Little Bits of History

Louisiana Purchase

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 30, 2013
Louisiana Purchase in green and shown over a current map of the US

Louisiana Purchase in green and shown over a current map of the US

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 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.

Also on this day Oh, Hail – In 1888 the deadliest hailstorm in history strikes in India.
Father of Our Country – In 1789, George Washington took the Oath of Office and became the first President of the United States.
Super – In 1006, a supernova was observed.

Rodney King

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2013
National Guard during the LA Riots

National Guard during the LA Riots

April 29, 1992: Four Los Angeles police officers are acquitted and rioting erupts in the streets. Rodney King was stopped on March 3, 1991 for speeding. He resisted arrest after he had been chased for 8 miles. A California Highway Patrol officer had pulled a gun on the obviously intoxicated driver. Sgt. Stacy Koon intervened. King was hit with a taser (50,000 volts of electricity) that should have stopped him. He got up and was tasered again. He got up again. It was at this point an amateur videographer started filming.

The four police believed King was not only drunk, but on PCP or phencyclidine, a psychoactive drug rendering one immune to pain, delusional, and violent. With video running, King charged Officer Lawrence Powell. Powell struck wildly with his baton. The next 10 seconds were both blurred and edited from TV newscasts. They showed King violently resisting. The rest of the video, the part seen all over the world, showed 4 police (3 Caucasian and 1 Hispanic) using extreme force to subdue an African-American.

The trial was held in Simi Valley, California and the police were acquitted. Riots broke out in LA. They built to fever pitch for two days, but lasted for several more. First the National Guard and eventually federal troops were brought in to restore order. In all, 53 people were killed and 2,383 injured during the rioting. There was between $800 million and $1 billion in property damage. There were 3,600 – 7,000 fires set (depending on sources). At least 3,100 businesses and 1,100 buildings were destroyed. Many Korean and other Asian businesses were targeted by the raging crowd. Over 10,000 arrests were made.

One of the most horrific videos taken during the riots showed a truck driver being dragged from his truck and beaten unmercifully by the mob. Helicopter video showed Reginald Denny being further assaulted as he lay unconscious in the street. Denny survived but even after years of rehabilitation, he suffers from neurological deficits resulting from the attack. One of his assailants was later imprisoned. Several other motorists were also attacked by the mob. King was awarded $3.8 million in a civil case. He was arrested again in May 1991 and July 1995. He underwent alcohol treatment in 1993. In August 2003, while driving drunk, he was again fleeing from police when he ran his SUV into a house.

“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?” – Rodney King on May 1, 1992 at the height of the rioting

“The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You can’t just lecture the poor that they shouldn’t riot or go to extremes. You have to make the means of legal redress available.” – Harold H. Greene

“Whenever I happen to be in a city of any size, I marvel that riots do not break out everyday: Massacres, unspeakable carnage, a doomsday chaos. How can so many human beings coexist in a space so confined without hating each other to death?” – Emile M. Cioran

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Rodney King was unable to control his drinking and drug use, even though he was a part of the show, Celebrity Rehab and Sober House. He was engaged to Cynthia Kelly in 2010. She was one of the jurors in King’s civil suit against the City of Los Angeles. As he was awarded $3.8 million, his lawyers were given $1.7 million in addition to cover their fees. King unsuccessfully attempted to sue the lawyers because he thought the money should have been his. On June 17, 2012 King was found on the bottom of his swimming pool. His fiancé called 911 and they attempted to revive him. King was pronounced dead at the hospital and the autopsy showed accidental drowning with alcohol and cocaine as contributing factors.

Also on this day: What’s the Word? – In 1852 the third most popular book in the world is first published.
Free, Free at Last – In 1945, Dachau was liberated.
Slide – In 1903, a landslide down Turtle Mountain took place.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2013


April 28, 1947: Thor Heyerdahl sets sail on Kon-Tiki, trying to reach Polynesia from Peru. Heyerdahl and his five crew members wanted to prove it was possible for pre-Columbian South Americans to sail across the Pacific. Using only materials and technology available to the indigenous Peruvians, the boat was built and supplied for the journey.

