Little Bits of History

September 20

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 20, 2017

1848: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is founded. It is an international non-profit organization with the goal of advancing science across many spectrums. The Association of American Geologists and Naturalists predate this organization. William Charles Redfield, the first president of AAAS, had the greatest plans for the new organization formed from the ashes of its predecessor. They adopted their constitution on this day as well and listed their main goals. First of all, they sought to allow greater scientific collaboration and found that sharing information quickly and accurately was the was in which to accomplish it. They also wanted to increase resources available to scientists and believed advocating for a greater understanding of scientific endeavors was key.

On this day there were 78 members committed to the spread of science. Two days later, another meeting was held and it was announced that ship navigators were sending in data to the United States Naval Observatory and it allowed for a more comprehensive understanding of winds and currents. This was seen as a basis for other data collection sets. Matthew Maury, of the US Navy called for even more data and William Barton Rogers, later to found MIT, offered a resolution to help with this project. It was hoped to collect data worldwide rather than just from United States ships.

During the US Civil War, AAAS was dormant, but in 1866 Frederick Barnard resurrected the sleeping scientific organization and the group saw tremendous growth. Joining AAAS did not take a science degree, or any degrees at all. Interest in the expansion of the scientific community was all that was needed. They helped to unify many disciplines and cross pollination of ideas produced an ever-increasing amount of knowledge and understanding.

Today, AAAS puts out six Science Journals containing peer-reviewed science or engineering based research articles. They cover a wide range of topics in a variety of disciplines. They sponsor eleven basic programs with branches within each to help support science and research around the globe. They also host a wide range of events online with the concerned public invited to webinars or video chats in order to widen understanding of science and implementation of ideas. They support higher education in science and mathematics and offer several ways to increase the likelihood of finding a job in these arenas from career development to internships. They have over 2,000 jobs available within these fields.

The science of today is the technology of tomorrow. – Edward Teller

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. – Carl Sagan

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. – Immanuel Kant

Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. – Louis Pasteur



Motor Wagon

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 20, 2015
Duryea Brothers 1894 model

Duryea Brothers 1894 model

September 20, 1893: The Duryea Brothers test drive their new conveyance. Charles, the older brother (born 1861) and Frank (born 1869) were initially bicycle makers in Washington, D.C. They later moved their business to Springfield, Massachusetts and it was there they tested their new vehicle. They audaciously road-tested the first working American gasoline-powered automobile. The area they used for the test is now part of the City of Chicopee, Massachusetts. Their “motor wagon” was literally that. They purchased a used horse drawn buggy for $70 and added a 4 HP, single cylinder gasoline engine. The car had a friction transmission, a spray carburetor, and low tension ignition.

It worked. They parked it and then test drove it again on November 10. For this second tour, they brought the car to a much more prominent area of the city. They drove past their garage at 47 Taylor Street. The event was so startling, it was written up in the local newspaper, The Republican, the next day. The trial car was put in storage in 1894 and stayed safely stored away until 1920 when a former Duryea engineer presented it to the United States National Museum. The two brothers continued to work on their cars. Charles engineered the cars and Frank built, tested, and raced them.

Frank’s first race was on November 28, 1895. It was held in Chicago and was not only Frank’s first car race, but America’s. The cars were driven to Evanston, Illinois and back to the starting point. There had been three Benz cars also entered in the race and two other cars, for a total of six entrants from the 83 cars which had hoped to race. Only Frank and one of the Benz cars managed to even finish the race, sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald with a winning prize of $5,000 (about $150,000 today). The trip was 54 miles long with an average blistering speed of 7.5 mph. The race took over seven hours to complete.

With this success in hand, the brothers were able to make a go of their new business, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company. Demand for American cars grew along with the brothers’ orders. They were able to produce 13 cars in the following year. All were made by hand at their garage on Taylor Street. They became the first successful commercially-produced American car maker. Nothing is all peaches and cream and one of their cars was also involved in the world’s first known auto accident when Henry Wells, new owner of a Duryea, was driving in New York City and struck a bicyclist. The biker suffered a broken leg and Wells spent a night in jail. The cars were hand-made and so expensive few could afford them. Vehicles were produced as late as 1917, but automated manufacturers took over the market with their cheaper cars.

I’d ban all automobiles from the central part of the city. You see, the automobile was just a passing fad. It’s got to go. It’s got to go a long way from here. – Lawrence Ferlinghetti

A business like an automobile, has to be driven, in order to get results. – B. C. Forbes

We are the first nation in the history of the world to go to the poor house in an automobile. – Will Rogers

The automobile changed our dress, manners, social customs, vacation habits, the shape of our cities, consumer purchasing patterns, common tastes and positions in intercourse. – John Keats

Also on this day: Cannes Film Festival – In 1946, the first Cannes Film Festival was held.
Girl’s Night – In 1973, Billy Jean King won the “War of the Sexes” against Bobby Riggs.
QE2 – In 1967, the British cruise ship was launched.
Across the Deep Blue Sea – In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan began his journey around the world.
Walk This Way – In 1737, the Walking Purchase walk ended.

