Thursday, December 17, 2015

History: The Year is 1696

I've uploaded year 1696 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The 'Great Recoinage' is not that Great -- England has hired Isaac Newton to standardize the currency so he moves Heaven and Earth to make it happen.

Finland Famine -- A third of Finland's population dies. I talk about the Little Ice Age and the old ploughs they used.

The Old Farm Highway becomes Connecticut Route 108 -- I talk about farm-to-market highways.

The 'Great Recoinage' is not that Great

A few days ago Isaac Newton was denying that he was considering the job of running the Royal Mint, but when his friend, Charles Montagu, offers the job to him, Newton abandons his professorship, loads his worldly goods into a carriage and travels to London to begin a new life as a civil servant. Ever since William and Mary of Orange (in the Netherlands) have taken the throne of England, the financial centers of Amsterdam have become intertwined with English financial institutions. This has created the need for a stable currency. The current state of English coinage is chaotic. Coin clipping and counterfeiting is rampant. Merchants are inflating prices because they cannot depend on the face value of the coins and poor people are rioting in the streets almost daily. Gershom's Law says that bad money pushes out the good, so Isaac Newton institutes a coin recall to sweep up all the bad coins. He mints a new set of coins with a serrated edge to discourage coin clipping and sets a new ratio of precious metals in each coin to discourage speculators (called chapmen) from melting coins down to sell the base metals across the English Channel. The Great Recoinage causes a temporary shortage of coins because all clipped coins that are not turned in by April 2nd are declared invalid as currency. England has returned to 'Middle Ages' bartering as the Royal Mint struggles to produce replacement coins. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. What was really happening here? The Royal Mint was royally out of control and at least one of its branch mints was totally corrupt. When Newton took over management of the Mint, he was considered a slave-driver. That is... he actually expected the workers to do their jobs efficiently and the managers to show up for their "No Show" jobs. As the recoinage progressed, the public was naturally confused. Mint managers took advantage of the public by collecting old coins at a severe discount and then turned them in for themselves at the normal exchange rate. The scientist, Edmund Halley, took over management of one of the branch mints, but he could not bring the mint under control so it was closed after a year or so. The recoinage absolutely had to work or the English economy would have collapsed and the national debt (a new idea) would have gone into default. A few years later Isaac Newton was knighted. Historians say it was not because of his success at the Royal Mint, but in a practical sense, if Newton had failed, England would have fallen and France would have rolled over them. [4]

Finland Famine

Estonia and Finland are hit hard by famine. Almost a third of Finland's population has died, and possibly a fifth of Estonia. The Little Ice Age is the cause of such variability in the weather that some years produce bumper crops and other years the crops cannot produce enough seed for the next planting season. [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
There was not a lot of irrigation going on in Finland at the time. The ploughs were primitive. They didn't even have wheels on them. And fertilizer for the fields was inadequate because they lacked enough farm animals to produce the manure. When a crop produces less seed than was already planted, there is not enough crop to feed people, and the next crop will be smaller than the previous one. That is the formula for famine. [7]

The Old Farm Highway becomes Connecticut Route 108

...there is a highway presently running out of the north end of the town, called the farm highway... -- From the Stratford Land Records, 1696. [8]
Route 108 is considered the 3rd oldest highway in Connecticut. The others are Mohegan Road (1670) which is Route 32 and the Boston Post Road (1673) which is US 1. [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Here in Texas many roads take the designation of FM, meaning that it is a Farm-to-Market road. You can't get beyond subsistence farming unless you have roads to take your crops to market where people can buy them or roads to your farm so that buyers can come to you. Otherwise all you can do is feed yourself and those in your immediate neighborhood. In the Middle Ages there were roads but they were not well maintained, and the owners of the road would charge tolls to pass through their gates. The tolls were little more than highway robbery. In the United States early in the 20th century, many rural roads had gates. These gates were needed to prevent farm animals from escaping. Nowadays a cattle guard or grid allows automobiles to pass while preventing livestock from crossing over. [11] [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1696, Wikipedia.

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