Little Bits of History

June 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 19, 2017

1913: The Natives Land Act is given Royal Assent. Also called Act No. 27 of 1913, it was aimed at regulating the acquisition of land enacted by the Parliament of South Africa. When the British landed at Cape of Good Hope they began their colonization expansion by setting up their own government in the land. The Queen granted the Cape its first Parliament in 1853 and they created a government in which all males were given the same considerations, regardless of race. Women were still second class citizens, also regardless of race. In 1872, a new Parliament with new laws entered the picture and all males were still given the franchise if they could pay the £25 fee. This was available to most males owning land. Time moved on and whites began to become the majority holders of all lands while Natives were stripped of both lands and franchise.

In 1910, South Africa united and became the southernmost country in Africa. It was governed still by the British Empire and the population was mostly black, although 90% of the land was now owned by whites. The Natives Land Act instituted the policy that land could neither be bought or sold to members of another race. Included in the law was a prohibition against serfdom or sharecropping but it protected existing agreements or arrangements whereby land could be hired or leased at will. The law was able to protect African chiefs and their communal landholdings. Included in the Act, no longer would black tenant farming on white-owned land be permitted. The devastating effects of this last part were not immediate, but they were long-lasting.

The law was implemented on June 19, 1913 and blacks were essentially stripped of the right to own land. Chiefs were able to retain lands, but since whites already owned most of the land, blacks were forced into wage labor market. This Act was a cornerstone of the racial segregation and discrimination that ruled South Africa. Apartheid was institutionalized with more laws stripping natives of their lands, their rights, and any say in their government. It took decades before the systematic degradations afforded to people daring to live in their own lands were repealed. Apartheid is an Afrikaans word literally meaning “apart-hood” or the state of being apart or separate.

Opposition to this Act was minimal, but vocal. John Dube, a newspaperman, used his platform to bring the issue to the public. The black leader supported whites who had created an environment where white leaders returned at least some of the land to the native populations so they might live and thrive. The minister at the time was a Cape Liberal who opposed the disenfranchisement of blacks but was perfectly fine with separate residential areas for Whites and Natives. Apartheid would eventually fall, but much was lost during the years of separation and the years of struggle to return South Africa to a desegregated state.

Together we have travelled a long road to be where we are today. This has been a road of struggle against colonial and apartheid oppression. – Thabo Mbeki

I played an integral part in helpings formulating that new vision… that we must abandon apartheid and accept one united South Africa with equal rights for all, with all forms of discrimination to be scrapped from the statute book. – F. W. de Klerk

Apartheid – both petty and grand – is obviously evil. Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority. – Steven Biko

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. – Nelson Mandela


Ecology the French Way

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 19, 2015
Maritime pines

Maritime pines

June 19, 1857: The conveniently named 19 June 1957 law passes in France. The law is also called oi relative à l’assainissement et de mise en culture des Landes de Gascogne or the Law related to sanitation and culture of the Gascongne landes. Landes and Gironde are two of France’s departments (regions or territories in France and her overseas holdings) today. The law concerned a large region of the country known for its marshy, moorish condition. In the southwest of France, in what is today known as Aquitaine, the lands now support the Landes forest, the largest maritime-pine forest in Europe. The French word, landes, and the Gascon, lanas, mean “moors” or “heaths”.

The forest is known as the “moors of Gascony” and was formerly called the “moors of Bordeaux” and covers large portions of the two departments as well as small parts of the Lot-et-Garonne department. Several rivers find their source in the region. Unlike most European forests, Landes is mostly manmade and began with this law. The swampy land was only sparsely populated prior to the passage of the law and the people there were engaged in traditional pastoralism. The nomadic peoples traveled by stilt-walking to move through the wet terrain. With the passage of the law, the lands were reforested to protect against further erosion. The forest covers about 3,900 square miles and is about 90% maritime pines. Near the center, along the edges of rivers (which helped to drain the land) are some old growth trees of other species.

Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) is native to the area. It is a fast growing pine that favors a Mediterranean climate of hot, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. In some places, it has become an invasive species, especially so in Africa. The tree reaches heights of 65 to 115 feet tall and has a diameter of about 4 to 6 feet. It has historically been used for fuel and more recently is used for timber. It is sometimes used as a decorative tree. The tree is used in the patented extract Pycnogenol which is marketed as a dietary supplement and claims to treat a variety of conditions. The product has not been proven to treat any chronic health disorder.

