Little Bits of History

February 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 23, 2017

1739: Richard Palmer is unmasked. He was born in Essex, England and baptized on September 21, 1705. He was the fifth of six children in his family. His father was a butcher and innkeeper and it is sometimes told the son followed, at least at first, in his father’s footsteps. He had some rudimentary education and eventually married. He opened his own butcher shop but eventually found other ways to make a more lucrative living. He joined up with an Essex gang of deer poachers, a criminal endeavor rampant in the area. The gang had to find a way to get rid of the deer meat and having a butcher join in was a way to sell off the goods without drawing too much attention. While this worked for a while, Richard eventually left the butcher trade and took up with a more criminal lifestyle. He also changed his name at some point from Dick Turpin to Richard Palmer.

Within a few years, the makeup of the gang had changed dramatically with many of the members captured or moved away. Turpin moved on to robbery and began invading the homes of the local wealthy farmers. The gang members moved near London and began breaking and entering there. Their attacks were quite violent when homeowners would not reveal where their money was hidden. Rewards were offered for their capture, starting at £10 and working their way upwards. Many of the group were caught in this manner, but Turpin remained elusive.

With most of the gang members in custody, Turpin turned to what he is most famous for. Highway robbery became his new venture. He and some new associates attacked those moving along the highways of rural England. They were accomplished horse thieves as well as powerful riders and able to approach targets with impunity due to the legendary violence associated with Turpin’s attacks. While trying to capture Turpin, one of the posse was shot and eventually died. Turpin was charged with his murder, but stories were confusing and often contradictory.

While travelling around the country under his assumed name, he was caught and eventually sent to York Castle to await trial for more minor crimes. While there, he wrote a letter to his brother in law but when it arrived, the man refused to pay the delivery charge, stating he knew no one at York Castle. He may have truly been loath to pay or he may have been trying to distance himself from his criminal family. The letter was taken to a post office where James Smith, who had taught Turpin to write years ago, recognized the handwriting. He alerted the authorities and was taken to York Castle where he was able to identify the man held there as the man wanted for murder. He received a £200 reward (about £29,000 today). Turpin was executed, but became a legend after the fact.

Make your educational laws strict and your criminal ones can be gentle; but if you leave youth its liberty you will have to dig dungeons for ages. – Michel de Montaigne

Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on. – Robert Kennedy

Squeeze human nature into the straitjacket of criminal justice and crime will appear. – Karl Kraus

The criminal is trying to solve his immediate problems. – Naguib Mahfouz

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Boy Wonder

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 23, 2015
Charles M Hall

Charles M Hall

February 23, 1886: Charles M Hall, separates aluminum from its ore. Hall was born in Ohio in 1863 after his missionary parents were forced to return from overseas service due to the US Civil War. His mother taught him to read early and by age six he was using his father’s 1840s college chemistry book as a reader. He began public school at age eight and quickly progressed. He carried out scientific experiments in family’s shed. At the age of 16 he enrolled at Oberlin College. There he met professor Frank Fanning Jewett who was interested in aluminum extraction. Hall’s initial experiments with aluminum were in 1881. He worked on the problem, once again using the family shed as a laboratory.

Hall was forced to fabricate most of his own equipment for his studies. One of his sisters, Julia Brainerd Hall, helped him with his research. They eventually found a process to produce aluminum cheaply by running an electric current through a bath of alumina dissolved in cryolite. Hall filed for his first patent on July 9, 1886. The process was discovered at nearly the same time by Frenchman Paul Héroult and has come to be called the Hall-Héroult process. Hall sought out financial backing in Pittsburgh via metallurgist Alfred E Hunt. They formed the Reduction Company of Pittsburgh and opened the first large-scale aluminum production plant. The company changed names, first to Aluminum Company of America and then to Alcoa.

The Hall-Héroult process was so effective, it reduced the price of aluminum by a factor of 200, making it an affordable alternative for many uses. The apex of the Washington Monument was made of aluminum and at the time of its construction (1884), it was as valuable a metal as silver. In 1900, about 8,000 tons of aluminum were produced. Today, more aluminum is produced than all other non-ferrous metals combined. Aluminum was the first metal to attain widespread use since the prehistoric discovery of iron. Hall is considered to be the originator of the American spelling of aluminium, the British spelling, when he made a misspelling in a handbill. Aluminum makes up about 8% by weight of the Earth’s solid surface. The ability to extract if cheaply from the ore was the problem.

