Little Bits of History

March 31

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2017

1913: The Skandalconzert takes place. The Wiener Konzertverein or Vienna Concert Society hosted a concert conducted by Arnold Schoenberg. It was held at the Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic. Schoenberg was born in 1874 and was part of the expressionist movement in German poetry and art. He was a composer, music theorist, and painter. His work challenged the traditional German Romantic styles and his name would become synonymous with atonality, even though he hated the term. His influence on music has reached across time and he is today revered for his work.

It wasn’t always so. The program on this night included work from Anton Webern, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, Alban Berg (two selections), and Gustav Mahler. Berg’s pieces included poetry along with the music. The poetry was written by Peter Attenberg, already committed in an insane asylum – a fact known to the audience. As the work progressed, an angry crowd began to call for both the poet and the composer to be so committed. Attenberg was not present, but had been given a chance to be there for the dress rehearsal earlier in the day. He was lucid enough to be able to compose a piece about Alma Mahler, Gustav’s wife, three days later after seeing her at the rehearsal.

It was during Berg’s work that a riot broke out. Oscar Straus, an operetta composer, was present when Erhard Buschbeck, an organizer of the concert, punched a member of the audience. Straus noted it was the most harmonious sound of the evening when Buschbeck was later sued. Berg’s work was so adversely affected by the outbreak of violence that his songs were not performed again until 1952 and the full score was not printed until 1966. The rest of the concert was cancelled and Mahler’s piece was not played that evening.

Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder was first performed in 1913 at the same venue with Franz Schreker conducting. It was well received, but Schoenberg had been so offended by this night’s violence, he refused to acknowledge the applause. The audience, in their turn affronted, were inhospitable to contemporary works played there a few weeks later and once again there was unrest in the audience with both sides yelling and throwing things at each other, so much so that furniture was destroyed. A couple months later, Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, also had concert-goers in near riot in Paris.

Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast. – William Congreve

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. – Plato

I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. – Billy Joel

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. – Ludwig van Beethoven

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March 30

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 30, 2017

1909: The Queensboro Bridge opens. The bridge connects Manhattan with Queens in New York City and crosses the East River. Serious proposals for a bridge in that location were brought forth as early as 1838 but funding was an issue. In 1867 a private enterprise began to collect money but went bankrupt in the 1890s. In 1898, Greater New York City was created by combining Manhattan with Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. A Department of Bridges was created and Gustav Lindenthal was the head. He worked with Leffert Buck and Henry Hornbostel to design a bridge and successfully brought forth plans in 1903.

Construction soon began but it took several years to complete the bridge. This was due to delays brought on by a collapse of one of the spans during a storm and labor unrest. Labor issues became so strained, at one point workers attempted to dynamite one span. When the bridge opened for traffic on this day, the cost was about $18 million (About $480 million today) and fifty people had died. Originally called Queensboro Bridge, today the official name is the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge but it is also called the 59th Street Bridge because of its location on the Manhattan side, between 59th and 60th streets.

There are three major spans. From Manhattan to Roosevelt Island is 1,182 feet. The span across the island is 630 feet. The span from the island to Queens is 984 feet. The side spans are 469 and 459 feet with a total length between anchorages at 3,724 feet and total length including approaches measuring 7,449 feet. The spans over water are cantilever designs and until the opening of Quebec Bridge in 1917, the longer Manhattan to Roosevelt Island span was the longest cantilever span in the North America. The bridge is double-decker with the upper level having four lanes of automobile traffic. From there you can see the cantilever trusses. The lower level has five lanes. The North Outer Roadway was converted in 2000 to a strictly pedestrian and bicycle path.

The bridge needed extensive renovation, a process which began in 1987 and was finally completed in 2012 at a cost of $300 million. In 2009, when the bridge was 100 years old, a centennial celebration was carried out with several different events. It was listed by the American Society of Civil Engineers as an National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark during that year. The name changed the next year to honor New York City mayor, Ed Koch. This was not a universally accepted idea. Regardless of the name, the bridge is popular with those navigating through the area and over 175,000 vehicles cross it each day.

