Monday, May 23, 2016

History: The Year is 1792

I've uploaded year 1792 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Paris in the Spring and Guillotines -- Dr. Guillotin suggests a killing machine for capital punishment as a mercy. It is eventually named after him. It is used for the first time this year. The crowd is disappointed.

The New York Stock Exchange and the US Mint are Established -- I talk about the history of the NYSE and how difficult it is to create a good exchange in metals between silver and copper.

Let There be Light, Heat and High Speed Communication -- Gas lighting, blast furnaces and semaphore towers.

Paris in the Spring and Guillotines

And so the beheadings begin with new death penalty legislation in France. Capital punishment should be more merciful. (In these days "the rack" is considered fairly reasonable for the traditional law-and-order guys but we are talking more merciful than that.) Dr. Guillotin has suggested a killing machine... a frame holding a weighted blade which drops. The head is sliced off at the neck in one stroke. Done. It is to be applied equally to aristocrat and commoner alike. It is first used on a highway robber. The details are unclear, but apparently he killed someone during a robbery. On April 25th at 3:30 in the afternoon, Nicolas Pelletier, climbs up to the machine. He is wearing a red shirt, and the execution device is painted red. A large crowd awaits the event. In less than a minute the deed is done. The crowd is disappointed. They had hoped it would last longer. At least with a hanging the guy kicks a little. But it is the law and it will remain the only form of capital punishment in France until 1981 with the exception of military punishment where a firing squad might be more practical. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, King Louis the 16th had his visit with the guillotine in January of 1793, followed by his wife later that year. At first, the machine was named after King Louis (called the louisette) and later took the name of Dr. Guillotin. Please note that he did not invent the device. The doctor was against the death penalty but if they were going have a death penalty, he figured it might as well be quick and sure. Breaking-by-the-wheel might take you days to die, pecked by birds, your bones broken by hammers, unless you were given the "blow of mercy" or in French... coup de grĂ¢ce (COO-deh-GRASS). The idea of what constitutes a merciful death (or whether we should have a death penalty at all) changes as the public's sensibilities change. From a biblical perspective, the death penalty is allowed for certain cases but the court procedures are not defined in the Bible. It has been left to us to decide how evidence is gathered, who may testify and to decide what a person's state of mind was at the time. That offers a lot of leeway. [6]

The New York Stock Exchange and the US Mint are Established

In 1792 if you want to find a stock broker, what do you do? You look for a coffee house. (And if you want to find your Congressman you go to the local tavern. It doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to work.) Currently, the stock brokers have outgrown the old coffee house and they want to buy their own place. So they meet under the buttonwood tree at 68 Wall Street and sign an agreement to open the Tontine Coffee House. (A "tontine' is a type of investment plan.) The agreement they sign is called the Buttonwood Agreement, after the tree. They don't know where this is going, but they start off trading in stock for the First Bank of the United States... an early version of the Federal Reserve. Over the years the Stock Exchange will move several times, sometimes renting, and one time settling into a building until a fire guts the place. In 1817 they will call themselves the 'New York Stock and Exchange Board'. Much later they will shorten it to the New York Stock Exchange. By 1865, they will move into the first of 3 buildings at the site which constitutes their modern location at Wall Street and Broad. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In a related subject, the US Coinage Act was passed in 1792 establishing the United States Mint. The silver dollar (filled with 24.057 grams of pure silver) became legal tender, but the copper 1 cent coin was not. Many merchants refused to accept it because it was too bulky. It was almost the size of a half dollar. When you are dealing in metal as a medium of exchange, and you want general equivalence, imagine how much copper it would take to equal the value of silver. As of this writing, 24 grams of silver is equal in value to a little over 6 pounds of copper. That would mean a copper cent should weigh almost an ounce if you want 100 copper coins to equal a silver dollar. You will also need big pockets. [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]

Let There be Light, Heat and High Speed Communication

  • William Murdoch applies gas lighting to his own home. He is using coal-gas (later called town gas) which is a by-product of the coking process. By the 1850s, town gas will be used for cooking and heating too. It will be supplemented with natural gas in the 1890s. Town gas will be replaced by natural gas by the 1960s. [17] [18] [19] [20]
  • The 1st blast furnace in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is built. Significant iron smelting won't start until after the War of 1812 when there will be a serious shortage of refined metal coming from Great Britain. (It will take a while to resume trade after the war.) [21] [22]
  • Semaphore towers allow high speed communication over long distances in France. (These semaphores have large arms with paddles, and they are mechanically manipulated.) Relay stations are set up for longer distances. In less than 20 years the heliograph will be invented (using the sun and mirrors) and the electrical telegraph. We are on our way! [23] [24]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1792, Wikipedia.

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