Little Bits of History

Raleigh Institute

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 1, 2015
Estey Hall

Estey Hall

December 1, 1865: The Raleigh Institute is founded. HBCUs are historically black colleges and universities founded in the US with the additional caveat stating established before 1964. They have always admitted all races, but their makeup has been predominately African-Americans. There are 106 HBCUs in the US which include both public and private institutions. They range from two year community colleges to four year institutions as well as law schools and medical schools. Most were established after the US Civil War, but the oldest was established in 1837. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania was the first such school. Raleigh Institute was the first HBCU to be established in the South.

Today, known as Shaw University, it was founded on this day by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Henry Martin Tupper, born in Massachusetts in 1811, was a Baptist minister who came South immediately after the end of the Civil War. His first act upon arriving in Raleigh, North Carolina was to form the Second Baptist Church of Raleigh (which changed its name in 1910 to the Tabernacle Baptist Church and then again changed the name to Tupper Memorial Baptist Church). Tupper and his Bible study students built a church/school which consisted of one two-story building. The ground floor was the church and the upper floor was the Raleigh Institute where Tupper took it upon himself to educated freedmen.

By 1867, the school had grown and had three buildings, two of which were cabins. In 1875, the name changed from Shaw Collegiate Institute and to Shaw University and there were only two major structures in which to educate students. One was the  Shaw Building and the other was Estey Seminary. The Shaw Building was erected in a field where Tupper had once hid when a lynch mob came for him. The Shaw Building was the largest school building in all of North Carolina and had four stories and 165 feet of frontage. Not only did the school accept freedmen, but accepted African-American females which was also an astounding feat. The school continued to grown and both the law school (1888) and medical school (1881) were established before Tupper’s death in 1893.

Today, Shaw University remains affiliated with the National Baptist Convention. They have a $23 million endowment and Joeseph Bell is chairman and Tashni-Ann Dubroy is president. They have just under 2,000 students serviced by 173 academic staff members. They offer undergraduate degrees in a number of areas in both the sciences and humanities. They also have graduate programs in Diviinity, Religious Education, and Early Childhood Instruction. The law school closed in 1914 after graduating 54 students. The med school closed in 1918. Estey Hall and Leonard Hall are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Shaw was active in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Some famous people are alumni and include Gladys Knight and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom. – George Washington Carver

My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors. – Maya Angelou

Also on this day: Not a Hot Line – In 1878, a telephone was first installed in the White House.
Beauty, Wit, Charm – In 1919, Lady Astor became the first woman in the British House of Commons.
No President Elect – In 1824, there was no clear candidate for President elected.
Underground – In 1913, the Buenos Aires Metro opened.
Author, Author – In 1886, Rex Stout was born.

Author, Author

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 1, 2014
Rex Stout

Rex Stout

December 1, 1886: Rex Todhunter Stout is born in Noblesville, Indiana. He was one of nine children born to the Quaker family. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Kansas. His father was a teacher and taught his son to read early. By the time he was four, Rex had read through the entire Bible twice. He was the state spelling bee champion at age 13. After college, he joined the US Navy and after that spent the next four years holding a variety of jobs – about 30 jobs in six different states. He invented a school banking system which helped to track monies saved by schoolchildren. This paid enough in royalties for him to travel extensively in Europe.

Rex began his writing career in the 1910s and wrote for the pulps while also publishing some romance and adventure stories. He also wrote articles for a number of different magazines and he became a full-time writer in 1927. The crash of 1929 wiped out all the money he had earned as a businessman. He wrote his first book in Paris in 1929, How Like a God. He tried a number of different literary forms and pioneered the political thriller when he wrote The President Vanishes in 1934. He also tried his hand at science fiction. He returned to the US.

He then began to write his most famous series of books. Nero Wolfe and his sidekick, Archie Goodwin, first worked together in Fer-de-Lance published by Farrar & Rinehart in October 1934. Stout stayed with the detective fiction genre and after 1938 focused completely on the mystery field. He introduced Dol Bonner, a female private detective in 1937, and she appeared in several Nero Wolfe stories one of the earliest female PIs. Stout went on to publish at least one Nero Wolfe book per year until 1966, with the exception of 1945 when world events took up much of his time. During the next nine years, he published four more Wolfe books as well as a cookbook. He died in Danbury, Connecticut in 1975 at the age of 88.

