Little Bits of History

August 6

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2017

1819: The American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy is founded in Northfield, Vermont. Today it is known as Norwich University – The Military College of Vermont. It is the oldest private military college in the United States. Captain Alden Partridge was a military educator and had been a superintendent at West Point. He left there after confrontation with Congress over his methods which included a traditional liberal arts curriculum as well as instruction in civil engineering. Sure of his methodology, Partridge returned to his native Vermont and established the school he wanted at West Point. Opposition was fronted by Sylvanus Thayer who was fearful of the US military being run by an aristocratic officer class.

Partridge was sure a well trained militia was essential to the young country’s safety. His newly founded Academy was so successful, it became an inspiration for a number of other military colleges around the nation. Partridge was also the creator of the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). These were part of the requirements for land grants under the Morrill Act of 1862 which made training of military tactics part of the curriculum to be offered to students enrolled there. Eventually, it became mandatory for all male college students to have some of this training, but during the 1960s, this requirement was dropped.

Partridge included his own military system into the curriculum offered at the Academy. He borrowed cannons and muskets from both the state and federal governments in order to train his cadets, called Rooks for part of the first year. While Rooks, the young men would receive Basic Training and Basic Leadership Training. Around Thanksgiving, if they demonstrated proper acquisition of skills, they were accepted into the Corps of Cadets. Their education would then continue and normal academic classes would be taken alongside military training. Partridge founded six other military institutions. Three in Pennsylvania, two in Delaware, and one in New Hampshire.

Partridge hoped to move the college to Connecticut in 1825 to offer better naval training, but he could not get a charter from the Connecticut government, so his testing there was temporary. He remained in Vermont and the school became known as Norwich University in 1834. In 1866, there was a fire which destroyed the Old South Barracks and the entire Military Academy. This fire and the Civil War were devastating and enrollment declined so that by 1881 there were only a dozen men enrolled. The University slowly recovered and today has over 2,000 undergraduate students and over 1,300 postgraduates. They offer 29 majors in six academic divisions. Their most popular major is criminal justice.

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. – Colin Powell

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it. – Norman Schwarzkopf

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship. – Omar Nelson Bradley

 

 

Bogotá

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2015
Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada

Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada

August 6, 1538: Bogotá, Colombia is founded (traditional date). In pre-Columbian times, the area was populated with Muiscas. The local people numbered about a half million and lived in the highlands. They enjoyed a mild climate between the mountains and farmed the fertile lands of the Bogotá high plains. The people were organized into two large federations, each with their own chief with Zipa being the stronger of the two. The Spanish invaders were looking for the fabled El Dorado. Originally, this term referred to a Muisca chief who during the initiation rite would cover himself with gold dust and then dive into Lake Guatavita. Later, it was thought to be a city and then a kingdom or empire of the legendary king.

Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada was a lawyer in Spain but lost favor when he lost an important case. He was sent as second-in-command on an expedition to the New World, under Pedro Fernández de Lugo. They were hoping to find riches in South America, but were unsuccessful in their attempt. De Lugo put Quesada in charge of an expedition to explore the interior, even though he had no military experience. The goal was to discover the elusive El Dorado. They left with 500 men and eventually split into two groups and planned to join up again later. Quesada heard of locals making large salt cakes in order to trade and abandoned his original plan and instead crossed the mountains in search of the salt villages.

He found the salt village along with several more filled with successful locals. The travel was difficult and by the time they reached Grita Valley, there were only 70 men left. They had collected gold and emeralds along the way. They sacked local villages and destroyed the Sun temple of Zaque Quemuenchatocha. They pressed on and entered Chibcha territory where they found good roads. As they came close to the Bogotá Kingdom, the chief unsuccessfully tried to block their entry. Quesada decided to settle in and built an urban settlement as the conquerors motto was to found and populate.

