Little Bits of History

Semper Fi

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 10, 2015
Battle of Nassau

Battle of Nassau

November 10, 1775: The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is founded. Originally a totally separate entity, two battalions of Continental Marines were formed on this day in Philadelphia to act as an infantry force capable of fighting for independence both on land and at sea. The USMC as been a component of the US Navy since 1834. The men of the newly formed Corps were placed aboard navy ships and were responsible for the security of the ship, both from invading forces and from sailors who might wish to mutiny against the ship’s officers. They were strategically stationed with their rooms between the enlisted men and the officers’ quarters. They were also part of the raiding parties, both at sea and when troops were sent ashore.

The first USMC amphibious assault took place on March 3, 1776 when troops went ashore and the Marines gained control of Fort Montague and Fort Nassau – a British ammunition depot and a naval port in New Providence in the Bahamas. The conclusion of the Revolutionary War ended with an American victory and both the Continental Navy and the Continental Marines were disbanded in April 1783. As the young nation prepared for the Quasi-War with France, Congress resurrected the Marines on July 11, 1798. Marines were enlisted by the War Department as early as August 1797 in order to staff the frigates that would be used for what is also sometimes called the Undeclared War with France.

During the First Barbary War (1801-1805), the Marines saw action against Barbary pirates. It was during this time that William Eaton and First Lt. Presley O’Bannon led eight Marines and 500 mercenaries with the goal of taking Tripoli. They only reached as far as Dema, but the action is reflected in the USMC Hymn as well as the Mameluke Sword carried by Marine officers. After the War of 1812, things quieted down until Archibald Henderson became the fifth Commandant in 1820. Under his leadership, the USMC took on expeditionary duties and it was he that kept the Marines from being affiliated with the US Army and put them under the Department of the Navy.

Today is the United States Marine Corps’ 240 birthday. They take part in amphibious, expeditionary, and aerial warfare. There are approximately 194,000 active duty Marines and another 40,000 reservists. They have a fleet of 1,166 aircraft. Their current list of responsibilities was codified in the National Security Act of 1947 and is threefold. They are tasked with 1) the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases; 2) development of tactic, techniques, and equipment to be used during an amphibious landing (in coordination with other branches of the US military); and 3) such other duties as directed by the US President. In addition to these primary duties, they are also directed to support the White House and the State Department. The Marine Band is sometimes called the “President’s Own” and they play for state functions at the White House. They guard presidential retreats as well as American embassies throughout the world in over 140 posts. Semper fi.

There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion. – Gen. William Thornson

Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share. – Ned Dolan

Why in hell can’t the Army do it if the Marines can. They are the same kind of men; why can’t they be like Marines. – Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing

Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They’ve got really short hair and they always go for the throat. – RAdm. “Jay” R. Stark

Also on this day: Brought to You by the Letters J and H and the Number 1 – In 1969, Sesame Street came to PBS, bringing along a whole cast of characters.
Winning – In 1928, Notre Dame played Army at Yankee Stadium.
War Criminal – In 1865, Henry Wirz was hanged.
Shut Up – In 2007, two heads of state got into an argument.
Smooth Operators – In 1951, the North American Numbering Plan went into effect.

Smooth Operators

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 10, 2014
Area Codes from 19

Area Codes from 1951

November 10, 1951: The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) allows for the first customer-dialed direct call using area codes. The call was placed from Englewood, New Jersey to Alameda, California. During the early 1900s, the Bell System grew from small local or regional systems. As they grew larger, both by numbers of users and regions covered, it became a chaotic system of many different numbering schemes. It was both inefficient and difficult to make a national system feasible. By the 1940s, Bell System began to create a way to unify the entire country’s numbering system so switchboard operators would not be needed to connect calls between local systems.

The new numbering plan divided North America into regional service areas called National Plan Areas. They were based on states and provinces and each was identified by a three-digit code. The idea was to make it easy for customers to be able to dial numbers without help from operators. The plan called for a ten digit overall number with the first three numbers being the area code. This was followed by the seven digit subscriber number which itself was made up of two parts; a three digit number indicating the telephone exchange or central office and a four digit station or line number. Early on, the numbers were written as two letters and then five numbers with letters indicating the telephone exchange name. The initial plan was completed in 1947 and provided for 152 area codes each able to serve 540 central offices.

