Little Bits of History

January 6

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 6, 2017

1540: Anne of Cleves marries King Henry VIII. Anne was born on September 22, 1515 in Dusseldorf, the second daughter of a Duke. The Duke was a moderate man influenced by Erasmus and followed a middle path during the Protestant Reformation. When the Duke died in 1538, Anne’s brother became the next Duke. Her elder sister married the head of the Protestant Confederation of Germany, the man known as the “Champion of the Reformation”. When Anne was 11, she was betrothed to the son of the Duke of Lorraine who was 10 – making it unofficial due to ages. The betrothal was cancelled in 1535. As the rage of religious confrontation swept the continent, the Cleves family was divided with the new Duke backing the Lutherans while his mother was a “strict Catholic”. The Duke was thus in conflict with Emperor Charles V and thought to thus be allied with King Henry VIII of England.

Thomas Cromwell urged the King of England, looking again for a wife, to accept Anne of Cleves as his next spouse. Artist Hans Holbein the Younger was sent overseas to paint a portrait of Anne and her younger sister, Amalia. Either of these women were suitable for the King and Henry had entreated the portraitist to paint the women as they actually looked without flattering them in any way. The pictures were painted and arrived for the King’s approval. Negotiations continued via Cromwell. Henry enjoyed educated, cultured women who could converse easily. Anne was uneducated, culturally inept, and although an adept needleworker and game player, could only read and write German. But she was seen as gentle, virtuous, and docile – which was a good match for the volatile King.

Anne was described by contemporaries as tall and slim, of middling beauty, assured, and with long blonde hair. She was on her way to meet her fiancé and dressed accordingly in the English fashion, but with a French hood to accentuate her beauty. It was noted that she looked old for her age. The couple first met privately on New Year’s Day 1540 at Rochester as she journeyed to Dover. Henry was disguised as he entered her presence and boldly kissed her. She did not think highly of this brash man, not recognizing her future husband. He was disappointed in his future wife. He then told her who he was, but never really felt good about this marriage after this point. The two met officially on January 3 and married on this day.

The marriage was doomed from the start. Although as soon as Anne landed in England, she conformed to Anglican ways, it wasn’t enough. Their first night as a married couple was not successful and the next day Henry told Cromwell the marriage had not been consummated. Henry claimed she stunk and had an unsightly body and he was even more put off by her than before. The marriage went from bad to worse and on June 24, Anne was banished from the Court and on July 6 she was told of her husband’s decision to reconsider the marriage. It was annulled on July 9 without Anne ever having been made Queen Consort. Later that same month, he married his next wife. Anne received a generous settlement and was allowed to live out the rest of her life, unlike most of Henry’s wives. In fact, she outlived all the others, dying in peace on July 16, 1557, just weeks before turning 42.

Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife. – Franz Schubert

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. – Socrates

A good husband makes a good wife. – John Florio

The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret. – Henny Youngman

Drifting Apart

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 6, 2015
Alfred Wegener

Alfred Wegener

January 6, 1912. Alfred Wegener presents a paper on Continental Drift. Weeber was born in 1880 in Berlin. He was a polar researcher, geophysicist, and meteorologist. During his life, he was known for his achievements in meteorology, but today, he is best remembered for advancing the theory of continental drift. He was the youngest of five children born to a theologian and teacher of classical languages at the Berlinisches Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster. Alfred graduated valedictorian and went on to study Physics, Meteorology, and Astronomy at Berlin, Heidelberg, and Innsbruck. He received his PhD in astronomy in 1905. He maintained his interest in meteorology and climatology and focused his energies on these topics.

Wegener made expeditions to Greenland four times with his first trip made in 1906. He was an infantry reserve officer and so was immediately called up to serve during World War I. He was wounded twice and then declared unfit for active service. He was assigned to the army weather service. This post required him to travel extensively to various stations. After the war, Wegener was appointed as a meteorologist at the German Naval Observatory and then was appointed as senior lecturer at the new University of Hamburg. He received other appointments and still managed to publish both books and papers with a 1922 edition of “The Origin of Continents and Oceans” where he explored the idea of continental drift.

Wegener first thought of the idea of drifting continents when he noticed how the major land masses of Earth fit together almost like a jigsaw puzzle. The Americas fit closely to Africa and Europe. Antarctica, Australia, India, and Madagascar fit together with the tip of Southern Africa. He presented his paper on this day and hoped to still be able to make a trek to Greenland again later in the year. He analyzed data on the rock type, geological structures, and fossils from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. There were significant points of correlation especially in fossil plants. From 1912 until his death, he argued for the existence of “continental drift” and believed the continents were all once joined together.

