Little Bits of History

February 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2017

1913: Pedro Lascuráin becomes the 34th President of Mexico. He was born in Mexico City in 1856 and graduated from law school in 1880. He was the mayor of Mexico City in 1910 when Francisco Madero challenged then-President Porfirio Diaz and sparked the Mexican Revolution. This led to Madero taking over the Presidency which he held until his assassination on this day. Lascuráin had supported Madero in his rule and served as foreign secretary in his cabinet for two terms. In revolutionary times, the leadership position is often up for grabs by whomever has the power to take control. General Victoriano Huerto was that person.

Huerto used Lascuráin to convince Madero to resign his position while he was being held prisoner in the National Palace. Madero was told his life was in danger if he did not relinquish control. The 1857 Constitution listed who would take over the rule of the country should a President leave office for any reason. The vice president, the attorney general, the foreign minister, and finally the interior minister. As Huerto was getting rid of Madero, he also ousted Vice President Jose Maria Suarez and Attorney General Adolfo Valles Baca. That left Lascuráin as next in line. In order to give some semblance of authenticity to the coup d’état, Lascuráin was made President of Mexico, a post he kept for less than an hour. Some sources say only 15 minutes and some give as long as 56 minutes. Regardless, his is the shortest Presidency in the world.

Huerta called for a late night session of Congress and with his backers holding guns on them, Congress endorsed Huerta’s rise to power. Within days, both Madero and Suarez were killed. Huerta’s regime came immediately under fire and resistance dogged his every stop. He was forced to flee the country in 1914 just 17 months after his coup. He was attempting to meet with German spies when he was arrested in the US during World War I. He died while in custody. Cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver or possibly poisoning, widely suspected at the time.

Lascuráin had been offered a position in Huerta’s cabinet but wisely declined the offer. He retired from politics and began to practice law again. He became the director of the Escuela Libre de Derecho, a conservative law school in Mexico City. He worked there for sixteen years and also published many articles on commercial and civil law. He died in 1952 at the age of 96. Diosdado Cabello of Venezuela, served as President of that country for just a few hours when Hugo Chavez was taking control there, the second shortest Presidency.

Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct. – Thomas Jefferson

Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage. – Ambrose Bierce

No real social change has ever been brought about without a revolution… revolution is but thought carried into action. – Emma Goldman

I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies. – Napoleon Bonaparte


Founding Traitor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2015
Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr

February 19, 1807: Aaron Burr is arrested. Burr had been Vice President under Thomas Jefferson during his first term (1801-1805). It was the apex of his long political career. He had already been New York State’s Attorney General and their Senator. While serving as VP, he participated in an illegal duel and killed Alexander Hamilton. Although all charges against him were eventually dropped, his political career was ruined. After leaving Washington, D.C., Burr traveled west and sought new opportunities and therein was the problem. His motives and aspirations remain unclear to this day. Jefferson accused him of treason and he was arrested on this date for that charge.

Burr had travelled west of the Allegheny Mountains and down the Ohio River Valley to lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase.  The Spanish government leased Burr 40,000 acres of land known as the Bastrop Tract. The land was along the Ouachita River in what is today Louisiana. Before leaving the VP office, Burr had met with Anthony Merry, the British Minister to the United States. Burr had suggested to Merry that the British might regain power in the Southwest if they supported him and his endeavors with guns and money. The goal was to detach Louisiana from the Union in exchanged for $500,000 and a British fleet in the Gulf of Mexico.

In November 1805, Burr and Merry met again to discuss the plan. Merry let Burr know of London’s silence to date on the proposed plan. Merry gave Burr $1,500. Their next meeting was the following spring and London still remained silent. Merry returned to England in June. Burr had also hoped to travel to Texas to claim lands in the Territory the Spanish had leased to him. Harman Blennerhassett was helpful in furthering Burr’s plan and gave considerable financial support. By 1806, the Spanish Minister Carlos Martinez de Irujo y Tacon  was told of Burr’s plan. Burr was seeking not just western secession, but the capture of Washington, D.C. Irujo contributed money to venture.

With Burr’s influence, Jefferson made James Wilkinson Governor of the Louisiana Territory in 1805. Wilkinson’s loyalties stayed with Jefferson and when he learned of Burr’s plans, he wrote to the President with concerns. Burr was arrested twice, and the cases were dismissed twice. This was the third arrest and he was taken to Virginia to stand trial. Burr was acquitted due to lack of evidence. The cost of the trial and disappearance of all influential friends left him with nothing in the US. Burr traveled to Europe to seek his fortune. He remained there until 1812 and then returned to New York City where he practiced law. He lived in relative obscurity until his death in 1836 at the age of 80.

Never do today what you can do tomorrow. Something may occur to make you regret your premature action.

The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business.

Go West, young man.

Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained. – all from Aaron Burr

Also on this day: Cracker Jack – In 1912, Cracker Jack began to include prizes in every box.
Bollingen Prize – In 1949, the prizes were first given out.
Rockin’ the World – In 1600,  the most powerful volcano in South America erupted.
Soaps – In 1985, the EastEnders was first broadcast.
Mysterious – In 1963, The Feminine Mystique was published.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2014
Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan

February 19, 1963: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan is published. The book is often cited as a spark for the beginning of the second-wave of feminism in the US. In 1957, Friedan was asked to conduct a survey of her former Smith College classmates in order to present it for their 15th class reunion. While speaking with many of the women, she was interested to learn that many were dissatisfied with their role as housewife. She went on to conduct interviews with other suburban housewives as well as research of the media and advertising and the current findings among psychologists. She intended to write a magazine article but couldn’t find anyone to publish it. So instead, she wrote a book.

The 239 page book has fourteen chapters discussing various aspects of “the problem that has no name” or the widespread unhappiness of women in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The role of housewife was not fulfilling the promise of women even as the culture insisted that the road to happiness was marriage and children. Women’s magazines (created mostly by men) showed women as happy housewives or unhappy and neurotic careerists. These messages created a “feminine mystique” based on what women wanted and needed for their happiness. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold true. Women were not fitting the mold created by a variety of men including Sigmund Freud. As women gained more education, they were less satisfied with their lot.

Friedan was born in 1921 in Illinois. When her father fell ill, her mother began working outside the home and seemed to find satisfaction in the role. Friedan was active in both Marxist and Jewish circles even as a teenager. When she wanted to write for the school newspaper, she was turned down and she got six friends together and they began their own paper. She went on to the all-girls Smith College where she became editor-in-chief of the newspaper there. In 1943, she spent a year at the University of California, Berkeley working with Erik Erikson. She claimed that her boyfriend of the time pressured her to turn down working on a Ph.D and abandoning her academic career.

After leaving school, she began writing in earnest. She married Carl Friedan in 1947 and continued to work. She claimed to have been let go when she was pregnant with her second child and so began working freelance. She and her husband divorced in 1969. Friedan is credited with changing the world single handedly. She shaped our definition of what a happy woman is. She strongly defended the equality of women. She was known for her aggressive attitude and never forgot that women are adult humans and have the right to living their lives in the way they see fit. She died in 2006 at the age of 85.

Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.

Men are not the enemy, but the fellow victims. The real enemy is women’s denigration of themselves.

The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive.

A woman is handicapped by her sex, and handicaps society, either by slavishly copying the pattern of man’s advance in the professions, or by refusing to compete with man at all. – all from Betty Friedan

Also on this day: Cracker Jack – In 1912, Cracker Jack began to include prizes in every box.
Bollingen Prize – In 1949, the prizes were first given out.
Rockin’ the World – In 1600,  the most powerful volcano in South America erupted.
Soaps – In 1985, the EastEnders was first broadcast.

Bollingen Prize

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2013
Paul Mellon

Paul Mellon

February 19, 1949: The Bollingen Prize is first bestowed. It was awarded yearly for the first 15 years and is now given out every two years. The prize is given by Beinecke Library at Yale University to an American poet in recognition of his or her work since the last prize or for lifetime achievement. The prize was established by Paul Mellon and was named for Carl Jung’s home in Switzerland. Mellon and his wife funded the Bollingen Foundation which in turn donated $10,000 to the Library of Congress for the funding of the prize money.

Paul Mellon was an owner and breeder of racehorses, a businessman, a corporate investor, and a philanthropist. He was the son of Andrew W. Mellon, US Secretary of the Treasury 1921-32. When Fortune magazine first published a list of the wealthiest Americans in 1957, Paul, his sister, and two cousins were each listed among the top 8 with fortunes of $400 to $700 million each. Paul was a Yale University graduate and a member of the secret society, Scroll and Key. He has been a generous and loyal patron, donating two residential buildings and the Yale Center for British Arts.

