Little Bits of History

September 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 28, 2017

235: Pope Pontian resigns. Nothing is known of his early life, but it is thought he was born around the year 200. He became the 18th Pope in the new Christian religion, still sometimes at odds in the Roman empire. Pontian followed Pope Urban I taking his position on August 21, 230. His early pontificate was peaceful under Emperor Severus Alexander. Origen was a Greek Christian, ascetic, and scholar whose theology was inconsistent with early teachings. Pontian likely presided over a Roman synod, condemning Origen. Severus died in March 235 and was replaced by Maximinus Thrax who did not agree with leniency towards Christians. He had Pope Pontian, and the Antipope Hippolytus exiled to Sardinia’s work camps, a death sentence. Pontian resigned his papacy in order to allow a new Pope to be easily elected.

Hippolytus of Rome was born in 170 and was the most important theologian in the Christian Church in the third century. He was one of the elders of the Greek portion of the new Christian religion and Pope Zephyrinus (199-217) came under his accusations for modalism, a heresy which denied the absolute Trinity of God, stating Father and Son were just different names of the same being. Origen was one of Hippolutus’s disciples. Hippolytus was conservative and was scanalized when Pope Calliztus (217-222) granted absolution to sinners, including adulterers. Hippolytus continued to be critical of the next Popes as well. He was so incensed by the Leaders of his Church, that he allowed himself to be elected a rival Bishop of Rome.

Both men were sent to the mine in Sardinia to be worked to death. It has been assumed both men died in the mines but that a reconciliation had been achieved. Pope Fabian (236-250) brought the bodies of both men back to Rome and had them reburied on August 13, 236, giving them a Christian burial. Pontian was buried in the papal crypt in the Catacomb of Callixtus on the Appian Way. The marker over his tomb was found in 1909 and was engraved in Greek with the message that it contained Ponianus, Bishop. In a different hand “Martyr” was inscribed. Hippolytus was buried in a cemetery on the Via Tiburtina and his inscription gives his rank as a priest, suggesting the schism had been resolved.

Maximinus Thrax was the 27th Roman Emperor and ruled during the Crisis of the Third Century. Alexander was assassinated by his own troops and Maximinus came to power as the Empire was wracked by invasions, civil war, plague, and economic depression. The fifty years after Alexander had 26 claimants to the title of Emperor, most of them prominent Roman generals. This was the case for Maximinus who was born into a low status family, considered to be barbarous, and earned his way to the top via the Roman army. He ruled over the empire until early May 238. He died at Aquileia as he was attempting to quash a Senatorial revolt.

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life. – Buddha

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. – Soren Kierkegaard

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. – Dalai Lama

To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. – Martin Luther



Vaccine Wars, Early Edition

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 28, 2015
William Hingston

William Hingston

September 28, 1885: The Montreal smallpox riot begins. A train had been to Chicago, where a smallpox epidemic was in progress and arrived at Bonaventure Station after a stop in Toronto. The conductor was running a fever and he had blisters on his hands and face. Smallpox is a virus and even now is difficult to treat. At the time, there was nothing to do but pray for a cure. Dr. William Hingston was Montreal’s former mayor (1875-77) and a smallpox expert. He had been involved in the epidemic of 1872-75. The virus is very easily transmitted and the disease had a high mortality rate. When the blisters affect blood vessels, the patient can hemorrhage to death. The blisters can form anywhere and left scars on those who survived. If the corneas were affected, the patient was blinded.

The need to contain the epidemic was paramount. But there were few options available. The patient needed care, but the disease was communicable. If they were brought to the hospital, they had to be quarantined or else they and their caregivers had to be quarantined at home. There was another option. A smallpox vaccine existed. Local doctors were divided as to whether or not mandatory vaccination should be carried out across the city. The vaccine was created years before and had proved effective against contracting the disease, and if already exposed, lessening the symptoms of the disease.

