Little Bits of History

March 31

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2017

1913: The Skandalconzert takes place. The Wiener Konzertverein or Vienna Concert Society hosted a concert conducted by Arnold Schoenberg. It was held at the Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic. Schoenberg was born in 1874 and was part of the expressionist movement in German poetry and art. He was a composer, music theorist, and painter. His work challenged the traditional German Romantic styles and his name would become synonymous with atonality, even though he hated the term. His influence on music has reached across time and he is today revered for his work.

It wasn’t always so. The program on this night included work from Anton Webern, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, Alban Berg (two selections), and Gustav Mahler. Berg’s pieces included poetry along with the music. The poetry was written by Peter Attenberg, already committed in an insane asylum – a fact known to the audience. As the work progressed, an angry crowd began to call for both the poet and the composer to be so committed. Attenberg was not present, but had been given a chance to be there for the dress rehearsal earlier in the day. He was lucid enough to be able to compose a piece about Alma Mahler, Gustav’s wife, three days later after seeing her at the rehearsal.

It was during Berg’s work that a riot broke out. Oscar Straus, an operetta composer, was present when Erhard Buschbeck, an organizer of the concert, punched a member of the audience. Straus noted it was the most harmonious sound of the evening when Buschbeck was later sued. Berg’s work was so adversely affected by the outbreak of violence that his songs were not performed again until 1952 and the full score was not printed until 1966. The rest of the concert was cancelled and Mahler’s piece was not played that evening.

Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder was first performed in 1913 at the same venue with Franz Schreker conducting. It was well received, but Schoenberg had been so offended by this night’s violence, he refused to acknowledge the applause. The audience, in their turn affronted, were inhospitable to contemporary works played there a few weeks later and once again there was unrest in the audience with both sides yelling and throwing things at each other, so much so that furniture was destroyed. A couple months later, Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, also had concert-goers in near riot in Paris.

Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast. – William Congreve

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. – Plato

I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. – Billy Joel

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. – Ludwig van Beethoven


Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2015
Queen Isabella I

Queen Isabella I

March 31, 1492: Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon issue an edict. These Catholic monarchs of Spain are the same people who would fund Columbus later in the year. In the 700s, Muslims had conquered and settled in most of the Iberian Peninsula. Jews who lived there since Roman times were considered “People of the Book” and thrived under their rule. The tolerance of the Muslim Moorish rulers of al-Andalus, the region today that is most of Spain and Portugal, attracted more Jews to the region. As time went on, the treatment of the Jews declined and especially so after the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate.

The Reconquista was the retaking of the Iberian Peninsula by Christian kingdoms and was driven by religious motivation. By the 14th century, most of Iberia was back under control of Christian governmental control by the kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, Leon, Galicia, Navarre, and Portugal. Hostility toward Jews grew and they were both brutalized and oppressed. Thousands sought to mitigate the mistreatment by converting to Christianity and at first, it seemed to work. As the conversos or New Christians met with success, they also found disfavor with some of the clergy and royal families. This was exacerbated as some of the forced conversions were done in name only and the Jews continued to secretly practice their faith.

From the 13th to the 16th centuries, European countries expelled Jews from their territory on at least fifteen occasions. The hostility toward the Jews in Iberia came to a head when “the Christian Monarchs” married in 1469 and brought the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon in alignment. The Catholic monarchs seemed to be horrified that the conversos were insincere and were attempting to bring old Jews back into the Jewish faith. Granada had surrendered to the Spanish royals less than three months prior and on this day, the Alhambra Decree was issued and expelled all Jews from their kingdom and their colonies by July 31, 1492.

Many of the Spanish Jews fled to northern Africa to the Maghreb, where they intermingled with existing Mizrahi – the Arab Jewish communities. They became the ancestors of the Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, and Libyan Jewish communities. There were between 130,000 and 800,000 who fled Spain. Another 50,000 to 70,000 chose to convert rather than leave the lands, but this did not work well and they continued to be persecuted. The edict was formally revoked on December 16, 1968 following the Second Vatican Council. In 2014, the Spanish government passed a law allowing dual citizenship to Jewish descendants who asked for it as a way to “compensate for shameful events in the country’s past.”

