Little Bits of History

July 6

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 6, 2017

1865: The Nation’s first issue hits newsstands. The Liberator was an abolitionist newspaper founded by William Lloyd Garrison and Isaac Knapp in 1831. Published in Boston, The Liberator lasted for 35 years, with its last issue published December 29, 1865. The Nation was the successor to that earlier publication and was also founded by abolitionists after the US Civil War. It was headquartered on “newspaper row” in Manhattan, where most of New York City’s newspapers were located. It was published by Joseph Richards and the editor was Edwin Godkin who was also editor in chief of the New York Evening Post from 1883-1899. He was born in Ireland and worked as a journalist and war correspondent for a London paper before coming to American 1856.

With a classical liberal at the helm, The Nation was able to point out the aftermath of the War and what it meant to the entire nation. As one of its regular features during the first year, it ran The South As It Is, dispatches from the war-torn South written by John Dennett, a Harvard graduate and veteran of the Port Royal Experiment. Beginning in 1861, liberated slaves were given lands abandoned by planters as the Union liberated regions of Port Royal in South Carolina. The planters fled and left 10,000 slaves behind to fend for themselves and with help from the North, the industrious former slaves were able to thrive. It was successful and could have been successfully used as a model for Reconstruction. In 1865, President Andrew Johnson ended the experiment.

The Nation was also a proponent for a sound national currency after the Civil War in order to restore economic stability. They advocated for eliminating protective tariffs and free trade. Their presentation of journalism integrity garnered them high praise and many of their articles were collected into book form. Their editorial staff has remained liberal or progressive with many of the higher echelons under investigation by government officials for subversion. The magazine suffered financial setbacks in the 1940s. Mergers were discussed but avoided. In 1995, the magazine was purchased by Victor Navasky (editor at the time) and Katrina vanden Heuvel was made editor, a position she retains.

Today, The Nation remains in print and has an online presence. They remain a political, progressive, social liberal outlet and have a weekly circulation slightly over 100,000. It is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the US and is the most widely read weekly journal for the liberal or progressive aligned American. They continue to publish political and cultural news along with opinion and analysis pieces. They can be found online at The Nation. While they are predominantly concerned with American politics, the world has grown ever more connected and they also address world issues.

The liberal psyche wants to protect minorities, to apologize for imperialism, colonialism, slavery, and the appalling treatment of black people during the civil rights movement. At the same time, they want to continue to defend the rights of individuals. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel. – Robert Frost

If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today. – Thomas Sowell

What you realize hanging out with investigative reporters is that, while they may be personally liberal, they don’t let that get in the way of a good story. – Stephen Bannon

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 6, 2015
Pope Clement VI

Pope Clement VI

July 6, 1348: Pope Clement VI issues a papal bull. A papal bull is a type of letters patent issued by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Letters patent are published legal instruments which issue orders from a leader to those under his/her command. The papal portion indicates the leader issuing the orders while the bull is named for the lead seal (bulla) attached at the end of the document to ensure its authenticity. They first saw use in the 6th century but the term was not used until the end of the 13th century. They begin with a formalized statement with the Pope’s name and title as well as Latin words indicating the title of the document. Following that is the text of the order and then it is formally signed and sealed with the papal seal or bulla. This was usually lead but for special and important cases, could be made of gold.

The papal bull issued on this day was sent out to Europeans to help protect Jews from persecution. The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics to ever strike humankind. There were an estimated 75 to 200 million deaths in Europe due to the plague which peaked between 1346 and 1353. This resulted in a third to two-thirds of Europe’s population wiped out. Pope Clement had only recently risen to his position and sought out the help of “experts” to determine the cause of these devastating losses. Unfortunately, the science of the time was not up to the task and so he was given bad advice. Popular opinion was as erroneous as the expert opinion, but with a different causative agent. The Jews were accused of purposely contaminating water supplies. Since they were often sequestered in their own parts of town and their kosher lifestyle demanded more cleanliness, they were often able to remain healthy. So they were blamed.

Clement issued his first papal bull protecting the Jews on this day without stopping the persecution. He reiterated the protection of the Church on September 26. He condemned the violence against Jews and said that the perpetrators had been “seduced by that liar, the Devil”. His orders were to local clergy who were urged to protect Jews, just as the Pope himself had done. Although he was warned to not minister to the sick, he ignored his experts and continued his practice or blessing the sick and those who had died. Although surrounded by death, the pontiff never contracted the disease.

