Little Bits of History

Daniel Defoe

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 31, 2014
Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

July 31, 1703: Daniel Defoe is placed in a pillory. In 1702, William III died and Queen Anne took over the rule of England with an offensive against Nonconformists. Defoe was a natural target because of his political activities which included pamphlet writing. In December 1702 he had published The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church. The pamphlet satirically poked fun at the way the Tory ministry was handling affairs and led to Defoe being arrested for seditious libel. He was given a punitive fine, held in prison until he could pay the fine, and publi humiliation in a pillory. During his imprisonment, he fell into bankruptcy which was probably a far greater punishment than being placed in stocks. Legend says that while in the pillory, rather than being accosted by noxious objects, citizen threw flowers instead.

After three days in the pillory, Defoe was sent to Newgate Prison. Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer brokered for his release. Harley wished to secure Defoe’s cooperation as an intelligence agent for the Tories. In exchange for information, Harley paid some of Defoe’s debts and improved his financial standing. Soon after his release, Dafoe was back to his writing. His pamphlet, The Storm was based on the horrific storm that blew across England on November 26 – 27, 1703 which killed thousands as well as causing severe damage and uprooting millions of trees. It contains many eyewitness accounts and is considered to be a pioneering work of journalism and science reporting.

Defoe was born in London in 1659 or 1660. He worked as a trader, writer, pamphleteer, spy, and is mostly known today as the author of Robinson Crusoe. He was an early adopter of the novel as a writing form and he a few others were responsible for the English novel’s adoption by the masses. Born, Daniel Foe, he added the “De” for status reasons later in life. His father was a prosperous tallow chandler and member of the Butchers’ Company. Defoe saw some of the most unusual occurrences in English history from the Great Plague of London in 1665 which killed 70,000, to the Great Fire of London of 1666 where the Foe household and only two others in his neighborhood survived the blaze.

His parents were Presbyterian dissenters and by around age 14, he was schooled at the dissenting academy at Newington Green in London. Not attending the Church of England was not tolerated well by the government. As a young man, he began working as a trader and although he seemed to do well, he was rarely out of debt. His first writing saw print in 1697 and over the course of his lifetime he was able to produce over 500 books, pamphlets, and journals on a variety of topic which included politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology, and the supernatural. He died on April 24, 1731 probably while hiding from his creditors. He is known to have used at least 198 pen names.

As covetousness is the root of all evil, so poverty is the worst of all snares.

The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be polished, or the luster of it will never appear.

All our discontents about what we want appeared to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.

All men would be tyrants if they could. – all from Daniel Defoe

Also on this day: Mount Fuji – In 781, Mount Fuji erupts for the first time in recorded history.
Who Knows? – In 1930, The Shadow came to radio.
First US Patent – In 1790, the first US patent was granted.
All Wet All-Stars – In 1961, the baseball game ended in a tie.

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Grand Combin

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 30, 2014
Grand Combin routes

Grand Combin routes

July 30, 1859: Grand Combin is conquered. The 14,154 foot high mountain is part of the Pennine Alps located in Switzerland. It is one of the highest peaks in the Alps and is a large glaciated massif (an uplifted piece of the Earth’s crust) which has several summits – three of them over 4000 meters (13,000 feet). The first to make an attempt to climb was Gottlieb Studer of Berne who reached the Combin de Corbassiere with the help of guild Joseph-Benjamin Felley on August 14, 1851. More attempts were made and the first four parties reached only minor summits. The first complete ascent was made on this date by Charles Sainte-Claire Deville with Daniel, Emmanuel and Gaspard Balleys, and Basile Dorsaz.

Many ancient cultures created superstitious stories around mountains, giving them sacred places in their societies. Because they were closer to the sky, it was assumed this was where the gods might live. An example would be Mount Olympus. During the Enlightenment, scientific curiosity overtook religious reverence and mountains were climbed in order to learn more about the world we all inhabit. In 1741, Richard Pococke and William Windham visited Chamonix where several peaks are now tourist attractions with cable cars ascending to the peaks at 12,605 feet for Aiguille du Midi and Pointe Helbronner at 11,358 feet. In 1760, Swiss scientist Horace Saussure offered a reward to the first person to ascend Mont Blanc in France. It took 22 years before someone claimed the prize.

