Little Bits of History

Germ Theory

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 20, 2013
Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

April 20, 1862: Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard complete their first test demonstrating a new theory. Long ago it was believed diseases were spontaneously generated or without prior cause. Others theorized “minute bodies” invaded a person and caused a disease. Contagion was seen as a method of transfer of the tiny creatures, but the creatures remained unseen. Experiments were set up and spontaneous generation was shown to be impossible.

Pasteur was not the first to propose germ theory as a contagion method. He did, however, conduct easily reproducible experiments and was influential in convincing others of the validity of the theory. He proved some germs were responsible for fermentation. Some of the tiny invaders were present from the beginning and some were airborne. By a process of heating most germs present in raw milk would be killed, making the milk safer. The process, called pasteurization, was proven on this date. It is not the same as sterilization, which kills all pathogens.

Claude Bernard, French physiologist, was a proponent of the scientific method. By rigorous methodology he debunked many of the “truths” of his day. He studied the pancreas and liver and proved the existence of vaso-motor nerves. He advanced the theory of homeostasis, or the process by which the body regulates functions in response to external environmental influences. He sought clarification by any method and used vivisection, a practice which prompted his wife to leave him and to actively campaign for its eradication.

Louis Pasteur went on to study vaccines. He worked first with chickens to eradicate avian cholera. He then developed an anthrax vaccine for cattle. Edward Jenner had used cowpox, a less virulent disease, to protect against smallpox, an often lethal disease. Pasteur furthered the idea by artificially weakening the causative agent. A rabies vaccine was developed and used on 9-year-old Joseph Meister on July 6, 1885. The boy lived. The Pasteur Institute was established on July 4, 1887 and continues to expand medical knowledge with about 250 scientists teaching and mentoring 800 students at the Institute each year.

“When we meet a fact which contradicts a prevailing theory, we must accept the fact and abandon the theory, even when the theory is supported by great names and generally accepted.” – Claude Bernard

“The constancy of the internal environment is the condition for a free and independent life.” – Claude Bernard

“Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries the furthest the works of thought and intelligence.” – Louis Pasteur

“There does not exist a category of science to which one can give the name applied science. There are science and the applications of science, bound together as the fruit of the tree which bears it.” – Louis Pasteur

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The Pasteur Institute is a French non-profit foundation. It was founded as stated above and inaugurated on November 14, 1888. They have remained vigilant in fighting infectious diseases. The Institute was the first to isolate HIV, the causative virus behind AIDS, back in 1983. They are based in Paris and between 1908 and 2008, eight Pasteur Institute scientists have been the recipients of the Nobel Prize for medicine physiology with two scientists sharing the 2008 award. They have done definitive research into diphtheria, tetanus, TB, polio, influenza, yellow fever, and plague. The Institute was active during both World Wars not only in the prevention of sanitary risks, but also in dealing with the demands of a stressed culture and environment. Their most critical task was vaccinating the troops against typhoid fever which was easily contracted because of standing pools of water.

Also on this day: Whodunit? – In 1841 the first mystery story is published.
Ludlow Massacre – In 1914, mining riots took place in Colorado resulting in 22 dead.
Two – In 1964, BBC2 launched.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2013
Albert Hofmann

Albert Hofmann

April 19, 1943: Albert Hofmann goes for trip. The Swiss scientist was interested in organic chemistry and received his doctorate in 1930. He went to work in the pharmaceutical department of Sandoz Laboratories. He was studying medicinal plat squill, a pretty spring flower with medicinal qualities used today in cough medicines and cardiac surgery, and fungus ergot, an alkaloid that effects both circulation and neurotransmission. This fungus can lead to extreme physical symptoms from a burning sensation in the hands to hallucinations, convulsions, and even death.

There are a wide range of ergoline alkaloids which can be produced, many with lysergic acid as a precursor. Hofmann synthesized LSD-25 (lysergic acid diethylamide and the 25th derivative synthesized) in 1938. The goal was to find a respiratory and circulatory stimulant. LSD-25 was set aside. Five years later, Hofmann once again began to work with the chemical on April 16, 1943. Some of the substance was absorbed through his fingertips. Hofmann’s ride home that night was bizarre and he decided to take what he hoped would be a non-lethal dose.

