Little Bits of History

June 16

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 16, 2017

1904: Leopold Bloom shares his day. Leopold Bloom is the protagonist of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Bloom was the son of a Huganrian Jew who emigrated to Ireland and converted to Protestantism. He converted to Catholicism in order to marry. He awoke on this day and began his journey, his odyssey, through the streets of Dublin. Ulysses, the Roman version of the term Odysseus, is based on the Homeric poem and the 265,000 word book is divided into 18 episodes, each based on the trip outlined in the Odyssey. The tale first appeared in The Little Review as a serialized version between March 1918 and December 1920. It was published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach in Paris on February 2, 1922 which was Joyce’s fortieth birthday. It is considered one of the most important works of modern literature.

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was also a short story writer from Rathgar, a suburb of Dublin. In his early twenties he moved to mainland Europe where he lived for the rest of his life. The family was relatively wealthy. As a boy, he was attacked by a dog, leaving him with a lifelong fear of the animal and after his aunt’s description of storms as God’s wrath, he also was terrorized by thunderstorms. Joyce was educated in Jesuit schools and was influenced by the philosophy or Thomas Aquinas. While in college, Joyce began his writing career in earnest, and even learned Norwegian in order to send a letter to Henrik Ibsen. After graduation, he left for Paris to study medicine, but soon abandoned it. Although raised in a Catholic home, by the age of twenty, he had abandoned his faith as well.

On June 16, 1904 he met Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid from Galway. It was his basis for choosing the date for his most famous work. He was drinking heavily and got into a fight. His father’s friend, Alfred Hunter, brought him home and cared for his injuries. Hunter was a Jew with an unfaithful wife, the basis for Leopold. In less than a week, he was in another altercation, packed his things, and took off with Nora in a self-imposed exile. The couple first moved to Switzerland where a job was supposed to be waiting; it wasn’t. They moved to Trieste and stayed there for the next ten years. In 1920, Ezra Pound invited the Joyce family to visit for a week. They lived in Paris for the next twenty years.

Ulysses, the stream of consciousness novel, was full of puns, parodies, and allusions, which Joyce hoped would keep literature professors busy for decades. It worked and the novel has a following worldwide with many arguing points from throughout the text. There have been at least eighteen editions, of various lengths, published. Each holds variations in different impressions. The first edition, with over 2,000 errors was said to still be the most accurate printed. Regardless of errors, intentional or not, the date is celebrated in Dublin and around the world as Bloomsday, in honor of Leopold Bloom.

There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being.

Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.

To say that a great genius is half-mad, while recognizing his artistic prowess, is worth as much as saying that he was rheumatic, or that he suffered from diabetes. Madness, in fact, is a medical expression to which a balanced critic should pay no more heed than he would to the accusation of heresy brought by the theologian, or to the accusation of immorality brought by the public prosecutor.

Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains the reason why. – all from James Joyce



Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 16, 2015
George Stinney, Jr.'s mugshot

George Stinney, Jr.’s mugshot

June 16, 1944: George Stinney, Jr. is executed. Stinney was born and raised in Alcolu, South Carolina. Betty June Binnicker, 11 years old, and  Mary Emma Thames, 8 years old, were looking to pick some flowers. The two white girls lived on the other side of the tracks – literally. The town was divided by the railroad tracks with the whites on one side and blacks on the other. On March 23, 1944, the two girls rode their bikes across the tracks to find some “maypops” or passionflowers. They stopped by the Stinney house where George and his sister, Katherine, were playing outside. The girls asked if they knew where to find some of the flowers. They were never seen alive again.

Search parties were organized the next morning to search for the girls. They were found dead in a ditch with blunt force trauma to their heads and faces with wounds consistent with being struck repeatedly with a hammer. There was also bruising of Betty’s genitalia noted during the autopsy. George was arrested. His father was fired from his job and the family left town to avoid the violence threatened against them. That left 14 year old George alone without any support or adult to look after his concerns. His court appointed counsel was a tax commissioner campaigning for election to a local office.