* “Talla1894DuryeaFrontDisplay” by Infrogmation of New Orleans – Photo by Infrogmation. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Walk This Way

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 20, 2014
Walking Purchase historical marker

Walking Purchase historical marker

September 20, 1737: The Walking Purchase walk ends. Also known as the Walking Treaty, or if you prefer, the land swindle. It was an agreement between the Penn family and the Lenape tribe (also know at the Delaware). William Penn’s heirs, John and Thomas Penn, claimed they were in possession of a deed from the 1680s in which the Lenape agreed to sell a tract of land beginning at the junction of the Delaware River and the Lehigh River where modern Easton, Pennsylvania is and which would go as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half. This document may have been unsigned, unratified, or even forged. Land was being sold in the Lehigh Valley despite the fact the Lenape still lived there.

According to popular accounts, the Lenape assumed the greatest distance a man could cover in just 1.5 days was about 40 miles. According to these same accounts, Provisional Secretary James Logan hired three of the fastest runners of the day to cover the distance on prepared trails. Of the three men chosen, only one finished – Edward Marshall. The distance the runners covered was supervised by the Sheriff of Bucks County, Timothy Smith. The walk began on September 19 and finished on this day with Marshall having reached a spot 70 miles distant near present day Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Smith then drew a perpendicular line on a map back toward the northeast and claimed all the land between these lines to be sold.

There were 1,200,000 acres included within the lines which is about the size of Rhode Island. There are seven present-day Pennsylvania counties located there. The Lenape appealed to the Iroquois confederacy to help with the situation but the Iroquois opted to stand aside, protecting their own interests in the political landscape of the times. The Lenape were forced to vacate even as their leaders protested the arrangement. The natives were forced to move as far afield as the Ohio Country regions. Their trust in the Pennsylvania government was forever lost.

In 2004, the Delaware Nation filed a suit against Pennsylvania in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking 314 acres included in the Walking Purchase to be returned. This was known as Tatamy’s Place. The court granted Pennsylvania’s motion to dismiss. Although the court found it might have been fraudulent, the Treaty was completed prior to the first Indian Nonintercourse Act in 1790 and so it did not have relevance to this case. The case was pushed higher through the system in the ensuing years without any progress. The case has been dismissed up to the level the US Supreme Court.

The Delaware Nation claims in its appeal that the King of England-not Thomas Penn-was the sovereign over the territory that included Tatamy’s Place. Therefore, Thomas Penn could not extinguish aboriginal title via the Walking Purchase and, consequently, the Delaware Nation maintains a right of occupancy and use. – from the Third Circuit case

Penn’s government and practices apparently differed sharply from the Puritan-led governments of the other American colonies. The most striking difference was Penn’s ability to cultivate a positive relationship based on mutual respect with the Native Americans inhabiting the province. – from the 2004 District Court

Penn’s sons were less interested than their father in cultivating a friendship with the Lenni Lenape. – from the 2004 District Court

The Lenni Lenape Chiefs trusted that the “white men” would take a leisurely walk through the tangled Pennsylvanian forests along the Delaware. – from the 2004 District Court

Also on this day: Cannes Film Festival – In 1946, the first Cannes Film Festival is held.
Girl’s Night – In 1973, Billy Jean King won the “War of the Sexes” against Bobby Riggs.
QE2 – In 1967, the British cruise ship was launched.
Across the Deep Blue Sea – In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan began his journey around the world.

Girl’s Night

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 20, 2013
The Battle of the Sexes Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs

The Battle of the Sexes Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs

September 20, 1973: Two tennis greats meet in the Houston Astrodome in Texas. Robert Larimore Riggs was born in 1918 and took up the game when he was eleven. He became a tennis star in the 1930s and 40s and became ranked World No. 1 as an amateur in 1941. That same year he played his first professional game on December 26. He went on to be the World No. 1 professional player in 1946 and again in 1947. He was a hustler and a gambler. He parlayed a $500 stake into $105,000 in 1939 by betting on himself to win all his games at Wimbledon (betting was legal in England). That would be over $1.5 million in 2009 USD.

Billie Jean Moffitt was born in 1943. She began playing tennis on the public courts of her home town. She made her Grand Slam debut in 1959 at the age of fifteen. She went on to win 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles, and 11 mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. Her brother was a professional baseball player, as well. She married Lawrence King in 1965. By 1968, she began an affair with Marilyn Barnett. Barnett filed a palimony suit, outing Ms King. Great financial hardship followed. Billie Jean and Larry divorced in 1987.

