Little Bits of History

August 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2017

1927: The Famous Five file a petition. Also known as the Valiant Five, Emily Murphy, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards, were women’s rights activists from Alberta, Canada. They posed a question regarding the British North America Act, 1867. This act, also called the Constitution Act, was and remains a major portion of Canada’s Constitution. It defined the operation of the Government and federal structure which included the House of Commons and the Senate as well as the justice system and taxation procedures. Under Part IV “Legislative Power” was a section on how senators would be placed into office.

The Governor General of Canada held the power to make normal senatorial appointments. Today, this is done with only with the advice of the prime minister. Prior to 1965, an appointment was for life but today, they must retire at age 75. There are 96 seats in the senate, apportioned by province in the Act. What the five women wanted to learn was the definition of a particular word in Section 24. They asked, “Does the word ‘Persons’ in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?” Their petition was filed with the Canadian Supreme Court on this day.

The Supreme Court gave their unanimous decision on April 24, 1928. They believed that “Person” did not, in fact, include women in this instance. The last line of their judgment read, “Understood to mean ‘Are women eligible for appointment to the Senate of Canada,’ the question is answered in the negative.” The women were not pleased with this announcement. Murphy had been advocating for women’s rights since 1916 and she gathered her partners in activism together for this question. In Canada, the federal government has the power to refer questions to the Court for clarification. The Court decided, but at the time, they were not the final arbiters of the question.

The next step was for the case to be brought on appeal before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. This was the court of last resort for the British Empire. The names were listed in alphabetical order, so it is Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General) but it is more famously known as the Persons Case. The committee found a different meaning of the word and Lord Chancellor, Viscount Sankey’s determination was that women were, in a broad sense, persons. With this reversal, it was now possible for women to become Senators. None of the five original women were ever posted to that seat, but on October 8, 2009 the Senate voted to make all five of them “honorary senators”. The first female senator came from Quebec and was Cairine Reay Wilson, appointed four months after the ruling which came down on October 18, 1929.

Women have been taught that, for us, the earth is flat, and that if we venture out, we will fall off the edge. – Andrea Dworkin

Women belong in the house – and the Senate. – Author unknown

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. – Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

I ask no favors for my sex…. All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks. – Sarah Moore Grimké

 

 

Battle of Brooklyn

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2015
Howard's Tavern in East New York (1776)

Howard’s Tavern in East New York (1776)

August 27, 1776: The Battle of Long Island is fought. Also called the Battle of Brooklyn or the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, it was a campaign of the American Revolutionary War. In March of 1776, General Washington had defeated the British in Boston. He brought his troops to the port of New York which at the time was limited to the southern end of Manhattan Island. The harbor would provide an excellent base for whomever controlled it and Washington needed to keep the British fleet out. In July, British General William Howe landed at what was then sparsely populated Staten Island. Over the next six weeks, troops were reinforced by ships in Lower New York Bay and their numbers swelled to 32,000.

On August 22, the British began moving troops to Gravesend Bay. Washington was poised at Guan Heights and after five days of waiting, the battle was begun when the British attacked. Washington was unaware of how many troops had been brought ashore. At 9 PM on August 26, Howe began to move his men toward the enemy positions. No one, not even the officers under his command, were aware of the plan. There was a column of 10,000 men stretching for two miles as they were led by Loyalists to Jamaica Pass. They left fires burning at their encampment so as not to alert the Rebels of their approach. The British marched, until they reached Howard’s Tavern and met no American troops en route. The owner of the tavern and his son were forced to act as guides to show the British an old Indian trail they could use for their final approach.

At about 11 PM on August 26, the first shots were fired near the Red Lion Inn when American guards fired on two British soldiers looking for food in a watermelon patch. Around 1 AM on this day, with about 200-300 of the first troops in the Red Lion area, the American troops fired on the British troops. Major Edward Burd, the commander, was captured along with 15 privates and the fight moved forward. The British advanced and took ground as they moved. The major portion of the battle saw the Americans with 10,000 troops fighting against a combined British and Hessian force of 20,000. The Americans had 300 killed and about 700 wounded and another 1,000 captured. The British lost 64 and 293 were wounded with 31 missing. This was the largest battle of the entire war and ended in a British victory.

Washington was forced to retreat. But because of the weather, it began raining as the battle raged, and because of cunning and the cover of night, he was able to get most of his troops away. The British were feted in London for their victory, but in the colonies, they had been more hopeful of actually capturing Washington and more of his troops. The defeat showed up Washington’s lack as a strategist and the inexperience of his generals. Their raw troops were also tested. There are those who look to Washington’s nighttime retreat as one of his greatest military feats. The city of New York was lost to the Americans and they had to retreat to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.

Nothing can be more hurtful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army the superiority over another.

