Little Bits of History

Pushing Back at Rome

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 9, 2015


September 9, 9 AD: The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest is fought. Arminius was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci born in 18 or 17 BC, the son of chief Segimerus. He trained as a Roman military commander while he was a hostage in his youth. While living as a hostage, he obtained his Roman citizenship and even earned the title of equestrian – a petty noble. He returned to Germania after serving with Roman forces in the Pannonian wars on the Balkan peninsula. He assumed leadership of the Cherusci in 4 AD. The Romans had secured territory east of the Rhine and were hoping to increase holdings. Publius Quinctilius Varus was appointed as governor of the Germanic region by Augustus. Arminius planned to unite the Germanic factions in order to stave off the Romans.

In the fall, 25-year-old Arminius told Varus a rebellion was afoot in northern Germany. He persuaded Varus to divert three legions (17th, 18th, and 19th legions) plus three cavalry detachments and six cohorts of auxiliaries from their winter march and to have them suppress the rebellion up north. Varus trusted the information and led the troops into the trap Arminius had laid out. The three day battle began on this day. Archeological finds show the exact location as near Kalkriese Hill north of Osnabrück. The exact detail are unknown, but Arminius led troops from six different Germanic tribes and had a force between 12,000 and 32,000 strong. Varus had between 20,000 and 36,000 troops at his disposal. The decisive German victory had an unknown cost in lives. But the Roman defeat led to between 16,000 and 20,000 dead with others enslaved. As defeat became imminent, Varus committed suicide by falling on his sword.

The Romans did not take defeat lightly and the following years were fraught with incursions into German territories. Arminius was defeated twice by the Romans but lived to fight on. He had captured three legions’ eagles, a symbol of his victory over the Romans and these were prizes to be recovered by returning Roman troops, two were recovered, one in 15 and the other in 16 AD. The third was eventually brought back to Rome, but not until 41 AD. Arminius also met with inter-Germanic problems. His father-in-law and other pro-Roman Germanic leaders were increasing. Even so, the Romans were left with the Rhine as a border they could not cross, and north of the River were lands they could not hold.

With the end of the Roman threat, wars broke out within German lands and eventually, Arminius was killed in 21 AD in what many believe was an assassination by poisoning by his opponents. His victory shaped both German and Roman histories. The Rhine held as a border between the two states and the Roman made no more attempts to conquer or permanently hold Germania. Today, his victory is regarded by historians as “Rome’s greatest defeat”. In Roman histories, Arminius was highly regarded for his leadership skills and military acumen.

Arminius, without doubt Germania’s liberator, who challenged the Roman people not in its beginnings like other kings and leaders, but in the peak of its empire; in battles with changing success, undefeated in the war. – Tacitus

It was not by secret treachery but openly and by arms that the people of Rome avenged themselves on their enemies. – Tacitus

Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions! – Augustus on learning of the absolute defeat

The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart. – Robert Green Ingersoll

Also on this day: Stop Bugging Me – In 1947, a computer bug was found.
Billion Dollar Betsy – In 1965, Hurricane Betsy became the first US billion dollar hurricane.
Prison Riot – In 1971, the Attica Prison Riots began.
Crimean War – In 1855, the Siege of Sevastopol ended.
Mammoth Mammoth Cave – In 1972, more caves were found to be part of the Mammoth Cave system.

* “Arminius pushkin” by shakko – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Sticky Situation

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 8, 2015
Scotch cellulose tape

Scotch cellulose tape*

September 8, 1930: Richard Drew gains a new customer base. 3M Company, formerly Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, was founded in 1902. Five men started what was originally a mining company but their dreams dissolved when there was no corundum in their mines. John Dwan bought out two of the partners and took over the company in 1905. They would sell sandpaper. That was their product line. Sandpaper. And that alone. It took a decade, but finally the company was financially stable and even able to pay out dividends. The moved headquarters from Duluth to St. Paul where it remained for 52 years. It then moved to Maplewood, Minnesota where it remains today with over 50 buildings, including the Innovation Center which displays the multitudinous products 3M produces today.