Ezra Pound was chosen as the first recipient of the Bollingen Prize for his collection of poems, The Pisan Cantos. Pound was born in 1885 in the Idaho Territory. His family moved East when he was a toddler. He completed his education, culminating in an M.A. in Romance Philology in 1906. He moved to London in 1908 and on to Paris in 1920. In 1924, he and two women (Dorothy Shakespear and Olga Rudge) moved to Italy. Pound remained in Italy after World War II started and became an Axis propagandist. He was eventually extradited to the US and charged with treason. He pleaded insanity and was hospitalized for 12 years (1946-58).

The Bollingen Prize came under immediate attack for bestowing their honor on a known fascist. Pound’s insanity plea was questionable at best and his writings of treasonous work do not appear to be the product of a madman. Political pressure was placed on Congress to end the Library of Congress’s involvement and to return the unused monies to the Bollinger Foundation. The Foundation continued the program but it was now to be administered by Yale University. The Foundation was dissolved in 1968 and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation then provided funding of $100,000 to continue the prize in perpetuity.

“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” – Kahlil Gibran

“Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” – Robert Frost

“Always be a poet, even in prose.” – Charles Baudelaire

“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.” – Plato

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Carl Jung was a Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist. He founded the analytical method of psychology. He formed the idea of archetypes, the collective unconscious, as well as other well-known processes. He also studied alchemy, astrology, and the occult. He purchased an estate on the shore of the Obersee basin, part of Lake Zurich, in 1922. There, he built Bollingen Tower, a small castle-looking building with several towers. On his 75th birthday in 1950, he put up a stone cube on the shore which was inscribed on three sides. The inscriptions are in Greek and Latin.

Also on this day: Cracker Jack – In 1912, Cracker Jack began to include prizes in every box.
Rockin’ the World – In 1600,  the most powerful volcano in South America erupted.
Soaps – In 1985, the EastEnders was first broadcast.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2012

Cast pictures of EastEnders from 1985

February 19, 1985: The first episode of the British soap opera, EastEnders, is broadcast. The BBC ran the new show one day after a major identity change for the channel. BBC needed to prove they were able to produce popular programming. ITV had been having spectacular results with Coronation Street since 1960. Critics were originally unimpressed, but soon EastEnders became a hit and outpaced Corrie in the ratings.

In February 1983, a few executives at BBC One began to pursue a twice-a-week drama idea. They contacted Julia Smith and Tony Holland. It was decided to locate the new show in the East End of London in southern England. Coronation Street was set in North West England. While developing the show, they created the imaginary place – Albert Square – where EastEnders would live. According to the show, Albert Square is in the Borough of Walford. Many have tried to find the real world location for the fictional residents.

The story line follows the lives of people who live in a small area of London. Each character has his or her place in the community. EastEnders began with 23 characters created by Smith and Holland. The show, much like the East End, has a decidedly matriarchical leaning. The gender mix remains half and half by including various macho personalities. The cast is culturally diverse with black, Asian, Turkish, and Polish characters included. The age of the residents also covers a wide spectrum. There is a high turnover rate for the cast in order to accommodate new story lines.

Originally two 30-minute shows were broadcast each week. In 1994 a third episode was added to the weekly fare and a fourth was added in 2001. Appreciation Indexes went from 55-60 at startup to 85-95 in later years. They are grabbing 35-40% of market share with most viewers 45 years old and up. The show has won many award in many “Best” categories and been nominated for even more. There have been more than 4,360 episodes presented for the eager fans.

Ethel Skinner: [referring to punk Mary] You know what the bible said, Help thy neighbour.
Dorothy ‘Dot’ Cotton: But it didn’t say, Help thy common slut that won’t help thyself.

Andy: We are going to be clinically obese.
Sam Mitchell: Yeah, but you’ll still love me when I’m fat, won’t you?
Andy: No.

Belinda: I hope they take plastic
Kat: Why? You gonna getcha boobs out?

Alfie Moon: You know what they say, darlin’, the course of true love never runs smooth.
Kat: I don’t want smooth, just something that’s less like roller-blading down the Himalayas with a rocket up me backside. – all from EastEnders

Also on this day:

Cracker Jack – In 1912, Cracker Jack began to include prizes in every box.
Bollingen Prize – In 1949, the prizes were first given out.
Rockin’ the World – In 1600,  the most powerful volcano in South America erupted.

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Rockin’ the World

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2011

Huaynaputina in Peru

February 19, 1600: The most powerful volcanic eruption in South America’s recorded history takes place. Huaynaputina, the Quecha word for “new volcano” is located in Peru in the Andes mountain chain. The mountain measures 15,912 feet in height. The volcano has been dormant since this catastrophic event.