At the time, African-Americans were not permitted to vote in South Carolina and the only way to be selected as a juror was to be selected from voting records. Therefore, the jury was all-white. The entire session lasted for about two and a half hours which included the jury selection process, the trial, and the deliberation period. Three police witnesses claimed George had confessed to the crime (something he denied). There was no record of any confession to present as evidence. In fact, there was no evidence at all. George’s counsel did not challenge the witnesses. The only other witnesses were the man who discovered the bodies and the two doctors who performed the autopsies. George’s counsel called no witnesses. After ten minutes, the jury returned with a guilty verdict.

George was executed in Columbia (capital of South Carolina) on this day at 7.30 PM. He was the youngest person to be executed in the US during the entire century. The slight teenager was only 5’1” tall and weighed just over 90 pounds. He did not fit into the electric chair, his means of execution. He carried a Bible with him to the execution chamber and had to sit on it to fit better into the chair. The face-mask slipped during the delivery of the first jolt and he wide-open eyes, brimming with tears were visible. It took two more jolts before he was dead. Only 81 days had passed from the time he was arrested until his execution. In 2004, a local historian looked into the case and had it reopened. On December 17, 2014, George Stinney’s conviction was vacated as it was cited that the teenager had not received any kind of defense at his trial and his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated.

If we can get the case re-opened, we can go to the judge and say, ‘There wasn’t any reason to convict this child. There was no evidence to present to the jury. There was no transcript. This case needs to be re-opened. This is an injustice that needs to be righted.’ – Steve McKenzie, South Carolina lawyer

I’m pretty optimistic that if we can get the witnesses we need to come forward, we will be successful in court. We hopefully have a witness that’s going to say — that’s non-family, non-relative witness — who is going to be able to tie all this in and say that they were basically an alibi witness. They were there with Mr. Stinney and this did not occur. – Steve McKenzie

People who [just] read these articles in the newspaper don’t know the truth. – Betty Binnicker’s niece

If we are not our brother’s keeper, at least let us not be his executioner. – Marlon Brando

Also on this day: Red v. White – In 1487, the Battle of Stoke Field was fought ending the Wars of the Roses.
Education – In 1976, the Soweto Uprising took place.
Psycho – In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller was released.
Children’s Party – In 1883, the Victoria Hall Disaster left 183 children dead.
Lincoln’s House Divided Speech – In 1858, Lincoln gave his famous speech.

Lincoln’s House Divided Speech

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 16, 2014
Lincoln’s House Divided speech

Lincoln’s House Divided speech

June 16, 1858: Lincoln gives a famous speech. Abraham Lincoln was accepting the Republican Party’s nomination to run for United States senator from Illinois. The speech was delivered at the State Capitol in Springfield. Lincoln was launching his campaign against incumbent Stephen A. Douglas who began serving as Senator from Illinois in 1847. The campaign eventually brought the two men together with the Lincoln-Douglas debates later in the year. There were seven debates between Republican Lincoln and Democrat Douglas within each of the remaining congressional districts in the state. There are nine districts in all and each man had already spoken in two of them. The main topic of the debates, as of this speech, was slavery.

Lincoln’s House Divided speech is one of his three most famous along with the Gettysburg Address and his second Inaugural address. In this speech he was attempting to differentiate himself from Douglas as well as predict the future as he saw it. The idea of “A house divided against itself cannot stand” comes from Scripture, Mark 3:25 where Jesus is quoted. Thomas Hobbes in 1651, Thomas Paine in 1776, Abigail Adams in 1812, and Lincoln himself on two previous occasions (1843 and 1850) had used the idea. Lincoln’s address predicted the nation’s need to be all slave or all free as the two were incompatible. Douglas felt that popular sovereignty should decide whether or not future states would be free or slave.

