Wednesday, August 31, 2016

History: The Year is 1861

I've uploaded year 1861 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

"Let Slip the Dogs of War!" -- The Battle of Fort Sumter.

Left Brain, Right Brain -- A French doctor discovers the speech center of the brain... and I talk about my own brain. (They did a scan and found nothing!)

The Land of the Free and the First US Income Tax -- It is a flat tax... at first. I talk about the suspension of habeus corpus... all due to logistics.

In Other News -- The unification of Italy, the Gatling gun and the Pony Express.

"Let Slip the Dogs of War!"

A line in the sand is being drawn. [1] Six more slave states secede from the Union BEFORE president-elect Abraham Lincoln can take his oath of office. The Confederacy of America is established with Jefferson Davis as its President. [2] Federal properties are seized while President Buchanan [3] does nothing. Fort Sumter in South Carolina was not seized because it's construction had not been completed due to budget cuts. Only a single Union soldier guarded it gates. Nearby Fort Moultrie was manned but it was not considered a threat since it was poorly positioned. So... late last year,[4] the Union commander at Fort Moultrie, Major Anderson, exercised his contingency orders and took possession of Fort Sumter. And here we are. South Carolina is outraged... because... well... President Buchanan PROMISED![5] (Don't get me started.) Fort Sumter holds a commanding position over Charleston Harbor, but it needs food and wood for heat! Buchanan sends the Star of the West to resupply, but it is turned away. After Lincoln takes office, he informs the governor that several small supply boats will be landed. He doesn't tell President Davis because THERE IS NO CONFEDERACY! But this is a battle for honor. General Beauregard asks respectfully for Major Anderson's surrender of the Fort. Anderson declines. After 39 hours of bombardment, General Beauregard offers to evacuate the Fort. (NOT SURRENDER.) Honor has been served. Anderson agrees on the condition that his men offer a 100 gun salute to the Union flag. In the midst of the salute, a spark catches a pile of cartridges, killing Private Daniel Hough and Private Edward Galloway, the first casualties of the war. Major Anderson carries away the flag of Fort Sumter. The War between the States has begun. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The "American Civil War" was not strictly a civil war although definitions today point to it as the prime example of one. I'm not buying it. The Confederacy was not attempting to take over the US government. It simply left the government. One might say they were provenances in rebellion. The Southern states didn't like a strong centralized government, but the idea that they left simply because of the North's interference seems weak. More likely it was Abraham Lincoln's overwhelming election under the anti-slavery Republicans. They could see their doom no matter what Lincoln said or the Party platform indicated. Slavery and the agrarian society could only survive under certain conditions and those conditions could not be applied in the North, nor the far west for that matter. Any statements from the South regarding the overwhelming superiority of whites over blacks seems like whistling past the graveyard. Soon after the Battle of Fort Sumter, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee joined the Confederacy. Missouri and Kentucky never formally joined. Several Virgina districts sided with the Union and became West Virgina. [12] [13]

Left Brain, Right Brain

A French surgeon, Paul Broca, dissects the brain of a man called Tana. He was called Tana because that was the only sound he could make. He discovers damage to the left side of the brain caused by a cyst. After investigation of people with similar symptoms... that is... an inability to articulate their speech, he sees a trend. Each has damage on the left side of the brain. He concludes that the left side handles verbalization. He also notices that damage to the left side of the brain causes some paralysis of the right side of the body. This is the first anatomical proof of the location of a brain function, and the doctor introduces the idea of a left-side/right-side brain coordination. Obviously their must be come cross-coordination of the two sides. In later years, doctors will notice a problem with the cross-coordination that causes seizures in epilepsy sufferers. Cutting the connections between the left and right brain can reduce these seizures, but it can cause a strange result. Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga noticed that when he put an object into the right hand of such a patient, the patient could name the object and describe it, but when he put the same object into the patient's left hand, he could neither name it nor describe it. Clearly, the cross connections between left and right brain are used and needed. [14] [15] [16]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... during a fall, I damaged the pressure regulators and balance canals in my ears which has caused no end of problems for me. Most people experience some vertigo in their lives, some episodes can be severe. Mine is a rare case. It never goes away. This results in a lot of confusing input coming into my brain. It is somewhat like trying to recite poetry while standing in the middle of a hailstorm.... a small hailstorm. I get distracted. My ear problem also effects my sight since I must depend on what I see to orient myself. Have you ever come to a stop light and a big truck stops in the lane next to you? When the truck eases forward, do you have the sensation that you are moving instead of the truck? Welcome to my world. I get this when I move my own hands. Luckily, I've learned to adapt. No sense in going through the details, but I can give you one really good tip.... stop driving. I used to yell at knuckleheads who were obvious menaces on the road. Then I became a knucklehead, so I took my own advice and stopped driving. I'm saving lives just sitting here.

The Land of the Free and the First US Income Tax

Yep. It's a flat tax of 3 percent on income over $800 dollars. It is introduced to fund the war effort. The big problem at the beginning of the War between the States is not getting enough volunteers to fight for the Union, but getting enough money to equip the soldiers and feed them properly. Logistics, Logistics, Logistics. By next year it will be replaced by a so-called "progressive income tax" which makes no logical sense. A flax tax is progressive because the more money you make, the more money you pay. Then again, this is government and logic has very little to do with it.
"One of the greatest perplexities of the government, is to avoid receiving troops faster than it can provide for them. In a word, the people will save their government, if the government itself, will do its part"
-- Abraham Lincoln on the problem of funding an army.
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Lincoln also suspended habeus corpus in Maryland... and not even all of Maryland, but the parts that had to do with the railway lines. He arrested about one third of the Maryland General Assembly because the state of Maryland had voted to remain within the Union but also voted to block the north/south rail lines in order to stop the war. Rail lines were critical for the logistics effort. Feeding and equipping the troops meant transporting supplies to them in the fastest, most economic ways. If you look carefully you will see that the most effective fighting took place within 60 miles of a rail stop. 60 miles was about the limit for effective transport of supplies for the war effort. Oh... and the grandson of Francis Scott Key was taken into custody for criticizing the government for suspending habeus corpus. "Land of the free," and all that. Yeah. When was that exactly? [17]

In Other News

  • The Kingdom of Italy begins the unification process. The northern and southern kingdoms formally declare their unity this year, but someone didn't get the memo. They aren't really unified yet, but it is a start. [18]
  • The Pony Express is replaced by the telegraph. The east-west fast mail service has existed for only 19 months, but it's legend will live on. The logo will be appropriated by Wells Fargo, and even the US Postal Service. [19]
  • The Gatling Gun is invented. With the onset of War, the ingenious mind of the American citizen turns to mechanized mayhem. The result? The multi-barrelled gun that will show people how futile war can be. (FYI, it doesn't help at all in that regard.) [20]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1861, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

History: The Year is 1860

I've uploaded year 1860 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

"Cry Havoc!" Lincoln Wins a Smaller Union -- Lincoln wins! South Carolina exits the Union. Six other states will follow before March.

