Little Bits of History

August 5

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 5, 2017

1689: The Lachine massacre takes place. Lachine, New France was named in 1667 as a mocking gesture toward Robert Cavelier de La Salle. La Salle had been searching North America for a passage through the continent to reach Asia. Lachine is French for China. Today, it is borough of Montreal, Quebec. During the 1600s, natives were vying for control of the beaver trade, which was the primary pelts traded to Europeans (they needed them to make hats) and a lucrative business venture for whomever controlled the trade. Therefore wars were fought throughout the Great Lakes region. These were known as the Beaver Wars or the Iroquois Wars.

The Iroquois League (French) and Five Nations (English) were a powerful northeast Native American confederacy. The Mohawk were part of this group. Although the Iroquois absorbed many other smaller native groups into their culture as well, but eventually Six Nations (after 1722) remained prevalent even now. On this day, about 1,500 Mohawk attacked Lachine whose inhabitants numbered about 375. The Iroquois were disturbed with the increasing French presence in what was their territory. They were not just defending the rights to their lands and the resources on it, but also their way of life. As the years rolled past, French influence continued to push westward and it was destroying the Iroquois culture.

Jesuits and fur traders were both forcing their own agendas on natives who were unable to stop the slow eroding of their homeland. Even as their own culture was being overtaken by the priests’ insistence of a new worship, they needed the French to buy the pelts they trapped. There were intermittent battles and alliances and French and Iroquois would fight each other or a common enemy. The region was in flux as new powers vied for control over the land and the resources. The Iroquois did not want more war, but instead a larger share of the fur trade. In 1687, the French invaded Mohawk territory and destroyed villages and much of the Mohawk winter corn supply, about 1,200,000 bushels, crippling their economy.

As a retaliatory strike, the Mohawk gathered together on this day. It was a rainy morning when they carried out a pre-dawn raid on Lachine. They had traveled up the Saint Lawrence River by boat and crossed Lake Saint-Louis to land on the south side of Montreal Island. They surrounded the homes of the sleeping colonists and waited for a signal from their leader. They attacked, dragging the colonists outside and many were killed. When colonists barricaded themselves inside, their buildings were set on fire. They killed 24 French colonists unless 250 colonists and soldiers lost their lives. Sources vary. They took about 70 prisoners. While the Mohawk would have liked to be able to take back food from Montreal’s food stores, the best they could do was kill or capture the food producers instead. As a bonus, this was the last stop before the French went west to trade for beaver pelts and so upset further incursions into Iroquois lands.

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

I have no hostility to nature, but a child’s love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Vines will be planted, corn will spring up, a whole growth of new crops; and people will still fall in love in vintages and harvests yet to come. Life is eternal; it is a perpetual renewal of birth and growth. – Emile Zola

For what were all these country patriots born? To hunt, and vote, and raise the price of corn? – Lord Byron



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Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 5, 2015
Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

August 5, 1861: The Revenue Act of 1861 is enacted. The government needed to pay for the ongoing US Civil War and so imposed, for the first time, an income tax which was to be “levied, collected, and paid, upon the annual income of every person residing in the United States”. The source of the income was immaterial. A flat tax was applied to all incomes over $800 with a straight 3% going to the government. It was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln and was modified the year after. The flat tax was rescinded in 1862 and 3% was paid beyond $600 (about $14,000 today) and 5% was paid on annual incomes beyond $10,000  (about $237,000 today). Those living outside the US were also taxed at a higher rate. The law also included a termination date of 1866.

The US faced economic issues even before the outbreak of the Civil War. The Panic of 1857 had led the Government to deficit spending with the annual budget having a shortfall in excess of $40 million. They were paying between 8 and 12% interest on loans to fund public expenditures. With impending war, the nation was faced with even more expenses and the need for greater cash flow. On July 4, 1861, Lincoln opened a special Congressional session to discuss the Civil War from a purely legislative standpoint. One of the major issues was funding and how to pay for the Union Army and military expenditures. In order to increase income, the government used a three prong approach. Increase tariffs, institute a property tax, and create the first personal income tax.