Lincoln felt the Dred Scott decision had made Douglas’s proposal invalid. There were only two options after the decision was handed down. Either the US would be all one or all the other – all free or all slave. Since the North and South were so divided on this issue, the time would come when the government would no longer be able to function. Slavery had come to be part of every political, social, and economic decision facing the nation. Lincoln did not expect the nation to be dissolved, but some method of decision would be made and the country would once again be in agreement.

Douglas went on to win the election although he died in 1861 at the age of 48 from typhoid fever. He died almost two months after the US Civil War had begun and serving in a Senate headed by President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was elected to two terms as President and lived to see the end of the War and the reunited United States before he was assassinated on April 15, 1865 at the age of 56. His leadership through the war was instrumental in bringing the nation he loved back under one roof, undivided, and slavery at an end. There was still much work to be done and Reconstruction would have been much different had Lincoln been available to help heal the country after such horrific wounds had been inflicted.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.

Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination— piece of machinery so to speak—compounded of the Nebraska doctrine, and the Dred Scott decision. – Abraham Lincoln, from the House Divided speech

Also on this day: Red v. White – In 1487, the Battle of Stoke Field is fought ending the Wars of the Roses.
Education – In 1976, the Soweto Uprising took place.
Psycho – In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller was released.
Children’s Party – In 1883, the Victoria Hall Disaster  left 183 children dead.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 16, 2013
Antoinette Sithole and Mbuyisa Makhubo carrying and 12-year-old Hector Pieterson moments after he was shot by South African police during a peaceful student demonstration in Soweto, South Africa

Antoinette Sithole and Mbuyisa Makhubo carrying 12-year-old Hector Pieterson moments after he was shot by South African police during a peaceful student demonstration in Soweto, South Africa

June 16, 1976: The Soweto Uprising, sometimes called the Soweto Riots, begin. What’s happened in the past affects today. This particular story began in 1949 when the Eiselen Commission looked into education for non-white South Africans. Their recommendation led to the Bantu Education Act of 1953. This Act caused a loss of government aid and so closed many mission schools, the primary educators of the black population. Instead of using a general tax fund for the education of all children, only black taxes paid for black education. The impoverished tax base helped to perpetuate the poverty of non-whites.

More laws were passed in 1963, 1965, and 1974 furthering the disparity in funding for building schools and course work. The final straw was the language issue. Afrikaans and English would be used in a 50-50 mix. Some subjects were taught only in Afrikaans and other only in English despite the fact that 98% of young Sowetans wished for English-only classes. Since English was the language of commerce and industry, Afrikaans was felt to be just another way to keep blacks in poverty.

Both teachers and students were against the 1974 decree mandating the use of Afrikaans. By April 30, 1976 children were on strike and refusing to attend classes. Several schools were eventually affected and students planned a rally to discuss what should be done. The students were eager to gain a useful education and so gathered together without their teachers’ or parents’ knowledge. They headed for Orlando Stadium. The apartheid police were also unaware of the proposed rally. As thousands streamed toward the meeting place, they found the roads barricaded by recently alerted police.

The 3,000-10,000 students altered their route, avoiding the barricades. Colonel Kleingold claimed that children were throwing rocks. Tear gas and police dogs were used to disperse the crowd. Instead, the police found themselves surrounded by children. They fired into the crowd, instantly killing several students. The violence escalated. By the end of the riots, the mass confusion and random killings left hundreds dead (200-700 depending on the source) with more than 1,000 injured. The uprising proved to be a turning point in the struggle to liberate South Africa.

