Little Bits of History

July 10

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 10, 2017

1966: The Chicago Freedom Movement holds a rally at Soldier Field. Also called the Chicago open housing movement, it was led by Martin Luther King Jr., James Bevel, and Al Raby. The purpose was to bring issues to the City of Chicago imploring the government to institute programs for equal housing, quality education, transportation, job access, and many more concerns of quality of life for Chicago’s minority population. It was the most ambitious civil rights campaign in the North and began in 1965 borne out of the Watts riots in Los Angeles and de facto racial segregation throughout Chicago. It was the joining of forces from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO).

Dr. King was looking for a place to show that nonviolence and nonviolent direct action could bring about the social change needed. The CCCO, a local group advocating for desegregation in schools and equal job opportunities had asked the AFSC to help in the cause. They responded and came to Chicago with the stated goal of forming the Chicago Freedom Movement and ending slums in the city. The hope was to lift the burdens of poverty, increase educational opportunities, and gain rights for all people, regardless of race or economic status. In the summer of 1966, the focus was on improved housing and ending discrimination in tenements throughout the West Side.

On this day, a huge rally was held. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Soldier Field and spoke passionately about the injustice, need for reform, and the nonviolent path to achieving civil rights and equity. Soldier Field, designed in 1919 and opened in 1924 was originally used for a variety of sporting events and exhibitions. Today, it is the home field for the Chicago Bears American football team. This was one of the exhibition events and not only Dr. King was there. Also at the rally were Mahalia Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Peter, Paul and Mary. Tens of thousands of concerned citizens showed up, between 35,000 and 60,000 depending on sources.

The Chicago Freedom Movement was staging regular rallies by the end of the month, marching outside real estate offices and entering all-while communities. There were hostile and sometimes violent responses from whites and continued demands from blacks got the attention of City Hall and the national press. King mentioned the animosity found in Chicago surpassed that found in Alabama and Mississippi. As the group threatened to march into Cicero, the Summit Agreement was sealed but did not address all the issues under consideration. While not a complete success, it did help bring focus to the City’s housing issues and helped to show peaceful protests could change history.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  – all from Martin Luther King, Jr.


Vellore Mutiny

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 10, 2015
Sepoy  of the Indian infantry

Sepoy of the Indian infantry

July 10, 1806: The Vellore Mutiny takes place. It was the first large-scale mutiny by Indian sepoys (native soldiers) against the East India Company. It took place in South India near the city of Vellore. The sepoys were both Muslims and Hindus who had been offended by changes in their uniform instituted in November 1805. Hindus were no longer permitted their religious marks on their foreheads and Muslims were made to shave their beards and trim their mustaches. All sepoys were ordered to wear a round hat which was associated at the time with Indians who had converted to Christianity. Their turbans were no longer permitted. General Sir John Craddock, Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army had received an earlier warning to allow the locals their customary dress. He did not comply.

Those who had made their displeasure known were sent to Fort Saint George. Two men, one Hindu and one Muslim, were each given 90 lashes and dismissed from the Army. Nineteen more men were each given 50 lashes and forced to seek pardon from the East India Company. A local sultan who had been defeated in 1799 was held at Vellore and one of his daughters was to be married. The mutineers used the wedding as a ploy to gather at the fort. They hoped to not only take the Fort, but to restore the former Mysore Sultanate.

At the fort were four companies of British infantry and three battalions of madras infantry. At 2 AM on this day, the sepoys inside shot the European sentries and killed 14 of their own officers and 115 British infantrymen. Among those killed was the commander of the fort. By dawn, the rebels had control and raised the Mysore Sultanate flag over the fort. An escaped British officer was able to make his way to a garrison at Arcot and raise an alarm. Sir Rollo Gillespie, one of the most able British officers in India at the time, was in command there. Within 15 minutes he gathered a force to take back Fort Vellore. He led a small advance party and was able to scale the fort’s walls. They led a bayonet charge inside the fort and cleared the way so that the guns being brought in could blow off the gate doors.

With British troops inside, they were able to gather up about 100 rebellious sepoys who were lined against a wall and executed. With this harsh retribution, the mutiny was snuffed out as well. After order was restored, more rebels were brought to trial and 21 more were executed by various methods and five were transported. The three Madras battalions were disbanded. Senior British officers responsible for the dress code changes were sent back to England and their orders cancelled. It would take nearly half a century before another revolt arose. In the intervening years, both sides forgot the lessons of this day.