In the early 1800s many of the alpine peaks were conquered by scientists seeking more information. The shift changed from scientific endeavors to sporting triumphs by mid-century. Sir Alfred Wills ascended Wetterhorn in 1854 and made mountaineering fashionable, especially to the British. The Golden Age of alpinism began with the formation of the Alpine Club in 1857. Many prominent people began climbing mountains for fun, although some also carried out scientific experiments. The sport became more competitive and greater challenges were sought out. The first ascent of the Matterhorn was done in 1865 with Edward Whymper leading the party. Four of their party fell to their deaths which was the death knell to the golden age.

The focus shifted from the Alps to other European mountain ranges and eventually to other continents as well. Climbing the peaks in the US led to climbing South American mountains when Whymper once again scaled a mountain in the Andes, Chimborazo (20,564 feet). By the end of the 1800s most of the highest peaks in the Americas had been scaled. The last frontier loomed in central Asia. The Himalayas are a range of high peaks, which simply begged to be climbed. It took years before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tanzing Norgay finally reached the top of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. Enthusiasts continue to find the thrill of ascent, the conquering of the top of the world, to be an worthwhile pursuit. Today, there is a body of professional guides, equipment, and fixed guidelines to be followed. It remains one of the most dangerous activities in the world.

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. – John Muir

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. – Edmund Hillary

You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional. – Mark Udall

Highest of heights, I climb this mountain and feel one with the rock and grit and solitude echoing back at me. – Bradley Chicho

Also on this day: Where Did He Go? – In 1975, Jimmy Hoffa disappears.
Follow the Money – In 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was signed into law.
Exterminated – In 2003, the last old style Volkswagen Beetle rolls off the assembly line.
House of Burgesses – In 1619, the legislative body first convened.

First Hague Convention

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 29, 2014
First Hague Convention

First Hague Convention

July 29, 1899: The First Hague Convention is signed. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 were the first multilateral treaties put in place to address conduct during warfare and both were based on the Lieber Code – a set of instructions for the Armies of the United States put in place by President Lincoln on April 24, 1863. This early law was the first to set out in codified form, regulations for behavior during times of martial law. It protected civilians and their property and listed punishments for transgressions. Also protected were prisoners of war, hostages, and spies and regulations were set down in regard to pillaging, truces, and prisoner exchanges. The 1874 Brussels Declaration listed 56 articles based on the Lieber Code, but it was never adopted.

The peace conference was proposed on August 24, 1898 by Russian Tsar Nicholas II. He and his foreign minister, Muravyov, were instrumental in bringing the conference to fruition. It opened on May 18, 1899, the Tsar’s birthday. Borrowing heavily from the Lieber Code, regulations about disarmament, the laws of war, and war crimes were addressed. The need for a binding international court for compulsory arbitration to settle international disputes was primary. It was an unachieved goal for both Hague Conferences. What was accomplished was the creation of a voluntary form for arbitration – the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The US, Britain, Russia, France, China, and Persia all favored a binding international court, but Germany led a small group of countries which vetoed this.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration still exists and has 115 state parties involved. The international organization is based in The Hague in the Netherlands. Many nations joined at the first convention with many more participating or reiterating their participation in the second. It is not a court in the conventional understanding of the term. It is, rather, an administrative organization which provides permanent and readily available means to serve as the registry for international arbitration and other related procedures, including enquiry and conciliation. They can assist with temporary arbitral tribunals or commissions. They are housed in the Peace Palace which was built specifically for the Court in 1913 with an endowment provided by Andrew Carnegie.

Also addressed at the 1899 conference was the laws and customs of war on land, adaptations to maritime warfare from the Geneva Convention of 1864, prohibition of discharging projectiles or explosives from balloons or other new analogous methods (Britain and the US did not sign this measure), prohibition against poisonous gases (the US did not sign), and prohibition against bullets which expand inside the human body (the US did not sign). The second council held in 1907 did little to advance peace. In the second conference called by President Theodore Roosevelt (but postponed until the war between Russia and Japan ended), thirteen more treaties were signed. Many of the rules laid down by the conventions were violated in World War I. By the end of World War II, at the Nuremberg Trials, most of the civilized world had recognized the laws and customs of war.

Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time. – Lyndon B. Johnson

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. – Nelson Mandela

The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace. – Carlos Santana

If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. – Desmond Tutu

Also on this day: Arc de Triomphe – In 1836, the Arc de Triomphe is inaugurated.
Irish Unrest – In 1848, the English put down a revolt by the Irish at Tipperary.
I Spy – In 1864, Isabella Boyd was captured.
USS Forrestal – In 1967, a fire broke out on the aircraft carrier.

In the Stars

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 28, 2014
USS Constellation

USS Constellation

July 28, 1855: The USS Constellation is commissioned. She was the last sail-only warship designed and built by the US Navy. She was a sloop-of-war which means a single gun deck. According to the Naval Registry, the original USS Constellation – a frigate – was disassembled in 1853 at the Gosport Navy yard in Norfolk, Virginia and the sloop-of-war was then built at the same yard. Despite being a single gun deck, she was both larger and more powerfully armed that the original, her namesake. The sllop was laid down on June 25, 1853 and launched on August 26, 1854. She was commissioned on this day with Captain Charles H. Bell at the helm.

Constellation, now a museum ship, is 181 feet long at the waterline and 199 feet overall. She is 41 feet wide at the waterline and 43 feet at her most extreme. She has a 1,400 long ton displacement and her draft is 21 feet. When fully staffed, she carried 20 officers, 220 sailors, and 45 marines. She was armed with 25 guns, the majority of them 8-inch chambered shell guns. From 1855-58 she was part of the US Mediterranean Squadron and mostly performed diplomatic duties. In 1859, 1860, and 1861 she stopped three ships (one each year) which appeared to be part of the slave trade. Two of the ships were fitted out for transport of human cargo. One ship had 705 enslaved people aboard. They were set free in Monrovia, Liberia.

During the US Civil War, the Constellation remained in the Mediterranean Sea acting as a deterrent to Confederate cruisers and “commerce raiders”. After the war, she continued to sail near Europe and was part of the effort to bring food to Ireland during the famine. She also participated in bringing exhibits to the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1878. The Constellation also served as a floating barracks. During World War I, she was used as a training ship and over 60,000 recruits learned the ropes aboard her. She was decomissioned in 1933 but recommissioned in 1940 as a national symbol. She spent much of World War II as a relief flagship.

She was decommissioned again on February 4, 1955 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on August 15 of that year, 100 years after her first commissioning. She was taken to Baltimore, Maryland and was designated a National Historic Landmark on May 23, 1963. She is the last intact naval vessel from the Civil War. In 1994 she was condemned as unsafe and taken in for a $9 million restoration project which was completed in 1999. Tours are regularly available and there is a cannon firing demonstration daily. The USS Constellation is now part of the Historic Ships of Baltimore.

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage. – George William Curtis

The effect of sailing is produced by a judicious arrangement of the sails to the direction of the wind. – William Falconer

You can’t believe how bleeding scary the sea is! There’s, like, whales and storms and shit! They don’t bloody tell you that! – Libba Bray

Also on this day: Dusting for Prints – In 1858, fingerprints are first used – sorta.
Motormouth – In 1958, Lord Jellico spoke for the first time in 19 years.
Plane Flies into Building in New York – In 1945, the Empire State Building was hit by a plane.
B-17 Flying Fortress – In 1935, a test flight for the WWII bomber was made.

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Bank of England

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 27, 2014
Bank of England

Bank of England

July 27, 1694: The Bank of England receives a Royal Charter. In 1690, France steamrolled over England with the naval battles proving to be England’s downfall. She desperately needed to rebuild her navy. King William III’s government was unable to borrow funds but needed £1.2 million (at 8% interest). To get funds, subscriptions were incorporated by the name of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England (its official name). The bank was given exclusive rights to the government’s balances and was the only limited-liability corporation permitted to issue bank notes. Lenders gave the government cash (bullion) and were issued notes against the government bonds, which could be lent again. The monies were raised in twelve days and half was used to rebuild the navy.