Heyerdahl was 32-years-old at the time of the trip. He and his wife had already spent 10 years exploring the wonders of the ancient world, writing about their exploits, and researching the past. The Second World War took up a good deal of the time between their adventures on Fatu Hiva, part of what today is French Polynesia, and the Kon-Tiki journey.

The raft was christened Kon-Tiki after an old name for the Incan sun god, Viracocha. The raft was made mostly of balsa wood. Nine balsa logs measuring 45 feet in length were lashed together with hemp ropes. Cross beams measuring 18 feet were placed every 3 feet for support. The main sail was 15 x 18 feet and hung from a 29 foot mast. There was no metal used in the construction of the raft. They took 66 gallons of water in bamboo tubes along with coconuts, sweet potatoes, and assorted fruits and roots. They fished along the way and also had some US Army field rations with them. The Kon-Tiki sailed 4,300 miles in 101 days before smashing on a reef at Raroia with all on board surviving.

Heyerdahl led expeditions to study archeological findings and made other journeys in primitive ships. He led an expedition to The Galapagos Islands in 1952 and another to Easter Island in 1955-1956. Two sailing expeditions left from Morocco. Ra I sailed 2,262 miles over 54 days in 1969 while Ra II sailed 3,270 miles over 57 days in 1970, both ships sailing westward. These two ships were made of papyrus reeds. Heyerdahl led the Tigris Expedition (1978) which sailed a reed ship down the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, over to Pakistan and then west to Africa. Heyerdahl continued his archeological studies in the Maldives, Easter Island and Peru until his death in 2002.

“Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.” – Thor Heyerdahl

“If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run – and often in the short one – the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.” – Arthur C. Clarke

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T. S. Eliot

“Do not fear risk. All exploration, all growth is calculated. Without challenge people cannot reach their higher selves. Only if we are willing to walk over the edge can we become winners.” – unknown

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The Tigris Expedition was crewed by eleven men from around the world. Heyerdahl was from Norway as was one other crewman. Two were from the US. There were also representatives of Italy, the USSR, Mexico, Iraq, Japan, Germany, and Denmark. They sailed through the Persian Gulf and reached Pakistan. They then headed for the Red Sea, reaching the region after sailing five months. The ship was still seaworthy, but it was burned by the participants as a protest to the wars in progress along the coasts of the entire sea. Heyerdahl wrote a letter to the UN Secretary-General telling why. He remained outspoken about international peace and the environment until he died.

Also on this day: A Voyage to the South Sea – In 1789 the Mutiny on the Bounty takes place.
Exposed! – In 1967, Expo 67 opened in Canada.
Scully’s Predecessor – In 1988, Aloha Airline Flight 243 met with disaster.

John Milton

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 27, 2013
John Milton and Paradise Lost

John Milton and Paradise Lost

April 27, 1667: John Milton enters into a publishing agreement with Samuel Simmons for the epic poem, Paradise Lost. It is said to be “the most noticed, most read, most criticized, and finally the most exalted Poem in the English Tongue.” Milton was paid £5 up front and three printings were to follow with 1,500 impressions per printing, the maximum at the time. Milton would be paid £5 after each new print run. The poem was not written in a conventional manner and was difficult to understand. Simmons suggested Milton add explanatory text in simple language so the meaning could be grasped. Milton originally composed the epic as 10 books and was encouraged to split books VII and X into two, creating 12 books.

Milton was born in 1608 and was radical in his politics and heretical in his theology. Milton’s life is best understood against the historical background of Stuart Britain. He was well-educated and well-traveled, although his European tour was cut short by civil war at home. Milton put aside poetry composition in favor of penning political tracts. Milton’s political ideals came to fruition and then collapsed. Even so, he hung on to his beliefs.