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments. – all from George Washington

Also on this day: Powerful Industry – In 1859, the modern day oil industry started.
War is Hell – In 1896, the shortest war in history was fought.
Kǒng Qiū – In 551 BC, Confucius was born.
Sculptor – In 1498, Michelangelo was commissioned to create the Pieta.
Nuclear Power – In 1956, Calder Hall nuclear station went online in Britain.

Nuclear Power

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2014
Calder Hall

Calder Hall

August 27, 1956: Calder Hall nuclear power station is connected to the grid. It was part of the Sellafield reprocessing site near to Seascale on the coast of the Irish Sea in Cumbria, England. Windscale and this first-to-the-grid-reactor are both undergoing decommissioning and dismantling at the present time. It was first owned and operated by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and after 1971 by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. Since 2005, it has been owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and operated by Sellafield Ltd. Calder Hall was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on October 17, 1956 and was the world’s first power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.

The plant was both a commercial and military facility. Building began in 1953 and included four Magnox reactors which were each capable of generating 60 MWe of power. This was reduced to 50 MWe in 1973. The four cooling towers were built between 1950 and 1956 and were used to cool water from the station. They were each 290 feet tall and stood for fifty years creating a visible landmark as seen from Seascale. When the power plant closed, there was debate over whether or not to preserve the towers, but it proved to be cost ineffective. They were brought down by controlled implosions on September 29, 2007 and the next twelve weeks were spent romoving the asbestos from the rubble.

Nuclear power or energy includes fission, decay, and fusion but today, fission is the only method capable of generating electricity in quantities worthwhile. Excluding nuclear power contributed by naval reactors, nuclear energy supplies about 5.7% of the world’s power and 13% of the world electricity. In 2013, the IAEA reported there were 437 operational nuclear power reactors in 31 countries. Not all of them producing electricity. There are approximately another 140 naval vessels using nuclear propulsion powered by about 180 reactors. The hope for nuclear fusion power has remained strong, but it is unlikely that fusion will be commercially successful before 2050.

Three famous nuclear plant disasters have taken place. In 1979 the Three Mile Island plant in the US failed. In 1986, the USSR had the Chernobyl disaster. In 2011, following an earthquake/tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan caught the world’s attention. These disasters have been widely studied. However, there are more deaths from coal, petroleum, natural gas, and hydropower (per unit of energy generated) due to both air pollution and energy accidents. The US has the greatest amount of nuclear energy produced from the 104 operational reactors within her borders. France is second both in capacity and the number of operational reactors. Japan is third in capacity, but Russia is third in number of reactors with 33 operating. The UK has 16 reactors still operating.

For 50 years, nuclear power stations have produced three products which only a lunatic could want: bomb-explosive plutonium, lethal radioactive waste and electricity so dear it has to be heavily subsidised. They leave to future generations the task, and most of the cost, of making safe sites that have been polluted half-way to eternity. – James Buchan

provide the electricity that our growing economy needs without increasing emissions. This is truly an environmentally responsible source of energy. – Michael Burgess

No one in the United States has become seriously ill or has died because of any kind of accident at a civilian nuclear power plant. – Joe Barton

The idea that the growing demand for energy worldwide can be met with energy from nuclear power is nonsense. – Sigmar Gabriel

Also on this day: Powerful Industry – In 1859, the modern day oil industry starts.
War is Hell – In 1896, the shortest war in history was fought.
Kǒng Qiū – In 551 BC, Confucius is born.
Sculptor – In 1498, Michelangelo was commissioned to create the Pieta.

War is Hell

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2013
Anglo-Zanzibar War - sultan's harem after the bombing

Anglo-Zanzibar War – sultan’s harem after the bombing

August 27, 1896: The Anglo-Zanzibar War begins – and ends. The entire war lasted 38 minutes and is considered to be the shortest war in recorded history. Zanzibar was an English colony when the sun smiled on the British Empire. Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini had been cooperating with British colonial administrators. The Sultan died on August 24 and his nephew, Khalid bin Barghash, seized control.

The Brits would have preferred to have Hamud bin Muhammed as leader, since they felt he would be more amenable to their presence. They issued an ultimatum to Barghash who refused to abdicate. Instead, he began to assemble an army of nearly 3,000 men, mostly extended family members. The highest ranking among his army was a colonel. Barghash also brought the Sultan’s yacht into service as his navy.

The British marshaled their own forces. Two battalions of foot soldiers, about 900 men, were backed by the British naval presence. Five ships were brought to the harbor, three of them modern protected cruisers and two gunboats. General Lloyd Mathews led the British forces. The new Sultan used a United States representative on the island to attempt a peaceful negotiation or resolution, but diplomacy failed.