With all the construction, supplying businesses sprang up – from nail making to agriculture needed to feed the new sailors. The nave quadrupled in size and an industrial boom fueled the economy. All this led to increased power at home and eventually to a global naval presence. The bank was the brainchild of William Paterso who put forth the idea three years earlier. Nothing was done until Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax resurrected the idea. The Royal Charter was granted on this day with the passage of the Tonnage Act 1694. The first governor of the bank was Sir John Houblon. The charter was renewed in 1742, 1764, and 1781.

The bank was originally located in Walbrook, in the City of London but moved to Threadneedle Street in 1734. During the 1700s, the idea of a National Debt came into play and this was also managed by the Bank. The gold standard was upheld until February 27, 1797 when war debts climbed and the nation’s gold reserves were so meager that the bank was not permitted to pay out gold. That lasted until 1821. Another crisis took place in 1780 when rioters in London attempted to storm the building. Every night – until 1973 – a detachment of soldiers patrolled the perimeters to protect the nation’s supply of gold.

Today the Bank of England is an independent public organization owned entirely by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the government. They are one of eight banks authorized to issue banknotes in the United Kingdom. They have a monopoly on issuing banknotes in England and Wales and regulate the commercial banks of Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee does what their name implies but works with both the Treasury and Parliament. Mark Carney is the current governor and has been since July 1, 2013. He is Canadian and will serve an initial five year term rather than the normal eight years. He is seeking UK citizenship. He is the first non-British person to hold the post. The bank has reserves of £403,003,000,000. The British pound sterling is used throughout the UK and in nine British territories.

At the heart of banking is a suicidal strategy. Banks take money from the public or each other on call, skim it for their own reward and then lock the rest up in volatile, insecure and illiquid loans that at times they cannot redeem without public aid. – James Buchan

I have always been afraid of banks. – Andrew Jackson

The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks. – Lord Acton

The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. – John Kenneth Galbraith

Also on this day: What’s up Doc? – In 1940, Bugs Bunny made it to the silver screen.
Reign of Terror – In 1794, Maximilien Robespierre was arrested.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – In 1586, Sir Walter Raleigh brings tobacco to England.
Olympic Bomb – In 1996, a bomb goes off at the Atlanta Summer Olympics.

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And the Rains Came

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2014
Mumbai flooding from 2005

Mumbai flooding from 2005

July 26, 2005: It rains in Mumbai. Rain began to fall around 2 PM. The trains came to a halt around 2:30 because the tracks were waterlogged. Since the trains weren’t running, more traffic took to the roads. The roads became treacherous with low-lying areas dangerous to drive through and in some cases, completely impassable. With cars and trains having difficulty, buses were filling. By 4 PM, a BEST bus left Churchgate for Mahim, 8.8 miles away. It took four hours to make the trip. By 5 PM cell phone networks were down and only some landlines were still functional. With the disruption in communications, radio and TV stations were unable to get weather updates, increasing the level of chaos.

Power Lake started to overflow at 4 PM and during the course of the storm discharged 5.95 million cubic meters of water (over 1.5 billion gallons) into the Mithi River. When looking at graphs of water movement after the storm, it was noted that two flood waves took place. The first coincided with the high tide. The second wave would normally have been absorbed because it was during a time of low tide. However, the first flood wave did not have time to recede and so the second wave met with still remaining water from the first. The drainage systems were clogged and unable to draw off standing water. Power was cut off during the evening since stations were submerged.

The rains continued to fall and 994 mm (39.1 inches) lashed Mumbai over a 24 hour period. This is the eighth highest 24 hour rainfall. Rain continued intermittently the next day as well. Between 8 AM and 8 PM, 644 mm (25.4 inches) fell. For the next week, torrential storms blew over the city. Other places in India were also struck by these storms. Historically, the greatest 24 hour rainfall in India took place in 2004 when 1,168 mm (46.0 inches) fell in Aminidivi on May 6. The previous record for Mumbai was 575 mm (22.6 inches) which fell during one day in 1976.

