Little Bits of History

August 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2017

1967: George Lincoln Rockwell is killed. He was born in 1918 in Bloomington, Illinois. His parents were vaudeville comedians and actors and his father knew many famous people of the day. His parents divorced when he was six and they shared custody of their three children with them split between New Jersey and Maine. George applied to Harvard when he was 17 but was not accepted. He enrolled at Hebron Academy and delved into Western philosophy and world religions. In 1938 he entered Brown University as a philosophy major. In his sophomore year at Brown, he dropped out and joined the US Navy where he attended flight school in Massachusetts and Florida.

He married while in the service and during World War II, he was stationed in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters where he served on several ships and worked as a reconnaissance photographer. He held supportive roles and did training and transport. He never flew a combat mission. After the War, he was in the reserves when he was again called up for the Korean War. During that time, he was stationed in San Diego and trained pilots. He was transferred to Iceland where families were not permitted and while there, his first wife divorced him. He met and married an Icelandic woman and within five years (and another three children) they were also divorced.

While stationed in San Diego, Rockwell became a supporter of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. He was influenced by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s stand against communism. Rockwell also supported General Douglas MacArthur’s candidacy for President of the United States going so far as to adopt the general’s corcob pipe. He read many Nazi publications and became a fervent anti-Semite as well as a Holocaust denier. As his politics grew ever more stridently right-wing, his standing in the Navy grew more tenuous. After 19 years, the Navy gave him an honorable discharge, but would not allow him to stay.

In 1959, Rockwell founded the World Union of the Free Enterprise National Socialists (WUFENS) which became the American Nazi Party. He was both a White supremacist and anti-Semite and held a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on April 3, 1960 to advertise his beliefs. The American Nazi Party helped the Ku Klux Klan in their efforts, as well. Rockwell began a record company called Hatenanny Records which released hate filled singles and created a Hate Bus to agitate the Freedom Riders. On this day, while leaving a laundromat in Arlington, Virginia he was shot and killed by a former Nazi Party member, John Patler. Patler was convicted of the murder and served eight years in prison. The American Nazi Party remains active with Rocky Suhayda the current leader.

I care not what religion, club, area or class you come from, nor what bit of colored cloth you wave as a flag. WE are ALL under deadly attack by colored hordes which outnumber us more than seven to one, led by a filthy Jewish, Communist conspiracy!

I care not what religion, club, area or class you come from, nor what bit of colored cloth you wave as a flag. WE are ALL under deadly attack by colored hordes which outnumber us more than seven to one, led by a filthy Jewish, Communist conspiracy!

Nazism says that women are absolutely equal to men. But they’re different. And thank god for the difference. – all from George Lincoln Rockwell

I am not surprised at all. I’ve expected it for quite some time. – George Lovejoy Rockwell, hearing of his son’s death





John Birch

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2015
John Birch

John Birch*

August 25, 1945: John Birch is killed. His parents were missionaries and living in Landour, a hill station of the Himalayas and now part of the Indian state of Uttarakhand but at the time of his birth in 1918, it was part of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. The family returned to the US when John was two and he was raised in Georgia in the Fundamentalist Baptist tradition. He graduated from Georgia Baptist, now part of Mercer University, in 1939 with highest honors. He was noted to always be a zealot and angry and in his senior year of college, organized a group of students to identify cases of heresy perpetrated by the professors. He was devoted to scriptural basis for all doctrine.

While studying at Mercer, he decided to become a missionary and next went to J. Frank Norris’s Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute located in Texas. He completed a two year program in one year and was sent to China in 1940. He was working with the World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship and stationed in Shanghai. Once there, he learned Mandarin Chinese. After six months he was transferred to Hangzhou which at the time was not yet occupied by Japanese troops. After the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Japan issued troops to the area to arrest Birch as an enemy national. He and other missionaries fled inland and cut off from the outside world, Birch began to build missions in the Zhejiang province.