The vaccine was offered for free but the poor and less educated residents were loathe to submit to the public health measures. If approached, they refused. The French print newspapers and a few doctors insisted the vaccinations were unneeded. Children in a local orphanage were vaccinated but the conditions were appalling and while they didn’t contract smallpox, many became ill due to unsanitary conditions. The city was in peril. The ten day incubation period meant that people who felt fine were contagious and capable of spreading this often fatal disease. More people were getting sick and dying. Something had to be done. The authorities went to the newspapers and explained the necessity of getting a vaccine.

Explained in the papers was the treatment of smallpox patients with forced entry into a newly reopened hospital explicitly to treat smallpox. Those who refuse were taken by force. On this day, after the papers came out, the people in poorer neighborhoods began to rebel against both the forced hospitalizations and the vaccinations. They began to gather and throw stones and break windows of pharmacies and doctors’ offices where vaccines were freely available. They also attacked City Hall. Rioting continued into the night despite a strong police presence and shots fired. Compliance was impossible to enforce. About 9,000 people contracted the disease in Montreal alone. Of those, 3.234 died. More were taken ill and died in neighboring towns.

A higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent. – John Kotter

The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is. – Winston Churchill

If everything is God’s will, then so is the invention of the vaccine, just like the seatbelt. – Els Borst

Education is the vaccine for violence. – Edward James Olmos

Also on this day: Victory – In 1781, George Washington began his assault on Yorktown, the last battle of the Revolutionary War.
Hostage Taking – In 1975, the Spaghetti House siege began.
Black Sox – In 1920, eight Chicago White Sox players were indicted.
Races – In 1919, the Omaha Race Riots began.
Nice Guys Finish Last – In 935, Good King Wenceslaus was killed.

Nice Guys Finish Last

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 28, 2014
Duke Wenceslaus, Statue by Peter Parler

Duke Wenceslaus, Statue by Peter Parler

September 28, 935: Good King Wenceslaus is only a Duke, but still murdered. Also known as Wenceslas I, he was the Duke of Bohemia. He was born around 907 and was the son of Vratislaus I from the Přemyslid dynasty. Vratislaus benefitted from a Christian upbringing after his own father was converted by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Wenceslaus’ mother, Drahomira, was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief but was baptized at the time of her marriage. Vratislaus died in 921 and his mother, Ludmilla, took over the raising of the children. Ludmilla’s fervent Christianity as well as removal of the children, led to bitterness between her and Drahomira.

Ludmilla fled to Tetin Castle in nearby Beroun. Drahomira was trying to gain support from the nobility and with the loss of control over her son, this was lessened. Therefore, Drahomira arranged to have her mother-in-law strangled on September 15, 921 and get her children back. There are legends which claim that afterwards, she attempted to convert her son to her own pagan roots. Wenceslaus was said to be exceptionally pious and humble as well as highly educated and very intelligent.

Great Moravia fell and the Bohemian rulers were left to deal with raids from many factions. The political landscape changed dramatically when an alliance formed by Vratislaus and King Henry the Fowler disintegrated. At the age of 18, Wenceslaus assumed governmental control for himself and Drahomira was then exiled. He was able to defend his claim against the Duke of Kourim. In early 929, Prague was again attacked and the Duke was once again forced into paying tribute begun in 895 but having been ignored for some time.

On this day, a group of nobles who had aligned themselves with Boleslav, the younger brother of Wenceslaus, plotted to kill the Duke. Boleslav invited his brother to the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Stara Beleslav. Tira, Česta, and Hněvsa (Boleslav’s allies) murdered Wenceslas on his way to church after the brothers had quarreled. Boleslav then became the new Duke. Wenceslaus was considered a martyr and became a saint shortly after his murder. Both England and Bohemia had a rich legend built up just decades after the young man’s death. He is immortalized in the Saint Stephen’s Day song in which his temperament and piety are praised. He also got a posthumous upgrade to the status of King.

