Little Bits of History

October 18

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 18, 2017

1558: King Sigismund II grants the right to establish a postal service. Cracow, Poland was a bustling commercial center in the 14th and 15th centuries. They needed reliable communication networks with their marketing partners in Germany as well as Italy. The Fugger family established a copper trade in the city and began a private service, the Fugger Post. Although initially used only for their own business dealings, eventually the king, queen, and vice-chancellor were also using the service. A second service, the Seweryn Boner’s post, was used for private correspondence between individuals. They partnered with two other private postal services and attempted to create regular postal service in Cracow, but after the death of Seweryn, the service shut down.

Queen Bona Sforza, was the impetus behind the royal decree issued on this day. She was interested because King Sigismund needed regular and reliable correspondence with Italy in order to collect his inheritance. The decree gave the right to establish and manage the post to the Italian Prospero Provana. The services ran from Cracow to Venice and could be used by private people even though the entire cost of the service was borne by the King. There was trouble and in Provana, they had issues with other Thurn and Taxis who carried mail to Austria, Hungary, and throughout Italy. After four years, the King withdrew the benefit granted to Provana.

There is evidence of early royal couriers who were in charge of Egyptian Pharaoh’s correspondence and decrees from as early as 2400 BC. The idea may have been in use for far longer and there is no actual beginning date for moving messages. By the time of the Persian Empire, an early postal system was in use along the Royal Road. The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis began regular mail service from Brussels in the 1500s and directed the Imperial Post of the Holy Roman Empire. The oldest functioning post office is located on High Street in Sanquhar, Scotland (according to the British Postal Museum). When there is an official method of sending messages, there is often also an associated issue with intercepting and censoring the messages and in France, these offices were Cabinets noirs.

At one time, it was necessary to take any correspondence to the local post office, buy the right to have it shipped, and then sending it on. Or you might send it on and the person receiving it would pay the cost (or not). Then the postage stamp was created. These were small pieces of paper issued by the service for a set fee which could be attached to correspondence and then dropping it off via a mailbox or at a centralized collection area. It would then be delivered to the addressee. These came on the scene in the 1840 when England issued the Penny Black. It wasn’t long before collectors began to amass the various versions of stamps and philatelists began to help preserve the history of the mail systems.

Well, the post office is probably not the place you want to go if you want to be infused with patriotism and a renewed sense of vigor. – Adam Carolla

Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas. – Johnny Carson

I don’t buy a lot when I travel, but when I do, I like to send gifts from wherever I am. It’s fun to find the local post office. – Juliana Hatfield

The way I understand it, the Russians are sort of a combination of evil and incompetence… sort of like the Post Office with tanks. – Emo Philips




October 17

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 17, 2017

1956: Donald Byrne meets Bobby Fischer at the Marshall Chess Club. Byrne was 26 years old at the time and an acclaimed American chess master. He was playing in the Rosenwald Memorial Tournament in New York City when he came up against the 13 year old Fischer. Byrne played White and opened with a noncommittal move. Fischer, playing Black, responded with a “hypermodern” principle-based plays. Byrne made what seemed to be a small mistake on move 11 but Fischer capitalized on it and eventually won the game on move 38 even after sacrificing his queen over 20 moves earlier. The match was called the “Game of the Century” by Hans Kmock in Chess Review.

Byrne was born in 1930 and was one of the strongest chess players in American in the 1950s and 1960s. He won the US Open Chess Championship in 1953 and went on to play or captain in five US Chess Olympiad teams between 1962 and 1972. He was awarded the International Master title by the World Chess Federation in 1962. During this particular game, it was obvious Fischer was winning and in a game between two masters, the losing player would normally resign but instead, at the urging of his friends as a “tip of the hat” to the teenager, they played out the game allowing Fisher to checkmate the more advanced player. Byrne died in 1976 at the age of 45 from complications of lupus.

Fischer was born in 1943 and became a grandmaster and the eleventh World Chess Champion. Some consider him to the greatest chess player of all time. He appears first on a number of different ranking lists. While a brilliant chess player, Fischer ran into problems with other players and eventually went into semi retirement in the mid-1960s. He returned to the game and played well until he disappeared from the scene in 1972. He remained hidden for twenty years until in 1992, he met with Boris Spassky, beating him. However, US President HW Bush had imposed sanctions against Yugoslavia and warned Fischer not to play. Now a fugitive, Fischer took up residence in Hungary. He moved around and was in Iceland when he died in 2008 at the age of 64.

Chess is a game played on a 64-square board. The game is old and based on prior similar games. By 1200 rules were changing to make it more of the modern game we know today. Around 1475 several new rules were added which turned into what we know today. The Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation (FIDE) was formed in 1924 and has been the arbiter of international chess competitions since. Founded in Paris, it oversees the 185 national associations. The current champion is Magnus Carlsen of Norway who took the title in 2013 and has successfully defended it in 2014 and again in 2016.

I just made the moves I thought were best. I was just lucky. 0 Bobby Fischer, after winning the Game of the Century

You have to remember, Bobby wasn’t yet Bobby Fischer at that time. – Donald Byrne, reminiscing about the game

When I won the world championship, in 1972, the United States had an image of, you know, a football country, a baseball country, but nobody thought of it as an intellectual country. – Bobby Fischer

All that matters on the chessboard is good moves. – Bobby Fischer



October 16

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 16, 2017

1968: The Rodney riots begin. Walter Rodney was born into a working class family in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1942. He was a good student and after attending Queen’s College, he went on to the University College of the West Indies in Jamaica. He graduated in 1963 with a History degree and won the Faculty of Arts prize. He earned a PhD in African History in 1966 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London at the age of 24 with his dissertation on the slave trade on the Upper Guinea Coast. A History of the Upper Guinea Coast 1545-1800 was published in the Oxford University Press in 1970 and was well received.

Rodney traveled and became well known internationally as both an activist and a scholar as well as a brilliant orator. He first taught at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania from 1966-67 and then later moved to Jamaica where he taught at his alma mater. He was vocal in his disdain for the middle class and the role they played in the post-independence era in the Caribbean. He believed socialism offered a better system than capitalism and advocated for the former. He attended a black writers’ conference in Montreal, Canada and in his absence he was banned from returning to Jamaica. His socialist ties were cited along with his visits to Cuba and the USSR.

The banning took place on October 15 and when the people of Kingston learned of it, they were outraged and took to the streets on this day. The riots began with the students of UWI, Mona (where Rodney taught) under the leadership of the Guild of Undergraduates. They closed down the campus and then began to march toward the prime minister’s house. They moved on toward the parliament building in Kingston. On the way, many more people joined and the march became violent. The march spread across the city and ended with several people dead and millions of dollars in property damages.

The riots increased political awareness even outside Jamaica and spread across the Caribbean but held a special place in the Rastafarian sector of Jamaica. In 1969, Rodney returned to the University of Dar es Salaam and was a Professor of History there until 1974. He remained a voice for the Caribbean and North American Black Power movement. In 1974 he returned to Guyana after accepting a position at the University of Guyana, but the government prevented his appointment. Rodney became ever more active in politics and found the Working People’s Alliance which posed a threat to the established government of Guyana. In 1980 he was killed by a bomb placed in his car. He was 38. It was widely believed, although unproven, the bombing was set up by then President Linden Burnham.

If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. – John F. Kennedy

If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. – J. K. Rowling

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. – Alexis de Tocqueville

We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. – Will Rogers



October 15

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 15, 2017

1894: Alfred Dreyfus is arrested. He was born in 1859 in Mulhouse, Alsace and was the youngest of nine children born to a prosperous Jewish textile manufacturer. The Franco-Prussian War broke out when Alfred was ten and forced the family to move to Paris. This pivotal act led the young boy to pursue a life in the military. He entered military schools and rose through the ranks. He graduated ninth in his class at École Supérieure de Guerre or War College. He was expected to do well in the final examinations but General Bonnefond felt “Jews were not desired” on the staff and gave Dreyfus poor marks for a category we might call “likeability”. This would later prove damning since the stated belief of the French military was that Jews were not discriminated against.

In 1894, it was found that information regarding new artillery parts was being passed to the Germans by a highly placed spy, mostly likely on the General Staff. Dreyfus was suspected and arrested on this day. On January 5, 1895 he was convicted in a secret court martial and publicly stripped of his rank with humiliating public ceremony before being sent to Devil’s Island to serve out a sentence of life imprisonment. In August 1896, the new head of French military intelligence, Lt. Col. Georges Picquart, reported he found no evidence of Dreyfus’s guilt and believed Major Ferdinand Esterhazy to be the real traitor. Picquart was silenced and sent to Tunisia within months.

