Little Bits of History

April 29

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2017

2015: The Baltimore Orioles play the Chicago White Sox. On April 12, 2015 the Baltimore Police arrested Freddie Gray, a 25 year old African-American from Baltimore. Gray suffered neck and spine injuries while in transport. When he went into a coma on April 18, protests were held outside the police station and continued and escalated after Gray died the following day. Police have never been able to adequately explain how Gray was injured and this also fueled the protests and Civil Rights concerns. On April 25 the NAACP, CASA de Maryland, and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle requested that Governor Larry Hogan look into the charges of police brutality. The next day, protesters marched from City Hall to Inner Harbor and at the end of the march, some became violent.

The Baltimore Orioles were playing the Boston Red Sox and the game was close. Near Oriole Park at Camden Yards, violence was on the upsweep and it was considered unsafe for the fans to leave the stadium. In the middle of the ninth inning, an announcement was made asking all to remain inside due to “ongoing public safety issues” in the streets. The 36,757 fans remained even after the tenth inning win by the Orioles while outside at least 34 people were arrested and six police officers were injured.

A funeral was held for Gray on April 27 and there were many to see him off to his final resting place in Woodlawn Cemetery. Flyers as well as messages on social media were calling for people to come together to “purge” – a reference to a violent, dystopian action series of films by that name – a wide swath of Baltimore from Mondawmin to Downtown. The police proactively showed up in riot gear and shut down public transportation. This did not stop the violence and other police forces came to aid in the containment of the violence. The Orioles were to play a three game series against the White Sox and the first of the two games were cancelled due to safety concerns. On this day, the game was played behind closed doors, the first time in Major League Baseball history. It broke the record for attendance since zero fans were permitted to enter. The previous record was six and set in 1882.

A state of emergency was called and the Maryland National Guard was called in. Over the course of the weeks of rioting, more than twenty police officers were injured, 250 people were arrested, between 285 and 350 businesses were damaged, there were 150 vehicle fires, there were 60 structural fires, and 27 drugstores were looted. The state of emergency was lifted on May 6. Gray’s death was ruled a homicide and six officers were charged with offenses including second-degree murder. Three officers were acquitted and the other three had their charges dropped.

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

I can see in your eyes, I can see in your faces, I can see you cry. But what I want to say, there’s no reason to cry. Do not, in the name of peace, go in the streets and riot. – George Weah

Rioting is a childish way of trying to be a man, but it takes time to rise out of the hell of hatred and frustration and accept that to be a man you don’t have to riot. – Abraham Maslow

You can’t just lecture the poor that they shouldn’t riot or go to extremes. You have to make the means of legal redress available. – Harold H. Greene

People’s Budget

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2015
Terrible Twins, George and Chruchill

Terrible Twins, George and Chruchill

April 29, 1910: The People’s Budget passes in England. The new legislation was the first in British history where the purpose of the budget was expressly to redistribute wealth. It was part of the Liberal government of Prime Minister HH Asquith. Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George and President of the Board of Trade Winston Churchill (called the “Terrible Twins” by right-wing contemporaries) supported the budget with unprecedented high taxes on the wealthy and radical social welfare programs. It was the main point of divergence between the Liberal government and the Conservative dominated House of Lords.

The Budget was introduced in the British Parliament by George on April 29, 1909 with the hope that a new means of moving money between strata would eliminate poverty. The income tax for those earning less than £2000 (£180,000 today) remained at 3.75%. Those earning more than £2000 were to pay 5% and a super tax of an additional 2.5% was proposed on incomes over £5000 (£450,000 today) exceeded £3000 (£270,000 today). The super-wealthy would pay 7.5% on the incomes up to £3000 and an extra 2.5% on income over and above that if they earned over £5000. An inheritance tax was also in the bill. The biggest point of contention was a land tax which entailed a 20% tax on increases in the value of the land when property was sold.

