

When the will of man is raised above law it is always tyranny and despotism, whether it is the will of a bashaw or of bastard patriots.

There iz no alternativ. Every possible reezon that could ever be offered for altering the spelling of wurds, stil exists in full force; and if a gradual reform should not be made in our language, it wil proov that we are less under the influence of reezon than our ancestors. – all from Noah Webster

Also on this day: “I’m the King of the World!” – In 1912, RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg.
Westward, Ho! – In 1846, the Donner Party began their trek west.
Black Sunday – In 1935, the dust bowl got a lot dustier.
Too Early for July Fourth – In 1944, the SS Fort Stikine exploded.
Four Dead in Five Seconds – In 1881, a shoot out took place is El Paso, Texas.

36th Academy Awards

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2015
Original movie poster for Lilies of the Field*

Original movie poster for Lilies of the Field*

April 13, 1964: The 36th Academy Awards ceremony is held. Jack Lemmon hosted the event held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. The Best Picture of the year was Tom Jones which tied with Cleopatra for the most awards received (4). The most nominations (10) went to Tom Jones which also gathered three Best Supporting Actress nominations, the most for any one film. Patricia Neal won Best Actress even though her role was limited and a supporting one in the film, Hud. Margaret Rutherford set a record (since broken) as the oldest recipient of Best Supporting Actress at the age of 71. It was the first time a black actor won Best Actor when Sidney Poitier won for his role in Lilies of the Field.

Poitier was born in Miami, Florida to Bahamian farmers who came to the US to sell their produce. He was born two months early and was not expected to survive. He was taken back to the Bahamas, then a British colony, and grew up on Cat Island. They lived there until Sidney was ten and then moved to Nassau. At the age of 15, he was sent to live with his brothers in Miami. Two years later, he moved to New York City and held a series of positions as a dishwasher. A Jewish waiter sat with him every night for several weeks and taught him how to read. Poitier then joined the US Army and after his tour, went back to dishwashing until he landed a successful audition with the American Negro Theatre.

He ran into some trouble with them since he was tone deaf and simply could not sing, as was expected. He finally landed a role in Lysistrata on Broadway. In 1950 he had to choose between the stage and the movies and chose the latter. His breakout role came in Blackboard Jungle (1955). He was the first African-American male to be nominated for an Oscar for The Defiant Ones (1958) and the first to receive Best Actor on this date. It wasn’t all movies for him and he appeared in the first Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun (1951) and starred in the film version ten years later. During his years of stardom, he was concerned with being typecast in an over-idealized version of African-American males. His characters were not permitted to have flaws or sexuality. He wanted more varied roles, but felt it necessary to project a good example to offset previous stereotypes.

Acting has not been his only career. He also directed several different movies, the most successful being Stir Crazy with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. He was appointed Ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan in 1997 and remained so for ten years. He was also the Ambassador of the Bahamas to UNESCO from 2002 to 2007. He has been married twice and has six daughters as well as six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He hold dual citizenship for the US and the Bahamas. In 1999, the American Film institute named Poitier as the 22nd on a list of the top 25 Greatest Male Stars of All Time.

One of the things I love about acting is that it reveals a certain something about yourself, but it doesn’t reveal your own personal story. – Jessica Lange

Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at age four. – Katharine Hepburn

A lot of what acting is is paying attention. – Robert Redford

Well, I think one of the main things that you have to think about when acting in the movies is to try not to make the acting show. – Jimmy Stewart

Also on this day: Houston We Have a Problem – In 1970, there is an explosion on the Apollo 13 lunar mission.
Freedom of Religion – In 1829, Britain granted Roman Catholics to practice their religion.
Hallelujah! – In 1742, Handel’s Messiah debuted.
What Were They Thinking? – In 1953, MK-ULTRA was launched by Allen Dulles.
Hospital for Special Surgery – In 1863, the orthopedic hospital opened.

* “Original movie poster for the film Lilies of the Field” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 12, 2015
Rebuilt Broughton Suspension Bridge

Rebuilt Broughton Suspension Bridge

April 12, 1831: The Broughton Suspension Bridge collapses. In 1826, John Fitzgerald, owner of Castle Irwell House, built the 144 foot suspension bridge at his own expense. It is believed that Samuel Brown was responsible for the design but it may have been Thomas Cheek Hewes, a Manchester millwright and textile machinery manufacturer. The bridge spanned the River Irwell between Broughton and Pendleton in Greater Manchester, England. It was one of the first suspension bridges in Europe. Tibetans had been using a similar design for crossing chasms or rivers using a chain linked bridge. They had the suspended deck bridge in their much older design. The new bridge was a both source of pride and a source of income as anyone crossing the bridge had to pay a toll.

