Little Bits of History

February 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 22, 2017

1909: The Great White Fleet returns to Hampton Roads, Virginia. US President Theodore Roosevelt sent 16 Navy battleships along with a larger contingency of ancillary vessels on a world tour, circumnavigating the globe. They left on December 16, 1907 with their hulls painted white, the Navy’s peacetime color. The ships were decorated with gold scrollwork and there was a red, white, and blue banner on the bows of the ships. In 1891, after decades of conflict, France sent a fleet of ships to Kronstadt, Russia. The mission was peaceful and threatening. The large contingency of ships and the implied threat of more to come was not lost on Tsar Nicholas II and a treaty was soon signed.

Roosevelt theorized a fleet this size simply sailing around the world would increase goodwill toward America, striving to become a world power. The ability to muster such a fleet to visit many countries and harbors during peacetime would also serve as an indication of the growing importance of the nation’s powerful armed forces. The triumph of America in the Spanish-American War had the US now in possession of Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. This was not the first time Roosevelt had sent an impressive US naval presence. He sent eight battleships to the Mediterranean Sea during a diplomatic crisis between France and Germany in their dispute over Morocco. Europe may have already taken notice of the US, but Roosevelt was also hoping to impress Japan, after their defeat of the Russian fleet in 1905.

The President wished to let the world know the US Navy was able to be anywhere. This seemed to have worked, at least in part. Another benefit of showcasing this massive peacetime endeavor was to help the ships and men practice both sea and battle worthiness as a fleet and to use that practice in developing later classes of ships for the upgrading Navy. The trip around the world was to help the ships with all manner of at sea experience including navigation, communication, power supply, and fleet maneuvering. There was, of course, some dissention. The Navy brass was worried about deploying ships for so long and so far away from home. The long voyage would also take a toll on the ships themselves which would need maintenance when they reached the west coast.

At the time of the trip, the Panama Canal was not yet operational and the ships had to pass through the Straits of Magellan. This was an as yet, unprecedented operation for the US Navy. The ships had to sail from a variety of points before coalescing into the Great White Fleet. However, all the planning was worth it as thousands came to see the ships anytime they entered any port city. The 14-month voyage covered 43,000 nautical miles and made twenty port calls on six continents. The 14,000 sailors brought their Fleet safely around the world, impressing both foreign nationals and the folks back home.

It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious. – John Paul Jones

A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace. – Commodore George Dewey

The Navy has both a tradition and a future–and we look with pride and confidence in both directions. – Admiral Arleigh Burke

In my opinion, any navy less than that which would give us the habitual command of our own coast and seas would be little short of useless. – John C. Calhoun

Bubble Boy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 22, 2015
David, the Bubble Boy in his containment unit

David, the Bubble Boy in his containment unit

February 22, 1984: David dies. David was born in Houston, Texas in 1971. He was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) which is a genetic disorder caused by a number of genetic mutations. People with SCID have curtailed development of T cells and B cells leaving the victim with a defective antibody response and susceptible to pathogens. David’s older brother had also had the disease and died at the age of seven months. His older sister was unaffected. His parents had been told after the death of his brother, that any future male children had a 50% of getting SCID. At the time, the only treatment available was to keep pathogens away from the patient until a successful bone transplant could take place.

David’s early life was spent mostly at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. A special sterilized cocoon bed was prepared and as soon as he was born, he was placed in the germ-free cocoon. He would spend most of his life in this type of environment and was known to the world as David, the Bubble Boy. Sterilized holy water was used to baptize the baby once he had entered the bubble. It was hoped his sister, Katherine, could be a bone marrow donor, but she was not an acceptable match and a bone marrow transplant was put on hold. Water, air, food, diapers, and clothes all had to be sterilized before they were permitted in the sterile chamber.

In order to sterilize all manner of items, they were placed in a chamber filled with heated (⁰F 140) ethylene oxide gas for four hours and then aerated for one to seven days. They were then safe for David to use. After the infant was placed in the bubble, he was touched only through special plastic gloves attached to the walls of the bubble. It was kept inflated by air compressors which made so much noise that communication with the boy was difficult. When he was three, a second bubble was built at his parents’ home and a transport chamber was also built. David was able to spend two to three weeks at a time at home. In an effort to make his life as normal as possible, he was provided a formal education and given access to television. He even had a playroom built in his hospital chamber.

