Little Bits of History

March 3

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 7, 2017

1776: The Battle of Nassau begins. When the US Revolutionary War broke out, Lord Dunmore was the British provincial governor of the Colony of Virginia. In order to keep arms and gunpowder out of the hands of the local militia, Dunmore moved them to the island of New Providence in the Bahamas. There was a desperate shortage of arms and ammunition within the Continental Army and so the Second Continental Congress organized a naval expedition to Nassau in the hopes of stealing what had been stored there. The official orders to Esek Hopkins, the fleet captain, were to raid along the Virginia and Carolina coastlines. A secret set of orders had the fleet move on to the Bahamas and secure the needed armaments.

The fleet left Delaware on February 17 and was the first cruise and one of the first engagements of the newly established Continental Navy and the Continental Marines. The eight ships carried 200 Marines under the command of Samuel Nicholas. They sailed into gale force winds and managed to stay together for two days before two of the ships became separated from the rest. One ship had to return to port for repairs, but the other caught up with the rest of the fleet. They made their way to Nassau and arrived at Abaco Island on March 1. They captured two ships there, but an informant was able to get away and alert the British about the rebel fleet.

On this day, while most of the fleet held back, three ships carrying the Marines headed into port, but this was a tactical error as they were visible against the sunrise. The guns at Fort Nassau fired on the advancing ships. The rest of the fleet came to their aid. They shifted their landing site and were able to make an unopposed landing between noon and 2 PM – the first landing of what would become the USMC. The forces were able to secure Fort Montagu, near their landing but did not advance toward the town where the gunpowder was being stored.

That night, the British loaded as much of the gunpowder as they could and sailed for St. Augustine. The next day, the Marines were able to take control of the poorly defended town, but most of the supplies they were after had been removed. They remained in Nassau for two weeks and took the rest of the remaining supplies with them when they left. They returned to Connecticut in early April after successfully capturing a few British supply ships. Hopkins met with censure on two counts. He did not distribute the spoils according to protocol and he did not follow his orders to patrol the Virginia shores. He was forced out of the Navy by 1778.

Man is a military animal, glories in gunpowder, and loves parade. – Philip James Bailey

We owe to the Middle Ages the two worst inventions of humanity – romantic love and gunpowder. – Andre Maurois

What gunpowder did for war the printing press has done for the mind. – Wendell Phillips

The real use of gunpowder is to make all men tall. – Thomas Carlyle

Tagged with: ,

Time Is On Our Side

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 3, 2015
TIME magazine's first cover

TIME magazine’s first cover

March 3, 1923: A new magazine hit the newsstands. Time (TIME on the cover of the publication) was created by Briton Hadden and Henry Luce and was the first weekly news magazine in the US. The two men had worked together as chairman and managing editor respectively for the Yale Daily News. While in development, they proposed to call their new magazine Facts. The one word name was to emphasize the brevity of the articles, designed to please the busy man since they were able to be read in an hour. They opted to change the name to Time and then added the slogan “Take Time – It’s Brief”. Hadden was the more carefree of the partners and it was his hand that included the heavy coverage of celebrities which included politicians, along with entertainment and pop culture.

Their idea was to sell news through people and for many decades, the cover depicted a single person. The initial issue, launched on this day, featured Joseph G Cannon who was the retired Speaker of the House of Representatives. The initial cover price was 15¢ which is slightly more than $2 in today’s currency. Hadden died in 1929 and the magazine fell under Luce’s control. The second most influential man at Time, Inc. was Roy Edward Larsen who began his career as circulation manager and would eventually became general manager of Time and later the publisher of Life. He would go on to become the president of Time, Inc.

Early in the life of Time, Larsen employed radio and movie theaters to expand interest and hopefully, circulation. As early as 1924, Larsen formulated a 15-minute quiz show called Pop Question which lasted into 1925. He then broadcast a 10-minute program featuring news briefs drawn from the current issue of Time. He next arranged a 30-minute radio program, The March of Time, broadcast from CBS which began on March 6, 1931. Each week’s program offered a dramatization of the week’s news. In this manner, Time magazine was brought “to the attention of millions previously unaware of its existence” – according to the corporation’s history recorded in Time Inc.: The Intimate History of a Publishing Enterprise 1923–1941.

Time became part of Time Warner in 1989 when Warner Bros. and Time, Inc. merged. Today, it has a circulation of nearly 3.3 million and remains a weekly publication. Nancy Gibbs is the managing editor. The company is based in New York City. There are a number of different versions of Time such as Time Europe which is published in London and covers Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and since 2003 Latin America. There is an Asian edition published in Hong Kong, entitled Time Asia. The South Pacific edition covers Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. It is published in Sidney. The brand has a readership of 25 million, 20 million of them in the US.