Tariffs were introduced for many imports – sugar, tea, nuts, brimstone, coffee, liquor, and various fruits and herbs. Luxury items such as wines were taxed at a rate as high as 50%. The property tax was levied in proportion to each state’s population. Their enforcement was limited and the groundwork for the Internal Revenue Service was laid in order to collect funds. Sparsely populated states were charged less, but their territory was greater. Populous states were charged more with more people available to pay the bill. No one seemed to think it was fair. The flat income tax was levied on those making over $800 which at the time was only about 3% of the population. Lincoln was to assign one principal collector for each state or territory to collect the taxes.

While this was the first time a personal income tax was levied on Americans, it was not the first time the idea was tried. In the early Roman Republic, taxes were levied on wealth and property and were fairly modest – between 1 and 3%. The East also had income taxes. In 10 AD, Emperor Wang Mang of the Xin Dynasty instituted a brand new revenue scheme when he levied a 10% tax on all profits for professionals and skilled labor. The Saladin tithe was introduced by Henry II in 1188 in order to fund the Third Crusade. This again was a straight 10% levied for personal income and movable property. The modern income tax was begun in Great Britain when Prime Minister William Pill the Younger introduced it into the budget in December 1798. Today, there is a sliding scale with deductions and assessments added to the basic income of all Americans.

One of the greatest perplexities of the government, is to avoid receiving troops faster than it can provide for them. In a word, the people will save their government, if the government itself, will do its part. – Abraham Lincoln to Congress

Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today. – Herman Wouk

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax. – Albert Einstein

Nothing hurts more than having to pay an income tax, unless it is not having to pay an income tax. – Thomas Robert Dewar

Also on this day: Candle in the Wind – In 1962 Norma Jeane died, mysteriously.
Road Trip – In 1888, Bertha Benz went for a drive.
Jobless – In 1981, 11,345 striking air traffic controllers were fired.
Dot, Dot, Dot – In 1858, the first transatlantic cable was finished.
Truth is Not an Excuse – In 1735, John Zenger was found not guilty of libel.

Truth is Not an Excuse

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 5, 2014
Printing press

Printing press

August 5, 1735: John Peter Zenger is found not guilty. He was a German American publisher and printer in New York City. He printed The New York Weekly Journal and in late 1734 published articles condemning the behavior of the newly arrived Colonial Governor of New York, William Cosby. As soon as Cosby arrived in the colony he began to fight with the Council of the colony regarding his salary. Cosby was unable to control the state supreme court and so removed Chief Justice Lewis Morris and replaced him with a more easily controlled James DeLancey. Zenger brought this information to the reading public which irked the Governor further. Zenger also reported on the rigging of elections and how the government was allowing the French enemy to explore New York Harbor.

All the articles were written by an anonymous person and Zenger was simply the publisher. He would not name the writers. On November 17, 1734 Zenger was arrested and charged with seditious libel. In the 1700s libel did not mean the information printed was false. It simply meant the information did not please the local government. The veracity of the information was not at issue. The judge in the case did not hesitate to charge Zenger with libel since he freely admitted printing the pieces. James Alexander represented the publisher but the court found counsel to be in contempt and removed him from the case and Zenger spent the next eight months in prison. While John was imprisoned, his wife, Anna, kept the presses rolling. Because of the transparency provided by the accurate reporting, when the trial began, it was not packed with Cosby cronies, but with peers of Zenger.

Since Alexander had been removed, Zenger had been in need of a new lawyer. The most famous lawyer in the colonies, Andrew Hamilton of Philadelphia, offered to take the case pro bono. Hamilton admitted his client had printed the articles but rather than let it go at that, he demanded the prosecution prove them false. Rather than appeal to the bench, Hamilton made his appeal directly to the jurors and admonished them to consider not just the case of one poor printer, but rather to ensure the cause of liberty. The judge instructed the jury to convict Zenger if they believed he had printed the articles. Instead, they returned less than ten minutes with a not guilty verdict.

Freedom of the press was still not yet fully guaranteed. Zenger and Hamilton were hailed as heroes and the cause was carried forward. True freedom of the press would have to wait until after the Revolutionary War and the institution of the Bill of Rights where the First Amendment guaranteed publishers freedom. Zenger and his second wife, Anna, continued to operate the family paper. They had six children and after his death in 1746, their eldest son took over the paper which ran for another three years.