The “new wonder of the age” had been in operation for about five years when the 60th Rifle Corps returned from an exercise out on the Kersal Moor. They were under the command of Lt. Percy Fitzgerald, son of John. The 74 men were returning to their barracks in Salford and to do, needed to cross the bridge. They were marching four abreast and as they crossed and stepped in unison, the bridge began to vibrate. It was a cause of merriment and the men began to whistle a marching tune and to “humour it by the manner in which they stepped” which caused the bridge to vibrate even more. As the head of the column neared the edge of the Pendleton side, a loud sound resembling a gunshot was heard.

One of the iron columns supporting the chain which held the bridge aloft on the Broughton side of the river began to fall towards the bridge. Large pieces of stone and the iron chain came free from where it had been bolted. With one corner no longer supporting the bridge, it collapsed into the river 16-18 feet below. There were about 40 soldiers thrown into the water, but since it was only a couple feet deep, no one was killed. Twenty men were injured, six of them severely. An investigation into the accident found the single bolt holding the iron chain was badly forged. There should have been two bolts which would have mitigated the problem. Several other bolts had bent but were not broken. While the vibration from the marching triggered the event, the bridge would have eventually collapsed anyway.

The collapse of the bridge put all suspension bridges into doubt but the design was not abandoned. The British Army issued the order to “break step” when crossing bridges. The French also issued a similar order and still the Angers Bridge in France collapsed when soldiers were crossing and over 200 were killed. After the collapse in England, the bridge was rebuilt and strengthened. Even so, it was propped up with extra piles whenever a large crowd was expected to be using it. The bridge was replaced by a Pratt truss footbridge which formally opened on April 2, 1924 and remains in use today.

It has always seemed to me that the most difficult part of building a bridge would be the start. – Robert Benchley

I was one of those children who always thought the bridge would fall in if you walked across it…. I thought about the atomic bomb a lot … after there was one. – Joan Didion

The hardest thing in life is to learn which bridge to cross and which to burn. – Laurence J. Peter or David Russell

People are so helpful. People will stop what they’re doing to show you something, to walk with you through a section of the town, or explain how a suspension bridge really works. – David McCullough

Also on this day: Jerry Did Good – In 1996, Yahoo! goes public.
Polio Vaccine – In 1955, Jonas Salk’s vaccine was approved.
Union Jack – In 1606, Great Britain adopted a new flag.
The Columbus of the Cosmos – In 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to go into space.
Safety in Sports – In 1877, a catcher’s mask was first worn.

Beautiful Music

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2015


April 11, 1888: The Concertgebouw opens. Adolf Leonard van Gendt was the architect of the Dutch concert hall and was inspired by the Gewandhaus of Leipzig, built two years earlier. Building began in 1883 on a pasture outside the city limits of Amsterdam. Because of the quality of land on which the building was placed, the first order of business was to drive 2,186 piles measuring 40-43 feet in length into the soil. The neo-classical building is highly regarded because of its acoustics and is one of the finest concert halls in the world along with Boston’s Symphony Hall and Vienna’s Musikverein. Concertgebouw translates into English as “concert building”. On the 125th anniversary of its opening, Queen Beatrix bestowed the Royal Title “Koninklijk” on the building as she had also done for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Concertgebouw opened on this day with the inaugural concert presenting works of Wagner, Handel, Bach, and Beethoven. Performing was an orchestra of 120 members and a chorus of 500 singers. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra gave its first concert in the hall on November 3, 1888. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest have both regularly performed there for many decades. The Main Hall seats 1,974 people and reverberation time is 2.8 seconds in the empty room and 2.2 seconds before a full audience. This makes the hall perfect for late Romantic composers. This also makes it unsuited to amplified music although Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Pink Floyd all performed there in the 1960s.

Behind the Main Hall is a smaller oval shaped Recital Hall which seats 437. It is well suited for the presentation of chamber music. Even smaller is the Choir Hall which can seat 150. The different rooms provide different acoustics, something not completely understood at the time of construction. Architects and builders did what worked in the past without completely realizing the mechanics behind it. After the building was completed, there was much work still to be done to fine-tune the acoustical ambiance. During later restorations, care was taken not to alter materials used for interior design. In the 1980s, a huge restoration effort was undertaken as the building was found to be sinking into the ground regardless of the piles placed prior to construction.