News of the miscarriage of justice against Dreyfus found its way into the press along with military tolerance of anti-Semitism even at the highest levels. This was appalling to citizens who believed in equal rights for all citizens. Esterhazy was found not guilty in another secret court martial but immediately fled to England. A cadre of supporters began to campaign for Dreyfus’s release and exoneration. Emilie Zola was one of the most vocal of the these and Dreyfus was given a second trial in 1899 and once again found guilty despite evidence in favor of his innocence.

President Emilie Loubert offered Dreyfus a pardon in 1899 as a way to save face for the military miscarriage of justice. If Dreyfus did not accept the pardon, he would have had to return to Devil’s Island which he couldn’t face. So he accepted the pardon, but was still officially a traitor. He lived in a state of house arrest with one of his sisters after his release. On July 12, 1906, Dreyfus was officially exonerated by a military commission and readmitted into the army with a promotion in rank. He served in the army during World War I, as did his son with both of them receiving honors. Dreyfus died in Paris in 1935 at the age of 75. The Dreyfus affair remains one of the most egregious political dramas in French history.

The government of the Republic has given me back my freedom. It is nothing for me without my honor. – Alfred Dreyfus, speaking of his pardon

As you know, I am a novelist, and I really want to write novels. But I knew enough about the Dreyfus case to understand immediately why what happened to Dreyfus was not merely a cause celebre from the end of the 19th century, but an event that could be shown to teach us lessons of the greatest importance for our own time. – Louis Begley

Racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, or hatred of anyone with different beliefs has no place in the human mind or heart. – Billy Graham

Anti-Semitism has no historical, political and certainly no philosophical origins. Anti-Semitism is a disease. – Daniel Barenboim



October 14

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 14, 2017

1944: Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, commits suicide. On July 20, 1944, an attempt was made to kill Adolf Hitler. It was unsuccessful. Claus von Stauffenberg was able to detonate a suitcase bomb but it failed in killing Hitler, although four men were killed during the event. Rommel was implicated in the plot, but his involvement remains contested. World War II was going badly for Germany and there was resistance within the ranks. The hope was for Hitler to die and then cooler heads to take control of the government in order to sue for peace with the Allies.

After the War was over, three of Rommel’s friends confessed to trying to bring Rommel into the resistance in early 1944. The conspirators felt it was to their benefit to have a field marshal on active duty among their ranks. Erwin von Witzleben would have taken over as commander-in-chief if the plot had been successful, but he was inactive as of 1942, so Rommel was wooed to take on the role should the plot succeed. Plans were made with Rommel, at least at the beginning, against assassinating Hitler. There is speculation he may have later changed his mind. His widow claims he did not and believed it would have led to civil war in Germany and Austria and made Hitler a martyr.

On July 17, Rommel was incapacitated by an Allied air attack, changing the outcome of the plot – or so it is believed by some historians. A week after the attempt, Rommel was under Gestapo surveillance. He was brought before a “Court of Military Honour” and found guilty. However, he was a national hero and having him tried and executed could have been devastating to military morale. Instead he was given the option of killing himself and a cyanide capsule was provided. On this day, he was driven to a remote area and left alone in order to kill himself.

He was said to have died with a smile of contempt on his face, something never seen in life. The official report of his death was that he had either had a heart attack or complications from a skull fracture he had sustained during an earlier incident. A day of official mourning was declared and he received a state funeral, but it was held in Ulm rather than Berlin which was not part of the deal Rommel had made to go quietly to his death. Hitler did not attend the funeral, but sent Field Marshal von Rundstedt in his place. The truth behind Rommel’s death was learned only after the war when his wife was interviewed by an Allied intelligence officer and letters to his son were also produced, explaining the reason behind his suicide.

Don’t fight a battle if you don’t gain anything by winning.

In a man-to-man fight, the winner is he who has one more round in his magazine.

But courage which goes against military expediency is stupidity, or, if it is insisted upon by a commander, irresponsibility.

Anyone who has to fight, even with the most modern weapons, against an enemy in complete command of the air, fights like a savage against modern European troops, under the same handicaps and with the same chances of success. – all from Erwin Rommel



October 13

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2017

1710: The Siege of Port Royal comes to an end. It was also known as the Conquest of Acadia. Acadia was part of New France and included parts of eastern Quebec, what is today New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island of Canada and part of the US State of Maine. The British and French were contesting control over the area where Port Royal was the capital. The British were joined by the Iroquois and led by Francis Nicholson while the French and the Wabanaki Confederacy were led by Daniel d’Auger de Subercase. Port Royal had been the main city in the region since the French arrived in 1604 and was often the focal point during British/French confrontations. The British burned it to the ground in 1613 and after it was rebuilt, they again captured it in 1690 although it was restored to the French by the Treaty of Ryswick.