Before the law passed, the moors were mostly used for raising sheep but with the manure produced and with some thatching of the ground in the wet winters, it was possible to grow some rye as well. With the reforestation of the area, this was no longer possible and iconic image of the shepherds on stilts disappeared. It was replaced by a resin collector and his tools. The resins were used in a variety of ways and the trees were harvested for both timber for construction and for the making of paper. With modern processes, even some of these economic ventures are no longer in effect.

We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees. – Qwatsinas

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. – Hermann Hesse

If you’re in a forest, the quality of the echo is very strange because echoes back off so many surfaces of all those trees that you get this strange, itchy ricochet effect. – Brian Eno

A handful of pine-seed will cover mountains with the green majesty of forests. I too will set my face to the wind and throw my handful of seed on high. – Fiona MacLeod

Also on this day: NASCAR – In 1949, NASCAR began.
Julius and Ethel – In 1953, the Rosenbergs were executed.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – In 1939, Lou Gehrig’s illness was named.
Emancipation Proclamation, a Bit Late – In 1865, the people of Galveston were informed of the proclamation.
Dad’s Day – In 1910, the first Father’s Day was celebrated.

Dad’s Day

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 19, 2014
Sonora Smart Dodd

Sonora Smart Dodd

June 19, 1910: The first Father’s Day is celebrated in Spokane, Washington. Anna Jarvis began the modern tradition of honoring a parent when she first celebrated Mother’s Day in 1908 in Grafton West Virginia. Her campaign to get this holiday recognized began in 1905, the year her mother died. In an effort to recognize other family members, Sonora Smart Dodd lobbied to have a Father’s Day, too. She was the daughter of US Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart. He was also a single parent who successfully raised six children in their Arkansas hometown of Jenny Lind. After hearing an inspiring sermon at her church about Mother’s Day in 1909, Dodd began a campaign to honor her father.

Her first suggestion for the date of this tribute was June 5, her father’s birthday. The pastor responded positively, but needed more time to prepare a sermon and the third Sunday in June was chosen. In 1910, the YMCA in Spokane officially commemorated fathers. The idea was not initially successful and Dodd stopped promoting it in the 1920s as she became more involved in her studies. The holiday faded into obscurity, even in Spokane. By the 1930s, Dodd returned to Spokane and began to revive the celebration. She enlisted the help of manufacturers who would benefit from the holiday, such as makers of ties, tobacco pipes, and other traditional presents to fathers.

By 1938, the Father’s Day Council was founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers who helped to promote the day. Many Americans resisted the idea, seeing it only as a way for merchants to have the same success they enjoyed with Mother’s Day, something that irked Jarvis to the point of trying to eradicate her own celebration of Mothers. The trade groups did not give up. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation creating a national holiday to celebrate mothers. A bill to also celebrate fathers was introduced into Congress in 1913 and even though Wilson went to Spokane in 1916 to honor fathers, Congress did not pass the bill seeing it only as a commercial opportunity they did not wish to perpetuate.

President Coolidge recommended Father’s Day be observed, but did not issue any official proclamation to that end. Two earlier attempts had been defeated in Congress when Margaret Chase Smith proposed again the celebration in 1957. It was not until 1966 when President Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation designated the third Sunday in June as the day for the event. Six years later, it was finally made an official permanent holiday when President Nixon signed it into law. This year, the day was celebrated on June 15. It’s hard to know how many ties were given as gifts.

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me. – Jim Valvano

When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry. – William Shakespeare

One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters. – George Herbert

It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was. – Anne Sexton

Also on this day: NASCAR – In 1949, NASCAR begins.
Julius and Ethel – In 1953, the Rosenbergs were executed.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – In 1939, Lou Gehrig’s illness was named.
Emancipation Proclamation, a Bit Late – In 1865, the people of Galveston were informed of the proclamation.

Julius and Ethel

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 19, 2013
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

June 19, 1953: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for conspiracy to commit espionage. Julius was a member and eventually a leader in the Young Communist League (YCL). Ethel, two years older than Julius, was also a member of YCL, meeting her future husband there in 1936. The couple married in 1939, the same year Julius graduated from City College of New York with an electrical engineering degree. Julius joined the Army Signal Corps in 1940 and worked with radar equipment. Ethel was an actress and singer and also worked as a secretary.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were not the only spies arrested. They were the only ones executed. David Greenglass, Ethel’s brother, was sentenced to 15 years and served 10. Harry Gold served 15 years and Morton Sobell served 11 years and 9 months. Klaus Fuchs, also a member of the group but residing in England, served 9 years of his 14 year sentence. The people involved had relayed information to Soviet Russia. They were accused of sending information to the enemy regarding the building of atomic bombs. The Rosenbergs’ trial began on March 6, 1951 and they were convicted on March 29. Sentencing took place on April 5.