But this doctrine (‘a lible (sic) is not less a libel for being true’) only holds true as to private and personal failings;

The exposing therefore of public wickedness, as it is a duty which every man owes to the truth and his country, can never be a libel in the nature of things?

It has been hitherto generally understood, that there was no other Libels but those against Magistrates and those against private men. Now to me there seems to be a third set of libels, full as destructive as any of the former can probably be, I mean libels against the people.

Almost all over the earth, the people for one injury they do their governor, receive ten thousand from them. Nay, in some countries it is made death and damnation, not to bear all the oppression and cruelties, which men made wanton by power inflict upon those that gave it them. – all from “Cato” the anonymous author

Also on this day: Candle in the Wind – In 1962 Norma Jeane dies, mysteriously.
Road Trip – In 1888, Bertha Benz went for a drive.
Jobless – In 1981, 11,345 striking air traffic controllers were fired.
Dot, Dot, Dot – In 1858, the first transatlantic cable was finished.

Road Trip

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 5, 2013
Bertha Benz

Bertha Benz

August 5, 1888: Bertha Benz goes for the first road trip (all previous jaunts had been short distances for testing purposes only). Her husband had been working on a new invention – a car. Bertha and her two sons, Eugen and Richard (both teenagers) snuck out of the house and into Karl’s workshop. They left a note saying, “We are going to visit Grandma.” The three-wheeled vehicle had a wooden body but no roof, hood, or doors. The steering mechanism was a tiller. It was powered by a 2.5 horsepower single cylinder four-stroke engine.

Karl had registered the car (DRP 37435) two years earlier and had been improving it ever since. Karl thought people would shun the contraption. But not his wife – she believed in the project. So she and her sons set out on a long distance adventure to prove the worth of the “horseless carriage.” They pushed the car far enough down the road to avoid waking Karl and then started it up. They left Mannheim and headed to Pforzheim with Bertha not really having a route, but knowing she needed to pass through towns to get precious gasoline for the engine.

Gasoline was sold in pharmacies in very small bottles and used for stain removal. Mrs. Benz bought the entire supply at her first stop – a half-gallon. There were mechanical problems to overcome. A clogged carburetor was cleaned with a hatpin. A broken ignition cable was fixed with a garter. A blacksmith was enlisted to help with a broken chain and a cobbler helped to reline the brake with leather. The sun was setting when the weary troupe met with their last obstacle. A steep hill was too much for the small engine. A couple farm boys helped push the car up the hill. Bertha sent Karl a telegram telling him they had made it. The three travelers returned home the next day.

Mercedes-Benz, the German car manufacturer, began business in 1881. Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach joined Karl Benz and changed the design of carriages. They removed the horse and added an engine. Today, they are a subsidiary of Daimler AG. They make a number of prestige cars – including the Popemobile. They also produce buses, vans, trucks, and bicycles. Karl died at age 84 in 1929. Bertha lived until 1944. Their home is now the Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz Foundation’s headquarters.

“People only buy what they know. First you must show them your wares, then they will jump at the opportunity.” – Bertha Benz

“Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.” – Janis Joplin

“There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible.” – P. J. O’Rourke

“The car has become a secular sanctuary for the individual, his shrine to the self, his mobile Walden Pond.” – Edward McDonagh

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Daimler AG employs over 267,000 people within its three divisions: Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, and Smart. They continue to build cars and trucks as well as supply Daimler Financial Services. They also hold controlling interest in Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation of Japan and Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation of Canada. They control half of Engine Holding with Rolls Royce holding the other half and half of Denza. They own less than half of five other companies. Headquarters is located it Stuttgart, Germany with Dieter Zetsche as CEO and Chairman of the management board. Manfred Bischoff is Chairman of the supervisory board. In 2011, they had a total equity of €41.34 billion with a profit that year of €5.667 billion. Their total assets were €148.132 billion. Institutional shareholders control 69.1% of the company with private shareholders controlling 20.2%. Kuwait Investment Authority (7.6%) and Renault-Nissan Alliance (3.1%) control the rest.

Also on this day: Candle in the Wind – In 1962 Norma Jeane dies, mysteriously.
Jobless – In 1981, 11,345 striking air traffic controllers were fired.
Dot, Dot, Dot – In 1858, the first transatlantic cable was finished.

