Little Bits of History

March 6

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 7, 2017

1869: Dmitri Mendeleev makes a presentation to the Russian Chemical Society. Mendeleev was born in 1834 in the Russian Empire near Siberia. The chemist and inventor was the youngest child in a large family (anywhere from 11 to 17 siblings, depending on sources). His father lost his teaching position when he went blind so his mother went to work reestablishing the family’s abandoned glass factory. By the time Dmitri was 13, the factory had been destroyed by fire, his father had died, and he was enrolled in a local school. In 1849, his mother packed him up and traveled from Siberia to Moscow in order to get Mendeleev a higher education. The University of Moscow did not accept him, and the impoverished family moved to St. Petersburg.

Mendeleev graduated from Main Pedagogical Institute in 1850 but then contracted tuberculosis. He moved to a better climate and continued his studies. When he returned to St. Petersburg, his health was much better. He wrote papers, got married, became a professor, and even got tenure. His love of chemistry led him to make astounding discoveries. In 1863 there were 56 known elements and a new one was discovered about every year. Other scientists had noted the periodicity of the elements and even published on the topic. During this time frame, Mendeleev wrote a definitive textbook for his field, Principles of Chemistry (2 volumes). While writing, he tried to classify elements by their chemical properties. He noticed patterns.

The paper presented on this day noted this pattern. His presentation, The Dependence between the Properties of the Atomic Weights of the Elements, described elements according to both their atomic weight and valence (ability to combine with other elements to form compounds or molecules). He listed eight issues or properties he had found which would create a periodic table where similarities were part of the process. This periodic listing allowed for the prediction of many as yet unknown elements. His work was published at nearly the same time as another scientist and both Mendeleev and Lothar Meyer are listed as co-creators.

Today’s periodic table is usually laid out in 18 columns with a tabular arrangement of the elements listed. They are ordered by their atomic number or number of protons, electron configurations, and chemical properties. This allows some trending to be noted in columns of elements as well as four rectangular blocks where elements have similar properties. Today, there are 118 confirmed elements with Elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 officially confirmed in December 2015. The first 94 elements occur naturally and the remaining 24 can only be obtained by synthesis in a laboratory.

I saw in a dream a table where all elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper, only in one place did a correction later seem necessary.

The analogies between the two systems are striking. Just as Panini found that the phonological patterning of sounds in the language is a function of their articulatory properties, so Mendeleev found that the chemical properties of elements are a function of their atomic weights. Like Panini, Mendeleev arrived at his discovery through a search for the “grammar” of the elements.

No one nor anything can silence me.

I have achieved an inner freedom. – all from Dmitri Mendeleev

The 42 Martyrs of Amorium

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 6, 2015
42 Martyrs of Amorium

42 Martyrs of Amorium

March 6, 845: The 42 Martyrs of Amorium are killed. The Arab-Byzantine wars began in 629 and lasted until the 1050s and were a series of wars between Arab Muslims and the East Roman or Byzantine Empire. They were initiated by the expansionist Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs and raged across the Arab Peninsula and across the centuries. The Sack of Amorium was part of the series of battles and took place in mid-August 838. The Byzantine Emperor Theophilos was defending his land in what is today Turkey. His army consisted of around 40,000 men in the field with another 30,000 in the city itself. Caliph al-Mu’tasim led a force of about 80,000. The city was taken and razed with around 30,000-70,000 military and civilian dead.

Amorium had been the capital of the Anatolic Theme as well as the birthplace of the reigning Byzantine Amorian dynasty. When the city fell, 42 officers and leaders of the city were taken as hostages to Samarra in present day Iran and then the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. The Emperor had survived the attack on the city and made repeated attempts to ransom the 42 men. Theophilos died in 842 at the age of 28, the result of failed health after continued battles with both the Arabs and the Serbs. Michael III and Empress-regent Theodora continued attempts to obtain the release of the prisoners but they were continually rebuffed.

Most of the 42 men’s names were not recorded for posterity. A few were noted. Theodore Krateros, a eunuch and perhaps a strategos (literally means “army leader” and is analogous to general) of the Bucellarian Theme (a military-civilian province) was regarded as the leader of the 42 in the hagiographic texts written in honor of the men. Aetios was the strategos of the Anatolic Theme. Theophilos, a patrikios or eunuch member of the court hierarchy was also among the named. Empress Theodor’s brother-in-law, Constantine Baboutzikos was the first to be executed. Kallistos is given special treatment in the hagiographies with more biographical data included. Constantine was a secretary to the royal Constantine.

