Little Bits of History

January 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 24, 2017

1916: Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., is decided. The United States Supreme Court heard the case based on income taxes. The Sixteenth Amendment to the US Constitution had been passed in 1913 and in response to that passing, the Revenue Act of 1913 was implemented. The Act permitted the imposition of an income tax but these were not apportioned among the states based on state population. Frank R. Brushaber was the plaintiff and he was also a shareholder in the Union Pacific Railroad Company (the defendant). Brushaber wanted an injunction to stop the company from paying the taxes levied against it. He believed the tax to be in violation of the Fifth Amendment, stating it was taking away personal property without due process. He also argued the tax was not apportioned among the states and was therefore unconstitutional.

The case was argued before the Court on October 14-15, 1915. The verdict was handed down on this day, with an impressive 8-0 decision (Justice James Clark McReynolds did not participate). Chief Justice Edward Douglas White opined the Sixteenth Amendment removed the need for apportioning by population. He reviewed the rights and powers listed in the amendment and found them to be consistent with the Revenue Act. He also found the Constitution gave the government power to institute taxation itself and it was not seizure without due process. Other arguments were similarly handled and the landmark case confirmed the government’s power to issue a personal income tax.

Taxation is the price for society and civilization. The pooling of funds to provide for the greater good has been an issue since societies began. Who is to pay for the projects needed by all to live in concert? Funds can be obtained in only so many ways and taxation seems to have become standard practice. The tariffs and taxes can be levied against certain goods or against other real property, including income. The benefit of funding the government has been seen as outweighing the personal sacrifices made by the taxpayers.

The first time a personal income tax was bandied about for US citizens was during the War of 1812. The war ended before the need for the funds was imperative and the tax was never enacted. During the US Civil War, Congress imposed the first personal income tax in 1861 but the law was repealed in 1862. In 1894, the first peacetime income tax was imposed but only on the top 10% of American households had income high enough to be taxed. It was deemed unconstitutional because it counted rents and interest income from personal property. The Sixteenth Amendment clarified what would be considered taxable income. Several times the idea of taxation has come before this highest Court and the personal income tax remains a viable way to support the common good of society.

Every diminution of the public burdens arising from taxation gives to individual enterprise increased power and furnishes to all the members of our happy confederacy new motives for patriotic affection and support. – Andrew Jackson

Nearly everywhere monarchs raised themselves further above the level of the greatest nobles and buttressed their new pretensions to respect and authority with cannons and taxation. – J. M. Roberts

Taxation is just a sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces. – Terry Pratchett

If it is the duty of the State to educate, it is the duty of the State also to bear the burden of education, namely, the taxation out of which education is provided. – Edmund Barton

Near Disaster

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 24, 2015
Unexploded thermonuclear bomb

Unexploded thermonuclear bomb

January 24, 1961: A B-52 Stratofortress crashes. The plane was based out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina, USA. It was on a 24-hour Operation Coverall airborne alert mission on the Atlantic seaboard. During the Cold War, program first Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP) called for one third of the Strategic Air Command’s fleet of nuclear bombers to be airborne at all times. The idea was to have at least some of the planes in the air so the entire fleet could not be trapped on the ground and they would be able to fly directly to targets if needed.

On this day, near midnight, the B-52G rendezvoused with a tanker for mid-air refueling. The tanker crew noticed a leak in the right wing and aborted the refueling. They notified the bomber commander, Major Walter Tulloch, and ground control was also informed. The aircraft was told to assume a holding pattern off the coast until most of the fuel was consumed. By the time the plane reached the desired position, the pilot reported the leak had worsened and 37,000 pounds of fuel had been lost in three minutes. The plane was immediately instructed to return and land at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The crew descended to 10,000 feet on its approach to land when the pilots were no longer able to keep control of the plane. The crew was ordered to eject, which they did at 9,000 feet. Five men ejected and landed safely. Another man ejected but died, and two more men died in the crash. The parachuting crew last witnessed the plane intact with its payload – two Mark 39 nuclear bombs. The wreckage covered a 2 square mile area of tobacco and cotton farmland about 12 miles north of Goldsboro. Somewhere between 10,000 and 2,000 feet of altitude, the nuclear bombs separated from the aircraft as it broke up. Three of the four arming mechanisms on one of the bombs activated. The parachute deployed and allowed the bomb to hit the ground with little damage.

The bomb was located intact and standing upright. Its parachute had been caught in a tree. The bomb disposal expert responsible for retrieving the bomb noted the arm/safe switch was still in the safe position although it had gone through the rest of the arming sequence. At the time, the US government said that two of the arming mechanisms had not deployed and the bomb had no chance of exploding. This was a bit of an overstatement and only this last step had remained before detonation would have taken place. The second bomb plunged into a muddy field at a speed of about 700 mph and disintegrated without detonation of its conventional explosives. The tail was found about 20 feet below ground. It was sheer luck the bomb did not detonate.