Truth made you a traitor as it often does in a time of scoundrels. – Lillian Hellman

This principle is old, but true as fate, Kings may love treason, but the traitor hate. – Thomas Dekker

Tis not seasonable to call a man traitor, that has an army at his heels. – John Selden

I would be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. – Rose Schneiderman

Also on this day: Victory – In 1781, George Washington began his assault on Yorktown, the last battle of the Revolutionary War.
Hostage Taking – In 1975, the Spaghetti House siege began.
Black Sox – In 1920, eight Chicago White Sox players were indicted.
Races – In 1919, the Omaha Race Riots began.

Hostage Taking

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 28, 2013
Sir Robert Mark

Sir Robert Mark

September 28, 1975: Franklin Davies enters the Spaghetti House. The restaurant was located in Knightsbridge, London. Ten of the chain’s staff members were collecting the week’s income, about £13,000 (≈ £82,000 2009 BPS) when Davies and two others burst in. The armed robbery did not go as planned. One man escaped and alerted police. The other nine were led into a basement and held as hostages. Davies, a Nigerian, claimed to represent the Black Liberation Front, a subgroup of the Black Panthers. The Italian restaurateurs were held in a storeroom.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) immediately surrounded the business and cordoned off the area. The criminals demanded safe passage and an aircraft to Jamaica. Sir Robert Mark of MPS contacted the Home Office, the British government office in charge of immigration, security, and control. The demands of the hostage takers were not met and the siege was on. The nine hostages and three gunmen lived off tins of food stored in the basement. Two of the men became ill and were released over the next few days. The Italian Consul, General Mario Manca, had generously offered himself in order to affect a release of the ill men.

Because foreign nationals were involved, the case took on a more urgent tone. A new technology, fiber optic surveillance, was used and gave authorities real time information on the hostages. Dr. Peter Scott, a psychiatrist, assisted with police interactions. The men inside were given a radio, coffee, and cigarettes. Police and the media cooperated with the radio broadcasting messages crafted to demoralize the hostage takers. They planted misinformation convincing Davies his plan would fail. He was led to believe a confederate was selling information to the media, after the Daily Mail held back a scoop about the confederate’s arrest.

Six days later, the remaining Italian hostages were freed. They emerged one at a time and were whisked away to the local hospital to make sure they were in good health. Wesley Dick (24) and Anthony Gordon Munroe (22) were arrested as they emerged. The men from the West Indies were taken to Cannon Row Police Station. Davies (28) did not come out. Police found him lying in the cellar with a gunshot wound and a .22 pistol by his side. He was taken to St. George’s Hospital for treatment. Over 400 police, the Home Office, the Italian Consul, and the media worked together to achieve a successful outcome.

“Our principal drive is not to negotiate with hostage-takers and not to negotiate with terrorists, and this is where we find our strength is.” – Ayad Allawi

“It’s about as an abominable a crime as one can imagine – hostage-taking, cold-blooded murder of hostages.” – James Foley

“The biggest misconception about hostage negotiators is that we’re great talkers, when really we’re good listeners.” – Christopher Curtis

“It’s the same as in hostage negotiation, we never use the word ‘gun.’ Instead of saying, ‘I need you to lower that gun,’ you say, ‘I need you to lower that thing.’ Calling it a ‘thing’ diminishes the weapon’s power.” – Christopher Curtis

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Sir Robert Mark was the Chief Constable of Leicester City Police before serving as the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1972-1977. He was the first to achieve this lofty post by rising through the ranks from the lowest to the highest position. He was born in 1917 in a suburb of Manchester and was the youngest of five children. After finishing his schooling he got a job selling carpet; two years later he joined the police force as a Constable. He entered the Army and served first in a tank division and later at the War Office. He took part in the Normandy Landings and was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service. After the war he returned to Manchester and the police and rose rapidly with a series of promotions. He resigned his post after a public disagreement with the Home Secretary. He died in 2010 at the age of 93.