Today, Bogotá is the capital city of Colombia. The population is close to 8 million and the city covers 613 square miles. The entire metropolitan area includes several other municipalities and has a population of about 13.5 million. The climate is subtropical highland and there are about 220 mornings a year that begin with foggy conditions. Bogotá is the main economic and industrial center of the country. Although there were many problems in the country, tourism has started to rebound in the early 21st century. The improvements in safety and infrastructure are behind the increased tourist trade. If you are still looking for the Spanish gold, you might fly into El Dorado International Airport and visit Bogotá.

We came to serve God and to get rich, as all men wish to do. – Bernal Diaz del Castillo, conquistador

The explorer seeks the undiscovered, the traveler that which has been discovered by the mind working in history, the tourist that which has been discovered by entrepreneurship and prepared for him by the arts of mass publicity. – Paul Fussell

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit. – Frank Borman

Explorers have to be ready to die lost. – Russell Hoban

Also on this day: Fat Man’s Predecessor – In 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
Humane? – In 1890, the first execution by electric chair took place.
Gertrude Ederle – In 1926, Gertrude became the first woman to swim the English Channel.
Lost – In 1930, Judge Force Crater disappeared.
Francis II – In 1806, the king abdicated and ended the Holy Roman Empire.

Francis II

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2014
Francis II

Francis II

August 6, 1806: Francis II abdicates and ends the Holy Roman Empire. His reign as King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, and Emperor of Austria did not end until his death in 1835. His full name was Franz Joseph Karl and he was of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. His father was Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor and Francis was born in Florence in 1768. At the time of his birth, his father was the Grand Duke of Tuscany while his uncle was the Holy Roman Emperor, but after the uncle’s death without surviving children, Leopold came to the throne in 1790. Leopold was only 44 when he died in 1792 and left the throne to his son. The 25-year-old leader of the multi-ethnic Habsburg Empire was ruling under the shadow cast by France – Napoleon social and political reforms were being adopted around Europe.

Marie Antoinette had been his aunt although they had not been close. She was in captivity and efforts were made to persuade Francis to help get her released, but he declined. She was beheaded on October 16, 1793. Francis did take Austria into the French Revolutionary Wars in 1794 but handed over command to his brother. Napoleon was victorious in the confrontation. Although he lost some territory, Francis once again challenged Napoleon during the Second and Third Coalition and once again lost and had to cede more lands. The resulting treaty left the Austrian Empire weakened and reorganized Germany. Francis felt it was no longer possible to hold the Holy Roman Empire together and abdicated.

The Holy Roman Empire was a conglomeration of lands in central Europe which developed in the Middle Ages and territories were added or lost over time. The largest portion was the Kingdom of Germany but also included at times were Italy, Bohemia, and Burgundy along with many other smaller territories. It grew out of East Francia, and on Christmas Day in 800, Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne as Emperor. The capital of the Empire moved frequently and there was no single language uniting the territories but rather a mixture of European tongues spoken in various localities. After Charlemagne died, the passage of power was haphazard and eventually the fragmented Carolingian dynasty fell apart in 924.

At that time, the title of Emperor fell into disuse. Otto I revived the idea and was the first elected monarch of the Holy Roman Empire. Although the ruler was theoretically elected the rule was often controlled by dynasties. The Emperor could only be crowned by the Pope. The legislature for the Empire was the Imperial Diet. By the time the entire thing fell apart, there were fifteen entities left to take its place. The population was around 5 million in 1200 and there were about 26.3 million people living under the rule of the last Habsburgs. While Francis ended the Empire and gave Napoleon rights to much of his old lands, he retained rule the Germanic regions and the Habsburgs retained their power until 1918 when their entire power base was dissolved.

A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma. – Marlene Dietrich

Better a living beggar than a buried emperor. – Jean de La Fontaine

No one would have doubted his ability to reign had he never been emperor. – Tacitus

Europeans are forever the offspring of Machiavelli, trapped in a historical rollercoaster that can bring us a monarchy-toppling French Revolution and then a few years later Napoleon Bonaparte as emperor. – Loretta Napoleoni

Also on this day: Fat Man’s Predecessor – In 1945, an atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
Humane? – In 1890, the first execution by electric chair took place.
Gertrude Ederle – In 1926, Gertrude becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.
Lost – In 1930, Judge Force Crater disappeared.