Slow down, you move too fast / You got to make the morning last / Just kicking down the cobblestones / Looking for fun and feeling groovy – lyrics from Simon and Garfunkle, The 59th Street Bridge Song

The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world. – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding. – John Updike

There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is, how far is it from midtown and how late is it open? – Woody Allen

March 29

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 29, 2017

1974: The first flyby of the planet Mercury takes place. Mariner 10 was a robotic space probe launched by NASA on November 3, 1973. The mission was to pass by Venus and Mercury and perform experiments to get data to help with future projects. The science team was led by Bruce C Murray and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The mission was the first to use interplanetary gravitation for a slingshot maneuver where Venus was used to bend the flight path into Mercury’s path. It was also the first spacecraft to use solar pressure as a means of flight control.

Mariner 10 performed seven different experiments and six of these had dedicated equipment with which to perform the task. There had been 46 submissions for hoped for experiments and JPL selected these seven based on maximizing scientific discovery while remaining in the budget guidelines. The total cost of the experiments was $12.6 million, about 12% of the total budget of the mission. Another consideration was the weight of the spacecraft and all equipment. Mariner 10 weighed in a 1,109 pounds at liftoff which took place at 12.45 Eastern Time on November 3 where it was put into a parking orbit. When it reached the correct spot, another burn pushed  the craft out of the Earth Moon system.

The three month trip to Venus proved less than smooth sailing. Several technical difficulties arose and one problem would be fixed only to have another one crop up. Mariner 10 passed Venus on February 5, 1974 with the closest approach being 3,585 miles from the planet. She was the twelfth spacecraft to reach Venus and the first to send images back to Earth. As the spacecraft circled Venus and using the gravity assist, a new course was set and her speed dropped from 82,785 mps to 72,215 mph, allowing for an elliptical orbit around the Sun to intersect Mercury’s orbit.

Mariner 10 flew by Mercury three times. On this day, at 20.47 UT at a range of 437 miles, she passed on the shadow side of the planet. The first time an Earth ship went to visit the small Sunside planet. Mariner 10 made one trip around the Sun while Mercury made two and then passed again on September 21, this time at a more distant range of 29,869 miles. NASA lost roll control in October, but there was still a third encounter with Mercury. The closest and last pass took place on March 16, 1975 at a distance of 203 miles. The maneuvering gas was nearly gone but tests were continued until March 24 when the final nitrogen gas ran out. It is presumed Mariner 10 is still orbiting the sun but it was decommissioned when the nitrogen gas was gone.

All the traditional STEM fields, the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, are stoked when you dream big in an agency such as NASA. – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Many of us in Congress have been calling on the Administration to articulate a bold mission for NASA. It seems that the President is answering that call. I wholeheartedly support his vision for going back to the moon, and from there to worlds beyond. – Sheila Jackson Lee

NASA is an engine of innovation and inspiration as well as the world’s premier space exploration agency, and we are well served by politicians working to keep it that way, instead of turning it into a mere jobs program, or worse, cutting its budget. – Bill Nye

To me, NASA is kind of the magical kingdom. I was sort of a geek, and you go there, and there are just these wondrously strange things and people. – Mary Roach

March 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 28, 2017

1910:  The Fabre Hydravion flies. Henri Fabre was born in 1882 in Marseille, France. His family were shipowners in the city which afforded him an education at the Jesuit College of Marseilles where he studied the sciences. With the advent of flight, he turned his attention to airplanes with particular attention to propeller design. His fascination with flight led him to experiment and he patented a system of flotation devices which allowed him to be the first to built, fly, and survive seaplane flight. On this day he made four consecutive flights (his first four flights ever), the longest one about a third of mile.

Hydravion is French for seaplane or floatplane and Fabre worked on the design for four years. He was helped by Marius Burdin, a mechanic, and Leon Sebille, a naval architect. The craft the men developed was unnamed, but the English press and popular nomenclature bestowed the name “Hydravion” on it. The monoplane used Fabre’s patented beam design based on several components already in use but configured specially for taking off from the water. The plane was equipped with three large floats to keep it from sinking. While the day’s longest flight was less than a mile, within a week the distance had grown considerably to 3.5 miles.

The seaplane was a dream of many pioneering aviators and soon others were building their own planes, some using Fabre floats. Soon after her maiden flight, the Hydravion was damaged. The plane was repaired and on April 12, 1911 Jean Becue was flying it at the conours de Canots Automobiles de Monaco and crashed. The plane was damaged beyond repair and no other Hydravions were ever built. The plane is displayed today at the Musee de l’Air in Paris. Fabre himself preferred sailing and as late as 1971 could still be found sailing alone in the Marseille harbor. He died in 1984 at the age of 101.

