Little Bits of History

October 13

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2017

1710: The Siege of Port Royal comes to an end. It was also known as the Conquest of Acadia. Acadia was part of New France and included parts of eastern Quebec, what is today New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island of Canada and part of the US State of Maine. The British and French were contesting control over the area where Port Royal was the capital. The British were joined by the Iroquois and led by Francis Nicholson while the French and the Wabanaki Confederacy were led by Daniel d’Auger de Subercase. Port Royal had been the main city in the region since the French arrived in 1604 and was often the focal point during British/French confrontations. The British burned it to the ground in 1613 and after it was rebuilt, they again captured it in 1690 although it was restored to the French by the Treaty of Ryswick.

The War of the Spanish Succession began in 1702 and both British and French colonists were again thrust into European wars. Port Royal began building a fort even before war broke out and it was nearly finished by 1704. The French raided Deerfield on what was then the Massachusetts frontier in February 1704 and the British retaliated with an expedition to the region in May. Their first point of attack was not Port Royal. Subercase became governor of Acadia in 1706 and went on the offensive and encouraged Natives to raid British targets in New England. He also supported privateering or legalized piracy against British ships. Boston and Port Royal had long been trading partners and for some time, trade managed to continue.

Over the next few years, battles went back and forth between the two powers. Finally, a British fleet sailed north and by October 5, the fleet had arrived at Goat Island, about 6 miles below Port Royal. One ship was lost as they gathered. The next day, marines landed both north and south of Port Royal and they were joined by four regimens of New England troops. The men surrounded the fort and laid siege with support from the cannons of the ships in the harbor. Land weaponry was able to advance under cover of the cannon from the water and by this date, they were with 300 feet of the fort and opened fire. They demanded Subercase surrender. Negotiations for a surrender began and by nightfall, the details were worked out.

The men in the garrison were given permission to leave with the “honours of war”. The British took occupancy of the fort and renamed it Annapolis Royal. It was one of the key issues in the treaty negotiations between France and Great Britain. It led to the conquests by British forces of both Louisbourg and Quebec and it was one of the precipitating factors of the end of French power in North America in a more general state. By taking over the region, a new colony was created – Nova Scotia. The final attempt to take the city profoundly affected the region for at least the next 50 years.

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. – Sun Tzu

You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war. – Napoleon Bonaparte

We make war that we may live in peace. – Aristotle

Love has its place, as does hate. Peace has its place, as does war. Mercy has its place, as do cruelty and revenge. – Meir Kahane



Organized Time

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2015
Greenwich Royal Observatory*

Greenwich Royal Observatory*

October 13, 1884: Greenwich is adopted as the universal meridian. US President Chester Arthur called for a conference to choose a meridian to be used as a common zero longitude and standards of time to be used throughout the world. In the previous decade, it became obvious that a prime meridian would make worldwide navigation easier and would also unify local times which would assist in railway time tables. The first International Geographical Congress was held in Antwerp in 1871 and passed a motion to use the Greenwich Meridian for passage charts and suggested it become mandatory in 15 years. While rail times in Great Britain were problematic, in the US the problems were much worse because of the size of the system.

This 1884 conference had its roots in the third geographical conference held in Venice in 1881. High on the list of things to accomplish was the establishment of a prime meridian and standardization of times around the globe. An Act of Congress passed in August 1882 authorizing the President to call for an international conference to fix on a prime meridian and longitude throughout the world. Even before invitations could be sent out, members of various concerns worked on a way to bring US railways into coordinated time. It was implemented on November 18, 1883 but was not legally established until 1918. Even so, there were still international problems and the conference was held.

There were 26 nations with 41 delegates at the International Meridian Conference. From Austria-Hungary to Venezuela, countries from around the world passed seven resolutions. Their first resolution was to agree that it was desirable to adopt a single prime meridian for all nations rather than the current system of several different primes (negating the idea of prime). The call for Greenwich to be that Prime Meridian was passed 22-1 (two abstaining). San Domingo had voted against the resolution  and Brazil and France abstained. France did not adopt the Greenwich meridian until 1911. The rest of the longitudinal marks were then voted on. Then they had to agree on when to implement these changes and how to go about that. It was also decided that the beginning of each would be at midnight.

