Little Bits of History

April 21

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2017

900:  Lady Angkatan is forgiven all debts by Commander in Chief of Tundun. In 1989 a man was at the mouth of the Lumbang River in Barnagay Wawa, Lumban, Laguna, the Philippines. Laguna province is located on Luzon, the largest and most populous island of the archipelago. While dredging for sand to turn into concrete, the worker found a small copper plate. It measure about 8 x 12 inches and had words directly embossed onto it which was different from Javanese scrolls of the period where markings were inscribed onto a heated and softened scroll of metal. The laborer sold it to an antique dealer who held if for some time without finding a private buyer. Eventually the National Museum of the Philippines purchased it and Alfredo E Evangelista, head of the Anthropology Department was in charge of it.

It was a year later when Antoon Postma was examining it and noted the inscription was similar to Kawi, an ancient Indonesian script. He was able to translate the writing on what is known as the Laguna Copperplate Inscription. It was self dated to the Saka year 822 during the month of Waisakha on the fourth day of the waning moon, or as we know it, April 21, 900. This predates, by centuries, the first visit of Europeans when Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521. It does correspond with the official Chinese Song dynasty History of Song where the Philippines are mentioned in the year 972.

The debt is cleared for Lady Angkatan and her relative named Bukah and they and all their descendants were cleared from repaying the debt of 1 Kati and 8 Suwarna. The debt was gold weighing 865 grams or 30.5 ounces or about $36,600 today. The writing on the copperplate is Kawi Script but the language is a variety of Old Malay. There are many words from Sanskrit and some words are possibly from Old Javanese. Some historians feel the language is between Old Tagalog and Old Javanese. The places mentioned in the message are in some instances known to us today and some are only surmised. It is also possible the term “Namwaran” is an elder who had died, as names of the dead were not uttered because it was considered disrespectful.

This find, along with some other recently found artifacts including the Golden Tara of Butuan, 14th century pottery, and gold jewelry in Cebu have led historians to create a different pre-European history for the islands. It was once thought the Philippines were isolated from the rest of Asia, but recent discoveries are changing our knowledge of what happened prior to Magellan’s “discovery” of rich cultured peoples living within a community of interwoven Asiatic diversity. Today, the Laguna Copperplate Inscription is considered a national treasure and remains housed in the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila.

First our pleasures die – and then our hopes, and then our fears – and when these are dead, the debt is due dust claims dust – and we die too. – Percy Bysshe Shelley

Debt is one person’s liability, but another person’s asset. – Paul Krugman

You can’t be in debt and win. It doesn’t work. – Dave Ramsey

Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt. – Benjamin Franklin

Bangkok’s Beginning

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2015
Map of Siam/Thailand

Map of Siam/Thailand

April 21, 1782: Krung Thep Maha Nakhon becomes the capital of what is today Thailand. The area was first settled in the 15th century under the rule of Ayutthaya at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River as a small trading post. After the fall of the regime, the new leader, King Taksin moved his capital to the western bank of the river. After Taksin’s rule fell, King Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I) moved his capital to the eastern bank of the river on this date and called it Rattanakosin. The traditional Thai name for the city is not what the rest of the world calls it. For outsiders, the city is called Bangkok.

Originally, Bangkok was a customs outpost with forts on both sides of the river. It was under siege in 1688 and the French were evicted from Siam and Ayutthaya was in control. His rule fell to the Burmese Empire and Taksin made the town his base of operations during the Thonburi Kingdom era. When the city fell again, the Rattanakosin Kingdom moved across the river and erected the City Pillar on this day, marking it as the foundation date. With a more stable government, the economy grew and international trade brought first Chinese and then Western merchants to the city. Bangkok was the center for Siam’s modernization efforts.

Absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932. World War II found the city under attack and occupied by the Japanese; she suffered great damage by bombing runs from US forces. After the war, Bangkok became a destination for military deployed in the region and it helped to boost the economy and the modernization efforts. The Kingdom of Thailand has not only shifted its economy, but as rule of the regions shifted, the very name of the country changed as well. Outsiders called it Siam, but with self rule, the name was once again returned to the locally preferred Thailand.

Thailand covers almost 200,000 square miles and has a population of slightly more than 67 million. The city of Bangkok covers 600 square miles and has a population of 8.3 million people with the metro region covering 3,000 square miles and 14.5 million people or nearly a quarter of the population living there. The city is governed by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). Unlike the other 76 provinces, Bangkok is a special administrative area where the governor and four appointed deputies form the executive body and serve for four years. Bangkok is subdivided into fifty districts and then again into 169 subdistricts, each with a director appointed by the governor. Bangkok is the center of Thailand’s economy. The city remains one of the world’s top tourist destination cities with nearly 16 million people visiting a year.