NASA technology allowed for the building of a suit which permitted David to exit his bubble and walk out in the world. David did not like the suit and only used it seven times before he outgrew it and then refused to wear the replacement. Approximately $1.3 million was spent on caring for David during his lifetime. At age 12, David finally was able to receive a bone marrow transplant from his sister. Unfortunately, it contained traces of dormant Epstein-Barr virus which had been undetected in the screenings. David died 15 days after the transplant from Burkitt’s lymphoma. Charges of unethical medical practices were brought against three physicians who denied any wrongdoing. Ten years after his death, David’s full name was finally made public. David Phillip Vetter.

The great scandal of the Bubble Boy was that he was conceived for the bubble. The team that did this didn’t think through this very well. They didn’t consider what would happen if they didn’t find an immediate cure. They operated on the assumption that you could live to be 80 years old in a bubble, and that would be unfortunate but okay. – Raymond Lawrence

In 1978, although he was not quite eight years old, David had realized his life would be lonely, dull and short. His helplessness enraged him. Before he was born, his body had been donated to science. – Steve McVicker

The doctors – John Montgomery, Mary Ann South and Raphael Wilson – told the Vetters that should they choose to have another child, and should that child also have SCIDS, the newborn could be placed in an almost completely sterile isolator that would protect him from disease until a cure was found – which, the doctors thought, was only a matter of time. The project would be financed with federal research grants. – Steve McVicker

At the time, we were encouraged by everything we knew. If people didn’t take chances, none of us would be here. Columbus would have stayed in Spain and would have been selling tortillas, because he was warned he would sail off the edge of the earth. – John Montgomery

Also on this day: Copy Rights – In 1774, perpetual copyrights were banned by House of Lords.
Hello, Dolly – In 1997, the Roslin Institute announced the successful cloning of a sheep.
Grady the Cow – In 1949, a cow got stuck in a silo and made national news.
The White Rose – In 1943, three young adults were executed.
Florida – In 1819, the Adams-Onis Treaty was signed.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 22, 2014


February 22, 1819: The Adams-Onis Treaty is signed in Washington, D.C.  The Treaty is also known as the Transcontinental Treaty or the Purchase of Florida Treaty, sometimes shortened to Florida Treaty. The treaty was between the US and Spain and set the boundary between New Spain (what is now Mexico) and America as well as ceded Florida to the US in exchange for $5 million (~ $75 million today) and US claims to part of Spanish Texas west of the Sabine River. The lands ceded to Spanish control were never accepted by the people living in the regions that came to be US territory with the Louisiana Purchase. The treaty was negotiated by John Quincy Adams who was Secretary of State under President Monroe and Luis de Onis under King Ferdinand VII.

At the time of the negotiations, Spain had been weakened by the Peninsular War in Europe and was having difficulty with colonial lands in the Americas. Revolutionary factions in Central and South America were demanding independence. Spain had almost no military presence in the Americas and no way to actually enforce compliance. Since she was losing her mastery over the American territories, Spain was forced into a negotiation with the young nation. The Florida region was a hotbed of agitation as the state filled with escaped slaves, outlaws, and Native Americans who fled Georgia during the First Seminole War. During that war, General Andrew Jackson pursued fleeing Seminoles into Florida and captured Spanish forts while there.

There were many more incursions into Spanish Florida to retrieve slaves, capture the escaped outlaws, and track down Natives. When Jackson invaded, there were Cabinet members who wanted his immediate dismissal, but instead, Adams saw it as an opening for negotiations and eventually the state came into the Union with this treaty. It was signed on this date but took two years to ratify. The Senate had ratified immediately, but Spain wanted to use the treaty as leverage to keep America from helping revolutionaries in New Spain. The new addendum to the treaty took more negotiation and the treaty was finally enacted on February 22, 1821.

