Little Bits of History

July 14

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2017

1789:  The citizens of France storm the Bastille. King Louis XVI led the county into an economic crisis, in part because France intervened on behalf of the fledgling country, America, in their quest for freedom from the British Empire. This was exacerbated by a regressive system of taxation, a system which imposed a greater burden on the poor who could ill-afford it than on the rich, who had more power in the creating of systems. In May and June, the Estates General met with the three “estates” represented. The First Estate was the clergy, the Second was the nobility, and the Third represented the commoners. The Second Estate invoked protocols which brought the meeting to a standstill and the commoners instead, reformed themselves into the National Assembly, giving themselves the task of creating a constitution.

The King was not amused and at first opposed the efforts. However, the commoners were not to be deterred. They formed a National Guard, sporting the three-colored cocardes of blue, white, and red – a combination of the red and blue of Paris and the white of the king. Paris was close to insurrection and supported the Assembly. Tensions rose during the early days of July and the masses broke into the prisons of the Abbaye and released French guards who had been incarcerated for, as rumor went, not firing on crowds of Parisians. They demanded the King pardon the guards and now the guards themselves were considered by the crown to be unreliable.

On July 11, Jacques Neker, the finance minister sympathetic to the common man, was fired and banished. News leaked the next day, a Sunday, and the people of Paris felt a coup was about to take place and locals feared an amassing of troops at Versailles. Conflicts, both armed and unarmed began on July 12 and continued as misinformation and panic spread through Paris. While the King tried to gain some control, the troops under his command were not entirely trustworthy. The streets of Paris were flooded by angry over-taxed citizens confronting any face of authority. The Bastille, a fortress inside Paris, was used as a prison but by this time, was only holding seven men.

The crowd still thought of the building as a symbol of royal tyranny and the public stormed the fortress after calls for surrender were ignored. The fortress was held by 82 regular troops plus 32 grenadiers who had arrived a week earlier. There were fewer than 1,000 people outside. Around 1.30 PM, the crowds broke in and confusion reigned. Soldiers fired into the mob. By 5.30 they had taken control of the Bastille. Less than 100 died in the actual fighting, 98 attackers and one defender. The King learned of the event the next day and asked if it was a revolt and received the answer, “No sire, it’s not a revolt; it’s a revolution.”

Rien. Nothing. – King Louis XVI’s diary entry for this day

Do with me what you will, it is the last sacrifice. – (At the guillotine)

I die perfectly innocent of all the pretended crimes laid to my charge – I forgive all those who have had any hand in my misfortunes, and I pray that my blood may be of use in restoring happiness to France – And you, unhappy people! – pleading for his life

I die innocent of all the crimes imputed to me. I pardon the authors of my death, and pray God that the blood you are about to shed will never fall upon France. – King Louis XVI’s last words


Out of This World Photography

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2015
First TV image of Mars, hand colored

First TV image of Mars, hand colored

July 14, 1965: Out of this world close up pictures are seen on Earth for the first time. Mariner 4 was the fourth in a series of spacecraft intended for planetary exploration via flyby mode and launched by NASA and the United States. The spacecraft was launched on November 28, 1964 via an Atlas Las Vegas-3 Agena-D rocket. The launch took place from Cape Canaveral. Mariner’s octagonal frame measured 50 inches across and was 18 inches high. There were four solar panels attached at the top of the frame and these extended out for a total of 22.57 feet. In the center was mounted a high-gain antenna measuring 46 inches and next to it, on a 88 inch mast was a second low-gain antenna. The entire height of the apparatus was 9.5 feet. The launch mass of Mariner 4 was 575 pounds.