There was much controversy surrounding the sentencing. Their guilt was not questioned but the punishment was hotly debated. Claims of anti-Semitism and witch hunt tactics have been leveled. Since the end of the Cold War, new documentation has come to light. According to Alexandre Feklisov, the Rosenbergs’ handler, Julius was recruited by the KGB on Labor Day 1942 by spymaster Semyon Semenov. The ringleader was recalled to Moscow in 1944 and Feklisov took over the role.

Feklisov said he was given thousands of documents supplied by Julius Rosenberg. Classified reports, including a complete design of a proximity fuse, were passed to the Soviets. A complete drawing of a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star and secrets from Los Alamos filtered through to Russia. The couple was suspected of passing on vital information about the atomic bomb and US readiness for an atomic confrontation. The judge found the couple guilty of passing technical information as well as substantially influencing the Soviets in regards to the Korean War. They were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Correctional Facility.

“He didn’t understand anything about the atomic bomb and he couldn’t help us.” – Alexandre Feklisov

“[Julius Rosenberg was] in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets classified military and industrial information and what the American government described as the secret to the atomic bomb.” – Morton Sobell

“I consider your crime worse than murder…I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-Bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason.” – Judge Irving Kaufman

“This death sentence is not surprising. It had to be.” – Julius Rosenberg

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Execution by electrocution via the electric chair has been used only in the US and the Philippines (begun during the US occupation of the islands). The criminal is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted via electrodes placed on the body. The first dosage of alternating current which passes through the body is supposed to cause brain death and immediate unconsciousness. The second jolt causes major organ damage which is also lethal. Death is frequently caused by the electricity causing irregular heart rhythms, also fatal. Once a preferred method of execution (as it was thought to be more humane), it has been in decline since the use of lethal injection was introduced in 1977. Today, 16 states use only lethal injection to carry out a capital punishment decree.

Also on this day: NASCAR – In 1949, NASCAR begins.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – In 1939, Lou Gehrig’s illness was named.
Emancipation Proclamation, a Bit Late – In 1865, the people of Galveston were informed of the proclamation.

Emancipation Proclamation, a Bit Late

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 19, 2012

Major-General Gordon Granger

June 19, 1865: Union Major-General Gordon Granger reads General Orders, No. 3 to the people of Galveston, Texas. The American Civil War ended on April 9 of that year. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on September 22, 1862 and went into effect January 1, 1863. However, it didn’t do much to change the everyday lives of most blacks, especially in Texas which was almost entirely under Confederate control. While East Texas was home to many slaves, the Western areas were far less so, particularly in the Hill Country. This was where many German-Americans lived and they were resistant to the practice.

General Granger arrived in Galveston, along with 2,000 federal troops. He was to take possession of the territory and enforce the terms of the Proclamation. Legend states he was standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa when he read the contents of General Order No. 3. The order stated it was from the President of the United States and all slaves were free. They were to be treated as equals in both personal and property issues. Former slave holders were to be considered employers and former slaves were hired labor, deserving wages. Former slaves were not to travel to military posts and idleness was not to be tolerated.

Former slaves rejoiced in the streets of Galveston that day. They made a portmanteau of the words June and nineteenth and proclaimed the day Juneteenth. The following year they once again celebrated the day of their personal freedom. The celebration spread through Texas. By the close of the nineteenth century, Juneteenth had become a ritualized celebration. By the years of the Great Depression, the celebrants were too short of funds and employers were unlikely to let workers off to party. The celebrations fell out of favor.

During the years of the Civil Rights movement, some once again began to remember the past and take the time on June 19th to observe the date when ancestors were told of their status as equals among men. Slowly, the celebrations have caught on, even outside Texas. There is now a push to have Juneteenth declared a National Holiday with Rev. Dr. Ronald V. Myers, Sr. leading the push toward a country wide celebration. He is the leader of the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance. As of 2009, 32 states and the District of Columbia have endorsed the idea.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

Freedom means choosing your burden. – Hephzibah Menuhin

Freedom is that instant between when someone tells you to do something and when you decide how to respond. – Jeffrey Borenstein

Liberty doesn’t work as well in practice as it does in speeches. – Will Rogers

Also on this day:

NASCAR – In 1949, NASCAR begins.
Julius and Ethel – In 1953, the Rosenbergs were executed.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – In 1939, Lou Gehrig’s illness was named.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 19, 2011

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis anatomy

June 19, 1939: Lou Gehrig’s mysterious illness was given a name. ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis was the disease process afflicting the famous baseball player. [There is some current speculation that Gehrig did not, in fact, have ALS.] Lou was born on June 19 in 1903 and was New York Yankees ball player from 1923 to 1939. He was a powerful hitter and holds the record for the most grand slams [23]. He also was known for his consecutive game-playing record [2,130] which stood until 1982 when Cal Ripken, Jr. surpassed Lou. In third place is Everett Scott with only 1,307 games in a row.