Florida is the 4th most populous state in the union although it is 22nd in size. It is the 8th most densely populated state with about 19.5 million people living there. The capital is at Tallahassee. The state has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States. First European contact was made by Ponce de Leon in 1513 who named it La Florida or Flowery Land. The economy is based mostly on tourism as it is home to many amusement parks with Disneyworld being the most famous. It is also home to the Kennedy Space Center. Agriculture also plays a major role in the economy of the state with oranges being the most important crop. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States and was established in 1565 by the Spanish. It is located on the eastern coast of the state.

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that’s the law. – Jerry Seinfeld

Florida isn’t so much a place where one goes to reinvent oneself, as it is a place where one goes if one no longer wished to be found. – Douglas Coupland

I love baseball. I’ll probably end up one of those old farts who go to spring training in Florida every year and drive from game to game all day. – Steve Earle

I turned my home state of Florida into the Land of Xanth. – Piers Anthony

Also on this day: Copy Rights – In 1774, perpetual copyrights were banned by House of Lords.
Hello, Dolly – In 1997, the Roslin Institute announced the successful cloning of a sheep.
Grady the Cow – In 1949, a cow got stuck in a silo and made national news.
The White Rose – In 1943, three young adults were executed.

Hello, Dolly

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 22, 2013


February 22, 1997: The Roslin Institute, a government research facility in Edinburg, Scotland, announces the successful cloning of a sheep named Dolly, born on July 5, 1996. Dolly was the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult somatic cell (one from any part of the body rather than a gamete which is an egg or sperm). They used a process called nuclear transfer. This cloning technique proved that genetic material could be manipulated to express only a “distinct subset of genes” and therefore be programmed to make an entirely new organism.

To get Dolly – whose original cell came from a mammary gland and who was named after Dolly Parton for obvious reasons – was difficult. There were 277 eggs used which resulted in 29 embryos. Of those embryos, only three lambs were born and of those three, only one lived. There have been other farm mammals cloned as well as various other fish, pets, and creatures. Seventy calves have been born after making 9,000 attempts with fully one-third of them dying young. Prometea, a foal, was born after 328 attempts.

Dolly was a Fin Dorset sheep and should have lived 12-15 years. She was euthanized on November 11, 2003 at the age of six. There was debate over her cause of death. Autopsy confirmed that Dolly had a common retrovirus, Ovine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma (Jaagsiekte), a progressive lung disease. Autopsy also showed that Dolly had unusually short telomeres which normally is the result of aging. Some scientists insist that Dolly’s cellular age at birth was six years as that was the age of the donor sheep and that her telomeres at death were the appropriate size for a 12-year-old sheep.

Cloning raises many ethical questions. The debate increased in 1952 when scientists first announced they had cloned a tadpole. Although the experiment could not be duplicated, ethicists were willing to point out the dangers intrinsic to the procedure. Some religions find the entire process an abomination before God. Others fear that human cloning will be misused or that the clones will be unstable, unhappy, non-distinct creatures used solely as spare parts for the parent.

“The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science, along with behavior control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers.” – Lewis Thomas

“Cloning is the sincerest form of flattery.” – unknown

“The possible cloning of human beings is now not relegated to the world of fiction, and the question to the world is this – what should we do with this science?” – James Greenwood

“Human cloning will take place, and it will take place in my lifetime. And I don’t fear it at all – I welcome it. I think it’s right and proper that we continue this kind of inquiry.” – Tom Harkin

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The Roslin Institute has been part of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies within the College of Medicine of The University of Edinburgh since 2008. They now have over 400 staff and students working to “enhance the lives of animals and humans” via their world class research into animal biology. They have studied spongiform encephalopathies (mad cow disease) trying to determine how it is transmitted. They have also been able to create a genetically modified chicken which could produce eggs containing a protein needed to make cancer-fighting drugs. In 1997, they were able to clone two more sheep, Polly and Molly, both of which contained a human gene.

Also on this day: Copy Rights – In 1774, perpetual copyrights were banned by House of Lords.
Grady the Cow – In 1949, a cow got stuck in a silo and made national news.
The White Rose – In 1943, three young adults were executed.

The White Rose

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 22, 2012

White Rose members, Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst

February 22, 1943: Three members of The White Rose are executed. Known as die Weiße Rose in German, they were a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. The group was made up of several students from the University of Munich along with Kurt Huber, a professor of philosophy and musicology. The students put out six leaflets between June 1942 and February 1943. They called for an end to the Nazi regime, the tyranny of Germany, and Hitler’s rule.