Also on this day: Victory – In 1781, George Washington began his assault on Yorktown, the last battle of the Revolutionary War.
Black Sox – In 1920, eight Chicago White Sox players were indicted.
Races – In 1919, the Omaha Race Riots began.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 28, 2012

Will Brown’s pyre at the Omaha Race Riots

September 28, 1919: The Omaha Race Riots begin. The riot was just one of many during the Red Summer of 1919. During World War I, there was a shortage of immigrants to work in the factories in the industrial US. African-Americans came north to look for work and began to fill the slots that would have been filled by European immigrants. After the war ended and with veterans back in the workforce, there were tensions between them and black workers who were filling the jobs. During the course of the war, about 500,000 blacks had moved from the rural South to take jobs in the industrial North and Midwest. They not only found jobs in Yankee territory, but could escape from Jim Crow laws and the horrific conditions in the South, including random lynchings.

In Omaha, African-Americans came to work in the meatpacking plants and stockyards. During the 1910s, the black population of Omaha had doubled and had become one of the most populous enclaves in the west for blacks. By 1920, there were more than 10,000 African-Americans in Omaha with only Los Angeles having more with 16,000. There were more blacks in Omaha than in San Francisco and Oakland, Topeka, or Denver. In 1917, the major meatpacking plants had hired African-Americans as strikebreakers which did not endear them to the ethnic white population which had been striking. They met an entrenched Irish subculture in Omaha which had already managed to expel a Greek subculture from the city.

Reform mayor Edward Parsons Smith went through his agenda to reform Omaha with little support from the Omaha City Council or the city’s labor unions. The previous year, Omaha’s Police Department’s “moral squad” shot and killed an African-American bellhop without recourse. On September 25, 1919, local media published the rape of white 19-year-old Agnes Loebeck. The next day, police arrested black 40-year-old Will Brown as a suspect. Conflicting reports are given as to whether or not Agnes actually ever identified him as her attacker. There was an attempt to lynch Brown on the day of his arrest.

On this day, at 5 PM about 4,000 whites began an assault around the courthouse. Fifteen minutes later, fire hoses were turned on the crowd without the desired effect. The crowd began to pelt the building with bricks and rocks and broke every window. The police tried to get the crowd to disperse but by 7 PM they had barricaded themselves inside the building. By 11 PM, the mayor appeared before the crowd and offered himself for hanging if they would disperse. They took him up on his offer, but someone saved him. Eventually, the crowd got hold of Brown and he was lynched. Two whites also died before the US Army infantry was employed to calm down the crowds at 3 AM on September 29. Brown’s burned and battered body was laid to rest in Omaha’s Potters Field on October 1.

It is the belief of many that the entire responsibility for the outrage can be placed at the feet of a few men and one Omaha paper. – Omaha Reverend Charles E. Cobbey

Several reported assaults on white women had actually been perpetrated by whites in blackface. – grand jury finding

It is a shame that it took these deaths and others to raise public consciousness and effect the changes that we enjoy today. When I discovered that William Brown was buried in a pauper’s grave, I did not want William Brown to be forgotten. I wanted him to have a headstone to let people know that it was because of people like him that we enjoy our freedoms today. – Chris Herbert

The lesson learned from his death should be taught to all. That is, we cannot have the protections guaranteed by the Constitution without law. There is no place for vigilantism in our society. – Chris Herbert

Also on this day:

Victory – In 1781, George Washington began his assault on Yorktown, the last battle of the Revolutionary War.
Hostage Taking – In 1975, the Spaghetti House siege began.
Black Sox – In 1920, eight Chicago White Sox players were indicted.