Hofmann ingested 250 micrograms of LSD-25. His speech became garbled. A lab assistant helped Hoffman home. During the war years, he rode a bicycle. The trip home was a phantasmagoria of sensation. His sensory input was distorted and he asked for a doctor after reaching his house. The doctor could find nothing physically wrong and sent Hofmann to bed. The chemist thought he was possessed by a demon, his furniture was a threat, and he felt he might be totally insane. Eventually, the terrorizing nature of the hallucinations turned to feelings of euphoria. He awoke the next morning with acute perception of the surrounding world.

Sandoz Laboratories marketed LSD as a wonder drug for a variety of psychiatric conditions. It was said to cure schizophrenia, criminal behavior, sexual perversions, and alcoholism. LSD along with other hallucinogens were studied extensively with more than 1,000 scientific papers written. In one study, 50% of alcoholics treated with LSD were able to refrain from drinking even after a year. The drug became popular on the street, as well. By the mid-1960s, drug enforcement agencies asked for a stop to the drug’s production. Sandoz quit making the drug, but others did not. It had a surge of popularity as a street drug in the 1990s, but the dosages were 30-75 micrograms and there were far fewer ER admissions due to the drug.

“Through my LSD experience and my new picture of reality, I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the animal and plant kingdom. I became very sensitive to what will happen to all this and all of us.”

“It is true that my discovery of LSD was a chance discovery, but it was the outcome of planned experiments and these experiments took place in the framework of systematic pharmaceutical, chemical research. It could better be described as serendipity.”

“What began as a miracle substance subsequently became a youth cult drug, and thus a political danger for America. The decision of the U.S. to ban LSD was purely political. Every doctor has controlled access to heroin, morphine and even strychnine. But for LSD there’s a total prohibition.”

“It was an April day and I went out into the garden and it had been raining during the night. I had the feeling that I saw the earth and the beauty of nature as it had been when it was created, at the first day of creation. It was a beautiful experience! I was reborn, seeing nature in quite a new light.” – all from Albert Hofmann

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Albert Hofmann was born in Baden, Switzerland in 1906. His family was poor and so his godfather paid for Albert’s education. He finished his chemistry degree in three years at the University of Zurich. He was interested in organic chemistry and received he doctorate for work on the study of Chitin. While he is famous for his work with LSD, he did more work after this discovery. He also discovered 4-Acetyoxy-DET which is a hallucinogenic tryptamine. He studied the hallucinogenic substance found in Mexican mushrooms along with other plants used by aboriginal people. Shortly before his hundredth birthday, Hofmann told an interviewer that LDS was “medicine for the soul”. He died of natural causes in 2008 at the age of 102.

Also on this day : Look It Up – In 1928, the last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
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.

Tagged with: , ,

The House that Ruth Built

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 18, 2013
Yankee Stadium opening day

Yankee Stadium opening day

April 18, 1923: Yankee Stadium opens. Also called “The House that Ruth Built,” the arena is home to Major League Baseball team The New York Yankees. The team itself was established in 1901 and belonged to the American League. It was one of the eight charter franchises. The Bronx team originally played in Baltimore, Maryland as the Baltimore Orioles because the New York Giants held enough power to keep the upstarts out of “their” city.

The Yankees came to the Bronx in 1903 and played at Hilltop Park as the New York Highlanders. The team changed their name to the Yankees in 1913. They were purchased by Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston in 1915. They put up the new $2.5 million stadium, taking huge risks. At the time stadiums held, at most, 30,000 seats. Their ambitious plans doubled the size. The Yankees were also the third team in New York City with both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants playing for the National League.

But they also had The Babe, The Sultan of Swat, or The Bambino. George Herbert Ruth, Jr. – aka Babe Ruth – played for The Yankees. He was purchased from the Boston Red Sox in 1919 for $100,000 (the contract itself sold at auction in 2005 for $996,000). He was a phenomenon. He was the first player to hit 60 home runs in a season (1927) – a record that stood for 34 years and was finally broken by Roger Maris (1961). His lifetime record of 714 home runs held from his retirement in 1935 until 1974 when Hank Aaron finally topped it.

The first game played at the new stadium was a 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox, a team that Ruth played for from 1914 until the end of 1919. A crowd of 74,200 fans saw Ruth hit his first home run in his new home. The stadium closed September 1973 and reopened after a $48 million face lift on April 15, 1976. A new stadium opened on April 2, 2009 when the team hosted a work out day for fans. The first game played in the new stadium was a pre-season game against the Chicago Cubs the next day. The first regular season game was played on April 16 against the Cleveland Indians. The $1.5 billion stadium has 50,086 seats and with standing room, holds 52,325.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

“I had only one superstition. I made sure to touch all the bases when I hit a home run.”