Bobby Riggs had already beaten Margaret Court, another former World No. 1 tennis player. Riggs, now 55, was still the huckster looking for a win – and a way to prove the superiority of males. In May, Court was opposite the net from Riggs. She was not used to his lobs and drop shots. He proved the inferiority of even top-ranked women tennis players against an old guy. He won: 6-2 and 6-1. He made the covers of magazines and began to challenge all female tennis players. King, as much for the financial gain as well as the great opportunity, accepted the challenge. “The Battle of the Sexes” was on.

King was carried in Cleopatra-style and deposited on her side of the net. Riggs was transported by rickshaw – pulled by seductive models. King learned from Court’s experience. She played the baseline and parried Riggs’s lobs and soft shots. She ran him all over the court and won: 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Some critics claimed it was the 26 years age difference and thus a battle of the ages rather than the sexes. Court was a year older than King and the 25 year spread in ages was apparently not a problem. The rules used for the Battle of the Sexes were not altered from the norm in any way. King simply was the better player.

“I don’t think Billie Jean played all that well. She hit a lot of short balls which Bobby could have taken advantage of had he been in shape. I would never take anything away from Billie Jean – because she was smart enough to prepare herself properly – but it might have been different if Riggs hadn’t kept running around.” – Jack Kramer

“I’ll put Billie Jean King and all the other Women’s Libbers back where they belong – in the kitchen and the bedroom.” – Bobby Riggs

“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” – Billie Jean King

“I will tell you King’s First Law of Recognition: You never get it when you want it, and then when it comes, you get too much.” – Billie Jean King

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Billie Jean King’s parents were a firefighter and homemaker and she was raised in a conservative Methodist home. She stated she was in the closet by choice as her parents were homophobic. However, when her lover outed her, there was nothing left to do but come clean. She lost all her endorsements within 24 hours of the palimony suit filed by her former secretary and lover, Marilyn Barnett. She says she had not realized she was gay prior to marrying or she would not have made that choice. She was not only constrained by her parents disfavor but also the atmosphere at the time. Her career did, in fact, come to an abrupt end when she was forced to admit her sexuality. She wasn’t openly accepted by her parents and herself until she reached the age of 51. She was finally able to come to terms with her past and create her own future.

Also on this day: Cannes Film Festival – In 1946, the first Cannes Film Festival is held.
QE2 – In 1967, the British cruise ship was launched.
Across the Deep Blue Sea – In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan began his journey around the world.

Across the Deep Blue Sea

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 20, 2012

Ferdinand Magellan

September 20, 1519: Ferdinand Magellan finally leaves Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Born in Portugal around 1480, his name there was Fernão de Magalhãs. His parents died when he was ten and he then served as a page to Queen Leonor (a relative) in the Portuguese royal court. At age 25, he enlisted with a fleet of 22 ships and went to India. He remained there for eight years and during that time distinguished himself in various battles. He went AWOL for some time and fell out of favor. Back in Morocco, he was again wounded in battle and walked with a limp for the rest of his life. He wished to lead a seafaring expedition and was refused in Portugal. He went to Seville and tried again.

In October 1517, Magellan began to plan a trip. He and his partners pitched their idea for a route to the Spice Islands, today called Maluku Islands. King Charles I of Spain was intrigued. On March 22, 1518 the king named Magellan and his partner, Rui Falerio, captains with directions to search for the Spice Islands using their westward route. The king raised their rank to Commander of the Order of Santiago and gave them some other great monetary considerations. Their trip was funded by the crown and they were to carry enough supplies for two years at sea as well as carrying good for trade or barter.

On August 10, 1519 the fleet of five ships – Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepción, Victoria, and Santiago – sailed from Seville. They got to Sanlúcar and stayed for five weeks. The Portuguese pursued Magellan when he finally sailed into the Atlantic but without success. Magellan stopped at the Canary Islands briefly and on November 27, the ships crossed the equator. They avoided landfall in Brazil, a Portuguese colony. They resupplied along the coast of South America as they sailed south looking for a way around the continent. They reached Rio de Los Angeles Plata on January 10 1520, which is between Argentina and Uruguay.

An unsuccessful mutiny took place on April 2, 1520. The ships sailed on and eventually found the passage around South America. The 373-mile trip to round South America was completed by three of the ships (one was lost and one deserted) on November 28. They entered a calm sea called Mar Pacifico by Magellan. The ships continued up the west coast of South America for a short time and then headed out across the Pacific. The first Europeans to reach the Philippines did so on March 17. Only 150 of the 270 strong crew was left by that time. Magellan was killed in the Philippines on April 27, 1521. Only one ship, Victoria, captained by Juan Sebastian Elcano, actually finished the circumnavigation of the globe. They returned to Spain on September 6, 1522.