The ultimatum ran out at 9 AM and the British navy began its bombardment of the island. They soon sunk the Zanzibar navy and began shelling the palace. Barghash escaped to the German consulate. After 38 minutes, it was all over. The Germans refused to hand over Barghash who escaped the island on October 2, 1896. Barghash was captured by the British in 1916. He was permitted to live on the island of Mombasa until his death in 1927. After the installation of a more malleable government, the British demanded payment for the shells fired during the war. The British contingency suffered only one casualty when one soldier was wounded. The Zanzibar forces saw about 500 men killed.

“The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.” – David Friedman

“The most persistent sound which reverberates through men’s history is the beating of war drums.” – Arthur Koestler

“War! that mad game the world so loves to play.” – Jonathan Swift

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – Plato

This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Today, Zanzibar is semi-autonomous but part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is comprised of two islands, Unguja and Pemba and the capital is Zanzibar City. The two islands cover 1,020 square miles and have a population of 1.3 million. The President is Ali Mohamed Shein. The lands were first settled around 1000 AD. The historic center of the capital is called Stone Town and is a World Heritage Site. The islands are known for the spice trade since they grow cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper there. It is why they, along with Mafia Island are sometimes called the Spice Islands. They also grow raffia, a type of palm tree which is used for textile purposes and in construction. Their other major industry is tourism. The islands gained their independence from Great Britain on December 10, 1963 and only a month later the Zanzibar Revolution took place. In April of 1964, the republic and Tanganyika merged and formed the United Republic of Tanzania, with Zanzibar remaining semi-autonomous.

Also on this day: Powerful Industry – In 1859, the modern day oil industry starts.
Kǒng Qiū – In 551 BC, Confucius is born.
Sculptor – In 1498, Michelangelo was commissioned to create the Pieta.

Sculptor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2012

Pietà

August 27, 1498: Michelangelo receives a commission from Cardinal Jean Biheres de Ladraulas for a funerary statue. Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475 and was a Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer. His first love was sculpture and when asked to paint, he would acquiesce but claim he was a sculptor, not a painter. When asked to take on other projects, he would repeat that he was a sculptor. His poetry comes to us today on the edges of papers he used to make preliminary drawings for both his sculpture and his painted works.

The French Cardinal asked the young sculptor to create a piece for his tomb. He was already an old man and would, in fact, die the following year. It took Michelangelo less than two years to create his work and it was placed in the Chapel of Santa Petronilla as part of the mausoleum for the Cardinal. Shortly after it’s installation, according to legend, the sculptor overheard a viewer speak about the work and was horrified as the appreciative man was told it was done by another artist. Therefore, the true artist signed the work with his entire name and place of birth, claiming his Florentine heritage. It is the only signed piece by Michelangelo. He regretted the act of hubris and vowed to never again mar his work in this manner.

The statue the young artist created is the Pietà. It was made of Carrara marble and depicts the Virgin Mother holding the body of her crucified Son. A young woman looks down upon her son with an expression of intense sadness. Jesus does not show signs of the Passion because Michelangelo did not want the statue to be about death so much as to show the serene face of Jesus as he has conquered death for his followers. It was moved several times after completion and sustained damage in one of the moves. Four of Mary’s fingers were broken off and restored in 1736.

On May 21, 1972 (Pentecost Sunday), the statue was attacked by Laszlo Toth, a disturbed geologist. He walked into the chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City where the Pietà now resides. Toth used a geologist’s hammer to attack the work while shouting, “I am Jesus Christ.” As pieces of marble scattered, onlookers picked up the bits and kept them as mementos, adding to the chaos. Some of the pieces were returned to help repair the work, but many were not. Mary’s nose had to be repaired from a block of marble cut out of her back. The statue was painstakingly repaired and returned to the same chapel, only now it is behind a bullet-proof acrylic glass panel.

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.

I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint.

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection. – all from Michelangelo Buonarroti

Also on this day:

Powerful Industry – In 1859, the modern day oil industry starts.
War is Hell – In 1896, the shortest war in history was fought.
Kǒng Qiū – In 551 BC, Confucius is born.

Kǒng Qiū

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2011

Sculpture of Confucius

August 27, 551 BC: Confucius is born in the State of Lu, China. He was conceived out of wedlock with is father a 70 year old down and out noble and his mother an 18 year old woman. His father died when Confucius was three and his mother raised him in poverty. He married Qi Quan when he was 19 and their first child was born the next year. He worked as a shepherd and cowherd as well as a clerk and bookkeeper. By the age of 53 he was the Justice Minister of Lu. Two years later he resigned his position after becoming disenchanted with the political process.

He set about traveling through the small kingdoms of north-central China. He would endear himself to the local rulers and then impart the wisdom, hopes, and dreams he had formulated in the off chance someone would implement his political agenda. He would then be run out of town.

