Little Bits of History

ASPCA Formed

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 10, 2013
Henry Bergh

Henry Bergh

April 10, 1866: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is founded. Henry Bergh was born in New York City, the son of a German immigrant shipbuilder. When his father died, he and his brothers sold the business. Henry attended Columbia College for a short time. He liked the social aspect of college life more than the scholastic. He quit school and travelled extensively in Europe. He and his wife enjoyed an affluent lifestyle and the grandeur of the Continent.

While in Seville, the Berghs attended a bullfight and were appalled by the slaughter. Bergh was also entrusted with delivering official dispatches and so mingled with the elite of Europe. He tried to be both poet and playwright and failed miserably with his literary endeavors. While in Russia, Henry witnessed a peasant beating a horse and asked his liveried coachman to tell the peasant to stop. It worked and Henry had a new purpose.

Bergh was not an animal lover, but a lover of justice. In London in 1865, he met the president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. On his return to the States, he began a campaign to provide the same protection in the US. He gave his first speech on the subject at New York’s Clinton Hall on February 8, 1866. He proposed in that speech the moral imperative to protect animals who worked with humans. A law was passed and the ASPCA was formed.

Bergh spent the next 22 years quietly advocating for the rights of animals. Today, the ASPCA has a number of programs. They sponsor pet adoption and offer education concerning proper pet care. They are a non-profit organization with a nationwide membership of more than 1 million. They provide assistance with three key areas: 1) caring for pets, 2) providing positive outcomes for at-risk animals, and 3) helping victims of animal cruelty. The cruel fact remains, half of dogs and 70% of cats in shelters are destroyed because no one adopts them.

“The truth is there aren’t enough homes in the United States for all the puppies and kittens born each year.” – article in Animal Protection

“In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.” – Dereke Bruce

“If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.” – Nan Porter

“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” – Agnes Sligh Turnbull

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The ASPCA had as one of its early goals, improved health care for animals. In 1918, ASPCA veterinarians developed a method of administering anesthesia to animals and one of the first benefits was a horse with a broken kneecap who was able to tolerate a surgical procedure. In 1954, ASPCA hospitals added pathology and radiography (x-ray) laboratory programs. In 1961 they were able to perform the first open heart surgery on a dog. One of their current programs, the Orange Initiative, is trying to end the unnecessary euthanasia of adoptable pets, especially in targeted cities. They also advocate for emergency preparedness plans to have a section for the care of pets in an emergency.

Also on this day: It’s Not Over ‘Til the Fat Lady Sings – In 1918 Jørn Utzon is born.
Deadliest Volcano – In 1815, Mount Tambora began to erupt.
Fore – In 1916, the PGA was formed.

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Windsor Wedding

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 9, 2013
The happy couple

The happy couple

April 9, 2005: Charles Windsor marries his second wife. The 56-year-old divorced his first wife in 1996. The couple had two sons before the marriage dissolved. Immediately upon his divorce, Charles took up a more public relationship with his long-standing mistress. The new couple – ex-husband and mistress – finally moved in together in 2003, six years after the death of Charles’s first wife. The Prince of Wales finally married Camilla Parker Bowles on this date.

The couple announced wedding plans on February 10, 2005 with the wedding set for April 8, 2005 at Windsor Castle. The marriage was to be performed in a civil service with a religious prayer ceremony to follow. The couple was granted permission to marry by the Queen, Prince Consort, and a whole raft of officials as decreed by the Royal Marriage Act of 1772. Prince Charles gave Ms Parker Bowles a family heirloom ring that had belonged to both his mother and grandmother as her engagement ring.

There are many rules regulating royal marriages in England. The venue was changed to outside Windsor Castle so a civil service could be used. The date was postponed 24 hours so Prince Charles could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II as the Queen’s representative. This also gave many dignitaries the opportunity to attend both the funeral and the wedding. The wedding took place at 12:30 PM at the Guildhall in Windsor. The groom’s parents did not attend the wedding but were present at the prayer service at St. George’s Chapel, officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Prince William, Charles’s son, and Tom Parker Bowles, Camilla’s son, were the witnesses for the wedding. The wedding rings were crafted from Welsh gold from the Clogau St. David’s mine in Bontddu, as is tradition. Camilla, as consort to the Prince of Wales, could be called the Princess of Wales. But that would confuse her with Princess Diana and so she chooses to use the title “Duchess of Cornwall” (“Duchess of Rothesay” in Scotland). The couple honeymooned at Birkhall, the Prince’s country home in Scotland.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

“Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.” – Michael Leunig

“When the one man loves the one woman and the one woman loves the one man, the very angels desert heaven and come and sit in that house and sing for joy.” – The Brahma Sutras

“A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short.” – Andre Maurois

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Prince Charles is now 64 years of age and remains heir apparent to the British throne. He is the longest serving heir apparent in British history. He is a champion of many humanitarian and social issues and in that spirit he founded The Prince’s Trust in 1976. He is a proponent of organic farming and other environmental concerns including climate change. He advocated for the place of architecture in society and the preservation of historic buildings. He has written a book on the latter topic, A Vision of Britain. He is also the author of six other books on topics of interest to the Prince. His most recent book was published in 2007 and the subject is organic gardening. He has also written and presented two documentary films and narrated and presented two more.

Also on this day: Water, Water Everywhere – In 1829 the dike in Gdansk fails.
States United – In 1865, the US Civil War came to an end.
World Class Singer – In 1939, Marian Anderson gave a concert from the Lincoln Memorial.

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Venus de Milo

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 8, 2013
Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

April 8, 1820: A French ensign goes hunting for treasure. The French schooner, Estafette, was sailing in the Aegean Sea. Olivier Voutier, 23, was interested in history and when the ship stopped at a small island (Melos), he and two sailors went in search of artifacts. As they dug among the ruins of an ancient theater, they found some marble fragments and pieces of statuary. Nearby, a local farmer was digging for rocks to use in a wall he was building. The farmer dug into a concealed niche and was disgusted to find unusable rock.

Voutier went to see what the farmer had found. There in the gloom, stained and nicked, was part of a statue – the upper half of a nude woman. There was a hole in the right side from some earlier restoration work. Her hair was chipped and the tip of her nose was missing. Even so, she was stunning. Voutier paid the farmer to keep digging in the hope of finding the bottom half of the statue. When the legs seemingly draped in wet fabric were found, the two pieces did not fit together. A third smaller piece was still missing. Digging continued and it was found.

The statue, while not quite complete, was gorgeous. The drapery covering her legs was falling from her hips. Voutier brought several people to see her. Eventually the Marquis de Rivieve bought the statue and had a ship come to the island to take her back to France. The statue was presented to King Louis XVII who in turn donated her to an art museum. And that is how the Venus de Milo finally got to the Louvre.

The Greek goddess was called Aphrodite but her Roman name was Venus. She was the goddess of love and beauty, born from the sea. Stylistic details date her from the Hellenistic period around 130 BC – 100 BC. The missing arms were never found. Evidence shows the right arm was lowered across the torso with her hand resting on her left knee. The knee is slightly raised and her hand would have seemed to hold the slipping drapery in place. The left arm was held outstretched and the hand held an apple. The ancient Greeks would have tinted the statue and adorned her with jewelry. No color remains and only the supporting holes for the jewelry give testimony to her previous bejeweled state.

“There’s only one woman I know of who could never be a symphony conductor, and that’s the Venus de Milo.” – Margaret Hillis

“Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo.” – Mary Pickford

“Even if you gods, and all the goddesses too, should be looking on, yet would I be glad to sleep with golden Aphrodite.” – Homer

“When one is twenty yes, but at forty-seven, Venus may rise from the sea, and I for one should hardly put on my spectacles to have a look.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Venus de Milo or Aphrodite of Milos is slightly larger than life. She stands 6 feet 8 inches tall. There was an inscription on the plinth where she was found which leads some to believe she is the work of Alexandros of Antioch. The plinth is now lost due to some intrigue or politics within the Louvre. Originally thought to be the work of Praxiteles of Attica, the inscription on the now missing plinth refuted that claim. Alexandros seems to have been a wandering artist who worked on commission and also, according to other inscriptions found in Thespiae, an accomplished singer and composer able to win contests in these arts, too. He is believed to be the artist who created a statue of Alexander the Great which is also displayed at the Louvre. This statue was found on the island of Delos.

Also on this day: Punch Without Judy – In 1992 the last issue of Punch magazine hits the newsstands.
 Winchester Cathedral – In 1093, the new Winchester Cathedral was dedicated.
Working Class – In 1935, the WPA was created.

