- Poor Richard was the adopted pseudonym that Benjamin Franklin used for his hugely popular Poor Richard’s Almanack.
- The Checkers speech or Fund speech was an address made by Richard Nixon, the Republican vice presidential candidate and junior United States Senator from California, on television and radio on September 23, 1952. Senator Nixon had been accused of improprieties relating to a fund established by his backers to reimburse him for his political expenses. With his place on the Republican ticket in doubt, he flew to Los Angeles and delivered a half-hour television address in which he defended himself, attacked his opponents, and urged the audience to contact the Republican National Committee (RNC) to tell it whether he should remain on the ticket. During the speech, he stated that regardless of what anyone said, he intended to keep one gift: a black-and-white dog named Checkers by the Nixon children, thus giving the address its popular name.
- Benjamin Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of thirteen virtues, which he developed at the age of twenty (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. These were Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity, and Humility.
- The 2009 flu pandemic or swine flu was an influenza pandemic, and the second of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus (the first of them being the 1918 flu pandemic), albeit in a new version. First described in April 2009, the virus appeared to be a new strain of H1N1, which resulted when a previous triple re-assortment of bird, swine and human flu viruses further combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus, leading to the term “swine flu.” Initially coined an “outbreak,” the stint began in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, with evidence that there had been an ongoing epidemic for months before it was officially recognized as such. The Mexican government closed most of Mexico City’s public and private facilities in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus; however, it continued to spread globally, and clinics in some areas were overwhelmed by infected people. In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. CDC stopped counting cases and declared the outbreak a pandemic.
- The floods in Pakistan began in late July 2010, resulting from heavy monsoon rains in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan regions of Pakistan, which affected the Indus River basin. Approximately one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area was underwater, approximately 307,374 sq miles (796,095 square kilometers). According to Pakistani government data, the floods directly affected about twenty million people, mostly by destruction of property, livelihood and infrastructure, with a death toll of close to two thousand.
- Julius Chambers, F.R.G.S., (November 21, 1850 - February 12, 1920) was an American author, editor, journalist, travel writer, and activist against psychiatric abuse. Chambers is considered by many to be the original muckraker. Chambers undertook a journalistic investigation of Bloomingdale Asylum in 1872 by having himself committed with the help of some of his friends and his newspaper’s city editor. His intent was to obtain information about the alleged abuse of inmates. When articles and accounts of the experience were published in the Tribune, it led to the release of twelve patients who were not mentally ill, a reorganization of the staff and administration of the institution, and eventually to a change in the lunacy laws. This later led to the publication of the book A Mad World and Its Inhabitants (1876).
- While the fleur-de-lis has appeared on countless European coats of arms and flags over the centuries, it is particularly associated with the French monarchy in an historical context, and continues to appear in the arms of the King of Spain, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and members of the House of Bourbon. It remains an enduring symbol of France that appears on French postage stamps, although it has never been adopted officially by any of the French republics. According to French historian Georges Duby, the three petals represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed.
- The term “teamster” originally referred to a person who drove a team of draft animals; in early coal mining, it was often a coal Jimmy drawn by oxen, horses, or mules.
- In the Dark Ages, coin mail was often referred to as “ring maille” to distinguish it from other types of mail, such as lamellar and splinted mail. In the Middle Ages scale armor died out, but mail remained under the French term “maille” or “mayle,” meaning “mesh or net,” which derived from Latin macula, or “mesh in a net.”
- The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. It is widely thought to have been an outbreak of plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30 percent to sixty percent of Europe’s population, reducing the world’s population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400. This has been seen as having created a series of religious, social and economic upheavals which had profound effects on the course of European history. It required 150\years for Europe’s population to recover. The plague returned at various times, killing more people, until it finally left Europe in the nineteenth century.
- The stone is a unit of measure which, at the time it ceased to be legal for trade in United Kingdom in 1985, was defined in British legislation as being a weight or mass equal to fourteen avoirdupois pounds (about 6.35\kilograms).
