Little Bits of History

Self Actualization

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 3, 2015
Olympe de Gouges

Olympe de Gouges

November 3, 1793: Olympe de Gouges dies. She was born Marie Gouze in 1748 in what was then the Kingdom of France. Her family was small-time bourgeois and she believed she was the illegitimate daughter of the Marquis de Pompignan. She was married to Louis Aubry, a caterer from Paris who came to her town with a government retinue. She was 17 at the time of her marriage and it was not based on love. She loathed the man to whom she was tied. They had a son but Marie was left a widow just one year after she had married. Marie took her son and fled to Paris in 1770 and changed her name, arriving in the city as Olympe de Gouges.

In Paris, she met Jacques Biétrix de Rozières and had a long term relationship with the wealthy man which ended during the French Revolution. He introduced her to Paris society and she was welcomed into the artistic and philosophical salons where she met many writers and future politicians. She was often invited into the salons of two women playwrights of the day. De Gouges lived with several wealthy men who were able to support her financially as she tried to climb the social ladder and be accepted by the aristocracy. In 1784, the man she believed to be her father died and she began her career as a public intellectual. During the remaining nine years of her life she wrote about 40 different pieces, essays, manifestos, treatises, political pamphlets, and social plays advocating women’s rights and abolition.

One of her first plays was an anti-slavery piece vilifying the slave trade. She also wrote about women’s right to divorce as well as argued for sex outside of marriage. She was also an advocate for the rights of illegitimate children. Her social conscience led her to rejoice at the beginning of the Revolution, believing that human rights would be championed and preferential treatment would cease. But she was soon disappointed when she learned that while men were willing to fight for their freedom, they were not inclined to offer the same to the women of the time.

As the Revolution went on, she became more and more vocal in her desire to have equal rights with the men who were hoping for freedom. Her writings became more vehement. She was allied with the Girondins (an offshoot of the Jacobins) and on June 2, 1773 she was arrested by the Jacobins (anti-Royalist). After her arrest, her house was searched for evidence but none was found so de Gouges led her accusers to where her papers were stored and they found an unfinished play which her accusers said would bring sympathy to the Queen. De Gouges spent three months in jail without an attorney and tried to defend herself. She was sentenced to death for seditious behavior and was guillotined on this day.

I was married to a man I did not love and who was neither rich nor well-born. I was sacrificed for no reason that could make up for the repugnance I felt for this man. – Olympe de Gouges

A woman has the right to mount the scaffold. She must possess equally the right to mount the speaker’s platform. – Olympe de Gouges

Man, are you capable of being just? It is a woman who poses the question; you will not deprive her of that right at least. – Olympe de Gouges

That woman… had thrown herself in the Revolution, body and soul. But having quickly perceived how atrocious the system adopted by the Jacobins was, she chose to retrace her steps. She attempted to unmask the villains through the literary productions which she had printed and put up. They never forgave her, and she paid for her carelessness with her head. – a Parisian chronicler of her death

Also on this day: Greensboro Massacre – In 1979, violence broke out in Greensboro, North Carolina.
It’s a Dog’s Life – In 1957, the Soviets sent a dog into outer space.
Last Public Hanging – In 1783, Tyburn public hangings ceased.
Fashoda Incident – In 1898, the Fashoda Incident ended.
Godzilla – In 1954, the first Godzilla movie was released.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 3, 2014
03 Godzilla

Movie poster for Godzilla

November 3, 1954: Godzilla is released. The 96 minute movie was directed by Ishiro Honda and produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka. The screenplay was written by Honda and Takeo Murata and based on a story by Shigeru Kayama. The film was distributed by Toho, also the production company. Filmed in Japan, it was the first of a series of films starring the prehistoric monster, Godzilla. The science fiction kaiju film set the tone for all future kaiju films. Kaiju literally translates to “strange creature” and as in this first film, usually portray monsters of any form either attacking a major Japanese city or fighting off a second (or more) monster in epic battle.

Godzilla was resurrected after repeated nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean. The movie opens with a fishing boat attacked by a flash of light near Odo Island. On the island, after a second attack, the village elder remembered a time when girls were sacrificed to appease a giant sea monster. A storm came to the island and rather than appease a monster, Godzilla rose up. He eventually made his way to Tokyo. There, engineers tried to electrocute the monster without any success. The beast melted buildings with his atomic breath and decimated the city and its citizens. Daisuke Serizawa had created a secret weapon that could possibly destroy Godzilla, but the weapon was too dangerous to actually bring out. Godzilla’s destruction became so overpowering, Serizawa finally consented to let the weapon be created for a one time use only and then destroyed.