The Budget also included tariffs on imports which was seen as a way to bring in more money for the social reforms included in the bill. This part was unpopular because it would have increased the prices on imported food. The Conservative faction would have benefitted in the protection of their products since they were large landowners and their prices of their goods would have been protected. There was much debate from both sides on how to proceed and soon the entire country was divided on what should take place. It was one year to the date when the House of Lords finally accepted the Budget, but only after the land taxes were dropped.

David Lloyd George was the 1st Earl of Dwyfor and was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1908-1915. He was moved from that position to Minster of Munitions, a new office created during World War I. He left that position and moved to Secretary of War and then to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was also the leader of the Liberal Party from 1926 to 1931. During his time at the Exchequer, he helped to lay the foundations of the modern welfare state found in Great Britain today. He was instrumental at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and has been voted as one of the three most important Prime Ministers. It has been said that he made a greater impact on British public life than any other 20th century leader. He died in 1945 at the age of 82.

The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return. – Gore Vidal

Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. – Learned Hand

Tax reform is taking the taxes off things that have been taxed in the past and putting taxes on things that haven’t been taxed before. – Art Buchwald

It is easier to start taxes than to stop them. A tax an inch long can easily become a yard long. That has been the history of the income tax. – B. C. Forbes

Also on this day: What’s the Word? – In 1852, the third most popular book in the world is first published.
Rodney King – In 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles.
Free, Free at Last – In 1945, Dachau was liberated.
Slide – In 1903, a landslide down Turtle Mountain took place.
Oldsmobile – In 2004, the company went out of business.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2014
Ransom E Olds

Ransom E Olds

April 29, 2004: Oldsmobile goes out of business. The company was founded by Ransom E Olds in 1897. He was born in Geneva, Ohio in 1864 and the family moved to Cleveland when he was still a child. He moved to Lansing, Michigan and married Metta Ursula Woodward in 1889. He claimed to have built his first steam-powered car in 1894 and his first gasoline-powered car in 1896. He is credited with the concept of the modern assembly line which was used to build the first mass-produced car, the Oldsmobile Curved Dash, which came out in 1901. Between 1901 and 07 about 19,000 of the cars were built using the line and interchangeable parts. It sold for about $650 ($200 less than the Ford Doctor’s Car) or about $18,500 today and had a top speed of 20 mph.

Copper and lumber magnate Samuel L Smith purchased the company in 1899 and renamed it Olds Motor Works. He also moved it from Lansing to Detroit. Smith was president while Olds became vice president and general manager. By 1901, Olds had built and sold at least one steam, electricity, and gas powered vehicle, the only automotive pioneer to do so. On March 9, 1901, the Olds Motor Works factory burned to the ground with only one Curved Dash saved from the flames. Olds claimed this is what led him to the decision to mass produce this car. Roy Chapin drove one of these early cars all the way to the New York Automobile Show. It took eight days and the trip was along mud roads so that when Chapin arrived at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, he was not permitted to enter in his disheveled state.

At the auto show, Olds pushed hard to sell his runabout. One dealer offered to purchase 500 and Olds quipped that if he took an order for 1,000 it would make the nation take notice. The dealer did make an order for 1,000 cars but only managed to sell 750. Even so, it is the larger number that was touted. It was not all easy and in 1904 Olds left his own company after too many fights with Frederic L Smith who came into the business purchased by his father. Smith and Olds were in constant conflict and when Olds left he started up RE Olds Motor Car Company. Smith threatened a lawsuit over the name and so it was changed to REO Motor Car Company and Olds served as president until 1925 and then moved to chairman.

Olds Motor Works was bought by General Motors in 1908, the year it was founded. Over the years they acquired several different companies under their overarching brand name, both automotive and non-automotive. During the 107 years of Oldsmobile production, 35.2 million cars rolled off the assembly lines. At least 14 million of these were built at the Lansing plant. At the time of its demise it was one of the oldest surviving brands with only Daimler, Peugeot, and Tatra older. Today, Daimler appears to be dormant, but both of the other brands are still producing cars, the former in France and the latter in the Czech Republic.

Car designers are just going to have to come up with an automobile that outlasts the payments. – Erma Bombeck

Once the automobile appeared you could have predicted that it would destroy as many people as it did. – Ray Bradbury

Money differs from an automobile or mistress in being equally important to those who have it and those who do not. – John Kenneth Galbraith

The people recognize themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment. – Herbert Marcuse

Also on this day: What’s the Word? – In 1852, the third most popular book in the world is first published.
Rodney King – In 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles.
Free, Free at Last – In 1945, Dachau was liberated.
Slide – In 1903, a landslide down Turtle Mountain took place.

Rodney King

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2013
National Guard during the LA Riots

National Guard during the LA Riots

April 29, 1992: Four Los Angeles police officers are acquitted and rioting erupts in the streets. Rodney King was stopped on March 3, 1991 for speeding. He resisted arrest after he had been chased for 8 miles. A California Highway Patrol officer had pulled a gun on the obviously intoxicated driver. Sgt. Stacy Koon intervened. King was hit with a taser (50,000 volts of electricity) that should have stopped him. He got up and was tasered again. He got up again. It was at this point an amateur videographer started filming.

The four police believed King was not only drunk, but on PCP or phencyclidine, a psychoactive drug rendering one immune to pain, delusional, and violent. With video running, King charged Officer Lawrence Powell. Powell struck wildly with his baton. The next 10 seconds were both blurred and edited from TV newscasts. They showed King violently resisting. The rest of the video, the part seen all over the world, showed 4 police (3 Caucasian and 1 Hispanic) using extreme force to subdue an African-American.

The trial was held in Simi Valley, California and the police were acquitted. Riots broke out in LA. They built to fever pitch for two days, but lasted for several more. First the National Guard and eventually federal troops were brought in to restore order. In all, 53 people were killed and 2,383 injured during the rioting. There was between $800 million and $1 billion in property damage. There were 3,600 – 7,000 fires set (depending on sources). At least 3,100 businesses and 1,100 buildings were destroyed. Many Korean and other Asian businesses were targeted by the raging crowd. Over 10,000 arrests were made.

One of the most horrific videos taken during the riots showed a truck driver being dragged from his truck and beaten unmercifully by the mob. Helicopter video showed Reginald Denny being further assaulted as he lay unconscious in the street. Denny survived but even after years of rehabilitation, he suffers from neurological deficits resulting from the attack. One of his assailants was later imprisoned. Several other motorists were also attacked by the mob. King was awarded $3.8 million in a civil case. He was arrested again in May 1991 and July 1995. He underwent alcohol treatment in 1993. In August 2003, while driving drunk, he was again fleeing from police when he ran his SUV into a house.

“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?” – Rodney King on May 1, 1992 at the height of the rioting

“The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You can’t just lecture the poor that they shouldn’t riot or go to extremes. You have to make the means of legal redress available.” – Harold H. Greene

“Whenever I happen to be in a city of any size, I marvel that riots do not break out everyday: Massacres, unspeakable carnage, a doomsday chaos. How can so many human beings coexist in a space so confined without hating each other to death?” – Emile M. Cioran

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Rodney King was unable to control his drinking and drug use, even though he was a part of the show, Celebrity Rehab and Sober House. He was engaged to Cynthia Kelly in 2010. She was one of the jurors in King’s civil suit against the City of Los Angeles. As he was awarded $3.8 million, his lawyers were given $1.7 million in addition to cover their fees. King unsuccessfully attempted to sue the lawyers because he thought the money should have been his. On June 17, 2012 King was found on the bottom of his swimming pool. His fiancé called 911 and they attempted to revive him. King was pronounced dead at the hospital and the autopsy showed accidental drowning with alcohol and cocaine as contributing factors.

Also on this day: What’s the Word? – In 1852 the third most popular book in the world is first published.
Free, Free at Last – In 1945, Dachau was liberated.
Slide – In 1903, a landslide down Turtle Mountain took place.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2012

Turtle Mountain

April 29, 1903: At 4:10 AM 90 million tons of limestone fell from Turtle Mountain in 90 seconds. Turtle Mountain is located in the Crowsnest River Valley of the Blairmore Range. It is part of the Canadian Rockies and is situated in Alberta, Canada. The Oldman River originates here. It was named in 1880 by a local rancher who thought it looked like a turtle. A small town at the base of the mountain was named after it’s founder, Henry Luplin Frank, in 1901. The landslide is named after the town of Frank which was partially buried by the falling rock. Therefore, the disaster is called the Frank Slide.

Turtle Mountain has a thrust fault running through it with sandstone and shale beneath older limestone. The mountain was unstable due to the erosion of the sandstone and shale and was also destabilized by coal mining within the mountain. There were dramatic and deadly weather conditions where a quick freeze caused further destabilization. The limestone broke away and washed down the face of the mountain. There were about 600 people living in Frank at the time and of those, about 70 were killed.

There were seven miner’s cottages (six inhabited) destroyed in the slide. Also lost were a dairy farm, ranch, shoe store, livery stable, cemetery, ≈ 3 miles of roadway and railroad lines, a construction camp, and all the buildings on the surface associated with the Frank mine. There were three young girls who survived the disaster, riding the slide down or trapped under some rubble. Marion Leitch (15 months old) was thrown from her house onto a pile of hay and survived. Fernie Watkins was found in the debris. And finally Gladys Ennis (27 months old) was found in the mud by her mother. Ennis was the last survivor of the disaster, dying in 1995.

The townspeople were afraid of another landslide and eventually many moved away from Frank – to New Frank. In 1911, a Royal Commission study found the mountain to be unstable and the government ordered all the residents from that section of Frank to relocate. They did so with many moving to Crowsnest Pass or to New Frank. In 2003, 100 years after the disaster, the Premier of Alberta, Ralph Klein, announced funding for a new program to monitor Turtle Mountain. The land is indeed unstable and the mountain remains under watch.

Bald as the bare mountain tops are bald, with a baldness full of grandeur. – Matthew Arnold

Down below the broad, roaring waves of the sea break against the deep foundation of the rock. But high above the mountain, the sea, and the peaks of rock the eternal ornamentation blooms silently from the dark depths of the universe. – Rudolf Otto

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. – John Lubbock

I like being near the top of a mountain. One can’t get lost here. – Wislawa Szymborska

Also on this day:

What’s the Word? – In 1852 the third most popular book in the world is first published.
Rodney King – In 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles.
Free, Free at Last – In 1945, Dachau was liberated.

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Free, Free at Last

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2011

Aerial view of Dachau Concentration Camp

April 29, 1945: The Nazi Concentration Camp, Dachau, is liberated by US troops. Dachau was the first concentration camp to be used by the Nazis and opened on March 22, 1933. It was located on the site of an abandoned munitions factory near the town of Dachau, about ten miles northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria. Heinrich Himmler called the camp “the first concentration camp for political prisoners.” It served as the prototype for all the other concentration camps erected by the Nazis.

Almost every community it Germany lost citizens to this camp located in southern Germany or others that followed. Soon the newspapers were reporting “the removal of enemies of the Reich to concentration camps.” By 1935 there was a jingle stating, “Dear God, make me dumb, that I may not to Dachau come.” And yet people kept coming. Across the entrance gate were the words “Arbeit macht frei” or “through work one will be free.” The camp was in use from 1933 to 1960. The first twelve years it was used an an internment center for the Third Reich. Between 1933-38 it was used for political prisoners. Between 1939-45 it was used for prisoners from all nations of occupied territories. Between 1945-48 it housed SS officers waiting trial. After 1948 it housed expelled Germans from Czechoslovakia and was also used as a base by the US.

Due to the chaos of war and the inadequate records remaining, it is impossible to know the exact statistics for the camp. We do not know how many people were brought to Dachau. We do not know how many people died there. It is believed there were over 200,000 prisoners from more than 30 countries housed there during the war years. It is thought that ⅔ of the prisoners were political prisoners and ⅓ were Jews. It is believed that 25,613 people died here and at least another 10,000 were killed in the subcamps. Surviving records show 206,206 prisoners were brought in and 31,951 deaths were also recorded.

On April 24, 1945, about 140 prominent prisoners were transferred to Tyrol. On April 27, Victor Maurer, a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross was allowed entry to distribute food. Only 800 survivors arrived on a train from Buchenwald. Over 2,300 corpses remained on the train. On April 28, the camp commander fled, taking most of the regular guards and administrators of the camp. On April 29, a white flag was raised from the watchtowers and the camp was surrendered formally. About 32,000 people were finally freed.

“As we moved down along the west side of the concentration camp and approached the southwest corner, three people approached down the road under a flag of truce. We met these people about 75 yards north of the southwest entrance to the camp.”

“These three people were a Swiss Red Cross representative and two SS troopers who said they were the camp commander and assistant camp commander and that they had come into the camp on the night of the 28th to take over from the regular camp personnel for the purpose of turning the camp over to the advancing Americans.”

“The Swiss Red Cross representative acted as interpreter and stated that there were about 100 SS guards in the camp who had their arms stacked except for the people in the tower. He said he had given instructions that there would be no shots fired and it would take about 50 men to relieve the guards, as there were 42,000 half-crazed prisoners of war in the camp, many of them typhus infected.”

“He asked if I were an officer of the American army, to which I replied, ‘Yes, I am Assistant Division Commander of the 42nd Division and will accept the surrender of the camp in the name of the Rainbow Division for the American army.’” – Brig. Gen. Henning Linden’s official “Report on Surrender of Dachau Concentration Camp”

Also on this day:
What’s the Word? – In 1852 the third most popular book in the world is first published.
Rodney King – In 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles.

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What’s the Word?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2010

The esteemed author

April 29, 1852: One of the three most used books in the world is published for the first time. The other two books are Webster’s Dictionary and The Bible. Peter studied medicine at Edinburgh University by the age of fourteen and assumed a practice by age nineteen. He was particularly interested in the senses. Visual perception was his specialty. In 1824, Peter wrote a paper that described an optical illusion that is the basis for our modern movie industry. While the explanation itself wasn’t truly accurate, the paper led to the development of the Thaumatrope, Phenakistiscope and Zoetrope.

Peter’s life was marred by several episodes of disaster. Both his father and his wife died young. His uncle, a famous politician and reformer, committed suicide in Peter’s presence. Peter also suffered from depression and battled the effects for most of his life. His work is said to have been a method of solace and a means to escape the grinding symptoms of the disease.

Peter was a prolific writer and lecturer as well as physician. He contributed treatises, articles and even whole books on the subject of health. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge at the University of London. In that capacity, he also wrote several manuals. He was interested in making his writings and lectures interesting and so he kept a list of words that could be used interchangeably. He knew it gave his writing more pizzazz than using the same words over and over.

When Peter retired from medicine, he was not yet ready to stop all work. He continued to work with his list of words. At the age of 73, he finally opted to publish this list. They were not listed alphabetically, but by subject matter. The original manuscript contained 15,000 words. His book has never been out of circulation since it’s first printing and now contains close to a quarter million words. What is this important, significant, vital, essential, principal, necessary work? Peter Roget’s Thesaurus, of course.

“No man means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.” – Henry Brooks Adams

“A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the word you first thought of.” – Burt Bacharach

“What’s another word for Thesaurus?” – Stephen Wright

“County library? Reference desk, please. Hello? Yes, I need a word definition. Well, that’s the problem. I don’t know how to spell it and I’m not allowed to say it. Could you just rattle off all the swear words you know and I’ll stop you when…Hello?” – Calvin & Hobbes

Also on this day, in 1992 riots broke out in Los Angeles after police were acquitted of using undue force against Rodney King.

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