- The King’s Manor is a Grade I listed building in York, England, and is part of the University of York. King’s Manor was originally built to house the abbots of St Mary’s Abbey, York. The Abbot’s house probably occupied the site since the eleventh century, but the earliest remains date from the fifteenth century. When the abbey was dissolved in 1539, Henry VIII instructed that it be the seat of the Council of the North. It performed this role until the Council was abolished in 1641.
- The Council of the North was an administrative body set up in 1472 by king Edward IV of England, the first Yorkist monarch to hold the Crown of England. Its purpose was to improve government control and economic prosperity, to benefit the entire area of Northern England. Edward’s brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) was its first Lord President. Throughout its history, the council was always located within Yorkshire, first at Sheriff Hutton Castle and then Sandal Castle, before being re-located to King’s Manor, York.
- Tower houses began to appear in the Middle Ages, especially in mountain or limited access areas, in order to command and defend strategic points with reduced forces. At the same time, they were also used as a Noble’s residence, around which a castleton was often constructed. After their initial appearance in Ireland, Scotland, Basque Country and England during the High Middle Ages, tower houses were also built in other parts of western Europe as early as the late fourteenth century, especially in parts of France and Italy. In Italian medieval communes, tower houses were increasingly built by the local barons as powerhouses during the inner strifes.
- Christopher Eric Hitchens (April 13, 1949 – December 15, 2011) was an English author, polemicist, debater, and journalist. He contributed to New Statesman, The Nation, The Atlantic, London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement and Vanity Fair. Hitchens was the author, co-author, editor and co-editor of over thirty books, including five collections of essays, on a range of subjects, including politics, literature and religion. A staple of talk shows and lecture circuits, his confrontational style of debate made him both a lauded and controversial figure. Known for his contrarian stance on a number of issues, Hitchens excoriated such public figures as Mother Teresa; Bill Clinton; Henry Kissinger; Diana, Princess of Wales; and Pope Benedict XVI. A noted critic of religion and an antitheist, he said that a person “could be an atheist and wish that belief in God were correct,” but that “an antitheist, a term I’m trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that there’s no evidence for such an assertion.” According to Hitchens, the concept of a god or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization. His anti-religion polemic, New York Times Bestseller, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, sold over 500,000 copies. Hitchens died on December 15, 2011 from complications arising from esophageal cancer, a disease that he acknowledged was more than likely due to his lifelong predilection for heavy smoking and drinking.
- A Stolnic was a boier (Romanian nobility) rank and the position at the court in the history of Romania: in Moldavia and Wallachia. The title approximately corresponds to seneschal and is borrowed from the Slavic title stolnik (from the word stol, “table”) a person in charge of the royal table. The title mare stolnic means “great stolnic,” or “Chief Seneschal.”
- A pit pony was a type of pony commonly used underground in coal mines from the mid-eighteenth until the mid-twentieth century. Ponies began to be used underground, often replacing child or female labour, as distances from pit head to coal face became greater. The first known recorded use in Britain was in the Durham coalfield in 1750. The use of ponies was never common in the United States, though ponies were used in Appalachian coal fields in the mid-twentieth century. The last pony mine in the United States closed in 1971.
- The Ministry for State Security, commonly known as the Stasi, was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered in East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several smaller facilities throughout the city. It was widely regarded as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies in the world.
- Gargoyle is an ancient term for one suffering Mucopolysaccharidosis, a syndrome causing disfigurement and mental retardation—perhaps becoming stereotyped as an innocent of the sanctuary. The term originates from the French gargouille, originally “throat” or “gullet”; cf. Latin gurgulio, gula, gargula (“gullet” or “throat”) and similar words derived from the root gar, “to swallow,” which represented the gurgling sound of water (e.g., Spanish garganta, “throat”; Spanish gárgola, “gargoyle”). It is also connected to the French verb gargariser, which means “to gargle.” The Italian word for gargoyle is doccione o gronda sporgente, an architecturally precise phrase which means “protruding gutter.” The German word for gargoyle is Wasserspeier, which means “water spewer.” The Dutch word for gargoyle is waterspuwer, which means “water spitter” or “water vomiter.” A building that has gargoyles on it is “gargoyled.”