Huaynaputina is a stratovolcano which means that it is a tall, conical volcano formed by layers of lava, tephra, and volcanic ash. These types of volcanoes usually have steep profiles and exhibit periodic, explosive events. The pyroclastic flow, the hot flowing rock, gases, and ash with temperatures in the 100-800º Celsius range, flowed for 8 miles. The lahars or mudflows destroyed villages on its 75 mile march to the Pacific. Ashfall blew as far as 150-300 miles away. It took 150 years for the land to fully recover.

The power or force of a volcano is measured using the Volcanic Explosivity Index [VEI] and this event was a VEI 6. The scale runs from 0-12 and is based on the plume height and volume of ejected effluvium. The most powerful volcanic activity in recorded time is a VEI 7 with the rest having happened hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions of years ago, while the earth was more or less still forming herself. In the last 10,000 years there have been 4 VEI 7 eruptions and 39 VEI 6.

For comparison sake, Krakatau, the famous 1883 eruption, was a VEI 6 while Vesuvius in 79 AD that destroyed Pompeii was a VEI 5. Mount St. Helen in 1980 was also a 5. The scale ranges from “non-explosive” through “ultra-mega-colossal” with plumes reaching more than 15.5 miles [25 km] for the last seven categories. The “ejecta volume” for VEI 5 is 1 square kilometers and 6 is 10 square kilometers with each successive rating increasing by a power of ten. It is expected that a VEI 6 volcano will erupt every 100 years or so. Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the last VEI 6. The Tambora volcano in 1815 was a VEI 7, a force that is reached about once every 1000 years.

“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for insects as well as for the stars. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance.” – Albert Einstein

“You behold a range of exhausted volcanoes.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“This volcano is a sleeper. Most of the time it’s very pleasant, like it is today. The lava just comes out quietly and there’s really no huge hazard associated with it.” – Don Swanson

“I wish I was a volcano to lay on my back all day smoking and have everybody say: Look, he is working!” – Tom Manders

Also on this day:
Cracker Jack – In 1912, Cracker Jack began to include prizes in every box.
Bollingen Prize – In 1949, the first Bollingen Price was awarded.


Cracker Jack

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2010

Box of Cracker Jack

February 19, 1912: Cracker Jack, which has been sold since 1893, now includes “A Prize in Every Box.” In 1893, popcorn, peanuts, and molasses were mixed together and sold at the World’s Columbian Exposition – Chicago’s first World’s Fair. The Rueckheim brothers sold their unnamed treat, but it tended to clump together.

In 1896, Louis Rueckheim figured out a way to keep the popcorn from sticking together. When showing a salesman how nice this was, he is said to have exclaimed, “That’s crackerjack!” At the time, the expression was in use and meant that something was “awesome.” In 1899 Henry Gottlieb Eckstein invented a way to keep the taste treat fresh. He developed the “Eckstein Triple Proof Package” which was the wax sealed box able to keep moisture as well as “dust and germs” out of the box.

The prizes were originally things like decoder rings and baseball cards. The prizes were not of much value at the time and other items of limited value were said to have come from “a Cracker Jack box.” It was very derogatory when the phrase was applied to a degree of higher learning. These old prizes are considered collectors’ items now and can be quite valuable. A set of 1914 baseball cards recently brought in $800,000!

Small toys are no longer included due to choking hazards, but small squares of papers with games or stickers are still in each box. More than 23 billion toys have been tucked inside Cracker Jack boxes since 1912. In 1964, Borden, Inc. purchased the Cracker Jack Company, they in turn sold it to Frito-Lay in 1997. Today, the caramel corn and peanuts come in bright colored bag as well as the standard box. Sailor Jack and his dog, Bingo, are still the mascots, as they have been since 1918. The logo was not trademarked until 1919. July 5 is Cracker Jack Day.

“Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks
I don’t care if I never come back
We will root, root root for the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out
At the old ball game” – Jack Norworth

“Those prizes in Cracker Jacks are a joke. I once got a magnifying glass. It was so poorly made, ants were laughing at it.” – Scott Roeben

“If at first you don’t succeed, find out if there’s a prize for the loser.” – unknown

“Commercially made snacks are very convenient as ‘grab-and-go’ foods.” – Karen Collins

Also on this day, in 1949 the Bollingen Prize was first awarded.

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