Seaplanes remain a minor part of the aviation industry. Post-World War II building of airports made them less necessary but they have held onto some niche uses. They are divided into two categories, floatplanes and flying boats. Floatplanes have pontoons while flying boats rely on buoyancy in the fuselage. A seaplane can both take off from and land on water (and only on water) but some modern modifications have made floats retractable, allowing them to also take off and land away from water. They have come a long way from Fabre’s model, the first seaplane to take off and land on the water under its own power.

I was a child of World War Two. I saw films of pilots taking off from aircraft carriers and decided that was the only thing I wanted to do. And it had to be flying from sea carriers. Airfields were not enough. – Eugene Cernan

I don’t have a fear of flying; I have a fear of crashing. – Billy Bob Thornton

Flying is the only active profession I would ever continue with enthusiasm after the War.  – Wilfred Owen

Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price. – Amelia Earhart

March 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 27, 2017

1884: The Cincinnati riot begins. In the 1880s, Cincinnati was a rough industrial city and had a rising crime rate in part due to problems with labor issues and in part due to government corruption. The Cincinnati police force had 300 men and 5 paddy wagons. During the early part of the decade, 50 people were arrested for murder and of those, only four were hanged, the sentence for a guilty verdict. On January 1, 1884 there were 23 accused murderers awaiting trial. Corruption in the city controlled election results and the placement of judges along with influence of juries. In early March the Ohio River flooded with a crest at 71.9 feet leading to even more chaos in an already chaotic city. The papers were calling for justice in a city rife with murder.

On December 23, 1883, a German living in Cincinnati, William Berner and his accomplice, Joe Palmer, a biracial African-American, robbed and murdered their boss, a livery stable owner. They then dumped the body several miles away. Berner’s lawyer went through 500 potential jurors before he could find twelve men to sit on the jury. A long trial had seven different people on the stand testifying to Berner’s admission of planning and carrying out the execution of his employer. Despite this, the jury brought back a verdict of manslaughter rather than murder. The public was outraged. Palmer was tried in a later and separate trial and was found guilty of murder and hanged.

The papers called for a public meeting to condemn Berner’s verdict and even the New York Times reported on the miscarriage of justice. One of the jurors was harassed by irate citizens and spent the night in the police station for protection. When he headed home, the crowds threatened to lynch him and the police were called in. Later in the day, the juror was beaten and another juror was pelted with rotten eggs and dead cats. Another juror was fired when he returned to work. By the next day, the state militia was called in to try to control the angry mobs who were ready to administer their own justice to Berner, who had been secreted away for his safety.

A mob of 10,000 threw bricks and stones at the jail when they found Berner gone. Then they tried to set the jail on fired. The mobs continued to riot the next day and attacked the jail, unsuccessfully. They moved on to the courthouse and set it on fire. A gunfight broke out and nearby stores were looted. Before order was restored, 56 people had been killed with over 300 more wounded and the courthouse was destroyed, making it one of the most destructive riots in American history. Berner served his twenty years in prison and the local political bosses were forced to retire.

Laxity of laws gives the Queen City of the West its crimson record. Preeminence in art, science, and industry avail nothing where murder is rampant and the lives of citizens are unsafe even in broad daylight. – Cincinnati Enquirer, March 9, 1884

For once we find ourselves sympathising with rioters. – London Spectator

A riot is the language of the unheard. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

We hoped against hope that what we had been doing was enough to prevent a riot. It was not enough. – Jerome Cavanagh

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March 26

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 26, 2017

1945: The Battle of Iwo Jima ends. The 8.1 square mile island is part of the Japanese Volcano Islands and with two other groups forms the Ogasawara Archipelago. The island is 750 miles south of Tokyo. Pre-World War II the island was inhabited by 1,018 people living in 192 households in six settlements. They had a school, a Shinto shrine, and one policeman. A mail ship arrived once a month. A garrison was built on the island which was off limits to civilians and run by the Imperial Japanese Navy. By 1944, they were building up troops on the island and in July, all the civilians were forcibly evacuated. The primary goal of either keeping or taking the island was to control the airfields built there.

Operation Detachment was the US campaign to take over the island and control the two airfields in order to provide a staging area for future attacks on mainland Japan. To that end, they engaged in the Battle of Iwo Jima commencing on February 19 under Admiral Chester Nimitz for the Navy and General Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith for the Marines. The US had 110,000 military personnel and over 500 ships to take the island defended by 21,000 Japanese soldiers armed with 23 tanks, 438 artillery pieces, 33 naval guns, 39 anti-tank guns and about 300 anti-aircraft guns. The outcome was determined even before the first shot was fired, but the cost of taking the island is the stuff of which legends are made.