Until my death I will never forget hearing my sergeant say, ‘Lieutenant, we found the arm/safe switch.’ And I said, ‘Great.’ He said, ‘Not great. It’s on arm.’ – Jack ReVelle, bomb disposal expert

As far as I’m concerned we came damn close to having a Bay of North Carolina. The nuclear explosion would have completely changed the Eastern seaboard if it had gone off. – Jack ReVelle

One simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe. – Parker F Jones

The MK 39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52. – Parker F Jones

Also on this day: Badminton – In 1900, the Newcastle Badminton Club opened, the oldest such club in England.
Be Prepared – In 1907, the Boy Scouts were begun by Robert Baden-Powell.
“Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River” – In 1848, James W. Marshall spies gold in the American River, sparking the  California Gold Rush.
Never Surrender –  In 1972, Shōichi Yokoi was found.
Little Boot is Booted Out – In 41, Caligula was assassinated.

Little Boot is Booted Out

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 24, 2014


January 24, 41 AD: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus is assassinated. He was also known as Caligula and was famous for his eccentricities. He was Roman Emperor for about four years prior to his death. He was from the house of rulers known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. His father was the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius. The young boy traveled with his father, Germanicus, on many of his campaigns and was known as Caligula which meant “little soldier’s boot” since caliga was the name of the hob-nailed military boot worn at the time. Germanicus died at Antioch in 19 and his wife, Agrippina the Elder, returned to Rome with their six children.

Agrippina became involved in a bitter feud with Tiberius and after much mayhem, the only male survivor was Gaius. At the age of 18, Caligula was asked to come to the island of Capri where Tiberius had withdrawn five years earlier. In 37, Tiberius died at the age of 77. When the people of the Empire learned of his death they rejoiced only to fall silent when told he had recovered and then rejoiced again when they learned he was truly dead. They welcomed the new Emperors – Tiberius’ will left power jointly to Caligula and Tiberius Gemellus. The first act of Caligula as Princeps was to void the will and kill Gemellus, leaving himself in power.

There are few extant records of Caligula’s reign. It was said that his first six months of rule were a honeymoon phase with the new Emperor seen as a savior who was a wonderful ruler as well as a great human being. He was loved because he was the son of the hero-soldier Germanicus and because he was not Tiberius. The beginning was described as blissful. He was generous in spirit even though his generosity was politically based. In October he fell ill and when he finally recovered, he was seen as a changed man. Instead of the beloved ruler, he was now a diabolical despot as he killed or exiled his enemies who were once his friends. He even had his own adopted son and bloodline cousin executed. This act made their combined grandmother so sad she either killed herself or her grandson had her murdered.

In 39, a financial crises was no longer able to be hidden. All the monies Caligula had paid out either in bribes or extravagant living had exhausted the empire’s coffers. In order to bring in money, Caligula began taxing everything and even auctioned off the lives of gladiators. His other eccentricities included bizarre sexual practices as well as outright cruelty and sadism. His extravagant building projects were more often than not for his own glorification. On this day, fed up with the lunatic ruler in their midst, the Praetorian Guard (his personal bodyguards), as well as members of the Senate rose up against him and he was assassinated. Like the first Julius Caesar, Caligula was stabbed 30 times.

I scorn their hatred, if they do but fear me. – Caligula

I still live! – Caligula’s last words

Power has no limits. – Tiberius

It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them. – Tiberius

Also on this day: Badminton – In 1900, the Newcastle Badminton Club opened, the oldest such club in England.
Be Prepared – In 1907, the Boy Scouts were begun by Robert Baden-Powell.
“Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River” – In 1848, James W. Marshall spies gold in the American River, sparking the  California Gold Rush.
Never Surrender –  In 1972, Shōichi Yokoi was found.

Tagged with: ,


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 24, 2013
Robert Baden-Powell

Robert Baden-Powell

January 24, 1907: Robert Baden-Powell founds the Boy Scouts. Lieutenant General Baden-Powell began the movement in order to aid young boys in their physical, mental, and spiritual growth. During his military career, General Baden-Powell taught his men basic wilderness survival skills. He noticed it not only enhanced their chances of survival, but developed the soldiers’ independence. During the Boer War, Baden-Powell organized the Mafeking Cadet Corps, a group of young boys who supported the troops as well as helped in the defense of the town. Each member received a badge with a combined compass point and spearhead, a precursor to the fleur-de-lis of the Boy Scouts badge.

In England, Baden-Powell’s movements while holding Mafeking were reported in the news. When the siege was broken, he became a national hero. While in the service, he wrote a small guide for military scouting called Aids to Scouting. Boys became very interested in the book and after his return to England, it was requested he rewrite the book for boys rather than military personnel. The Boys’ Brigade was a large youth movement with military underpinnings. Baden-Powell thought a group like this, but with a focus on life skills rather than military precision, would fill a need.