Humane?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2013
Sketch of William Kemmler's execution

Sketch of William Kemmler’s execution

August 6, 1890: William Kemmler is executed for the murder of Tillie Ziegler, his common-law wife. He used a hatchet to attack Tillie on March 29, 1889. He was held at Auburn Prison in New York State. The death penalty at the time was usually carried out by hanging. Dr. Alfred P. Southwick, a dentist, proposed a new way to execute prisoners. He had witnessed a drunken man touch an electric generator and die quickly. Working with New York Governor, David B. Hill, a new method, the electric chair, was made legal.

There was a “current war” being waged between George Westinghouse with alternating current (AC) and Thomas Edison with direct current (DC). The electric chair, which was to use AC, was supported by Edison. Kemmler was brought to the room where 17 witnesses waited and was strapped to the chair. It had been tested the day before using a horse. The generator was charged to 1,000 volts and discharged for 17 seconds. There was a smell of burning flesh and the power was turned off. Kemmler was still breathing, as verified by two doctors. The charge was raised to 2,000 volts and the switch was again thrown. Blood vessels burst under Kemmler’s skin and his body caught fire.

Even with this ignominious beginning, the electric chair was not abandoned. New York State executed 1,130 prisoners between 1646 and 1963. A few were burned or otherwise dispatched, but the majority of the early executions were by hanging. Kemmler was the 436th person to be punished by death, the 694 others who followed were all executed by electrocution. Today, execution in the US is usually carried out by lethal injection.

The electric chair, aka Sizzlin’ Sally, Old Smokey, Old Sparky, Yellow Mama, or Gruesome Gertie, became fairly widespread in the US with half the states using it as the preferred method (others chose the gas chamber). A horrifying and bloody hanging in 1886 was the impetus for a more humane way to carry out executions. Although Kemmler’s execution took nearly 8 minutes, the procedure was perfected over time and death comes quicker now, in a matter of seconds.

“They would have done better using an axe.” – George Westinghouse, about the execution

“[It was] an awful spectacle, far worse than hanging.” – a reporter who witnessed the execution

“There is no man so good that if he placed all his actions and thoughts under the scrutiny of the laws, he would not deserve hanging ten times in his life.” – Montaigne

“Of course the death penalty is cruel and unusual. That’s what people like about it.” – Danzinger

This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Capital punishment has been used by nearly all societies both to punish crime and to suppress political opposition. Most historical records of various tribal communities indicate it was used as part of a justice system. There have been a variety of gruesome methods used. Blood feuds or vendetta between families or tribes might be used. However, when that system failed, the next step was often finding the instigator of the dispute and punishing him or her, often by death. Vendettas could turn into wars and it is often difficult to distinguish between retribution and outright conquest. There are fewer places today still using the death penalty as punishment. There are currently 21 countries still engaged in capital punishment. China has not released statistics, but it is thought that up to 4,000 people may have been executed in 2011. The US comes in at fourth with 43 executions in that same year.

Also on this day: Fat Man’s Predecessor – In 1945, an atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
Gertrude Ederle – In 1926, Gertrude becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.
Lost – In 1930, Judge Force Crater disappeared.

Lost

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2012

Joseph Force Crater

August 6, 1930: Joseph Force Crater gets into a cab. He was born in 1889 in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lafayette College in 1910 and went on to Columbia University. He became an Associate Justice of the New York Supreme Court for New York County. He was appointed to the position by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was governor of New York at the time. After just four months on the bench, Judge Crater became very famous – for his taxi ride.

He and his wife were vacationing at Belgrade, Maine where they owned a summer cabin. The Judge received a phone call and told his wife he had to return to the city “to straighten those fellows out”. He arrived at their Fifth Avenue apartment the next day and made a trip to Atlantic City with his mistress, Sally Lou Ritz. He arrived back in Maine on August 1 and went back to New York on August 3, telling his wife he would return before her birthday on August 9.