On this day, customers could finally dial across country without help. New Jersey received the first area code in the new system – 201. Direct distance dialing (DDD) was slowly offered across the country and by the early 1960s most Bell System customers had converted. As time went on, more areas were included in the NANP. Eventually all of the US and her territories, Canada, Bermuda, and 17 other countries in the Caribbean were included. The British Colonial Office expanded the numbering system to the British West Indies and Bermuda. Not all North American countries participated. Mexico and Central American countries as well as some Caribbean countries did not.

Originally only 86 of the possible 152 codes were used. Because rotary phones actually clicked through the numbers, the areas with the highest populations received the shortest numbers. Therefore, New York City was given 212 which Chicago has 312 and Los Angeles had 213. Four regions were given the then-maximum number of 21 clicks – South Dakota was 605, North Carolina was given 704, South Carolina was 803, and the Maritime Provinces of Canada were 902. Certain rules applied to the numbering system to allow for proper routing. Eventually, to help increase the pool of available numbers, it was deemed necessary to dial 1 to indicate a number was a long-distance number rather than a local exchange.

People used what they called a telephone because they hated being close together and they were scared of being alone. – Chuck Palahniuk

Middle age is when you’re sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn’t for you. – Ogden Nash

No, I’m not interested in developing a powerful brain. All I’m after is just a mediocre brain, something like the President of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. – Alan Turing

The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink. – Fran Lebowitz

Also on this day: Brought to You by the Letters J and H and the Number 1 – In 1969, Sesame Street come to PBS, bringing along a whole cast of characters.
Winning – In 1928, Notre Dame played Army at Yankee Stadium.
War Criminal – In 1865, Henry Wirz was hanged.
Shut Up – In 2007, two heads of state got into an argument.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 10, 2013
Knute Rockne

Knute Rockne

November 10, 1928: Notre Dame plays at Yankee Stadium, meeting the undefeated Army football team. Knute Rockne learned to play football on the streets of Chicago and played with a local group and then again in high school. He saved enough money to continue his education in South Bend, Indiana where he ran track and played football. After graduation, he was a lab assistant working with polymer chemist, JA Nieuwland. Rather than continue his scientific career, he opted to become the football coach for Notre Dame University. He became one of the greatest coaches in history. His career spanned 1918-1930 with 105 victories, 12 losses, and 5 ties. His team won six national championships.

George Gipp has been listed as one of the best college ball players. The Notre Dame football star played various positions, mostly halfback. Only two weeks after being chosen Notre Dame’s first All-American player, he was ill and dying in the hospital. Without antibiotics, a virulent case of strep throat was lethal. His coach came to see the Gipper and was told, “I’ve got to go, Rock. It’s all right. I’m not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock. But I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy.” In one of the greatest locker room speeches ever given, Coach Rockne used this to fire up his team against the undefeated opponents. Final score: Notre Dame 12; Army 6.

Rockne introduced the “shift” where the backfield was lined up in a T formation, but the players shifted to a box formation as the ball was snapped. He did not invent the forward pass but did popularize it. Rockne himself admitted the play was introduced at St. Louis University by coach Eddie Cochens who had Bradbury Robinson throw the first pass in 1906. Rockne died in a plane crash at the age of 43.

The Gipper’s own career at Notre Dame was stellar. He led the team in both rushing and passing for the 1918, 1919, and 1920 seasons. He rushed for 2,341 yards, a record that held for more than half a century. Gipp threw for 1,789 yards. He did not allow a pass completion in his territory. He scored 83 touchdowns. He played both offensive and defensive positions. It is rumored he was late for curfew and contracted pneumonia and strep throat while sleeping outside but it is far more likely he became ill while giving punting lessons after his last game. He died at age 25.

“Let’s win one for the Gipper.”

“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.”

“Win or lose, do it fairly.”

“Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points.”