Baden-Powell published Scouting for Boys and soon the movement was spreading to all parts of the British Empire. The first overseas unit was chartered in Gibraltar in 1908. At first, the program focused only on boys aged 11-18. As it grew, it became evident there was a need to expand to younger boys, older young men, and girls. Cub Scout and Rover Scout programs were added by 1910. Agnes Baden-Powell, Robert’s sister, introduced the Girl Guides in 1910 with the support of her brother.

Today, children aged 7-10 can join Cub Scouts or Girl Guides. Boys move to Boy Scouts aged 11-17 while girls move up to Girl Guide or Girl Scout status. Over age 18, Rover Scout or Ranger Guide is available. Adult supervision is provided by volunteers. The movement is truly global in scope with 28 million registered Scouts and 10 million registered Guides in 216 different countries. Some countries maintain gender separate groups while some have become co-educational. Indonesia boasts 8,100,000 members and the US has 7,500,000. The UK has 1 million members, the 6th highest membership country.

“My Scoutmaster made an indelible impact because he showed interest in young men by teaching us to do the right thing, to live right, and to be responsible for our actions.” – Reverend Dr. C.C. Robertson

“Scouting reinforces values you brought from home. It gave us an opportunity to share them with others whose values were not as strong.” – Jose Niño

“Following the Scout Law sounds like a game plan that would give us all a better chance for success in life—and I mean every area of life.” – Zig Ziglar

“I assure you of my own personal appreciation of Scouting as a magnificent experience and form of social and religious commitment.” – His Holiness Pope John Paul II

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell was born in 1857 in London. He had a long military career beginning in 1876 when he joined the 13th Hussars in India with the rank of Lieutenant. By the 1880s in the Natal province of South Africa, he was developing his skills in military scouting with the aid of the Zulus. He served in several places under English influence. While traveling to America in 1912, he met Olave St. Clair Soames. She was 23 and he was 55. They eloped ten months later. The couple had three children and Baron Baden-Powell died in 1941 at the age of 83. He was in Kenya at the time and was buried there. When his wife died, her ashes were sent to be interred with her husband.

Also on this day: Badminton – In 1900, Newcastle Badminton Club opened, the oldest such club in England.
“Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River” – In 1848, James W. Marshall spies gold in the American River, sparking the  California Gold Rush.
Never Surrender –  In 1972, Shōichi Yokoi was found.

Never Surrender

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 24, 2012

Shōichi Yokoi

January 24, 1972: Shōichi Yokoi is found. He was born in Saori, Aichi Prefecture, Japan in 1915 and was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army in 1941 – age 26. Yokoi was a sergeant and served first in Manchuria and then in Guam. Guam is the largest and most southern island of the Mariana chain and was a strategic base during World War II. The Japanese held the island from December 1941 until retaken by US troops in June 1944. Most of the 22,000 Japanese troops were killed in the battles to retake the island. But not all.

Yokoi hid out in the jungle along the Talofofo River. Two villagers heard a noise and went to investigate. They found an old man carrying a shrimp trap. The two villagers captured and subdued the now 56-year-old sergeant and walked him out of the jungle and back to the village. Yokoi had been in the supply corps. Ten men hid in the jungles as the Americans took over the island. They lived in caves dug out of the ground. Their numbers dwindled over time. In 1952 the three surviving men found a leaflet and knew the war was over, but did not give themselves up as it would have been a disgrace. Yokoi became the sole survivor in 1964 and lived the last eight years in seclusion.

Yokoi lived off the land. Finding enough food was the most difficult and time-consuming task. He built traps for both water and land creatures and ate whatever he managed to catch. He could not afford to be a picky eater. While water was plentiful, he always boiled it as a precaution. His clothing was made from beaten pago bark. He sewed pieces of pago fabric into clothing. He had been a tailor prior to being a soldier. He started fires using a lens until it was lost and then was forced to use two sticks rubbed together. He lived in several places over the 28 years but preferred a cave he dug out for himself under a bamboo grove.

Yokoi was not the longest holdout after the war. Some soldiers hid for a time and then assimilated into the local villages. The last true holdout – a man in hiding – was discovered in 1980 on Mindoro Island, the Philippines. The most famous holdout was 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onada found on Lubang Island, the Philippines in 1974. Onada would not surrender until he received a direct order from his old commander. Yokoi adjusted to modern Japanese life and became a minor celebrity. He received ≈ $300 in back pay and a small pension. He died of a heart attack in 1997 at the age of 82.