Folgers in Your Cup -- A 14-year-old boy turns some carpentry work into a coffee business.

A Birdseye on Invention -- The v-belt is patented. The inventor is the grandfather of the future Clarence Birdseye, the frozen food guy.

In Other News -- Kellogg, Milton Bradley, and Linoleum.

"Cry Havoc!" Lincoln Wins a Smaller Union

With the slogan of "Free labor, Free Land, Free men," Abraham Lincoln becomes the first Republican to win the presidency. Voter turnout is 81.2% the second largest turnout in history. It is a clear victory for the anti-slavery vote. Lincoln had three opponents, but if you combine all of their electoral votes, Lincoln still wins. Seven states threaten to leave the Union before Lincoln can take office. Since inauguration day is March 4th, 1861, there is still time to pull everyone back from the brink, but you already know how that is going to turn out. South Carolina begins the break this year. Calls for Lincoln to take the role of commander-in-chief before taking office will go unheeded. Lincoln is about compromise, so he quietly supports the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution that would (amongst other things) protect slavery from being abolished in the current slave states... FOREVER. The Senate will pass the amendment before inauguration day and send it out to the states for ratification. It will be unsuccessful. The wheels are coming off this little wagon train and there is nothing anyone can do about it. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
No one wants to hear this but Lincoln was perfectly willing to leave every slave in torment unto death if that would preserve the Union. He didn't like slavery and he ran on a platform to limit slavery and to call it bad, but NOT to abolish slavery. Here is the relevant passage from Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address of 1861...
Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that... "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." [5]

Folgers in Your Cup

Benjamin Franklin's mother was Abiah Folger. As families go, the Folgers have an impressive pedigree. How coffee came into the picture is a matter of chance. During the California Gold Rush, the family agreed to pay passage for three boys to seek their fortunes in California. (A 14-year-old and a 15-year-old qualify as boys, right? Their older brother is 20.) Unfortunately, they don't have enough money to pay for the entire trip, so the youngest, James Folger, stays behind in San Francisco. Luckily, the Pioneer Coffee and Spice Company needs some carpentry work done, so James applies for the job. He builds a coffee and spice mill for them, and stays on as a clerk and salesman. He earns enough money to join his brothers in panning for gold but he agrees to take along samples of coffee and to take orders. When he returns he is in the coffee business and business is booming. This year James Folger becomes a full partner in the firm. He is 24 years old. He will eventually buy out his partners and rename the company J.A. Folger and Company. He will run the company reasonably well, and his children will run it even better. The apostrophe will be removed from the "Folger's Coffee" brand name when the company is bought out by Proctor and Gamble in 1963. [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Having coffee roasted, ground, and ready to be brewed was a major innovation and a big time-saver when the only way you could make coffee was to buy raw coffee beans and roast them yourself. During a gold rush, people had more important things to do than spend all morning making coffee. Time is money. A few weeks ago I was getting on the bus when the bus driver warned me that I was not allowed to bring a coffee cup on the city bus. Apparently I might spill. I told him that coffee is so expensive now, the coffee company ought to come onto the bus and put the coffee cup into my hand for that price. And they should clean up any mess if someone should spill. Imagine that franchise. It is such a good idea, I am sure the government won't like it. It might make the ride on the city bus more tolerable and someone might make money at it. We sure can't have that. FYI, on a sadder note, Abigail Folger, heir to the Folger fortune, was murdered in 1969 by Charles "Tex" Watson as part of the Charles Manson murders. Watson's next parole hearing is in November 2016. Mark your calendars. [8]

A Birdseye on Invention

Most automotive mechanics will recognize this innovation as a fan belt or a water pump belt, but at this time, the trapezoidal belt is used to power factory machinery. It is patented by Henry Underwood. In the Industrial Age most applications that require a transfer of power from a steam engine or a water wheel is performed through a series of gears or belts. Unfortunately, a belt will slip unless it has enough surface area to connect to the pulleys or drums to transfer that power. Up until this time that surface area was provided by wide belts that tended to flex and often break, resulting in serious injury or death. Underwood patented the idea of a v-shaped belt that not only provided the same surface area for transferring power but made the belt thicker, stronger and thus less likely to break. His invention appears in the April 1860 edition of Scientific American. [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Henry Underwood was the maternal grandfather of Clarence Birdseye Jr., the inventor of flash freezing that preserves the fresh taste and texture of foods. Clarence Birdseye was an adventurer and he liked to tell stories, so one must take his reports with a grain of salt. What is undeniable is that he inherited his inventive spirit from his Grandfather Underwood. In Birdseye's youth, he started a fox-breeding business in Labrador which, at the time, was a difficult place to live. There was no fresh food except fish, and frozen foods were always mushy and half destroyed when defrosted. He wanted to give his family good food, so he had to solve this problem. Through his experiments in food preservation he realized that the freezing process was taking so long that more crystals were forming. By freezing foods quickly and at lower temperatures, the damage to the texture of frozen foods was kept to a minimum and the taste was preserved. Eventually he patented the process, started a frozen food company and then sold the business to a larger company that eventually became General Foods. He made millions and the Birdseye brand lives on. [10] [11]

In Other News

  • Milton Bradley's "The Game of Life" is released. It looks like a checkerboard, so they call it "The Checkered Game of Life." It will morph into something more familiar in 1960. [12]
  • Linoleum is invented. Cork dust is added to make linseed oil less tacky as the whole mixture sets up like the surface skin over a bucket of paint. [13] [14]
  • Will Keith Kellogg is born in Battle Creek, Michigan. His brother, John, will invent corn flakes as a health food in 1894 and Will will set up the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company to sell it. [15] [14]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1860, Wikipedia.

Monday, August 29, 2016

History: The Year is 1859

I've uploaded year 1859 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Darwin: "On the Origin of Species" -- I mention that Darwin's theory, while a good first pass, has flaws. Watch the heads explode.

John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry -- Like Uncle Tom, he seems to be trying to save the souls of the slave-owners.

Port Sa'id and the Suez Canal -- I talk about Stalin, Mao and Elvis... the deadly trio.

In Other News -- Vaseline, the Planet Vulcan, and a massive solar storm.