Lou was nicknamed “The Iron Horse” and was phenomenal at the plate. His batting average was .340 and he hit 493 career home runs. He had 2,721 hits overall and batted in 1,995 runs. He played in the first six All-Star Games and was selected to go to the seventh but he retired one week earlier. He was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1927 and again in 1936. He was also a Triple Crown winner in 1934 leading the League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. He made his major league debut on June 15, 1923 and played his last game on April 30, 1939.

His performance was off in 1938 and he was much less able to play when he arrived at spring training in 1939. He was obviously weaker and began stumbling and fumbling with everyday objects. His wife called the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Charles William Mayo, a baseball and Lou Gehrig fan, told her to bring him in. After several days of testing, on his 36th birthday, the diagnosis was confirmed. At the time, the common name for ALS was chronic infantile paralysis. Today, it is known in the US and Canada as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS is a motor neuron disease cause by degeneration of nerves in the spinal cord. These nerves affect sensory input. It is noted for rapidly spreading weakness, muscle atrophy, and spasticity. There are issues with muscle twitching and speech and swallowing become impaired as does breathing in the later stages. There is no known cure. Most patients only survive 2-3 years after diagnosis. The disease is not contagious and usually [95% of the time] there is a family history of the disease. The disease usually strikes between the ages of 40 and 70 and more men than women are afflicted. There are about 5,000 cases diagnosed each year in the US.

“There is no room in baseball for discrimination. It is our national pastime and a game for all.”

“In the beginning I used to make one terrible play a game. Then I got so I’d make one a week and finally I’d pull a bad one about once a month. Now, I’m trying to keep it down to one a season.”

“It’s a pretty big shadow [Babe Ruth’s] – it gives me lots of room to spread myself.”

“Joe [McCarthy], I’m not helping this team any. I know I look terrible out there. This string of mine doesn’t mean a thing to me. It isn’t fair to the boys for me to stay in there. Joe, I want you to take me out of the lineup today.” – all from Lou Gehrig

Also on this day:
NASCAR – In 1949, NASCAR begins.
Julius and Ethel – In 1953, the Rosenbergs were executed.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 19, 2010

The good old days of NASCAR

June 19, 1949: The first NASCAR “strictly stock” car race is run with Jim Roper declared winner of the event. NASCAR is the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. A “stock car” in the original sense of the word was exactly what one would think. It was a car built exactly as it was used on the street. Any car that was in production, as long as at least 500 were built, was eligible. Racers would drive their cars to the track and race them.

Roper came in second in this original race, but the first place car was disqualified because of an alteration to the chassis, making the leading car easier to handle. Roper’s Lincoln was not tampered with in any way and he was credited with winning the race. He entered one more NASCAR race, came in 16th, and quit stock car racing. He did race other cars until he broke his back; he then became a flagman.

Tracks are 1/2 to 2.66 miles in length, with banked ovals, and usually paved in concrete, but there can be dirt tracks as well. Races are generally 200 to 600 miles in length. Average speed is about 160 mph. Criticism for the sport comes from many different factions. Some are limited to NASCAR procedures and policies while some center on all car racing events. There is a concern about fuel consumption as well as emissions and pollutions especially since racers use leaded fuels.

Stock cars today are much different. When driving at speed, drivers are under different forces with much different safety issues. Body templates for current cars are used, however, chassis, running gear, and equipment are all specially designed or modified. Engines are of fixed-size to ensure that all entries are of near-equal vehicles. There is rivalry between stock and Formula 1 racing, with the latter being seen as more sophisticated.

“You win some, lose some, and wreck some.” – Dale Earnhardt Sr.

“Race fans, I had inferred from my one trip to the Brickyard 400, fell into one of two categories: tattooed, shirtless, sewer-mouthed drunks, and their husbands.” – Steve Ruchin

“This sponsorship allows us some friendly competition, which is always fun. We are especially grateful to Checkers for their donation to the Victory Junction Gang, our camp for terminally ill children. We look forward to racing the Checkers Gator car at Miami.” – Kyle Petty

“Stock car racing is where it’s at right now. All my heroes growing up, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, I watched them running USAC sprint cars and midgets. This is where they are.” – Erin Crocker

Also on this day, in 1953 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed as spies.

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