Richard Drew was born in St. Paul in 1899 and joined 3M in 1920. During that time, he worked with auto body shops testing the new Wetordry sandpaper 3M produced. He noted that the two tone paint jobs, popular during the Roaring Twenties, were difficult to manage. Making a straight border between colors was a problem. In order solve the problem, Drew went back to the labs and two years later had created a two-inch wide tan paper strip with light, pressure-sensitive adhesive – masking tape. The first tape held along the edges, but not in the middle and in the first trial runs, it fell off the cars.

At the time, Scotsmen were considered to be more than just a bit frugal, and using the term as an insult, Drew was instructed by an unhappy painter to take the product back to his Scotch bosses and get more adhesive put on it. The nickname stuck but the product was perfected. Not only did Drew add more adhesive, but he began using a different strip to place it on. By using cellulose, it was possible to have a clear strip which would stick. He came up with the first iteration of the substance in 1925 but it needed years of improvements. Scotch tape in the US was called sellotape in the UK. After the market crash of 1929, there was an increased need for repairs. The clear tape was sold as a fixer of all things that were now too precious to throw away.

The product’s mascot for twenty years was Scotty McTape, a kilt-wearing cartoon boy. The familiar tartan pattern is still associated with the brand. The name was so popular it was used for other products as well such as Scotchgard and Scotchlite. Today, 3M is still involved with adhesives and abrasives, but they are also makers of laminates and passive fire protection as well as dental and orthodontic products, electronic materials, medical products, and car care products. Their list of products is astoundingly long. They have 29 international companies with manufacturing operations and 35 with laboratories. Inge Thulin is Chairman, President, and CEO of the company which has about 88,000 employees. Their revenue for 2013 was $30.871 billion and they had a total equity of $17.948 billion.

I am very happy when people write that they have worn out my books, or that they are held together by Scotch tape. I consider that the ultimate compliment. – Richard Scarry

You can do a lot with Scotch tape. Almost anything! I love that you can hem a dress, and its an instant remedy in a fashion crises. – Jennifer Garner

No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch. – Leo F. Buscaglia

It is one thing putting away the past, and quite another to tape its mouth shut. – Liam Lacey

Also on this day: Something in the Water – In 1854, Dr. John Snow saved London from an outbreak of cholera.
There She Is – In 1921, Margaret Gorman became the first Miss America.
David Revealed – In 1504, Michelangelo’s statue was unveiled.
Flags – In 1892, the Pledge of Allegiance appeared in print for the first time.
Puppet Show Calamity – In 1727, a puppet show ended in mass deaths.

* “Scotch Tape” by Improbcat – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Every Pirate’s Dream

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 7, 2015
Henry Every

Henry Every

September 7, 1695: The Ganj-i-Sawai is captured by pirates. The ship belonged to the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb and is sometimes Anglicized to Gunsway. The translation of Ganj-i-Sawai is “Exceeding Treasure” which was tempting for an established pirate. The ship was being escorted by the Fateh Muhammed and that ship was taken as well. Henry Every (sometimes given as Evory or Avery) was an English pirate born in Devon in 1659. He operated in both the Atlantic and Indian oceans and probably had many aliases, a few of which are known. He was called Long Ben by his crewmates and attained the nickname of The Arch Pirate and The King of Pirates by contemporaries. He was, in fact, the most notorious pirate of his time.

He managed to somehow acquire other ships without being arrested himself or being killed in battle. He is also known for his daring on this day which netted him what has been called (and disputed) as the most profitable pirate raid in history. He was a pirate captain for only two years, but it seems to have been enough for him to retire. He began his seafaring with the Royal Navy from 1689 to 1690 and was probably involved in several battles of the Nine Years’ War. After his discharge, he was involved in the slave trade. He was next hired as a mariner to work as first mate aboard the warship Charles II, a Spanish ship used to prey on French ships. But the ships stayed in dock, the letter of marque never arrived, and the crew was not paid. They rebelled. And took over the ship with Every as captain and renamed it Fancy.