Some consider Confucianism a religion. However, it lacks an afterlife, deities, and concern with spiritual matters. It is an ethical and political or social philosophy based on three concepts: sacrificing to the gods; ethical, social, and political institutions; and personal daily behaviors. Confucius formulated an early version of the Golden Rule and felt that the world would be better if we moved from a sense of total self absorption to behaving in a moral or right manner concerned with the effects of our behavior on others and the world around us. His political beliefs flowed from this ethical base.

By the age of 67 Confucius returned to Lu to settle down. He spent the rest of his life teaching and writing. In his work, Analects, he calls himself “a transmitter who invented nothing.” He put great emphasis on study and opened his book with the Chinese character for this word. His name is a westernized version of Kǒng Fūzǐ that the Jesuits gave to the author as they translated his works. Fūzǐ means teacher; he was born with the name Kǒng Qiū.

“Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.”

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

“To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.”

“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” – all from Confucius

Also on this day:
Powerful Industry – In 1859, the modern day oil industry starts.
War is Hell – In 1896, the shortest war in history was fought.

Tagged with: , ,

Kǒng Qiū

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2010

Sculpture of Confucius

August 27, 551 BC: Confucius is born in the State of Lu, China. He was conceived out of wedlock with is father a 70 year old down and out noble and his mother an 18 year old woman. His father died when Confucius was three and his mother raised him in poverty. He married Qi Quan when he was 19 and their first child was born the next year. He worked as a shepherd and cowherd as well as a clerk and bookkeeper. By the age of 53 he was the Justice Minister of Lu. Two years later he resigned his position after becoming disenchanted with the political process.

He set about traveling through the small kingdoms of north-central China. He would endear himself to the local rulers and then impart the wisdom, hopes, and dreams he had formulated in the off chance someone would implement his political agenda. He would then be run out of town.

Some consider Confucianism a religion. However, it lacks an afterlife, deities, and concern with spiritual matters. It is an ethical and political or social philosophy based on three concepts: sacrificing to the gods; ethical, social, and political institutions; and personal daily behaviors. Confucius formulated an early version of the Golden Rule and felt that the world would be better if we moved from a sense of total self absorption to behaving in a moral or right manner concerned with the effects of our behavior on others and the world around us. His political beliefs flowed from this ethical base.

By the age of 67 Confucius returned to Lu to settle down. He spent the rest of his life teaching and writing. In his work, Analects, he calls himself “a transmitter who invented nothing.” He put great emphasis on study and opened his book with the Chinese character for this word. His name is a westernized version of Kǒng Fūzǐ that the Jesuits gave to the author as they translated his works. Fūzǐ means teacher; he was born with the name Kǒng Qiū.

“Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.”

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

“To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.”

“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” – all from Confucius

Also on this day, in 1896 the world’s shortest war starts, and ends.
Bonus Link: In 1859. Edwin Drake strikes oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Tagged with: , ,

Powerful Industry

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2010

Edwin Drake's oil well

August 27, 1859: Edwin Drake strikes oil at Titusville, Pennsylvania – the birth of the modern oil industry. Titusville, was founded by Jonathan Titus in 1796 with lumber as the primary industry and 17 sawmills in the region. Oil was known to exist, but there was no practical way to get it out of the ground. Local natives would soak blankets on the top of the creek and let them absorb the oil.

In the late 1850s Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company sent Drake to the area with orders to drill on some leased land. He used an old steam engine to power the drill and tried in several locations over the span of two years. The most any previous well produced was ten barrels a day, not enough to be considered commercially viable. Digging larger shafts produced water seepage. Drake hired a salt mine drilling expert, William A. Smith, and in the summer of 1859 they began to drill.

At 16 feet, the hole began to collapse. Drake devised the use of a cast iron drain pipe in ten foot lengths and drove them into the ground. At 32 feet, they hit bedrock and drilled down via the drain pipes. Progress was about 3 feet per day. Crowds came to make fun of the process. Drake was running out of money. The company was no longer sending funds and Drake relied on friends to supply the cash flow to finish the drilling.

At the depth of 69.5 feet the bit hit a crevice and the men stopped for the day. The next morning, getting ready to drill some more, they found crude oil rising up from the crevice and began to pump it out and into a bathtub. By the next day, Drakes system of drilling was being copied at other Oil Company sites. Drake failed to patent his method and while many grew fabulously wealthy, Drake never cashed in and died impoverished.

“Invention is a combination of brains and materials. The more brains you use, the less material you need.” – Charles F. Kettering

“True creativity is characterized by a succession of acts each dependent on the one before and suggesting the one after.” – Edwin H. Land

“It puzzles me how they know what corners are good for filling stations. Just how did they know gas and oil was under there?” – Dizzy Dean

“Moses dragged us for 40 years through the desert to bring us to the one place in the Middle East where there was no oil.” – Golda Meir

Also on this day, in 1896 the world’s shortest war starts, and ends.
Bonus Link: In  551 BC, Confucius
is born.