“I have not consulted the African people on the language issue and I’m not going to. An African might find that ‘the grootbaas’ only spoke Afrikaans or only spoke English. It would be to his advantage to know both languages.” – Punt Janson, the Deputy Minister of Bantu Education

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!” – Derek Bok

“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” – Daniel J. Boorstin

“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Soweto Uprising caused the world to look closer at what was happening in South Africa. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 392 on June 19 which condemned the South African government of suppressing the citizens. The “callous shooting” of protesters by the National Party was decried as was the system of apartheid. Then Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was about to visit the county and said the riot cast a negative light on the entire nation. Exiled African National Congress members called for more economic sanctions against South Africa. The photo of Mbuyisa Makhubo carrying the dead body of Hector Pietorson while Antoinette Sithole ran beside the boys (taken by Sam Nzima) brought international condemnation down upon South Africa and the policies of apartheid.

Also on this day: Red v. White – In 1487, the Battle of Stoke Field is fought ending the Wars of the Roses.
Psycho – In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller was released.
Children’s Party – In 1883, the Victoria Hall Disaster left 183 children dead.

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Children’s Party

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 16, 2012

Victoria Hall ad for the program that fateful day.

June 16, 1883: The Victoria Hall Disaster takes place. Victoria Hall was the larget venue for public entertainment in Sunderland, England. Sunderland is the 26th largest city in England with a population of about 180,000 today. In is in northeast England. The Hall was located on Toward Road and facing Mowbray Park. Mr. and Mrs. Fay were offering a variety show to children. Their flyer stated the show would start at 3 PM on this Saturday. Along with a host of entertainers, “Prizes!” would be offered with all children attending eligible to win. Tickets were one penny each and would admit any number of children to the gallery. Reserved seating downstairs cost more.

An announcement telling children certain ticket numbers would receive prizes was made at the end of the show. Entertainers began handing out prizes to those children in the reserved seats. There were about 1,100 children upstairs in the gallery (with very few adults). As these children saw prize distribution taking place, they surged toward the stairs to get in on the treats. The door at the bottom of the stairs opened inward and was bolted in such a way that only one child at a time could exit. The children kept coming but there was no fully open exit at the base.

Adults became aware of the problem but could not open the door since the bolt was on the children’s side. Frederick Graham rushed up another staircase and led 600 children to safety via this second exit. Adults at the blocked door pulled children through as quickly as possible until the door was finally ripped from its hinges. The bottleneck resulted in compressive asphyxiation of 183 children. Most of the dead children were aged seven to ten with the youngest three and the oldest fourteen. There were another 100 children severely injured.

The disaster was the worst of its kind in Great Britain. Queen Victoria sent a message to the families and donations poured in from across the country. A total of £5,000 (≈ £375,000 today) was raised and paid for burials and a memorial. A marble statue of a mother holding a dead child was placed in Mowbray Park. It was later moved to a cemetery and fell into disrepair. It was vandalized as well. In 2002, the statue was repaired and moved back to the park. It was also placed under cover. The repair costs ran to £63,000. In the aftermath of the disaster, laws were passed insisting doors open outward and eventually the push bar was invented. The Hall was destroyed by a bomb in 1941. No one was prosecuted as the person bolting the door was never identified.

Soon we were most uncomfortably packed but still going down. Suddenly I felt that I was treading upon someone lying on the stairs and I cried in horror to those behind ‘Keep back, keep back! There’s someone down.’ It was no use, I passed slowly over and onwards with the mass and before long I passed over others without emotion. – William Codling, Jr., survivor of the panic

Death has shaken out the sands of my glass. – John G. C. Brainard

Death has so many doors to let out life. – Beaumont and Fletcher

Death in its way comes just as much of a surprise as birth. – Edna O’Brien

Death is always, under all circumstances, a tragedy, for if it is not then it means that life has become one. – Theodore Roosevelt

Also on this day:

Red v. White – In 1487, the Battle of Stoke Field is fought ending the Wars of the Roses.
Education – In 1976, the Soweto Uprising took place.
Psycho – In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller was released.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 16, 2011

June 16, 1960: The Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Psycho, is released. The movie starred Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. Marion Crane [Janet Leigh] is a not very good criminal and ends up staying at the Bates Motel after a run in with the police which she handles poorly. The motel is off the beaten path which suits Marion’s needs. Norman Bates [Anthony Perkins] is helpful in her distress. Then there is a very famous shower scene, perhaps the most celebrated in cinematic history. The identity of her killer is the resolution to the movie and quite odd.