The War of the Spanish Succession began in 1702 and both British and French colonists were again thrust into European wars. Port Royal began building a fort even before war broke out and it was nearly finished by 1704. The French raided Deerfield on what was then the Massachusetts frontier in February 1704 and the British retaliated with an expedition to the region in May. Their first point of attack was not Port Royal. Subercase became governor of Acadia in 1706 and went on the offensive and encouraged Natives to raid British targets in New England. He also supported privateering or legalized piracy against British ships. Boston and Port Royal had long been trading partners and for some time, trade managed to continue.

Over the next few years, battles went back and forth between the two powers. Finally, a British fleet sailed north and by October 5, the fleet had arrived at Goat Island, about 6 miles below Port Royal. One ship was lost as they gathered. The next day, marines landed both north and south of Port Royal and they were joined by four regimens of New England troops. The men surrounded the fort and laid siege with support from the cannons of the ships in the harbor. Land weaponry was able to advance under cover of the cannon from the water and by this date, they were with 300 feet of the fort and opened fire. They demanded Subercase surrender. Negotiations for a surrender began and by nightfall, the details were worked out.

The men in the garrison were given permission to leave with the “honours of war”. The British took occupancy of the fort and renamed it Annapolis Royal. It was one of the key issues in the treaty negotiations between France and Great Britain. It led to the conquests by British forces of both Louisbourg and Quebec and it was one of the precipitating factors of the end of French power in North America in a more general state. By taking over the region, a new colony was created – Nova Scotia. The final attempt to take the city profoundly affected the region for at least the next 50 years.

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. – Sun Tzu

You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war. – Napoleon Bonaparte

We make war that we may live in peace. – Aristotle

Love has its place, as does hate. Peace has its place, as does war. Mercy has its place, as do cruelty and revenge. – Meir Kahane



October 12

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 12, 2017

1960: Nakita Khrushchev loses his temper. Lorenzo Sumulong was the head of the Filipino delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. He was also the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee giving him the right to speak at the 902nd Plenary Meeting held on this day. His political career began in 1946 and he moved through the ranks eventually making his way as a representative to the UN. His first hand experience of being a colonial nation under the rule of a foreign land, gave him insight into the plight of those who are not free to govern themselves. His remarks are in the quote below.

Khrushchev was the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR and held that position from 1953 to 1964. There is some controversy over his reaction to the statements of Sumulong. It is agreed upon that Khrushchev was incensed and came to the rostrum demanding recognition on a Point of Order, a parliamentary procedure to draw attention to a rules violation. He brushed Sumulong aside, without physically touching him, and began a diatribe against Sumulong’s speech, calling him “a jerk, a stooge, and a lackey” as well as a “toady of American imperialism”. He demanded Assembly President Frederick Boland of Ireland to call Sumulong to order. Boland warned Sumulong to avoid provocative language, although no mention of warning Khrushchev is noted.

Sumulong was given permission to continue speaking as Khrushchev went back to his seat. Khrushchev pounded his fists on his desk and may or may not (reports vary) have pounded his shoe on his desk. Sumulong’s speech was interrupted again as Mezincescu of Romania chimed in. Boland was unable to gain control of the floor and turned Mezincescu’s microphone off but the meeting continued to devolve. Finally, Boland abruptly adjourned the meeting. He struck the gavel so hard, it broke.

Khrushchev was proud of his outburst and claimed he did, in fact, bang his shoe on the desk to add vigor to his protest. The behavior was seen by his contemporaries, as embarrassing. There is some discrepancy in Khrushchev’s memory as he claimed it happened as a response to the Franco regime, but that outburst took place earlier in the month. The story, according to his granddaughter, was that Khrushchev was wearing tight and uncomfortable shoes and took them off while seated. While banging on the table, his watch fell off and when he bent to pick up his watch, he noticed his shoes, which would make even more noise than just banging his fists. Photographic evidence is scant. Regardless of whether or not a shoe was used, Khrushchev did lose his temper, and eventually his control of the USSR because of it.

My delegation, the Philippine delegation, attaches great importance to this item entitled “Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples“, the allocation of which is now under discussion.

We have been a colonized country. We have passed through all the trials and tribulations of a colonized people. It took us centuries and centuries to fight, to struggle, and to win our fight for the recognition of our independence, and, therefore, it would only be consistent with our history, our experience and our aspirations as a people that we vote in favour of having this item referred to the highest possible level of the General Assembly.

While this is not the occasion to discuss the substance of the item, I would like to place on record my delegation’s view on the import as well as on the scope, the extent, the metes and bounds of this item. We feel this to be necessary in view of the statements made at the start of our meeting by the Premier of the Soviet Union.

It is our view that the declaration proposed by the Soviet Union should cover the inalienable right to independence not only of the peoples and territories which yet remain under the rule of Western colonial Powers, but also of the peoples of Eastern Europe and elsewhere which have been deprived of the free exercise of their civil and political rights and which have been swallowed up, so to speak, by the Soviet Union. – all from Lorenzo Sumulong



October 11

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 11, 2017

1311: The Ordinances of 1311 are widely distributed. King Edward I of England had waged wars against Scotland, trying to bring the northern portion of the island under his control. The expense of war led to his institution of prises or purveyance, the right of the Crown to requisition goods and services for royal use. This meant that when royal troops were in the region, local peers were expected to house and feed them, often with little or no payment. Edward I’s last ten years of his reign was spent trying to unite the island while his son showed a keen disinterest in the war. Edward I died of dysentery while on campaign and his son gained the throne of England.

Piers Gaveston had made a good impression on Edward I and was brought into the household of the future Edward II. Piers was of low station, the son of a knight and the same age as the prince. The two became close. At one point Edward I exiled Piers because the two had become too close. There is speculation today about the nature of the relationship, with some opining it was sexual. However, the peerage’s concerns with Gaveston’s presence at court at this time was listed as his overweening influence over the King and not in any way referencing anything more than a brotherly relationship. Shortly after Edward II became King, his friend was made Earl of Cornwall, usually a position bestowed upon family members. He also arranged for Piers to marry his niece, Margaret de Clare, sister of the Earl of Gloucester.

The 21 signatories of the Ordinances are called either the Lords Ordainers or simply the Ordainers. The entire premise of the document was to limit the powers of the King and place those powers into the hands of the peerage and clergy. The eight earls, seven bishops, and six barons were royalists, but opponents of the Edward. The six preliminary ordinances were released in March 1310 but it took until August of 1311 for a final wording to be acceptable to the committee. The King’s Scotland foray had been aborted during this time and on August 16, Parliament met in London and presented the King with the demands. He was presented with 41 articles of concern, mainly the “evil” councilors of the King or Piers Gaveston, the military situation abroad, and the dangers of rebellion at home. The King signed under duress.

On this day, the Ordinances were published for the citizens, hoping to gain maximum popular support. There was a squabble lasting more than a decade over whether or not these rules should be enforced or repealed. Although Gaveston was exiled, he had returned in 1312 and civil war seemed imminent. Two of the leaders of the Ordainers had Gaveston executed which led to the slow erosion of cohesiveness among the peers. The Earl of Lancaster, leader of the group, was killed after the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322 and the Ordinances were repealed, except for the six clauses about household jurisdiction and appointments of sheriffs. All royal restriction were null and void. Edward II remained King for another five years.

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. – Colin Powell

Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love. – Morihei Ueshiba

A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle. – George William Curtis

What I value most in my friends is loyalty. – David Mamet



October 10

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 10, 2017

1780: The Great Hurricane starts it’s destructive journey. The Atlantic hurricane database began collecting data from 1851 and so earlier storms have less accurate statistics. However, much can be surmised from the path of the storm. The origin is unknown, but most Atlantic hurricanes begin off the Cape Verde Islands and travel in a westward direction. This unnamed hurricane, known as the Great Hurricane because it had the highest death toll of any Atlantic storm, had its first impact on Barbados. The storm moved over the island on this day and then moved near Saint Lucia and on toward Martinique, not making landfall at these two islands, but with destructive winds and storm surges.