In situations of sparse resources along with degraded self-images and depoliticized sensibilities, one avenue for poor people is in existential rebellion and anarchic expression. The capacity to produce social chaos is the last resort of desperate people. – Cornel West

All revolutions have failed? Perhaps. But rebellion for good cause is self-justifying — a good in itself. Rebellion transforms slaves into human beings, if only for an hour. – Edward Abbey

Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert. – Kahlil Gibran

When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion. – C. P. Snow

Also on this day: London Bridge is Falling Down – In 1212, one of London’s “Great Fires” began on London Bridge.
Tsunami – In 1958, a 1,724 foot high tsunami struck in Alaska.
Death Valley –  In 1913, the highest temperature was recorded in the Western Hemisphere.
Carolyn Keene? – In 1905, Mildred Augustine was born.
Not at All Peaceful – In 1985, the Rainbow Warrior was sunk.

Not at All Peaceful

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 10, 2014
Rainbow Warrior after the bombing in Aukland Harbor

Rainbow Warrior after the bombing in Auckland Harbor

July 10, 1985: The Rainbow Warrior sinks. Between 1955 and 1977, she was called Sir William Hardy and was part of the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. She was purchased by Greenpeace, an environmental organization, and became Rainbow Warrior in 1978. She was registered in Amsterdam where Greenpeace is headquartered. She was the organization’s first ship and worked around the globe fundraising to support environmental campaigns. In 1985, she was in the Pacific campaigning against nuclear testing. In May, 300 Marshall Islanders were provided transport from Rongelap Atoll which had suffered nuclear pollution from American nuclear tests at the Pacific Proving Grounds.

Afterward, she headed to New Zealand. The plan was to lead a flotilla of yachts to protest against French nuclear testing scheduled at the Moruroa Atoll of French Polynesia. During previous tests, protest ships had been boarded by French commandos. The plan was for Greenpeace to monitor environmental impacts as well as to place protestors (illegally) on the island to measure impact there. French agents posed as supporters or tourists and gained access to the ship. French DGSE (intelligence service) agent Christine Cabon volunteered to work in the Greenpeace office in Auckland and secretly monitored communications with Rainbow Warrior from there. She also collected maps and other intelligence crucial to the sinking.

On this day, two DGSE divers attached two limpet mines to the ship berthed at Marsden Wharf in Auckland. The first left a car-sized hole when it detonated at 11:38 PM. The intention was to cripple the ship but leave enough time for evacuation. The crew did not respond as anticipated and when the second explosion went off at 11:45, photographer Fernando Pereira was below decks retrieving his camera equipment. He was killed in the bombing. The other ten crew members survived. The Rainbow Warrior sunk in four minutes. Known in France as Operation Satanique, it was a public relations disaster. At the time, France and New Zealand were allies. France initially denied everything and condemned it as a terrorist act.

New Zealand mounted one of the country’s largest police investigations. Most of the DSGE team fled the island but two agents, posing as a Swiss married couple were eventually found to be French agents. Three other agents were arrested in Australia but could not be held for legal reasons. The commander of the operation escaped and was unknown until he admitted his role in 2005. The perpetrators were collected up and found guilty in a court presided over by the Secretary-General of the UN. Sentences were meted out and subverted with the “married” couple held for manslaughter eventually returning to the French Army and receiving promotions. France was fined and paid New Zealand NZ $13 million (USD$6.5 million). In 1987, France was finally coerced into paying Greenpeace $8.16 million.

The planet doesn’t require saving, and actually hasn’t asked Greenpeace to save it. – Felix Dennis

I think it’s great that we have organisations like Greenpeace. In a pluralistic society, we want to have people who point out all the problems that the Earth could encounter. But we need to understand that they are not presenting a full and rounded view. – Bjorn Lomborg

The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future. – Marya Mannes

For 200 years we’ve been conquering Nature.  Now we’re beating it to death. – Tom McMillan

Also on this day: London Bridge is Falling Down – In 1212, one of London’s “Great Fires” begins on London Bridge.
Tsunami – In 1958, a 1,724 foot high tsunami struck in Alaska.
Death Valley –  In 1913, the highest temperature was recorded in the Western Hemisphere.
Carolyn Keene? – In 1905, Mildred Augustine was born.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 10, 2013
Lituya Bay, Alaska with watermark line

Lituya Bay, Alaska with watermark line

July 10, 1958: Lituya Bay, Alaska is hit with the highest tsunami ever recorded. The bay was discovered in 1789 by French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse. The fjord is known for extremely high tides and strong currents. Two small glaciers, Cascade and Crillon, and the Lituya Glacier all terminate in the bay. The bay is part of the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. About the size of the state of Connecticut, the Park holds nine tidewater glaciers, four of them currently shed or calve icebergs.