On the morning of August 6, Judge Crater went to his office. He cleaned out files for two hours before sending his assistant, Joseph Mara, out to cash two checks totaling $5,150 (≈ $68,000 in today’s currency). At noon, he and his assistant carried two locked briefcases to the Fifth Avenue apartment. The assistant was given the rest of the day off and Crater went to buy a single ticked to a Broadway show, Dancing Partner, which was playing that evening at the Belasco Theatre.

Crater went to dinner with Ritz and a lawyer friend of his. They had a good time and there was no indication that anything was bothering the Judge. The dinner party broke up around 9 PM. The two others got into a taxi and Crater walked up the street to catch a taxi to take him to the show. It took ten days for anyone to realize the Judge was missing. A massive manhunt began. A grand jury investigation called 95 witnesses and amassed 975 pages of testimony. Judge Crater was never seen again and for a time was called “The Missingest Man in New York”. The case was officially closed in 1979.

Producing machines capable of artificial thought was easy. Producing a machine capable of intelligence has proven elusive because there just isn’t anything on which to model it. – Judge Crater

That awkward moment when the police ask Waldo’s mom why she’s never filed a missing persons report. – unknown

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. – Henry David Thoreau

My roommate got a pet elephant. Then it got lost. It’s in the apartment somewhere. – Steven Wright

Also on this day:

Fat Man’s Predecessor – In 1945, an atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
Humane? – In 1890, the first execution by electric chair took place.
Gertrude Ederle – In 1926, Gertrude becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.

Gertrude Ederle

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2011

Gertrude Ederle

August 6, 1926: Gertrude Ederle, 20 years old, becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel. She won one gold and two bronze medals for freestyle in the 1924 Olympics. In 1925 she swam 21 miles across Lower New York Bay from Manhattan to Sandy Hook in seven hours. She then attempted the English Channel swim a straight shot distance of 22 miles and failed. Her coach, Jabez Wolffe who had attempted the swim 20 times and failed, pulled her from the waters when he thought she was tiring.

For her next try, Gertrude hired a new coach – Thomas Burgess who had made the swim before. She left from Cap Gris-Nez, France at 7:05 AM and swam to Kingstown, England in 14 hours and 35 minutes, arriving at 9:40 PM. Along the way she met unfavorable winds that kicked up 20 foot swells. Her coach asked her to come aboard the boat and she replied, “What for?” Because of the treacherous water conditions, she actually swam 35 miles (56 km) to cover the distance. Only five men had previously made the swim with the best time at 16 hours and 33 minutes.

During her swimming career, Gertrude won 29 national and world records. After this world record swim, she was met with a ticker tape parade in New York City. She went on tour across the country and met President Coolidge. She had measles as a child and had diminished hearing as a result and she went completely deaf by the age of 40. She spent the rest of her life teaching deaf children to swim. She died in 2003 at the age of 98.

The first to swim the channel was Capt. Matthew Webb in 1875, swimming from England to France. In 1923, Enrico Tirabaschi was the fist to swim from France to England. Lynne Cox, 15 years old, has been the youngest to swim in 1972 while George Brunstad was 70 years old in 2004 when he made the swim. The fastest time goes to Christof Wandratsch who swam the channel in 7 hours 3 minutes and 52 seconds in 2005. There have been 811 people making 1,185 crossings that have been verified and under the rules set up for the major swim.

“Success is that old ABC – ability, breaks, and courage.” – Charles Luckman

“No man drowns if he perseveres in praying to God; and can swim.” – Russian Proverb

“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” – Pat Riley

“The endurance athlete is the ultimate realist.” – Marty Liquori

Also on this day:
Fat Man’s Predecessor – In 1945, an atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
Humane? – In 1890, the first execution by electric chair took place.