It is with much embarrassment that I have returned alive. – Shōichi Yokoi

Mankind’s common instinct for reality has always held the world to be essentially a theatre for heroism. In heroism, we feel, life’s supreme mystery is hidden. – William James

It is not a disgrace to fail. Failing is one of the greatest arts in the world. – Charles F. Kettering

Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength. – unknown

Also on this day:

Badminton – In 1900, the Newcastle Badminton Club opened, the oldest such club in England.
Be Prepared – In 1907, the Boy Scouts were begun by Robert Baden-Powell.
“Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River” – In 1848, James W. Marshall spies gold in the American River, sparking the  California Gold Rush.

Tagged with: ,

“Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River”

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 24, 2011

Sutter's mill

January 24, 1848: James W. Marshall looks into the American River while working at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California and sees something shining in the water. Upon investigation, it proves to be gold. Charles H. Bennett, a carpenter at the mill disputes Marshall’s claim to discovery, stating that he found the gold instead. Either way, John Sutter, owner of the mill, tried to keep the news quiet. He felt that digging for gold would ruin his chance to develop an agricultural community. He was correct.

News leaked out and in March was published in the San Francisco paper without immediate result. A local merchant, paid in gold dust, running through the streets yelling that gold was found in the mountains did much more than the newspapers. By August 19, the New York Herald, the first East Coast paper to carry the news, stated gold was found in the West. By December 5, President Polk confirmed the news to Congress. The move was on.

There were three ways to get from the East Coast to the West. First was steamship around South America. A trip that took 5-8 months to cover the 18,000 nautical miles. The second was to sail to Panama, use mules and canoes to cross through the jungles, and then catch another ship north. The third was to cross over land via the Oregon-California Trail. All three held danger. Shipwrecks, typhoid fever, cholera, ill-prepared crossing of the desert, heat, thirst, even death. San Francisco was a small town of about 1,000 residents in 1848 and by 1850 boasted a population of 25,000.

Eventually 300,000 people came west. Many were miners, but also there were the many folks needed to support the new boom economy. Roads were built, as were churches and schools. New town cropped up. The steamships steamed, the railroads chugged, and the agriculture grew to keep the new economy going. California became a state in 1850. Growth came at a cost. Native Americans were pushed aside. The area was disturbed environmentally. Many of the new miners lived in tent cities or shanty towns. The Gold Rush changed the face of the west.

“The parallel people often use is the California gold rush. People got rich selling picks and shovels.” – Charles Wagner

“It’s much like the gold rush. It starts off with quite a few honest, hardworking prospectors who strike it rich now and again. And then you get the hangers on, the camp followers, the hookers, all the rest of the garbage that comes along because they think the streets are lined with gold.” – Frank Griffin

“There is a gold rush going on out there like the one in 1849 and everyone is afraid of not being part of it. No one wants to say that they took an extended vacation then.” – Tom Dyal

“The California Gold Rush left us a tragic legacy. We appreciate state parks’ willingness to take action to end Empire’s toxic legacy of contaminating our watershed.” – Carrie McNeil

Also on this day:
Badminton – In 1900, the Newcastle Badminton Club opened, the oldest such club in England.
Boy Scouting – In 1907, Robert Baden-Powell began the Boy Scouts.



Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 24, 2010

Badminton birdie and racket

January 24, 1900: The world’s oldest badminton club is formed in England at the Newcastle Badminton Club. The game is played either with a single person or a pair on each side of a net. The object of the game is to hit the shuttlecock or birdie with a racket over the net and within the boundaries. Play is continued until one side misses hitting the birdie over the net. Only the serving side can score a point.

We don’t know when the game was invented or by whom. It is believed to be an ancient Indian, Grecian, or Chinese game. The game has been in Europe since medieval times. Early rackets were solid, rather than the meshed ones in use today.  In the 1850s, British Army officers in Pune, India added the net for an extra challenge. They played often at the Duke of Beaufort’s estate called “Badminton House,” hence the name.

The rules to the game were standardized by the Bath Badminton Club and written up in 1887. By 1893 there was a Badminton Association of England publication with the regulations set down, very similar to today’s rules. The first All England Open Badminton championships were held in 1899, the first of its kind in the world. The International Bedminton Federation was established in 1934 and it is now called the Badminton World Federation. The original nine member nations have since expanded with 159 member associations.

The game is the fastest racket sport. The shuttlecocks can reach a speed up to 200 mph. Fu Haifeng of China set a smash record measured at 206 mph in 2005. the fastest smash recorded during competition was by Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia who smacked the shuttlecock at 189 mph. The fasted win was made by Paul Butler with 15-0, 15-0 games in a qualifying event for All England, which he won in 11 minutes and needed only 32 rallies. Badminton became an Olympic sport in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics.

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” – John Wooden

“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting.” – George Orwell

“I don’t know anything that builds the will to win better than competitive sports.” – Richard M. Nixon

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” – Pierre de Coubertin

Also on this day, in 1907 Robert Baden-Powell began the Boy Scouts.

Tagged with: ,