The Americans and allies lost 6,821 men and another 19,217 were wounded. One carrier was sunk, one carrier was severely damaged, and one carrier was lightly damaged. The Japanese had over 18,000 killed or missing and another 3,000 went into hiding in the caves of the island. The last 216 were taken prisoner. The fighting was so intense the airfields were useless by the end of March. The Americans controlled the air and they had superior numbers on both land and sea. The Japanese were unable to retreat and had limited supplies and food. The iconic picture of the flag being raised on Mount Suribachi by six US Marines was taken by Joe Rosenthal from the Associated Press. It became a symbol of the Pacific War and the USMC.

After the fighting ended, there were still thousands of Japanese hidden in the caves. Due to a combination of Bushido honor code and propaganda depicting the US military as barbarous and cruel, the men were fearful of surrender. When the need arose, they finally succumbed and were surprised to find humane treatment. The last holdout finally gave himself up on January 6, 1949. The island proved unsatisfactory as a staging area for the Army and useless as a fleet base for the Navy. The Seabees rebuilt the landing strips and they were used in emergencies. The US kept possession of the island until 1968 when it was returned to Japan.

Marines were trained to move rapidly forward; here they could only plod. The weight and amount of equipment was a terrific hindrance and various items were rapidly discarded. First to go was the gas mask. – Derrick Wright

Shells screeched and crashed, every hummock spat automatic fire and the very soft soil underfoot erupted underfoot with hundreds of exploding land mines … Marines walking erect crumpled and fell. Concussion lifted them and slammed them down, or tore them apart. – Robert Leckie

A nightmare in hell. – Robert Sherrod

On the 40th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima, American and Japanese veterans met again on these same sands, this time in peace and friendship. We commemorate our comrades, living and dead, who fought here with bravery and honor, and we pray together that our sacrifices on Iwo Jima will always be remembered and never be repeated. – memorial plaque

March 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 25, 2017

1911: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burns. The factory covered the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors of the Asch Building, a ten story high rise in New York City. The corner building was in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan and is now known at the Brown Building and is part of the New York University. The factory, owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, made women’s blouses, called shirtwaists. Most of the employees were young immigrant workers, mostly Jews and Italians. The women worked 52 hours a week, nine hours on weekdays and “just” seven hours on Saturday and earned between $7 and $12 per week or about $170 to $290 today.

As was customary at the time, the doors to the exits were kept locked to keep the employees from unauthorized breaks or taking stock. There were normally about 500 employees working, but this was a Saturday and there were only 217 people on the three floors. The shift ended at 5 PM and both owners and their children were in the shop. At 4.40 PM a scrap bin under a cutter’s table in the northeast corner of the eighth floor began to burn. The first fire alarm was called in by a passerby on the street at 4.45 PM when smoke was seen coming from a window. The cause of the fire was thought to be either a tossed unextinguished match or a cigarette butt thrown into a bin holding two months’ worth of cuttings. Next to the bin were hundreds of pounds of scraps from the cutting out of thousands of shirtwaists.

A bookkeeper on the eighth floor was able to telephone to the tenth floor to raise an alarm, but there were no audible alarms in the building. The people on the ninth floor knew about the fire immediately. The factory had two freight elevators, a fire escape, and stairways down to the street. Flames prevented access to one stairway and the other was locked. The foreman who had the key to the locked door had already made his own escape, without opening the door for others. Some people made their way to the roof and some crammed into elevators while they still worked. Soon the one open stairway was impassible in both directions. The fire escape was flimsy and may have been broken before the fire. It soon twisted and collapsed.

The fire company soon arrived, but ladders only reached to the sixth floor. The people trapped in the building tried jumping, either into an open elevator shaft or onto the street far below – or they waiting for smoke and fire to overtake them. In all, 146 people died, 123 women and 23 men. There were 71 survivors, including both owners. They were the lucky people who made it to the roof in time. Both owners were indicted for first- and second-degree manslaughter and were found guilty of wrongful death and paid out $75 per deceased person, much less than their insurance paid them (about $400 per victim). Blanck was arrested in 1913 for again locking employees into his factory and fined $20 for the offense.