By October 12, the storm passed Dominica and then made landfall on Guadeloupe before heading for Saint Kitts. The hurricane neared Puerto Rico but did not cross the island, holding its pattern running along the southern coastline. After passing the southwest portion of the island, the storm turned northwest and hit the island of Mona before coming ashore in what is today the Dominican Republic province of Samana. It turned back out to the Atlantic Ocean missing the Grank Turk Island and skirted close to Bermuda. It was last observed about 295 miles southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, Canada. The dissipated at sea on October 20, 1780.

The top wind speeds are thought to have reached 200+ miles per hour. Every house on Barbados was destroyed and in Kingstown on Saint Vincent island, 584 of the 600 houses were destroyed. At Grenada, 19 Dutch ships were destroyed. On Saint Lucia, the ships in the harbor were tossed inland, with one landing on top of the city’s hospital at Port Chastries where only two houses in the entire city remained standing. Over 6,000 died, many aboard the ships in the harbor as well as most of the town. Many of the British ships in the area were caught at sea and sank in the storm with less than 50 sailors surviving.

The French fleet helping the US Revolutionary War effort lost 40 ships and 4,000 soldiers in Martinique. Another 9,000 civilians died on the island. Property damage along the path was also astounding as the storm passed close to many different low lying islands, destroying coastal buildings and wrecking many of the local ships and boats. The loss of life was over 20,000 with some estimates as high as 24,000. Even as the storm left the Caribbean, it wasn’t done. Another 50 ships were grounded as it passed close to Bermuda. The 1780 Atlantic hurricane season was not finished. There were two more deadly storms to come before the end of the month.

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. – Khalil Gibran

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The lofty pine is oftenest shaken by the winds; High towers fall with a heavier crash; And the lightning strikes the highest mountain. – Horace

The seaman tells stories of winds, the ploughman of bulls; the soldier details his wounds, the shepherd his sheep. – Laurence J. Peter



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October 9

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 9, 2017

1701: The Collegiate School is established in Saybrook Colony. It was the third such higher institution to be formed in the colonies and was formed for the purpose of educating Congregationalist ministers. Fifteen years later, the institution moved to New Haven and was renamed in honor of a gift from British East India Company governor, Elihu Yale. In the early years, the only subjects taught were theology and sacred languages but by the time of the American Revolution, the humanities and sciences were also being included in the curriculum. Yale was a merchant, philanthropist, and a slave trader. While president of Fort St. George, he purchased property for his own private use which led to accusations of corruption and his removal.

The first Yale PhD was awarded in 1861 and the school was reorganized into a university in 1887. After 1890, there was a rapid growth associated with increased campus size and their foray into scientific research. Yale has fourteen constituent schools – the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and twelve professional schools. Their overarching governing body is the Yale Corporation but each school has their own oversight for curriculum and degree programs. They currently have an endowment of over $25.4 billion, which is the second largest in the US. Harvard University has the largest, with $35.5 billion and only eight US universities have over $10 billion in endowments.

Yale is part of the Ivy League which was formed in 1954 as an athletic conference. Their membership is comprised of eight private institutions of higher learning in the Northeastern United States. The universities are noted for their academic excellence and their selectivity of admissions as well as their socially elite status. They include Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. Yale competes as the Bulldogs and has a mascot named Handsome Dan. Their sport color is Yale blue. The student body is made up of over 12,000 students with slightly more postgraduate students than undergrads. The academic staff numbers over 4,400.

The General Court of the Colony of Connecticut passed “An Act for Liberty to Erect a Collegiate School” on this day. Classes were offered in the home of its first rector, Abraham Pierson. By the time they moved to New Haven, Harvard’s administration was developing a schism with Increase Mather at odds with the rest of the staff. Mather saw the others as too liberal, too lax, and overly broad in Church politics. The Mather family opted to then move to championing the upstart college in Connecticut, it was hoped the younger school would maintain the Puritan religious orthodoxy which Harvard had eschewed.

A man who graduated high in his class at Yale Law School and made partnership in a top law firm would be celebrated. A man who invested wisely would be admired, but a woman who accomplishes this is treated with suspicion. – Barbra Streisand

Who is more in touch with the problems of this country? One of those guys who goes off to Oxford or to University of Yale, or someone who has lived in buses, in the Metro, in the street? – Gloria Trevi

I really liked Yale, although it was extremely intimidating. When I visited the campus, I was hiding behind trees, I felt so unworthy. – Claire Danes

I don’t think the alternative to Yale is jail by any means. On the other hand, there is a mass of research that does show that there are real advantages to your subsequent career in going to selective institutions. – Derek Bok