- Dance of Death, also variously called Danse Macabre (French), Dansa de la Mort (Catalan), Danza Macabra (Italian and Spanish), Dança da Morte (Portuguese), Totentanz (German), Dodendans (Dutch), is a late-medieval allegory on the universality of death: no matter one’s station in life, the Dance of Death unites all. The Danse Macabre consists of the dead or personified Death summoning representatives from all walks of life to dance along to the grave, typically with a pope, emperor, king, child, and laborer. They were produced to remind people of the fragility of their lives and how vain were the glories of Earthly life. Its origins are postulated from illustrated sermon texts; the earliest recorded visual scheme was a now lost mural in the cemetery of the Holy Innocents in Paris dating from 1424-25.
The deathly horrors of the fourteenth century—such as recurring famines; the Hundred Years’ War in France; and, most of all, the Black Death—were culturally assimilated throughout Europe. The omnipresent possibility of sudden and painful death increased the religious desire for penitence, but it also evoked a hysterical desire for amusement while still possible; a last dance as cold comfort. The Danse Macabre combines both desires: in many ways similar to the medieval mystery plays, the dance-with-death allegory was originally a didactic dialogue poem to remind people of the inevitability of death and to advise them strongly to be prepared at all times for death.
- Mystery plays are among the earliest formally developed plays in medieval Europe. Medieval mystery plays focused on the representation of Bible stories in churches as tableaux with accompanying antiphonal song. They developed from the tenth to the sixteenth century, reaching the height of their popularity in the fifteenth century before being rendered obsolete by the rise of professional theater.
- In medieval Europe, blue dyes were rare and expensive, so only the most wealthy or the aristocracy could afford to wear them. (The working class wore mainly green and brown.) Because of this (and also because Tyrian purple had gone out of use in western Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476), Europeans’ idea of purple shifted towards this more bluish purple known as royal purple because of its similarity to the royal blue worn by the aristocracy. This was the shade of purple worn by kings in medieval Europe.
- The Killing Fields are a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the communist Khmer Rouge regime during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Cambodian Civil War (1970–1975). Analysis of 20,000 mass grave sites by the DC-Cam Mapping Program and Yale University indicate at least 1,386,734 victims of execution. Estimates of the total number of deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including disease and starvation, range from 1.7 to 2.5 million, out of a 1975 population of roughly eight million. In 1979, communist Vietnam invaded Democratic Kampuchea and toppled the Khmer Rouge regime. Cambodian journalist Dith Pran coined the term “killing fields” after his escape from the regime.
The best known monument of the Killing Fields is at the village of Choeung Ek. Today, it is the site of a Buddhist memorial to the victims, and Tuol Sleng has a museum commemorating the genocide. The memorial park at Choeung Ek has been built around the mass graves of many thousands of victims, most of whom were executed after they had been transported from the S-21 Prison in Phnom Penh.
- Hurricane Hazel was the deadliest and costliest hurricane of the 1954 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm killed as many as one thousand people in Haiti before striking the United States near the border between North and South Carolina, as a category four hurricane. After causing ninety-five fatalities in the US, Hazel struck Canada as an extratropical storm, raising the death toll by eighty-one people, mostly in Toronto. As a result of the high death toll and the damage caused by Hazel, its name was retired from use for North Atlantic hurricanes.
- The Molly Maguires was a nineteenth century secret society of mainly Irish and Irish-American coal miners. The Molly Maguires originated in Ireland, where secret societies with names such as Whiteboys and Peep o’Day Boys were common beginning in the eighteenth century and through most of the nineteenth century. In Making Sense of the Molly Maguires, historian Kevin Kenny traces “some institutional continuity” from the Molly Maguires, back to the Ribbonmen, and previously, to the Defenders.