A Jew, in the dictionary, is one who is descended from the ancient tribes of Judea, or one who is regarded as a descendant from that tribe. That’s what it says in the dictionary, but you and I know what a Jew is: One Who Killed Our Lord…. There should be a statute of limitations for that crime. – Lenny Bruce

Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself. – Golda Meir

I am not a Jew in the sense that I would demand the preservation of the Jewish or any other nationality as an end in itself. Rather, I see Jewish nationality as a fact and I believe that every Jew must draw the consequences from this fact. – Albert Einstein

To be a Jew is a destiny. – Vicki Baum

Also on this day: Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
How TALL Are You? – In 1889, the world’s tallest structure was inaugurated.
Spring Forward – Fall Back – In 1918, DST was first used in the US.
Virgin Territory – In 1917, the US takes possession of the Virgin Islands.
The Bangorian Controversy – In 1717, Benjamin Hoadly delivered a controversial sermon.

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The Bangorian Controversy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2014
Benjamin Hoadly

Benjamin Hoadly

March 31, 1717: Benjamin Hoadly delivers a sermon entitled The Nature of the Kingdom of Christ to George I of Great Britain. The Bangorian Controversy had roots in the 1716 publication of George Hickes entitled Constitution of the Catholic Church, and the Nature and Consequences of Schism. Hickes had broken away from the Church of England after the Glorious Revolution. Hoadly, Bishop of Bangor, wrote a reply called Preservative against the Principles and Practices of Non-Jurors and his own way to test for truth. And then he was invited to give a sermon to the King.

On this day, he present his sermon based on the Biblical text John 18:36. This verse reads: “My kingdom is not of this world,” and using this documentation, Hoadly posited there was no Biblical justification for any church government of any sort. If the church is to be likened to anything, it is to be aligned as a kingdom of heaven. It is not of this world and Jesus did not delegate any authority to any Earthly representative. At the time, there were two visions of government. One side held that God appointed the king and the bishops to be leaders and imbued them with special grace to serve. The other side held that power flowed from the people to the leaders and that leaders were not intrinsically or innately better than those they led.

The sermon was published immediately and soon the furor of attacks and counterattacks erupted. Hickes, a Non-juror, had been dead for a year before his sermon was published and therefore unable to respond. Andrew Snape, Thomas Sherlock, and William Law all wrote their own treatises in the same year as the sermon’s first appearance. The first two were speaking from the position of the High Church while Law was a non-juror. The following year, Robert Moss’s High Church treatise led to Thomas Herne’s defense of Hoadly. Francis Hare, also High Church, published his Church Authority Vindicated in 1719, provoking Hoadly to one more response in 1720.

Hoadly was born in 1676 and became Bishop first of Bangor and then Hereford, Salisbury, and finally Winchester. He was educated at St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge and ordained in 1701. He dreamed of conformity of rites from the Scottish and English churches and the above debate took place early in his career. He became a leader of the low church and a spokesman for the Whig party. His adversary was Francis Atterbury, a spokesman for the high church and leader of the Tory party. This controversy was the high water mark of his career although afterwards he continued to publish sermons. He died in 1761 at the age of 84.

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. – Khalil Gibran

Really I feel less keen about the Army every day. I think the Church would suit me better. – Winston Churchill

I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death. – George Carlin

I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Also on this day: Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
How TALL Are You? – In 1889, the world’s tallest structure was inaugurated.
Spring Forward – Fall Back – In 1918, DST was first used in the US.
Virgin Territory – In 1917, the US takes possession of the Virgin Islands.

How TALL Are You?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2013
Eiffel Tower under construction

Eiffel Tower under construction

March 31, 1889: The world’s then tallest structure is inaugurated. Today, it remains the world’s most visited paid monument. Named for the designer, it remains a worldwide icon, easily recognized even in silhouette. It took two years, two months, and five days to build and used 18,038 pieces and 2,500,000 rivets. The structure weighs 7,300 tons. When Barcelona turned down the architect’s plans, he went to the city hosting the 1889 Exposition Universelle. Which explains why Eiffel’s tower is in Paris.