Dot, Dot, Dot

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 5, 2012

Map of the Transatlantic Cable

August 5, 1858: The first successful transatlantic telegraph cable is completed. First attempted in 1857, Cyrus West Field was the driving force behind the project. Although the cable did function and the first messages were transmitted on August 16 between Queen Victoria of England and President Buchanan of the US, it was not entirely successful or long-lasting. Because of the great distance covered, it was by no means “instant communication”. To speed transmission time, more power was applied to the cable in September by the gloriously named Wildman Whitehouse. The cable was destroyed.

Cyrus W. Field was a businessman and financier as well as an entrepreneur. He first went into paper manufacturing around the age of 20. Paper was needed for printing inexpensive books as well as stocks and bonds. He became so wealthy, he could retire at age 34. He became a philanthropist and financed an exotic trip for the artist Frederic Edwin Church. Field hoped the artist’s paintings would bring people to South America and support his ventures there.

He next got involved in telegraphy. He and Samuel F. B. Morse (along with a few others) laid 400 miles of telegraph line connecting St. John’s, Newfoundland with Nova Scotia – the point where US cables terminated. In 1855, the group formed the American Telegraph Company and began buying up smaller east coast telegraphy concerns.

In 1857, with financial backing of the US and British governments, they began to lay a transatlantic cable using a shallow submarine plateau between Newfoundland and Ireland. After the failure of the first cable and an attempted repair, new cable was laid. The first message in 1858 took 17 hours to send. With a new 1866 cable, eight words per minute could be transmitted. By the next century, 120 words per minute were possible. However, other forms of communication were waiting in the wings to take over this once great endeavor.

Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace and good will toward men. – first message sent across the cable

An additional link between the nations whose friendship is founded on their common interest and reciprocal esteem. – Queen Victoria’s response (in part)

It is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to mankind, than was ever won by conqueror on the field of battle. May the Atlantic telegraph, under the blessing of Heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument destined by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilization, liberty, and law throughout the world. – James Buchanan’s reply

But communication is two-sided – vital and profound communication makes demands also on those who are to receive it… demands in the sense of concentration, of genuine effort to receive what is being communicated. – Roger Sessions

Also on this day:

Candle in the Wind – In 1962 Norma Jeane dies, mysteriously.
Road Trip – In 1888, Bertha Benz went for a drive.
Jobless – In 1981, 11,345 striking air traffic controllers were fired.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 5, 2011

PATCO logo

August 5, 1981: President Ronald Reagan fires 11,345 striking air traffic controllers. The Professional air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) represented the air traffic controllers in the US from 1968 until 1982. It was founded with the assistance of F. Lee Bailey, a renowned lawyer. The fledgling union first flexed its muscles on July 3 when they announced “Operation Air Safety.” This new policy had all members strictly adhering to some impractical separation standards for aircraft. This resulted in a huge air traffic slow down. It was just the first of many such slowdowns that PATCO would employ.

In 1969 the US Civil Service Commission ruled that PATCO was not a professional association but was, in fact, a trade union. In 1970, the union called for a “sickout” to protest FAA actions they felt were unfair. About 2000 controllers called in sick since they weren’t permitted to strike due to a federal law on the books. Supervisors attempted to fill in, but there was still a slow down and after a few days, both sides came to the bargaining table. Automated systems were installed to reduce the workload after this.

Ironically, during the 1980 presidential election, PATCO, the teamsters, and Air Line Pilots Association all refused to back Jimmy Carter’s  re-election bid and threw their support toward Reagan. On August 3, 1981, the union declared a strike. They were seeking better working conditions and a 32-hour work week. They also did not want to be encumbered with the civil service clauses which hampered them. However, this strike was illegal due to the 5 U.S.C. Supp. III 1956 law where on page 118 it banned strikes by government unions.