Analysis of DNA from victims of the disease was published in 2010 and 2011 and the pathogen responsible was the Yersinia pestis bacterium. It caused several different forms of what was known as Black Death. Overall world population fell by an estimated 450 million or 30-60% of the total population in the 14th century. The loss of such a great number of people caused upheavals in all aspects of life: economic, religious, and social. It had a profound effect on the civilized world of the time and it took almost 150 years for Europe’s population to recover. The disease was thought to have originated in the arid plains of Central Asia and traveled via the Silk Road to reach the Crimea in 1347 and then spread throughout Europe with small pockets of lands untouched by Death.

We all live in the protection of certain cowardices which we call our principles. – Mark Twain

Freedom is not an ideal, it is not even a protection, if it means nothing more than freedom to stagnate, to live without dreams, to have no greater aim than a second car and another television set. – Adlai Stevenson

Pessimism: A valuable protection against quackery. – John Ralston Saul

To have faith in Divine protection is good, but even better if backed by the practical assistance heaven has a right to expect from sensible mortals. – Edith Pargeter

Also on this day: The Greatest Show on Earth – In 1944, the Hartford Circus Fire killed over 100 attendees at the circus.
Dirigible – In 1919, the first east to west Atlantic crossing in an airship successfully concluded.
Rabidly Scientific – In 1885, Louis Pasteur began the first series of rabies shots.
Homestead Strike – In 1892, violence broke out during the strike.
Piper Alpha – In 1988, the oil platform exploded.

Piper Alpha

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 6, 2014
Piper Alpha platform explosion

Piper Alpha platform explosion

July 6, 1988: The Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea explodes. Four companies which later became OPCAL were first given a license to explore for oil in the North Sea in 1972. They discovered the Piper oil fields and began building a platform in 1973 with oil production commencing in 1976. That first year they produced 250,000 barrels per day and eventually increased to 300,000. A gas recovery unit was added in 1980 and production dropped 125,000 barrels per day by 1988. There were three platforms ranged miles apart, but still connected via piping. Piper Alpha was built about 120 miles northeast of Aberdeen in water that was 474 feet deep. The platform was made of four modules separated by firewalls.

The original construction had the most dangerous parts of the operation furthest from the personnel areas. With the conversion from oil to gas in 1980, that configuration changed. By 1988, Piper Alpha was one of the heaviest platforms operating in the North Sea. There were six major projects operating in order to maintain and upgrade the platform at the time of the explosion. Occidental opted to run the platform rather than shut down for these fixes. The platform was completely destroyed in the blast and many of the people involved died, so events have been surmised from careful analysis after the fact.

At noon on this day, two condensate pumps displaced the platform’s condensate for transport to the coast. Pump A’s safety valve was removed for routine maintenance and replaced by a disk cover because work would not be completed by 6 PM. A message was left that the pump was not ready and could not be used under any circumstances. The day shift ended at 6 PM and the 62 men of the night crew took over. The message about the pump was not properly communicated and got lost. Firefighting pumps were on manual operation and could not be operated remotely due to safety concerns for divers near intake valves for sucking water up to fight any fires.

At 9:45 PM solid ice crystals began forming on Pump B and it stopped working. Nothing was found indicating any issues with Pump A and at 9:55 PM the pump was switched on. Because of the missing valve, gas flowed in under high pressure. Alarms were sounded. Before anyone could act, the gas ignited and exploded and put a man-sized hole in the firewall. The fire spread and would have burned out except that the platform was connected to the other two in the area. By 12:45 AM the entire platform was gone. Of the 226 people aboard, 165 died as well as 2 people from the Standby Vessel used as part of the rescue team.

Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil. – J. Paul Getty

A century ago, petroleum – what we call oil – was just an obscure commodity; today it is almost as vital to human existence as water. – James Buchan

Thankfully, due to the United Kingdom and the commitment of the Westminster government we are able to ensure that money brought in, whether it be from the City of London or from North Sea oil, can be pooled and directed to wherever it is needed most. That is what being in the United Kingdom is all about. – Iain Duncan Smith

The extraction of oil, coal and minerals brought, and still brings, a cost to the environment. – Bono

Also on this day: The Greatest Show on Earth – In 1944, the Hartford Circus Fire kills over 100 attendees at the circus.
Dirigible – In 1919, the first east to west Atlantic crossing in an airship successfully concluded.
Rabidly Scientific – In 1885, Louis Pasteur begins the first series of rabies shots.
Homestead Strike – In 1892, violence broke out during the strike.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 6, 2013
R34  docking

R34 docking

July 6, 1919: The R34 arrives in Mineola, Long Island, New York, the first east-to-west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by air. There is speculation about pre-Columbian crossings of the Atlantic. The Vikings landed in Canada settling in a few non-permanent villages on Newfoundland. Columbus sailed in 1492 hoping to reach China and ran into already populated lands. Until the 19th century, sailing across the ocean was perilous. Steamships made the journey faster and safer. And then mankind took to the air.

