Little Bits of History

January 9

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 9, 2017

1858: Anson Jones commits suicide. He was born in 1798 in Massachusetts and nothing is known of his childhood. In 1820, he was licensed by the Oneida,  New York Medical Society and began to practice medicine in 1822 in New York. He was unsuccessful, moved to Philadelphia, was unsuccessful, was arrested there by a creditor, moved to Venezuela, was unsuccessful, returned to Philadelphia, and earned an MD degree. He went to New Orleans and abandoned medicine and went into a mercantile business. He was unsuccessful at that, too. He managed to survive two plagues that swept the city but with business failing yet again, he moved west and settled in Brazoria, Texas in 1833. There, his medical practice flourished. By 1835, he began to speak out about tensions between Texas and Mexico. He attended the Consultation held in Columbia. Texas patriots discussed independence.

During the Texas Revolution, Jones was a judge advocate and surgeon for the Texas Army. He refused any rank above private. After the war, he returned to Brazoria and his medical practice only to find James Collinsworth, another Texas patriot, had set up a law practice in Jones’s office. Jones called for a duel that never took place, but the animosity between the two men remained. Collinsworth went on to starting the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company – something Jones was stridently opposed to. Jones was elected to the Second Texas Congress on that basis. While serving there, his most significant act was to call for the withdrawal of the petition to annex to the US. He also drew up legislation to regulate medical practice in the new country and to endow a university.

After his term, he expected to return to Brazoria and medicine, but President Sam Houston appointed him Minister to the United States where he was to formally withdraw the annexation proposal. He was eventually recalled to Texas and served in the Senate where he criticized Mirabeau Lemar’s presidency. When Houston was re-elected, he made Jones Secretary of State and during his time in this position, with changing political landscape, he was to broker Texas’s annexation to the United States and for this effort he is known as the Architect of Annexation. He went on to serve as the fourth and last President of Texas and complete the annexation process.

After Texas became a part of the US, they needed to send two people to the US Senate and Jones hoped to be one of these two people Sam Houston was selected as was Thomas Jefferson Rusk. Jones was crushed. In 1857, Rusk committed suicide and Jones was sure he would be the replacement chosen. However, when the Senate voted on who to send to Washington, D.C., Jones received no votes. In January 1858, Jones checked into the old Capitol Hotel, the former seat of the government for the Republic of Texas. He stayed there for four days. And then, on this date, in his room after dinner, he shot himself. He was 59 years old.

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. – Plato

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies. – Groucho Marx

Politics is the art of controlling your environment. – Hunter S. Thompson

It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first. – Ronald Reagan

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Fear and Loathing

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 9, 2015
Basel, Switzerland massacre

Basel, Switzerland massacre

January 9, 1349: The Basel, Switzerland massacre takes place. The Black Death was one of the most horrific pandemics in human history. Between 1346 and 1353 there were between 75 and 200 million deaths. The plague was responsible for killing between 30 and 60% of Europe’s total population. DNA analysis of victims show that Yersinia pestis was the probable cause of this and several other types of plague. It was believed to have originated in the plains of central Asia and then brought to Europe via the Silk Road and reached the Crimea in 1343. It was then spread mostly by Oriental rat fleas living on black rats which invaded many merchant ships. It spread across the Mediterranean and then through Europe. It took 150 years for Europe’s population to recover and was responsible for much social upheaval.

As the plague spread, something needed to be done. Unfortunately, the science of the time was not up to the task. Bacteria were unknown as were proper sanitation and the understanding of vectors. Without understanding the cause of the spread of the disease, no adequate measures were taken to halt it. And so the disease continued its northward march. Black Death spread through the countryside of first Savoy and then on to Basel. Jews were accused of poisoning the wells. Their religious practices held them to a more sanitary way of life and they were often segregated into ghettos. These two factors helped to mitigate the spread of the disease in their own communities and so they were thought to be responsible.

The City Fathers of Basel tried to protect their Jewish population to no avail. Local guilds demanded the condemnation of the adult Jews. Six hundred were handed over. The Jews were taken to an island in the Rhine River and shackled inside a wooden barn. The barn was then set on fire. Only a few Jews remained and these were orphaned children who were forcibly converted to Christianity. It was then declared that no Jews would be permitted to locate inside the city of Basel for 200 years. The city’s subsequent financial collapse necessitated the reversal of this ruling and Jews were given early re-admittance.