Nero Wolfe appeared in 33 novels and 39 short stories. He solved most of his cases from his luxurious brownstone located on West 35th Street. While the stories were written for decades and the times changed around the characters, they never aged. Wolfe was 56 years old the entire time. Archie Goodwin narrated the stories. Wolfe was described as obese and weighed a seventh of a ton or between 310 and 390 pounds. He slowly counted out the beers he consumed and rose to the top floor of his house, via an elevator, to tend to his orchids. He was eccentric in many ways. His minions were sent out to gather data and then, Wolfe would solve the puzzle.

I have never regarded myself as this or that. I have been too busy being myself to bother about regarding myself.

There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.

Doyle stokes in a thousand shrewd touches with no effort at all. Wonderful.

I still can’t decide which is more fun – reading or writing. – all from Rex Stout

Also on this day:  Not a Hot Line – In 1878, a telephone was first installed in the White House.
Beauty, Wit, Charm – In 1919, Lady Astor became the first woman in the British House of Commons.
No President Elect – In 1824, there was no clear candidate for President elected.
Underground – In 1913, the Buenos Aires Metro opened.

Beauty, Wit, Charm

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 1, 2013
Nancy Witcher Astor

Nancy Witcher Astor

December 1, 1919: Nancy Witcher Astor (née Langhorne) takes her seat in the House of Commons. Nancy was born in Danville, Virginia to a family of once and future wealth. At the time of her birth, they lived in near-poverty. Her father became involved with the railroads and the family’s wealth was restored. Nancy had four sisters and three brothers. All the girls were famously beautiful. One sister, Irene, married an artist, Charles Dana Gibson, and became the quintessential Gibson Girl.

Nancy went to a finishing school in New York City and there met Robert Gould Shaw. They married when Nancy was 18. The marriage was volatile and unhappy with the couple splitting up several times during the 4-year marriage. They had one son and were finally divorced in 1903. Nancy’s mother died and she returned to her father’s mansion to help with running the household. Her father encouraged her to take a tour of England. Nancy was reluctant but finally she and her younger sister, Phyllis, went abroad.

Nancy’s puritanical or prudish behaviors were in stark contrast to her wicked way with words. She was interesting and witty, but not seeking a husband. When asked “Have you come to get our husbands?” she replied in what would become her famous style, “If you knew the trouble I had getting rid of mine …” Despite her demur, she married Waldorf Astor. He was also born in the US and on the same day as Nancy. Waldorf’s family moved to England and he was raised as an aristocrat. The Astors became British citizens in 1899 and the elder Astor used his incredible wealth to move up the social ladder. He became 1st Viscount Astor in 1917.

Waldorf Astor held a seat in the House of Commons for Plymouth, and after the seat was split, for Plymouth Station from 1910-1919. When his father died, he became 2nd Viscount Astor and was no longer able to sit in the House of Commons. His wife ran for Member of Parliament and was elected to the seat on November 28. She was the second woman to be elected, but Constance Markievicz did not take her seat. She was elected a year earlier, but was a member of Sinn Fein and would not take an oath of loyalty. Thus Lady Astor, the American, became the first woman to take a seat in the British House of Commons.

“Women have got to make the world safe for men since men have made it so darned unsafe for women.”

“We women talk too much, but even then we don’t tell half what we know.”

“It is no use blaming the men — we made them what they are – and now it is up to us to try and make ourselves – the makers of men – a little more responsible.”

“My vigor, vitality and cheek repel me – I am the kind of woman I would run from.”