Internet Born

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 7, 2013
The Internet

The Internet

April 7, 1969: RFC-1 is published. Request for Comments documents are memos about new research, innovations, or methods that apply to the Internet. This date, with the first such memo, is the symbolic birthday of the Internet. The forerunner of today’s ubiquitous World Wide Web was the ARPAnet that was developed by the US Department of Defense. The idea, described in August 1962, took until the end of the decade to get up and running with all four of the original points of presence working.

The first ARPAnet message was sent at 10:30 PM on October 29, 1969. Both computers were at UCLA and the original message was “login.” In an ironic premonition of things to come, the system crashed and only the first two letters were sent. An hour later they got it to work properly. One problem was how to get information from Computer A to Computer B. A method for moving information was developed and improved and today we use TCP/IP or Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.

Nam June Paik, a South Korean-American, claims to have coined the term “Information Superhighway” in a study he wrote for the Rockefeller Foundation in 1974. The phrase first appeared in Newsweek in the January 3, 1983 issue. The Internet is a constellation of connected computers – a “network of networks” – or the Superhighway. There are domestic, academic, business, and government networks – the Information.

The “digital divide,” a debated theory, states there is a distinct disadvantage to those without onramps to the Superhighway. In September 2007, it was estimated that 1.244 billion people accessed the Internet, but only 2% of the world’s population regularly cruised the super highways. That would be about 13,000,000 people. The digital divide can be used locally, to show the differences in technological advances within an area or country. Or it can be used in a global sense, pointing out the disparities across the globe with countries that have less technology available to them and their citizens.

“The Internet is the world’s largest library. It’s just that all the books are on the floor.” – John Allen Paulos

“National borders aren’t even speed bumps on the information superhighway.” – Tim May

“The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.” – Andrew Brown

“The Internet is a telephone system that’s gotten uppity.” – Clifford Stoll

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Between 2006 and 2011 (last year for figures) there was an increase of 500,000 people to the world’s population. The number of people connected to the Internet rose from 18% to 35%. Africa went from a 3% usage to a 13% usage while the Americas went from 39% to 56%. The Arab states went from 11% to 29% while Asia and the Pacific went from 11% to 27%. The Commonwealth of Independent States went from 13% to 48% and Europe increased from 50% to 74%. Despite these growing numbers, the digital divide remains both inside countries and between them. Whether or not someone has access depends a great deal on their financial status as well as their geographical location and their government’s policies.

Also on this day: Light My Fire – In 1827 John Walker develops a new match.
 WHO’s Your Caregiver? – In 1948, the World Health Organization was founded.
Canadian Assassination – In 1868, Thomas D’Arcy McGee was killed.

Varney Air Lines

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 6, 2013
Varney Air Lines

Varney Air Lines

April 6, 1926: Leon Cuddleback makes the first contract mail flight in the US Northwest. Walter Varney was a flight instructor who also ran an air taxi service. He bid on an airmail route (CAM 5) from Pasco, Washington, through Boise, Idaho, and ending in Elko, Nevada. The 460 mile route went from “nowhere to nowhere.” Varney bought 6 Swallow biplanes, each of which could transport 600 pounds of mail.

The first flight by Leon was highly successful. He carried 207 pounds of mail aboard the Laird Swallow. Thousands cheered as he took off on the first eastbound flight from Pasco. His early morning flight had a top speed of 90 mph and went without a hitch. That afternoon, Franklin Rose left Boise, again to cheers, but instead of a rollicking success, the plane met a storm cell and was sent 75 miles off course before making a forced landing. Rose was missing for 2 days before he managed to get to a phone and call for help. He walked through wilderness and finally borrowed a horse. He and his 98 pounds of mail made it to Elko on April 9.

Varney was born in California in 1888. He flew for the Aviation Section, US Signal Corps during World War I. Varney’s first westbound airmail flight took off from Boise airfield which was part of Boise State University’s campus. Idaho Governor Charles Moore and Senator William Borah were present. Even with the less than brilliant beginnings, Varney moved forward. He upgraded from biplanes to M-2 Steerman planes on January 15, 1929. He could now transport cargo and mail in the 91 cubic foot space. Varney Air Lines and National Air Transport merged and became United Air Lines. Varney went on to make a fortune despite an airmail scandal in the 1930s.