Airships or dirigibles are lighter-than-air craft. They can be powered or unpowered. They can be non-rigid, semi-rigid, or rigid. Hot air balloons led to the development of an airship. First presented in a French paper in 1783, they were first powered by a propeller in 1784. More refinements, technological advances, and sheer nerve allowed for an English Channel crossing in 1785. Further improvements followed to both the airship structure and the propulsion system.

The Golden Age of Airships began in July 1900 when the Germans launched the first rigid airship, the Zeppelin. The airships proved somewhat useful during World War I with the silent, slow ships being better suited to reconnaissance than bombing runs. The ships became less popular after the war until it was thought to use them for transatlantic transportation. The British RAF had engineered two airships based on the captured remains of a crashed L33 Zeppelin. The R33 made her first flight on March 6, 1919 with the R34 launched on March 14.

On June 17 the R34 made her first endurance trip and flew over the Baltic Sea, staying in the air for 56 hours. It was decided to try an Atlantic crossing. There were no provisions for passengers as the ship was not designed for them. Hammocks were placed in the keel hallway and food was cooked over the engine exhaust pipe. It took 108 hours to cross the ocean and no one on land knew how to tether the rigid airship. Major E.M. Pritchard parachuted to the ground to help secure the ship. He thus became the first person to traverse the Atlantic Ocean, nonstop, by air. The ship was out of fuel by the time she was docked. The return trip to England, with a tailwind to help, took 75 hours.

“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” – Mary Tyler Moore

“Life is like a hand of cards. You have to play the hand you’re dealt, you can’t win by folding, and sometimes you must take chances in order to win.” – Mike Conner

“It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.” – Alvin Toffler

“Wherever there is danger, there lurks opportunity; whenever there is opportunity, there lurks danger. The two are inseparable. They go together.” – Earl Nightingale

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin was a German general and later an aircraft manufacturer. He first mentioned creating a large dirigible in a diary entry dated March 25, 1874. He kept his dream alive while still serving in the army. However, he retired at the age of 52 in 1891 so that he could devote his time to the building of these large craft. He hired engineer Theodor Gross to help and by June he wrote to the King of Wurtemberg’s secretary announcing his plans to begin construction. After discovering his underestimation of the force of air resistance, he almost quit, but with his urging, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft were able to build a more efficient engine. With more help from many others, Zeppelin received a patent for an “airship-train” in August 1895. This “train” was of rigid construction consisting of three sections.  The first flight was finally taken on July 2, 1900 when LZ1 powered itself over Lake Constance in southern Germany.

Also on this day: The Greatest Show on Earth – In 1944, the Hartford Circus Fire kills over 100 attendees at the circus.
Rabidly Scientific – In 1865, Louis Pasteur begins the first series of rabies shots.
Homestead Strike – In 1892, violence broke out during the strike.

Homestead Strike

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 6, 2012

State militia entering Homestead, Pennsylvania

July 6, 1892: The Homestead Strike turns violent. The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (AA) was an union formed in 1876 to represent skilled iron and steel workers. The Carnegie Steel Company ran a mill near Pittsburgh in a small town called Homestead. The AA was instrumental in negotiating national wage scales and helped to regularize work hours, work loads, and work speeds thus improving working conditions in the mills. Between January and March of 1882, a strike was waged between the Bessemer Steel Works and the AA in Homestead and finally ended with a complete union victory.

The AA struck again in 1889 and won a three year contract, again after violence between strikers and strikebreakers. The AA grew after winning this second round with Carnegie’s Bessemer plant. The contract ran until July 1, 1892. Carnegie supported unions for the most part. Henry Frick was in charge of the company’s operations beginning in 1881. He was less thrilled with unions and vowed to break the one in Homestead. On June 29, 1892 with no agreement between union and employer, Frick locked the doors to the plant. The contract had not yet officially run out, but snipers armed with high pressure water cannons (spraying boiling hot water) were placed in order to keep the plant closed.

The union officially struck on July 1 and each side became entrenched. The owners tried to bring in scabs or strikebreakers and the union workers escorted them back out of town. They stopped all production. Without a contract even under negotiation, Frick hired Pinkerton National Detective Agency to help with security at the plant, enabling strikebreakers access. The AA had prior knowledge of their impending arrival along the Monongahela River. The 300 agents were armed with Winchester rifles and loaded onto barges and tugged upriver to land at the steel mill and restore order. There, they were met by angry union workers and civilians. Shots were exchanged.

The two forces jockeyed back and forth, retreated and advanced and several times more shots erupted. The AA men tried several attempts to burn the barges with the Pinkerton men aboard. Local law enforcement pled with the governor for State Militia to restore law and order. On July 7, after some measure of protection was granted, the Pinkerton contingent surrendered. They were promised safe passage, but several of the men were severely beaten on the trip through town. Before the Militia arrived and restored some control, ten people were dead and many more injured. The strike was finally resolved October 13. Due to all the violence, AA lost credibility and much authority.

Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor. – John F. Kennedy

With all their faults, trade-unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in man, than any other association of men. – Clarence Darrow

Labor unions would have us believe that they transfer income from rich capitalists to poor workers. In fact, they mostly transfer income from the large number of non-union workers to a small number of relatively well-off union workers. – Robert E. Anderson

The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, the poor. –  A. Phillip Randolph

Also on this day:

The Greatest Show on Earth – In 1944, the Hartford Circus Fire kills over 100 attendees at the circus.
Dirigible – In 1919, the first east to west Atlantic crossing in an airship successfully concluded.
Rabidly Scientific – In 1865, Louis Pasteur begins the first series of rabies shots.

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Rabidly Scientific

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 6, 2011

Louis Pasteur

July 6, 1885: Louis Pasteur gave the first in a series of injections to 9-year-old Joseph Meister who had been bitten by a rabid dog two days earlier. This was the first successful inoculation against the fatal disease. Pasteur used rabies viruses grown in rabbits and then weakened by drying, a procedure already tested in dogs.

The first step on the long road to immunizations was to correctly identify the problem. Pasteur’s early experiments confirmed the germ theory of disease. Ancient theory (36 BC) presumed that all disease was spontaneously generated. Girolamo Fracastoro (1546) thought disease came from little seed-like things that could be transferred from victim to victim. Anton van Leeuwenhoek began using a microscope in 1648 and was the first to find microorganisms.

Agostino Bassi (1835) credited deaths to insects carrying germs (vectors). Frencesco Redi grew maggots on meat only in unsealed containers and disproved the spontaneous generation of germs. John Snow (1854) halted a cholera outbreak by cutting off the source at the contaminated water pump.

Rabies is caused by a virus that can infect any mammal. The virus produces neurological disturbances causing acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and is nearly always fatal. Meister survived his bite and the 14-day treatment. He grew up admiring his savior and became a caretaker at the Pasteur Institute. When the Nazis occupied Paris in 1941, Meister refused to allow the Wehrmacht to enter Pasteur’s crypt. At age 64, Meister used his WWI revolver to commit suicide rather than defile his hero’s resting place.

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” – Pierre Pachet

“When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments; tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become.” – Louis Pasteur

“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.” – Louis Pasteur

“There does not exist a category of science to which one can give the name applied science. There are science and the applications of science, bound together as the fruit of the tree which bears it.” – Louis Pasteur

Also on this day:
The Greatest Show on Earth – In 1944, the Hartford Circus Fire kills over 100 attendees at the circus.
Dirigible – In 1919, the first east to west Atlantic crossing in an airship successfully concluded.

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The Greatest Show on Earth

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 6, 2010

Fire at Hartford, Connecticut

July 6, 1944: A fire consumes the circus big top of The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus in Hartford, Connecticut, and kills 168 people, injures another 700, and makes it the worst circus disaster in history. The fire was probably caused by a discarded cigarette during an afternoon performance. There were between 7,500 and 8,700 people in attendance. A lasting image from the disaster is that of Emmett Kelly, a famous clown, throwing a bucket of water at the burning tent.

The Big Top was a canvas tent that could have easily been escaped had people just realized that they could have lifted the material between the stakes and escaped the fire. The canvas was not fire treated. This was war time, and the Army had control over all the fireproofing material in the US. They would not release the amount needed to the circus. Regardless, the circus was found to be at fault for the deaths. Several executives served jail sentences in connection with the deaths.

P.T. Barnum (1810 – 1891) started his circus in 1835 and was billing his act as the greatest show on earth by 1872. James Bailey (1847 – 1906)  carried on with the circus when Barnum died. The seven Ringling Brothers had been building up their own circus and the two circuses combined in 1907. They continued to be run as two separate circuses until they were joined into one Greatest Show in 1919.

Many claims were brought against The Greatest Show on Earth and it took all the profits from the next ten years, before all claims were paid in full. Yet even today, with DNA testing, not all who died in the conflagration have been identified.

“By laughing at me, the audience really laughs at themselves, and realizing they have done this gives them sort of a spiritual second wind for going back into the battles of life.” – Emmett Kelly

“Fire, water and government know nothing of mercy.” – unknown

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem.  Everything else is inconvenience.” – Robert Fulghum

“Without promotion something terrible happens… Nothing!” – P.T Barnum

Also on this day, in 1919 the R34 dirigible makes the first east to west air crossing of the Atlantic.
Bonus link: In 1865, Louis Pasteur
began the first series of rabies shots.