The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church. – Ferdinand Magellan, attributed

Most versed in nautical charts, he knew better than any other the true art of navigation, of which it is certain proof that he by his genius, and his intrepidity, without anyone having given him the example, how to attempt the circuit of the globe which he had almost completed… The glory of Magellan will survive him. – Antonio Pigafetta

That’s what a ship is, you know – it’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that’s what a ship needs. But what a ship is,… really is, is freedom. – Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

The wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Also on this day:

Cannes Film Festival – In 1946, the first Cannes Film Festival is held.
Girl’s Night – In 1973, Billy Jean King won the “War of the Sexes” against Bobby Riggs.
QE2 – In 1967, the British cruise ship was launched.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 20, 2011

RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (photo by Jim Champion)

September 20, 1967: The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 or QE2 is launched. By the mid-1960s air travel was the preferred method of trans-Atlantic motion. Prices were cheaper and flights were quick. Two luxury ships, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were both expensive to operate and were not keeping up with the times. Both pre-war ships were showing their age. Cunard line gambled with $80 million on a new liner to replace these aging behemoths.

The new design needed to be smaller and cheaper to operate but still maintain the same speeds as before. Staff numbers needed to be decreased and the ship needed to draw less draft. The original design of the ship was altered and she was built as a cruise ship, plying the Atlantic during the peak summer trade season. QE2 was built by the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in Clydebank, Scotland. Her keel was laid down on July 5, 1965 in the same plot used to build the other Queen ships. She was launched on this day by Queen Elizabeth II using the same gold scissors used by her mother and grandmother to launch the previous royal-named ships.

QE2 served as the flag ship for Cunard Line from 1969 until 2004 when RMS Queen Mary 2 took over. During her nearly 40 years of service, she crossed the Atlantic as a cruise ship sailing from her port of registry at Southampton, England. Although she ran every year of her service, it was not year round. There was no identical sister ship or running mate included in the line. She was retired from service in 2008 and was purchased by Istithmar where she was to become a floating hotel at Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. Instead, she remains moored at Port Rashid and her fate is uncertain.

QE2 is 963 feet in length and measures 105 feet at the bean. The ship is 171 feet in height with a draft of 32 feet. Her gross tonnage is 70,327 GT and she displaces 48,923 when loaded. She is powered by 9 MAN B&W 9-cylinder diesel electric generators with two GEC Propulsion motors operating two propellers. Her maximum recorded speed was 39 mph but her normal speed was 23 mph. Her capacity for passengers was 1,777 or 1,892 with all berths filled. Her crew consisted of 1,040 hard working souls to keep this floating palace plying the Atlantic Ocean.

“A bigger business is like a cruise ship: There are lots of amenities and you can go a lot further, but it’s harder to turn quickly.” – Tony Hsieh

“A ship is always referred to as “she” because it costs so much to keep one in paint and powder.” – Chester W. Nimitz

“Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.” – Samuel Johnson

“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.” – George William Curtis

Also on this day:
Cannes Film Festival – In 1946, the first Cannes Film Festival is held.
Girl’s Night – In 1973, Billy Jean King won the “War of the Sexes” against Bobby Riggs.

Cannes Film Festival

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 27, 2010

Cannes Film Festival

September 20, 1946: The first Cannes Film Festival is held. This was the second attempt of the first Cannes Film Festival. Back in 1939 the festival started with a screening of The Hunchback of Notre Dame but Hitler invaded Poland and The Wizard of Oz, the next film on the agenda, never hit the screen.

There are several important film festivals held yearly. Including Cannes, one is held in  Toronto, another in Berlin, and finally one in Venice. At Cannes, the award for best film is the Palme d’Or which translates to Golden Palm. The festival is a showcase for European films and predicts both commercial success as well as critical acclaim.

Because so many movie stars from across the globe come to the festival, usually held in May, it is a breeding ground for new projects. Producers pitch their ideas to a rapt crowds. They also use the time to sell produced work to distributors.

The festival met with some financial setbacks and was not held in 1949 and 1950 due to financial constraints. In 1968 the festival was cancelled on May 15 in a move of solidarity with the striking unions throughout France. The popularity of the event is such that Cannes claims it is “the world’s premier event after the Olympic Games.”

“So, where’s the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?” – Christina Aguilera

“Hollywood may be as American as apple pie, but some of the best – and best-looking – actors and actresses are foreign born. What better way to celebrate the global film community than to go to Cannes with an international sex symbol?” – Shane Evangelist

“It’s almost as if this is going to be the year of adult animation at Cannes. I think they’re competing with us for the maddest film at Cannes.” – Sarah Radclyffe

“Most horror movies are certainly that.” – Brendan Francis

Also on this day, in 1973 Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes.