Little Bits of History

June 11

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 11, 2017

1776: The Committee of Five convenes. As the American Colonies began to prepare for their separation from the British Empire, they were tasked with creating their own system of governance. The First Continental Congress took place between September and October 1774 and managed to unite the colonies in efforts to control their own fates. They were able to institute a boycott of British products (and numbers dropped 95% in 1775) and if the Intolerable Acts were not repealed, they would also stop exporting to England. Their other major accomplishment was to provide for a second meeting on May 10, 1775 – the Second Continental Congress.

The Second Continental Congress appointed five men to create a document outlining how their new country would be separate from the British Empire. This Second meeting was essentially a continuation of the first with many of the same delegates present. Notable inclusions in the second which were absent from the first were Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock. Peyton Randolph, president of the First meeting was in the same position for the Second until he was recalled to Virginia. Thomas Jefferson was his replacement delegate. Although Henry Middleton was elected as replacement president, he declined and Hancock took over the position.

The Committee of Five was tasked with creating a declaration of war, declaring the colonies in defiance of British authority and demanding their own government without British involvement or influence. The five men given the job of creating what we know as the Declaration of Independence were John Adams from Massachusetts, Thomas Jefferson from Virginia, Benjamin Franklin from Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman from Connecticut, and Robert Livingston of New York. They began by assigning Jefferson the authorship of the document. He had a very limited time in which to create a document supporting the Lee Resolution, in which America would declare to the world their intentions. In only 17 days, Jefferson completed the first draft and presented it to the Congress as a whole on June 28, 1776.

The rest of the Committee of Five had the chance to edit Jefferson’s work before presentation to the Committee of the Whole. One of the changes was to replace Jefferson’s longer phrase with the iconic “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. At 6.26 PM, the draft version was placed before all the delegates. There was some hammering out of phrasing and last minute changes before the accepting vote held on July 4, 1776. Late in the morning, the Second Continental Congress accepted the Declaration of Independence and the following day, the Dunlap broadside made the Declaration public with just one signature attached. It wasn’t until August 2 that a parchment document was available and all 56 members could affix their “John Hancock” to the important paper.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, he separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. hat these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. – all from the Declaration of Independence

Trojan Horse

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 11, 2015
Walls of Troy excavation*

Walls of Troy excavation*

June 11, 1184 BC: Troy is sacked and burned. This was the date given by Greek polymath Eratosthenes. He was born in Cyrene in 276 BC and died in Alexandria in 194 BC. What he is most famous for is his mathematical calculation for the circumference of the Earth. He was also a geographer (after he invented the field), poet, astronomer, and music theorist. He was the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria. His calculations led him to estimate not only the circumference, but the tilt of the Earth as well as its distance from the Sun. He invented leap day and was the first to draw a map with parallels and meridians. He also was the founder of scientific chronology and it was in that capacity that he came up with this date for the sack of Troy.

Troy had many names and spellings in Greek and Latin. Ilios is one spelling and it is from that that we get the great Homeric tale of the Iliad. The city was in Anatolia (what is today Turkey) at the southwest end of the Dardanelles/Hellespont. The city was the location for the Trojan War and it is given various dates by different historians. Herodotus chose earlier (1250 BC) and Duris of Samos even earlier (1334 BC) for the conclusion. Modern archaeologists working the cite associate Homeric Troy with archaeological Troy VII. There are layers of excavation in what is considered to be the city of Troy and they are labeled Troy I through Troy IX. The earliest timeframe is 3000-2600 BC. Troy VI has sublayers as it covers the 17th-15th centuries BC and takes the city to the late Bronze Age. Troy VII also has several different layers with VIIa being the one mostly likely at the time of the Trojan War (1300-1190 BC).

The first five layers are considered to be Western Anatolian and Early Bronze Age with the city being founded around 3000 BC. It seemed to have been a flourishing mercantile city as its strategic location gave it complete control over the Dardanelles and trade heading from the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea had to pass through Troy territory. As the Hittites came through, Troy was not burned as other cities in the area, but the newer archaeological digs show a change in culture which indicates a takeover of the city’s management. The city was destroyed by earthquake around 1250 BC as there is no evidence of war or fighting in the ruins at that time.

Evidence of fire and slaughter around 1184 BC (according to the archaeology of the region) are probably the residual evidence of the Trojan War immortalized by Homer. From the ruins, it has been estimated that the city walls enclosed about 50 acres and had towers reaching up to about 30 feet. There were probably somewhere between five and ten thousand people living there which made it a large and important city. The Troy built between the earthquake and destroyed with the sacking by the Greeks lasted about a century. The Troy of this period was destroyed by war and there are partial human remains which were found in houses and the streets. There still remains much of the city to be excavated and more answers will surely be found.

Aeneas carried his aged father on his back from the ruins of Troy and so do we all, whether we like it or not, perhaps even if we have never known them. – Angela Carter

If Helen of Troy could have been seen eating peppermints out of a paper bag, it is highly probable that her admirers would have been an entirely different class. It is the thing you are found doing while the horde looks on that you shall be loved for — or ignored. – Djuna Barnes

When I read a child’s book about the Trojan War and decided that the Greeks were really a bunch of frauds with their tricky horses and the terrible things they did, stealing one another’s wives, and so on, so at that very early age, I re-wrote the ending of the Iliad so that the Trojans won. – James A. Michener

I am been more ravished myself than any body since the Trojan War. – Lord Byron

Also on this day: Epicurean Feast – In 1939, the US President served the King of England hot dogs.
Limelight – In 1892, a new filming industry opened in Australia.
Great Barrier Reef v. Endeavour – In 1770, Captain Cook ran aground.
Wedded Bliss – In 1509, King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon.
Purging the Russian Army – In 1937, eight Soviet Union officers were executed.

* “Walls of Troy (1)” by CherryX per Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Tagged with: ,

Purging the Russian Army

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 11, 2014
Mikhail Tukhachevsky

Mikhail Tukhachevsky

June 11, 1937: Eight Soviet Union army leaders are executed. Joseph Stalin was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1929 until 1952. He followed Vyacheslav Molotov into power. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, he was the general secretary of the party’s Central Committee and was able to consolidate his power base after the death of Vladimir Lenin. His control over the USSR was total and he ruled without fear of reprisals, since he brooked no questioning of his methods. One of the ways he kept power was the Great Purge where he rid the country of dissidents between 1934 to 1940. He got rid of opposition government officials and Red Army leadership and repressed peasants via widespread police surveillance.

The Case of Trotskyist Anti-Soviet Military Organization (aka the Tukhachevsky Case) was a secret trial held in 1937 to get rid of high ranking military personnel. Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky and seven other officers were accused of anti-Soviet conspiracy. A ninth man would also have been brought to trial, but he committed suicide before he could be arrested. A secret tribunal was presided over by Vasili Ulrikh and seven other high ranking military personnel. Only three of them would survive the purges that followed. The trial triggered a massive purge of the Red Army in September 1938 where 37,761 officers and commissars were dismissed, 10,868 were arrested, and 7,211 were condemned for anti-Soviet crimes.

After Leon Trotsky was removed as Commissar of War, his supporters were removed from the army in a series of purges. Tukhachevsky was a popular leader and a public trial would have been difficult. Evidence was based on confessions from others, probably arrived at during torture. It was thought that the German Nazi Party had manufactured documentation leading to Tukhachevsky’s arrest. After 1990, when Soviet archives were opened, the theory was changed. It appears that Stalin manufactured the reason and offered Tukhachevsky surreptitiously to the Nazis who went on to create even more forged documents. None of these were needed during the trial since the tortured suspects had confessed to their crimes. Immediately following the secret trial, the eight men were executed.

The reason for the entire farce remains somewhat unclear. The best hypothesis is simply that Stalin wished to consolidate his power base. By getting rid of the most popular and well-regarded generals, the following Great Terror was easier. The killing off of all opposition was easier without leadership to question it. By the end of the Terror, three of the five Soviet Marshals, 90% of all Red Army generals, 80% of all colonels, and 30,000 officers of lesser rank had been purged. Virtually of these men were executed.

One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.

Death solves all problems – no man, no problem.

I trust no one, not even myself.

Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach. – all from Joseph Stalin

Also on this day: Epicurean Feast – In 1939 the US President serves the King of England hot dogs.
Limelight – In 1892, a new filming industry opened in Australia.
Great Barrier Reef v. Endeavour – In 1770, Captain Cook ran aground.
Wedded Bliss – In 1509 King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 11, 2013
Singing Salvation Army

Singing Salvation Army

June 11, 1892: The Limelight Department is established in Melbourne, Australia. It was one of the world’s first film studios and was part of The Salvation Army. Joseph Perry, on compassionate leave after his wife died, was working in Ballarat, Victoria in southern Australia. He started a photographic studio and was raising his three daughters when he was sent on a temporary assignment to Melbourne, about 75 miles away.