Bangkok, like Las Vegas, sounds like a place where you make bad decisions. – Todd Phillips

One of my favorite vacation memories was the Thai foot massage and Internet access salons in Bangkok, followed up by my testing cellphone coverage while wading in Provincetown Harbor on Cape Cod. – Kara Swisher

We all want to buy sneakers at bargain prices at WalMart. Children have to be exploited in factories in Thailand to produce them. If we want to stop that over in Thailand, we’ve got to be able to pay a price here in the United States. – Andrew Greeley

In a recent worldwide algebra test we ranked 14th out of 15 nations tested. If it makes you feel any better, we beat Thailand. – Ross Perot

Also on this day: Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918, The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Rome – In 753 BC, Romulus and Remus founded Rome.
Henry VIII – In 1509, Henry became King of England.
Seattle’s Best – In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition opened in Seattle.
First Veep – In 1789, John Adams became the first US Vice President.

First Veep

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2014
John Adams

John Adams

April 21, 1789: John Adams becomes first Vice President of the US. The new government began without the President and Vice President taking office on the same day. For both men, the official start of the first presidential term was March 4. However, it was not until April 6 when the first Congress counted the Electoral College votes and certified Washington as President and Adams as Vice President. On this date, Adams finally presided over the Senate and officially took the position of his elected seat. Washington did not begin as acting President of the US until April 30, 1789 and the executive arm of the government was officially begun.

Adams was the eldest of three sons born on October 30, 1735 (October 19 using the Old Style or Julian calendar). The place of his birth is now called Quincy, Massachusetts but in 1735 was still the north precinct of Braintree. His place of birth is now part of Adams National Historical Park. The family had been in the colonies since about 1638 and were descendants of Puritans. Adams’s mother was from one of the colony’s leading medical families. The family was not wealthy, however John felt the need to live up to the extended family’s history. He went to Harvard College at the age of sixteen with his father expecting him to study religion and become a minister.

After receiving his degree, John taught for a few years and decided to become a lawyer. He not only did not become the minister his father wanted, but John eventually changed religions and became a Unitarian. He studied law in the office of John Putnam, a leading lawyer in Worcester. He received a second degree from Harvard in 1758 and was admitted to the bar. He began to write about his life, clients, events, and his impressions of them all. In 1764, just days before his 29th birthday, he married Abigail Smith, his third cousin. They had six children, one of them also destined to become a President of the US. John, while interested in the local politics, was not as popular as his cousin, Samuel Adams – yet.

Adams forte was constitutional law and he was instrumental in drafting many of the original documents for the emerging nation. The first presidential election was held in 1789 with Washington receiving 69 of the electoral votes and Adams getting 34 – second place. He thus became Vice President. There are those who claim what he would have preferred to have been the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But it was his duty to preside of the Senate and he had little input into the early running of the new nation. He was reelected to the Vice Presidency in 1792. In neither term did Washington consult much with his second in command. The election of 1796 saw Washington out of the race and Adams was elected President with Thomas Jefferson taking over his old position.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.

Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws. – all from John Adams

Also on this day: Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918, The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Rome – In 753 BC, Romulus and Remus founded Rome.
Henry VIII – In 1509, Henry became King of England.
Seattle’s Best – In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition opened in Seattle.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2013
Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf

Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf

April 21, 753 BC: According to legend, Romulus and Remus found Rome. Mythology claimed the twins were the sons of Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia, and the Roman God of War, Mars. The twins were born in 771 BC and Romulus killed Remus when they were 18 years old, after a dispute concerning who was the favored one before the local gods. Birds flocked to Romulus, proving his favored position.

Romulus and Remus were born into trying times. Grandfather Amulius had been banished from Troy but managed to hold on to a considerable treasure. His daughter was supposed to be a priestess sworn to abstinence but somehow ended up with the twins. The enraged grandfather killed his daughter by burying her alive and set the boys out on a hill to die of exposure. Unless he just ordered them all to be thrown into the river to drown.

The servant ordered to kill the boys disobeyed his master and placed the beautiful twins in a basket by the Tiber River which was in flood stage. The basket was carried downstream where the boys were saved by a river god, Tiberinus. They were taken up to the Palentine Hill where they were nursed by a wolf and fed by a woodpecker. They were eventually found by a shepherd who took them home where he and his wife raised the children.