Without legal papers authorizing raids, the ship was now a pirate ship and the men raided French ships without government approval, narrowly escaping capture. They then sailed to the other side of the world and in the Arabian Sea, the encountered a 25-ship convoy of the Grand Mughal making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Included in this convoy was Ganj-i-Sawai and her escort. Every joined forces with several other pirate ships and was elected as leader of the small group. Not all of the ships in the group were as successful as Every’s, who on this day managed to take command of the Ganj-i-Sawai and all her riches after snapping her mainmast with a cannonball shot. It took hours of hand-to-hand combat aboard the ship before the pirates had control. There was a report that many pirates were killed in the battle, but Every survived with the huge payoff.

There is a dispute about how much treasure was actually aboard the ship. Numbers vary between £325,000 and £600,000. There were 500,000 gold and silver pieces and every surviving pirate was given £1,000 in gemstones when the men landed at Réunion. The take was listed as worth £52.4 million in 2010. Not only did the pirates have access to the money, but they were also in control of the passengers and crew, many of whom were tortured or raped. Women stabbed themselves or jumped overboard to escape that fate. Every captured at least 11 ships during his pirate days and then disappeared. His time and place of death are unknown, but it was some time after 1696 and is assumed to have been back in Great Britain.

It is, it is a glorious thing To be a Pirate King. – William S. Gilbert

Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. – Mark Twain

As to hanging, it is no great hardship. For were it not for that, every cowardly fellow would turn pirate and so unfit the sea, that men of courage must starve. – Mary Read

Our seamen have always been famous for a matchless alacrity and intrepidity in time of danger; this has saved many a British ship, when other seamen would have run below deck, and left the ship to the mercy of the waves, or, perhaps, of a more cruel enemy, a pirate. – William Pitt

Also on this day: Ann and Andy – In 1915, a patent was granted for the making of a rag doll.
She’s Gone – In 1911, Guillaume Apollinaire was arrested for an art theft.
Not Soccer – In 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame opened.
Get Out – In 1652, the Guo Huaiyi Rebellion began.
Plot Goes Awry – In 1571, Thomas Howard was arrested for a plot against the Queen.

Bad Show

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 6, 2015
De Havilland DH.110

De Havilland DH.110

September 6, 1952: Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, England hosts an airshow. The weeklong event combines trade exhibitions for the aerospace and defense industries with crowd pleasing demonstrations. It is held every other year and the first five days (Monday through Friday) are not open to the public. The weekend brings in nearly a quarter million people. It began as an annual RAF Airshow at Hendron in 1920. The show moved a few times before finally landing at Farnsborough in 1948. On this day, a planned demonstration of the DH.110 was nearly cancelled. It had been flown supersonic on the opening and day and then had problems. It was taken to Hatfield for servicing. The prototype plane was flown by John Derry and aboard the plane was Anthony Richards as a test observer.

De Havilland was a British plane manufacturer established in 1930 on the outskirts of London by Geoffrey de Havilland. They began by building biplanes but were noted for their innovative style. They also built weapon systems and were famous for the Mosquito and Hornet, planes used during World War II. Using wood to build planes avoided using strategic materials during shortages brought on by war. The DH.110 was a prototype of a two-seat jet fighter plane for use by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. Derry had been a pilot during the war and joined de Havilland as a test pilot in 1947. He mostly worked with the DH 108 and is credited with being the first Briton to exceed the speed of sound in 1948.

Derry and Richards brought the plane from Hatfield back to Farnborough with just enough time to start their set. Derry took up the plane with Richards in the second seat. They did a low-level supersonic flypast and pleased the crowd on the ground. There were about 120,000 people watching the show. Derry made a left bank at 450 knots or 515 mph and began to climb. The outer right wing was the first to break off and the left wing followed shortly thereafter.  Both engines and the cockpit broke away from the fuselage with one engine breaking into two pieces. The pieces hit into the crowds of people and killed 29 observers as well as both aboard the plane and injured another 60 people. The debris was cleaned up and the airshow continued.

