Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 29, 2012

Sir Walter Raleigh

October 29, 1618: Sir Walter Raleigh dies. He was born into a Protestant family in the year 1552 or 1554. He was the youngest of five sons, three of the older boys were half-brothers. All of Catherine’s sons were prominent in Elizabethan England. Catherine’s aunt was Elizabeth’s governess and so the boys were introduced at court. Since religion was such an issue during this time, the family had many close calls during Queen Mary I of England’s reign, as she was a staunch Roman Catholic. Because of their trouble with Queen Mary, Raleigh grew to hate Roman Catholicism and Catholics. He was a staunch supporter of Queen Elizabeth I – a Protestant – and made it known soon after her taking the throne in 1558.

Raleigh was part of the colonization effort beginning in 1584 in the Colony and Dominion of Virginia. However, his first attempt ended in failure with the loss at Roanoke Island. This first attempt paved the way for others in the coming years but his own ventures in the New World were funded for the most part by himself and some of his friends. In 1587 he once again tried to establish a colony on Roanoke Island with a more diverse group of settlers and under John White’s leadership. White returned to England only to have war intervene and was trapped in Britain as all ships were needed to defend against the Spanish Armada. By the time suppliers could return to the colony, it was once again missing.

Raleigh secretly married one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting. The couple left London and a child was born, only to die shortly thereafter. When the Queen found out about the subterfuge, both were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Eventually, all was forgiven and Raleigh was released. He once again went exploring in the New World and found a purported city of gold at the headwaters of the Caroni River. He continued to serve and explore and was once again a favorite at court. But it was not to last.

The Queen died in 1603 and was followed by King James. On July 19 of that year, Raleigh was arrested and once again thrown into the Tower of London. On November 17 he was tried for treason and acted as his own defense lawyer – brilliantly. The main piece of evidence against Raleigh was a confession by Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham. He was never called to testify. Even though found guilty, King James spared Raleigh’s life. He was released in 1616 and was back exploring in Venezuela searching for El Dorado. There, he and some men attacked a Spanish outpost. When he returned to England, the Spanish ambassador was outraged and called for Raleigh’s death. To appease the ambassador, Raleigh was beheaded, his head was embalmed, and then presented to his wife.

War begets quiet, quiet idleness, idleness disorder, disorder ruin; likewise ruin order, order virtue, virtue glory, and good fortune.

He that doth not as other men do, but endeavoureth that which ought to be done, shall thereby rather incur peril than preservation; for whoso laboureth to be sincerely perfect and good shall necessarily perish, living among men that are generally evil.

I have loved her all my youth, / But now old, as you see; / Love likes not the falling fruit / From the withered tree. / Know that love is a careless child / And forgets promise past; / He is blind, he is deaf when he list / And in faith never fast.

Strike, man, strike! (last words with his head on the block waiting to be decapitated) – all from Walter Raleigh.

Also on this day:

Ali, the Greatest – In 1960, Cassius Clay, later to be known as Muhammad Ali, had his first professional fight.
Seeing Red – In 1863, the International Red Cross got its start.
You’re in the Army Now – In 1940, the first peacetime draft in the US was instituted.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 27, 2011

Tobacco plant

July 27, 1586: Sir Walter Raleigh returns from the Virginia colony with a new plant for the amusement of English society – tobacco. Raleigh was an English writer,  poet, courtier, explorer, and apparently importer. He was born in 1552 or 54 and was raised Protestant. His family suffered under the rule of Catholic queen Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII who retaliated against the Catholic purges of her father with Protestant purges of her own. The Raleigh family was grateful when half-sister Elizabeth I took over the thrown.

Raleigh was sent to establish a colony in the New World and while Roanoke failed as a colony, it did pave the way for future, more successful settlements. The original colonists were not farmers, but seekers of gold and riches and they were woefully unprepared for settling in the New World. They did trade with the natives and one of the crops was the tobacco plant.

Tobacco, with its high nicotine content is found in the skeletal remains of ancient peoples only from the Americas. However, it is found throughout both American continents. It has grown in its present state since about 6000 BC. By the current era, it was smoked, chewed, and even used in hallucinogenic enemas. In 1492, Columbus ran into an unexpected land mass on his way to India and found natives with tobacco. The sailors brought some back with them and the first smoker in Europe was promptly jailed.

By 1518 Spain was asking for imports of tobacco and within 30 years Brazil was commercially farming the plant for export. Throughout the 1550s, the spread of tobacco covered much of Europe. By 1564, English sailors were using tobacco, but it was not known off the wharves. Raleigh introduced the habit to English society. Today, tobacco is smoked in cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. There is snuff – dry, wet, or even creamy. Snus is steamed snuff and not smoked and has different health effects because of this. Tobacco water is used as a pesticide. And for medical use, the tobacco from one cigarette mixed with a teaspoon of water can be made into a paste and applied to insect stings to stop the pain and itching.

“Never slap a man who chews tobacco.” – Willard Scott

“Under the pressure of the cares and sorrows of our mortal condition, men have at all times, and in all countries, called in some physical aid to their moral consolations — wine, beer, opium, brandy, or tobacco.” – Edmund Burke

“Why is it that everybody’s suing the tobacco companies and not the alcohol companies?” – Donald Trump

“For whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.” – Walter Raleigh

Also on this day:
What’s up Doc? – In 1940, Bugs Bunny made it to the silver screen.
Reign of Terror – In 1794, Maximilien Robespierre was arrested.