Universal Time (UT) is the modern continuation of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). There are several different versions of UT (UT0, UT1, UT1R, UT2, and UTC [Coordinated Universal Time]). GMT is the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. UTC is the system in use today as a time standard. It mandates how clocks are set around the world and is within about a second of mean solar time at 0⁰ longitude. UTC was formalized in 1960 and is based on International Atomic Time with leap seconds added at irregular intervals to keep the time in step with solar time. UTC does not observe daylight savings time.

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. – William Penn

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late. – William Shakespeare

Lost time is never found again. – Benjamin Franklin

For time is the longest distance between two places. – Tennessee Williams

Also on this day: Service – In 1843, B’nai B’rith was founded.
Miracle of the Sun – In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to thousands.
Yellow Jackets – In 1885, Georgia Tech was founded.
Whirlpool – In 1773, Charles Messier discovered a new galaxy.
President’s Palace – In 1973, the cornerstone for the White House was laid.

* “Greenwich-Royal Observatory-016” by Tilman2007/Dr. Volkmar Rudolf – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons –



President’s Palace

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2014
Elevation drawing of the proposed Executive Mansion

Elevation drawing of the proposed Executive Mansion

October 13, 1793: The cornerstone for the Executive Mansion is laid. US President George Washington lived at two different executive mansions in New York City. In May 1790, a new Government House was begun for the President to live in, but it was never completed. Instead, the national capital moved to Philadelphia in December 1790. In July 1790, the Residence Act named that city as the temporary capital and gave a time frame of ten years while the new Federal City was under construction. Washington, Madison, and Adams all lived at a house on Market Street even though a much nicer or grander place was built – in an effort to make Philadelphia the nation’s permanent seat of power. The unused presidential mansion became home of the University of Pennsylvania.

Pierre Charles L’Enfant was busy designing the new nation’s new capital city. A design competition was held and nine proposals were submitted for the Executive Mansion. It was originally referred to as the President’s Palace, Presidential Mansion, or President’s House and the earliest use of the term White House was in 1811. Officially known as the Executive Mansion until 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt first used the name White House – Washington on his engraved stationery.  Irish architect James Hoban’s design was chosen for the new building, but not quite as submitted. His three-story, nine bay design was altered to two stories and eleven bays for construction.

On this day, without fanfare or ceremony, the cornerstone was laid. The initial construction work took eight years and most of the workers were enslaved and free African-Americans and immigrants. The cost of constructions was $232,371.83 which is about $3.2 million today. It was not quite complete but could be lived in and so Adams moved there in November 1800. L’Enfant had envisioned a palace five times larger than the original building but the sandstone building was what the new country could afford. The Mansion has not always looked like the current building. In 1814, the building was set ablaze by the British during the War of 1812. The interior was gutted and the exterior wall were weakened. Reconstruction took place between 1815 and 1817. The south portico was aded in 1824 and the north portico was added in 1830.

The Mansion was getting too small. Interior renovations helped, but more room was needed. The West Wing was added first and then the National or East Wing was added. Theodore Roosevelt carried out more expansions and renovations. The Oval Office was built during William Howard Taft’s term in office but Franklin Roosevelt moved it during his time there. By 1948, the house was in danger of collapse and major reconstruction efforts were needed to save the building. During the Kennedy administration, extensive historic redecoration of the house was done. Today, each new family in the White House carries out some modifications to the family’s residential quarters, but anything done to the basic structure of the White House itself is carefully overseen to ensure historic authenticity.

 I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this House, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof. – John Adams, on taking up residency

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. – H. L. Mencken

Sometimes I wake at night in the White House and rub my eyes and wonder if it is not all a dream. – Grover Cleveland

Do you realize the responsibility I carry? I’m the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House. – John F. Kennedy

Also on this day: Service – In 1843, B’nai B’rith was founded.
Miracle of the Sun – In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to thousands.
Yellow Jackets – In 1885, Georgia Tech was founded.
Whirlpool – In 1773, Charles Messier discovered a new galaxy.

Miracle of the Sun

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2013
Our Lady of Fatima

Our Lady of Fatima

October 13, 1917: Three children and 70,000-100,000 onlookers are visited by an apparition at the Cova da Iria. Lúcia de Jesus Rosa Santos (10) and her cousins, Francisco (9) and Jacinta (7) Marto were three shepherds working in Fatima, Portugal. On May 13, Lúcia said she saw “a Lady more brilliant than the sun” and in her hands she held a white rosary. The Lady promised to return to the children and told them to pray and do penance.