After this disaster, new rules were passed. All jets at air shows had to be at least 750 feet from crowds if flying straight and at least about 1,500 feet when performing maneuvers. They were also mandated to fly at least 500 feet of altitude. It was ruled that Derry and Richards were not at fault. There were modifications made to the plane and it was eventually put into production as the de Havilland Sea Vixen. There were 145 planes built for use by the Royal Navy and the plane was retired in 1972. There is only one remaining airworthy Sea Vixen still flying.

I’ll never forget, it looked like confetti, looked like silver confetti.

The remaining airframe floated down right in front of us. It just came down like a leaf.

And then the two engines, like two missiles, shot out of the airframe and hurtled in the direction of the airshow.

There was a sort of silence, then people, one or two people screamed but mostly it was just a sort of shock. You could hear some people sort of whimpering which was quite shocking. – all from Richard Gardner, a eyewitness to the event

Also on this day:  “Simplify, simplify.” – In 1847, Henry David Thoreau left Walden Pond.
Around the World in Years – In 1522, the first circumnavigation of the globe finally ended.
Howard Unruh – In 1949, a mass murdering spree in New Jersey took place.
Assassination – In 1901, President William McKinley was shot.
Greatest Simplicity Rule – In 1803, John Dalton made an observation.

Up, Up, and More Up

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 5, 2015
James Glaisher

James Glaisher

September 5, 1862: James Glaisher and Henry Tracey Coxwell go for a balloon ride. Glaisher was born in 1809 in Rotherhithe, a residential district in southeast London. His father was a watchmaker. James became a Junior assistant at the Cambridge Observatory and in 1835 moved to the Royal Greenwich Observatories and served as Superintendent of the Department of Meteorology and Magnetism. He worked there for 34 years. While there he published his dew points tables (a measurement of humidity) and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1849. He founded the Meteorological Society in 1850. Before founding the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain in 1866, he and his partner went on some interesting balloon rides.

Coxwell was born in 1819 in Wouldham, Kent, England. His father was a Commander in the Royal Navy. His grandfather was a pastor and Henry was born at the parsonage. He was apprenticed to a surgeon dentist in 1836. He was far more interested in balloons and spent great effort to watch as many ascents as possible. He was most impressed when Charles Green was able to sail a hot air balloon from England to Germany in 1836, but it was not until 1844 that he was able to make his own first ascent in a balloon. By the next year, he founded and edited a short lived ballooning magazine – only a dozen issues were published. In 1847, he attempted to make Green’s trip, only in reverse, with Albert Smith. They went aloft at night and during a storm. The envelope ripped and they were saved only because it caught on some scaffolding as it plummeted to the ground.

Coxwell became a professional balloonist in 1848 when he was given charge of a balloon, the Sylph, in Brussels. He flew around Europe and eventually returned to England in 1852. He continued to soar and in 1862 the British Association for the Advancement of Science requested investigations of the upper atmosphere. It was then that Glaisher was selected as the person to carry out the experiments and Coxwell was employed to fly the balloon. They constructed Mammoth, a balloon with 93,000 cubic feet of space in the envelope. They took off from Wolverhampton on this date.

They rose, higher and higher. Their goal was to reach a height never attained before. Glaisher lost consciousness and was unable to carry out the specific experiments of the day. His last reading indicated a height of 29,000 feet had been reached. Coxwell lost all feeling in his hands. He was, luckily, holding a valve-cord in his teeth and was able to pull it, making it possible for the balloon to descend. The balloon dropped to 19,000 feet in 15 minutes. It is estimated that an altitude of 35,000 to 37,000 feet had been reached, a record for the time. Both men survived, but a pigeon brought along on the trip did not. Glaisher died in 1903 at the age 93 and Coxwell died in 1900 at the age of 80.

I don’t have a fear of heights. I do, however, have a fear of falling from heights. – George Carlin

No one can predict to what heights you can soar. Even you will not know until you spread your wings. – Ray Bradbury

Let us suffer if we must, but let us suffer on the heights. – Victor Hugo

From the lowest depth there is a path to the loftiest height. – Thomas Carlyle

Also on this day: The Games Must Go On – In 1972, the Munich Massacre took place at the Olympic Games.
It Never Ends – In 1986, Pan Am Flight 73 was hijacked.
Labor Day – In 1882, the first Labor Day parade was held.
Married – In 1725, King Louis XV got married.
Party Girl – In 1921, Virginia Rapp went to a party.