In April 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle and his crew crash-landed in China after a raid on Tokyo. Their mission originated on the USS Hornet but they did not return there. They bailed out over China and were rescued by civilians and smuggled away and ended up in Zhejiang province. Birch went to meet them and help them travel safely inside China. After Doolittle’s return to fighting, he told of Birch’s help. Colonel Claire Chennault, leader of the Flying Tigers, thought it would be helpful to have a Chinese speaking American on his team and made Birch a first lieutenant in the Fourteenth Air Force. Birch was later under the US Office of Strategic Services, but he assented only if he could function as he had prior to his military service.

Japan’s peace treaty was signed earlier in the month and under the terms of their surrender, the Japanese Army would occupy areas already controlled until power could be turned over to Nationalist governments. The Communists ruling in China were affronted and on this day, Birch was leading a party of Americans, Chinese Nationalists, and Koreans on a mission to reach Allied Personnel in a Japanese prison camp. They ran into Chinese Communists near Xi’an and Birch was ordered to disarm. He did not. Insults were exchanged followed by gunfire. Birch was killed and the people he was with were taken prisoner, although released shortly thereafter. The John Birch Society was formed 13 years after his death and named in his honor, although Doolittle said he would be horrified by the connection.

Every man is a missionary, now and forever, for good or for evil, whether he intends or designs it or not. – Thomas Chalmers

To be a human being means to possess a feeling of inferiority which constantly presses towards its own conquest. The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge for conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation. – Alfred Adler

It is long accepted by the missionaries that morality is inversely proportional to the amount of clothing people wore. – Alex Carey

The missionaries go forth to Christianize the savages — as if the savages weren’t dangerous enough already. – Edward Abbey

Also on this day: Swimming the English Channel – In 1875, Matthew Webb became the first to swim the English Channel.
Men in the Moon – In 1835, the Great Moon Hoax articles first began to see print.
I See – In 1609, Galileo demonstrated his telescope.
National Parks – In 1916, the US National Park Service was formed.
Voyager 1 Left the Building – In 2012, the space probe left the Solar System.

* “John Birch” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

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Voyager 1 Left the Building

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2014
Voyager 1 leaving the Solar System

Voyager 1 leaving the Solar System

August 25, 2012: Voyager 1 crosses the heliopause. There was a plan for a Grand Tour to study the outer planets proposed during the 1960s. NASA began working on the project in the 1970s. Pioneer 10 had been launched on March 3, 1972 and valuable information concerning intense radiation around Jupiter helped in the design of Voyager. Originally, this was to be one more of the Mariner missions but the design on the probe changed dramatically and a new name was adopted. Voyager 1 was launched on September 5, 1977 and the goal was to study the outer solar system and beyond.

Aboard the probe is a gold-plated audio-visual disc which, it is hoped, can be interpreted by intelligent life forms if they should find the probe. The disc has photos of Earth and life forms from the planet. There is a range of scientific information as well as spoken greetings from the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the United States. There are other sounds included ranging from whale song to human music and other nature sounds. Contained are greeting in 55 different languages. There is a pictorial clue as to how to play the records using a stylus that was also included.

Our Solar System is small when compared to the Universe, but space travel is slow even now. In 1977, the probe was launched and a year later, on September 8, 1977, Voyager began the Jupiter observation phase and observed the planet and four of the moons. On August 22, 1980 the Saturn observation phase began with observing the planet and two moon. Then the extended mission started. On February 14, 1990 the final images of the Voyager Program completed the Solar System Family Portrait. On February 17, 1990, Voyager 1 overtook Pioneer 10 as the most distant spacecraft from the Sun. On December 17, 2004 she entered the heliosheath and on this date, she crossed the heliopause and entered interstellar space.