Several scientific instruments were included as part of the payload. These included a helium magnetometer, an ionization chamber and Geiger counter, a trapped radiation detector, a cosmic ray telescope, a solar plasma probe, a cosmic dust detector, and a television camera. The entire setup was powered by the 28,224 solar cells contained in the four solar panels which provided 310 watts as the spacecraft reached its destination: Mars. The telecommunications equipment aboard the ship were dual S-band transmitters and a single radio receiver and with these, data could be sent back or received from Earth. Data could also be stored on a magnetic tape recorder with a capacity of 5.24 million bits for later transmission. There are 8 million bits in a MB and 8 billion in a GB, the storage measurements for today’s smart phones. An old fashioned floppy disk had 1.44 MB of storage capacity.

The rocket launched, the payload separated 30 minutes later. Mariner 4 began cruise operations and successfully open the solar panels. The craft needed one midcourse maneuver which took place on December 5, 1964, a day later than scheduled due to communication issues. The change was completed and the ship was on her way to Mars. Her closest approach was on July 14-15, 1965. The planetary science mode was turned on and the camera sequence began at 7.18 PM, EST. A total of 21 pictures were taken using red and green filters alternately. Another picture was attempted but only 21 lines of the image were captured. The pictures covered a discontinuous line of Mars and represented about 1% of the planet’s surface.

The ship passed behind Mars from Earth’s perspective and the radio signal ceased. About an hour later, contact was once again possible as the ship reappeared and transmission of the taped images could be sent back to Earth. The transmission of the pictures continued until August 3. All pictures were sent back twice to ensure no data was lost. Mariner 4 continued to perform programmed activities and return data until October 1, 1965 when communication once again failed. Data transmission resumed late in 1967 when the cosmic dust detector began recording strikes. On December 21, 1967, communications with the ship were terminated although she continues her heliocentric orbit.

NASA is an engine of innovation and inspiration as well as the world’s premier space exploration agency, and we are well served by politicians working to keep it that way, instead of turning it into a mere jobs program, or worse, cutting its budget. – Bill Nye

By refocusing our space program on Mars for America’s future, we can restore the sense of wonder and adventure in space exploration that we knew in the summer of 1969. We won the moon race; now it’s time for us to live and work on Mars, first on its moons and then on its surface. – Buzz Aldrin

Space exploration is a force of nature unto itself that no other force in society can rival. – Neil deGrasse Tyson

We’d never have got a chance to go outside and look at the earth if it hadn’t been for space exploration and NASA. – James Lovelock

Also on this day: That’s Cool – In 1850, Dr. John Gorrie demonstrated the first air conditioner.
Darien Scheme – In 1698, Scotland tried colonizing in the Americas.
Richard Speck – In 1966, Speck went on a killing spree.
Alta, California – In 1771, a new mission was established.
Big Money – In 1969, large denomination bills were removed from circulation.

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Big Money

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2014
The $100,000 bill

The $100,000 bill

July 14, 1969: The US Federal Reserve System officially discontinues large denomination bills. The $500 bill featured William McKinley, the $1,000 bill had Grover Cleveland on it, the $5,000 pictured James Madison, the $10,000 showed Salmon P. Chase, and the specially and rarely printed $100,000 had Woodrow Wilson on the front. The last was used for certain internal government transactions. The $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills were left in circulation although the $2 is rarely used and often confused with counterfeit money. The large denomination bills had been issued since the founding of the country, obviously with different people on the front.

On the back of all the large bills was ornate scrollwork and denomination identifiers. They were printed in green except for the 1934 gold certificates which came in $100, $1,000. $10,000, and $100,000 denominations and had orange printing on the back. These were issued after the country went off the gold standard and gold was compulsorily confiscated by order of Franklin D. Roosevelt. These bills were used only internally and not issued to the public. The series was discontinued in 1940. Although all bills printed by the US Mint system are considered legal tender, the no longer in service bills are generally treated as collectors’ items and are worth more than their face value indicates.