A hagiography is a biography of a saint or other church leader which often tell the story of miracles or other redeeming qualities of their lives. The 42 martyrs were held captive for seven years. After their execution by Ethiopian slaves on the banks of the Euphrates River, the monk Euodios wrote their stories and used it as an means to admonish the Emperor for his return to Iconoclasm. Retribution befell the 42 after they refused to abandon their faith and convert to Islam. They are commemorated by the Eastern Orthodox Church on March 6, the date of their mass execution.

‘Tis not the dying for a faith that’s so hard, Master Harry — every man of every nation has done that — ’tis the living up to it that is difficult, as I know to my cost. – William Makepeace Thackeray

Faith without doubt is addiction. – Salman Rushdie

Ah! what a divine religion might be found out if charity were really made the principle of it instead of faith. – Percy Bysshe Shelley

You can change your faith without changing gods, and vice versa. – Stanislaus Lec

Also on this day: Edgar Allan Poe – In 1831, Poe was expelled from West Point.
Missouri Compromise – In 1820, the Missouri Compromise was signed into law.
Remember the Alamo – In 1836, the Alamo fell.
Aches and Pains – In 1899, aspirin was patented.
Inspirational Americana – In 1943, Norman Rockwell’s painting is published.

Inspirational Americana

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 6, 2014
Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell

March 6, 1943: Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell is published in The Saturday Evening Post. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address is also known as the Four Freedoms speech. In that address, Roosevelt listed the four freedoms that should be available to all Earthlings, not just Americans. Rockwell did a series of four oil paintings of the Four Freedoms. Each picture measured about 46 by 35 inches. This was the third picture in the series. Each of the pictures was featured in The Post with Freedom of Speech appearing on February 20, Freedom of Worship was included on February 27, and Freedom from Fear followed on March 13. The most famous of these is Freedom from Want, also called The Thanksgiving Picture.

Rockwell produced 322 magazine covers for The Saturday Evening Post. He began working with them in 1916 and his last cover was December 16, 1963 and was his Kennedy Memorial cover. During the 1950s his popularity was rivaled only by Walt Disney as both were popular visual artists. During World War I, Rockwell had been second fiddle to more established artists and under scrutiny from editor George Horace Lorimer. But after the editorship changed hands in 1937, Rockwell was much less restricted. During World War II, many of his covers showed the human side of the American war effort. His covered encouraged the purchase of war bonds, women working outside the home, and men joining in the war effort.

Rockwell was born in New York City in 1894 to a family who had been in America even before it was America with his earliest ancestor travelling from England to present day Connecticut in 1635. Norman transferred to the Chase Art School at the age of 14 and continued to study at that National Academy of Design. He went on to the Art Students League where he was able to produce work good enough for publication. In 1913, Rockwell became the art editor for Boys’ Life published by the Boy Scouts of America, a place that had already published some of his art. He was 19 at the time and held the job for three years before moving on.

While working with The Post, he had many famous paintings. Some of the more famous were these four paintings. Also well known was Rosie the Riveter, The Problem We All Live With, Saying Grace, and the Willie Gillis series. After four decades with the same magazine, Rockwell went to work for Look magazine for the next ten years. He was commissioned to paint Presidential portraits for Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. One of his last paintings was a portrait of Judy Garland in 1969. He died of emphysema in 1978 at the age of 84.

The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they’re always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.

I’ll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I’d like to.

Everyone in those days expected that art students were wild, licentious characters. We didn’t know how to be, but we sure were anxious to learn.

No man with a conscience can just bat out illustrations. He’s got to put all his talent and feeling into them! – all from Norman Rockwell

Also on this day: Edgar Allan Poe – In 1831, Poe was expelled from West Point.
Missouri Compromise – In 1820, the Missouri Compromise was signed into law.
Remember the Alamo – In 1836, the Alamo fell.
Aches and Pains – In 1899, aspirin was patented.

Missouri Compromise

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 6, 2013
Missouri Compromise

Missouri Compromise

March 6, 1820: US President James Monroe signs the Missouri Compromise into law. The Compromise was reached between the anti-slavery and pro-slavery states concerning the western territories. The Louisiana Territory covered a vast area of land purchased from France in 1805. Louisiana was the first state created from the new land. Next, the District of Arkansas was formed. The Upper Louisiana Territory covered lands all the way to the Canadian border.

Link for the changing map showing slave and free states is here.

There were an even number of free and slave states in the Union. The Compromise allowed for two new states to be admitted – Maine (a free state) and Missouri (a slave state). With the exception of the lands included within Missouri’s borders, all territory north of the 36’30º latitude line would prohibit slavery. The Compromise was not easily reached. On February 17, 1820, the Senate agreed to prohibit slavery in the Louisiana Territory, except for Missouri, by a vote of 24 to 20. The House of Representatives rejected the bill.

