Wednesday, August 3, 2016

History: The Year is 1841

I've uploaded year 1841 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Commercialization of Santa Has Begun -- I talk about the recent controversy over one of Santa's helpers... Black Pete.

The Whigs Win the Presidency... for One Month -- Harrison dies one month into his presidency, elevating Tyler, who is not much of a Whig. I talk about Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

In Other News -- Transcendentalism, Groundhog day and Hong Kong.

The Commercialization of Santa Has Begun

The first real department store Santa Claus won't arrive until the 1890s, but this year, Philadelphia store owner, J. W. Parkinson, hires a fellow to play Kris Kringle climbing the store's chimney as an advertising gimmick. At this time, Kris Kringle and Santa Claus are not considered the same person, but most children realize that someone special is secretly passing out gifts on Christmas Eve! The image of Santa has been firming up in the USA since the 1823 publication of the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas", but it is going to take a long time before the Santa Claus tradition unifies into the image of a jolly old elf in a red suit looking suspiciously like the comedian, Tim Allen, and sounding like Buzz Lightyear. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Just so you know, there is another Christmas tradition where a fellow whips unworthy children and leaves them coal. You will see "Father Whipper" occasionally pop up in parades looking like a homeless guy. Oh... wait... that IS a homeless guy! Currently, the Netherlands is experiencing a problem with another of Santa's helpers, Black Pete. I'll bet you can guess what the problem is. Early in December, Saint Nickolas and his friendly helper, Black Pete, arrive and hand out gifts to the Dutch children. It's tradition! The Dutch generally like this tradition and see nothing racist about it, but their neighbors are becoming uncomfortable with the image of a white guy in blackface parading around in an Afro wig like a clown. (Professionally speaking, Black Pete does fit the definition of a real clown.) And in traditional political fashion, when conservatives do something like this it is considered the worst kind of racial prejudice, but when Dutch liberals do it, it's tradition! The tradition stumbles on. [3] [4] [5] [6]

The Whigs Win the Presidency... for One Month

The Whigs are a political party dedicated to the proposition that Andrew Jackson is crazy and the Democratic Party is too dangerous for words. The Presidency of William Harrison is a milestone win for the Whigs. Unfortunately, during the campaign Harrison's age and stamina were called into question, so he ran with the slogan, "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," to remind the delegates that he was the hero at the Battle of Tippecanoe. On Inaugural Day, it is wet and cold. Harrison rides his horse to the ceremony to demonstrate his health and vitality. As he takes the podium, he makes the longest speech in Presidential history: 2 hours. He outlines the Whig political platform is mind-numbing detail. Afterward there are the dinners and parties. He is having trouble breathing. It's pneumonia. Without antibiotics, your body either fights it off or you die. One month later, the hope of the Whig Party is dead. John Tyler is President, but the Whigs never seriously considered what a Tyler Presidency would mean. He was chosen to balance the ticket. How good a Whig is Tyler, anyway? It turns out... not so good. He looks like a Democrat in Republican clothing... uh... I mean Whig clothing! He is a Virgina man, he owns slaves and he wants to annex Texas as a slave state! Is he insane? This is going to be a bumpy ride. [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
A John Tyler Presidency was the modern equivalent of replacing Ronald Reagan with George H. W. Bush. They are from the same political Party, but they are much different. There were fears that a second term for Ronald Reagan would leave the Republican Party in the lurch if he should die in office. When he ran for reelection, his opponent, Walter Mondale, piously declared that he would not make age an issue in his campaign ... thus making age an issue in his campaign. Reagan replied solemnly, "I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." Even Mondale laughed and with that one line, President Ronald Reagan won his second term. There are still some questions about whether that second term was a good idea. Reagan was getting too old for the job. As I watch Hillary Clinton making her campaign speech I can see her husband, former President Bill Clinton, sleeping through it. I can't blame him. It must be the 100th time he has heard the speech, but then again.... does he still has all of his faculties? I think not. [8] [9]

In Other News

  • The Brook Farm utopia is founded. Transcendentalism has found its center in Massachusetts of all places. [10] [11]
  • Groundhog Day makes it to America. Although the German tradition of "a large squirrel predicting the weather" has been around for many years, this is the first mention of it in the USA. [12] [13]
  • Britain claims sovereignty over Hong Kong. Except for a brief period during World War 2, the British will maintain jurisdiction over Hong Kong until 1997. (Shhhh! The UK has been selling opium to the Chinese! Not the other way around.) [14]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1841, Wikipedia.

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