Janet Leigh in Psycho

Psycho was directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay was written by Joseph Stefano and based on Robert Bloch’s book of the same name. Music was by Bernard Hermann. The movie ran for 109 terrifying minutes. The movie was made with a budget of $806,947 and had gross revenues of $32 million. Bloch’s novel was based loosely on the crimes of Ed Gein, a serial killer from Wisconsin, 40 miles from where Bloch lived. There are many differences between the real crimes and the book. The movie was received with a lukewarm response but after a huge box office success, it was re-reviewed and received four Academy Award nominations.

Alfred Hitchcock was born in 1899 in London, England. He was active in movie direction and production from 1921 to 1976. He developed a camera created to seem like a person’s gaze and gave the audience, therefore, a sense of voyeurism. He was also innovative in the use of editing to maximize anxiety among the audience. He was known as The Master of Suspense and many of his films had twist endings. He loved psychological explorations and many had strong sexual components. He made cameo appearances in his films as well.

Hitchcock moved to the US in 1939 after signing a contract with David O. Selznick. The seven year contract was only the beginning of his work in the US where he remained until his death in 1980. While he lived in the US, he was fond of his homeland and many of his films are set in the United Kingdom. It is difficult to pick which of his many films produced over six decades is the best. However, he received Academy Award nominations for Rebecca, Suspicion, Lifeboat, Spellbound, Rear Window, as well as Psycho. He did not personally win any of these, but he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1967.

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”

“Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.”

“I am scared easily, here is a list of my adrenaline – production: 1: small children, 2: policemen, 3: high places, 4: that my next movie will not be as good as the last one.”

“Seeing a murder on television can help work off one’s antagonisms. And if you haven’t any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.” – all from Alfred Hitchcock

Also on this day:
Red v. White – In 1487, the Battle of Stoke Field is fought ending the Wars of the Roses.
Education – In 1976, the Soweto Uprising took place.

Red v. White

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 16, 2010

Wars of the Roses

June 16, 1487: The Battle of Stoke Field is fought marking the end of the Wars of the Roses [1450 – 1487]. The Wars of the Roses were fought intermittently during these years in a battle over who would sit on the throne of England. There were four separate campaigns with sixteen major battles fought. The latest uproar began in May 1487 when 10 year old Lambert Simnel was crowed Edward VI in Dublin and backed by Margaret Duchess of Burgundy (Edward IV’s sister). She supplied money and about 2,000 German mercenaries to the cause.

Both the House of Lancaster with commander Henry VII of England and the House of York with John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln were of the Plantagenet lineage, tracing from King Edward III. At the time, this reference to Roses was not part of the name for the war, the Lancaster flag was the Red Rose and York’s flag was the White Rose.

Because of great casualties suffered by the nobility, the war ushered in a period of social unrest and led to the fall of the Plantagenet dynasty altogether. At the Stoke Field Battle, Henry VII arrived with 12,000 troops [some of whom were highly trained German and Swiss mercenaries] and decisively beat John de la Pole with 8000 troops [many recruited from Ireland]. Henry VII lost one quarter of his men, while the Earl of Lincoln lost half of his.

The battle raged for more than three hours, but eventually the better equipped mercenaries cut down the Irish who were without body armor. The losing army was unable to retreat and all of the Yorkist commanders were killed in battle except for Simnel, who was later pardoned by the new king.

“All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers.” – Francois Fenelon

“If we give up all future wars we must give up our empires and all hope of empire.” — Georges Clemenceau

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” —Douglas MacArthur

“A long war almost always reduces nations to the wretched alternative of being abandoned to ruin by defeat or to despotism by success.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

Also on this day, in 1976 the Soweto Uprising takes place.