“If I’d just tried for them dinky singles I could’ve batted around .600.” – all from Babe Ruth

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Babe Ruth was born in 1895 in a rough neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. Of his seven siblings, only one survived infancy. His childhood is cloaked in mystery including how he ended up at St. Mary’s School for Boys at the age of seven. The school was a reformatory and orphanage and although they provided some education, the students/inmates were also required to work. This was especially true after the boys reached the age of 12 and that is how Babe Ruth became a shirtmaker. He also learned carpentry while there. The boys did most of the work required to run the school, including renovations to the school in 1912. Ruth began playing baseball while at the school.

Also on this day: The Great Quake – In 1906 a large earthquake devastates San Francisco.
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.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 17, 2013
Frederick Smith

Frederick Smith

April 17, 1973: Federal Express officially begins operation. Frederick Smith was born in 1944. His father died in 1948. Fred was interested in flying and became a pilot while still a teenager. In 1962, while a student at Yale University, he wrote a paper for an economics class concerning the inadequate routes available to airfreight shipping companies. He was friends with both George W. Bush and John Kerry while earning his economics degree. He joined the US Marine Corps and became a Ground Officer in the service. He was not a pilot but rather was to “control” ground action. He received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.

Back home in 1970, Smith purchased a controlling interest in Ark Aviation Sales, an aircraft maintenance company. He turned the company into a brokerage firm for trading used jets. His difficulty with the air shipping industry led him to do further research on his old college paper. The inefficiency of the system left room for improvement and lent a space for a new sort of business. On June 18, 1971, Smith took his $4 million inheritance and raised $91 million in venture capital (combined worth in 2008 dollars – $505 million) and incorporated Federal Express.

The official launch date saw 14 small aircraft take off from Memphis International Airport. By evening, they had delivered 186 packages to 25 US cities from Rochester, New York to Miami, Florida. The company was headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee because it was geographically positioned in the center of Smith’s major market area – and weather conditions were good for flying. The airport was also willing to make improvement needed to host cargo rather than simply passenger planes.

The company did not show a profit until June 1975. Legislation passed allowing for larger planes. By 2008, FedEx (name changed in 1994) had grown to be the world’s largest all-cargo fleet. They had a daily lift capacity of 26.5 million pounds and flew almost 500,000 miles. Frederick Smith remains Chairman and President of the company. With 2008 revenues of almost $38 billion and with more than 280,000 employees, things just keep moving.

“If you order a paperback book, slower delivery time via the mail or UPS is fine. But if you’ve ordered a fur coat, then FedEx is more of an option.” – Doug Rockel

“Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something.” – Frederick Smith

“Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged.” – Frederick Smith

“FDX Corp. is benefiting from the accelerated move to fast-cycle production and distribution methods, the growth in electronic commerce and supply chain re-engineering.” – Frederick Smith

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Frederick Smith remains the Chariman, President, and CEO of the company which still maintains headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. Their total equity as of 2012 was $17.1 billion with revenue for that year at $42.7 billion.  Their net income for 2012 was $2.03 billion. Their biggest competitor in the US is United Parcel Service (UPS). All business need to market and FedEx is no exception they have had a number of slogans and ad campaigns and since 2009 there have been four running. Brown Bailout is a reference to issues stemming from some legal wrangling that involved UPS (Big Brown).  We Understand, We Live To Deliver, and The World On Time are three more campaigns used to promote FedEx. Their 1981 ad featuring John Moschitta, Jr. (a fast talker) was listed as one of the most memorable ads ever.

Also on this day: America’s Renaissance Man – In 1790 Benjamin Franklin dies.
Stories – In 1397, Chaucer presented the Canterbury Tales for the first time.
Frenchman Takes Off – In 1944, Henri Giraud escaped a POW prison.

Tagged with: , ,

Goya Sunk

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 16, 2013


April 16, 1945: A German refugee ship, Goya, is sunk by a Russian submarine. The ship was built as a freighter at the Akers Mekunika Verksted shipyard in Oslo, Norway in 1940. She was 476 feet long and 57 feet wide and weighed 5,230 tons. Her top speed was 18 knots. During World War II, Germany occupied Norway and in 1943 the ship was seized by the Germans to be used as a troop transport.