Milton’s personal life was in disarray. He married in 1642 at age 34. His wife was half his age. A few weeks after the wedding, she went to visit family and didn’t come back. Milton campaigned for divorce laws to permit dissolution of a marriage because of incompatibility at a time when adultery was the only cause for action. He was vehemently censured. The couple eventually reconciled. His sight began to deteriorate in 1644 and by 1651 he was completely blind. He had to dictate later works to a series of amanuenses.

Paradise Lost is the story of the Fall of Man with Adam and Eve being driven from Paradise. The work shows Satan after the demon enters a war with God. Issues dealing with free will and self-determination show us Lucifer’s side of the story. Eve, and through her, Adam, are deceived and both must be punished. The Son of God intercedes on behalf of the ruined couple and God forgives them but still expels them from Paradise. The poem was met with mixed reviews. Samuel Johnson praised it but with the caveat, “None ever wished it longer than it is.”

“He who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.”

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

“He who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself.”

“Truth never comes into the world but like a bastard, to the ignominy of him that brought her birth.” – all from John Milton

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Paradise Lost has a total of over ten thousand lines of verse. The writing style is blank verse meaning it is written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. This means there are five pairs of syllables with the first unstressed and the second stressed. Because Virgil’s Aeneid was such a revered work, Paradise Lost was changed to twelve books to emulate it. However, unlike the Latin poet, Milton’s work has books of varying length. The longest is Book IX with 1,189 lines. The shortest is Book VII which only has 640 lines. The Arguments at the beginning of each book were the parts added later to help with the understanding of the work. Satan is the first major character introduced in the book and he is followed by Adam, Eve, the Son of God, God the Father, Raphael, and Michael.

Also on this day: Sultana – In 1865 the steamship Sultana has a boiler explode.
Appendectomy – In 1887, the first successful appendectomy was performed.
Expo 67 – In 1967, the Expo held official opening ceremonies.

John Wilkes Booth

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 26, 2013
John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth

April 26, 1865: A 26-year-old actor dies. The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861 with shots fired on Fort Sumter. It ended when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. With more than 1,000,000 Americans dead or wounded, the young nation needed a respite. Instead, the newly forged peace was shaken when President Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14. He died the next day. Union cavalry tracked down John Wilkes Booth in Virginia, where he was shot.

Booth came from a family of actors and was a popular and nationally ranked thespian. He was a Confederate sympathizer. Early in the war, prisoners of war were exchanged and soldiers could once again join ranks and continue fighting. This procedure was unilaterally halted by General Grant. The South desperately needed more fighting men and the halt of the exchanges was debilitating. Booth planned to kidnap Lincoln and hold him as a hostage to effect a POW exchange. On April 11, 1865, Booth attended a Lincoln speech in which the President stated his intention to grant the vote to the newly emancipated slaves. Booth’s plan changed.

The new plan was to totally disrupt the government. The Lincolns were to attend the Ford’s Theatre’s production of Our American Cousins. Booth entered the theater without question (he had often performed there). Shortly after 10 PM he entered the Presidential Box and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. Booth stabbed another patron as he made his escape by jumping from the box. Booth fell heavily and broke his leg but managed to flee. At the same time, Lewis Powell was to kill Secretary of State William Seward. Seward was wounded, but survived. George Atzerodt was to kill Vice President Andrew Jackson, but chickened out.

Booth fled and eventually met up with another member of his gang, David Herold. They retrieved weapons and other supplies. Booth’s leg needed attention and the two went to Dr. Samuel Mudd, an acquaintance of Booth’s. By month’s end, the conspirators were arrested. So was the doctor and the man who held Booth’s horse on April 14. Their trial lasted seven weeks and 366 witnesses testified. All were found guilty. Four were sentenced to death. Dr. Mudd and two others were given life in prison. Spangler, the stagehand, was sentenced to six years in prison. Mudd, Spangler, and Samuel Arnold were pardoned by President Johnson in February 1869.