The Lady returned to the Cova da Iria on the 13th of June, July, September, and October. However, on August 13, the children had been taken away by local authorities to Vila Nova De Ourém. So the Lady visited the children on August 19 at Valinhos. In July and again in September, the Lady promised the children a miracle would happen in October. The children were staunch Catholics and did as the apparition requested. Already devoted, they increased their recitation of the Rosary, a prayer chain used by Catholics. They wore tight ropes around their waists to cause pain and refused water on hot days as a form of penance.

The secular newspapers ridiculed the claims and many non-believers were in attendance for the promised miracle. As the appointed time arrived, a massive crowd was drenched by pouring rain. Suddenly, the clouds parted and the sun shone as a spinning disk in the sky. The sun then zigzagged and danced through the sky for about ten minutes, according to witnesses. Many present claimed their clothing was immediately dried. The apparition was named Our Lady of Fatima. She is said to have been the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. Also called The Lady of the Rosary, she asked for a chapel to be built on the site. It was done and the shrine continues to be a place of worship for believers.

The Lady also told Lúcia “Three Secrets.” The first secret was a vision of Hell with fire surrounding demons and “souls in human form.” The second secret foretold of the end of the Great War but also of the coming of the next World War. It also told of the anti-religion ideology of the Soviet Union. It was not made public until 1941. Lúcia revealed the third secret in writing to the Bishop of Leiria in 1944 but it was not publically published until 2000. It was rather disappointing as a secret. She told of devastating destruction and an urgent message from the Lady to pray and repent.

“If My requests are granted … there will be peace.”

“If My requests are not granted, Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, raising up wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martryed, the Holy Father will suffer much and various nations will be annihilated.”

“Only I can help you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

“On the last month, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.” – all from Our Lady of Fatima, attributed

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Francisco Marto died in the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic in 1919 and his sister died the next year from the same cause. Lúcia Santos moved to Porto at the age of 14 and she was admitted to the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar. Four years later she was made a postulant in the convent. She made her first vows on October 3, 1928 and her perpetual vows six years later. She took the name Sister Maria Lúcia  of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart. The order was not completely silent, but the nuns were expected to speak as little as possible, even with members of their families. Sister Lúcia continued to have visions of the Blessed Mother. During her lifetime she wrote six memoirs, the first four between 1935 and 1941. The others were written in 1989 and 1993. She died on February 13, 2005 from natural causes. She was 97 years old.

Also on this day: Service – In 1843, B’nai B’rith was founded.
Yellow Jackets – In 1885, Georgia Tech was founded.
Whirlpool – In 1773, Charles Messier discovered a new galaxy.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2012

Charles Messier

October 13, 1773: Charles Messier looks into the night sky. The French astronomer was born in 1730, the tenth of twelve children. Six of the children died while young and when Charles was 11, his father died. The child’s interest in astronomy was piqued by a great six-tailed comet (C/1743 X1, Comet de Chéseaus, or the Great Comet of 1744) and a solar eclipse as seen from his hometown on July 25, 1748. In 1751 he was employed by Joseph Nicolas Delistle, an astronomer with the French Navy. It was there he learned to make careful observations and keep detailed records. Charles’s first documented observation was the transit of Mercury on May 6, 1753.

Messier was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1764 and five years later was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1779 he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences. He discovered 13 comets between the years 1760 and 1785. His first catalog, published in 1774 contained 45 objects but since then the list of discoveries has grown to 103. However, at least 20 of the objects listed were, in fact, discovered by his assistant, Pierre Méchain. There is a crater on the moon called Messier and an asteroid called 7359 Messier – both named in his honor.

On this day, while looking at the night sky, Messier found something a bit larger than a comet. Designated as M51, the object is what is today sometimes called the Whirlpool galaxy. In 1781, Méchain discovered its companion galaxy NGC5195. Although the mass was seen in the sky, it wasn’t until 1845 that it was discovered the galaxy was spiral in nature. It took Lord Rosse using a 72-inch telescope to discover the shape. In 2005, a supernova was observed in the Whirlpool Galaxy which had an apparent magnitude of 14. And in 2011 a type II supernova with a magnitude of 13.5 was seen there.

The galaxy is located in the constellation Canes Venatici and is found following the easternmost star of the Big Dipper. The galaxy is visible with binoculars under dark sky conditions and can, obviously, be seen with amateur telescopes. However, it takes a larger telescope to be able to see the spiral arms. Stars are usually formed in the center of a galaxy and M51 seems to be undergoing a period of star formation, but this is a relatively short lived period and shouldn’t last more and another 100 million years. This could be the reason for the spiral shape of the galaxy, but not the only one. There is also hydrogen compression in other areas leading to starbirth regions and these show up as bright blue dots in the spiral arms.