Hall continued to do research and was granted 22 US patents over his lifetime, most of them regarding aluminum production. He served on the Oberlin College Board of Trustees. He was vice-president of Alcoa until his death at age 51. He was unmarried and childless and left most of his money to charity. Today, Alcoa is headquartered in Lever House, Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Klaus Kleinfeld is the chairman and CEO. They not only deal with aluminum but also include products made with titanium and nickel as well. Their operating income from 2014 was $1.2 billion with a revenue of $23 billion. They employ 60,000 people.

Aluminium’s sixty-year reign as the world’s most precious substance was glorious, but soon an American chemist ruined everything. – Sam Kean

Mr. Hall revealed that probably his chief ambition in life was to make some discovery which would be revolutionary with regard to the present conception of the constitution of matter and which would be of immense benefit to mankind. – Arthur V Davis

Consciously and subconsciously, he was still working on the problem of producing cheap aluminum. Hall was at heart . . . a tireless experimenter. – Julius Edwards

Alcoa’s lightweight aluminum helped revolutionize the automotive and aviation industries; aluminum foil eased the lives of housewives everywhere. Demand for Hall’s aluminum led to production soaring from 10,000 pounds in the company’s first year to 15 million by 1907. –

Also on this day: The Rotary Club – In 1905, the Rotary Club was formed.
Cato Conspiracy – In 1820, the plot to kill British cabinet members was exposed.
Gutenberg Bible – In 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was published.
ISO – In 1947, a new set of standards were adopted.
Tootsie – In 1896, the Tootsie Roll was introduced.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 23, 2014
Leo Hirschfeld

Leo Hirschfeld

February 23, 1896: Leo Hirschfeld introduces his new candy, Tootsie Roll. Leo was an Austrian immigrant to the US. He opened a candy shop in New York City and wanted a chewy candy resistant to melting which would be an economical alternative to chocolate. He named the candy after his daughter, Clara “Tootsie” Hirschfeld. The candy was a success and in 1905 the production moved to a five-story factory. In 1917 the company changed its name to The Sweets Company of America. The business was first listed in 1922. A newer, cheaper treat was needed during the Great Depression and so the Tootsie Pop was invented in 1931. The lollipop with a bit of Tootsie Roll inside was another great hit.

In 1935 the company was in trouble. The supplier of paper boxes knew of the possible loss of an important customer and became interested in taking control of the company. Joseph Rubin & Sons of Brooklyn got a list of shareholders and approached them personally until they could gain control of the company. Bernard Rubin was given the job of president of the candy company. He increased sales, restored profits, changed the formula of the Tootsie Roll and made it larger, and moved the company’s plant from Manhattan to Hoboken, New Jersey. He guided the company through the war years, as well.

During World War II, Tootsie Rolls became a standard part of American soldiers’ field rations since the candy could withstand a variety of weather conditions, neither melting nor freezing. Bernard managed the company until his death in 1948 and by the time he died, he had increased the volume of sales by a factor of 12. His brother took over as president. William Rubin served until 1962. Four years later, the name changed again to the current name of Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. Over the years, they have acquired other candy manufacturers such as The Candy Corporation, Cellas’ Confections, The Charms Company, The Warner-Lambert Company, Andes Candies, and Concord Confections.

They are one of the largest candy manufacturers in the world. An astounding 64 million Tootsie Rolls are made each day. According to their website, each new day’s batch of Tootsie Rolls starts with the batter left over from the day before. Also available today are a variety of Tootsie Roll flavors coming in a rainbow of colors. Tootsie Fruit Rolls and Tootsie Frooties are both available with the latter made with more flavors and colors. They are not quite worldwide, but are sold in several different countries spanning the globe. And in 2009, they became certified kosher by the Orthodox Union and they are gluten free and peanut free. Actual studies have been done to find out how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop. The short answer: lots.

Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want. – Ryan Gosling

Candy is my fuel. Ice cream, too. – Jane Smiley

I feel like a little kid who just walked into a candy store. I think that’s something to smile about. – Brandon Boyd

Candy is childhood, the best and bright moments you wish could have lasted forever. – Dylan Lauren

Also on this day: The Rotary Club – In 1905, the Rotary Club was formed.
Cato Conspiracy – In 1820, the plot to kill British cabinet members was exposed.
Gutenberg Bible – In 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was published.
ISO – In 1947, a new set of standards were adopted.