Hans Scholl (24) and his sister, Sophie (21), were part of the core membership of The White Rose. In 1941 they had attended a sermon by bishop August von Galen, an outspoken critic of Nazi policies. They were influenced by the talk and they formed their own group to help rouse the German people to rebel against the tyranny of the Nazi government. Their leaflets quoted the Bible, Aristotle, Novalis, Goethe, and Schiller. The students hoped to sway the intelligentsia and enlist their help to spread the word.

Early leaflets were small runs and mailed to specific targets and held an added message to reprint and distribute them. By January 1943 they are thought to have printed 6,000 to 9,000 copies of their fifth leaflet. The Gestapo became aware of the anonymous writings and diligently searched for the authors. On February 18 the Scholls brought a suitcase full of leaflets to University and set them about the atrium for students leaving their lecture halls. A few remained in the suitcase and Sophie threw them from the top floor. A custodian saw her and reported the siblings to the Gestapo. Their sixth leaflet was published posthumously.

The Scholls were taken into custody and soon the rest of the group were also under arrest. The Scholls and Christoph Probst (23) were tried on this date. They were charged with political crimes against the state. Found guilty, they were sentenced to death. All three were guillotined that same day. The rest of the group was tried and then beheaded in stages so as not to have too many executions at one time. Today, the young men and women are revered as heroes with a memorial standing in the Hofgarten in Munich.

If everyone waits until the other man makes a start, the messengers of avenging Nemesis will come steadily closer; then even the last victim will have been cast senselessly into the maw of the insatiable demon.

We are not in a position to draw up a final judgment about the meaning of our history.

But what are the German people doing? They will not see and will not listen. Blindly they follow their seducers into ruin. Victory at any price! is inscribed on their banner. “I will fight to the last man,” says Hitler – but in the meantime the war has already been lost.

The day of reckoning has come – the reckoning of German youth with the most abominable tyrant our people have ever been forced to endure. In the name of German youth we demand restitution by Adolf Hitler’s state of our personal freedom, the most precious treasure we have, out of which he has swindled us in the most miserable way. – all from The White Rose leaflets

Also on this day:

Copy Rights – In 1774, perpetual copyrights were banned by House of Lords.
Hello, Dolly – In 1997, the Roslin Institute announced the successful cloning of a sheep.
Grady the Cow – In 1949, a cow got stuck in a silo and made national news.

Copy Rights

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 22, 2010

Copyright symbol

February 22, 1774: Who owns the rights to written works? This has been a major problem since the invention of movable type. Prior to that, making a copy meant literally making a copy. As an example, in the 560s St. Columba copied Abbott Finnian’s Psalter (Bible). Dispute over the ownership of the copy caused enough animosity to result in deaths.

In 1556, Queen Mary I of England chartered printing companies to help suppress the Protestant Reformation and only the chartered printers could sell books – all other materials were illegal. This monopoly lasted until 1694 when the grip of the crown loosened after the English Civil War.

The Statute of Anne [1710] is considered to be the first copyright law. It outlined three major points. First, the law applied to the public in general rather than just publishers. Second, the copyright originated with the author rather than the publisher. Lastly, a time limit was placed on the copyrighted material – 21 years for already published works and 14 years for newly published works with another 14 years possible. When the time limits started to run out in 1729, the English court ruled in favor of perpetual copyright to the publishers.

Today, copyright is determined by country where the work was created as well as the country where the work is published. Infringement on this right is usually settled through civil courts but there are times when it becomes a criminal action. While it can be proven words were copied, it is sometimes not enough to make even a civil case and the courts are usually used when serious counterfeiting has taken place.

Scotland and Ireland, not being ruled by English law, flooded the market with cheap copies. On this date in 1774 the House of Lords ruled against the perpetual copyright rule and public domain of copyrighted material was born.

“All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” – unknown, commonly misattributed to Samuel Johnson

“I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.” – Peter De Vries

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” – Mark Twain

Also on this day, in1997 the Roslin Institute announced the cloning of a sheep, Dolly.

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