Darwin: "On the Origin of Species"

Since the 1830s, scientists have been toying with the idea of the origin of species. In nature, you can see minor differences in animals and plants. Gregor Mendel is currently crossbreeding pea plants and creating the science of genetics. Crossbreeding of dogs has been ongoing for centuries, so there must be a natural mechanism at work too. An extremely popular book came out in 1844 entitled, "Vestiges of Creation." Its scientific basis was weak, but it created a public interest in the origin of animals, plants and perhaps... humankind. Charles Darwin has been searching for a theory that will explain the natural process of creating a species when he reads a paper on the Malthusian theory that human population growth reaches its limit when war, poverty, disease take its human toll. Something clicks and Darwin see a war in the animal and plant kingdoms where survival of the fittest and sometimes blind chance is the rule. He publishes "On the Origin of Species" at just the right time. His theory has flaws, but it pulls existing ideas together into a comprehensive whole and the public picks it up and runs with it... much to the dismay of many of the clergy and the joy of eugenicists. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Every time I try to have an adult conversation on this subject, people's heads explode, so adjust your cranial pressure value. Here we go. Darwin did a good first pass on the origin of species, but his theory has flaws. The most glaring is that it takes too long for all of this stuff to happen naturally. Just look at how long it took to breed the wolf out of dogs... and we were doing that ON PURPOSE! This doesn't make Darwin's theory wrong, but it creates an opening for "Intelligent Design", which is the idea that an intelligent force (oh... I don't know... someone like GOD, maybe) is pushing things along. Without the God-idea, the explanations become complex... and sound a lot like a carnival barker's patter on how I could win that big teddy bear for my girl by tossing a ping-pong ball into a glass bowl. On the TV science show "Cosmos," Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson attempted a slight-of-hand by explaining that life began somewhere else, and Earth ran into a cloud of it. Then the Earth blew up when it was hit by the Moon, but then life reestablished itself... from space! It could happen.... when pigs fly! I am really pulling for pigs to fly, but the Doctor's explanation was so unlikely that it actually made the God-idea scientifically reasonable. (In calculus, as x approaches infinitely unlikely, God becomes definitely reasonable.) I am willing to wait for scientists to figure it out, but quit treating me like I'm a five-year-old asking why the sky is blue. [5] [6]

John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

The US Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia is under attack by men led by the militant abolitionist, John Brown. Brown is attempting to instigate a slave revolt, but as with any revolt, guns come in handy. His plan calls for renting a house and living in the area to become familiar with the armory and with the people of the area. The people of the area are mostly armorers. Oddly enough, the armorers are not armed because raids seem unlikely. (Oops!) A single guard is on hand to call for help in case of a fire. At 10 PM, Brown and his men subdue the guard and take over the armory. They have a list of critical hostages to take so they go into town and arrest them. As dawn breaks, the plan breaks down. The townspeople realize something is wrong, but they can only look on helplessly. Finally, one of the armorers remembers that they had moved some guns above the flood line when recent rains threatened. They use the guns against Brown and his men and chase them into the engine room. They call upon Colonel Robert E. Lee and the US Marines to take the engine room. John Brown is taken prisoner. One Marine is killed and another injured. Brown is unrepentant. He is given a trial and hanged. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I read the official report on the Raid. The US government clearly looked upon John Brown as a nut and they were glad to hang him. One less thing to do. You know? That was a mistake. It seems unclear what John Brown expected to accomplish once he took the armory. He had made no provision to load up the guns and carry them away. So what was he expecting? Would the revolutionaries simply show up and ask for a musket or rifle? Was he expecting to die? He certainly accomplished martyrdom. His death became a rallying point. Brown said he was acting on behalf of God, and the helpless poor. When I read the transcript my sense was that Brown was not crazy at all. He took the words of the Bible seriously, and he feared a just God. That requires some explanation: if God is a just God, that means we all get punished exactly for what we deserve. In the case of slavery, John Brown feared that the just punishment would be paid in blood. With his impending hanging he saw clearly that there was no way for the slave-owners to avoid God's justice. They were gong to bleed. Apparently, like Uncle Tom, John Brown was fighting for the slave-owner's soul, and like Uncle Tom, he was willing to die for it. [10]

Port Sa'id and the Suez Canal

Work on the Suez canal begins this year. The actual work is to establish Port Sa'id as a starting point. There are no local resources, per se. It isn't even a good location for a port, but a rock outcropping is found off shore and a wooden pier is constructed. We are talking about a canal from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez which is about 120 miles. Everything will have to be shipped in. Napoleon had originally commissioned a feasibility study to see if it could be done economically, but some mistakes were made in the study, so it came back negative. Napoleon dropped the project. Now the French have returned and reevaluated. There is only a 4 foot difference in sea levels. (The Gulf of Suez is higher.) If they go through the Bitter Lakes, that should balance out. The French make a deal with the current ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Sa'id Pasha, for 22% ownership. The rest of the shares are sold mainly to French citizens. One of the first things they build is the Sweet Water Canal to provide fresh water to Port Sa'id. The Suez Canal will be open for business in 10 years. [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I recall the Suez Canal being a major point of contention over the years. A war in the Middle East always seemed to begin with a blockade of the Suez Canal. President Eisenhower was really torqued off when Egypt, under President Abdel Nasser, nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956 and then refused Israel passage through the canal. This led to the Suez Crisis. Israel invaded and then Britain and France. While this was happening, Mao Zedong was siding with Egypt in competition with the Soviet Union. (Mao was not getting along with Stalin. Stalin actually thought Mao was crazy... which was fairly frightening in itself.) Mao offered 250,000 Chinese soldiers to help Nasser. Nasser refused which was a good thing because China had no way to get them to Egypt. (Mao was like that.) This was also the time of Russia's invasion of Hungary, so as you can see... it was busy times and it was easy for smaller things to slip through the cracks... like... Elvis Presley entering the music charts with "Heartbreak Hotel". Nuke 'em. Nuke 'em all. [12] [13]

In Other News

  • The Planet Vulcan is discovered. An amateur astronomer finds a planet closer to the Sun than Mercury. It is called "Vulcan", but it is all a big mistake. Vulcan lives on today as the home planet of Mr. Spock in the Star Trek series. [14]
  • Vaseline is discovered. Oil workers have been using "rod wax" to heal wounds and burns. After collecting samples and extracting the petroleum jelly, a Brooklyn manufacturer starts selling it as a medicinal cure under the name "Vaseline". [15]
  • One of the largest solar coronal mass ejections hits Earth. Telegraph operators receive shocks, the aurora's light can be seen in Cuba and some people wake up believing it is dawn. In modern times this event would cause a major disruption to electronics and to the electrical grid. [16] [17] [18]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1859, Wikipedia.