His theory was not immediately accepted because there was no known mechanism to support the hypothesis. Plate tectonics was not yet understood. Wegener was a geologist, which was not the proper field of study for this topic. There was dissatisfaction with his proofs, as well. Arthur Holmes championed the idea and in 1931 proposed a theory for the manner of moving continents around the planet. It did not persuade the science community to accept the idea. Finally Samuel Warren Carey published his work on an expanding Earth and helped to bring the idea of continental drift into accepted science in 1958. Wagener was already gone, having died on a trip to Greenland (probably from a heart condition exacerbated by smoking) in 1930 at the age of 50.

Scientists still do not appear to understand sufficiently that all earth sciences must contribute evidence toward unveiling the state of our planet in earlier times, and that the truth of the matter can only be reached by combing all this evidence.

It is only by combing the information furnished by all the earth sciences that we can hope to determine ‘truth’ here, that is to say, to find the picture that sets out all the known facts in the best arrangement and that therefore has the highest degree of probability.

Further, we have to be prepared always for the possibility that each new discovery, no matter what science furnishes it, may modify the conclusions we draw. – all from Alfred Wegener

The Wegener hypothesis has been so stimulating and has such fundamental implications in geology as to merit respectful and sympathetic interest from every geologist. Some striking arguments in his favor have been advanced, and it would be foolhardy indeed to reject any concept that offers a possible key to the solution of profound problems in the Earth’s history. – Chester Longwell

Also on this day: Can You Hear Me Now? – In 1838, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail got their new telegraph system working.
National Cathedral – In 1893, the charter for the Washington National Cathedral was signed.
Speed Typing – In 1714, a patent was granted for an early typewriter.
Montessori Schools – In 1907, Marie Montessori opened her first school.
Freedom x 4 – In 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his “Four Freedoms” speech.

Freedom x 4

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 6, 2014
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt

January 6, 1941: A State of the Union Address is given by Franklin D. Roosevelt. He had done this many times before as he was President of the US from 1933 to 1945. Each year, the President speaks to a joint session of Congress and gives his assessment of the state of the country and his upcoming legislative agenda. This year, FDR was more global in his approach. He talked about the freedoms that should be available “everywhere in the world” rather than just on home soil. The country was not yet embroiled in World War II but the world was. After ending the First World War, the US adopted an isolationist philosophy of non-intervention. Although US help was needed to end The Great War, it was hoped that peace would be more long-lived and the country could go about the business of business without war.

However, World War II was begun and Hitler’s forces were taking over Europe. In the East, Japan’s conquests were growing as well. People were being subjugated to rule not of their choosing. FDR still hoped to keep the US neutral, but he was forced to admit that the freedoms of the world were in peril. The Neutrality Acts of 1935 not only kept Americans out of war, but stated that armaments could not be sold to countries who were currently at war. After 1939, with Hitler’s forces in Poland, the US strongly supported the Allies, but the law was in force and the isolationist cause was supported in Congress. When France fell in June 1940, Britain stood alone against Germany, Italy, and Japan. Winston Churchill begged Roosevelt to supply armaments.

FDR felt the world needed to be free to practice four fundamental freedoms: 1. Freedom of speech; 2. Freedom of worship; 3. Freedom from want; and 4. Freedom from fear. Freedom of speech isn’t just the right to say what is on one’s mind, but also the right to collect and find information as it becomes available. Freedom of worship is the right to practice, or not practice, a religion regardless of the prevailing culture’s belief system. Freedom from want means that all people should be granted the opportunity to gain a standard of living that is compatible with health and growth. Freedom from fear means that one should be able to live in peace without prejudice, allowed to choose a path and not have governmental forces dictate what those should be at the risk of imprisonment or death.

Congress was not particularly pleased at the time of the speech with the President’s ideas. They were comfortable with their isolationist policies and fearful of American involvement in yet another war. Some claimed that the Four Freedoms Speech was just more rhetoric to support Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. Some claimed this speech was just FDR war mongering. The US stayed out of war until December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. This was the precipitating factor for entering the global war. However, the spread of freedoms to those without such protection was never far from the mind of many Americans.

The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world. – all from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech

Also on this day: Can You Hear Me Now? – In 1838, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail got their new telegraph system working.
National Cathedral – In 1893, the charter for the Washington National Cathedral was signed.
Speed Typing – In 1714, a patent was granted for an early typewriter.
Montessori Schools – In 1907, Marie Montessori opened her first school.