Funny Kind of Forest

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 4, 2015
Sign Post Forest

Sign Post Forest

September 4, 1992: Carl K. Lindley returns to Alaska. The Alaska Highway or the ALCAN Highway (Alaskan-Canadian Highway) was built during World War II. The goal was to connect the contiguous United States to Alaska via Canada in order to have access for moving war materials, should the need arise. The road was completed in 1942 to a length of 1,700 miles. The road has been reconstructed and shifted over time and today, ALCAN is 1,387 miles long. Originally only for the military, it was opened to the public in 1948. It is a tough, challenging drive but at least today, the entire way is paved. There are some major stopping points along the route with historic mileposts. While the road was first under construction, Alaska was a territory of the US but did not become a state until January 1, 1959.

The US Army was responsible for construction and the 341st Army of Engineers was busy in 1942. Lindley was assigned to Company D of the engineers. While there, he was injured and sent to the Army Aid Station in Watson Lake to recover. At the time, it wasn’t a town, but a Military Air Base and airport. While recuperating, his commanding officer had him repair and repaint a directional post from the worksite. Lindley was homesick and while fixing the sign, decided to paint a second sign. It read DANVILLE, ILLINOIS – his hometown. Other people liked the idea and began adding signs for their own hometowns.

And so began a tradition. Today, the area is covered with signposts. Lindley’s original sign has disappeared as well as the post it was nailed to. But the Sign Post Forest is a part of the small town of Watson Lake. On this day, Carl returned with his wife for a ten day celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of building the Alaska Highway. While there, a replica of his original sign and directional post were placed. He returned home and died in 2002, still at home in Danville, Illinois. Visitors to Sign Post Forest can add their own signs now and there are already over 100,000 signs there.

Watson Lake is located in the Yukon region of Canada. The town was named for an American born trapper and prospector who settled in the area in the late 1800s. There is still an airport there which used to be serviced by commercial airlines but is today used only for corporate and charter services. The economy is based on forest industries now. It used to be a service center for the mining industry, especially the Cassiar asbestos mine. The Sign Post Forest isn’t the only tourist attraction. The Northern Lights Centre is also located at Watson Lake. In the last census, 802 people called the Town of Watson Lake home, living in 417 homes. The population had dwindled from 2006 when 846 people lived there. And twenty years before, 912 folks had called it home.

You live overseas, you see these exotic places and you want to know about them. But, weirdly, it also made me homesick for all these very prosaic places in America. – Ken Jennings

People of a certain age look back on the Mayberry of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and become almost as homesick for that simple fictional hamlet as they do for their own home towns. – Tom Shales

Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room. – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to. – John Ed Pearce

Also on this day: Ginger or Mary Ann? – In 1967, the last Gilligan’s Island show aired.
Smile – In 1888, George Eastman patented his camera.
Seven Golds – In 1973, Mark Spitz won his seventh Olympic gold medal.
The South – In 1950, the first Southern 500 was held.
Early Aviation – In 1923, the USS Shenandoah took her maiden flight.

World Driver

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 3, 2015
Giuseppe “Nino” Farina

Giuseppe “Nino” Farina

September 3, 1950: Giuseppe “Nino” Farina becomes the first Formula One World Drivers’ Champion. The 1950 season was the first FIA World Championship of Drivers and was a series of seven races held between May 13 and this date. The series had six Grand Prix races in Europe and the Indianapolis 500 (run to AAA National Championship regulations). There were a number of other Formula One races held, but they did not count towards the World Championship. Alfa Romeo dominated the season with their supercharged 158 which won all six European Grands Prix. None of the regular drivers who competed in Europe competed in the Indianapolis 500 since it did little at the time to attract European drivers. To be fair, few of the 500 racers entered any of the Grand Prix races.