Many historians believe the “Mollies” were present in the anthracite coal fields of Pennsylvania in the United States between the time of the American Civil War until a series of sensational arrests and trials from 1876−78. Members of the “Mollies” were accused of murder, arson, kidnapping and other crimes, in part based on allegations by Franklin B. Gowen and the testimony of a Pinkerton detective, James McParland (also known as James McParlan), a native of County Armagh, Ireland). Fellow prisoners testified against the defendants, who were arrested by the Coal and Iron Police, who served Gowen, who acted as a prosecutor in some of the trials.
- David Thomas was born in Cadoxton, near Neath. He went to school at nearby Alltwen and at Neath, and worked on his father’s farm before going into the iron industry. As an adult, he was widely regarded as one of the foremost ironmasters in the United Kingdom. It was while employed at the Yniscedwyn Works, in Ystradgynlais in the Swansea Valley, that he devised the process which would advance the Industrial Revolution. On February 5, 1837, Thomas used a hot blast to smelt iron ore and anthracite coal. The result was an easy method to produce anthracite iron, which revolutionized industry in the Swansea Valley. In 1839 he relocated to Pennsylvania, where the owners of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company in Lehigh County wanted Thomas to build a furnace for the production of anthracite iron. The Lehigh Valley region, being rich in both anthracite coal and iron ore, was the perfect setting for Thomas’s creation.
- The Hòa Lò Prison was a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War when it was sarcastically known to American prisoners of war as the “Hanoi Hilton.” The prison was demolished during the 1990s, though the gatehouse remains as a museum.
- Mildred Elizabeth Gillars (November 29, 1900 – June 25, 1988), nicknamed “Axis Sally” along with Rita Zucca, was an American broadcaster employed by the Third Reich in Nazi Germany to spread propaganda during World War II. She was convicted of treason by the United States in 1949 following her capture in post-war Berlin.
- A plague doctor was a special medical physician who saw those who had the plague. They were specifically hired by towns that had many plague victims in times of plague epidemics. Since the city was paying their salary, they treated everyone: both the rich and the poor. They were not normally professionally trained experienced physicians or surgeons, and often were second-rate doctors not able to otherwise run a successful medical business, or young physicians trying to establish themselves. Plague doctors by their covenant treated plague patients and were known as municipal or “community plague doctors,” whereas “general practitioners” were separate doctors. Both might be in the same European city or town at the same time. In France and the Netherlands plague doctors often lacked medical training and were referred to as “empirics.” In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some doctors wore a beak-like mask which was filled with aromatic items. The masks were designed to protect them from putrid air, which (according to the miasmatic theory of disease) was seen as the cause of infection. Being a plague doctor was unpleasant, dangerous, and difficult. Their chances of survival in times of a plague epidemic were low.
- The benchmark citrus fruit for marmalade production in Britain is the Spanish Seville orange, prized for its high pectin content, which gives a good set. The peel has a distinctive bitter taste which it imparts to the marmalade.
Seville is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville, Spain. Seville was founded as the Roman city of Hispalis, and was known as Ishbiliya after the Muslim conquest in 712. During the Muslim rule in Spain, Seville came under the jurisdiction of the Caliphate of Córdoba before becoming the independent Taifa of Seville; later it was ruled by the Muslim Almoravids and the Almohads until finally being incorporated into the Christian Kingdom of Castile under Ferdinand III in 1248. After the discovery of the Americas, Seville became one of the economic centers of the Spanish Empire as its port monopolized the trans-oceanic trade and the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) wielded its power, opening a Golden Age of arts and literature. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan departed from Seville for the first circumnavigation of the Earth. Coinciding with the Baroque period of European history, the 17th century in Seville represented the most brilliant flowering of the city’s culture; then began a gradual economic and demographic decline as silting in the Guadalquivir forced the trade monopoly to relocate to the nearby port of Cádiz.