“Truth always originates in a minority of one, and every custom begins as a broken precedent.” – all from Lady Astor

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The House of Commons is the lower house of Parliament in the UK. It has gone through several name changes as it was first just the house of England, then of Great Britain and now of the United Kingdom. There are 650 seats in the House with Conservatives holding 304 and the Labour Party as Her Majesty’s Official Opposition holding 257 seats. The Liberal Democrats hold 55 seats with the other seats held between various other parties holding from one to eight seats. The Speaker and Deputies hold four seats. John Barcow has been Speaker since 2009 with Andrew Lansley as Leader since 2012 and Angela Eagle as Shadow Leader since 2011. The last elections were held in 2010 and terms last for five years. The salary for Members is £65,738.

Also on this day: Not a Hot Line – In 1878, a telephone was first installed in the White House.
No President Elect – In 1824, there was no clear candidate for President elected.
Underground – In 1913, the Buenos Aires Metro opened.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 1, 2012
Buenos Aires Metro routes

Buenos Aires Metro routes

December 1, 1913: The Buenos Aires Metro opens for business. It is affectionately, or at least succinctly known as the Subte, from the word Subterráneo, which means “underground” or “subterranean”. It was the first underground railway system in South America as well as the first in the Southern Hemisphere. It was also the first subterranean system in the entire Spanish speaking world. Tramway systems began operating in the city in the 1870s and almost immediately, discussions of moving transportation underground began. By the turn of the century, the tramways were in trouble both from the monopolies who ran the system and their lack of desire to electrify it.

The first proposal for going subterranean was placed in 1886 but this and several more requests made that decade were denied. The Ministry of the Interior denied the city administration to grant building permissions for the subsoil. Later proposals were therefore sent directly to the Ministry. By 1896, the Mayor of Buenos Aires was hoping to build an underground system to both shorten the time it took to travel and to emulate the one built in London. However, funding was short and the idea did not immediately take off. The British were finally convinced to help with the building and the Anglo-Argentine Tramways Company finally built an underground line opening on this day.

A second line was granted permission to build in 1912 and the Lacroze Hermanos company implemented what is currently line B. It was opened in 1930. During the 1930s, the network centralized and by the end of the decade, it was nationalized under the Transport Corporation of Buenos Aires. By 1952 it was taken into the Buenos Aires Transport General Administration. In 1963, that was dissolved and the network went to the Subterráneos de Buenos Aires (SBASE) company. Today, it is privatized and managed by Metrovias S.A. while the stations remain owned by SBASE. New routes have continued to open with the last opening in 2011.

There are currently six lines operating. Each line is called by a number and has its own color on maps. The Green or Line D has the most daily passengers with 440,384 using the 16 stations along the 6.8 mile route while Line B (Red) is close behind with 412,882 daily riders from their 15 stations along 6.3 miles of track. Line C (Blue, 9 stations, 2.8 miles) and Line A (Light Blue, 16, stations, 6.6 miles) both have over 300,000 daily riders while Line E (Purple, 15 stations, 6 miles) has 135,000+ and Line H (Yellow, 7 stations, 3.4 miles) having just about 24,000 daily riders. There are three new lines planned and upgrades to for the existing lines are also in the works.

I like taking the subway to work. – John Stossel

I still want to be the guy who can get on the subway and check out the freak on the subway. – Paul Giamatti

If I ever have to stop taking the subway, I’m gonna have a heart attack. – Edward Norton

If there’s an intellectual highway, there’s also an intellectual subway. – Stanley Crouch

Also on this day:

Not a Hot Line – In 1878, a telephone was first installed in the White House.
Beauty, Wit, Charm – In 1919, Lady Astor became the first woman in the British House of Commons.
No President Elect – In 1824, there was no clear candidate for President elected.

No President Elect

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 1, 2011

December 1, 1824: No candidate for the position of President of the United States is elected by a majority of the voters. In the previous election, a one-party system had been in place. The Federalist Party had dissolved and only the Democratic-Republican Party remained. For this election, that party split into four distinct factions with each offering a candidate for the Presidency. The candidates running for the office were John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, William H. Crawford, and Andrew Jackson.