National Cathedral

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 6, 2013
Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral

January 6, 1893: US President Benjamin Harrison signs the Charter for the Washington National Cathedral. In 1791, when Pierre L’Enfant designed what would become the District of Columbia, he drew in a place for a national cathedral. The church was envisioned as a place for communal gathering without prejudice. The house of worship was not immediately built, but the idea remained. Charles C. Glover spearheaded a push for the building of a national church in 1891.

Congress granted the charter to the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation and President Harrison signed the “birth certificate” for the church. In 1896, Rev. Dr. Henry Yates Satterlee procured land on Mount Saint Alban. Still years away from actual construction, the Washington National Cathedral now had an architect, Frederick Bodley. He was the premiere British Episcopal church architect and he worked with Henry Vaughan, the supervising architect.

On September 20, 1907 the foundation stone was laid. President Theodore Roosevelt and the Bishop of London spoke to the 10,000 strong crowd. In 1912 the Bethlehem Chapel held services for the first time and has continued to hold worship services daily ever since. In October of 1928, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church at the Cathedral was inaugurated with President Calvin Coolidge in attendance.

The cathedral is used for services concerning the nation. There were monthly services held in honor of the fighting troops during World War II. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached his last Sunday sermon from the Canterbury Pulpit. Funeral services for Dwight D. Eisenhower were held there. Presidents have come to pray at their inaugurations. The nation grieved together at a National Prayer and Remembrance Service held September 14, 2001. In 2002, the Cathedral broadcast its 50th Christmas service. Construction on the entire complex was finally completed in 1990 when the west towers were finished, 83 years after beginning. The doors remain open to anyone, all faiths welcome.

“‘Give us this day our daily bread’ is probably the most perfectly constructed and useful sentence ever set down in the English language.” – P.J. Wingate

“No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it.” – Guy H. King

“The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him.” – William McGill

“Prayer may not change things for you, but it for sure changes you for things.” – Samuel M. Shoemaker

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: George Frederick Bodley was born in England in 1827. He was apprenticed to a relative, architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. Under this influence, Bodley became an influential Gothic revivalist. His style led to a resurgence of building in the late-medieval design. He created not only religious buildings, as his work here, but also designed many secular buildings. For 28 years, he worked with Thomas Garner and together they designed many impressive structures both at home and abroad.

Also on this day: Can You Hear Me Now? – In 1838, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail got their new telegraph system working.

Speed Typing – In 1714, a patent was granted for an early typewriter.
Montessori Schools – In 1907, Marie Montessori opened her first school.

Montessori Schools

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 6, 2012

Marie Montessori

January 6, 1907: Marie Montessori opens a school for poor children in Rome. Born in Italy in 1870, she enrolled in an all-boy technical school at age 13 to help reach her goal – to become an engineer. Instead, she graduated from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School and became Italy’s first female doctor. She worked with mentally retarded children as a psychiatrist. She became the director of the Scuola Ortofrenica and after she worked with her patients, they were tested and found to outperform many “normal” children in both reading and writing.

After this success, Dr. Montessori opened a daycare and school in a housing project in Rome. She called it “Casa dei Bambini” or Children’s House. Her teaching method was different from standard educational practices of the time. Her students were encouraged to develop skills at their own pace – a principle called “spontaneous self-development.” A wide range of equipment was used with adult intervention only occurring when the child first approached a new concept, thus avoiding wasted effort and the formation of wrong habits.

Dr. Montessori’s students learned to read and write more quickly and with greater ease than was the norm. Her emphasis was on the quality of learning rather than the quantity. As news of her success traveled, more people wanted to start their own Montessori Schools. Her system focused on children aged 3-12 and has expanded to include up to 15-year-olds. Her ideology was unassailable and when she refused to compromise, Mussolini exiled her. She continued to work with children first in Spain and then the Netherlands. She traveled the world, bringing her educational philosophy to all.

Dr. Montessori believed in the insatiable curiosity of children. She insisted they were not merely miniature adults. She discouraged traditional measurements for learning (tests and grades) and instead used feedback and qualitative analysis. Children evolve through a series of “sensitive periods” when they are particularly open to learning specific skills, making learning a joyful experience. Having the correct equipment which permits self-correction allows children to learn more quickly than with adult-directed lessons.

No social problem is as universal as the oppression of the child.

The adult ought never to mold the child after himself, but should leave him alone and work always from the deepest comprehension of the child himself.

The environment itself will teach the child, if every error he makes is manifest to him, without the intervention of a parent or teacher, who should remain a quiet observer of all that happens.