- The Coal Strike of 1902, also known as the Anthracite Coal Strike, was a strike by the United Mine Workers of America in the anthracite coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania. Miners were on strike asking for higher wages, shorter workdays and the recognition of their union. The strike threatened to shut down the winter fuel supply to all major cities (homes and apartments were heated with anthracite or “hard” coal because it had higher heat value and less smoke than “soft” or bituminous coal). President Theodore Roosevelt became involved and set up a fact-finding commission that suspended the strike.
On October 3, Roosevelt gathered and met with presidents of the union and the mine-owning railroads to try to negotiate an end to the strike. He conducted these meetings seated in a wheelchair, because one month earlier, on road trip through New England, he had been traveling in a carriage that collided with a trolley car. The crash threw Roosevelt from the carriage and killed Secret Service agent William Craig, the first Secret Service agent to lose his life while protecting the president.
The strike never resumed, as the miners received more pay for fewer hours; the owners got a higher price for coal, and did not recognize the trade union as a bargaining agent. It was the first labor episode in which the federal government intervened as a neutral arbitrator.
- The Teddy bear is named for Theodore “T.R.” Roosevelt, Jr., despite his contempt for being called “Teddy.” After return to civilian life, Roosevelt preferred to be known as “Colonel Roosevelt” or “The Colonel.” As a moniker, “Teddy” remained much more popular with the public, despite the fact he found it vulgar and called it “an outrageous impertinence.”
- According to Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 3, p. 81, “Tradition has come to attribute to the Clinton [Illinois] speeches [September 2, 1858] one of Lincoln’s most famous utterances ‘You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’” But he goes on to say that the epigram and any references to it have not been located in surviving Lincoln documents. This remark has also been attributed to P. T. Barnum.
- Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau (akin to a mesa) on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, the Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the first Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Jewish rebels and their families hiding there.
- Pilėnai was a fortress in medieval Lithuania. It is well known in the Lithuanian history due to the heroic defense of the castle. The defense, led by the Duke Margiris, took place on February 25, 1336, when the castle was besieged by the army of the Teutonic Knights. When the inhabitants of Pilėnai and the surrounding area realized that it was impossible to defend themselves any longer against the much larger enemy force, they made the decision to commit mass suicide, as well as to set the castle on fire in order to destroy all of their possessions, and anything of value to the enemy.
- During the Souliote War in December 1803, the Souliotes began evacuating Souli after their defeat by the forces of the local Ottoman-Albanian ruler, Ali Pasha. During the evacuation, a small group of Souliot women and their children were trapped by Ali’s troops in the mountains of Zalongo in Epirus. In order to avoid capture and enslavement, the women threw their children first and then themselves off a steep cliff, committing suicide. According to the legend, they jumped down the precipice one after the other while singing and dancing.
- On May 1, 1945, hundreds of people committed mass suicide in the town of Demmin, in the Province of Pomerania (now in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Germany. The suicides occurred during a mass panic that was provoked by atrocities committed by soldiers of the Soviet Red Army, who had sacked the town the day before. Although death toll estimates vary, it is acknowledged to be the largest mass suicide ever recorded in Germany.
- The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world’s worst industrial disaster. It occurred on the night of December, 2 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way in and around the shanty towns located near the plant. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate that 8,000 died within two weeks, and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.
- The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate, established in the thirteenth century, which comprised the northwestern sector of the Mongol Empire. The name Golden Horde is said to have been inspired by the golden color of the tents the Mongols lived in during wartime, or an actual golden tent used by Batu Khan or by Uzbek Khan, or to have been bestowed by the Slavic tributaries to describe the great wealth of the khan. But the Mongolic word for the color yellow (Sar岩/Saru) also meant “center” or “central” in Old Turkic and Mongolic languages, and “horde” probably comes from the Mongolic word ordu, meaning palace, camp or headquarters, so “Golden Horde” may simply have come from a Mongolic term for “central camp.”