Friday, August 26, 2016

History: The Year is 1858

I've uploaded year 1858 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The British Raj is Formally Established -- The East India Company is out. Queen Victoria is in.

The Great Stink of London -- The Parliament can't stand the smell and hires an engineer to design aan build a proper sewer system.

A House Divided... Cannot Stand -- Lincoln delivers his famous acceptance speech as he runs for the Senate.

In Other News -- The Wedding March, the Miracle at Lourdes, and Boss Tweed.

The British Raj is Formally Established

The Great Rebellion in India has ended. How it began is difficult to summarize, but the British bungled a number of issues that forced various Indian factions into unity against the British East India Company. In one example: the British supplied the Indian Army with new rifle cartridges lubricated with pig and cow lard. To load the rifle, the top of the cartridge had to be bitten off so the Muslims and Hindus were united in the belief that the British were secretly undermining their religious practices. This has led to a lot of fighting until this year when the rebellion is finally put down. In the aftermath Queen Victoria's government takes direct control of India and so the British Raj begins. Later the Queen will take the title of Empress of India. The British East India Company will continue to manage the tea trade until 1874 when the company is finally dissolved. The British Raj will continue on until 1947 when India and Pakistan will win their independence. Burma will become an independent state the following year. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Great Rebellion is sometimes called the 1st War of Independence for India. This suggests that somehow the people of India were united (or nearly so) against British rule. In fact, they were not unified at all. Various factions had their own reasons for opposing the British. It didn't take some unifying conspiracy or a band of brothers. All it took was for the British East India Company to do something terrible to each group separately and for each group to react in kind. The unifying element was the British East India Company and not the Indians themselves. Even in the modern day, the one unifying element in India is their common language... English. The reason is because there are so many different languages spoken natively within the country that if they chose one native tongue, all the rest would rebel, so they chose a language that was native to none but common to all which is English. Because of the British Raj that ruled so many years before they had to learn English and now they use it for official business.

The Great Stink of London

It has been a long hot summer... and a stinky one. The British sewer system has not been well thought out. It is a hodgepodge of covered ditches and cesspits located directly under homes. With the cholera epidemic in full swing, well... it is difficult to manage the waste. A lot of it goes into the Thames and the city government is proud of it. Flush toilet sales have reached an all time high because it is believed that expelling waste as quickly as possible away from people and into the Thames is best. Remember that the experts are telling everyone that cholera is transmitted by air and that excreting wastes is cleansing the body. Doctors actually administer medicines that increase one's bowel movement. They also administer large does of mercury to patients. When the tide comes in, the water from the Thames travels miles upstream to the drinking water intake pipes. Experts blame the River for cholera but not because of the water. It's the Stink.... in other words, it is the air that is spreading the cholera epidemic. With infant mortality at 50%, and the stink from the Thames gagging the Parliament they finally engage an engineer to build an entirely new sewer system. [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Yes. When the government finally experienced the smell, they got up off their duffs and did something. The new sewer system construction began in 1859 and saved tens of thousands of lives. The problem with the old system was that it was a storm drain system that would dump the sewage on the shore at low tide and then become trapped near shore as the tide came in. There was no efficient way for the sewage to wash out to sea. In the modern day, some homes are still set up in this manner where the storm drain is connected to the sewer system. A few years ago, Ottawa, Canada experienced floods that not only caused water damage but pushed sewage into the basements of homes through their basement drainage system. Thus the residents not only had water damage but a health hazard as well. [9]

A House Divided... Cannot Stand

Abraham Lincoln is the most popular political person in Illinois who does not hold public office. After his previous run for the Senate he is remembered as a calm and steady fellow, and well liked, so as he returns to Springfield for the Republican convention he is a shoe in for the nomination to run against Senator Stephen Douglas. Douglas has been losing steam after the sweep of the state elections by Republicans and in reaction to his remarks in support of the Dred Scott decision. Douglas does not believe in social equality between whites and blacks. Lincoln believes in equality at the level of working for a wage and paying for one's own bread. On that level we are all equal. At the convention Lincoln addresses the slavery question. He previews his speech for his friends. They say it is too advanced, but Lincoln delivers it anyway.
"We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South."
--Abraham Lincoln, from his acceptance speech for the Senate Republican nomination. [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
His speech was immediately criticized as abolitionist, but it fact, it was not. Lincoln said that he did not intend to abolish slavery by fiat, but he did not support its expansion. Quotes from Lincoln can be tricky because while his goal to maintain the Union never changes, the way in which he goes about making that happen does change. His hero, Henry Clay, was called "The Great Compromiser". Lincoln looked for compromise at first. [12]

In Other News

  • "The Wedding March" becomes popular for weddings. Queen Victoria selects this music to accompany her daughter's wedding ([Click Here]). It comes from the play, A Midsummer Night's Dream which is a comedy. Say no more. [13] [14] [15]
  • In Lourdes, France, Bernadette sees a vision of the Virgin Mary. Interest in the miracle at Lourdes will grow. Bernadette will die young in a convent and attain sainthood in 1933. The 1943 movie "Song of Bernadette" is inspiring. [16] [17]
  • Boss Tweed takes Tammany Hall. This chubby fellow is going to give political corruption and fraud a bad name. Tammany Hall is the Democratic Party political machine in New York City. It will lose a lot of its power in the 1930s after much of its leadership is sent to prison. [18]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1858, Wikipedia.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

History: The Year is 1857

I've uploaded year 1857 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Railroads, Riverboats and the Right to Do the Obvious -- A railroad bridge is used as an issue to thwart the Northern railway lines, and it gets really weird.

The Dred Scott Decision -- Apparently the Constitution says that Negroes are not actual citizens of the USA... not even free Negroes.

The Economic Panic of 1857 -- The Gold Rush has created a bubble that bursts this year.

In Other News -- Wine fermentation, the 'safety elevator' and the trans-Atlantic telegraph line.

