Wednesday, May 11, 2016

History: The Year is 1784

I've uploaded year 1784 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Diamond Necklace Affair or How to Destroy a French Queen -- A con artist destroys the reputation of the Queen of France. This is one element for the beginning of the French Revolution.

Steam-Powered Locomotion and the "Puffing Devil" -- It is a steam carriage... just a model. I talk about the beginning of a steam-powered railroad.

Other Important Events -- Puddling wrought iron, bifocals and the Argand lamp.

The Diamond Necklace Affair or How to Destroy a French Queen

Jeanne is a con artist who orders a diamond necklace and sends the bill to the Queen. The Queen denies ever ordering the necklace, and accuses Cardinal de Rohan of a plot to discredit her. (She and the Cardinal often fought at court.) How did it all happen? Jeanne claimed to be a descendant of one of the kings of France. She had been sleeping with Cardinal de Rohan and convinced him that the Queen wished him to purchase a diamond necklace on her behalf. When the bill came, the Queen denied ever purchasing the necklace. The Cardinal insisted that she did, pointing out that the Queen was standing before him when she did. (It was an imposter than Jeanne arranged.) In the end, the Queen is exonerated but so is the Cardinal. In the public's eye, she looks like a self-involved knucklehead. More importantly, any future rumor, no matter how fantastic, is now believed. Thus when the people are starving from lack of bread, they believe the rumor that she said, "Let them eat cake!" Could it ever be worse? Why yes. It could be and will be. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Was the Queen of France a self-involved knucklehead? A little bit, but nothing unusual. Her brother was the King of Austria. So, in any negotiations between France and Austria, she was always pulling for Austria, which was such a transparent ploy that she was ignored. She liked to gossip too much and she could never tell who were her friends and who were not. In that sense she was not very sophisticated. BTW, the necklace was never found. It had been cut up and sold in pieces. Jeanne, the con-artist, was put in prison, but she escaped and made her way to London. She later died from injuries sustained after she fell out of her hotel window. (Those hotel windows can be dangerous.) She was 23. [3]

Steam-Powered Locomotion and the "Puffing Devil"

It is a "steam carriage" or "road locomotive." No rails involved. (Don't be silly. Rail cars are pulled by horses!) William Murdoch is the man who helped James Watt improve the Boulton-and-Watt steam engine. He rearranged the gears and increased the efficiency. Murdoch's basic steam engine design is still used in the modern day for some applications, but he is best known for his experiments with the first locomotive and for gas lighting. His first locomotive is just a model about 2 feet tall, but that oscillating steam cylinder that goes "chug-a-chug" with an arm attached to a wheel is his invention. When you see it, you know. That is part of a locomotive. [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
There is a story that Murdoch once lost control of one of his model steam locomotives. As he chased this little ball of fire, smoke and noise down the road he came upon a pastor in deep distress. Apparently the pastor thought that the little machine was the devil. Not quite, but we are talking about a self-propelled, horseless carriage. In 1780's it might as well have been the Martians landing. An actual steam locomotive on rails didn't appear until 1804 when (on a bet) the "Puffing Devil" locomotive hauled 10 tons of iron on a 9 mile journey. It took a lot longer than they thought it would but it qualifies as the world's first steam engine railway journey. The "Puffing Devil" suffered from a number of design flaws, but the design wasn't to blame for what happened a few days later. When the operators took a lunch break at the local pub, they left the fire going in the boiler. The water boiled off, so that when they returned the engine had burned up. This was not a design flaw but an operator error. [7] [8]

Other Important Events

  • Benjamin Franklin invents bifocal glasses. It seems that he invented them independently from others who also invented bifocals. The term "bifolocal" won't come into use until much later. [9]
  • The 'puddling process' for making wrought iron is patented. The process needs improvement but they are on their way! [10]
  • Thomas Jefferson is introduced to the Argand oil lamp. This lamp will become the standard for home lighting until it is replaced by the kerosene lamp in 1850s. [11] [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1784, Wikipedia.

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