The heliopause is a theoretical boundary where the Sun’s wind is stopped by stellar winds. The force of the solar winds are no longer great enough to push back winds coming from other stars in the galaxy. It was thought that crossing this barrier would result in a sharp drop in the temperature of charged particles, a change in the direction of the magnetic field, and an increase in the amount of galactic cosmic rays. In May 2012, Voyager 1 detected an quick increase in galactic rays, suggesting she was approaching this boundary. In the fall of 2012, after examining returned data and interpreting the numbers, it was determined that at a distance of 121 AU or 18 billion kilometers or 11 billion miles, the probe had left the solar system. Now, if someone finds that record …

Our passionate preoccupation with the sky, the stars, and a God somewhere in outer space is a homing impulse. We are drawn back to where we came from. – Eric Hoffer

Perhaps, as some wit remarked, the best proof that there is Intelligent Life in Outer Space is the fact it hasn’t come here. Well, it can’t hide forever – one day we will overhear it. – Arthur C. Clarke

I’ve always wondered what it would be like if somebody from outer space landed with three heads. Then all of a sudden everybody else wouldn’t look so bad, huh? Well, OK you’re a little different from me but, hey, ya got one head. – Cyndi Lauper

Now we are flying off into outer space, there is no clear curb on what can be done in the name of the economy. – Susan George

Also on this day: Swimming the English Channel – In 1875 Matthew Webb becomes the first to swim the English Channel.
Men in the Moon – In 1835, the Great Moon Hoax articles first began to see print.
I See – In 1609, Galileo demonstrated his telescope.
National Parks – In 1916, the US National Park Service was formed.

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Men in the Moon

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2013
Lithograph from the Great Moon Hoax

Lithograph from the Great Moon Hoax

August  25, 1835: The first of a six-part series runs in The Sun of New York City. The series was advertised on August 21 and was said to be a reprint from the esteemed Sir John Herschel as told to Dr. Grant and run in the prestigious The Edinburgh Courant. The famous astronomer supposedly made observations of the moon using a very powerful telescope and what he saw was astounding. According to the nearly 2-year-old paper, the moon sported fantastic animal life including unicorns, two-legged tailless beavers, and bat-like winged humanoids.

The creatures lived in huts, built temples, and played in the forests or on the beaches. Lithographs appeared with the articles to help readers see what life on the moon was like. The stories were filled with scientific evidence of “Vespertilio-homo” and all the wonders these winged creatures produced. Readership of The Sun dramatically increased as a science loving population learned about the men on the moon. So who was behind this fantastic fiction?

The most likely author is Cambridge-educated Richard Adams Locke although he never publicly claimed authorship. Two others, Jean-Nicholas Nicollet and Lewis Gaylord Clark, are also possible, but both are less likely to be the author than is Locke. If it was indeed Locke, he had two reasons to write the series – first and foremost was to boost sales. A second reason would have been to ridicule some of the more preposterous “scientific” claims of the time.

It took weeks for the articles to be revealed as a hoax. The Sun never printed a retraction. Circulation rose and remained higher than it had been prior to the feature’s week-long run. Herschel was at first amused, but he eventually tired of answering questions about life on the moon from people who took the articles as serious science. The series is said to have inspired Edgar Allen Poe with his own hoax about Balloons sailing across the ocean, also published in The Sun. Poe had published a life on the moon article in June of 1835 which was not as well received due to the satirical tone. However, it is considered to be one of the earliest science fiction stories. In it people sailed to the moon, also in a balloon, and met all manner of creatures living in the night sky.

“The next animal perceived would be classed on earth as a monster. It was of a bluish lead color, about the size of a goat, with a head and beard like him, and a single horn, slightly inclined for war from the perpendicular. The female was destitute of horn and beard, but had a much longer tail.”

“Its hills are pinnacled with tall quartz crystals, of so rich a yellow and orange hue that we at first supposed them to be pointed flames of fire; and they spring up thus from smooth round brows of hills which are covered with a velvet mantle.”

“But whilst gazing upon them in a perspective of about half a mile, we were thrilled with astonishment to perceive four successive flocks of large winged creatures, wholly unlike any kind of birds, descend with a slow even motion from the cliffs on the western side, and alight upon the plain.”