Railroads, Riverboats and the Right to Do the Obvious

As a lawyer, Abraham Lincoln represents the railroads in their defense against Jefferson Davis and the riverboat companies. The question is, "Does a riverboat have the legal right under the maritime law to prevent a railroad bridge from being built across a river?" Naturally, the Rock Island Bridge has been built to accommodate the boat traffic, but the riverboat companies continue to complain until a riverboat suddenly loses power and steers into a bridge pier and catches fire. Blame is cast upon the strange currents caused by the bridge. They declare the bridge to be a menace to navigation and they go to court. Abraham Lincoln argues that a man has as much a right to cross a river as he does to go up and down the river. That argument, along with his careful measurements of the river currents results in a hung jury. The riverboat companies then jump to the Iowa courts which find that the bridge must be dismantled at the Iowa border... mid-river. This all goes to the Supreme Court where is it is determined that bridges can be built across rivers. (That was a real nail-biter, but it was an unresolved question until now.) [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Just to be clear, the riverboat companies and Jefferson Davis didn't really care about bridges. They were using the issue to stop their competition. The riverboat companies were a dying business because they couldn't haul freight in the wintertime while railroads kept on going. It was believed at the time that the riverboat purposefully rammed into the bridge pier in order to destroy the bridge and thus delay the inevitable. Jefferson Davis was Secretary of War at the time. His motivation was to delay the development of the Northern railway routes until the Southern route was approved and begun. He saw that the South was being overtaken by the North economically with the advantage of moving cargo inland from the Eastern seaports using railway shipping. If the South couldn't build up their cargo transport capacity in ports like Charleston, they were going to lose out to New York, which is exactly what happened. Davis used his position as Secretary of War to declare Rock Island a military reservation even though the Island had been abandoned as a military base years ago. Yeah. The courts didn't buy that BS either.

The Dred Scott Decision

The Supreme Court says that Negros are not citizens of the United States. They said that it is in the Constitution, so you know it must be true. Right? Here is how we arrived at this point. Dred Scott was a slave married to Harriet, also a slave. Their owner was an Army surgeon named Dr. John Emerson. He was stationed in various states... some of them free states. He dies and his slaves are transferred to his wife in Missouri. The bottom line is that at several points in time Dred Scott could have plead for his family's freedom in a court of law and probably won. Instead, he continued to work as a slave to be hired out by his new owner, the wife of the Army surgeon. Finally, Dred Scott offers to buy his freedom, but his owner refuses. Scott takes his owner to court in Missouri which should have ruled in his favor, but instead, the court warns of the dark forces of anti-slavery aligned to overthrow the government. Scott is doomed. This all goes to the Supreme Court which does some fancy footwork to show that somehow the Founding Fathers did not think of Negroes as citizens... not even free Negroes. Therefore they cannot bring suit in a US court. They can pay taxes, though. [3] [4]
"In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument."
-- Chief Justice Roger Taney.
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Abraham Lincoln will make use of the Dred Scott decision in his "House Divided" speech to catapult himself into the national spotlight. To be as charitable as possible, the Supreme Court follows the trend. It doesn't lead. Often they won't take a case until several state and appellate court rulings have already established a trend. Then the Supreme Court will get ahead of the parade and lead it. That is not always true, but it is mostly true. This is how you get rulings like Dred Scott or forced sterilization, or "separate but equal" education that is more separate than equal. In the Dred Scott case, President-elect James Buchanan had a friend on the Supreme Court. Although it was not known at the time, he wrote to his friend and pressured other court members so that the question of slavery would "be speedily and finally settled". By "settled" he meant "dictated". Of course, the ruling didn't settle anything and this case remains one of the most boneheaded rulings the Supreme Court has ever made. ("Boneheaded" is a technical term that historians use to indicate someone who could not pour piss out of a boot even with the instructions printed on the heel.) [5]

The Economic Panic of 1857

Just a quick note on the economic conditions at this time. With all the gold from the California Gold Rush pouring in, investment in businesses has been soaring... especially in train stocks. The miles of railroad track laid has tripled. Coal production has doubled. A risky venture such as the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable would never have been contemplated without this sudden infusion of capital and optimism. As you might guess, an economic bubble is about to burst. There are rumors that Britain is about to circumvent their gold and silver reserve limits which has caused a panic. A ship bound from California to New York sinks will all its gold in the holds. The Dred Scott ruling makes people nervous about an escalation of violence in the territories. Land prices drop a little. Railroad stocks are hit and the trend becomes a slide becomes a fall. A lot of people are left holding the bag... even city governments who hoped to benefit on get-rich-quick stock tips. The economy will stabilize by next year but it won't really recover until after the War Between the States. [6] [7]

In Other News

  • Wine fermentation, vinegar and sour milk are caused by living organisms! A local wine maker asks Louis Pasteur to find out what turns his wine sour after storage. Pasteur finds that bacteria in the air is the cause. Can pasteurization be far behind? 1864 for beer and wine, and 1886 for milk. [8] [9] [10] [11]
  • The first 'safety elevator' is installed by Elisha Otis. Specially shaped rollers grab the sides of the elevator shaft if the cable breaks or the elevator exceeds a certain speed. [12] [8]
  • The laying of the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable begins. Two ships from each side of the Atlantic pay out cable. By next year, after several failed attempts, they will meet in the middle, splice the cable and it is done. It will lose connection and fail within a few weeks. They will try again in 1865. [13] [14]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1857, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

History: The Year is 1856

I've uploaded year 1856 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Borden's Rules for Dairymen -- We are talking sanitation rules that will save the dairy industry and Borden will do well when he gets a good business partner.

The Caning of Senator Sumner -- The Senator is nearly beaten to death over the issue of slavery.

The First Gay President? -- Was James Buchanan gay? Well... maybe, but why should I care about what people are doing sexually?

In Other News -- The first synthetic dye, the first cave man, and the worst train wreck to date.

Borden's Rules for Dairymen

This is going to sound like a commercial for Bordon's Milk but I'm telling you, what Bordon did for the dairy industry is right up there with pasteurization. A few years ago Gail Borden won a medal at the London World's Fair for his dehydrated "meat biscuit" which ended up being a commercial flop, but as he was returning to the USA he noticed that many children on the voyage fell ill drinking contaminated milk. He set out to solve this problem. Evaporated milk already exists, but he uses a vacuum process that speeds up the process and he patents it this year. Then he gets financing to open a factory and produces canned, evaporated milk, but that is not the whole story. Gail Bordon is a stickler for cleanliness. Remember, there is no germ theory yet. He just wants everything clean. Bordon issues rules for his dairymen to clean the cow's udders before milking, scald all equipment used for processing the milk. All containers holding milk must be covered and even the dairymen themselves should practice good hygiene. His rules become known as the Dairyman's Ten Commandments. This all seems obvious to the modern farmer, but at this point in time the "pasteurization" process won't even be invented until 1865. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. Bordon has his product. We are from the future so we know the company is is going to do well, especially during the Civil War. Did anything go wrong? YES. The "meat biscuit" venture drained Bordon of his funds, and when he was looking for investors he didn't find many takers. Frankly, as smart and industrious as Gail Bordon was, he tended to jump from project to project and he was overly generous with his money at times. Don't get me wrong. He was a persistent businessman in that he believed in his product, but he was not necessarily a good business manager. That was when a guy named Jeremiah Milbank took a chance on Bordon's idea, but Milbank insisted on managing the business end. Good idea. He turned a $100,000 investment into $8 million dollars by the time he passed away. The Bordon Company condensed milk product is Eagle Brand which is what my mother used to use, and of course, who can forget Elsie the Cow? What? Who is Elsie? That's the name of the cow on the label. Am I that old? [7] [8]