“I’ve found that prayers work best when you have big players.” – all from Knute Rockne

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The University of Notre Dame is a private, coeducational institution located in South Bend, Indiana. It was founded in 1842 when the Bishop of Vincennes offered land to Father Edward Sorin of the Congregation of Holy Cross in order to build the school. It began as a primary and secondary school, but soon became a college. It was also only for men at the time so Saint Mary’s College was founded for women. The Fighting Irish colors of gold and blue are used by the 26 sports teams. Their mascot is a leprechaun and they belong to the NCAA Division I. Their long tradition of football began when they played Michigan’s Wolverines in 1887. They have won 13 national championships, only 11 claimed by the university. They have the most members in the College Football Hall of Fame and are tied with Ohio State University for the number of Heisman Trophy winners. They have the second highest winning percentage in NCAA history (Knute Rockne’s 0.881 % wins from 1918 to 1930). The highest is held by Mount Union with Larry Kehes at 0.929% from 1986 to 2012.

Also on this day: Brought to You by the Letters J and H and the Number 1 – In 1969, Sesame Street come to PBS, bringing along a whole cast of characters.
War Criminal – In 1865, Henry Wirz was hanged.
Shut Up – In 2007, two heads of state got into an argument.

Shut Up

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 10, 2012

King Juan Carlos I

November 10, 2007: “¿Por qué no te callas?” King Juan Carlos says. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and King Juan Carlos I of Spain were both attending the Ibero-American Summit in Santiago, Chile. The Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, was giving a speech. Chávez kept interrupting in order to make comments about Spain’s previous Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar. Chávez referred to the man as a “fascist” and “less human than snakes” which may have held a grain of truth. However, even though he was disliked at home, he had been duly and properly elected. Zapatero who deeply opposed the former man’s policies was forced to defend him as “a legitimate representative of the Spanish people.”

Chávez kept interrupting until the King could take no more. He snapped out his quip which means in English “Why don’t you [just] shut up?” Languages have given their words specific meanings and the wording of the King’s comment used a familiar form of “you” which is usually reserved for friends or family, which Chávez was obviously not part of, and for children which was a derogatory or insulting usage. The audience applauded and shortly thereafter, the King left the Summit meeting. The King had never displayed such anger in public. The incident became internationally known and the phrase became an overnight sensation with even a mobile phone ringtone created using it.

King Juan Carlos I was born in 1938 and has been the ruling king of Spain since 1975 as named by General Francisco Franco in 1969. There had been no king in Spain for 38 years while Franco ruled. The Spanish Constitution of 1978 acknowledged him expressly as the King of Spain. Carlos successfully guided the country from dictatorship to parliamentary monarchy. He is also the President of the Ibero-American States Organization which represent over 700,000,000 people in 24 nations worldwide. In 2008 he was considered the most popular leader in all Ibero-America. Apparently this incident didn’t hurt his reputation too much, although he did receive some bad press from some Latin American countries.

Hugo Chávez was born in 1954 and became President of Venezuela in 1999. He was the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement from 1997 to 2007 when he became leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. He is leading social reforms there known as the Bolivarian Revolution. He describes his own policies as anti-imperialist and has allied himself with Communist governments in Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. He is part of the “pink tide” of Latin America. He is a highly controversial person both at home and abroad.

Europe cannot confine itself to the cultivation of its own garden. – Juan Carlos I

You are talking about information management when you talk about extranet management, … With the next level, it’s not managing the network per se, but it is managing the information that moves through those networks. –  Juan Carlos I

I am convinced that the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism, the path is socialism. – Hugo Chavez

I have said it already, I am convinced that the way to build a new and better world is not capitalism. Capitalism leads us straight to hell. – Hugo Chavez

Also on this day:

Brought to You by the Letters J and H and the Number 1 – In 1969, Sesame Street come to PBS, bringing along a whole cast of characters.
Winning – In 1928, Notre Dame played Army at Yankee Stadium.
War Criminal – In 1865, Henry Wirz was hanged.