At least 5,000 people died as a result of these floods along with 24,000 animals. All commercial, trading, and industrial activity was halted for several days. Schools were shut down and post-storm the days were classified as holidays. The financial cost of the floods were estimated at $100 million. Neither the Bombay Stock Exchange nor the National Stock Exchange of India could fully function. All domestic and international airports were closed for over 30 hours which either cancelled or delayed over 700 flights. Much of the public transportation system suffered losses and damages. Over 26,000 vehicles had been stranded on the roadways. Emergency relief was organized and implemented as quickly as possible with over 25,000 people helped at fifteen locations.

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life. – John Updike

You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That’s a part of it. – Denzel Washington

The rain begins with a single drop. – Manal al-Sharif

Also on this day: The Polite Bandit – In 1875, a strange, but polite, man commits his first robbery
First Railway – In 1803, Surrey Iron Railway opened.
As the Worm Turns – In 1989, Robert Morris was indicted.
Feebs – In 1908, the FBI was formed.

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“Temporary” Tax

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 25, 2014
Sir Robert Borden

Sir Robert Borden

July 25, 1917: Sir Robert Borden introduces a new temporary tax in Canada. Unlike their neighbor to the south and the Mother Country, Canada was able to avoid instituting an income tax until World War I. Prior to this, one of the key reasons for immigrating to the country was the lack of an income tax. Funding of the government came from tariffs and customs as well as management of natural resources. At the beginning of the twentieth century, one debate between the Conservatives and Liberals centered on whether or not to tax imports from the US. The Conservatives defeated the Liberals in 1911 as they supported free trade. The Conservatives also opposed an income tax in the hopes of attracting more US and British citizens to their lands.

Wartime expenses increased and the Tories had to reconsider their stance. Borden imposed what was to be a temporary income tax to help cover the cost of the war. With debts piling up in spite of having the tax imposed, it was impossible to simply stop after the war was over. A new Liberal government with Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was brought in. The debate over dismantling it was abandoned and the income tax has been part of Canadian life ever since. The constitutional authority comes from section 91 paragraph 3 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

Canada levies personal income tax on her citizens and certain types of Canadian-source income earned by nonresidents. The amount one must pay is based on the total of taxable income (income earned less allowed expenses). Taxes may be sent to the government via deductions at the source, installment payments, payments paid when filing, or arrears payments. The most often used deductions are for contributions to Registered Retirement Savings Plans, union or professional dues, child care expenses, and business investment losses. Other deductions are less used and certain amounts can be excluded from taxation altogether. Charitable contributions create a tax credit which is based on the amount donated.

Robert Borders was the 8th Prime Minister of Canada and served in that role from October 10, 1911 until July 20, 1920. George V was King at the time with Earl Grey as Governor General. Borders was born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and was originally affiliated with the Liberal party (1867-1891). He switched at that time to the Conservative party and remained so affiliated with them except for a stint as a Unionist from 1917 to 1922. After retiring from political life, he went on to become Chancellor of Queen’s University and at the time of his death in 1937 he was president of Barclay’s Bank of Canada and of the Crown Life Insurance Company. Just as an interesting fact, he is a distant relative to Lizzie Borden, accused murderer.

The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax. – Albert Einstein

There is no such thing as a good tax. – Winston Churchill

When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income. – Plato

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors… and miss. – Robert A. Heinlein

Also on this day: Oh Joy! Louise – In 1978, Louise Joy Brown is born.
TP – in 1871, a patent was granted for perforated toilet paper.
Free Press – In 1925, TASS is established.
SS Andrea Doria – In 1956, the ship was struck out at sea.

Promised Land

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 24, 2014
Brigham Young

Brigham Young

July 24, 1847: Brigham Young arrives in Salt Lake Valley. Young was born in Whitingham, Vermont and worked as a travelling carpenter and blacksmith. He converted to the Methodist church in 1823 and married in 1824. He converted to Mormonism shorting after reading the Book of Mormon in 1830 and officially joined the new church in 1832. He traveled as a missionary to Upper Canada and after his wife died (1832) he was back in Kirtland, Ohio and established a community there. He was ordained as one of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835 and took on a leadership role in which they hoped to export Mormonism to the UK. He also helped organize the exodus from Missouri in 1838.