Black Sox

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 28, 2011

Black Sox Scandal

September 28, 1920: Eight members of the Chicago White Sox are indicted for throwing the 1919 World Series in what became known as the Black Sox Scandal. Local gamblers, with the backing of Arnold Rothstein from New York City, promised a payout of $100,000 (well over $1 million in today’s dollars) to Arnold “Chick” Gandil and seven of his teammates. Gandil, the Sox first baseman, and Joseph “Sport” Sullivan, a local gambler, thought up the scheme.

The 1919 World Series was between Chicago and the Cincinnati Reds. Even prior to the first game, played October 1, there were rumors that the games were fixed. The White Stockings were formed in 1900 by Charles Cominsky. Their name changed in 1902 to the White Sox, and by 1903 they were winning league championships. Cominsky built a strong team. They were, however, a very unhappy team.

Cominsky grossly underpaid his players. He made promises that he did not fulfill. The players were so disgruntled that once they wore the same unwashed uniforms for several games until Cominsky broke into their lockers, confiscated the uniforms, and fined the players. The players were also divided amongst themselves. There were two factions with one side led by second baseman Eddie Collins. These men were more educated, sophisticated, and had an average annual salary of $15,000. Gandil’s clique were more diamonds in the rough and averaged only $6,000. The salary difference was a major stumbling block.

As early as October 15, 1919, Cominsky offered a reward for information about any fix. Two months later, The New York World published an article claiming wrongdoing. Rumors flew throughout the 1920 season. Suspicion of corruption spread to other men on other teams as well. By early September 1920,Cook County convened a Grand Jury investigation into the allegations. On September 24, Rube Beaton testified about the scheme and within days that testimony was made public. Their trial began in July 1921 and all eight players were found not guilty. However, in November of 1920 Kenesaw Mountain Landis became head of a newly formed baseball commission. Regardless of the acquittal, Landis banned all eight players from professional baseball forever more.

“Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked gamblers and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.” -Kenesaw Mountain Landis

“I’ve loved baseball ever since Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series in 1919.” – Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II

“Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.” – Oscar Wilde

“We never search for scandal, but we use it if it cries out to excess.” – Peter Utley

Also on this day:
Victory – In 1781, George Washington began his assault on Yorktown, the last battle of the Revolutionary War.
Hostage Taking – In 1975, the Spaghetti House siege began.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 13, 2010

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown by John Trumbull

September 28. 1781: General George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, and Comte de Rochambeau lead an assault on the British-held Yorktown under the control of General Lord Cornwallis. The American Revolutionaries and their French allies met the British forces who were also using German mercenaries in what was to be the final battle of the Revolutionary War.

In May 1781, Washington and Rochambeau met in Connecticut to plan their strategy. New York City was held by the British with 15,600 troops under General Sir Henry Clinton. Yorktown, Virginia was held by Cornwallis after a successful campaign through the southern states. Cornwallis had only 7,500 men at Yorktown. Clinton had told Cornwallis to wait there for the Royal Navy to receive supplies and reinforcements. Washington learned of this on July 19 and he felt that moving in to Yorktown was a better strategy.

The French sailed their fleet of 28 ships to the port while Washington began to move his men into battle ready positions. The combined French and American troops numbered 18,300 against the British/German armies of 8,225. The armies took up position on this date. By the next day, Cornwallis evacuated his outer sites believing that Clinton would soon arrive. The allies dug siege lines while British artillery tried to disrupt the work.

The first set of siege lines were dug by October 9 and the artillery batteries were completed. Washington fired the first American gun at 5 PM and the French engaged in naval battle in the harbor. By October 17, the British waved the flag of truce and on October 19, Cornwallis, through an intermediary, surrendered to Washington who did not accept the intermediary’s surrender personally, but allowed him to surrender to a second intermediary. The war was over, officially sanctioned by Great Britain in March of 1782 with a final peace treaty signed in September 1783.

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

“War – An act of violence whose object is to constrain the enemy, to accomplish our will.”

“Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.”

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” – all from George Washington

Also on this day, in 1975 the Spaghetti House siege begins.