Hideto Ogata and Serizawa boarded a navy ship and left Tokyo Bay. They descended into the ocean and found Godzilla resting. They resurfaced, got their Oxygen Destroyer weapon and descended to kill the beast. Ogata returned to the surface as Serizawa activated the device but instead of rising to the surface as well, he stayed to make sure Godzilla was killed. Godzilla’s last act before succumbing to the weapon was to rise from the waters one last time and roar before sinking to the ocean floor and disintegrating leaving only a skeleton behind. The monster was killed, but with continued nuclear testing, another monster could appear.

In 1954, Godzilla sold over 9.6 million tickets in Japan alone and was the eighth best attended film in that country that year. Even now, it is the second best attended Godzilla film with only King Kong vs. Godzilla having a greater audience. Godzilla’s box office earnings was 152 million Yen or about $2.25 million. The film has been listed as one of the top 20 Japanese films of all time. The special effects used in the making of the film captured a nomination from the Japanese Movie Association. Many different Godzilla movies have been made since with three different series of them – 1954 to 1975, the Heisei series of 1984 to 1995, and the Millennium series from 1999 to 2004.

I can’t believe that Godzilla was the only surviving member of its species. If we continue nuclear testing, very soon, another Godzilla might appear, somewhere else in the world, again… – Dr. Yamane

Godzilla and Biollante aren’t monsters. It’s the unscrupulous scientists who create them who are monsters. – Dr. Shiragami

When mankind falls into conflict with nature, monsters are born. – Prof. Hayashida

f [the Oxygen Destroyer] had have been used on the ground, it is quite obvious that Tokyo would have become a cemetery. – Dr. Kensaku Ijuin

Also on this day: Greensboro Massacre – In 1979, violence broke out in Greensboro, North Carolina.
It’s a Dog’s Life – In 1957, the Soviets sent a dog into outer space.
Last Public Hanging – In 1783, Tyburn public hangings ceased.
Fashoda Incident – In 1898, the Fashoda Incident ended.

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It’s a Dog’s Life

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 3, 2013


November 3, 1957: The first Earthling makes it to outer space. The space race was on with the US and USSR in head-to-head competition. Early points went to the Soviet Union. They sent the first manmade object into Earth orbit when Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957. Sputnik means “co-traveler” in Russian. The tiny spacecraft rode up into the sky via an R-7 launch vehicle, a rocket designed to carry nuclear warheads. The first launch was as much a trial of the booster rocket as the satellite’s actual mission which helped to identify parts of the high atmosphere.

Following on the heels of their success, the Russians launched Sputnik 2 again using an R-7 rocket. This time, a stray dog named Laika was aboard. While the booster rocket and first stage separated flawlessly, the second stage did not release correctly. The thermal control systems could not optimally function after separation and a piece of insulation was torn as well. The interior of the space capsule reached temperatures of 104º F.

Laika was a stray found in Moscow. She was believed to be about 3 years old and was part-Samoyed terrier and part husky. She weighed 11-13 pounds (reports vary). Other dogs had been sent on sub-orbital trips by both superpowers and survived. Laika’s training consisted of acclimation to the space capsule which was exceedingly small. She was confined for weeks at a time in ever smaller cages which caused stress and impaired bodily functions. She and others who trained for the flight were placed in centrifuges to simulate the noise and G-force of take off which also stressed the animals. They were trained to eat a gel-type food.

The plan was to monitor her bodily functions for ten days. Laika was harnessed with telemetry monitors to keep an eye on heart rate and blood pressure. There was no viable plan for re-entry. Instead, due to overheating and extreme stress, Laika died within hours of take off. Conditions in space and the stress of getting there were great unknowns. The use of dogs was seen as a way to pave the way for manned space flight. By 1960, Sputnik 5 was launched with 2 dogs, 40 mice, 2 rats, and several plants aboard. All returned safely to Earth the following day. Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, took the journey on April 12, 1961.