In 1890, Michael Maarschalkerweerd of Utrecht built the Concertgebouw’s organ. It has 60 registers on three divisions and pedal. Between 1990 and 1993, the organ was renovated. Today, Concertgebouw presents about 900 concerts and other events each year with about 700,000 people in attendance. The managing director is Simon Reinink and the artistic director is Anneke Hogenstijn. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s principal conductor is Mariss Jansons. The Concertgebouw remains privately owned by Het Concertgebouw N.V.

It is a real pleasure to see music so bright and spontaneous expressed with corresponding ease and grace. – Johannes Brahms

A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians. – Frank Zappa

When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had and never will have. – E. W. Howe

Bach gave us God’s Word; Mozart gave us God’s laughter; Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us music that we might pray without words. – From a German Opera House

Also on this day: Coming to America – In 1890, Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Civil Rights Act – In 1968, President Johnson signed the bill into law.
Elks – In 1876, the Elks were organized.
Joe, Not John – In 1890, the Elephant Man died.
Funny Man (Woman, Child) – In 2013, Jonathan Winters died.

* “Concertgebouw” by Hans-Peter Harmsen – Licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 10, 2015
New York City ASPCA police patch *

New York City ASPCA police patch *

April 10, 1866: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is formed. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was formed in the UK in 1824 and gained Royal status in 1840. It inspired Henry Bergh to found a similar venture in the US. On this date, he began his non-profit society based on the premise that animals are entitled to the kind treatment at the hands of humans. While the right may be implicit, it must be mandated by law. The ASPCA is the oldest animal rights organization in the US. Originating in New York City, as the first such society in the Western Hemisphere, Buffalo soon followed suit and became the second chapter in 1867.

On February 8, 1866, Bergh was before a meeting held at Clinton Hall in New York City and made his plea for humane treatment for animals. He discussed the horrific conditions in slaughterhouses and opposed the practice of cockfighting. He began collecting signatures on his “Declaration on the Rights of Animals” and was officially given his charter to incorporate his society on this day. Nine days later, the first anti-cruelty law was passed with the ASPCA permitted to enforce it and any preexisting laws of the same nature. In 1867, the ASPCA got its first ambulance for injured horses and began their crusade to protect horses as well as live pigeons, cats, and dogs. Bergh died in 1888 at the age of 74 and by that time 37 of the 38 states in the union had enacted anti-cruelty laws which were enforced by the ASPCA.

Henry Bergh was a native New Yorker, son of a shipyard owner. When the shipyard was sold, Bergh took his portion of the profits and with his young wife, traveled extensively in Western Europe. He served as vice-counsel in St. Petersburg, Russia under Lincoln, but resigned his post due to the severe weather. He continued to travel and upon return to the US, vowed to take up the cause of animal rights. At first, he faced ridicule but he continued and became a speaker and lecturer on behalf of those with no voice. His cause gained support and he was able to begin the ASPCA with himself as president. The society was initially funded by donations of property from Bergh himself but future donations came to help fund the cause.

Today, Matthew Bershadker is president of the ASPCA with Hoyle Jones sitting as chairman. They remain headquartered in New York City and have over 1.2 million members. They not only are an anti-cruelty organization, but they also provide information and education on the proper care and treatment of pets. They run adoption centers and shelters and for the animal lovers of the nation, provide a host of volunteer opportunities to care for our four-legged friends. While Americans have 70-80 million pet dogs and 74-96 million pet cats, each year about 2.7 million animals are euthanized. Happily, about the same number of pets are adopted. Helping our companions has become the American way.

Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of the country as Wall Street and the railroads. – Harry S. Truman

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. – Will Rogers

Cats are connoisseurs of comfort. – James Herriot

You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals. – George Mikes

Also on this day: It’s Not Over ‘Til the Fat Lady Sings – In 1918, Jørn Utzon is born.
ASPCA Formed – In 1866, our animals friends received a voice.
Deadliest Volcano – In 1815, Mount Tambora began to erupt.
Fore – In 1916, the PGA was formed.
Safety First – In 1849, a patent for a safety pin was issued.

* “NYC ASPCA Police Patch” by collection of User:MOOOOOPS. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –


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