United Airlines has a fleet of 433 planes today and flies to 210 destinations. Varney sold United and started a second airline in 1934 with a partner, Louis Mueller. Varney Speed Lines began operation on July 15, 1934. Varney sold out to Mueller who, in 1936, sold the line to Robert Six. The airline was renamed in 1937. The new name? Continental. Today, they have 381 planes with another 96 on order and fly to 283 destinations.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” – Al Gore

“All of the biggest technological inventions created by man – the airplane, the automobile, the computer – says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness.” – Mark Kennedy

Muhammad Ali: “Superman don’t need no seat belt.”
Flight attendant: “Superman don’t need no airplane, either.”

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Continental Airlines operated until March 3, 2012 when it merged with United Airlines. United remains in business and now flies to 378 destinations with a fleet of 707 planes. Their headquarters are located in Chicago and Jeff Smisek is the current CEO. There are ten hubs for the airline and two of them are offshore. One is in Guam and the other in Tokyo. The home based hubs are located in Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Their operating income for 2011 (last year available) was $1,822 million while their revenue was $37,110 million. If you are looking for a flight, you might want to consider their fleet and “Let’s Fly Together.”

Also on this day: Twinkies – In 1930 James Dewer invents the ubiquitous treat.
Money, Money, Money – In 1808, John Astor incorporated the American Fur Company.
Olympiad – In 1896, the first modern Olympic Games opened.

Salt March

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 5, 2013
Gandhi's Salt March

Gandhi’s Salt March

April 5, 1930: Mohandas Gandhi arrives at the coast in Dandi and picks up some salt. The British East India Company first got permission to trade with India from Emperor Jahangir in 1617. By 1717, the company’s increasing influence allowed them duty-free trade status. Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah resisted and the ensuing Battle of Plassey of 1757 gave the British company a territorial foothold in India. By 1850 the East India Company controlled most of India. They controlled the economy and governed the land, often with devastating results.

The first rebellion against the British came in 1857. Not only did they fail to oust the Company, India came under the rule of the British Crown. The Indians did not give up the quest for self-rule under a Western-style democracy. Gandhi began to push for separation in 1920. Gandhi was born into a political family. His mother was a devout Hindu and he learned much from her gentle teachings, influencing his entire life. He studied law in London. He was unsuccessful as a lawyer in India and accepted a post to South Africa.

It was in South Africa where he suffered the indignities of racism and prejudice, he first adopted Satyagraha – non-violent protest. The protesters spent years in civil disobedience, refusing to submit to unjust laws. They were jailed, beaten, and some were even shot without offering violence in return. Gandhi, himself, was jailed for a time. The government did not relent until the world’s condemnation was brought to bear. Gandhi negotiated a compromise and his system of Satyagraha solidified. He returned to India.

Unfair taxation has led to many revolts. The British Salt Tax made it illegal for Indians to sell or produce salt. They were not even permitted to collect salt along the coasts. Many could not afford to buy the necessary commodity from the British monopoly. Gandhi and 78 male Satyagrahis walked 241 miles over 24 days gaining the support of the masses. They picked up salt and brought it inland. Their peaceful march was met with violence. After processing the salt, over 50,000 Indians were imprisoned. There was little actual progress toward freedom from the March. It did, however, have a lasting effect on the attitude of Indians. The Republic of India came into being in 1947.

“If my letter makes no appeal to your heart, on the eleventh day of this month I shall proceed with such co-workers of the Ashram as I can take, to disregard the provisions of the Salt Laws. I regard this tax to be the most iniquitous of all from the poor man’s standpoint. As the Independence movement is essentially for the poorest in the land, the beginning will be made with this evil.” – letter from Mohandas Gandhi to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin

“Gandhi’s men advanced in complete silence before stopping about one-hundred meters before the cordon. A selected team broke away from the main group, waded through the ditch and neared the barbed-wire fence. (…) Receiving the signal, a large group of local police officers suddenly moved towards the advancing protesters and subjected them to a hail of blows to the head delivered from steel-covered Lathis (truncheons).” – Webb Miller

“The Salt Satyagraha had demonstrated to the world the almost flawless use of a new instrument of peaceful militancy.” – Günther Gugel

“Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.” – Mohandas Gandhi

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Satyagraha can be loosely translated as “insistence on truth” with satya meaning truth and the agraha meaning insistence. It is part of the broader means of protest called nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term was coined by Gandhi and was influential in Nelson Mandela’s struggle for ending apartheid in South Africa as well at Martin Luther King’s struggle for civil rights in the US. Gandhi’s understanding and use of the term he coined was far more than simple passive resistance, but instead was a non-violent method of bringing the force of truth or love to his form of civil disobedience and righting of unjust behaviors.

Also on this day: Joseph Lister – Joseph Lister was born.
Wedding Bells – In 1614, John Rolfe married Pocahontas.
Big Heads – In 1722, Easter Island was discovered by Europeans.

Robert Walpole

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 4, 2013
Sir Robert Walpole

Sir Robert Walpole

April 4, 1721: Sir Robert Walpole becomes the First Lord of the Treasury and essentially the first Prime Minister of Great Britain under King George I. The first use of the term “Premiere Ministre” was by Cardinal Richelieu in 1624 and was seen as a derogatory term by Sir Walpole who never used it. Walpole, eventually the Earl of Orford, was the senior member of the commission of the treasury and therefore the First Lord. He wielded such influence that he was the de facto PM even though the term was not officially used in a government document until 1905.

Walpole was the third son and one of 17 children, 8 of whom died in infancy. His only surviving elder brother died in 1698 and Robert left King’s College to return to the family estate at the age of 24. He entered the political arena as member of the Whig party three years later and rose through the ranks. He is said to have been a large and imposing man who was not averse to “playing politics.” There have even been accusations of bribery and corruption. Walpole retained power after George I died and backed the rise of George II to the throne.

George II gave Sir Walpole the house at Number 10 Downing Street. He did not accept it as a personal gift, but rather as the place for all future First Lords to live as they served their country. It remains the house used by Prime Ministers of the UK. The brass letterbox holds the title for the house’s occupant – “First Lord of the Treasury.” Walpole moved in during 1735 after extensive redecorating. He joined the Downing Street house and one overlooking the Horse Guards, gutted the buildings and rebuilt them to match his status.

Walpole held office for 20 years and 314 days, the longest of any British PM. George Canning served as PM for only 119 days in 1827 when he suddenly died on August 8, ending his term as the shortest of all PMs. Three other PMs served less than a year. There were more who served for over a decade with Margaret Thatcher serving 11 years and 209 days and Anthony Blair served for 10 years and 56 days.

“Oh, do not read history, for that I know must be false.” – Robert Walpole

“Compared to, say, a prime minister of England, a president has actually astonishingly few legal powers. A prime minister of England can take England to war all by himself. He doesn’t have to have a vote in Parliament, nothing. The President of the United States has to get a Declaration of War.” – David Frum

“The monarchy is so extraordinarily useful. When Britain wins a battle she shouts, “God save the Queen.” When she loses, she votes down the prime minister.” – Winston Churchill

“Once, when a British Prime Minister sneezed, men half a world away would blow their noses. Now when a British Prime Minister sneezes nobody else will even say ‘Bless You.'” – Bernard Levin

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: 10 Downing Street is located in the City of Westminster, London and is the headquarters of Her Majesty’s Government. The building contains about 100 rooms and has a courtyard in the back with a terrace overlooking a half-acre garden. There is a private residence on the third floor and a kitchen in the basement. The other floors are used for conferences and meetings as well as reception areas for foreign and domestic dignitaries. It is next to St. James’s Park and close to Buckingham Palace (the residence of the monarch) and the Palace of Westminster (the meeting place of both houses of parliament). The main house was built by Sir George Downing between 1682 and 1684. Downing was a spy for Oliver Cromwell and later for Charles II. Gaining wealth in this occupation, he was able to buy desired real estate and build lavishly.

Also on this day: US Flag – In 1818, the US adopted a new flag.
Strike While the Iron is Hot – In 1871, Mrs. Potts’ Sad Irons were patented.
Tippecanoe – In 1841, the first sitting US President died.

Cunard Line

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2013
Sir Thomas Royden

Sir Thomas Royden

April 3, 1929: The annual meeting for Cunard Line takes place. Chairman Sir Thomas Royden announced a new ship was to be built. It wasn’t until a year later on May 28, 1930 that John Brown and Company, LTD was named as the builder. The company formed in 1851 and soon earned a reputation for solid ship building. John Brown took over the shipyard in 1899 and the company entered it Golden Age building both luxury liners and battle cruisers.