“The overheating story has been around. But this, dead after five to seven hours, that was a shock to me.” – Sven Grahn, space historian

“The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it… We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.” – Oleg Gazenko

“The Soviet Union announced today it had launched a second space satellite — this one carrying a dog. Radio signals indicated that the animal was living, the Russians said.” – Associated Press release, November 3, 1957

“Our movies and television programs in the fifties were full of the idea of going into space. What came as a surprise was that it was the Soviet Union that launched the first satellite. It is hard to recall the atmosphere of the time.” – John Logsdon

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Laika means “barker” in Russian. She was originally called Kudryavka which means “little curly” and she trained with two other dogs. The true cause of her death was unknown until 2002. It was reported that she died on day six when oxygen ran out and the Russian government originally claimed she was euthanized before suffocating. The need for something living to precede humans was considered essential. It was unknown if living things could survive weightlessness at all. Because of the times, the political aspects of space conquest far outweighed the plight of one small dog. However, that doesn’t mean that many did not protest the dog’s demise or the fact that there never was a plan to try to save her. There was global debate on the mistreatment of animals in the Space Race as well in general daily lives. In the USSR, it was not advisable to criticize the government and there was little protest about the fate of Laika at home.

Also on this day: Greensboro Massacre – In 1979, violence broke out in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Last Public Hanging – In 1783, Tyburn public hangings ceased.
Fashoda Incident – In 1898, the Fashoda Incident ended.

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Fashoda Incident

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 3, 2012

Fashoda Incident map

November 3, 1898: The Fashoda Incident comes to an end. During the late 1800s, Africa was overtaken by European colonial power. This is often referred to as the Scramble for Africa. Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and Spain were all colonial powers. However, the two largest colonizers were Britain and France. The French began in the African interior from the Atlantic coast. They started in modern day Senegal and moved along the southern border of the Sahara attempting to reach the Nile River. The British began in the south and moved upwards, also heading for the Nile River. Egypt at the time was already under British control, so much of the Nile was already under their sway.

Fashoda was in the path of both superpowers. Today, the city is called Kodok and is the capital of South Sudan. The city lies on the banks of the White Nile River about 400 miles south of Khartoum. The British wanted a rail line from Cape Town to Cairo, the “red line” as desired by Cecil Rhodes, who wanted Africa painted British red. Fashoda was a strategic stop along the proposed rail line. It was also bound up in the Egyptian Question – a long running dispute between France and England over the legality of British occupation of Egypt. In 1882, many in France and the colonial possessions were sorry they had not joined with England in the Egyptian occupation. Their plan for Fashoda was as a launching spot for gunboats to try to persuade the British to abandon Egypt.

A French force of 120 soldiers and 12 officers set out from Brazzaville in a borrowed Belgian steamer with orders to secure the area around Fashoda. They headed up river and then had to travel over land to reach the area. They were to be met by two other expeditions coming west from across Ethiopia. It took 14 month for the east traveling French to travel the distance and they arrived on July 10, 1898. Those coming west failed to arrive. On September 18, a large British flotilla, which included gunboats arrived at the Fashoda fort. Both sides were polite; both insisted they had right to Fashoda.

News traveled to both Paris and London and stirred animosities at home. Both sides were appalled and outraged at the rampant colonialism and expansionism of the other side. The crisis continued in Africa and in Europe. The British were superiorly situated strategically, although there were more French forces at the site. The naval supremacy of the British would have won the day. The new French foreign minister, Théophile Delcassé, was willing to forego defeat here in order to sustain goodwill among the British should Germany invade. The Dreyfus Affair was also resurfacing at the same time and so the French quietly left Fashoda on this day, giving the British control in this, the last British/French colonial dispute.

And so I’m saying that, yes, colonialism was terrible, and I describe it as a legacy of wars, but we ought to be moving away from that by now. – Wangari Maathai

Colonialism is an idea born in the West that drives Western countries – like France, Italy, Belgium, Great Britain – to occupy countries outside of Europe. – Ahmed Ben Bella

I would say colonialism is a wonderful thing. It spread civilization to Africa. Before it they had no written language, no wheel as we know it, no schools, no hospitals, not even normal clothing. – Ian Smith

To campaign against colonialism is like barking up a tree that has already been cut down. – Andrew Cohen

Also on this day:

Greensboro Massacre – In 1979, violence broke out in Greensboro, North Carolina.
It’s a Dog’s Life – In 1957, the Soviets sent a dog into outer space.
Last Public Hanging – In 1783, Tyburn public hangings ceased.

Last Public Hanging

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 3, 2011

Tyburn tree

November 3, 1783: John Austin is the last man to be publicly hanged at London’s Tyburn gallows. Tyburn was the venue for public executions for several centuries. The first recorded hanging there took place in 1196. William Fitz Osbern was a popular leader of London’s poor. He was captured at a church, St. Mary le Bow. From there, he was stripped naked and was dragged behind a horse to Tyburn. He was then hanged. The name “Tyburn” comes from a tributary of the River Thames where the village was first located. Now part of London, the area is famous for its gallows.

In 1571, the “Tyburn Tree” was first erected. This “tree” was a new form of gallows built as a triangle supported by three legs. This allowed for the hanging of several felons at one time. The first to be executed using this new gallows was Dr. John Story, a Roman Catholic who refused to recognize Elizabeth I. A mass execution took place on June 23, 1649 when 24 prisoners, 23 men and one woman, were hanged as a group. They were brought to the gallows in eight carts and then hung as a group.

The public hangings were considered entertainment at the time. These were popular and could attract thousands to come and see the spectacle. The village of Tyburn, in order to cash in on the event, erected stands for public seating and then charged a fee to be able to use it. On at least one occasion, the seating collapsed and killed or injured hundreds. Even so, Londoners would swarm to a public hanging and considered the day to be a public holiday. Since everyone left anyway, apprentices were given the day off to be able to witness the hangings.

John Austin was a highwayman. His crime was “Robbery with violence” and his victim was John Spicer. He suffered “Cutting and wounding … in a cruel manner.”  Highwaymen were the pirates of land travelers. They were thieves and would usually ride in on a horse and rob those who were traveling on foot and unable to get away. After this last public hanging, future executions were carried out at Newgate at the West End of London.

“Bacon’s not the only thing that’s cured by hanging from a string.” – Hugh Kingsmill

“He that hath deserved hanging may be glad to escape with a whipping.” – Thomas Brooks

“Suicide is possible, but not probable; hanging, I trust, is even more unlikely; for I hope that, by the time I die, my countrymen will have become civilised enough to abolish capital punishment.” – Laurence Housman

“Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted.” – Fred Allen

Also on this day:
Greensboro Massacre – In 1979, violence broke out in Greensboro, North Carolina.
It’s a Dog’s Life – In 1957, the Soviets sent a dog into outer space.

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Greensboro Massacre

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 3, 2010

Police in Greensboro

November 3, 1979: A Maoist Communist Workers Party [CWP] rally is held in Greensboro, North Carolina. The rally and parade was booked as “Death to the Klan.” Back in July, the Ku Klux Klan had held a rally in a neighboring town. The CWP crashed that rally and clubbed KKK members with canes and 2x4s, waved guns, and set fire to a Confederate flag. The CWP then planned their own rally.

The KKK and some members of the American Nazis joined forced to disrupt the CWP rally. They loaded nine cars with members and filled the trunks with guns. They went to the sight of the parade, having gotten a map of the route two days earlier. A tenth car, a Greensboro police cruiser, joined their caravan. An order came over the radio from Greensboro police dispatch that sent the rest of the police off on breaks.

The KKK/Nazi party parked their cars, got out, went to the trunks to arm themselves, and fired into the crowd. Four people were killed immediately, another person died three days later, and nine more were wounded. Because this was an advertised rally and parade, the news vans were there and the entire massacre was videotaped. Eighty-eight seconds after the firing started, the KKK/Nazi group returned to their cars and drove off.

There was a subsequent trial which ended in acquittal. A civil suit was brought and $300,000 was granted which formed the monetary base for the Greensboro Justice Fund. Dr. Bermanzohns, one of the CWP leaders claimed the purpose of the rally to be twofold – to induce sympathy and to lure the poor African-Americans in the community to join the communist party. They achieved the first goal, but not the second. Bermanzohns also said, while dry-eyed at the funerals of his fallen comrades, that they knew there would be bloodshed and it was unfortunate, but not unexpected.

“Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.” – Saul Alinsky

“The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on.” – Joseph Heller

“Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” – James Baldwin

Also on this day, in 1957 the Russians sent the first living creature into space. Laika, a dog, died shortly after liftoff.