On this date, the Goya was part of a convoy sailing away from the Hel Peninsula and crossing the Baltic Sea on the way to Germany. Operation Hannibal saw many ships sailing across the frigid waters. The Goya was overloaded with passengers who were fleeing from the Red Army. The ship was transporting both refugees and Wehrmacht troops. Records show there were 6,100 passengers listed, but it is thought many more hundreds of people were crammed aboard.

As the convoy was moving out of Danziger Bay, they were tracked by a Soviet minelayer L-3 submarine. Many of the ships were faster than the sub, but there were some ships in the convoy experiencing engine trouble. There was a 20 minute delay while engines were repaired. The Russian captain, Vladimir Konovalov, gave the order to fire on the Goya at 11:52 PM. Sources disagree on the exact time it took for the ship to sink, some giving four minutes while others list the time as seven minutes. But all agree within minutes, the Goya had sunk. She was a freighter, overcrowded, and without any lifeboats.

Nearby ships saved 183 people, but four of them died shortly thereafter. Some sources say as many as 334 people were saved. As the ship sunk in the frigid waters, between 6,000-7,000 passengers drowned or died of hypothermia. Over the next few weeks, thousands of bodies washed up on nearby shores. The Soviet captain was rewarded with the highest military decoration available. He was given the Hero of the Soviet Union award and promoted to rear admiral. The ship’s remains have been discovered resting in the frigid waters and found to be remarkably intact.

“The last great decisive battle of this year will mean the annihilation of (the Soviet Union) …. The enemy is already beaten and will never be in a position to rise again.” – Adolf Hitler, 1941.

“The stakes of war are the existence, the creation, or the elimination of States.” – Raymond Aron

“The problem after a war is with the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?” – A.J. Muste

“War is death’s feast.” – John Ray

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Vladimir Konovalov was born to a Jewish family in what is now the Ukraine in 1911. The family moved when he was young and he studied at the Donetsk National Technical University before joining the Soviet Navy in 1932. He graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1936. He was a submariner serving in the Black Sea Fleet and in 1940 was appointed as second in command of the Soviet submarine L-3. He was promoted to her commander in March 1943. The minelayer was involved in 11 torpedo attacks while under Konovalov’s command. He won a variety of awards for his service during World War II. He was promoted to the rank of rear admiral before his death in 1967.

Also on this day: Little Sure Shot – In 1922, a little old lady performs a remarkable marksmanship feat.
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.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 15, 2013
Early Rand McNally offering

Early Rand McNally offering

April 15, 1924: The Rand McNally Auto Chum is first published. In 1856, William Rand opened a print shop in Chicago. Two years later, Andrew McNally came to work there. They printed material for the forerunner of the Chicago Tribune and by 1859 they were hired to run the paper’s whole printing operation. By 1868, they were officially called Rand McNally & Co. and began printing tickets and timetables for Chicago’s railroads. The next year they put out complete railroad guides and began printing business directories as well as People’s Weekly, an illustrated newspaper.

Using a brand new wax engraving method, their first map appeared in the December 1872 Railroad Guide. Their Business Atlas contained information, including maps, needed for savvy business planning. Still updated, it is now called Commercial Atlas & Marketing Guide. They began publishing Trade Books in 1877 and made their first maps for school use in 1880 with globes and geography textbooks also available. They made their first city roadmap for New York City in 1904.

They continued to publish books, textbooks, and maps. The Auto Chum grew up and became the Rand McNally Road Atlas. It was first published in full color in 1960 and became fully digitized in 1993. They continued to improve on methods of map making. Dr. Arthur H. Robinson was commissioned to devise a more accurate method of creating world maps in 1963 and his method is now used – globally. Today, they not only print maps, but produce a GPS system called IntelliRoute TND which is designed for the over-the-road trucker .

The headquarters moved to Skokie, Illinois outside Chicago in 1952. They also had a book publishing plant in Versailles, Kentucky, which opened in 1962. They were the first to use a new Kodak computer-to-plate printing process. William Rand retired in 1899 and the McNally family ran the company until 1993. They were purchased by Patriarch Partners in 2007. CEO Dave Muscatel now heads the company. They have more than 60,000 retail outlets and supply 98% of US schools with maps.