The House would permit Missouri’s request for statehood without slavery by March 1. More meetings. On March 2, the House again voted and Missouri was allowed slavery with a vote of 90 to 87 and the rest of the Louisiana Territory would prohibit slavery with a vote of 134 to 42. Compromise was reached, for a time, and the President signed the Bill into Law. The wide open lands of the west brought settlers to the area and other lands began to ask for admittance to the Union.

In 1854, while trying to create opportunities for building a railroad, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was slightly altered by Stephen A. Douglas (D-Illinois) who wrote in a piece concerning popular sovereignty. This would allow states to choose for themselves whether or not to permit slavery within their borders. Prohibiting slavery in Territories was also excluded. The passage of this Act legally eliminated the Missouri Compromise. In the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857, the US Supreme Court ruled the Missouri Compromise as unconstitutional and also found that blacks and mulattos did not qualify as US citizens.

“The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.” – Ayn Rand

“Lasting change is a series of compromises. And compromise is all right, as long your values don’t change.” – Jane Goodall

“From the beginning of our history the country has been afflicted with compromise. It is by compromise that human rights have been abandoned. I insist that this shall cease. The country needs repose after all its trials; it deserves repose. And repose can only be found in everlasting principles.” – Charles Sumner

“All government – indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act – is founded on compromise and barter.” – Edmund Burke

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 US, 393 was argued February 11-14, 1856 and reargued December 15-18 of the same year. The decision was handed down on March 6, 1857 – exactly 37 years after the Missouri Compromise was signed into law. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the territories. It also held that people of African descent, whether free or slave, were not covered by the Constitution and were not citizens of the US. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, adopted on July 9, 1868, overruled the decision once again and declared that all persons born in the US were citizens with all the rights and responsibilities that entailed. There were still issues with Native Americans who were part of tribal nations to be resolved at later dates.

Also on this day: Edgar Allan Poe – In 1831, Poe was expelled from West Point.

Remember the Alamo – In 1836, the Alamo fell.
Aches and Pains – In 1899, aspirin was patented.

Aches and Pains

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 6, 2012

Bayer Aspirin bottle

March 6, 1899: Bayer trademarks the drug patented by Felix Hoffmann. As early as 5,000 years ago willow tree products were used medicinally in Sumer. A medical text listing animal and plant remedies dated from the Third Dynasty of Ur (≈ 3000 BC) included willow but without mentioning what it would have been used to treat. Both willow and myrtle were listed in the Ebers Papyrus from ≈ 1540 BC which told practitioners the plants could be used to alleviate pain, reduce fevers, and decrease swelling. The active ingredient in both plants is salicylate.

Willow bark preparations continued to be used to ease pain and reduce fever. In 1763, Edward Stone’s paper was presented to the Royal Society of England and listed willow bark extract as a cure for malaria. As organic chemistry advanced, scientists searched for the active ingredient in willow plants using ever more sophisticated methods. Joseph Buchner was able to create relatively pure samples of salicin crystals by 1828. More scientists worked towards gaining a higher yield and by 1838 a more potent extract was found – salicylic acid.

Doctors used more and more of the salicylate derivatives but all showed a side effect, stomach upset, which limited the efficacy. A German company found fever reducing properties in a tar derivative and called it Antifebrin. At Friedrich Bayer & Company, a small dye firm, the search for medicines from dyes brought some success with Phenecetin, Sulfonal, and Trional. With new management, the company began to look for more drugs. They refined a drug called acetylsalicylic acid and trademarked the brand name – Aspirin. The company’s new drug still had a sour taste, but worked much better treating the inventor’s father’s arthritis.

Bayer AG was founded in 1863 in Barmen, Germany. Today, headquarters are in Leverkusen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. They are the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world and continue with chemical industries as well. They produce veterinary drugs, human prescription and OTC drugs, diagnostic products, adhesives, coatings, pesticides, plant biotechnology, and polymers. They currently employ ≈ 111,000 people. Their 2010 revenue was listed as €35.09 billion with €1.301 billion of that as profit.