Between the World Wars, recession hit the company with devastating results. If not for the Cunard Line’s order, they may have folded. With the order for ship #534, John Brown and Co. could survive. The first keel plate was laid on December 1, 1930. With a worldwide depression, loans were no longer available and work halted on December 11, 1931. The hull plating was 80% completed and the ship stood 9 stories tall. Cunard and White Star Lines merged. On March 27, 1934 the North Atlantic Shipping (Advances) bill passed. The British Treasury advanced £4,500,000 to complete order #534. On April 3, 1934, 28 months after the work stoppage, work resumed on the ship.

On September 26, 1934 job #534 was launched and christened RMS Queen Mary. Two days later she was moved to a fitting out basin and boilers, engines, and all heavy machinery was installed. On November 6, 1935 the funnels and masts were completed. On March 5, 1936 King Edward VIII made an inspection tour and on March 24 the Queen Mary departed the shipyard – only to be grounded twice while going down the Clyde River. Finally, on May 12, 1936 at noon, the ship was officially handed over to the Cunard White Star Line.

The Queen Mary made her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936. In August 1939, she was an early victim of war when she was forced to remain in port. The beautiful luxury liner was refitted as a troop ship. Between 1940 and 1946 she carried 765,429 military personnel and traveled 569,429 miles. She carried up to 15,000 troops at a time. Winston Churchill was delivered to three conferences via the ship. She once again became a luxury liner on July 31, 1947 after one more refitting. She was retired from service on September 19, 1967 after making 1,001 crossings of the Atlantic.

“If you want to launch big ships, you have to go where the water is deep.” – Sondra Hilton

“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.” – the Bible

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Never a ship sails out of bay but carries my heart as a stowaway.” – Roselle Mercier Montgomery

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Eventually, a new Queen Mary was built and RMS Queen Mary 2 is run by the Carnival Corporation & PLC. She is the flagship of the Cunard Line and is the only transatlantic liner running between Southampton and New York. The ship was ordered on November 6, 2000 and STX Europe Chantier de l’Atlantique of Saint-Nazaire, France was the builder. She was laid down on July 4, 2002 and christened on January 8, 2004 by Queen Elizabeth II after her completion on December 23, 2003. Her maiden voyage came on January 12, 2004. Queen Mary 2 cost £460 million ($900 million) to build. She is 1,132 feet long and 135 feet wide at the waterline and 147.5 feet wide at the widest part. She has 13 passenger decks and her carrying capacity is 2,620 passengers with 1,253 officers and crew.

Also on this day: A new boxing record set – In 1936, a new record for shortest fight.
Speedy Snail Mail – In 1860, The Pony Express began service.
 Old Smokey – In 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was executed.

US Coinage Act

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 2, 2013
US currency

US currency

April 2, 1792: The Coinage Act or Mint Act is passed by the US Congress and establishes the US Mint. The Act authorized the production of the following coins, listed here with their denominations: Eagle – $10; Half Eagle – $5; Quarter Eagle – $2.50; Dollar or Unit – $1; Half Dollar – 50¢; Quarter Dollar – 25¢; Dismes – 10¢; and Half Dismes – 5¢. By May 8 of that year, an addendum permitted minting of copper coins: Cents – 1¢ and Half Cents – 0.5. Eagles, Half Eagles, and Quarter Eagles were made of gold and the others were minted in silver.

The Eagle contained 247.5 grains of pure gold which is equivalent to nearly $514 in the 2008 precious metals markets. The Dollar contained 375.25 grains of pure silver or almost $14 in 2008. Each coin was minted with appropriate impressions of “Liberty” on one side and “United States of America” on the other. Anyone could bring gold or silver to the mint and have the metal coined – free of charge. Those working at the mint had to be scrupulously honest. The penalty for fraud or embezzlement was death.

The decision to create money using 100 units per dollar was brought to fruition under Alexander Hamilton, the National Treasurer. The term “dollar” was in common usage from 1519 onward and referred to Spanish coinage. Banknotes are now also issued by the Federal Reserve and made by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Before 1928, US paper money measured 7.42 inches by 3.125 inches. Today’s bills are 6.14 inches by 2.61 inches.

US currency remains with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. There are occasional pushes for 50¢ pieces and variously coined $1 pieces that don’t meet with much success. The $1 and $2 bills are still printed in only green and white. However, the $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills have various colors included to thwart counterfeiting. There have been larger bills in circulation in earlier times, including $500, $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, and $100,000 bills. Today, Benjamin Franklin graces the largest denomination bill – the $100. Woodrow Wilson was pictured on the $100,000, printed only as a gold certificate of Series in 1934.