Points were awarded to the top five places in each of the Grand Prix races with first places getting 8 points and later places getting 6, 4, 3, and 2 and 1 point was awarded for the fastest lap of each race. Points were shared evenly between shared drivers, regardless of how many laps each drove. The first was the British Grand Prix and Farina won it and took the fastest lap as well. In the Monaco Grand Prix, Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina won the race and had the fastest lap. Farina was in second place when a wave from the harbor flooded the track and he spun out and crashed and eight more cars were involved in the pile up (out of 19 drivers).

Johnnie Parsons won the Indianapolis 500. Farina had intended to drive the race, but his car never arrived. Next up was the Swiss Grand Prix and again, Farina took first place and had the fastest lap. The Belgian race was won by Fangio and Farina had the fastest lap but came in fourth. Even so, after this race, Farina was in first place with 22 points to Luigi Fagioli’s 18 and Fangio’s 17. The French Grand Prix was next and Fangio again won it and the fastest lap. Farina came in second. This put Fangio now in first place with 26 points, Fagioli had 24, and Farina had 22. Only one more race to run.

This day’s event was held in Monza, Italy. The race covered 80 laps for a distance of 504 km or 313.171 miles. The weather was hot and sunny. Fangio had the pole position and during the day, he took the fastest lap, but Farina won the race. Fangio retired twice during the race, the first time after his own car broke down and the second when he took over for another driver. As the day ended, Farina had 30 points while Fangio had 27 and Fagioli ended the series with 24. Farina became the first World Drivers’ Champion. He also has the distinction of being the only driver to win the title in his home country. Michael Schumacher of Germany has been the only driver to win five consecutive times as well as taking the most wins at seven. The 2014 Champion is Lewis Hamilton of England. The 2015 season has nineteen races scheduled with the last held at Abu Dhabi and scheduled for November 15.

Near the point of impact, time accelerates to the speed of light. – Joyce Carol Oates

But the speed was power, and the speed was joy, and the speed was pure beauty. – Richard Bach

Should I abide by the rules until they’re changed, or help speed the change by breaking them? Better start rushing before the rush begins! – Ashleigh Brilliant

As a rule, for no one does life drag more disagreeably than for him who tries to speed it up. – Jean Paul

Also on this day: Terror at Beslan School – In 2004, the Beslan School takeover came to a bloody end.
Left; Right – In 1967, Sweden switched which side of the street they would drive on.
Republic – In 310, San Marino was founded.
Poetry – In 1802, William Wordsworth wrote a poem.
Going Pro – In 1895, John Brallier became a professional American football player.

Skipping Ahead

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 2, 2015
Pope Gregory

Pope Gregory

September 2, 1752: Great Britain and all her colonies adopt the Gregorian calendar. It is also called the Western or Christian calendar and is the most widely used civil calendar in use today. It was named for Pope Gregory XIII who introduced it in 1582. The Julian calendar had been a great improvement when Julius Caesar introduced it in 45 BC. It was this calendar that divided the 365 days of the year into twelve months. The months were not quite the same name since August, named for Augustus would not have been included before his rule. Quintilis (Latin for fifth) was the month eventually named after Caesar himself, first as Iulius and then as July.

The Julian calendar was just slightly off. The 0.002% was barely noticeable. But after 1627 years, it had added up to make enough of a difference that plotting out when exactly Easter should be was a problem. Easter’s date is tied to the spring equinox and it was falling at an inappropriate time. The creation of the new calendar had two parts, a reform of the calendar in regards to the lunar cycle and a reform to calculate a more appropriate date for Easter. It was initially adopted only by Catholic European countries. Protestant and Eastern Orthodox countries continued to use the Julian calendar with Greece being the last to adopt the newfangled thing only in 1923.