If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: ‘Take two aspirin’ and ‘Keep away from children.’ – unknown

Those having a heart attack will have a far lower risk of having a second heart attack, a stroke, or their death rate is lowered almost a quarter. Aspirin has the best benefit to risk ratio and benefit to cost ratio of any therapy of acute heart attacks. – Charles Hennekens

Aspirin is not a benign drug. – James Stein

Up to 200 people a year die from aspirin. You don’t just outlaw everything that has problems. – Brian Bilbray

Also on this day:

Edgar Allan Poe – In 1831, Poe was expelled from West Point.
Missouri Compromise – In 1820, the Missouri Compromise was signed into law.
Remember the Alamo – In 1836, the Alamo fell.

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Remember the Alamo

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 6, 2011

The Alamo, as drawn in 1854.

March 6, 1836: The Alamo falls. The Texas Revolution or the Texas War of Independence was fought between Mexico and the Republic of Texas. As settlers moved into the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, they longed to be free of Mexican dominion. The land war between Texas and Mexico began on October 2, 1835 and ended April 21, 1836 with the Treaties of Velasco, annexing Texas to the US. This was not recognized in Mexico and naval battles continued until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 finally ceded the territory.

The Battle of the Alamo began on February 23, 1836. Leading the Mexican troops was President General Antonio López de Santa Anna. He launched an assault against the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar [today called San Antonia, Texas]. Santa Anna had about 2,400 troops at his disposal. Within the mission were 182-260 people [reports vary] led by William Travis and James Bowie. The Mexican troops suffered 400-600 killed or wounded. Only two Texians survived the battle.

President Santa Anna had led the Mexican government away from a federalist model and instituted increasingly dictatorial measures. He revoked the Constitution of 1824 early in 1835 leading many citizens to revolt. The immigrants lured west by the Mexican government did not take kindly to the new measures and insisted on the reinstatement of individual rights. Mexico, already leery of the US’s attempt to purchase the land, fought back and blamed the immigrants for the entire push back. The war began with both sides relatively undermanned. Santa Anna forcibly conscripted Mexicans to help restore order in Texas, although they were raw recruits without experience or will to fight.

The early battles went to the Texians, but finally Santa Anna arrived with a large army. The battles began to be won by the Mexican forces. This battle was so horrifying to the Revolutionaries because of the systematic killing of all but two inside the mission. Spurred by the memory of the battle, the Texian Army surprised a resting Mexican force at the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, effectively ending at least the land portion of the war. Santa Anna refused to recognize the cessation of the Revolutionaries until he also lost the naval war in 1848.

“I must say as to what I have seen of Texas, it is the garden spot of the world, the best land and the best prospects for health I ever saw, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here.” – Davey Crockett

“Texas is the finest portion of the globe that has blessed my vision.” – Sam Houston

“Texas is neither southern nor western. Texas is Texas.” – William Blakley

“I done drew the line. Just like the Alamo. You’re either on one side of the line or the other. I don’t want to ever leave Texas again.” – Bum Phillips

Also on this day:
Edgar Allan Poe – In 1831, Poe was expelled from West Point.
Missouri Compromise – In 1820, the Missouri Compromise was signed into law.


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Edgar Allan Poe

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 6, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe

March 6, 1831: Edgar Allan Poe is removed from West Point. Poe (1809-1849) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He had an older brother and a younger sister. His mother, an actress died from consumption in 1811, one year after the father had abandoned his family. Edgar was taken in by a merchant from Richmond named John Allan. Poe was never legally adopted, but he took Allan’s name as his middle name.

At 17, Poe attended the University of Virginia in 1826 and was expelled for nonpayment of gambling debts. He quarreled with Allan and was disowned by him over this breach of etiquette. Unable to support himself, Poe then joined the army under an assumed name while lying about his age. He also began his published life with the release of a 40-page collection of poems called Tamerlane and Other Poems.

In 1830 he entered West Point and on this date of 1831 he was expelled for neglect of duties. Over the next several years he worked for several publications all the while writing some of his most famous short stories. Poe is credited with writing the first detective stories. He also contributed to the newly emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American author to try to make a living from his writing but found international copyright laws detrimental to his income stream. In 1836, Poe married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm. Clemm became ill and remained an invalid for the last five years of her life, dying in 1847.

A devastated Poe turned to alcohol and drugs. He struggled with depression and outright madness. He was found in Baltimore, “delirious and in great distress” on October 3, 1849. He was taken to Washington College Hospital where he died at 5 AM on October 7. He did not revive enough between those two dates to give a coherent explanation regarding his condition. He was not wearing his own clothes at the time he was found. All records have been lost and we do not know what was his cause of death.

“I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“Why do an infinite number of monkeys always want to type “Hamlet”? What’s wrong with “Macbeth”? Why not something by Dickens or Poe?” – Tom Knapp

Also on this day, in 1820 the Missouri Compromise was signed by President James Monroe

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