“The only reason a great many American families don’t own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.” – Mad Magazine

“Life shouldn’t be printed on dollar bills.” – Clifford Odets

“Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.” – Woody Allen

“Money often costs too much.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The US dollar is the official currency of the United States but it is also the official currency of El Salvador, Panama, and Ecuador and 16 other countries and six non-US territories also use it. The British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos islands also use the currency despite their being British territories. It the most used money for international transactions and is one of the world’s reserve currencies. There are many nicknames for the various monies. The most used is probably “buck” to indicate a dollar and is used both at home and abroad. “Grand” or “G” both mean $1,000 as does the word “large” or “stack”. The $100 bill is sometimes called “Benjamin” or “Benji” or “Franklin” for obvious reasons. It can also be called a “C-note” in reference to Roman numbers. The smaller bills have a variety of names probably because they are in more frequent use.

Also on this day: Giacomo Casanova – In 1725, Casanova was born.
The Sunshine State – In 1513, Juan Ponce de León discovered Florida.
Starving – In 1863, the Richmond riot took place.

Hitler Jailed

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 1, 2013
Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf

Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf

April 1, 1924: Adolf Hitler is sentenced to jail. Hitler was born in 1889 and was just shy of his 35th birthday when he was sentenced. The full name of the Nazi Party was National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP). The party was active from 1919 to 1945. At its inception, the party believed “Social Welfare was the business of the State.” Corporal Adolf Hitler was sent by German army intelligence to investigate the small political party. Hitler argued with leaders who were impressed with his oratorical abilities. They invited him to join. He was listed as the 555th member, but the 500 was added for appearance sake to make the group appear larger.

Hitler became the 7th executive member of the party. His speaking style was used to gain new members. He became party chairman on July 28, 1921 and named himself Führer or leader. After dissolving the Board of Directors, there was only Hitler in charge. Their ranks swelled. Hitler’s party adopted a black uniform and a one-armed Roman salute. He was a huge fan of Benito Mussolini and the Fascists. When they seized control of Italy with a coup called the “March on Rome” Hitler began to dream of his own overthrow of the German government.

Putsch is the German word for coup d’état which is French for a sudden, forceful overthrowing of a government. The Beer Hall Putsch took place November 8-9, 1923. Hitler was backed by Erich Ludendorff, a member of the General Staff of the German Army during World War I. Gustav von Kahr, the Prime Minister of Bavaria, was making a speech when Hitler and 600 stormtroopers entered the venue – a beer hall. Hitler took the PM and two other officials into a small room and threatened them with death if they didn’t back him as the new leader of Germany.

Hitler did not guard radio or telegraph stations and so news of his putsch was sent to Berlin. As he and his followers marched through Munich, the police stopped them at a roadblock. In the ensuing confrontation 16 storm troopers and 4 police were killed. Hitler went into hiding but was arrested two days later. He could have received the death penalty for treason. Instead he was sentenced to five years in prison. He served less than a year due to Nazi Party sympathizers working on his behalf. The time in prison was spent dictating his book, Mein Kampf.

“I have three bullets for you, gentlemen, and one for me!” – Adolf Hitler to Gustav von Kahr and two others

“By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell – and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.” – Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf

“There must be no majority decisions, but only responsible persons, and the word ‘council’ must be restored to its original meaning. Surely every man will have advisers by his side, but the decision will be made by one man.” – Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf

“(When Adolf Hitler spoke) it was a rhetorical masterpiece. In fact, in a few sentences he totally transformed the mood of the audience. I have rarely experienced anything like it.” – Karl von Muller

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Mein Kampf (My Struggle or My Battle) was part autobiography and part political ideology. The book came in two parts with the first published in 1925 and the second one a year later. It was edited by Bernhard Stempfle, a former Hieronymite friar who was killed during the Night of the Long Knives. The Night of the Long Knives was a purge that took place from June 30 to July 2, 1934 in order to get rid of political dissidents. Mein Kamfp was to be more than two volumes as Hitler needed to pay off quite a few debts incurred during his trial. He stopped at just two volumes, the first with 12 chapters and the second containing 15. Volume One was called A Reckoning and Volume Two was The National Socialist Movement.

Also on this day: Money, American style – In 1778, the $ was invented.
Wrigley Company – In 1891, the soap and baking powder company was founded.
Spaghetti Trees – In 1957, the BBC played and April Fool’s trick.