The Earth’s trip around the sun isn’t conveniently perfectly aligned with its rotational spin. Therefore, even with a leap day added every fourth year, it was still going to eventually be out of sync again. It takes 365 day, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds for the Earth to get precisely around the sun. The ten minutes and 48 seconds needed to be accounted for and so there are certain times when the leap day is skipped. The Julian calendar was pretty precise but the Gregorian calendar was even more precise by skipping three leap days every 400 years. We are used to the year starting on January 1, but this has not always been the case. Regardless of when the first day of the year is, it is still 365.2425 days long.

European Catholic countries were quick to adopt the calendar. Nova Scotia, Prussia, and Alsace all picked it up in the 1600s. Protestant Germany, Netherlands, Norway, and Iceland all switched in 1700. The next country to pick up the calendar was Great Britain. The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750, also called Chesterfield’s Act because it was introduced into Parliament by Lord Chesterfield, not only adopted the Gregorian calendar, but switched the start of the year from March 25 (Lady Day) to January 1. With more international trade and communication, it became increasingly  difficult to have two different calendars. In order to align the calendar with what most of the rest of Europe was using, Wednesday, September 2, 1752 was followed by Thursday, September 14.

Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress. – Charles F. Kettering

Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event. – Oscar Wilde

Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in a year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another gets a full year’s value out of a week. – Charles Richards

We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery. – H. G. Wells

Also on this day: Liberal Arts and Music – In 1833, Oberlin College was founded.
London Burns – In 1666, the Great Fire of London began.
World War II – In 1945, the war ended.
Rock Springs – In 1885, the Rock Springs Massacre took place.
Buried – In 1806, a Swiss city was buried in a landslide.

Silver Argentina

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 1, 2015
Destruction of Fort Sancti Spiritu

Destruction of Fort Sancti Spiritu

September 1, 1529: Fort Sancti Spiritu is destroyed. Built by Sebastian Cabot near the Paraná River in 1527, it was the first European settlement in what is today Argentina. Years before, Juan Diaz de Solis was exploring the coast of Uruguay. He sailed up the Rio de la Plata and came ashore with six men. The locals saw the invaders and killed them, but spared Francisco del Puerto because of his young age. The rest of the crew went back to Europe after the misadventure. Francisco lived with the natives for ten years until he was rescued by Cabot. Francisco told his rescuer of a “White King” and a mountain of silver located to the north of the Paraná River. Cabot believed the tales and rather than continue his mission to seek a shorter path to the Indies, he went in search of the silver mountain. There were no precious metals in the La Plata basin, but it did lead to the naming of Argentina, a Spanish adjective meaning “silvery”.

A fort was built next to the Carcarañá River and Cabot built his house close by. They got help from the indigenous people, who were originally friendly towards the Spaniards. The climate was mild and the men enjoyed relative peace. Cabot left the fort on December 23, taking a ship filled with 130 men, leaving 32 men behind. His goal was to find the White King. The trip was arduous and the natives had to be forced to participate. They resented their treatment and left the expedition, thereby halting food procurement. The Spaniards were upset with Cabot and attempted to mutiny, but the priest in the group betrayed them and their leader was executed.

Other ships were in the region of exploration. Thirty men were killed in a secondary exploration when they mutinied against Núñez de Balboa which caused a feud between Cabot and Balboa. Back at sea, Cabot’s ship was intercepted by another Spanish vessel and they all returned to the fort to plan a second expedition to find the White King. They found conditions at the fort in disarray with the locals in rebellion and the personnel in the fort not meeting normal military discipline. When trying to correct this (by executing 100 natives), it only made matters worth both with the natives and the men at the fort. Regardless, a second expedition was mounted. When most of the men left, the same ineffective leader was left at the fort.

On this night, the fort was attacked. Cabot was at sea and had heard rumors, but felt his fort could be defended by those left behind. Instead, the fort was set on fire while all the soldiers slept inside. When they woke, they realized defense was now useless and tried to escape to the two remaining ships. One of the ships was also set ablaze and most of the Spaniards did not survive the attack. The second ship did escape and made its way to find Cabot who did return, but it was too late. They were defeated and left for Europe. The period of Spanish exploration in Argentina ended. Instead colonization led to the establishment of the city of Buenos Aires.