Reagan said the strike was imperiling the nation and ordered the controllers back to work under the terms of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Out of almost 13,000 controllers, only 1,300 returned to work. Reagan gave the rest of them 48 hours to return. When they did not, he fired them on this day. They were also banned from all future federal service for life (Bill Clinton repealed that in 1993). The system was covered by a patchwork and temporary method until new controllers could be trained. PATCO was decertified in October and air traffic controllers are now represented by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

“Perhaps the most important, and then highly controversial, domestic initiative was the firing of the air traffic controllers in August 1981. The President invoked the law that striking government employees forfeit their jobs, an action that unsettled those who cynically believed no President would ever uphold that law. President Reagan prevailed, as you know, but far more importantly his action gave weight to the legal right of private employers, previously not fully exercised, to use their own discretion to both hire and discharge workers.” – Alan Greenspan

“A people free to choose will always choose peace.” – Ronald Reagan

“Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.” – Ronald Reagan

“Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.” – Ronald Reagan

Also on this day:
Candle in the Wind – In 1962 Norma Jean dies, mysteriously.
Road Trip – In 1888, Bertha Benz went for a drive.

The Games Must Go On

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 5, 2010

The "face" of the Munich Massacre

September 5, 1972: The Munich Massacre unfolds at the Olympic Games. At 4:30 AM, eight terrorists scaled the fence and entered the Olympic Village carrying weapons in duffle bags. They entered 31 Connollystrabe, the Israeli team’s living quarters. Yossef Gutfreund, the Israeli wrestling referee, heard noises and heroically tried to block the door. His delaying tactics allowed for some teammates to escape or hide. Moshe Weinberg and Yossef Romano were both killed after attacking the intruders, allowing time for some of their friends to escape.

The terrorists were members of Black September, a group tied to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. They rounded up nine Israeli hostages and tied them up with their dead friend at their feet as a gruesome threat to their own continued peril. The terrorists then began to demand release of 234 Palestinians and their own safe passage out of Germany. The political ramifications of Jews being held in Germany added another layer to the tension.

At 10:10 PM a bus carried the terrorists and their hostages to two waiting military helicopters. It was thought that there were five terrorists and there were five German snipers waiting to pick them off. However, there were eight terrorists and the plot to release the hostages was put on hold. The copters took everyone to the NATO air base at Firstenfeldbruck from where the terrorists were to fly to Cairo.

At 10:30 PM, the snipers began to kill the terrorists. One of the helicopters holding two Israelis was blown up by a terrorist grenade. The remaining hostages in the second helicopter were shot to death. Eleven athletes and one German police officer were killed. Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel, issued an order to track down and kill those responsible for the attack. The Olympic Games were postponed for one day of mourning and then resumed with all flags flying at half mast.

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” – Arthur Ashe

“Show me a hero, and I will write you a tragedy.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“A hero is someone we can admire without apology.” – Kitty Kelley

“Heroes come along when you need them.” – Ronald Steel

Also on this day, in 1986 Pan Am Flight 73 is hijacked.

Candle in the Wind

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 5, 2010

Norma Jean as the famous Marilyn Monroe

August 5, 1962: Norma Jeane Mortensen dies in her bedroom in Brentwood, California, USA from an overdose of the sleeping pill Nembutal. She was found by her housekeeper, Eunice Murray and she was buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, plot #24.

There were several legends built around her death at the young age of 36. Unexplained details of the death center around her state of dress – she was nude – and the fact that she was clutching a telephone. Some conspiracy theorists have supposed that it had something to do with President John F. Kennedy. Some maintain that her death was accidental. Others contend that it was a willful act of suicide.

Funeral arrangements were made by her ex-husband. She was wearing her favorite Emilio Pucci dress of a beautiful green and holding a bouquet of pink teacup roses. There were only 30 people at her funeral as her ex-husband made it impossible for anybody to attend who he thought had contributed to her death.

The case of her death was reopened in 1982. The results were essentially the same, stating there was no evidence of foul play. However, it was concluded that the initial investigation was mishandled and there were several breaches of protocol. The scene was not secured, evidence was lost or contaminated, and it seems that perhaps the body was moved post-mortem. All lab work and tissue samples were lost soon after the close of the initial investigation. Who is this Ms. Mortensen? The sex kitten, silver screen idol, Marilyn Monroe.

“Unhappiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it.” – Don Herold

“The truth never arrives neatly wrapped.” – Thomas Powers

“People could survive their natural trouble all right if it weren’t for the trouble they make for themselves.” – Ogden Nash

“Reality leaves a lot to the imaginations.” – John Lennon

Also on this day, in 1888 Bertha Benz took the world’s first road trip – by car and without roads, per se.