Today, Basel is Switzerland’s third most populous city (behind Zürich and Geneva) and has almost 200,000 people living there. The city is located where the borders of France, Germany, and Switzerland come together and the city’s suburbs lie in all three countries. The metropolitan region is home to over 500,000 Swiss in 74 municipalities in Switzerland and more in France and Germany. The tri-national Basel metropolitan area encompasses 226 municipalities with about 830,000 people living there. It is a major industrial center for chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Guy Morin is the mayor and 100 members sit in the Grosser Rat or parliament of the city.

Jews survived all the defeats, expulsions, persecutions and pogroms, the centuries in which they were regarded as a pariah people, even the Holocaust itself, because they never gave up the faith that one day they would be free to live as Jews without fear. – Jonathan Sacks

No doubt the Jews aren’t a lovable people; I don’t care about them myself; but that is not sufficient to explain the Pogrom. – Neville Chamberlain

Because anti-Semitism is the godfather of racism and the gateway to tyranny and fascism and war, it is to be regarded not as the enemy of the Jewish people, I learned, but as the common enemy of humanity and of civilisation, and has to be fought against very tenaciously for that reason, most especially in its current, most virulent form of Islamic Jihad. – Christopher Hitchens

The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. – John Adams

Also on this day: Advertising – In 1984, Clara Peller makes her television debut.
Going to the Dogs – In 1929, The Seeing Eye was established.
Northern Aggression? – In 1861, Star of the West, is fired upon by Southerners.
Giant – In 1881, Edouard Beaupré was born.
Egypt be Dammed – In 1960, construction on the Aswan Dam began.

Egypt be Dammed

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 9, 2014
Aswan Dam

Aswan Dam

January 9, 1960: Construction on the Aswan Dam begins. This is an embankment dam built across the Nile River in Aswan, Egypt. This refers to the High Dam as opposed to the Aswan Low Dam, which also exists. The creation of this structure was one of the main objectives of the Egyptian Government after the conclusion of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. The dam provides water control as well as generating hydroelectric power. Both were seen as necessary for the industrialization of Egypt. Since the Nile floods yearly but with varying degrees of intensity, the control of the water was helpful in decreasing both drought and flood conditions.

The Aswan Low Dam was built from 1898-1902 and was the first dam to cross the Nile. President Gamal Abdel Nasser began the planning stage of building a newer and better dam in 1955. Both the US and Britain offered to help finance the building of the dam in return for Nasser’s leadership in helping resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nasser did not accept US conditions and turned to the Soviet Union for help. The USSR promised Egypt arms in exchange for a deferred payment of Egyptian grain and cotton. The US, rather than retaliate for turning to the Communists for help, pledged to better relations with Egypt and guaranteed a total of $70 million to help build the dam.

On this day, President Nasser detonated ten tons of dynamite which demolished twenty tons of granite on the east bank of the Nile, officially beginning the construction of the dam. The Soviet Hydrproject Institute designed the dam with the help of some Egyptian engineers. There were 25,000 Egyptian engineers and workers who actually built the dam. The first stage was completed in 1964 and the dam was officially finished on July 21, 1970. The reservoir reached capacity in 1976. There have been plans to improve and extend the dam.

The Aswan Dam is 12,570 feet long and 3,220 feet wide at the base. The width at the crest is 130 feet. It is 364 feet tall. The dam itself contains 56,000,000 cubic yards of material. Maximum capacity for water flow is 390,000 cubic feet/second. There are further spillways which allow for an extra 180,000 cubic feet/second in emergencies. The spillway waters travel via the Toshka Canal to the Toshka Depression. The reservoir is named Lake Nasser and is 340 miles long and 22 miles at its widest point. The surface area is 2,030 square miles and it holds 173,000,000,000 cubic yards of water.

What was taken by force, can only be restored by force.

I have been a conspirator for so long that I mistrust all around me.

They defended the grains of sand in the desert to the last drop of their blood.

Events are not a matter of chance. – all from Gamal Abdel Nasser

Also on this day: Advertising – In 1984, Clara Peller makes her television debut.
Going to the Dogs – In 1929, The Seeing Eye was established.
Northern Aggression? – In 1861, Star of the West, is fired upon by Southerners.
Giant – In 1881, Edouard Beaupré was born.

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I See What You Did There

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 9, 2013

The Seeing Eye

January 9, 1929: Nashville, Tennessee sees The Seeing Eye established, a way to train dogs to assist the blind. Dorothy Harrison Eustis, philanthropist and dog breeder, was an American living in Switzerland when she saw German Shepherds being trained to assist men who had been blinded while fighting in World War I. She wrote an article about this amazing feat which was published in The Saturday Evening Post on November 5, 1927. (Link goes to article) A blind man from Nashville contacted the author and asked for her help.