Jackson won 99 electoral votes by carrying 12 states. He had 151,271 votes or 41.3%. Adams garnered 84 electoral votes, carried 7 states, had 113,122 votes or 30.9%. Crawford managed 41 electoral votes from 2 states and 40,856 votes or 11.2%. Clay brought home 37 electoral votes from 3 states and 47,531 votes or 13%. Since no one had a clear majority of votes by any measure, the Twelfth Amendment to the US Constitution was brought into play. A candidate needed 131 electoral votes to win the election.

Elections in 1796 and 1800 led to some issues with Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution. So on December 9, 1803 a new Amendment was proposed to clarify election proceedings using the Electoral College. It was ratified on June 15, 1804 and this was the first time it was enacted. The Amendment did not change the composition of the College, but simply rectified issues within in the proceedings. It has been used for every presidential election in the US since 1804.

Since there was no clear winner for the office of President, the election’s outcome was given to the US House of Representatives. They were to choose from only the top three candidates so were to choose between Adams, Crawford, and Jackson. Henry Clay was Speaker of the House and was not included. Henry Clay despised Jackson and spoke openly about the candidate’s lack of credentials. When the vote came in on February 9, 1825, John Quincy Adams was elected taking 13 states on the first ballot. Jackson had 7 states and Crawford took the remaining four. This was shocking to Jackson who, as the numbers above show, had taken more popular votes and more electoral college votes in the general election. There were accusations from the Jackson camp of collusion between Adams and Clay, but an investigation could neither prove nor disprove the allegations.

“All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.” – John Quincy Adams

“All the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous Judiciary.” – Andrew Jackson

“Weariness goes more to keep the peace than any other disposition in either party.” – William H. Crawford

“I would rather be right than President.” – Henry Clay

Also on this day:

Not a Hot Line – In 1878, a telephone was first installed in the White House.
Beauty, Wit, Charm – In 1919, Lady Astor became the first woman in the British House of Commons.

Not a Hot Line

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 1, 2010

A variety of early telephones

December 1, 1878: The first telephone is installed in the White House in Washington, DC for President Rutherford B. Hayes. Hayes could call Alexander Graham Bell, the person who installed the phone, and so he did. Bell was 13 miles away at the time and the first thing the President did was ask Bell to speak up. The phone was not very useful because very few other people had phones at the time.

On February 14, 1876 at 9:30 AM, Elisha Gray’s lawyer brought a caveat, a paper stating that an invention was in progress, to the US Patent Office. At 11:30 on that day, Bell’s lawyer brought papers requesting a patent for a telephone and asked they be filed immediately. Gray’s paper were filed after Bell’s at 1:30. Gray’s papers could have been instantly converted from caveat to patent application, but that was not done on the advice of his lawyer.

We have come a long way from the old phone where one shouted into the transmitter while holding the receiver tightly against the ear in hopes of hearing better. Improvements have rapidly altered telecommunications. Instead of using two hand, we have Bluetooth, hands-free phones. We went from operator assisted exchange boards to programmed, one-touch speed dialing. We went from rotary phones to touch tones. Other conveniences are answering machines, voicemail, text messaging, and voice over IP.

President Hayes would be amazed at the growth in the phone’s usage. The US alone had 70 telecommunications satellites in 2000 with 268 million landlines in the year 2003 and 219.4 million cell phones in 2005. But talking is a worldwide pastime. In 2005 there were 1,263,367,600 landline phones and 2,168,433,600 cell phones. We must all love to talk.

“My telephone calls and meetings and decisions were now parts of a prescribed ritual aimed at making peace with the past; his calls, his meetings and his decisions were already the ones that would shape America’s future.” –  Richard M. Nixon (On transfer of power to Gerald R. Ford.)

“Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three – and paradise is when you have none.” – Doug Larson

“The telephone is the greatest nuisance among conveniences, the greatest convenience among nuisances.” – Robert Staughton Lynd

“The bathtub was invented in 1850 and the telephone in 1875.  In other words, if you had been living in 1850, you could have sat in the bathtub for 25 years without having to answer the phone.” – Bill DeWitt

Also on this day, in 1919 Lady Nancy Astor became the first woman to sit in the British House of Commons.

Tagged with: ,