War Criminal

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 10, 2011

Henry Wirz

November 10, 1865: Major Henry Wirz is hanged. His full name was Heinrich Hartmann Wirz and he was the only Confederate officer tried and executed at the end of the Civil War. He was the officer in charge of Camp Sumter, better known as Andersonville Prison. Wirz was born in Zurich, Switzerland and studied medicine there. He had a practice in Switzerland prior to coming to the US in 1849. He was imprisoned prior to his emigration for reasons unknown. He settled first in Kentucky and then moved to Louisiana where he successfully practiced medicine.

Wirz joined the Fourth Battalion of the Louisiana Volunteers as a private in May 1861. He was injured in battle, losing the use of his right arm. He was detached as a prison guard first in Alabama and then in Virginia. He was assigned to General John Winder who was in charge of all Confederate prison camps. In February 1864, Camp Sumter was established in Georgia. Wirz took command of the camp in March of that year.

Wooden barracks were planned to house what should have been temporary prisoners. The sides had been exchanging prisoners, but stopped doing so as soldiers were being returned to the field of battle. The sixteen acres eventually held 32,000 Union soldiers who were suffering from lack of food, water, and shelter. This, combined with poor sanitary conditions and lack of medical treatment led to Andersonville being the worst prison in the South. It was open for fourteen months and during that time, 13,000 or 28% of the prisoners assigned there had died.

Wirz was arrested in May 1865. He was taken to Washington, D.C. for trial on the charges of conspiring to impair the lives of Union prisoners of war. A military tribunal was established with Major General Lew Wallace presiding. The trial lasted for two months with evidence presented by former prisoners. The star witness against Wirz was a perjurer, but this wasn’t discovered until eleven days after the execution. Wirz was one of two men tried, and the only one executed, for war crimes during this bleak part of American history.

“There is so much filth about the camp that it is terrible trying to live here,” Michigan cavalryman and prisoner John Ransom , wrote in his diary

“With sunken eyes, blackened countenances from pitch pine smoke, rags, and disease, the men look sickening. The air reeks with nastiness.” – an unnamed prisoner from Camp Sumter

“Since the day I was born, I never saw such misery.” – an unnamed prisoner from Camp Sumter

“A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.” – Winston Churchill

Also on this day:
Brought to You by the Letters J and H and the Number 1 – In 1969, Sesame Street come to PBS, bringing along a whole cast of characters.
Winning – In 1928, Notre Dame played Army at Yankee Stadium.

Brought to You by the Letters J and H and the Number 1

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 10, 2010



Henson at the 1989 Emmy Awards. (Photo by Alan Light)


November 10, 1969: The National Educational Television network debuts the children’s classic, Sesame Street. The show was developed by master puppeteer, Jim Henson and founded by Joan Ganz Cooney and Ralph Rogers. Today it is produced by Sesame Workshop and presented on Public Broadcasting Service, the evolution of the NET network.

Sesame Street has shown over 4,000 episodes to a global audience of preschoolers. Each episode is presented by a letter and a number. During the hour program, live actors, Muppets, and animations reinforce the academic curriculum. They also teach social/emotional problem solving such as cooperation and taking turns. There is a Spanish word of the day, too. The predictability of the formatting allows for young children to feel a sense of mastery over the subject matter.

The show is not just for small children. There is a subtle undercurrent of humor that draws in older children and parents. The street has been visited by over 200 famous people in the more than three decades it has been in production. Name recognition is always a concern for businesses. Ninety-nine percent of American preschoolers recognize the characters from Sesame Street and 81% of them own a toy or game while 87% own a book from the series.

The mission of the show is to reach children in a responsible way showing them that learning is fun. The crucial elements of education are presented in an entertaining way for all children. The goal is to foster a love of learning. They have succeeded.

“Sally, you’ve never seen a street like Sesame Street. Everything happens here.” – Gordon Robinson

“Good evening, and welcome to Monsterpiece Theater.” – Alistair Cookie

“Me do anything for cookie!” – Cookie Monster

“Life’s like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.” – Jim Henson

Also on this day, Notre Dame “won one for the Gipper” when they played undefeated Army.