The last time any of the large bills were printed in the United States was on December 27, 1945 but it took until this day until they were officially declared defunct. They had been disappearing from use for quite some time. Benny Binion had 100 of the $10,000 bills displayed at his casino in Las Vegas. The display has since been taken down and the bills sold to individual collectors. The Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona has an 1800s era $1,000 bill underneath a glass counter. As of May 30, 2009 there were 336 $10,000 bills known to exist. There were also 342 $5,000 and 165,372 $1,000 bills still remaining. Some of these are displayed in museums outside the country.

Most of these large bills were used by banks and by the government for large financial transactions. With the advent of electronic money systems, this became no longer needed. Richard Nixon had them removed from circulation partly because of new systems in place and partly because of the fear of counterfeiting and use in illegal activities such as drug trades and money laundering. Even with the rate of inflation since the large bills were removed – the $500 bill would purchase less today than the $100 bill did back in 1969 – there is little need for the larger bills. Neither the Department of the Treasury nor the Federal Reserve System has any plans to reissue the big bills.

The lack of money is the root of all evil. – Mark Twain

All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy. – Spike Milligan

It’s a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money. – Albert Camus

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. – Woody Allen

Also on this day: That’s Cool – In 1850, Dr. John Gorrie demonstrates the first air conditioner.
Darien Scheme – In 1698, Scotland tried colonizing in the Americas.
Richard Speck – In 1966, Speck went on a killing spree.
Alta, California – In 1771, a new mission was established.

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Darien Scheme

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2013
Darien Scheme colony map

Darien Scheme colony map

July 14, 1698: The Darien scheme begins. With most of Europe trying to gain footholds in the New World, the King of Scotland joined the colonization craze. The plan was to establish a Scottish colony on the Isthmus of Panama. Scotland was small in area and was economically hindered by not establishing empire colonies that would send revenue back to the home coffers. Tariffs, crop failures, and trade wars led to economic downturns. Several steps were taken to boost the economy. The Bank of Scotland was formed, public education was instituted throughout the country, and they began to raise capital for trade with “Africa and the Indies”.

The Scots had tried to establish themselves previously in what is today New Jersey and South Carolina and both attempts were unsuccessful. William Paterson came up with a daring plan to colonize the Isthmus of Panama in order to use the colony as a way station for trade with the Far East – the same idea eventually led to the construction of the Panama Canal. Subscriptions were sold in London but England and France were at war and Spain claimed the area of Panama for themselves. To forestall international upset, the London funds were withdrawn.

Back in Scotland, funding was finally gathered for the Darien scheme, so called because they were to first land near the Bay of Darien. Five ships with about 1,200 people on board set off. After a few stops, the colonists reached their final destination on November 2 and called their settlement New Caledonia. They built a fort and watchtower and began to plant both yams and maize. They were not particularly adept with these crops. The natives did not wish to trade with the newcomers and as the summer of 1699 wore on the death toll rose to ten per day. Supplies were scarce and the heat and humidity brought on fevers and diseases.

The British refused to help the struggling colonists in order to placate Spain. One ship did manage to return to Scotland even though they were refused permission to stop and resupply in Jamaica. There were only 300 survivors. They returned too late to stop a second expedition from leaving. Over 1,000 people were already on their way to meet with disaster. Scotland had failed to establish a colony and realized she would never be a world power. This is said to have influenced the 1707 Acts of Union where Scotland would unite with England.

“The Darien venture was the most ambitious colonial scheme attempted in the 17th century…The Scots were the first to realise the strategic importance of the area…” – unknown

“It seems to be in the nature of imperialism to fear everything that is not subject to its influence.” – Mansour Farhang

“We should keep [the Panama Canal]. After all, we stole if fair and square.” – S. I Hayakawa

“I would annex the planets if I could.” – Cecil Rhodes

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The 1707 Acts of Union were two different acts. The Union with Scotland Act 1706 and Union with England Act 1707. The Scotland Act was passed by the Parliament of England while the England Act was passed by the Parliament of Scotland. These two acts put into effect the conditions of the Treaty of Union that both countries agreed to on July 22, 1706. Prior to this, they were two separate states with separate legislatures, but both were ruled by the same monarch. The two countries were united under one King a century earlier with King James VI of Scotland became King James of England upon the death of his second cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Three different attempts had been made to further combine the two states before the Act took effect on May 1, 1707. Finally, there was one crown, rather than two separate crowns, worn by the same Queen – Anne had been ruling since March 8, 1702.