The Caning of Senator Sumner

Republican Senator Charles Sumner has spent two days ridiculing the practice of slavery and mocking Senators Stephen Douglas and Andrew Butler. Kansas is coming apart over the question of slavery. No decent man could support it, and one might infer that Butler and Douglas are not decent men, but there is no need for subtle hints. Sumner is quite clear. Slavery is Butler's harlot and his tongue can say nothing against his mistress. Sumner's "Crime against Kansas" speech comes to a close and the pro-slavery advocates are outraged. A few days later Democrat Congressman Preston Brooks waits for the Senate to close out for the day. Senator Sumner is sitting at his desk on the Senate floor. Brooks walks up to him and begins beating him vigorously with his cane. Sumner has no chance to get up. He trips and his legs are trapped between the table and chair. Blood pours into his eyes and he is temporarily blinded. Other Senators attempt to help, but Democrat Congressman Henry Edmundson brandishes a gun and says, "Let them be." Finally, two Senators pull Brooks back. The cane is left on the floor in bloody pieces. Senator Sumner is alive, but barely. He will return to the Senate in 1859. Congressman Brooks resigns, but is reelected by his constituents. He will die of the croup later this year and never take his seat. There are no limits now. They have tasted blood and it is sweet. [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
So much is happening at once that it is difficult to express how wildly this whole slavery issue is spinning out of control. It looks like a war between Kansas and Missouri and the Federal government is supporting the slave states. Abolitionists like John Brown have decided that they must take the law into their own hands. This is the year of the Sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, followed by the Pottawatomie massacre in retaliation. Then the Battle of Black Jack when John Brown's sons are taken captive. Beecher's Bibles (otherwise known as Sharps carbines) are being shipped by the crate full to abolitionist forces. Pitting North against South began as a political strategy pushed by John Calhoun. Years later the War Between the States was characterized as a battle over States Rights but if the territory of Kansas had a right to a fair vote why was Missouri trying to fix the election? Nope. I'm calling BS on that one. Principles went down the crapper years before Kansas and Nebraska ever became territories. By 1856, any hope of sitting down and talking this one out was long gone. [10] [11]

The First Gay President?

Normally, I wouldn't pay much attention to James Buchanan, but in modern times when President Bill Clinton is called the "first black president " and President Barak Obama is called the "first gay president" then I must talk about whether or not President Buchanan was gay. Certainly he was a life-long bachelor, but that is not definitive proof. He lived with a man, but again, that is not proof. People suspected at the time. Andrew Jackson joked about it, but did anyone really care? I doubt it. There is only one letter that gives us an indication of what Buchanan was thinking. He writes: "I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them." The full quote is in the notes, but frankly, my attitude is this. I don't care what James Buchanan did or didn't do sexually. I don't care what Bill Clinton is doing right now sexually. In fact, I don't want to know. I just don't care what people do with their genitals unless they are trying to do it with someone against their will. Then I care. [12] [13] [14]

In Other News

  • The first synthetic dye is created by accident. An 18-year-old chemistry student goofs up an experiment and finds a purplish, mauve-colored liquid at the bottom of his beaker. He applies for a patent and the synthetic dye industry is born. [15]
  • The Neandertal Cave Man is discovered. Miners discover bones in a cave in Neander's Hollow in Germany. Thus begins of the search for man as ape. [16]
  • The Great Train Wreck! School children are on an excursion on the "Picnic Train" but they are running 20 minutes late and running headlong into the worst train disaster to date. 126 total dead including the engineer who is blamed for his carelessness. The conductor survives, but he will kill himself later. [17]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1856, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

History: The Year is 1855

I've uploaded year 1855 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Lone Star Education Windfall -- The Texas budget has a surplus so they set aside half of the excess for education.

Bleeding Kansas -- Reverend Beecher sends "Bibles" to Kansas to fight the Missouri Ruffians. The boxes really contain rifles.

In Other News -- Cocaine, Florence Nightingale and Rayon.

The Lone Star Education Windfall

The US federal government has appropriated almost 8 million dollars to settle the Texas debt and any expenses incurred with the recent border treaty with Mexico... meaning paying for the Texas Rangers to patrol the border. For reasons that are complex and difficult to explain about 4 million dollars is left over or about 83 million dollars in today's money. (Nothing to see here. Let's move on.) Texas spends that money on government buildings and pet projects as one might expect. The money is also distributed to counties which use the money to build courthouses and such, but Texas does something that would be unexpected in modern times. It sets aside half of the money for education: community, religious, and even home schooling although they are called "field schools" at this time. Students meet under a tree or in a one room schoolhouse near the fields. There are no public schools as yet, and the state cannot directly tax residents for education. (It's illegal!) Communities organize their own schools and the state reimburses them on a per student basis. Whatever Texas was spending per student in 1854, they almost double it in 1855. The teachers receive the lion's share of the increase, and believe me, no teacher in Texas ever went hungry or could not find a place to sleep. This is all to the state's credit, but by 1860 the state will be deep in debt again. [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Even though Horace Mann was experimenting with the Prussian unified system of education, public schools didn't get rolling until after the War Between the States otherwise known as the American Civil War which was technically NOT a civil war but don't get me started on that one! The point is that education in the United States at that time was uneven. Ethnic groups within Texas had different educational priorities and each made its own arrangements as they saw fit. No one was bellyaching about how their kids were forced to learn something that didn't fit with their world view or religious convictions because people with differing views didn't mix. If they needed classes taught in German, Spanish or Dutch, the parents paid for it and made it happen. It is a modern belief (almost a religious conviction) that mixing cultures results in harmony and understanding. I feel like I'm trapped in a West Side Story musical and I don't how to dance! There are reasons why we self-separate. It is because we prefer to interact with people who share a baseline understanding with us. Getting along with people I already more-or-less understand is hard enough, but the government wants me to get along with people different than I am. Fine. I can do that. But if I don't want to do that, I should be able to avoid it without the government telling me I am bad. I'm not bad. I'm just tired.