“Of the Seven Wonders of the World, can you imagine how famous a man might be who could pull down the Colossus of Rhodes?” – John Wilkes Booth, age 10

“Fame, I must have fame!” – John Wilkes Booth

“This country was formed for the white not for the black man. And looking upon African slavery from the same stand-point, as held by those noble framers of our Constitution, I for one, have ever considered it, one of the greatest blessings that God ever bestowed upon a favored nation.” – John Wilkes Booth

“Tell my mother I died for my country. I did what I thought was best.” – John Wilkes Booth

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: John Wilkes Booth was born on May 10, 1838 in Bel Air, Maryland. He was the ninth of ten children. His father was a Shakespearean actor who had emigrated from England. He was named after a distant relative John Wilkes, a radical politician. Booth senior had brought his mistress with him when moving from England and in 1851, Mrs. Booth divorced her philandering husband. He then married his mistress on his son’s 13th birthday. As a child, John was athletic and popular. He was a lackadaisical student but was described as being “not deficient in intelligence” by the headmaster. While still a teenager, he met a Gypsy fortune teller who predicted that he would have great, but short, life and said he would die young and “meeting a bad end.” By the age of 16, John was interested in both politics and theater.

Also on this day: Chernobyl – In 1986 there is a nuclear disaster in the Chernobyl power plant.
Tanzania – In 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged.
Police – In 1933, the Gestapo was formed.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2013
Robert Noyce

Robert Noyce

April 25, 1961: Robert Noyce receives patent #2,981,877 for a Semiconductor device-and-lead Structure. Noyce and Jack Kilby were independently working on solving the big problem facing electrical engineers of the 1950s called the “Tyranny of Numbers.” This problem described the ever mounting number of components needed to improve circuits and the physical limitation inherent in the number of components that could be hooked together. Kilby, working for Texas Instruments, filed a patent in February 1959 while Noyce and Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation filed one in July 1959.

Unlike some other inventions, particularly the telephone, the two men are given joint credit for bringing all of us into the computer age. They brought us from the vacuum tube to the miniature electronic circuits that form the core of our electronic gadgetry. Integrated circuits run everything from computers to cell phones to digital appliances. Manufacturing and transportation also depend on the tiny chips.

Noyce is nicknamed “the Mayor of Silicon Valley.” While Kilby’s chip was patented six months earlier, it was not widely shared. Noyce improved it and made his “unitary circuit” of Silicon. Noyce left Fairchild and co-founded a new company with Gordon E Moore, a chemist and physicist. They opened their new company in California in 1968. They wanted to name it “Moore Noyce” but that sounded too much like “more noise” and noise is a very bad thing in electronics. Instead, they called their new company INTegrated ELectronics or Intel.

Intel made the first microprocessor in 1971 and one of the first microcomputers in 1972. They went on to create dynamic random access memory chips (RAM). By the late 1980s, they shifted direction from RAM manufacture to microprocessors – the heart of computers. By the end of the millennium, Intel was one of the most profitable hardware suppliers in the PC industry. By 2006, after failed attempts to diversify, 10% of the workforce or 10,500 employees were laid off during a restructuring.

“What we didn’t realize then was that the integrated circuit would reduce the cost of electronic functions by a factor of a million to one, nothing had ever done that for anything before” – Jack Kilby

“Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons.” – Popular Mechanics, March 1949

“The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree, is by accident. That’s where we come in; we’re computer professionals. We cause accidents.” – Nathaniel Borenstein

“Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.” – Rick Cook

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Intel Corporation was founded on July 18, 1968 and headquarters are located in Santa Clara, California. It is the world’s largest and highest valued semiconductor chip maker (based on revenue). Samsung is second and Texas Instruments is third with Toshiba following. (Figures are from 2011). Today, Andy Bryant is the Chairman of Intel and Paul Otellini is the President and CEO. Their revenue in 2012 was $53.34 billion dollars with a net income of $11 billion. They have nearly 105,000 employees. Robert Noyce died in 1990 at the age of 62 and his partner Gordon Moore (creator of Moore’s Law) is still alive at age 84 and living in San Francisco, California. He remains Chairman Emeritus of Intel and has a net worth of $4 billion.

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.
Ouch! –  In 1684, a patent was granted for a thimble.
Rebellion Losses Bill – In 1849, the bill was signed into law.