It is believed that the devastating pandemic the Black Death entered Europe for the first time via Caffa in 1347, through the movements of the Golden Horde. After a protracted siege during which the Mongol army under Janibeg was reportedly withering from the disease, they catapulted the infected corpses over the city walls, infecting the inhabitants, in one of the first cases of biological warfare. Fleeing inhabitants may have carried the disease back to Italy, causing its spread across Europe.
- The Black Death of 1348-9 had a devastating impact on numbers, and by the late fourteenth century there were only fourteen monks, three lay-brothers, and an abbot left at Rievaulx Abbey.
- Ahead of and shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, a number of officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, suggested the war could be conducted on the cheap, and that it would largely pay for itself. In October 2003, Rumsfeld told a press conference about President Bush’s request for $21 billion for Iraq and Afghan reconstruction that “the $20 billion the president requested is not intended to cover all of Iraq’s needs. The bulk of the funds for Iraq’s reconstruction will come from Iraqis -- from oil revenues, recovered assets, international trade, direct foreign investment, as well as some contributions we’ve already received and hope to receive from the international community.” In March 2003, Mr. Wolfowitz told Congress that “we’re really dealing with a country that could finance its own reconstruction.” In April 2003, the Pentagon said the war would cost about $2 billion a month, and in July of that year Rumsfeld increased that estimate to $4 billion. What happened? The Iraq war cost about $800 billion, or about $7.6 billion a month. When long term benefits are paid out connected with the death and injury of US troops there, the number is expected to rise to about $1 trillion, or about $9.5 billion a month. About $60 billion was spent directly on Iraq reconstruction efforts.
- From “Iraq War: Predictions Made, and Results,” The Christian Science Monitor, December 22, 2011
- In 1343 another well-born Prioress is in trouble at the house and the Archbishop issues a commission “to inquire into the truth of the articles urged against Katherine Mowbray and if her demerits required it to depose her, and the commission was repeated two years later, nothing apparently having been done.
- Eileen Power, Medieval English Nunneries, C.1275 to 1535, “Additional Notes to the Text,” p. 598.
- The first books used parchment or vellum (calfskin) for the pages. The book covers were made of wood and covered with leather. Because dried parchment tends to assume the form it had before processing, the books were fitted with clasps or straps. During the later Middle Ages, when public libraries appeared, up to the eighteenth century, books were often chained to a bookshelf or a desk to prevent theft. These chained books are called libri catenati.
- Martin Franz Julius Luther was an early member of the Nazi Party. He is perhaps most remembered for having participated in the infamous Wannsee Conference, in which the Final Solution was planned. It was the 1947 discovery of Luther’s copy of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference that first made the Allied powers aware that the conference had taken place, and more importantly, what its purpose was. He served as an advisor to Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, first in the Dienststelle Ribbentrop (“Ribbentrop Bureau”), and later in the Auswärtiges Amt (“Foreign Office”) as a diplomat when von Ribbentrop replaced Konstantin von Neurath. After January 1942, Luther’s principal task was to persuade or pressure German satellites and allies to hand over their Jewish populations for deportation to the death camps, a job which he performed with considerable aplomb. In 1943, with the aid of Franz Rademacher, he tried to supplant von Ribbentrop as Foreign Minister, but was thwarted and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1944. He was freed by Soviet troops in May 1945, but died shortly after of a heart attack.
- The Cumberland Valley Railroad pioneered sleeping car service in the spring of 1839 with a car named Chambersburg, which ran between Chambersburg and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A couple of years later a second car, the Carlisle, was introduced into service. The man who ultimately made the sleeping car business profitable in the United States was George Pullman, who began by building a luxurious sleeping car (named Pioneer) in 1865. The Pullman Company, founded as the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1867, owned and operated most sleeping cars in the United States until the mid-twentieth century, attaching them to passenger trains run by the various railroads.