Bleeding Kansas

The capitol of Kansas is Topeka, no... Lecompton... wait... it's Leavenworth... uh... how about Wyandotte (WHY-en-dot)? Yeah. That's it! (Wyandotte is now part of Kansas City) Well... as you can see the Kansas Territory residents are having problems making a decision. They must decide whether to become a slave state or a free state. The reason for their indecision is because of MASSIVE voter fraud. The people of Missouri have been jumping the border and voting in the Kansas elections. The majority of Kansans are voting to be a free state but the number of fraudulent votes from Missouri is more than the legitimate votes. This has caused the elections to be thrown to the pro-slavery candidates. While the courts have called for a reelections in a few districts it is not enough to offset the massive pro-slavery win. Frankly, the Missouri "Ruffians" have become quite firm in their convictions on slavery.... violently firm. To combat the pro-slavery violence, Reverend Beecher has sent a shipment of Sharps Rifles to Kansas. The shipping crates are labelled as "Beecher's Bibles" so the rifles take on the same name. Reverend Beecher says that rifles are "a greater moral agency than the Bible." (Please note that his sister is Harriet BEECHER Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.) Over all, maybe 1,000 rifles will be shipped. By next year Kansas will be awash in blood. [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... the War Between the States didn't start until 1861, yet in Kansas there was already blood in the streets. If people are worried about a nationwide insurrection in modern times, it is going to take a lot more that a few riots by disgruntled people before things really get wild. FYI, the capital of Kansas is Topeka, but when Kansas was a territory, Topeka was considered an insurrectionist government by President Franklin Pierce because Topeka voted to be a free state. Pierce wanted to hold the Union together, so he kissed the backsides of the Southern slave owners and as a result, he sent the country spinning toward destruction. But the headlong leap over the precipice could not have been accomplished by one man alone. It took the help of the legislature giving the country a good hard shove as well. It is easy to say, "Why didn't they do what Abraham Lincoln did?" But Lincoln did not have the Southern voting block cutting off his every effort to end slavery or transition away from it. By the time the reality of war was upon them it was already too late. Looking back, we can see their future clearly. If only. If only. I wonder what our children's children will say about our actions today. What are we missing that will be so obvious to the generations to come? And will they shake their heads and ask why we did nothing?

In Other News

  • Cocaine is isolated from coca leaves. Until now, European scientists could not get enough fresh leaves from South America to isolate the alkaloid. [5]
  • Florence Nightingale institutes good hygiene standards in military hospitals. Although her "Lady with the Lamp" image of making the rounds at night might have been exaggerated, she did professionalize nursing in the years following the war. [6] [7]
  • Rayon is patented. It is nicknamed "Mother-in-law silk" probably because this early version of the fabric caught fire easily. [6] [8]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1805, Wikipedia.

Monday, August 22, 2016

History: The Year is 1854

I've uploaded year 1854 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Third Pandemic and Unmarked Cesspits -- A local cholera outbreak is traced to a water well that was dug next to an unmarked cesspit.

Unleashing Democracy in Australia -- The Eureka Rebellion leads to the deaths of 27 men, a legislature, the vote for unlanded men and secret ballots!

The Charge of the Light Brigade -- Mistakes were made and so were heroes.

In Other News -- Ten Nights in a Bar Room, the Republican Party and Henry does NOT invent the light bulb.

The Third Pandemic and Unmarked Cesspits

The cholera pandemic has hit the United Kingdom. Experts of the time believe that miasma (my-AZZ-mah) or "bad air" is the cause of disease, but Dr. Snow thinks that contaminated water is the problem. He plots cases of cholera on a map and interviews survivors in his area. He notices that the sick all drank from the same water well. He inspects the water under a microscope, but sees no germs. Nevertheless, he convinces the townspeople to remove the handle from the water pump and shuts down the well. The deaths from cholera drop and the local threat is over. What was really wrong? The water well had been dug 3 feet from an unmarked and abandoned cesspit. Unfortunately, the townspeople didn't really believe that the water was the problem, so they started using the well again. (Palm to forehead.) Dr. Snow's work on water contamination as a source of disease will eventually lead to a revamping of London's sewer systems. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
My biology teacher told me that human waste is not dirty per se, but when a person is ill, many human germs will pass out of the body through human waste. So as a precaution (and I think this is a really good idea) we treat human waste as if it contains disease. In a crowded situation where we don't know who is sick and who is well, maintaining good sewage discipline is critical. Years ago my job entailed spotting abandoned cesspits. It was not easy. When a bulldozer would scrape an area down to natural soil, I would look for a circular stain or pieces of brick in a circular pattern. The old cesspits were lined with brick but so were cisterns that collected water for gardens. (In the old days people didn't use drinking water for their plants. They collected rain water.) I have uncovered cisterns that went down 20 feet or more. It is a long way to the bottom so use care. There is a joke that the grass is always greener over the septic tank. If that is true then the septic tank is full or damaged. Call a professional. Your water supply can always benefit from filters and sterilization, but avoiding the major hazards of sewage disposal in the first place will go a long way to keep you disease free in an emergency. [3] [4] [5]

Unleashing Democracy in Australia

27 men lie dead after a protest over licensing fees goes terribly wrong. The Eureka Rebellion is considered Australian's version of "the shot heard around the world." The recent Australian Gold Rush has put economic, social and political pressure on what has been a pastoral country. (Think sheep grazing on the plains.) But now boom towns have sprung up, and prices are soaring. This sort of economic, social and political pressure is familiar to Californians, but for Australia, it is 1775. They have submitted a new charter (or constitution) to the British Parliament, but it looks like the Big Boys will get the mine and the Little Guys will get the shaft. The governor wants the gold miners to pay their licensing fees, but it looks more like harassment as the regulators check licenses 6 times a day. The annual fee is not that much if you have found gold, but a miner will be arrested if he does not have his license on his person... not in his tent, not in his saddle bag, not tucked in his Bible but on his person. This amounts to harassment so the miners build the Eureka Stockade to keep the regulators out. It is considered a political protest, but the government sees it as a rebellion and sends out the troops. 30 minutes later 27 people are dead... mostly miners. Democracy can be a deadly gift. The new Australian constitution will be approved next year, which will give the country more autonomy, but after this incident the government will be forced to establish a legislature, grant voting rights to non-land owners, and issue a secret ballot! (Is nothing sacred?) [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK... how was building a crude fort in Eureka, Victoria a political protest? Well... any time you lock out the government, the government wonders what you are doing. If you refuse to show your papers on demand... 6 times a day... you are in violation of the law. If you decide to protest your harassment, you have given the authorities an excuse to act. And if you take that protest far enough, civil discourse can come apart fairly quickly. I have provided examples in the notes, but when you refuse to submit to government demands, bad things can happen. If the police pull you over because you fit the description of a bank robber, do not jump out of your car and run for the woods. They will not be thinking that you needed to take a leak. My son was arrested for carrying a Nerf gun, all because there was a recent convenience store robbery and someone noticed him walking around the college campus shooting his friends with a TOY! [12] [13] [14]