As a journalist I am in command of a small sector in the very front trenches of this battle for freedom.

Not much longer shall we have time for reading lessons of the past. An inexorable present calls us to the defense of a great future.

I do not know any problem in journalism which can be usefully isolated from the profoundest questions of man’s fate.

Time should make enemies and Life should make friends. – all from Henry Luce

Also on this day: Vincent van Gogh – In 1853, Vincent van Gogh was born.
Football – No, Soccer – In 1891, the Penalty Spot Kick was created.
Comstock Law – In 1873, The Comstock Law was enacted in the US.
Panic – In 1943, 173 people were killed at Bethnal Green during a bombing raid over London.
Give it Away – In 1910, JD Rockefeller, Jr. retired.



Give it Away

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 3, 2014
J.D. Rockefeller, Jr.

J.D. Rockefeller, Jr.

March 3, 1910: J.D. Rockefeller, Jr. retires in order to give more time to philanthropic efforts.  J.D. Rockefeller, Sr. began Standard Oil which became one of the most successful businesses and the most successful oil company in the country. Junior was his fifth child and only son. He joined his father’s company in 1897 after graduating from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts. During college he was involved in the Glee and Mandolin Clubs, taught Bible classes and was the President of his Junior Class. He also took several social science classes and behaved differently than other rich men’s sons. He stayed with the company for 13 years and rose to director. He also was the director is JP Morgan’s US Steel Company which formed in 1901.

John Archbold was both the head of Standard Oil after Senior left and involved in a political bribing scandal revealed by the Hearst publication empire. Junior resigned from the business side in order to “purify” his ongoing philanthropy. Junior and Senior, along with Frederick Taylor Gates formed the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913. Their mission was “to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.” Gates was Senior’s main philanthropic advisor. The charter for the Foundation was accepted formally by New York State on May 14, 1913. The Rockefellers were drawn to large-scale philanthropy by the example of Andrew Carnegie’s essay, The Gospel of Wealth. After reading the essay, Senior donated the first of what would become $35 million in gifts to fund the creation of the University of Chicago.

The idea for founding the tax-exempt foundation began in 1901 but it took five years before Gates revived the idea in the hopes of keeping the heirs from harm with the influx of all that money. In 1909, Senior signed over 73,000 shares of Standard Oil of New Jersey, valued at $50 million, to the three trustees – Junior, Gates, and Harold McCormick. It was projected to take $100 million to endow the Foundation. They applied for a federal charter, but even secretly meeting with President Taft didn’t overcome the distrust caused by an ongoing antitrust case against Standard Oil. Instead, they decided to simply apply for a state charter.

Junior’s letter to Nicholas Butler in June of 1932 was used to push the nation to the repeal of Prohibition. The remarkable aspect of the letter was the Junior himself was a lifelong teetotaler. He gave money to diverse causes, including critical funding to Margaret Sanger. He continued works started by his father and expanded the focus of the Rockefeller Foundation far beyond the original intent, not always with the best results. He supported the arts and education. He purchased a tract of land in New York City and then donated it so the headquarters for the United Nations headquarters could be built. In all, he gave $537 million over his lifetime to philanthropic endeavors. He died in 1960 at the age of 86.

Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege. – John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

The success of each is dependent upon the success of the other. – John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. – John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living. – John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Also on this day: Vincent van Gogh – In 1853, Vincent van Gogh was born.
Football – No, Soccer – In 1891, the Penalty Spot Kick was created.
Comstock Law – In 1873, The Comstock Law was enacted in the US.
Panic – In 1943, 173 people were killed at Bethnal Green during a bombing raid over London.

Football – No, Soccer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 3, 2013
Ebenezer Cobb Morley

Ebenezer Cobb Morley

March 3, 1891: The idea for a Penalty Spot Kick is conceived and the lobbying process to have it included in the rules begins. Association football, known as soccer in the US, had some of its first laws drawn up in London in 1863. The men who gathered at the Freemasons’ Tavern founded the Football Association and wrote up one of the first sets of codified rules. The game was being played routinely at Cambridge in the late 1840s but the ball could still be caught during play.

In fact, the game had a long history of often violent village games. In 1863, the codifying process was overseen by Ebenezer Cobb Morley. A list of 14 rules was produced and defined the game. It was far more similar to rugby than the game of soccer as played today. The first set of rules included as many as eight forwards and moving the ball was via dribbling or scrimmaging as in rugby. There was to be no “hacking” or kicking below the knee – which made one man leave in a huff and return to the rugby fields.