Education demands, then, only this: the utilization of the inner powers of the child for his own instruction. – all from Marie Montessori

Also on this day:

Can You Hear Me Now? – In 1838, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail got their new telegraph system working.
National Cathedral – In 1893, the charter for the Washington National Cathedral was signed.
Speed Typing – In 1714, a patent was granted for an early typewriter.

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Speed Typing

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 6, 2011

Hansen Writing Ball

January 6, 1714: Englishman Henry Mill is granted British patent number 385. It was granted “by the grace of Queen Anne” and was titled “An artificial machine or method for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another, as in writing, whereby all writing whatever may be engrossed in paper or parchment so neat and exact as not to be distinguished from print.” Today, we call this a typewriter. Mill never completed his machine and the idea died with him, at least for a time.

Pellegrino Turri also invented an early version of the machine but did not capitalize on the invention. Next, in 1829 William Austin Burt patented a machine he called the “Typowriter” and is often listed as the first typewriter. This early machine did not speed up the process of writing since it was laborious to use and even in the fastest hands, was slower than writing. By the middle of the 19th century, with business ventures needing better communication methods, stenographers and telegraphers could reach speeds of 130 words per minute while those writing by hand had a limit of about 30 words per minute.

Between 1829 and 1870 many different early typewriters were developed and patented both in Europe and in America. None, however, went into commercial production. The first to do that was Reverend Rasmus Malling-Hansen’s Hansen Writing Ball. This Danish contraption was a success in Europe. The first commercially successful typewriter was invented by three men in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They sold their patent for $12,000 and eventually E. Remington and Sons began production. They also coined the term typewriter. The QWERTY layout was part of this machine.

This original typewriter was constructed in such a way that the typist could not actually see what was being typed. The answer was the Oliver typewriter introduced in 1895, which made it possible to see the words as they were typed. IBM introduced the Electromatic Model 04 in 1941, the first successful electric typewriter. They remained popular until 1961 when IBM upgraded to the Selectric model which used a different mechanism to place ink on paper, the typeball. Although still in use in some areas, the typewriter has more or less succumbed to the computer.

“A typewriter is a means of transcribing thought, not expressing it.” – Marshall McLuhan

“I don’t want anything to do with anything mechanical between me and the paper, including a typewriter, and I don’t even want a fountain pen between me and the paper.” – Shelby Foote

“Miller is not really a writer but a non-stop talker to whom someone has given a typewriter.” – Gerald Brenan

“Sometimes I think my writing sounds like I walked out of the room and left the typewriter running.” – Gene Fowler

Also on this day:
Can You Hear Me Now? – In 1838, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail got their new telegraph system working.
Washington National Cathedral – In 1893, the Cathedral was granted its charter.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 6, 2010

Samuel Morse in 1840

January 6, 1838: A momentous day for communication technology. Samuel Morse successfully tests the electric telegraph. His invention used a slightly different technology than what had been used in Europe where an electromagnetic telegraph was created in 1832.

Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail developed a telegraph that could send messages over cheap wire for long distances. Vail developed the dot/dash Morse code alphabet. On February 8, 1838 Morse demonstrated his device publicly. On May 24, 1844, after finally getting governmental assistance for infrastructure, a message was sent from Baltimore, Maryland to Washington, DC saying “What hath God wrought!”

Samuel Morse was born in Massachusetts to a geographer/preacher father and his wife. He was raised in a strict Calvinist household and was brought up with strong Federalist leanings. He went to Phillips Academy and then on to Yale College, majoring in religious philosophy, math, and the science of horses. While there, he took classes on electricity. He earned spending money by painting and was considered to be quite good. He was offered a chance to go to England to study painting. While in Europe studying, his wife back in America, died. He was struck by the delay in information concerning his critically ill wife and dedicated his life to finding a way to improve and speed communication.

The first transcontinental line was constructed in 1861. Then in 1877, the first telephone appeared on the scene. In 1887 a manual switchboard was introduced. In 1891 a disgruntled undertaker, tired of waiting for an operator, devised a phone he could dial himself. Praise Almon Strowger. In the 1940s, the first mobile phones were finally installed.

“Every improvement in communication makes the bore more terrible” – Frank Moore Colby

“Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.” – Charles Dickens

“It seemed rather incongruous that in a society of super sophisticated communication, we often suffer from a shortage of listeners.” – Erma Bombeck

“The wireless telegraph is not difficult to understand. The ordinary telegraph is like a very long cat. You pull the tail in New York, and it meows in Los Angeles. The wireless is the same, only without the cat.” – Albert Einstein

Also on this day, in 1893 the charter for the Washington National Cathedral was granted.