On this date, an earthquake caused a large landslide in the Crillon inlet located near the head of the bay. The rocks, dirt, and ice hit the bottom of the bay and formed a crater. The displaced water rushed out and formed a mega-tsunami measuring 1,724 feet in height. For comparison, the Empire State Building, the highest skyscraper in the world at the time, is 1,472 feet tall. Three fishing boats were present during the event. One boat sank, but the other two rode out the wave. The occupants were the first witnesses of a mega-tsunami and were able to speak with scientists after the fact.

The wave reached the amazing height on both sides of the bay. The force of the water broke and lifted 1,300 feet of ice across the leading edge of Lituya Glacier, there was extensive damage to the forest and the land below the high water mark was swept completely clean. The only human deaths were the two fisherman in the boat sunk by the enormous wave.

A tsunami is a series of waves caused by a large displacement of water. Earthquakes, volcanoes, underwater explosions, or landslides can cause the waves, as could a large asteroid impact. They are different from normal waves in two ways: the distance from crest to crest is greater and as they approach land and shallow waters, the height increases dramatically. Mega-tsunamis are larger waves and originate closer to shore. They also form where there is less area for water to disperse. Since they begin close to land and develop rapidly, there is little chance to escape the looming wall of water.

“A tsunami does not automatically happen but if the earthquake is strong enough there is a possibility.” – Thaksin Shinawatra

“It’s a beautiful idea that green belts can stop a tsunami, and its aims are commendable. But it isn’t true, and it won’t work.” – Andrew Baird

“The tsunami was on a completely different scale.” – Eugene Tempel

“The worldwide tsunami research field used to involve maybe 200 people.” – Frank Gonzalez

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Rogue waves are not the same as tsunamis. For many years, it was thought that sailors were not accurate in their descriptions of these waves. Sailors told of waves suddenly appearing on clear days and in mid-ocean with heights up to 100 feet – the height of ten-story building. There is no true consensus yet on what causes these waves to suddenly form. It could be diffractive focusing or focusing by currents. There could be nonlinear effects. There is some speculation that they are just part of the wave spectrum. Wind plays a part in all wave formation yet it is unlikely to be the only cause of a rogue wave, but it could be one of the factors. There is also a thermal expansion theory formed to explain them.

Also on this day: London Bridge is Falling Down – In 1212, one of London’s “Great Fires” begins on London Bridge.
Death Valley –  In 1913, the highest temperature was recorded in the Western Hemisphere.
Carolyn Keene? – In 1905, Mildred Augustine was born.

Carolyn Keene?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 10, 2012

Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson

July 10, 1905: Mildred Augustine is born in Ladora, Iowa. Mildred’s first husband, Asa Wirt, died and she married George Benson, the editor of the Toledo Blade newspaper in Toledo, Ohio. Mildred graduated from the University of Iowa’s journalism program and began writing for George’s paper after she was let go from the Toledo Times. All in all, she worked as a reporter for 58 years and continued to write a monthly column despite failing eyesight until she was 96. While she did remarkable work as a journalist, what she is best known for is her fiction. She wrote some of the most popular children’s fiction ever.

Mildred wrote under the pen name, Carolyn Keene from 1929 until 1947. She worked for Stratemeyer Syndicate and helped to flesh out an idea about a young woman who solved mysteries. Edward Stratemeyer gave small sketches written on index cards to Mildred. She then turned these into novels about a feisty teenager who insisted on being taken seriously despite her age and her lavish upbringing. The young woman was bright, energetic, and capable. The series took off and became quite popular. Mildred wrote 23 of the first 25 Nancy Drew mysteries.

Mildred was hired to write Nancy Drew even before she finished her college education. She was the first woman to earn a Master’s Degree in Journalism in 1927. She began working with Stratemeyer in 1926. She was one of 28 people who helped produce the series of books between 1929 and 1984. As a ghostwriter, she has to sign away all rights to the Nancy Drew stories she wrote as well as the Keene pen name. She was later permitted to reveal it was she who had written so many of the early books and shaped Nancy’s personality.

Mildred didn’t just sit in front of her Underwood typewriter (which she donated to the Smithsonian Institution) or computer screen. Although she was a prolific writer, one year putting out 13 books while working as a reporter. She wrote many short stories and articles for magazines as well. She was active throughout her life. She was playing golf into her nineties. She was the one of the country’s oldest newspaper reporters. Not content to just stay on the ground, she also learned to fly at age 59 and piloted her own Cherokee 180 which she finally stopped flying in 1996 at the age of 91. She died at the age of 96 in May 2002.