The rules were not immediately accepted by everyone who played the game. Sheffield clubs had written their own rules in 1857. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) was created and met for the first time on June 2, 1865. They united the different factions and codified the rules for all to abide by – needing ¾ majority to pass any changes, as still is the process today.

Over the years the game evolved into what we would recognize as football (soccer) today. Goal-kicks made the rule list in 1869 and corner-kicks were added in 1872. Referees were given whistles in 1878, but still relegated to the sidelines. Penalties were a later addition because it was assumed that a gentleman would never intentionally commit a foul. When competitiveness trumped gentlemanly manners and sportsmanship was in disarray, “the kick of death” was added to the rule book. With the need to watch more closely for fouls, the referee was finally permitted on the field of play.

“The rules of soccer are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does.” – Phil Woosnam

“I loathed the game, and since I could see no pleasure or usefulness in it, it was very difficult for me to show courage at it. Football, it seemed to me, is not really played for the pleasure of kicking a ball about, but is a species of fighting.” – George Orwell

“Soccer is a game in which everyone does a lot of running around. Twenty-one guys stand around and one guy does a tap dance with the ball.” – Jim Murray

“The rest of the world loves soccer. Surely we must be missing something. Uh, isn’t that what the Russians told us about communism? There’s a good reason why you don’t care about soccer – it’s because you are an American and hating soccer is more American than mom’s apple pie, driving a pick-up and spending Saturday afternoon channel-surfing with the remote control.” – Tom Weir

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Ebenezer Cobb Morley was an avid sportsman, born in 1831. He lived in Hull until age 22 when he moved to Barnes. While there, he founded the Barnes Club, today called Barnes Rugby Football Club. It claims to be the oldest club to have any code for football. Morley served as the first secretary and the second president of The Football Association (FA). He was also a player and scored in the first representative match between Sheffield and London. He was an oarsman and also founded the Barnes and Mortlake Regatta. He was a solicitor by profession and severed on Surrey County Council and was a Justice of the Peace.

Also on this day: Vincent van Gogh – In 1853, Vincent van Gogh was born.
Comstock Law – In 1873, The Comstock Law was enacted in the US.
Panic – In 1943, 173 people were killed at Bethnal Green during a bombing raid over London.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 3, 2012

Bethnal Green in calmer times

March 3, 1943: During the bombing of London, 173 people are crushed to death at Bethnal Green. London’s underground railroad system, which began construction in 1854, was a way to link travelers from the City of London with outlying train systems. An Act of Parliament was passed but funding was scarce. Work began in 1860 and the Metropolitan Railway opened in 1863. The first tube lines opened in 1890. More railways were added over time. The Bethnal Green station was still under construction in 1943 and was used as an air raid shelter.

London was bombed intermittently throughout World War II. There were bursts of attacks by the German Luftwaffe. The Blitz of London from September 1940 through May 1941 had caused 43,000 civilian deaths and over a million houses were destroyed. While devastating to Londoners, it was a strategic defeat for the Germans. By 1943 response to air raid sirens was routine. RAF bombers had carried out heavy raids over Berlin on March 1. The retaliatory air strike came and at 8:17 PM the air raid sirens went off. Used to the drill, an orderly group headed for the underground and safety. Within ten minutes, already 1,500 people were safely below street level.

It was a rainy night. People were streaming toward the station and the stairway acted as a natural bottleneck. The stairs became slick from rain-wet feet. There was no handrail yet installed – the station wasn’t yet finished and there was a shortage of funds and metal due to the war. At 8:27 PM a new, unidentified, and terrifying sound split the night. The crowd surged forward, toward the safety of the underground. A woman (possibly carrying a baby, reports vary) tripped on the stairs. As she stumbled forward, other were knocked off their feet. Within 15 seconds, 300 people were crushed in the stairwell. There were 173 dead, 69 of them children.

The terrifying noise was coming from only a few hundred yards away. New anti-aircraft guns fired 60 salvos from Victoria Park. Although reported in the papers the next day, the location of the tragedy was not given. There was a concern about morale in the region. The true cause of the disaster is no more clear today than it was when it happened. Several factors led to the panicky response. Those listed above along with a dearth of supervision in the form of metropolitan or air raid police have been cited. Whatever the reason, it was the largest civilian loss during the war. The largest loss from a wartime bomb occurred at Balham where 68 people were killed.