The tower, measuring 1,063 feet, which includes the flagpole, remains the tallest structure in Paris. It is the fifth tallest structure in France. The tallest skyscraper is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Burj Khalifa i was built from 2004 to 2010 and was opened in January of this year. It surpassed the Taipai 101 as the tallest man-made structure on the planet. It is 2,717 feet from ground level to the roof. The Eiffel Tower is a lattice tower, and the tallest of these is the Kiev TV Tower in the Ukraine at 1,263 feet.

The Eiffel Tower’s unique shape led to criticism. Some claimed that Gustave was trying to be artistic while other deplored the design. Eiffel had worked designing and constructing bridges and knew how important it was for a structure to be able to withstand the forces of the wind. The shape of the tower was mathematically calculated to withstand those forces.

The original permit for the tower was for twenty years and then it was to be dismantled and removed. Instead, it has become a recognizable landmark visited by 249,976,000 people (as of December 31, 2009). To maintain the tower, 50 to 60 tons of paint are applied every seven years. The color changes with applications and visitors can vote for the next color. Three different shades of paint are used so the color seems to remain uniform when looked at from ground level. The current color is a brownish-gray.

“The Eiffel Tower is the Empire State Building after taxes.” – unknown

“Architecture is one part science, one part craft and two parts art.” – David Rutten

“The higher the buildings, the lower the morals.” – Noel Coward

“Architecture is the art of how to waste space.” – Philip Johnson

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Gustave Eiffel was born in Dijon, Côte-d’Or, France in 1832. His parents were busy running the family business so he spent much of young life with his grandmother. Gustave did not do well in school and felt it was both boring and a waste of time. With the help of some concerned teachers, he finally grew to love both history and literature and ended his schooling on a better note. He was more influenced by his uncle, a scientist, and some other scientifically minded friends. He went on to the Collège Sainte-Barbe in Paris in order to help him get into engineering school. He did not perform well enough to get to attend the more prestigious of these and only qualified for the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures – more of a vocational school.

Also on this day: Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
Spring Forward – Fall Back – In 1918, DST was first used in the US.
Virgin Territory – In 1917, the US takes possession of the Virgin Islands.

Virgin Territory

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2012

US Virgin Islands

March 31, 1917: The US takes possession of lands purchased from Denmark. The Danish West Indies were sold to the US for $25 million ($493.75 million in 2009 USD). The sale itself was concluded with the exchange of signed treaties on January 17, 1917. Danish administration ended and the US took possession of the renamed US Virgin Islands (USVI) on this day. This grouping of islands contains Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas, and Water Island along with numerous minor islands of the Virgin Island archipelago. They are part of the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. The latter is also called the Caribbees because of its location in the Caribbean Sea.

With the transfer of ownership, the islands became a US Territory. The residents were granted US citizenship in 1927. The islands cover a combined total of 133.73 square miles. The real estate therefore cost $186,943.80 per square mile. The Louisiana Purchase cost $15 million for 828,800 square miles or $18.10 per square mile. The Alaska Purchase cost $7.2 million for 586,412 square miles or $12.28 each. The biggest concern in the Caribbean was not real estate. During World War I there was fear the Germans might seize the islands if they invaded Denmark and then use them as submarine bases.

The islands themselves were inhabited by the Ciboney, Carib, and Arawaks long before Europeans “discovered” them. Christopher Columbus “found” them on his second voyage and named then for various saints. For the next three centuries they were ruled and used by a variety of European colonialists. Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, and finally Denmark-Norway. The Danish West Indies Company took over St. Thomas in 1672, St. John in 1694, and St. Croix in 1733. The economies were based on sugarcane crops. Being labor intensive, the crops were grown by slaves.

Today the islands are home to about 109,750 people. Most (74%) are Afro-Caribbean while 13% are Caucasian, 5% are Puerto Ricans and the remainder are classified as “other.” The capital is Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. It is also the largest city with a population of ≈ 19,000. The Governor is John de Jongh and head of state is President Barack Obama. Although US citizens, residents cannot vote in presidential elections although they can vote in primaries. The economy is based on some manufacturing but the major economic activity is tourism.