“Our customers live for the time they spend out on the open road. The all-in-one Ride Atlas features some of the most incredible rides in North America, hand-picked by Harley-Davidson and detailed by Rand McNally.” – Tom Parsons

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.” – Oscar Wilde

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” – Earl Nightingale

“Rand McNally Map to Space.” – Map in ALF’s spaceship

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: William Rand was born in 1828 in Quincy, Massachusetts. He worked as an apprentice for his brother’s print shop located in Boston. He moved to Los Angeles in 1849, lured by the California Gold Rush and founded the state’s first newspaper there. He returned to Boston in 1856 for a short time before settling in Chicago. There he opened his print shop. Andrew McNally was born in 1838 in Armagh, Northern Ireland and came to New York City in 1857. He was a printer by trade and moved to Chicago in 1858. There he was hired by William Rand and was paid $9 per week. The two became business partners and Rand, McNally & Co. was incorporated in 1868. When the company sold in 1997, it was for a reported $500 million.

Also on this day: Going for the Gold – In 1896 the first Modern Olympic Games come to an end.
Leonardo – In 1452, Leonardo da Vinci was born.
Sunk – In 1912, the Titanic sunk.

Westward, Ho!

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 14, 2013
The Donners

The Donners

April 14, 1846: George and Jacob Donner and James Frazier Reed begin a journey westward. Each man and his family had three wagons as well as hired teamsters to run the oxen. They left Springfield, Illinois and headed first for Independence, Missouri. The first leg of the journey was about 250 miles and they arrived safely on May 10. The entire 2,500 mile trip to California was planned to begin after the spring rains and end before the winter snows blocked passage through the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Wagon trains were not static entities and people joined or left the group throughout the journey. The successful farmer and his friends joined in the rush westward across the Great Plains, two mountain ranges, and the desert of the Great Basin. Accounts differ, but about 36 people are thought to have been in the original group leaving from Springfield. The date is also sometimes given as two days later. However, by May 19, this group joined up with another wagon train about 100 miles west of Independence.

The party had difficulty crossing swollen waterways and by June 18, William Russell handed over leadership of the group to George Donner. Russell left the group to buy mules to hasten his journey. The Donner Party heard of “Hastings cutoff,” a shortcut supposed to lessen the journey by hundreds of miles. They rushed to join, but missed Hastings who was leading others across the mountains. They could, however, follow his tracks. It was now August.

September 1 found the group in the desert and without water. They finally got across but lost 36 head of cattle. On October 11, they were attacked by Paiutes, a tribe of Native Americans, who killed 21 oxen, stole 18, and injured several more. Tempers flared and there were several confrontations between the men of the wagon train with some of the party dying violently and others being sent from the group. The entire group straggled apart as they moved into the mountains. By early November, the snow was already 5 feet deep in places. By the end of November, the group was trapped. Rather than backtrack, they set up camp at Alder Creek and eventually a second stop at Lake Camp. Many starved to death and some were cannibalized to ensure the survival of the rest. Of the 89 members of the Donner Party, only 48 survived. The Donner brothers were not among them.

“The Donner Party’s experience was bad, but it wasn’t as bad as everybody’s been told.” – Julie Schablitsky

“The ability to delude yourself may be an important survival tool.” – unknown

“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” – Dr. Hans Selye

“Life is an error-making and an error-correcting process, and nature in marking man’s papers will grade him for wisdom as measured both by survival and by the quality of life of those who survive.” – Jonas Salk

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: George Donner was born in 1784 near Salem, North Carolina. He was the third child and eldest brother in his family. Jacob was born in 1789. George was married three times. The children from his first marriage remained in Illinois when the family went westward. The children from his second and third marriages were with the travelers as they headed for California. Elitha and Leanna were from his second marriage and Francis, Georgia, and Eliza were from his third. All five children survived the trek to California and lived until the 20th century. Georgia was the first child to die in 1911 and Leanna was the last to die. She lived to be about 90 years old and died in 1930. All five children lived the rest of their lives in California, settling there after their rescue.

Also on this day : “I’m the King of the World!” – In 1912, RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg.
Black Sunday – In 1935, the dust bowl got a lot dustier.
Too Early for July Fourth – In 1944, the SS Fort Stikine exploded.