I learned a new sound that day, a sound more horrible than description can picture – the thud of a speeding living body on a stone sidewalk. – Gunn Shepard, reporter on the scene

Word had spread through the East Side, by some magic of terror, that the plant of the Triangle Waist Company was on fire and that several hundred workers were trapped. Horrified and helpless, the crowds – I among them – looked up at the burning building, saw girl after girl appear at the reddened windows, pause for a terrified moment, and then leap to the pavement below, to land as mangled, bloody pulp. – Louis Waldman

But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable, the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.- Rose Schneiderman

To investigate factory conditions in this and other cities and to report remedial measures of legislation to prevent hazard or loss of life among employees through fire, unsanitary conditions, and occupational diseases. – mission statement of the Factory Investigating Commission

March 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 24, 2017

1921: The inaugural Women’s Olympiad begins. It was the first international women’s sports event and lasted five days, from March 24 through 31. It was held in Monte Carlo at the International Sporting Club of Monaco. Two more Women’s Olympiads were held, one each year, at the same venue. The International Olympic Committee ruled that women’s events would not be included in the 1924 Olympic Games. Alice Millian and Camille Blanc organized games for the women to compete. Five nations (France, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom sent 100 athletes to participate.

France had the most athletes present with 58 and the UK had 21. The women competed in 11 different events from track and field. There were several races of various distances and relays along with high jump, long jump, standing long jump, javelin, and shot put. There were also exhibition events showing women playing basketball, gymnastic events, and pushball. France and the UK took all the gold medals in the events. The tournament was held at the Tir aux Pigeons in the gardens at the Monte Carlo Casino, a venue for gambling as the name implies, but it also serves as an entertainment complex for live theater and ballet.

These international women’s sporting events would later turn into the every-four-year women’s World Games which were organized by the International Women’s Sports Federations, also founded by Miliat. Although she worked as a professional translator, she was interested in all sports. She was, herself, a participant in the sport of rowing. She was a member of the Femina Sport, a club founded in 1911. Through her work, the Women’s Olympic Games were held in 1922, which infuriated the IOC who insisted on the sole use of the term “Olympic”. Miliats was convinced to change the name of her event after the IOC offered to add ten women’s events to the 1928 Olympic Games. The next time Miliat’s event was held, the name was changed to Women’s World Games.

The Women’s World Games were held in Paris and again only had five nations participating. France, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland were joined by Czechoslovakia and the United States. There were again, eleven events played out before a crowd of 20,000. Eighteen new world records were set. The games were held twice more with the 1930 Games in Prague and the 1934 Games in London.  The International Association of Athletics Federations took over the planning of future events after 1934.

I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match. – Mia Hamm

We live in a world where sports have the potential to bridge the gap between racism, sexism and discrimination. The 2012 Olympic Games was a great start but hopefully what these games taught us is that if women are given an opportunity on an equal playing field the possibilities for women are endless. – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Champions keep playing until they get it right. – Billie Jean King

In sports, you simply aren’t considered a real champion until you have defended your title successfully. Winning it once can be a fluke; winning it twice proves you are the best. – Althea Gibson

March 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 23, 2017

1540: Waltham Abbey is dissolved. The English Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy in 1534 which made the monarch also the Supreme Head of the Church of England, separate from Papal authority. The First and Second Suppression Acts followed in 1536 and 1539. This gave the monarch, King Henry VIII, the power to dissolve monasteries throughout his realm. At the time there were about 900 religious houses with about 12,000 people living there. One adult male in fifty was in religious orders at the time. It was assumed the income and assets from these establishments would increase the income of the Crown, many lands were sold off to pay for Henry’s military campaigns in the coming years.

Waltham Abbey lies about 15 miles NNE of central London. Archeological digs have shown the site has been in use for much longer than originally thought. Traces of rubble date back to the seventh century and radiocarbon dating of a burial site places it between 590 and 690 with a proposed original building date of 610 during the reign of King Saebert of Essex, a ruler noted for his church building. A second church was built in the late eighth century by King Offa of Mercia. In the twelfth century, the church and manor were overtaken by Tovi the Proud, an Anglo-Danish Thegn, aristocratic retainer of a king. He had a vision which led him to dig up a holy artifact from 150 miles away and transport the Holy Rood or Cross back to this church and it then became a pilgrimage site.