When they were 18, they boys were separated with Remus taken back to his grandfather, Amulius. Remus and Amulius armed the country folk while Romulus and his grandfather’s brother, Numitor, incited those who had been abused by the stern rules of the land. Romulus attacked those holding the city and won. Amulias died in battle and the twins declined to rule in his place. Instead they left for Palentine Hill where they argued over exactly where their new city should be built. They asked the gods to mediate. The gods showed their favor to Romulus and he became the first king of the Roman Kingdom and began building a wall to surround his new city. He also got rid of his dissenting brother when Remus jumped over that wall.

“I would rather be first in a little Iberian village than second in Rome.” – Julius Caesar

“When thou art at Rome, do as they do at Rome.” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city.” – Anatole Broyard

“Rome had Caesar, a man of remarkable governing talents, although it must be said that a ruler who arouses opponents to resort to assassination is probably not as smart as he ought to be.” – Barbara W. Tuchman

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Rome is the capital of Italy and is both a city and a special comune (administrative district). The city covers 496.3 square miles and has 2.8 million residents. It is the largest and most populous comune in Italy and the fourth largest in the European Union (London, Berlin, and Madrid are all larger). The metropolitan area is larger and there are about 3.8 million people living in the city and its outskirts. Rome also includes the small area set aside as the Papal States, capital of the Roman Catholic Church. The Globalization and World Cities has named Rome as the 28th most important global city in 2010. In 2007 it was the 11th most visited city in the world and the third most visited in the European Union. Its historic center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Also on this day: Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918 The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Henry VIII – In 1509, Henry became King of England.
Seattle’s Best – In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition opened in Seattle.

Seattle’s Best

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2012

The Seattle World's Fair

April 21, 1962: The Century 21 Exposition opens in Seattle. It was the first World’s Fair held in the US since World War II. Almost ten million people attended the exposition between April 21 and October 21 and the fair actually turned a profit. The exposition left behind a large fairground, numerous public buildings and the amazing Space Needle – seen in most skyline pictures of Seattle since. The Alweg monorail and several sports venues were also products of the World’s Fair. Seattle Center has grown slightly since and contains the Pacific Science Center and the Experience Music Project built 40 years later was designed to fit in with the scenery.

It was hoped to have the World’s Fair up and running for the 50th anniversary of Alaska joining the Union. However, with the Space Race taking up so much funding, it became impossible. Instead, the date was moved three years into the future creating a futuristic theme for the fair, as well. Boeing wanted to put Seattle on the map as “an aerospace city.” It was also hoped the US could show the USSR that we were not so far behind in the reach for the stars. Ewen Dingwall, Project Manager, went to Moscow to offer the Soviet government a chance to participate, but the invitation was declined.

President Kennedy was to attend the closing ceremonies, but he begged off with a “cold.” The Cold War had intervened and the Cuban Missile Crisis was taking up his attention. The fairgrounds were divided into several different areas with Worlds created for different genres: Science, Tomorrow, Commerce and Industry, Art, Entertainment, and many more. The Fair also had rides available. The Monorail, which still survives was partnered with the Skyride with cars riding on cables as high as 60 feet above ground.

During the months the fair was open, ≈ 20,000 people per day rose to the top of the Space Needle with 2.3 million people visiting the attraction. It is 605 feet high (with the aircraft beacon) and 138 feet wide (at its widest point). When it was finished, it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. It was built to withstand winds of 200 mph and earthquakes measuring up to 9.1 in magnitude. There are 25 lightning rods on the roof, protecting it from lightning damage. The observation deck is at 520 feet and there is a gift shop and the rotating SkyCity restaurant is 20 feet lower.

Seattle isn’t really crazy anymore. It’s a big dot-com city. – Krist Novoselic

I grew up in Seattle, but I always knew I wanted to leave. – David Guterson

As far as the grunge thing, there are three bands from Seattle that I would call true grunge. – Adam Jones

My wife and I just prefer Seattle. It’s a beautiful city. Great setting. You open your front door in the morning and the air smells like pine and the sea, as opposed to bus exhaust. – Ron Reagan

Also on this day:

Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918 The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Rome – In 753 BC, Romulus and Remus founded Rome.
Henry VIII – In 1509, Henry became King of England.

Henry VIII

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2011

King Henry VIII

April 21, 1509: Henry VIII becomes King of England. Henry VII was King of England from August 22, 1485 after being victorious in the Wars of the Roses. He reigned for 23 years and brought a bit of peace to a war ravaged island. His eldest son, Arthur was set to take over the throne at his father’s death. However, Arthur predeceased his father and all of a sudden the spare heir was set to ascend to the kingship. Henry was 17 years old at his coronation.