“The universal state of amity among all classes of lunar creatures, and the apparent absence of every carnivorous or ferocious creatures, gave us the most refined pleasure, and doubly endeared to us this lovely nocturnal companion of our larger, but less favored world.” – all from Great Astronomical Discoveries or the Great Moon Hoax

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Sir John Herschel was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, photographer, inventor, and botanist. He was the son of astronomer William Herschel. He was born in 1792 and studied at Eton College and St John’s College, Cambridge. He invented the use of the Julian day system in astronomy which is still in use today. He named the seven moons of Saturn and the four moons of Uranus. He instituted new and improved methods for photography and investigated color blindness. He was interested in the uses for chemical properties in ultraviolet rays. He traveled and wrote about his scientific interests. He was the author for a few scientific entries to the Encyclopædia Britannica. He married Margaret Brodie Stewart in 1829 and the couple had twelve children born between 1830 and 1855.

Also on this day: Swimming the English Channel – In 1875 Matthew Webb becomes the first to swim the English Channel.
I See – In 1609, Galileo demonstrated his telescope.
National Parks – In 1916, the US National Park Service was formed.

National Parks

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2012

United States National Park Service logo

August 25, 1916: The United States National Park Service (NPS) is formed. The Service sprang from an idea first put into action in 1872 when Yellowstone National Park was established. Back in 1832, George Catlin, an artist, traveled to the Great Plains region of the US. He was concerned about the destruction taking place by the native residents, the animal inhabitants, and the influx of pioneering Americans. He advocated for a system to protect lands from human contamination. This had no immediate success, but authors back East began to take up the topic. Out West, in California, state leaders set up a system to protect Yosemite Valley and this was backed by President Lincoln who signed an Act protecting the land in 1864.

While there is a myth about discoverers asking for a Park system to be set up to protect the lands, in actuality, it was the Northern Pacific Railroad Company who made a big push to conserve the lands and create the parks. They needed customers to use the railway and having these wonderful destinations would encourage easterners to travel westward and visit nature, the likes unknown along the East Coast. The next park to be created was Mackinac National Park in Michigan. This second park came into being in 1875. At first, the military installations in the regions cared for the lands, but eventually, control was given over to federal agents.

The first Director of the Service was Stephen Mather who took office on May 16, 1917 and held it until January 8, 1929. There have been seventeen more directors in the intervening years, most holding the office for several years. Today, Jonathan Jarvis is the Director. The NPS comes under the United States Department of the Interior, whose head is the Secretary of the Interior, a Cabinet post which is an appointment of the President and must be confirmed by the Senate. There are 21,989 employees of the NPS and they oversee 397 units, 58 of them national parks. These cover about 84 million acres.

The NPS also cares for national monuments and memorials as well as military parks. They care for national cemeteries and natural areas, such as wilderness regions. They tend to historical sites, recreation areas, and national parkways. Their current budget is divided into mandatory and discretionary spending, spending about $2.25 million to take care of this precious resource, natural lands. The most visited system is the Blue Ridge Parkway which has over 16 million visitors annually. The entire system sees about 280 million users each year.

The parks do not belong to one state or to one section…. The Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona. – Stephen Mather

The parks are the Nation’s pleasure grounds and the Nation’s restoring places…. The national parks…are an American idea; it is one thing we have that has not been imported. – Horace McFarland

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst. – Wallace Stegner

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst. – Theodore Roosevelt

Also on this day:

Swimming the English Channel – In 1875 Matthew Webb becomes the first to swim the English Channel.
Men in the Moon – In 1835, the Great Moon Hoax articles first began to see print.
I See – In 1609, Galileo demonstrated his telescope.

I See

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2011

Modern radio telescope

August 25, 1609: Galileo Galilei demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers. This was not Galileo’s only technological advance. He also created and then improved a geometric and military compass, especially valuable for aiming cannons as well as for surveyors. It was also useful in the construction of polygons. Galileo built a thermometer that used the expansion and contraction of air in a bulb moving through a tube of water.

He was working on a way to see the stars and distant planets more clearly, as were many others. He and Thomas Harriot, an Englishman, were the first to use a refracting telescope to peer into the night skies. The term “telescope” was coined by a Greek mathematician, Giovanni Demisiani in 1611. The term means to see far. Galileo was also concerned with seeing small and by 1624  he had perfected a compound microscope. He gifted this invention to the Duke of Bavaria and a second was sent to Prince Cesi. Giovanni Faber gave the name “microscope” to the invention.

The first refracting telescope came out of the Netherlands a year earlier and the inventor is not known. Credit sometimes goes to Hans Lippershey, Zacharias Hanssen, and Jacob Metius. The instrument was perfected many times and by 1668 Isaac Newton added his improvements, creating a telescope which bears his name. In 1733, an achromatic lens helped to correct color distortions. These, however, tarnished rapidly. A silver coating was added in the 19th century, alleviating that problem. Aluminized mirrors came in the 20th century. In the 1900s, telescopes working in a much wider wavelength range gave rise to radio and gamma-ray telescopes as well.

Today’s telescopes come in a variety of types. There are still optical telescopes, but added to them are many more: radio, x-ray, gamma-ray, high energy particle, gravitational wave, and neutrino detector telescopes are all in use. There are infrared, visible light, ultraviolet and low energy scopes, too. Each of these gives an entirely different look to what is in the night sky. Today, the largest optical telescope is the Gran Telescopio Canarias built by Spain, Mexico, and the US. It has an aperture of 410 inches and it is located in the Canary Islands. There are also many telescopes out in space, search outward and sending information back to Earth.

“For my confirmation, I didn’t get a watch and my first pair of long pants, like most Lutheran boys. I got a telescope. My mother thought it would make the best gift.” – Wernher von Braun

“I was, I remember, I still remember when the first time I pointed the telescope at the sky and I saw Saturn with the rings. It was a beautiful image.” – Umberto Guidoni

“The development of the telescope, together with increased knowledge of things, brought men to see that the earth is not what man had once thought it to be.” – Joseph Franklin Rutherford

“Love looks through a telescope; envy, through a microscope.” – Josh Billings

Also on this day:
Swimming the English Channel – In 1875 Matthew Webb becomes the first to swim the English Channel.
Men in the Moon – In 1835, the Great Moon Hoax articles first began to see print.

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Swimming the English Channel

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2010

Matthew Webb

August 25, 1875: Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim the English Channel without aid from artificial means. He did so in 21 hours and 45 minutes. Webb was born in Dawley, Shropshire, England, and saved a younger brother, Thomas, from drowning in 1863. He joined the merchant navy at age twelve for a three year stint.

When a man fell overboard in the Atlantic Ocean, Webb jumped in after him in a futile attempt at rescue. He won both £100 and the Stanhope Gold Medal along with hero worship after the story appeared in the local papers. While serving as Captain of the steamship, Emerald, he read of an unsuccessful attempt by J. B. Johnson to swim the English Channel. He left his job and began training. He trained in endurance and to accustom himself to the cold waters.

He made his first attempt on August 12, but was unable to finish. He dove in again at Dover, England, swam a zigzag course that covered 39 miles and came ashore at Calais, France.

To date, nearly 1,200 people have successfully made the English Channel swim. By June 2006, 554 men and 262 women had completed the task. The England to France swim has been done 916 times, while the France to England trip has been accomplished 255 times. Thirty-three people have made both the coming and going trek, while three people have done a 3-way swim.

“Whoever knocks persistently, ends by entering.” – ‘Ali

“Ever’thing we do – seems to me is aimed right at goin’ on. Seems that way to me. Even gettin’ hungry – even bein’ sick; some die, but the rest is tougher.” – John Steinbeck

“Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” Benjamin Franklin

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.” Abraham Lincoln

Also on this day, in 1835 The Sun began printing the Great Moon Hoax.