Perry was to assist Australian Commissioner Thomas Coombs whose project was making a presentation for The Salvation Army’s founder General William Booth’s In Darkest England. Using an early version of PowerPoint, Perry displayed “lantern slides” or hand colored pictures onto a large screen. This technique produced a high quality and effective presentation and Coombs was so impressed that he turned Perry’s temporary assignment into a permanent post.

Perry wasn’t the only driving force behind the Limelight Department. Herbert Booth, William’s son, added his own flair and organizational skills. Frank Barritt, Tom McKie, and Sidney Cook along with a host of others helped to broaden the scope and capabilities of the company. They produced the multimedia, turn-of-the-century extravaganza – Soldiers of the Cross (1900) – which held 3,000 feet of film and 200 colored glass slides and is sometimes listed as the first feature length film. The film focused on early martyrs for the Christian faith. It cost £550 to produce or about £45,000 today. The movie was extremely violent and had a cast of about 150 Salvation Army officers who were stationed in Melbourne. They also filmed Australia’s Federation ceremonies in 1901.

They operated for only 17 years – 1892-1909. In that time, they produced about 300 films. These innovative men began working when Australia was a “disparate group of British colonies” and documented the shift to a Federated Commonwealth. In 1910, Coombs was replaced as Australian commander by James Hay. The new, conservative leader felt that films and religion were not compatible so he shut down Limelight.

“It should be noted that the cinema, as conducted by The Salvation Army, had led to weakness and a lightness incompatible with true Salvationism and was completely ended by me.” – James Hay

“My slides are not produced by artists other than the merest detail in the backgrounds – they are all life-models.” – Herbert Booth

“There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army.” – John Ashbery

“We have always believed that what the Salvation Army does is good and right.” – Ken Smith

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 in London’s East End by William and Catherine Booth. The originally named their organization East London Christian Mission. The name changed early on when William was dictating a letter to his secretary, George Scott Railton and said, “We are a volunteer army.” William’s father, Bramwell Booth, chimed in, “Volunteer! I’m no volunteer, I’m a regular!” It was then that Railton was instructed to cross out the word “volunteer” and replace it with the word “salvation”. The Salvation Army was modeled after the military with its own flag and hymns which were often set to popular or folk music. William would often wear an Army uniform to meetings and while ministering.

Also on this day: Epicurean Feast – In 1939 the US President serves the King of England hot dogs.
Great Barrier Reef v. Endeavour – In 1770, Captain Cook ran aground.
Wedded Bliss – In 1509 King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon.

Wedded Bliss

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 11, 2012

King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon

June 11, 1509: King Henry VIII marries Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. Catherine was born in Madrid on December 16, 1485. Her first husband was Arthur, Prince of Wales. Arthur was Henry VII’s eldest son. The two youngsters were married on November 4, 1501 – just ten days after they first met. By April 2, 1502 Catherine was a widow. She was just sixteen, her husband was only fifteen when he died suddenly, succumbing to some unknown disease. Catherine had also been ill, but she recovered.

After his older son’s death, Henry VII was intent on not returning the dowry to Catherine’s parents. Henry, Duke of York, was now in line for the throne, a job he was not prepared for. Catherine was betrothed to the younger brother who was only ten years old at the time. The marriage was delayed due to a number of reasons, not least of which was the groom’s age. The dowry payment was at issue. Catherine maintained her first marriage was not consummated. The Pope needed to grant permission for the couple to marry because of the familial relationship between the royals.

By the time they married, Catherine was 23 and Henry was soon to turn 18. On June 24, the newlyweds were anointed and crowned together by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The new King (Henry VII had died on April 21, 1509) and his Queen celebrated their marriage and coronation at Westminster Hall. In 1510, they had a stillborn daughter. In 1511 a son was born but he died 52 days later. Catherine had two more sons who died. Finally, her daughter born in 1516 survived. Mary would one day become Queen of England. Catherine had one more daughter who died shortly after birth.

Since the Tudor line was new to the throne, Henry VIII wanted a male heir. He was afraid of another Civil War after his death unless he could provide a replacement King. Catherine’s six pregnancies left him with one daughter and his wife aging. Henry looked to Anne Boleyn to replace Catherine. His attempt to get his marriage annulled failed. Catherine was banished from the castle and Anne was secretly wed. Henry’s desire to have a son led him to marry six times and begin a new religion. Edward VI did succeed his father to the throne, at least for a short time.