Gertrude Ederle

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2010

Gertrude Ederle

August 6, 1926: Gertrude Ederle, 20 years old, becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel. She won one gold and two bronze medals for freestyle in the 1924 Olympics. In 1925 she swam 21 miles across Lower New York Bay from Manhattan to Sandy Hook in seven hours. She then attempted the English Channel swim a straight shot distance of 22 miles and failed. Her coach, Jabez Wolffe who had attempted the swim 20 times and failed, pulled her from the waters when he thought she was tiring.

For her next try, Gertrude hired a new coach – Thomas Burgess who had made the swim before. She left from Cap Gris-Nez, France at 7:05 AM and swam to Kingstown, England in 14 hours and 35 minutes, arriving at 9:40 PM. Along the way she met unfavorable winds that kicked up 20 foot swells. Her coach asked her to come aboard the boat and she replied, “What for?” Because of the treacherous water conditions, she actually swam 35 miles (56 km) to cover the distance. Only five men had previously made the swim with the best time at 16 hours and 33 minutes.

During her swimming career, Gertrude won 29 national and world records. After this world record swim, she was met with a ticker tape parade in New York City. She went on tour across the country and met President Coolidge. She had measles as a child and had diminished hearing as a result and she went completely deaf by the age of 40. She spent the rest of her life teaching deaf children to swim. She died in 2003 at the age of 98.

The first to swim the channel was Capt. Matthew Webb in 1875, swimming from England to France. In 1923, Enrico Tirabaschi was the fist to swim from France to England. Lynne Cox, 15 years old, has been the youngest to swim in 1972 while George Brunstad was 70 years old in 2004 when he made the swim. The fastest time goes to Christof Wandratsch who swam the channel in 7 hours 3 minutes and 52 seconds in 2005. There have been 811 people making 1,185 crossings that have been verified and under the rules set up for the major swim.

“Success is that old ABC – ability, breaks, and courage.” – Charles Luckman

“No man drowns if he perseveres in praying to God; and can swim.” – Russian Proverb

“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” – Pat Riley

“The endurance athlete is the ultimate realist.” – Marty Liquori

Also on this day, in 1890 William Kemmler is executed, using the electric chair for the first time.
Bonus Link: In 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima.

Fat Man’s Predecessor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2010

Enola Gay

August 6, 1945: Colonel Paul W. Tibbets flies the Enola Gay over Hiroshima and Little Boy, the first atomic bomb used in warfare, is dropped at 8:15 AM. The explosion was at about 1,800 feet  over the city. The payload was equal to 13-16 kilotons of TNT. Little Boy weighed 8,900 pounds and measured 10 feet in length by 28 inches in diameter. It carried 141 pounds of U-235 of which 25 ounces underwent nuclear fission.

The Manhattan Project was charged with investigation into atomic energy. The major focus of the project was isotope enrichment for the uranium needed to build the bomb. Research took place at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and began in 1943. The Los Alamos laboratory was given the task of building the delivery system. They originated a gun-type design that was to be used for both uranium and plutonium, but it was found that only the uranium worked.

Once Little Boy was equipped with the cordite used for firing, any mishandling could cause an nuclear chain reaction. He carried two types of uranium and if they mixed, again a nuclear explosion would occur. Water was also a risk in setting off an unplanned explosion.

There is much controversy about the dropping of the bomb. There is speculation that although many lives were lost, it saved overall, hundreds of thousands of lives that would have been lost with a direct assault on the Japanese islands. The bomb’s explosion were resulted in approximately 70,000 people killed instantly. Another 60,000 died by the end of the year from fallout. More thousands died in the years that followed due to diseases.

“In difficult and desperate situations, the boldest plans are safest.” – Lucius Marcius

“War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to generals.” – Georges Clemenceau

“Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.” – Chester W. Nimitz

“I fear we have only awakened a sleeping giant, and his reaction will be terrible.” – Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese admiral, referring to the attack at Pearl Harbor which he helped plan.

Also on this day, in 1890 William Kemmler is executed, using the electric chair for the first time.
Bonus Link: In 1926, Gertrude Ederle
became the first female to swim the English Channel.