Civilization is only savagery silver-gilt. – H. Rider Haggard

Beauty attracts us men; but if, like an armed magnet it is pointed, beside, with gold and silver, it attracts with tenfold power. – Jean Paul

Silver and gold are not the only coin; virtue too passes current all over the world. – Euripides

No lower can a man descend than to interpret his dreams into gold and silver. – Kahlil Gibran

Also on this day: Japan’s Great Earthquake – In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake rocked Japan.
Six Million Dollar Man – In 1980, Terry Fox had to end his Marathon of Hope.
Martha: R.I.P. – In 1914, the last passenger pigeon died.
Walls – In 1836, Narcissa Whitman arrived at Walla Walla Fort.
Juno is Found – In 1804, a new asteroid was discovered.

Charleston, South Carolina

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 31, 2015
Charleston earthquake

Charleston earthquake

August 31, 1886: Charleston, South Carolina is devastated by an earthquake. It was believed to have been a 7.0 Mw or moment magnitude earthquake. This scale replaced the Richter scale in the 1970s. The number is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of the area which slipped. The numbers used are similar to the Richter scale and when reports use the older designation, there is little confusion as to the intensity of the quake. On the Mercalli Intensity scale, it was rated an X or Extreme. This scale is based on the effects of the earthquake rather than the magnitude of the fault slip. It quantifies the damage to humans, objects of nature, and manmade objects and begins at I and ends at XII or total destruction.

The earthquake struck at 9.50 PM with the epicenter at 32.9°N 80.0°W (Charleston’s coordinates are listed as 32°47′00″N 79°56′00″W). It was one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit the East Coast of the US. The 1811 and 1812 New Madrid, Missouri earthquakes were more powerful. The activity was caused by intraplate earthquake, an extremely rare phenomenon where the quake takes place at the interior of a single tectonic plate. A far more common occurrence is the interplate earthquake which takes place at the boundary between two or more plates. All three of the mentioned quakes caused great damage and were intraplate quakes.

There were 60 deaths attributed to the earthquake and damage was listed between $5 and 6 million ($130 to 156 million today). Much of the destruction of both life and property was caused by the liquefaction of the soil. Aftershocks continued for weeks after the event. There is some supposition that the small quakes still felt in the region to this day are still aftershocks from this one event. On this night, the shock was felt as far away as Boston to the north, Chicago and Milwaukee to the northwest, New Orleans to the west and Cuba to the south. At the time, there was speculation that such damage could only have been caused by the state of Florida having broken away from North America.

There were at least 2,000 buildings damaged by the quake. Within the city itself, most of the buildings sustained damage and many of them were beyond repair. They were simply torn down and rebuilt. Historical Charleston today shows the after effects of the quake in that many of the building which did survive are now sporting “earthquake bolts” where the building were repaired. Wires were downed and the railroad tracks were torn apart, cutting Charleston off from the outside world. Major damage occurred as far away as Tybee Island, 60 miles away. Buildings far away in central Alabama, central Ohio, eastern Kentucky, southern Virginia, and western West Virginia were damaged by the quake.

It was about 9:50 o’clock on the evening of August 31, 1886, that the people of Charleston felt the quiverings of the first earthquake shock ever known in that part of the country. They had just returned from worship and not many had yet retired.

There were no electric lights in those days, and the streets were illuminated with gas. The people gathered in the public parks and squares and there in the dim light brave men and women gave help to the injured and dying.

St. Michael’s Church, the pride of the city since 1761, was a wreck, its tall steeple lying in the street.

To add to their dismay the people were cut off from the outer world, all wires being down, and it was not until next day that a courier rode to Summerville, nearly thirty miles away, and gave the world its first news of the disaster. – all from Paul Pinckney

Also on this day: Who Was He? – In 1888, Mary Ann Nichols was brutally murdered.
Try This – In 1900, Coke was first sold in England.
Fairy Tale’s End – In 1997, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash.
Go West – In 1803, Meriwether Lewis began his great Expedition when he left Pittsburgh.
Air Disaster – In 1940, a plane crashed near Lovettsville, Virginia.


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