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. – Barnett R. Brickner

In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage. – Robert Anderson

It destroys one’s nerves to be amiable every day to the same human being. – Benjamin Disraeli

All marriages are happy. It’s the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. – Raymond Hull

Also on this day:

Epicurean Feast – In 1939 the US President serves the King of England hot dogs.
Limelight – In 1892, a new filming industry opened in Australia.
Great Barrier Reef v. Endeavour – In 1770, Captain Cook ran aground.

Great Barrier Reef v. Endeavour

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 11, 2011

Endeavour replica

June 11, 1770: James Cook’s ship, Endeavour, runs aground on the Great Barrier Reef. Cook was hired in 1766 to pilot a ship to the Pacific Ocean in order to view the transit of the planet Venus across the Sun. The ship sailed from England in 1768 and finally reached Tahiti in 1769. While instrumentation was as good as possible, the weather was not, and the observations of the astral event did not deliver the desired result.

Upon completion of this portion of the mission, Cook opened sealed orders that commanded him to find a presumed southern continent, Terra Australis. This land was assumed to be rich in natural resources and the Empire wanted to lay claim to the wealth. Cook did not really believe the land existed. In spite of that, he logged the first sighting of the land now called Australia on April 19, 1770. He explored the coast and on this date severely damaged the ship on the uncharted reef. It took seven weeks to repair the ship before more exploration could resume.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest marine reserve covering 133,000 mi2. The reef has 618 continental islands with 2,195 species of plants – 3 of which are found nowhere else in the world. There are also between 400 and 500 species of marine algae. The most obvious portion of the reef is the coral. Today, the coral is undergoing a bleaching process – that is, it is losing some of the beautiful natural colors. The bleaching is a reaction to stress caused by various environmental issues.

There are 350 types of coral, limestone formations produced by living organisms. There are 5,000-8,000 mollusks, sponges, worms, and crustaceans living here. There are another 800 species of echinoderms – starfish and urchins. There are 1,500 species of beautiful, brightly colored fish and 22 species of seabirds. There are 30 species of mammals and 6 types of turtles, all endangered. The area also serves as a breeding ground for many other species of marine life.

“The scary thing is that even in the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most protected reefs in the world, researchers are seeing more diseases every time they look.” – David Kline

“A fallen lighthouse is more dangerous than a reef.” – Proverb

“Good counsel failing men can give, for why?
He that’s aground knows where the shoal doth lie.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” – James Cook

Also on this day:
Epicurean Feast – In 1939 the US President serves the King of England hot dogs.
Limelight – In 1892, a new filming industry opened in Australia.

Tagged with: , ,

Epicurean Feast

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 11, 2010

Hot dog with sauerkraut

June 11, 1939: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt serve King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, Nathan’s hot dogs at a picnic on their estate in Hyde Park, New York. The king was said to be taken with the “delightful hot-dog sandwich.” The menu also included Virginia ham, smoked turkey, cranberry jelly, tossed salad, and strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Sausage, a precursor of our American picnic staple, was mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey in 850 BC. In 64 AD, Gaius – Nero Claudius Caesar’s cook – opened an ungutted but cooked pig and noticed the intestines were puffed up and hollow. He stuffed them with ground venison, beef, and cooked ground wheat then added some spices. He tied them into section. Yummy!

By 1484, Frankfurt, Germany was making thick, soft, fatty sausages named “franks.” In 1805, the people of Vienna [Wien], called the packages of meat “wieners” indicating their own version of who invented the food. The two cities vied for ownership of the discovery. In 1867, Charles Feltman came to the US from Germany and opened the first Coney Island hot dog stand. He sold nearly 4,000 sandwiches his first year. He went on to own a small empire built around the making and selling of his hot dogs. When he died in 1910, his business was worth more than $1 million

Nathan Handwerker worked for Charles Feltman but broke away, starting Nathan’s Famous, Inc. in 1916. He opened his own Coney Island shop on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues. To keep his recipe secret, he ordered spices from two different distributors. His hot dogs are the ones that the President served to royalty. They were so good that the King did an  impersonation of Oliver Twist and asked for another.

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

“Indigestion is charged by God with enforcing morality on the stomach.” – Victor Hugo

“A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out as good for nothing.” – Samuel Johnson

“A headache is a message from the stomach to the brain saying, ‘Don’t send down any more garbage!'” – Philip Yordan

Also on this day:
In 1892, the
Limelight Department begins, a film studio in Australia.
In 1770, James Cook ran aground at the
Great Barrier Reef.

Tagged with: , ,