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred. [15]
In every war mistakes are made. General Cardigan has been given the order to charge the guns. Which guns? Captain Nolan points to the guns down range about a mile away. Guns to the left. Guns to the right. Guns ahead. It is clearly suicide, but no one protests... or at least no one alive after this charge will remember anyone protesting. This is the British light cavalry. Fast horses. No armor. Sabers and a lot of guts. Their normal mission is reconnaissance and running down retreating infantry. General Raglan notices the Russians attempting to retreat with some naval guns. He sends an order to attack the guns. When the order finally reaches Cardigan, Cardigan does not see any guns except the ones down range... in the Valley of Death. Cardigan leads the charge and he doesn't look back. Captain Nolan seems to realize the mistake and tries to turn the brigade but the Captain is shot early on. Cardigan reaches his objective, engages the Russians and then returns. 110 are killed. 161 are wounded. Six week later, Lord Tennyson publishes his poem entitled, The Charge of the Light Brigade and they are made public heroes. [16] [17]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Cardigan and his light brigade were considered heroes, but the officers above them were considered goats. Nevertheless, they all escaped blame. My sense is that it was probably a misinterpreted order. Some experts claim that Cardigan would have lost more men if he correctly interpreted the order. Other say that the charge would have worked if the heavy brigade had followed in with them, but the leader of the heavy brigade said that it made no sense to do that and no one contradicted him at the time.

In Other News

  • "Ten Nights in a Bar Room" is published. It is the 2nd most popular book in America after Uncle Tom's Cabin. The story warns the public of the evils of demon alcohol. [18] [19] [20]
  • The Republican Party is formed. The Whigs are split North and South. They can do nothing on slavery whatsoever, so the northern Whigs form a new anti-slavery political party. [21] [22]
  • Henry Göbel invents the light bulb... NOT! Thomas Edison's patents will be challenged by the "Göbel Defense", but there is not enough evidence to prove that Göbel actually invented the light bulb, so the credit (and the money) will go to Edison. [23]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1854, Wikipedia.

Friday, August 19, 2016

History: The Year is 1853

I've uploaded year 1853 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

We Come in Peace and Ready for War -- Japan and gunboat diplomacy is on the agenda and Commodore Perry comes sliding into Edo Bay.

Buying is Cheaper than Fighting -- A boarder dispute with Mexico is settled by simply buying land... but not too much land.

In Other News -- The potato chip, pianos and the filibuster.

We Come in Peace and Ready for War

Four black ships enter Japan's Edo Bay. Commodore Perry has come to trade with the Japanese, but he is ready for war if the Japanese want to bring it. Two of Perry's ships are powered by steam engines so they are belching smoke. It must seem like the demons of the underworld have come to Japan's capital city of Edo. Japan has no navy to speak of and their shore batteries are 200 year old cannons, poorly maintained. The Japanese direct Perry to Nagasaki which is the designated port for meeting foreigners. Perry is well aware of the Japanese refusal to trade with outsiders so he "slips 'em a convincer." He loads up his cannons with gunpowder without shot and fires! The Japanese leadership is in an uproar. That night an especially large meteor casts a blue shimmering light over the Bay. It is a sign. Good sign for Perry. Bad sign for Edo. Then the head shogun drops dead and the Japanese are freaking out! Perry delivers a letter from President Millard Fillmore and promises to return next spring for trade negotiations... or else. This is not the first example of "gunboat diplomacy" but the practice gains popularity around this time. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the 1500s, the Japanese had been master gunsmiths, but the shoguns feared the gun in the hands of the peasants. Over time they regulated guns and gunpowder and eventually took them out of the hands of the peasants. This made Japan a much safer place for the shoguns, and the samurai but it left the country defenseless. They carried swords, but against a gun, a sword is not much of a defense... even at 21 feet. Commodore Perry's ships were carrying the new exploding shells... well... 30 years old by that time, but it must have looked like a super weapon to the Japanese of the day. An explosive shell meant that not only could a cannon shot put a fairly big hole in your roof, but it could ruin your whole darn day when it exploded inside your house. An ocean might seem like enough of a barrier against the bad guys until it isn't enough any more. By the time you find that out, it is usually too late. [3]

Buying is Cheaper than Fighting

Remember that Mexican-American War? There are still border problems. The United States under President Buchanan promised to stop the Comanche and Apache cross-border raids into Mexico, but it turned out to be more difficult than anticipated. Mexico is demanding compensation for this breech of the original treaty. They want millions of dollars. Naturally the United States offers less. After a lot of back and forth, the Senate finally ratifies the Gadsden Purchase. The United States has just bought a large part of southern Arizona and the southwest part of New Mexico. This is almost 30,000 square miles of territory, for 10 million dollars (or about 232 million in today's money). Not only does this settle the question of compensation, but it opens the way for a southern route for the railroad. It also re-validates the original Treaty of Guadalupe without US troops looming over the proceedings. [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Ambassador Gadsden tried to include Baja California in the purchase but a freebooter from the USA took troops into Baja and declared its independence. That was an embarrassment during negotiations, but frankly, Mexico didn't want to sell off massive parts of its land in any case. It was willing to let go of the minimum amount of land to make the deal good and that was it. The Gadsden was a controversial figure, being a railroad owner. He realized that the South was losing economic power without a railroad to transport goods from Southern ports such as Charleston. New York could offload cargo and move it inland more easily using rail. Ambassador Gadsden was trying to enhance the possibility of a southern railway system so as to extend slavery into Southern California, but the Civil War postponed that project.... and ended slavery to boot. [7] [8]

In Other News

  • The potato chip is invented. George Crum is a restaurant cook who thin-slices potatoes and deep fries them. Dinner is served. [9] [10]
  • Steinway & Sons makes their first piano in Manhattan. It is numbered 483 because he already made 482 pianos back in Germany. [11] [12]
  • The term 'filibuster' enters the political lexicon. The word means "freebooter" or "pirate" but in a debate, a Congressman warns against filibustering... meaning disrupting the legislative process. [13] [14] [15] [16]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1853, Wikipedia.