Tagged with: ,

Freedom of Religion

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2013
Religious symbols from around the world

Religious symbols from around the world

April 13, 1829: The British government grants freedom of religion to Roman Catholics. Roman Catholics had been part of the British Isles since 597. While Christians arrived earlier, they were not associated with the Church as overseen by the Pope. The religious doctrine was established in Britain by Augustine of Hippo when the Pope sent him there. Henry VIII and Pope Clement VII disagreed over the validity of the King’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon in 1534. Henry opted to become head of the Church of England which remained doctrinally Catholic. The difference was only the annulment which Henry granted himself.

Henry was excommunicated. There was persecution of Roman Catholics as well as other sects of Protestants. Edward I, Henry’s son, introduced more Protestant forms of worship to the new religion. He died and Mary I tried to return England to Catholicism. When Mary died, Elizabeth I came to power and tried to reform the Anglican Church. For the next 100 years, the two religions each tried to place their preferred royal on the throne, often resulting in bloody confrontations if not outright war.

Laws were passed in England as well as throughout the Empire restricting the rights of Catholics and other religions. The Act of Uniformity was a series of laws establishing the Book of Common Prayer and the Anglican Church as the State Religion. The Test Act was a series of laws making it legal to discriminate against Catholics and Nonconformists in regards to government employment and the severity of punishment through the courts. The Penal Laws addressed these issues in Ireland.

In Canada, the Quebec Act of 1774 removed some restrictions from Catholics. In Britain, the Catholic Relief Act was passed in 1778 and Catholics could own land again. Scotland and Ireland also granted rights to Catholics. With greater pressure from Ireland and Daniel O’Connell, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel introduced legislation to remove most of the remaining restrictions against Catholics. It was a compromise law, however, and much work remained before all religions could be equal under the law. Since 1701, it remains impossible for a Catholic to be monarch of England.

“I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.” – Thomas Jefferson

“No religion can long continue to maintain its purity when the church becomes the subservient vassal of the state.” – Felix Adler

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?” – James Madison

“Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.” – Ulysses S. Grant

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Today, Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in England with the Anglican Church of England still holding a special position within Christianity. Christians comprise nearly 60% of the population. The next largest segment are the non-religious with about 25% claiming to not hold to any religious affiliation. There were 7% who declined to answer the question at all. Islam is the second most practiced religion but even so it only has 5% of the population as practicing Muslims. Other religions are 2% and Hinduism has about another 2%. The US is 73% Christian (48% Protestant and 22% Catholic), 6% other faiths, about 20% unaffiliated, and around 2% who refused to answer the question.

Also on this day : Houston We Have a Problem – In 1970 there is an explosion on the Apollo 13 lunar mission.
Hallelujah! – In 1742, Handel’s Messiah debuted.
What Were They Thinking? – In 1953, MK-ULTRA was launched y Allen Dulles.

Polio Vaccine

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 12, 2013
Jonas Salk and the life saving vaccine

Jonas Salk and the life saving vaccine

April 12, 1955: A killer is apprehended when a new vaccine created by Jonas Salk is approved. Poliomyelitis had been around for about 5,000 years. The virus attacks motor nerves in the spinal column. This can result in an arm or leg becoming paralyzed. In severe cases, the respiratory system can be attacked, leading to death. In earlier times, the disease struck sporadically with infants suffering the most cases. It is therefore also called Infantile Paralysis.

Counter intuitively, improved sanitation led to epidemic outbreaks. Previously, the disease struck newborns who were still protected by their mothers’ antibodies and thus they developed their own lifelong antibodies. When the disease struck at an older age, the babies were no longer under protection from maternal antibodies. The virus struck in ever increasing numbers. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a wheelchair-bound polio patient, founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, now called the March of Dimes. The race was on to find a way to stop this killer.

There are two polio vaccines used worldwide. A vaccine does not cure a disease but rather it establishes or improves natural immunity and thus prevents a particular disease. Edward Jenner noticed milkmaids who routinely suffered from cowpox had an immunity to deadly smallpox. The use of a weaker disease to forestall a more serious one was born. Today there are successful vaccines against both viral and bacterial diseases, but none against parasitic ones. Vaccines are made from dead or inactivated organisms or from purified products made from them.