Visual surprise is natural in the Caribbean; it comes with the landscape, and faced with its beauty, the sigh of History dissolves. – Derek Walcott

I love Caribbean food. It’s a great melting pot of so many cultures including the Native Americans. – Bob Greene

I think the Caribbean countries face rising oceans and they face increase in the severity of hurricanes. This is something that is very, very scary to all of us. – Steven Chu

Let us work toward greater cooperation with all Caribbean Countries, whether we speak English, Dutch, French or Spanish, whether we are independent or not, and whether we be island or continental territories. – Said Musa

Also on this day:

Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
How TALL Are You? – In 1889, the world’s tallest structure was inaugurated.
Spring Forward – Fall Back – In 1918, DST was first used in the US.

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Spring Forward – Fall Back

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2011

Daylight Savings Time

March 31, 1918: Daylight Savings Time [DST] goes into effect for the first time in the United States. Most of the world is not bothered by this phenomenon today. The world is divided into three types of time keepers. Those who use DST, those who have never used DST (much of Africa and Indonesia], and those who no longer using DST [China, India, Egypt, much of South America]. The use of the time change is mostly in the Northern Hemisphere’s high latitudes.

The idea was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson. He was an London-born New Zealand entomologist and astronomer. Much of the electricity of the time was used to light homes in the evening. It was hoped that extending the daylight hours into the evening would lessen electrical usage. Today, with lights, heating, and air conditioning usage, this savings is no longer seen. There is, however, more daylight for sporting events after the workday is completed. It may also encourage more evening shopping excursions.

DST was first used in 1916 by Germany and its World War I allies. The hope was to reduce coal usage. Britain and some allies soon followed suit. Russia waited until 1917 to join in and the US waited even one year longer. How we reckon time is a human construct. The sun rises and sets as it sees fit throughout the year. Manipulating when the daylight is visible can be accomplished by simply changing the time. However, in order to keep the calendar intact, the clocks must at some point be adjusted backward. So in the Fall, we set clocks backwards an hour.

There are benefits and drawbacks to the time switch. Energy use was supposed to be a major reason for the change, but there has been no consistent finding with study after study each showing something different. Retailers and sports concerns find it advantageous to have extra daylight in the afternoon and evening. There have been mixed results to studies concerning public safety and DST with some saying it saves lives, while others show different results. There are effects on health and sleep patterns being disrupted and the issue of having to remember to actually change the clocks twice a year. There are also concerns in the computing world with programming needed to affect changes with the machines.

“Chinese buildings are like American buildings, with big footprints. People don’t care about daylight or fresh air.” – Helmut Jahn

“Don’t forget it’s daylight savings time. You spring forward, then you fall back. It’s like Robert Downey Jr. getting out of bed.” – David Letterman

“I don’t mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I’ve saved all year.” – Victor Borge

“Love prefers twilight to daylight.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Also on this day:
Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
Eiffel  Tower – In 1889, the French tower was inaugurated.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2010

Women's suffragists demonstrate in February 1913. (Bain News Service)

March 31, 1776: Abigail Adams writes a letter to her husband, John Adams, stating that women are “determined to foment a rebellion” if the new Declaration of Independence doesn’t guarantee women’s rights as well as men’s. She was right, of course, but it took over 100 years for that to happen.

Women could be elected in the US before they could vote themselves into office. Women’s suffrage is still not a worldwide right, but progress is continually being made. It should be noted that there are places on this planet where male suffrage is also not granted.

Women have no right to vote in Saudi Arabia (men 21 and over) and at the Holy See or Vatican where only cardinals (all male) under the age of 80 can vote. Women got the vote in the Falkland Islands in 2009 while the Pitcairn Islands were first to grant this right in 1838. In Iceland, when first given a say, women had to be 40 or over, but the age was reduced to 18 five years later. As an ironic twist, Isle of Man was the second to give women a vote in 1881.

Women’s rights became more of an issue as slavery was being abolished. If one is saying that all humans are equal regardless of race, then certainly they should all be equal regardless of gender. Women became more vocal and demanded the full status of human beings. The Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, granting voting rights regardless of sex was finally ratified in August of 1920 – a mere 144 years after Abigail wrote her letter.

“Howiver, I’m not denyin’ the women are foolish: God Almighty made ’em to match the men.” – George Eliot in “The Harvest Supper,” Adam Bede

“I have an idea that the phrase ‘weaker sex’ was coined by some woman to disarm some man she was preparing to overwhelm.” – Ogden Nash

“Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.” – Samuel Johnson

“Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least.” – Robert Byrne

Also on this day, in 1889 the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated.

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