Soyuz 1

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 24, 2013
Vladimir Komarov

Vladimir Komarov

April 24, 1967: A space mission goes from bad to worse and results in the first space mission fatality. The space race was in full swing. The Russians launched the first successful satellite on October 4, 1957. The US reacted with panic and attempted to first catch up and then surpass the USSR’s efforts. It took four months and several failures before the US could manage to become the second space power. The two superpowers continued to launch rockets. The USSR sent the first living creature into space – Laika, a small dog, did not survive. Finally on April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.

Six years later, another first. Soyuz 1 was a doomed ship. No Soyuz craft had ever successfully flown. The Politburo pushed for the launch despite being told of 200 design faults. Engineers’ concerns were dismissed so the launch could take place on Lenin’s birth date. A successful Soyuz program would give the Soviets an edge on the race to the moon. Not only was Soyuz 1 to launch, but there were plans to launch Soyuz 2, with three cosmonauts aboard, the next day.

Yuri Gagarin was the backup cosmonaut. He attempted to bump Vladimir Komarov, hoping the bureaucrats would not risk their National Hero. Komarov remained on the flight. Launched at 3:35 AM, it was the first night launch. The problems started almost immediately when a solar panel malfunctioned. All systems were compromised by the power shortage. By orbit 13, automatic stabilization systems were gone and manual override was only partially effective. The Soyuz 2 mission was changed to repair and rescue Soyuz 1.

With system failure cascading, it was decided to abort the mission. During orbit 18, retro-rockets were fired as soon as the spacecraft was above the USSR. Even with limited mobility, the spacecraft might have landed safely. But there was a faulty pressure sensor that kept the main parachute from opening. Komarov tried to manually deploy the reserve chute and it tangled. The craft fell to Earth nearly unbraked as further retro-rockets also failed to fire. Vladimir Komarov was given a state funeral. He left a wife and two children behind.

“I’m sure we would not have had men on the Moon if it had not been for Wells and Verne and the people who write about this and made people think about it. I’m rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books.” – Arthur C. Clarke

“As a kid, I knew I wanted to be either a cartoonist or an astronaut. The latter was never much of a possibility, as I don’t even like riding in elevators.” – Bill Watterson

“It is better to be wrong too soon than right too late.” – Yuri A. Gagarin

“Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard’s epic flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive government efforts, … By contrast, our program involves a few, dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable.” – Burt Rutan

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Vladimir Komarov was born in Moscow in 1927. He was a test pilot, aerospace engineer, and a cosmonaut in the first group the Soviets selected in 1960. He was declared unfit for training twice, but with great effort and the knowledge he had as an engineer, he continued to play an active role in the USSR’s space program. He became a member of Air Force Group 1. He helped with space craft design and was selected to command the first Soviet multiman Voskhod 1 spaceflight. When he was also chosen to man the Soyuz 1 flight, he became the first man to enter outer space twice. His total time in outer space was two days, three hours, and four minutes. He was 40 years old when he died.

Also on this day: Greeks Bearing Gifts – In 1184 BC the Greeks bring a gift to Troy.
Hershey’s Park – In 1907, Hersheypark opened.
Looking Outward – In 1990, mission STS-31 boosted into space with the Hubble Space Telescope aboard.

Boston Latin School

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 23, 2013
Boston Latin School 1635

Boston Latin School 1635

April 23, 1635: Boston Latin School is founded – the oldest public school in America still in operation. It opened 148 years before the Academy of Richmond County, the next oldest. It is a public exam school or magnet school, also called a specialist school in the UK. It was founded to educate the sons of the Boston Brahmins – the elite society of Bean town, itself already 5 years old. The first classes were very small. The school remains open to students from grades 7 through 12. The first graduating seniors needed an equally prestigious college to attend, so in 1636 (they claim), Harvard was founded.