Arthur had died in 1502 at the age of 15. He was married to Catherine of Aragon on November 14, 1501. By April 2, 1502, the Prince of Wales was dead, having suddenly taken ill. There is much speculation about what the illness may have been. His wife was also taken ill, but she recovered. After it was certain the Princess of Wales was not carrying Arthur’s child, Henry was elevated to the title of Prince of Wales and was next in line for his father’s throne. Henry VII did not want to return either Catherine or her dowry. Instead, he arranged for his son Henry to marry his sister-in-law. A special dispensation was granted by Pope Julius II. Eventually the young couple married on June 11, 1509. Their double coronation took place on June 24, 1509.

Henry VIII began to believe that God was punishing him for what he thought was an illegal marriage between him and his sister-in-law. So he asked the Pope for a dissolution to the marriage. Henry was desperate for a male heir to take the throne after his own death and forestall more civil wars. He and Catherine had a daughter, Mary, but that did not help ease the King’s mind. Only a son would do. It was thought women were incapable of rule. After years of maneuvering and fighting with the Catholic Church as well as other nations on mainland Europe, Henry divorced Catherine and married Anne Boleyn.

Anne had another daughter, Elizabeth, and again this was seen as God’s disapproval. Anne was disposed of and Henry was smitten by a young court woman, Jane Seymour. Jane finally consented to marry the King and remarkably, a son was born. However, he was not a hale and healthy son and Jane died of complications of the delivery. Henry next married Anne of Cleves in an arranged marriage meant to solidify political standing. Henry hated Anne and they soon parted. Next up was Catherine Howard, but she didn’t last very long either. Catherine Parr was Henry’s final wife. She may have met the fate of some of Henry’s other wives, but Henry died and his son, Edward VI ascended to the throne – at least for a short time.

“…to wish myself (specially an evening) in my sweetheart’s arms, whose pretty ducks [breasts] I trust shortly to kiss.” [in a letter to Anne Boleyn]

“You have sent me a Flanders mare!” [about Anne of Cleves]

“Rose without a thorn.” [describing Catherine Howard]

“[M]ost dearly and most entirely beloved wife.” [referring to Catherine Parr] – all from King Henry VIII

Also on this day:
Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918 The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Rome – In 753 BC, Romulus and Remus founded Rome.

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Snoopy v. The Red Baron

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2010

Manfred von Richthofen

April 21, 1918: Manfred von Richthofen a.k.a. The Red Baron is shot down by Allied pilots during the First World War. He is sometimes referred to as the most successful flying ace of World War I. He was credited with 80 confirmed air combat victories.

Von Richthofen was born in 1892 in Breslau which was then part of Germany but is now in Poland. He was a Freiherr or “Free Lord” which is a German aristocratic level equivalent to an English Baron. He began the war as a cavalry scout. He became bored with this job and asked to be transferred to the air service where he became an observer. He met Oswald Boelcke, a great fighting aviator and decided to become a pilot himself. He won his first air battle on September 17, 1916.

The Red Baron (due to his aristocratic rank and the color of his plane) was not considered to be exceptionally skilled, but rather he stuck to a very rigid set of rules of combat that served him very well. Today, he is known as Der Rote Baron in Germany, but at the time he was called Der Rote Kampfflieger or The Red Battle Flyer or The Red Pilot. His other nickname was Le Diable Rouge or Red Devil. During a dogfight in July of 1917 von Richthofen suffered a head wound that left him impaired and may have played a part in his death.

On this date, he was engaged in battle with two planes from the Royal Air Force and broke several of his own rules. The Red Baron was engaged with a Sopwith Camel piloted by Lt. Wilfred May, a Canadian pilot flying for the RAF. Cap. Arthur Brown entered into the fray to aid in combat. Brown was also a Canadian pilot flying for the RAF. Van Richthofen was shot through the chest, probably by an anti-aircraft machine gunner as Brown dived toward the red plane which was in hot pursuit of Lt. May. Von Richthofen managed to land his plane without crashing, but died shortly thereafter on the ground. His Fokker was not badly damaged in the landing, but was dismantled by those on the ground for souvenirs. Sgt. Ted Smout of the Australian Medical Corps rushed to aid the victim of the crash and claimed the Red Baron’s last word was “kaput” which means destroyed or broken. He was 25 years old.

“I honored the fallen enemy by placing a stone on his beautiful grave.” – Manfred von Richthofen

“He fought until he landed. When he had come to the ground I flew over him at an altitude of about thirty feet in order to ascertain whether I had killed him or not. What did the rascal do? He took his machine-gun and shot holes into my machine.” – Manfred von Richthofen

“I cannot believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war and no one will win the next.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.” – John Stuart Mill

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” – Jose Narosky

Also on this day, in 753 BC Rome was founded, according to legend.