Because the minute I do I’m going into the past, and I never dwell on the past. I think about what I’m doing today and what I’m going to do tomorrow. – Mildred Benson, on why she didn’t read her finished books

I’m so sick of Nancy Drew I could vomit. – Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson

A man ninety years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity. I reckon, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, it because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried. – Garson Kanin

I’m just one of the lucky people. I have no other reason for my longevity. – Johnny Mathis

Also on this day:

London Bridge is Falling Down – In 1212, one of London’s “Great Fires” begins on London Bridge.
Tsunami – In 1958, a 1,724 foot high tsunami struck in Alaska.
Death Valley –  In 1913, the highest temperature was recorded in the Western Hemisphere.

Death Valley

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 10, 2011

Erosion at Furnace Creek, Death Valley

July 10, 1913: The highest temperature in the US and in the Western Hemisphere is recorded at Death Valley, California. The temperature reached a blistering 134° Fahrenheit at Furnace Creek, the headquarters of the Death Valley National Park. Death Valley is located in Eastern California and is part of the Mojave Desert. It is the lowest, driest, and hottest location in North America. It is 282 feet below sea level and interestingly is only 84.6 miles from Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States.

Death Valley is located in the Great Basin between California and Nevada. It is east of the Sierra Nevada mountains and lies in the basin between the Amargosa Range, the Panamint Range, the Sylvania Mountains, and the Owlshead Mountains. It covers about 3,000 square miles. There is a lateral slip fault that is part of the region as well as many salt pans. These resulted from the many inland seas that were located here during the Pleistocene era. As the water evaporated, left behind were pockets of sodium salts and borax.

Data from the Furnace Creek Station shows the average high temperature for the year to be 90.8 and the average low temperature for the year to be 62.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The record high was 134 and the record low of 15 was recorded in January 1913. The average rainfall is 2.33 inches per year, most of which falls in the first three months. The desert can bloom and be quite beautiful, and is the principle part of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere, with a rich desert flora and fauna ecology.

Each state of the union keeps statistics and one of those is temperatures. The highest temperature for each state has been complied and each state has a three-digit high temp. All temperatures are given in Fahrenheit. Alaska hit 100 on June 27, 1915 at Fort Yukon. Hawaii’s top temperature is also 100 and that was reached on April 27, 1931 at Pahala. Nine more states had temps below 110 degrees as their high. Twenty-nine states had highs in the 110s. Nine states had highs in the 120s, including both North and South Dakota. California is the only state with a high in the 130s. Colorado’s high was reached in 1888, Oregon in 1898, and South Dakota hit a high or 120 in 2006. The rest of the high temps were recorded in the twentieth century, most during the first half.

“Some people change their ways when they see the light; others when they feel the heat.” – Caroline Schoeder

“What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“The desert has its holiness of silence, the crowd its holiness of conversation.” – Walter Elliot

“Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” – Bible

Also on this day:
London Bridge is Falling Down – In 1212, one of London’s “Great Fires” begins on London Bridge.
Tsunami – In 1958, a 1,724 foot high tsunami struck in Alaska.

London Bridge is Falling Down

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 10, 2010

Great Fire of Suthwark

July 10, 1212: The Great Fire of Suthwark burns most of London, England. Old world cities were subject to horrible fires. Buildings were constructed of wood with straw or thatch roofs and were close together. Once a fire started, it was not easily extinguished and over the course of history, there were several destructive fires, which burned up much of London.

The first of these fires was in 60 AD when the place was still called Londinium. The ash from the fire was so great it is used in modern excavations as a dating strata. The second major fire was in 1087 and burned down St. Paul’s Cathedral which was rebuilt with stone. The third major fire was in either 1133 or 1135 (dates are debated) and started on London Bridge then moved outward.

London Bridge was rebuilt of stone, but houses were built along it in order to use the rents to pay for the bridge. During the fire of 1212, the bridge itself didn’t burn, but the houses along it did. Many citizens died in the blaze because they rushed to the bridge in order to cross it and help extinguish the oncoming fires. The sparks blew over them, igniting the wooden structures behind them and they were trapped in the blaze. They either died in the fire or when trying to gain egress in the overcrowded boats sent to try to save them.

The fire was mentioned in Liber de Antiquis Legibus (Book on Ancient Laws) written in 1274. It is the oldest book of London records. There is no exact death toll for the fire and some sources list 3,000 people perished on the Bridge alone, but it is felt by modern historians to be an exaggeration. The population of all of London was between 40 and 50 thousand at the time. The London Bridge was repaired and back in use in time of the next Great Fire of London which took place in 1666.

“You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson

“Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.” – Jane Austen

“This melancholy London – I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air.” – William Butler Yeats

“Nothing is certain in London but expense.” – William Shenstone

“I do not think there is anything deserving the name of society to be found out of London.” – William Hazlitt

Also on this day, in 1958 the highest recorded mega tsunami rocks Lituya Bay, Alaska.