The school’s original curriculum and style was based on Boston Grammar School in Lincolnshire, England where many of the original inhabitants hailed from. The school’s motto is Sumas Primi, which is Latin for “we are the first” – both the first school and first in academic standing. The curriculum was and still is based on a solid grounding in the humanities. Even today, students must be well versed in Latin, taking 3-4 years of the language. Students must give three oratorical speeches in English per year as well as one in a foreign language, often Latin.

One of the school’s most famous dropouts was Benjamin Franklin. In his will, he left funds to establish the Franklin Medals which are awarded to the school’s top-ranked pupils at graduation. Students are only admitted in the 7th or 9th grades. There is a considerable dropout rate so the higher grades are usually much smaller in size. There are currently 2,400 students at the school that first went co-ed in 1972, five years after adding women to the faculty. Admission is based on test scores and current grades and limited to residents of Boston proper. Efforts have been made to include more minorities and have met with some, but not total success.

The first classes were held in the homes of the Masters. By 1645, the first schoolhouse was built on School Street and was probably a two-story building. In 1704, a new schoolhouse was erected, but with a growing student body, it was again torn down and rebuilt in 1748. The school continuously grew and even changed street locations. The current building was erected between 1920 and 1922 with new classrooms added over the years. The last renovation was undertaken from 1999-2002.

“Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” – Ambrose Bierce

“We need education in the obvious more than investigation of the obscure.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.” – Mark Twain

“The aim of education is, or should be, to teach people to educate themselves.” – Arnold J. Toynbee

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Boston Latin School remains a premiere school in Boston. Since its founding, there have been four Harvard presidents, four Massachusetts governors, and five signers of the US Declaration of Independence who graduated from the school. As noted above, Franklin was a dropout as was Louis Farrakhan. The school’s colors are purple and white and the teams are known at the Boston Latin Wolfpack. The school has been awarded the 2011 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, the Department of Education’s highest award. In 2012 it was ranked 62nd out of the top 100 schools in the country which included 21, 776 high schools to compete against. Lynne Mooney-Teta is the headmaster and leads a faculty of 139.

Also on this day: The Bard of Avon – In 1616 William Shakespeare dies.
Lights, Camera, Action – In 1867, a patent for a zoetrope was granted.
Mississippi Burning – In 1940, the Rhythm Night Club burned.

Earth Day

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 22, 2013
Earth Day  1970

Earth Day 1970

April 22, 1970: Earth Day is first celebrated. There are two spring dates set aside to honor our planet. The UN sponsors a date at the vernal equinox, a tradition founded by John McConnell. A second date, founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson, is celebrated worldwide on April 22. Each year, people from around the world stop and look around, noticing the fragile system we call home. They give voice to environmental issues with outreach programs to include schools, churches, and all concerned inhabitants of Mother Earth.

Nelson was an environmentalist with a passion for preservation. He was responsible for keeping many open spaces throughout the US and after 18 years in the Senate, he became counselor of The Wilderness Society where he continued to embrace environmental issues. He was concerned with sustainable populations, clean air, and conservation techniques. He was Chairman for Earth Day XXV in 1995. His last Earth Day was celebrated with his grandson, planting a tree. He died in 2005 at the age of 89.

John McConnell began a push for a day to support stewardship of Earth in the late 1960s. He wrote a Declaration of Planetary Rights “concerning the rights of all people to Earth’s land, sea, minerals, oil and other natural resources.” While the opening line suggests the Earth is for humans, the text repeatedly implores us to remain conscious of conservation of precious resources. He wrote an Earth Day Proclamation for the United Nations in 1973 and it was signed by 36 dignitaries. McConnell also wrote the 77 Theses On the Care of the Earth. He addressed this work to those “who seek to do the things about ecology, economics and ethics that foster peaceful progress on our planet.”

The theme for Earth Day 2008 was “A Call for Climate.” In 2009, we celebrated “The Green Generation” and this year, the day coincides with the World People’s Conference on Climate Change. It is the International Year of Biodiversity. Nothing is without criticism. Earth Day, claimed Alex Steffen (advocate for bright green environmentalism) has come to symbolize the pessimistic, political thinking and portrays humans in a negative light. Arbor Day which was begun in the United States in 1872, he said, was a celebration of trees – something lost to the newer movement.