Most guide dogs today are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, or Golden Retrievers. Some other breeds are used rarely, such as Boxers. Most of the guide dogs in the US come from a breeding center in Chester, New Jersey. Some dogs are donated. The puppies are raised by volunteers who give special attention to obedience training and socialization skills for their charges.

After the puppies reach 18 months of age they get another 4 months of training for the task of being a guide dog. They are given harness training in order to learn the requisite behaviors to certain movements of the harness. They learn how to respond to curbs and traffic. And they are also taught to “intelligently disobey” in order to keep their handler safe from harm. Finally, dog and person are united for another 20-27 days of training where they learn to work together. Should problems arise after returning home, both human and dog can come back for remediation classes.

Assistance dogs are no longer only for the blind. There are also hearing dogs to help deaf people and service dogs to help with mobilization assistance, seizure response dogs to help epileptics, and psychiatric service dogs that help people with debilitating mental diagnoses. In the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 included text that makes it illegal to bar service animals from entering places of business. Service animals are not pets, but workers who help their handlers enter more fully into society.

“He was a really excellent guide dog. He was very stoic, very professional, very aloof. He had a charisma. He just had something about him that I’ve never seen in another dog.” – Moira Shea

“No one should be denied housing because they require a guide dog, an assigned parking space or some other reasonable accommodation because of a disability.” – Kim Kendrick

“There are a number of people in the community who are handicapped and rely on guide dogs. They are working dogs and this would give them a place to play. Every worker needs time to play.” – Ginger Lowe

“A blind bloke walks into a shop with a guide dog. He picks the Dog up and starts swinging it around his head. Alarmed, a shop assistant calls out: ‘Can I help, sir?’ ‘No thanks,’ says the blind bloke. ‘Just looking.'” – Tommy Cooper

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Dorothy Harrison Eustis was born into a philanthropic family from Philadelphia. She was the great-granddaughter of John Harrison who opened the first chemical factory is the US. Her father, Charles, owned a sugar refinery which was sold, reputedly, for $10 million before becoming provost of the University of Pennsylvania in 1894. He is supposed to have raised over $11 million for the University in the next 16 years. Dorothy married and had two children. She was widowed by the age of 29. She married again, a man 13 years her junior. It was with her second husband that she began breeding German shepherds which could be trained as helpers for those blinded while serving in World War I. 

Also on this day:  Advertising – In 1984, Clara Peller makes her television debut.
Northern Aggression? – In 1861, Star of the West, is fired upon by Southerners.
Giant – In 1881, Edouard Beaupré was born.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 9, 2012

Edouard Beaupré

January 9, 1881: Edouard Beaupré is born. His parents, Gaspard and Florestine had recently taken residence in the newly-founded parish of Willow Bunch in Saskatchewan, Canada. Edouard was the first baby baptized there. Gaspard, a French Canadian, and Florestine, a Métis (one of three registered aboriginal peoples of Canada), went on to have another 19 children together.

Edouard weighed 14 pounds at birth. For the first few years of his life, he was of normal size. At age seven, he began to grow rapidly and by age 11 he was taller than his father. Edouard was a skilled hunter and horseman and was exceptional with a lasso. He also spoke four languages: Cree, English, French and Sioux. He dreamed of becoming a cowboy but had to give up horses when his legs grew too long and dragged on the ground even when riding the tallest horse. He was 7′ 1″ tall at age 17 and was 8′ 2.5″ tall and weighed 400 pounds in 1902. He grew another half-inch before his death.

At age 15, no longer able to ride horses, Edouard decided to use his size to his advantage. He became known as the Willow Bunch Giant and joined freak shows touring North America. He eventually joined the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Traveling was not easy for the giant. Second mattresses were laid over trunks in order to make a proper bed. His feature stunt for the shows was to crouch under a horse and then lift the horse off the ground with the 900 pound animal resting across his shoulders.

Edouard was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1902 and died while on the road in 1904. He was 23. His father couldn’t afford to get the body shipped back home. Instead of burial, the circus embalmed the body and Edouard continued to tour, even after death. In 1905, a circus owning the body went bankrupt and Edouard’s body was claimed by the Université de Montréal for scientific study. They found his pituitary gland was overactive and he was still growing at the time of his death. In 1975 a nephew located Edouard’s body but was unable to retrieve it. The university finally released the body to the family and Edouard’s remains were cremated. He was buried on July 7, 1990.

Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything. – George Lois

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. – Booker T. Washington

Often the best way to overcome desire is to satisfy it. – W. Somerset Maugham

The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his first business, and success only a subsequent consideration. – Confucius

Also on this day:

Advertising – In 1984, Clara Peller makes her television debut.
Going to the Dogs – In 1929, The Seeing Eye was established.
Northern Aggression? – In 1861, Star of the West, is fired upon by Southerners.

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Northern Aggression?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 9, 2011

January 9, 1861: A US merchant marine vessel, Star of the West, is fired upon by Southerners. On December 31, 1861 Charleston, South Carolina was notified by telegram that a man of war with troops aboard was coming to Fort Sumter, a federal fort in the Charleston Harbor. Instead of sending the Brooklyn, a heavily armed and reinforced sloop, the Star of the West was substituted to resupply the Fort.

Illustration of Star of the West approaching Fort Sumter from Frank Leslie's Weekly

As the ship approached, cadets from The Citadel stationed on Morris Island, fired on the Star. As the ship came about, Fort Moutrie also opened fire using cannons. The Star was hit three times and one-and-a-half miles from Fort Sumter, she withdrew. This left Major Robert Anderson’s troops without their much needed supplies. The Star made it back to New York City on January 12. At that point, the ship was refitted and as war officially broke out, she was ready to serve the federal cause.

Fort Sumter is located on a rock shoal in the harbor off Charleston, a bastion of States Rights and leader of the soon to become Confederacy. These revolutionaries, or traitors depending on one’s point of view, made it a mission of theirs to keep the Fort from being resupplied. When they learned of a supply ship being sent, they scuttled a ship in the harbor making approach to the garrison more difficult. The Brooklyn would have carried about 200 men, arms, munitions, and supplies to Fort Sumter.

General Winifred Scott was in charge of sending supplies from New York to Charleston. He consulted with President Buchanan before sending the heavily armed ship into dangerous waters. The men decided to play a trick in “secret” and sent the Star which had a shallower draft in place of the warship. It was also thought sending the merchant marine vessel would be less inflammatory. The Star also made routine trips from New York to New Orleans and it was hoped no one would notice her. The Brooklyn was to follow behind the Star in case of an incident. However, everyone, including the defenders of Charleston knew about the ruse and the Fort did not receive the needed supplies.

“We’ll fight them, sir, ’til hell freezes over, and then, sir, we will fight them on the ice.” – Confederate soldier at Gettysburg

“My plans are perfect, and when I start to carry them out, may God have mercy on Bobby Lee, for I shall have none.” – General Joe Hooker

“If the Confederacy falls, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.” – Jefferson Davis

“The American people and the Government at Washington may refuse to recognize it for a time but the inexorable logic of events will force it upon them in the end; that the war now being waged in this land is a war for and against slavery.” – Frederick Douglass

Also on this day:
Advertising – In 1984, Clara Peller makes her television debut.
Seeing eye dogs – In 1929, The Seeing Eye was established to train guide dogs.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 9, 2010

Clara Peller

January 9, 1984: Clara Peller is first seen on television. In ancient times, the most common form of advertising was word of mouth. It is still said to be the best form. However, there are many other types of advertising available to the savvy business owner who wants to get the word out on whatever is being sold.

Handbills came into use with the printing press. As the economy expanded during the 19th century, the need for advertising grew also. Prior to professionals helping establish a campaign, those offering goods or services entered their own advertisements. In 1704 the first newspaper ad was places in the Boston News-Letter. It was a real estate ad seeking a buyer for an Oyster Bay, Long Island estate. Ben Franklin included pages of “new advertisements” in his paper, the Pennsylvania Gazette beginning in 1729.

In 1843 the first advertising agency in the US was established. Volney Palmer opened shop in Philadelphia. At first, agencies were just brokers for space. But as time went on, they started using a more scientific approach. Creativity was essential. Markets were analyzed. Niche areas were exploited.

By 1861 there were twenty agencies in NYC. Francis Wayland Ayer opened an agency and began the first commission system for his ad execs. The famous entrepreneur, John Wanamaker, was the first retailer to hire a full-time advertising copywriter. By the 1890s, women were first pictured outside the home and in non-domestic activities [riding a bicycle]. So who is Clara Peller? She is the famous short, old lady standing at a fast food counter complaining, “Where’s the beef?” for the Wendy’s campaign.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker (attributed)

“Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless.” – Sinclair Lewis

“What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public.” – Vilhjalmur Stefansson

“Advertising is the fine art of making you think you have longed for something all your life that you never heard of before” – unknown

Also on this day, in 1929 The Seeing Eye was founded in Nashville, Tennessee.