Also on this day: That’s Cool – In 1850, Dr. John Gorrie demonstrates the first air conditioner.
Richard Speck – In 1966, Speck went on a killing spree.
Alta, California – In 1771, a new mission was established.

Alta, California

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2012

Mission San Antonio de Padua

July 14, 1771: The Mission San Antonio de Padua is founded. It was the third mission established in Alta, California by Father Presidente Junípero Serra. The lands included in Alta or Upper California are today part of California and Nevada. Spain separated the Dominican Missions from the Franciscan Missions in 1769. The area’s boundaries were hazy and possibly included parts of modern day Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. The Dominicans retained control in what is today Mexico. The first Franciscan mission was in San Diego and founded in 1769. The Catholic Spaniards continued to expand northward.

San Antonio de Padua is located in Monterey County, California. The mission was the first in Alta California to use fired-tile roofing. The baked brick mission was built under Fathers Miguel Pieras and Buenaventura Sitjar who remained after Father Serra left the area. The church itself was not built until 1810. By that time, 178 indigenous people were living at the mission. The population rose to 1,300 Native Americans but after secularization, laws were passed in 1834 and the number dropped to 150. No town grew up around the mission as was true of others built around that time. Today King City, nearly 30 miles away, is the closest city.

Junípero Serra was born in Majorca, Spain in 1713. He entered the Order of Friars Minor in 1730. At that time, he changed his name to Junípero to honor a former Franciscan. He excelled at his studies in Spain. He came to North America, first to Mexico City, and then traveled to Veracruz. He refused to ride a mule and walked wherever he went. In 1768 he was appointed as a supervisor over 15 other monks. After the Jesuits were ordered from the New World by King Carlos III, Serra became Father Presidente.

Serra was beatified or given sainthood by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. The indigenous people of Alta California claim the missions were nothing short of slave labor camps. The European colonization of the regions dropped the populations from 300,000 to 200,000 mostly due to diseases such as smallpox and malaria, because the locals had little immunity to them. It is said Native Americans were converted to Christianity – sometimes at gunpoint – and forced to comply with the friars’ orders. If they refused, they were whipped, branded, or even killed. If they escaped, they were hunted down. They were horrified by the Pope’s decree of sainthood and have strenuously voiced their discontent.

Those whom we cannot exploit we denounce as selfish. – Paul Eldridge

No elaboration of physical or moral accomplishment can atone for the sin of parasitism. – George Bernard Shaw

Exploitation is the essence of violence. – Mohandas K. Ghandi

Remember, Drucker, if you don’t feel exploited, you’re not working hard enough. – Mike Shapiro

Also on this day:

That’s Cool – In 1850, Dr. John Gorrie demonstrates the first air conditioner.
Darien Scheme – In 1698, Scotland tried colonizing in the Americas.
Richard Speck – In 1966, Speck went on a killing spree.

Richard Speck

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2011

Richard Speck

July 14, 1966: Richard Speck tortures, rapes, and murders eight student nurses. Speck was born in central Illinois in 1941. He was close to his father who died of a heart attack at age 53 when Speck was six years old. His mother met Carl Lindberg, an unsavory man, on a train trip to Chicago. Lindberg had a 25 year criminal record. He was the antithesis of Speck’s sober, hardworking father. The Mrs. Speck and Lindberg married in 1950 and moved the family to Texas. The family moved ten times in the next dozen years. Lindberg psychologically abused the young Speck children. Speck struggled in school and dropped out at age 16, finishing only the eighth grade.