In 1844 Joseph Smith, president of the church, was killed by an armed mob while in jail on charges of treason. A succession crisis followed and Young and Sidney Rigdon argued over who should take leadership. Young’s argument prevailed and he was ordained President of the Church in December 1847. Rigdon left the church and started his own sect. Because of ongoing conflict within the Mormon church, Young decided to take the faithful followers to Winter Quarters, Nebraska and then on to Salt Lake Valley arriving on this day and establishing Salt Lake City. The day is known as Pioneer Day. Just 29 days after arriving, on August 22, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was organized.

Pioneer Day is celebrated in Utah and also in some regions of the surrounding states with a strong Mormon presence. The day is devoted to the memory of the forced flight from Nauvoo, Illinois as well as other eastern US places and the finding of a new home out west. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members walk portions of the Mormon Trail – the 1,300 mile route covered by those fleeing persecution. Today, the trail is part of the United States National Trails System. While Pioneer Day has strong ties to the Mormons of the region, it is celebrated by everyone regardless of faith or nationality. Many government offices and businesses are closed for the day.

Pioneer Day was first celebrated in 1857 but was interrupted by Johnson’s Army coming near at the start of the Utah War. While Utah Territory was occupied by federal troops, the day was not celebrated but when Lincoln initiated a hands-off policy in 1862, it was once again observed. In 1880, fifty years after the Church was founded, the Golden Jubilee was celebrated with tens of thousands of people participating. Anti-polygamy laws were placed and there were subdued celebrations with the 1886 event being more of a mourning for the people jailed for polygamy. By 1897 the laws were repealed, the celebrations returned, and it was a happy day once again.

True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what’s right.

Don’t try to tear down other people’s religion about their ears. Build up your own perfect structure of truth, and invite your listeners to enter in and enjoy it’s glories.

If I had a choice of educating my daughters or my sons because of opportunity constraints, I would choose to educate my daughters.

It is wise for us to forget our troubles, there are always new ones to replace them. – all from Brigham Young

Also on this day: The Manly Peak – In 1911, Machu Picchu was found – again.
Tennessee – In 1866, the first seceded state is admitted back to the Union.
Oh, Henry – In 1901, William Porter was released from prison.
Eastland – In 1915, the SS Eastland capsized.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 23, 2014
Bath chair

Bath chair

July 23, 1943: The Rayleigh bath chair murder takes place. Archibald Brown, his wife Doris, and their two sons (Eric and Collin) lived in Rayleigh, Essex, England. Archibald was 47 at the time. Twenty-three years earlier he had been in a motorcycle accident in which he lost the use of his legs. He used a bath or Bath chair which is a rather luxurious type of wheelchair. It was more like a rolling chaise or light carriage which usually had a folding hood to protect the user from the elements when outdoors. When three-wheeled (one in front and two in back) it was pushed by hand. Sometimes, when it had four wheels, it could be pulled by horse, donkey, or pony. The name came either because it was shaped like an old-fashioned bathtub or because the designer hailed from Bath.

At 1:45 PM on this day, Doris Mitchell, one of Archibald’s three nurses, went to the air-raid shelter to get the bath chair only to find the door locked. She went to find Mrs. Brown and together they went back to the shelter where they met Eric, then 19, coming out. Both of the women brought the bath chair back to the house and helped Archibald get in. He was dressed in pajamas and a robe and had a plaid blanket over his legs. Doris left the house with Archibald. They had gone about a mile when Archibald shifted his weight to find a cigarette in his pocket. Doris paused and lit the cigarette and then went back behind the chair to resume pushing.

Just a few steps later, there was a violent explosion. Doris suffered leg injuries and as she looked, the chair and its occupant were simply gone. Police found portions of the Archibald’s body on the sides of the road and in nearby trees and gardens. Since it was wartime, the possibility of enemy action was checked into and discarded. The cause of the explosion was found to be a British Hawkins grenade. It is an anti-tank mine which is detonated when an acid-filled glass ampoule is  broken. The device had been placed under the cushion of the chair. During the investigation, it was found that although Archibald had been unable to walk, he had been a cruel and abusive husband and father.