Tovi’s son had to sell the property to King Edward the Confessor and it was rebuilt by Harold Godwinson (the future King Harold II) and dedicated in 1060. The church was rebuilt again beginning in about 1090, reusing some of the materials but designed in the Norman rather than the Saxon fashion. It took about 60 years to complete and yet another rebuild was undertaken when Henry II gave the building to the Augustinians as part of his penance for killing Thomas Becket. In 1184, after beginning to rebuild again, the church status was increased and it became an abbey which increased the number of canons from 16 to 24. It was dedicated in 1242. The Holy Cross still brought many pilgrims to the Abbey, both aristocrats and commoners, but the nobles often stayed to hunt in Waltham Forest. This included King Henry VIII who was a frequent visitor.

Waltham was the last abbey to fall when Abbot Robert Fuller surrendered it and the estates to Henry’s commissioners. Fuller was pensioned off as were the prior and 16 canons. The choir master was paid off and given a job at Canterbury Cathedral. The Holy Cross disappeared without a trace. It was suggested the abbey become a cathedral for the Church of England but nothing happened. Today, it is in fact, part of the Church of England as a parish church and The Reverend Peter Smith is vicar. While the church remains, many of the outbuildings were destroyed in the dissolution. The Norman crossing tower and transepts collapsed in 1553 and a new west tower was added after the dissolution.

Well-beloved subjects! we thought that the clergy of our realm had been our subjects wholly, but now, we have well perceived that they be but half our subjects; yea, and scarce our subjects, for all the prelates, at their consecration, take an oath to the Pope clean contrary to the oath they make to us, so that they seem to be his subjects and not ours.

Alas, how can the poor souls live in concord when you preachers sow amongst them in your sermons debate and discord? They look to you for light and you bring them darkness.

Amend these crimes, I exhort you, and set forth God’s word truly, both by true preaching and giving a good example, or else, I, whom God has appointed his vicar and high minister here, will see these divisions extinct, and these enormities corrected.

I am very sorry to know and hear how irreverently that precious jewel, the Word of God, is disputed, rimed, sung, and jangled in every alehouse and tavern, contrary to the true meaning and doctrine of the same. – all from King Henry VIII

March 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 22, 2017

1871: William Woods Holden is removed from office. He was a native of North Carolina and at the age of ten, began an apprenticeship at a newspaper and was working as a printer and writer by age 19. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1841, aged 22. He belonged to the Whig party. Two years later he became the owner and editor of the North Carolina Standard and he changed party affiliation to the Democrats. He became politically active and was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons where he served one term. He was a leader of the Democratic Party in the state but was unable to win the gubernatorial nomination and then his party passed him over for a seat in the US Senate.

During the 1840s and 50s, he advocated for Southern state rights, expansion of slavery, and was even supportive of secession, but by 1860 his ideology had shifted to support the Union and his newspaper lost readers when he supported a unified country. He was sent by his County to vote against secession in 1861, but when President Lincoln asked for North Carolina to send troops to help suppress the seceding states, Holden changed his vote to secede.  As the Civil War dragged on, he became a critic of the Confederate government and joined the North Carolina peace movement. He lost a bid for governor in 1864 running on a peace platform. When the war ended in 1865, Holden was appointed governor by President Andrew Jackson.

Holden played a role in stabilizing the state during early Reconstruction efforts but lost an election later in 1865. Holden went back to his newspaper, but in 1868 he was elected as governor on the Republican ticket. At that time, he gave up his paper and began to track down Ku Klux Klan members using 24 detectives he hired to stop the KKK, the best record in the South. In 1870, after a new law was passed, Holden was able to use the state militia to combat the KKK and did so. Although the goal was to permit all legal voters to vote, the KKK’s tactics worked and Democratic Party regained majorities in both houses of the state legislation. With this power, they impeached Holden on December 14, 1870.

The main charges against Holden were rough treatment and arrests of North Carolina citizens by the state militia which Holden formed after several lynchings. Holden was defended by well known attorneys but was convicted of six of the eight counts against him with the Senate voting straight party lines. The Democrats were able to also remove Holden from his position, the first governor to be removed from office by impeachment. Holden moved to Washington, D.C. and worked on a newspaper there. President Ulysses Grant made him postmaster from 1873 to 1881. Holden died in 1892 at the age of 73. In 2011 the North Carolina Senate pardoned Holden with a vote of 48-0.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. – Abraham Lincoln

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. – Marcus Aurelius

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Lord Acton