Is it not careless to become too local when there are four hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone. – A. R. Ammons

Keep up the good work, if only for a while, if only for the twinkling of a tiny galaxy. – Wislawa Szymborska

When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system. – Kalpana Chawla

Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another. – Plato

Also on this day:

Service – In 1843, B’nai B’rith was founded.
Miracle of the Sun – In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to thousands.
Yellow Jackets – In 1885, Georgia Tech was founded.

Yellow Jackets

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2011

Georgia Tech band on the football field

October 13, 1885: The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is founded. Also referred to as Tech or GT, it is a public research university located in Atlanta, Georgia. The school is part of the University System of Georgia. There are several satellite campuses located in Savannah, Georgia; Metz, France; Athlone, Ireland; Shanghai, China; and Singapore. The original school was established as part of the Reconstruction effort after the Civil War.

When founded, it offered only a degree in mechanical engineering. By 1901 the school had increased degrees to include electrical, civil, and chemical engineering. In 1948, the school changed its name as a reflection of its change from a trade school to a more complete technical institute as well as a research university. Today it has six colleges with about 30 departments. There remains a strong emphasis on science and technology. Degrees include engineering, computing, management, the sciences, architecture, and liberal arts. It is one of the top ten universities in the US and is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Athletics are an important part of collegiate life. At Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets are famous for their sports prowess. Also called the Ramblin’ Wreck (from their fight song) and the Engineers (from their scholastic bent), they have seventeen varsity teams. Football, with their famous rivalry with the University of Georgia may be the most vocal. But they also have teams in basketball, baseball, golf, swimming and diving, track and field, and more. Their mascot is Buzz or Ramblin’ Wreck.

The first class of 95 students entered Georgia Tech in 1888 and their first two graduates received degrees in 1890. Today, they have an undergraduate enrollment of 13,672 (2010) and graduate students number 6,815 (2010). Many distinguished alumni once walked the campus of this famous school. Jimmy Carter attended for a short time. There are Nobel prize winners and CEOs who graduated from Georgia Tech as well as politicians and scientists. Famous athletes and Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian, all hail from this esteemed Institute.

“Each of us have things and thoughts and descriptions of an amazing universe in our possession that kings in the 17th Century would have gone to war to possess.” – Kary Mullis

“We’re not always consistent with our message that the customer is number one, … We’re not always consistent with our in-stock situation and sometimes the checkout lines are too long.” – Mike Duke

“Andrew was a storm that exceeded the design storm that we used. In fact, it still exceeds the design storm that we use and that the state building code would use. We really aren’t taking care of every possible eventuality.” – Herbert Saffir

“I used to say that whenever people heard my Southern accent, they always wanted to deduct 100 IQ points.” – Jeff Foxworthy

All quotes come from Georgia Tech graduates.

Also on this day:
Service – In 1843, B’nai B’rith was founded.
Miracle of the Sun – In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to thousands.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2010

October 13, 1843: Henry Jones and eleven others found the B’nai B’rith service organization. It is the oldest continually-operating Jewish service organization in the world. From its beginnings in New York City, it has become a world wide organization.

The members were involved in welfare activities, promoting Jewish rights, assisting hospitals, aiding victims of natural disaster, awarding scholarships, and fighting anti-Semitism. They have founded hospitals, orphanages, libraries, senior housing communities. They are a vocal advocate for Israel and against the Diaspora. They have over 180,000 members in more than 50 countries.

Their mission statement includes security and continuity of the Jewish people, defending human rights, combating bigotry in all its manifestations, and providing services to humanity as goals. They aim to unite Jews and enhance their identity via a strengthened family life and education.

There are outside dissidents who have repudiated what B’nai B’rith has done and continues to do. The response from B’nai B’rith is that anti-Semitism is rampant and has been a historical fact for millennium. They maintain that they are a service for good and defense of the State of Israel is an honorable mission.

“Service makes men competent.” – Lyman Abbott

“Service to a just cause rewards the worker with more real happiness and satisfaction than any other venture of life.” – Carrie Chapman Catt

“We should render a service to a friend to bind him closer to us, and to an enemy to make a friend of him.” – Cleobulus

“Service is the rent that we pay for our room on earth.” – Lord Halifax

Also on this day, in 1917 Our Lady of Fatima appeared to thousands.