“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

“I’m not an environmentalist. I’m an Earth warrior.” – Darryl Cherney

“I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?” – Robert Redford

“I am the earth. You are the earth. The Earth is dying. You and I are murderers.” – Ymber Delecto

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Gaylord Nelson chose the date for his celebration of Mother Earth deliberately. He felt that college students were our greatest hope for a better future and he wanted to include as many of them as possible in the plan. The dates he selected were between April 19 and 25 because students were done with Spring Break and not yet into finals or graduation worries. The theme for Earth Day 2013 is The Face of Climate Change. Their mission statement is “Climate change can seem like a remote problem for our leaders, but the fact is that it’s already impacting real people, animals, and beloved places. These Faces of Climate Change are multiplying every day. Fortunately, other Faces of Climate Change are multiplying too: those stepping up to do something about it. Together, we’ll personalize the massive challenge climate change presents by telling the world these stories through images shown at thousands of Earth Day events around the world.”

Also on this day: One Ringy-Dingy – In 2000 the UK updates the phone system.
Oklahoma Land Run – In 1889, land in Oklahoma was parceled out in a land run.
Remember the Alamo – In 1836, Santa Anna was captured.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2013
Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf

Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf

April 21, 753 BC: According to legend, Romulus and Remus found Rome. Mythology claimed the twins were the sons of Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia, and the Roman God of War, Mars. The twins were born in 771 BC and Romulus killed Remus when they were 18 years old, after a dispute concerning who was the favored one before the local gods. Birds flocked to Romulus, proving his favored position.

Romulus and Remus were born into trying times. Grandfather Amulius had been banished from Troy but managed to hold on to a considerable treasure. His daughter was supposed to be a priestess sworn to abstinence but somehow ended up with the twins. The enraged grandfather killed his daughter by burying her alive and set the boys out on a hill to die of exposure. Unless he just ordered them all to be thrown into the river to drown.

The servant ordered to kill the boys disobeyed his master and placed the beautiful twins in a basket by the Tiber River which was in flood stage. The basket was carried downstream where the boys were saved by a river god, Tiberinus. They were taken up to the Palentine Hill where they were nursed by a wolf and fed by a woodpecker. They were eventually found by a shepherd who took them home where he and his wife raised the children.

When they were 18, they boys were separated with Remus taken back to his grandfather, Amulius. Remus and Amulius armed the country folk while Romulus and his grandfather’s brother, Numitor, incited those who had been abused by the stern rules of the land. Romulus attacked those holding the city and won. Amulias died in battle and the twins declined to rule in his place. Instead they left for Palentine Hill where they argued over exactly where their new city should be built. They asked the gods to mediate. The gods showed their favor to Romulus and he became the first king of the Roman Kingdom and began building a wall to surround his new city. He also got rid of his dissenting brother when Remus jumped over that wall.

“I would rather be first in a little Iberian village than second in Rome.” – Julius Caesar

“When thou art at Rome, do as they do at Rome.” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city.” – Anatole Broyard

“Rome had Caesar, a man of remarkable governing talents, although it must be said that a ruler who arouses opponents to resort to assassination is probably not as smart as he ought to be.” – Barbara W. Tuchman

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Rome is the capital of Italy and is both a city and a special comune (administrative district). The city covers 496.3 square miles and has 2.8 million residents. It is the largest and most populous comune in Italy and the fourth largest in the European Union (London, Berlin, and Madrid are all larger). The metropolitan area is larger and there are about 3.8 million people living in the city and its outskirts. Rome also includes the small area set aside as the Papal States, capital of the Roman Catholic Church. The Globalization and World Cities has named Rome as the 28th most important global city in 2010. In 2007 it was the 11th most visited city in the world and the third most visited in the European Union. Its historic center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Also on this day: Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918 The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Henry VIII – In 1509, Henry became King of England.
Seattle’s Best – In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition opened in Seattle.