It made our hair stand up in panic fear. – Sophocles

I have seen soldiers panic at the first sight of battle, and a wounded squire pulling arrows out from his wound to fight and save his dying horse. Nobility is not a birth right but is defined by one’s action. – Kevin Costner

Panic is a sudden desertion of us, and a going over to the enemy of our imagination. – Christian Nevell Bovee

Fear cannot be banished, but it can be calm and without panic; it can be mitigated by reason and evaluation. – Vannevar Bush

Also on this day:

Vincent van Gogh – In 1853, Vincent van Gogh was born.
Football – No, Soccer – In 1891, the Penalty Spot Kick was created.
Comstock Law – In 1873, The Comstock Law was enacted in the US.

Comstock Law

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 3, 2011

The symbol of Comstock's Society for the Suppression of Vice.

March 3, 1873: The Comstock Law is enacted in the US. It is an amendment to the Post Office Act passed the year before. The Comstock Law made it illegal to send any “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” materials through the mail. Contraceptive devices as well as information concerning the topic were included in this category. Information on abortion was also included. The Comstock Law was only enacted if materials crossed state lines, so 24 states also passed similar laws to include mailing within their borders. These laws are collectively known as Comstock laws.

The federal law was supported by and named for Anthony Comstock, a United States Postal Inspector. Comstock was born in 1844 and served in the Union Army during the US Civil War. It was said he was disgusted by the profanity used by his fellow soldiers. After the War, he became active in the Young Men’s Christian Association in New York City. In 1873, he created the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. This was to be the voice of those who knew better, the ones who could supervise the morality of the gutter-dwelling public. Comstock banned George Bernard Shaw’s work which provoked Shaw to invent a new word – Comstockery.

Comstock himself was despised by early civil libertarians, although church groups tended to support him. He was powerful in New York City and reached the level of United States Postal Service special agent. With this position, he was able to prosecute and persecute all those he deemed unsavory and sullying the morals of others. He went after commercial fraud and pornography with the same zeal. He also managed to shut down the Louisiana Lottery, the only legal lottery at the time – again for moral considerations.

He vigilantly pursued Victoria Woodhall, an early women’s liberation person. He repeatedly tried to shut down her paper and managed to do so after she printed an expose on the illicit affair between Reverend Henry Ward Beecher and Elizabeth Tilton. Woodhall stood up to Comstock and won her case. Ida Craddock committed suicide rather than appear in court and be ruined. She had authored and sent a marriage manual via the post. Comstock bragged that drove 15 people to suicide, apparently missing the irony.

“Comstockery is the world’s standing joke at the expense of the United States. Europe likes to hear of such things. It confirms the deep-seated conviction of the Old World that America is a provincial place, a second-rate country-town civilization after all.” – George Bernard Shaw

“As to the evil which results from a censorship, it is impossible to measure it, for it is impossible to tell where it ends.” – Jeremy Bentham

“Censorship always defeats it own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.” – Henry Steele Commager

“Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself.” – Dick Cavett

Also on this day:
Vincent van Gogh – In 1853, Vincent van Gogh was born.
Soccer rules – In 1891, Penalty Spot Kicks were introduced for soccer.

Tagged with: ,

Vincent van Gogh

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 3, 2010

Vincent the Theo van Gogh's graves

March 3, 1853: Vincent van Gogh is born in Groot-Zundest, Holland. The son of a pastor, his life was a miasma of low self esteem. By the time he finally decided to become an artist, he had already failed at two romances and was unsuccessful as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman, and a preacher in Belgium. He stayed on in Belgium to study art.

In 1886 he went to Paris where he met Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin. He adopted an Impressionist style of painting with brighter colors and smaller brushstrokes. Because of his temperament, late night gabfests with his friends, and long hours during the day painting, his health declined. Vincent and his younger brother Theo, were friends throughout their lives with the younger brother being supportive in times of need, both emotionally and financially.

He moved to Arles and was joined by Gauguin. He vacillated between madness and lucidity. Van Gogh suffered from anxiety as well as frequent episodes of mental illness. He also drank too much. He was a smoker and suffered from a smokers cough. All in all, van Gogh suffered much. The two artists eventually fought, and van Gogh drew an open razor, suffering a cut ear.

In May of 1890 he moved to Auvers-sur-Oise under the care of a doctor. The move also brought him back closer to Theo. While he had suffered from mental aberrations all his life, the episodes were coming closer together were more intense. He was often unable to paint. Two months later he committed suicide. He walked into a field and shot himself in the chest, using a revolver. He survived the initial injury and walked back to his hotel. Theo came to be with his dying brother and two days later, Vincent died in bed muttering “this sadness will last forever.” His paintings can be seen online at

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” – Edgar Degas

“What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.” – Augustus Saint-Gaudens

“You have Van Gogh’s ear for music” – Artemus Ward

Also on this day, in 1891 the rules for soccer were debated leading to changes.

Tagged with: ,