Cato Conspiracy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 23, 2013
Cato Conspiracy sign

Cato Conspiracy sign

February 23, 1820: A conspiracy to murder cabinet members is exposed. A group called Spencean Philanthropists met near Edgware Road and planned to disrupt a government already in a state of upheaval. Arthur Thistlewood had been involved in the Spa Field riots of 1816. He and his group were incensed by the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 where cavalry had charged into a crowd of 60,000-80,000 people who were demanding Parliamentary Reform, killing 15 and wounding 700. They were further angered by the Six Acts which immediately followed, limiting free speech and peaceful protests.

King George’s death on January 29, 1820 left the country in a state of crisis. George III had been ill for years and his son had been running the Empire since 1811. By 1820, George IV was possibly addicted to laudanum. With the throne in a state of flux, disaffected citizens felt the time was right to strike at the powers that be and kill the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, and his cabinet members as they dined at the home of Lord Harrowby, Lord President of the Council.

George Edwards and Thistlewood went ahead with plans and rented a house on Cato Street. They planned to use this as a base and attack the dining nobles with pistols and grenades. Or so they hoped. Edwards was working undercover as a spy. The Home Office was apprised of the situation and it was this august body that actually placed the announcement of the supposed dinner in The New Times. There was no dinner.

Twelve officers of the Bow Street runners, London’s first police force, along with the magistrate and another police spy waited across the way from the Cato Street house. At 7:30 PM the Thistlewood group entered the house. The police raided the building and a brawl broke out. One police officer was killed. Several of the conspirators were taken into custody. Thistlewood and 3 others escaped but were captured within days. The Cato Street Conspirators were found guilty of treason and sentenced to be drawn and quartered. All sentences were commuted with Thistlewood and four others hung at Newgate Prison while five more were transported to a penal colony for life.

“Oh, treacherous night! thou lendest thy ready veil to every treason, and teeming mischief’s beneath thy shade.” – Aaron Hill

“I love treason but hate a traitor.” – Julius Caesar

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass

“There is no rule without revolts and conspiracies, even as there is no property without work and worry.” – Ivo Andric

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Spencean Philanthropists were a group of radicals following Thomas Spence. He died prior to this event, having been born in 1750 and dying in 1814. He was born into poverty in England and was the son of a Scots shoemaker. What seems to have been the beginning of his radical pursuits was the threatened enclosure of the Town Moor in Newcastle in 1771. Enclosure kept the lands from the locals and instead kept them for the aristocracy in the region. He was not so brazen as to demand nationalization of the land, but wanted instead to have self-contained lands run by the parish with locals farming and paying their rents to the church. He was also in favor of ending the aristocracy altogether.

Also on this day: The Rotary Club – In 1905, the Rotary Club was formed.
Gutenberg Bible – In 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was published.
ISO – In 1947, a new set of standards were adopted.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 23, 2012

ISO logo

February 23, 1947: A new worldwide standardization group is founded. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the ISO began as an idea proposed in October 1946. At a meeting at the Institute of Civil Engineers held in London, delegates from 25 countries saw a need for “international coordination and unification of industrial standards.” A meeting held in Paris in April 1947 produced a list recommending 67 ISO technical committees. The early “Recommendations” they produced were derived from standards that had been developed nationally, approved, and then were to be re-introduced nationally.

ISO is neither an acronym nor initialization of the full name of the group. The official languages for the entity are English and French. The full name in English is the International Organization for Standardization. In French, it is Organisation internationale de normalisation. ISO, pronounced eye-sow (rhymes with how), is from the Greek word isos, which means equal. Since the name changes according to the language, the Organization chose to represents itself with ISO. The logo is a blue background with a globe marked with longitude and latitude lines and ISO covering the globe itself, all in white.

Today, there are 158 out of a possible 195 countries who are part of ISO. There are three types of memberships. Member bodies are the most representative. Correspondent members are countries without their own standards organizations. Subscriber members are countries with small economies. The 36 non-participating countries are small nations. The ten Subscribers members are given reduced membership fees. The 47 Correspondent members are given more access to the development of standards. The 105 Member bodies are those that can vote.

Some standards, although a rare few, are available for free. Most have to be purchased. This has led to a charge of unfairness with some saying the cost is too great for small or open source projects. There is a complaint about the time required to actually set standards. In a fast paced electronic world, time is of the essence. There have also been charges of committees being swayed by mega-institutions, such as Microsoft, for the setting of internationally accepted standards.