Jonas Salk began working toward a polio vaccine in 1947. The first successful tests came in 1952. In 1954, an unprecedented trial was held with 2 million children treated using a double-blind testing method. The test was successful. The Salk vaccine is given in two intramuscular injections one month apart and boosters are needed every 5 years. Albert Sabin produced an oral polio vaccine in 1957. The oral form is given in 3 doses before age 2 and needs no boosters unless exposed to the disease or traveling to infective regions. Polio has been eradicated from the Americas, 36 Western Pacific countries, and Europe. There were 1,310 cases worldwide in 2007.

“The polio-eradication initiative has shown the world that even in the poorest countries, widespread and debilitating disease can be defeated.” – Patty Stonesifer

“Over a year has passed since the last sample of polio was found here. We can safely say that we have successfully eradicated polio in Egypt.” – Faten Kamel

“When I worked on the polio vaccine, I had a theory. I guided each [experiment] by imagining myself in the phenomenon in which I was interested. The intuitive realm . . . the realm of the imagination guides my thinking.” – Jonas Salk

“Nature [is] that lovely lady to whom we owe polio, leprosy, smallpox, syphilis, tuberculosis, cancer.” – Stanley N. Cohen

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The March of Dimes was created on January 3, 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the objective of combating polio. It is a not-for-profit organization and their focus changed over time. Today, their objectives are to prevent birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. It was founded in White Plains, New York and today there are 51 chapters across the US. The name March of Dimes was coined by vaudeville star Eddie Cantor in the late 1930s. However, the name was not officially changed until 1976 when it became the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. Another name change came in 2007 and now it is the March of Dimes Foundation. Today, Jennifer L Howse is the President of the Foundation.

Also on this day: Jerry Did Good – In 1996 Yahoo! goes public.
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.

Civil Rights Act

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2013
President Johnson signing the bill into law

President Johnson signing the bill into law

April 11, 1968: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law. This act provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin. Housing discrimination laws do not mean that landlords must accept all tenants. Objective business criteria are lawful reasons for discriminating among prospective tenants. Bad credit and low or no income are legitimate reasons to not lease, but must be applied universally.

The 1968 act provided for the equal opportunity to buy or lease housing. In 1988, it was amended to include people with disabilities and families with children. The 1968 bill passed the Senate 71-20 with 71.2% of Democrats and 90.6% of Republicans voting in favor. The House passed it 250-172 with 63% of Democrats and 54.3% of Republicans voting for it. There was a statute of limitations giving wronged parties one year to approach the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with complaints.

The 1968 act was a continuation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was an improvement on the 14th Amendment that was ratified on July 9, 1868, two years after it was first proposed. After the Civil War, America enacted laws to ensure Due Process and Equal Protection to the newly freed slaves. The 14th Amendment gives a definition to citizenship which overturned the Dred Scott case of 1857.

Civil rights have been an issue worldwide. John Locke, an Englishman who lived in the 17th century, argued that life, liberty, and property should be civil rights and protected by the state. One way to assure your rights are protected is by having a voice in your government. In the US, the 15th Amendment (1870) allowed voting to all, regardless of race and the 19th Amendment (1920) finally gave the vote to women, as well. In the UK the Reform Act 1832 allowed 1 in 7 males (property owners) the vote. Over time, more and more men were given the opportunity to have a say in their governing bodies. By 1928, even women were given the vote.

“Nations begin to dig their own graves when men talk more of human rights and less of human duties.” – William J. H. Boetcker

“We need not concern ourselves much about rights of property if we faithfully observe the rights of persons.” – Calvin Coolidge

“I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot.” – Horace Greeley

“Majorities must recognize that minorities have rights which ought not to be extinguished and they must remember that history can be written as the record of the follies of the majority.” – Lindsay Rogers

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Dred Scott was born in Virginia in 1795. He was born a slave however he, his wife, and their two daughters lived with his master Dr. John Emerson in states and territories where slavery was illegal. He sued for his freedom, along with his family’s. The court system heard the case and when it reached the Supreme Court, Dred Scott V. Sandford was decided against Scott in a 7-2 decision. It was decided by the Court that neither Scott nor any person of African ancestry could claim to be citizens of the US. Not being a citizen meant that he could not bring suit in a federal court. Just as an aside, the Court also said that living in a free territory did not mean that he was a free man and he remained the property of his master.

Also on this day: Coming to America – In 1890 Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Elks – In 1876, the Elks were organized.
Joe, Not John – In 1890, the Elephant Man died.