His mistreatment of his wife was less volatile than what his son experienced. Eric had been beaten and humiliated for years and it was getting worse. There was also some notice taken by both mother and son that while their abuse was increasing, Archibald had taken a liking to his new nurse and seemed to delight in their walks outdoors together. Eric was charged with the murder. He had attended a lecture on the same mine/grenade as that used in the murder. He was also a veteran and had access to a weapons store in Spilsby. He confessed to the crime, blaming his actions on his father’s increasing abuse of both himself and his mother. He was found guilty and declared insane. He was finally released in 1975.

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, and nothing worth killing for. – Tom Robbins

If peace can only come through killing someone, then I don’t want it. – Hiro Mashima

The dumber people think you are, the most surprised they’re going to be when you kill them. – William Clayton

“You can die trying to get along with a disagreeable man,” she said, and I put a star beside it when I wrote it down and then taped it to the rear-view mirror for the rest of the drive. She hadn’t said “abusive,” I noticed; she had said that just disagreeable could kill you. – Debby Bull

Also on this day: “Wanna see something really scary?” – In 1983, Vic Morrow and two children are killed on the set of Twilight Zone, The Movie.
World War I – In 1914, Serbia ignored an ultimatum from Austria- Hungary.
Like Riding on Air – In 1888, John Dunlap patents a new tire.
Telstar – In 1962, the first live transatlantic TV program was broadcast.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 22, 2014
Alexander Mackenzie

Alexander Mackenzie

July 22, 1793: Alexander Mackenzie becomes the first recorded person to make a transcontinental crossing of Canada. He was born in Scotland in 1764 and came to America in 1774 when his mother died. His father and an uncle were already there and had joined the King’s Royal Regiment of New York as lieutenants (since they had prior experience). By 1778, Alexander was sent to Montreal to escape the hardships of war and he was given an apprenticeship with Finlay, Gregory & Co. – one the most influential fur trading companies in the city. The company merged with the North West Company in 1787.

On their behalf, Mackenzie traveled to Lake Athabasca in 1788. He learned that the First Nations people knew much about the local rivers and based on information gleaned from this source, he set out on July 10, 1789 to find the source of the Dehcho River (now Mackenzie River) hoping to find the mysterious Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. Instead of finding the Pacific, he wound up on what he called Disappointment River at the Arctic Ocean instead. The river did not lead to Cook Inlet in Alaska as expected and hoped for. He left Canada in 1791 to return to Great Britain to learn about advances in measurement of longitude and returned the next year determined to find a way to reach the Pacific.

On this trip, he was accompanied by two native guides, his cousin Alexander, six Canadian voyageurs, and a dog. They left from Fort Chipewyan on October 10, 1792 and sailed up the Pine River to the Peace River. On November 1, they stopped, built a shelter which became known as Fort Fork, and wintered there. On May 9, 1793, they set out once again and followed the Peace River. They crossed the Great Divide and found the headwaters of the Fraser River. They were warned that the upriver canyon was unnavigable and filled with belligerent natives. He was directed to take a route following the West Road River, cross the Coast Mountains, and then descend via the Bella Coola River. He did so and arrived at Bella Coola, British Columbia. This is situated on North Bentinck Arm, an inlet of the Pacific.

He missed meeting George Vancouver at Bella Coola by just 48 days. Mackenzie was hoping to continue westward but was stopped by the Heiltsuck people in war canoes who hemmed the entourage in.  While holed up, he inscribed his feat on a rock at the water’s edge of Dean Channel. The words were later inscribed permanently by surveyors and is now a National Historic Site. In 1801 he published journals of his exploratory journeys and he was knighted for his efforts. He severed in the Legislature and eventually (1812) returned to Scotland. He married 14-year-old Geddes, an heiress. He died in London in 1820 at the age of 56.

I always wanted to be an explorer, but – it seemed I was doomed to be nothing more than a very silly person. – Michael Palin

It’s important for the explorer to be willing to be led astray. – Roger von Oech

You will not accept credit that is due to another, or harbor jealousy of an explorer who is more fortunate. – Abbott L. Lowell

The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart. – Julien Green

Also on this day: Public Enemy #1 – In 1934, John Dillinger met his end – maybe.
Cleaveland – In 1796, Cleveland, Ohio was named for the leader of the surveying party.
Falkirk – In 1298, the Battle of Falkirk took place.
And They’re Off – In 1894, the first motorized vehicle race was  held.