We looked at that bad experience and said this is a great opportunity to use a problem solving strategy we’re going to use in the future under ISO, a process to resolve issues related to quality. – Tom Hicks

Scalable took existing policies and did a gap analysis, to see what was needed for ISO compliance. – Kevin Doyle

In addition, we have external auditors. The most important technologies applied to improve the refinery production are safety, health, and the environment. Thirteen new systems were applied to achieve the ISO Certification. – Husain Ismail

We designed the facility from the customers’ perspective, investing heavily in new shop capabilities and making sure the layouts would be more conducive to efficient, timely work flows. Our ISO-9000 initiatives and Kaizen innovations have helped along the way. We have room on this new site to grow in place literally for decades to come. – Dave Ford

Also on this day:

The Rotary Club – In 1905, the Rotary Club was formed.
Cato Conspiracy – In 1820, the plot to kill British cabinet members was exposed.
Gutenberg Bible – In 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was published.

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Gutenberg Bible

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 23, 2011

Page from a Gutenberg Bible

February 23, 1455: The Gutenberg Bible is published, the first western book printed with movable type. The book is known as the 42-line Bible or B42 because there were 42 lines per page. The books were printed on paper or vellum, a sort of parchment. There are rarer editions with only 36 lines per page as well and one Bagford Fragment which is illustrated.

Movable type was invented in China by Bi Sheng around 1040 using balked clay or ceramic tiles. Around 1230 in Korea, metal was used. Both systems of movable types were not widely used mainly because of the enormous amount of Chinese characters. Gutenberg, in Mainz, Germany, independently devised a movable type using a metal alloy of lead, tin, and antimony – a combination still used today. This was a vast improvement over woodblock printing. It was quicker, the metal was more durable, and print became uniform with the introduction of fonts.

Gutenberg held a monopoly on his technique, but after a fight with investors, the secret leaked out. Since the system was such an improvement, other movable type printing presses spread throughout Europe and by 1500 there were 220 presses. Not everyone was pleased with this technology. The Ottoman Empire banned the invention from 1483-1727 with the death penalty handed down to lawbreakers. By the end of the 18th century printing was spreading rapidly and by the mid-19th century, it was virtually available worldwide.

As of 2003 there remained 11 complete Gutenberg Bibles printed on vellum, 1 New Testament only on vellum, and 48 “substantially” complete Bibles printed on paper. Germany has 12 of the rare books. Paris, Moscow, Mainz, and Vatican City each have two volumes. London has three copies and New York City has four. There are three “perfect vellum” Bibles in the world with Paris, London, and Washington, DC each owning a copy.

“It is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall flow in inexhaustible streams…Through it, God will spread His Word. A spring of truth shall flow from it: like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.” – Johann Gutenberg

“Gutenberg made everybody a reader. Xerox makes everybody a publisher.” – Marshall McLuhan

“We can put television in its proper light by supposing that Gutenberg’s great invention had been directed at printing only comic books.” – Robert M. Hutchins

“It might be argued that genuine spontaneity is not really possible or desirable so long as printed scores of great works exist. All modern musicians are, for better or worse, prisoners of Gutenberg.” – Donal Henahan

Also on this day:
The Rotary Club – In 1905, the Rotary Club was formed.
Cato Street Conspiracy – In 1820, the conspiracy fell apart.


The Rotary Club

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 23, 2010

The Rotary Club February 23, 1905: Paul Harris, an attorney, and three other businessmen form the Rotary Club over lunch in Chicago, Illinois. The Rotary Club was the first service club in the world and was named because the original members rotated for meetings in each of their offices.

The four goals of the service clubs are to1) develop opportunities for service; 2) hold members to high ethical standards in business, recognize worthiness of all occupations, dignify each Rotarian’s occupation as a way to serve; 3) apply the ideal of service to each member in personal, business, and community life; and 4) advance international understanding, goodwill, and peace through fellowship of professionals united in service.

From this meeting of four men has sprung Rotary International with 1.2 million members in 32,000 clubs spread across 167 countries. At the outset, women had their own community called the Inner Wheel, but were finally accepted into the Rotary in 1989. They now make up about 12% of the membership.

One of the clubs most notable global projects is Polio-Plus – donating both money and time to eradicating polio worldwide. It is interesting to note that on this same date, February 23, 1954, the first mass distribution of the polio vaccine was distributed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With the help of the Rotary Club, incidence of polio is down 99% with only four countries still experiencing widespread polio outbreaks: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

“Of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”  – Four Way Test of Rotary International

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

“Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.” – William James

“The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.” – Leo Rosten

Also on this day, in 1820 the Cato Street Conspiracy came to naught.