Speck began drinking at age 12 and by age 15 was drunk almost daily. He was first arrested for trespassing at age 13 and continued to have run-ins with the law for the rest of his life. He was arrested dozens of times before reaching age 21. At age 19, he met Shirley Malone, then 15. She was pregnant three weeks after they began dating. They married on January 19, 1962. When their daughter was born that summer, Shirley didn’t know where her husband was. He was in jail.

He continued to be in and out of jail on a variety of charges – forgery, theft, aggravated assault. When out of prison, he was unable to hold a job. He separated from his wife and then moved in with another woman who wanted him to babysit her three children. Speck could not stay out of trouble and was once again in custody. After his 42nd arrest in Dallas, his sister helped him leave town to avoid another prison sentence. He took a bus to Chicago.

In Illinois, he stayed with another sister. He was back to a life of crime within weeks in Monmouth, his hometown. He left there and went to Chicago in April 1966. Unable to hold on to a job, he became restless and began drinking heavily. At 11 PM on July 13, Speck broke into a townhouse used as dormitory for several student nurses. He was armed with a knife and may have been intent on a simple burglary. However, he held the women for hours, leading them one by one out of a room and then stabbing or strangling them to death. He raped his last victim and then strangled her. One woman escaped by hiding under a bed. Speck either lost count or didn’t know how many women were there. He was found guilty and given the death penalty. This was later reversed to life in prison. Speck died of heart attack one day before his 50th birthday.

“Clinton and Obama practice this politics known quaintly as the Richard Speck strategy: if you cannot take on everyone in the room at once, take them out of the room one at a time.” – Grover Norquist

“A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer’s hand.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“America is still the No. 1 killer in the world.” – Jeremiah Wright

“I think capital punishment works great. Every killer you kill never kills again.” – Bill Maher

Also on this day:
That’s Cool – In 1850, Dr. John Gorrie demonstrates the first air conditioner.
Darien Scheme – In 1698, Scotland tried colonizing in the Americas.

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That’s Cool

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2010

Dr. Gorrie's ice machine

July 14, 1850: Dr. John Gorrie demonstrates making ice by refrigeration at the Mansion House in Apalachicola, Florida. Dr. Gorrie wanted ice to help cool off yellow fever patients at the US Marine Hospital, where he worked. Ice was suspended in a bucket from the ceiling and since cold air is denser than hot air, it would drift down and cool the patients suffering in the extreme heat.

Harvesting of ice and snow to help cool and preserve food has been going on since prehistoric times. In the 16th century, chemical means of refrigeration were tried. Sodium or potassium nitrates were added to water, lowering the temperature.

William Cullen created a partial vacuum over some ethyl ether and managed to make a small bit of ice in 1748. Other inventors tried making a refrigeration process that could create ice as well. Gorrie patented his ice making machine, noting not only its usefulness as a refrigeration device, but also as an air conditioner. It was not a commercial success and when he died in 1855, he was an impoverished and broken man.

US businessman Alexander C. Twinning used sulphuric ether to cool air in 1856. Australian James Harrison studied both Twinning’s and Gorrie’s processes and came up with ether vapor compression refrigeration. Frenchman Ferdinand Carre used ammonia absorption for cooling. It was not until 1906 that any type of air conditioning apparatus was developed. In that year, Willis Haviland Carrier passed hot soggy air through a fine spray of water. The moisture condensed and cooler, dry air was the result.

“Invention is the mother of necessity.” – Thorstein Veblen

“They don’t know a wit about marketing, … That is the biggest challenge for most inventors.” – Joanne Hayes

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” – Thomas A. Edison

“Not every inventor is going to have the capital or the management experience or all the other things that go into building a business…and bringing a product to market.” – Robert Asher

“No one can assume that valuable innovations will pop up magically in the public domain if their inventors received no reward for their labor and capital.” – Richard Epstein

Also on this day, in 1698 Scotland embarked on an unsuccessful colonization plan.