- Henry Zecher describes the story of the naming of the grandfather clock (2005): “I will note that this may well be a fable that’s popularity has made it become folklore turned ‘fact.’ Even this lore is related to the history of grandfather clocks, and an important part of the grandfather clock’s history. He tells us that grandfather clocks were originally known as ‘longcase clocks.’ In 1875, Henry Clay Work wrote the song ‘My Grandfather’s Clock.’ This renaming caught on and today we refer to these clocks as grandfather clocks. Originally these floor clocks did not keep accurate time. The particular clock in the song was found in North Yorkshire, England, at the George Hotel, where it still stands today. It was known to be exceptional. It kept accurate time. As the story goes, the hotel owners were a pair of bachelors, the Jenkins brothers. One of the brothers died and the clock curiously began losing time. Attempts to repair the clock failed, and the story culminates when at the remaining brother’s death, the clock ceased running altogether. Work was an abolitionist who helped thousands of slaves flee to freedom in the north. He was sentenced and imprisoned in 1841 and released in 1845, penniless. He began writing songs. Work was a guest at The George Hotel in 1875, hence the song ‘My Grandfather’s Clock.’”
- The assassination of Julius Caesar was the result of a conspiracy by many Roman senators who called themselves Liberators. Led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus, they stabbed Julius Caesar to death in a location adjacent to the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March (March\15), 44 BC. Caesar was the dictator of the Roman Republic at the time, having recently been declared dictator perpetuo by the Senate. This declaration made several senators fear that Caesar wanted to overthrow the Senate in favor of tyranny, yet the conspirators never restored the Roman Republic. The ramifications of the assassination led to the Liberators’ civil war and, ultimately, to the Principate period of the Roman Empire.
- Ilse Koch (September 22, 1906 – 1 September 1, 1967) was the wife of Karl-Otto Koch, commandant of the Nazi concentration camps Buchenwald (1937–1941) and Majdanek (1941–1943). She was one of the first prominent Nazis to be tried by the U.S. military. After the trial received worldwide media attention, survivor accounts of her actions resulted in other authors describing her abuse of prisoners as sadistic, and the image of her as “the concentration camp murderess” was current in post-war German society. She was known as “The Witch of Buchenwald” by the inmates because of her alleged cruelty and lasciviousness toward prisoners. She is also called in English “The Beast of Buchenwald,” “Queen of Buchenwald,” “Red Witch of Buchenwald,” “Butcher Widow,” and, more commonly, “The Bitch of Buchenwald.”
- Supplicants to the Oracle at Delphi were interviewed in preparation of their presentation to the Oracle by the priests in attendance. The genuine cases were sorted and the supplicant had to go through rituals involving the framing of their questions, the presentation of gifts to the Oracle and a procession along the Sacred Way carrying laurel leaves to visit the temple, symbolic of the journey they had made.
- The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power, and the development of machine tools. It also included the change from wood and other bio-fuels to coal.
- The Gilded Age in United States history is the late nineteenth century, from the 1870s to about 1900. The term was coined by writer Mark Twain in The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873), which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding. The unequal distribution of wealth remained high during this period. From 1860 to 1900, the wealthiest two percent of American households owned more than a third of the nation’s wealth, while the top ten percent owned roughly three fourths of it. Historian Howard Zinn argues that this disparity along with precarious working and living conditions for the working classes prompted the rise of populist, anarchist and socialist movements. French economist Thomas Piketty notes that economists during this time, such as Willford I. King, were concerned that the United States was becoming increasingly inegalitarian to the point of becoming like old Europe, and “further and further away from its original pioneering ideal.”
- In the nineteenth\century, Manifest Destiny was the widely held belief in the United States that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent. Historians have for the most part agreed that there are three basic themes to Manifest Destiny: (1) The special virtues of the American people and their institutions; (2) America’s mission to redeem and remake the west in the image of agrarian America; (3) An irresistible destiny to accomplish this essential duty. Historian Frederick Merk says this concept was born out of “A sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example...generated by the potentialities of a new Earth for building a new heaven.” Historians have emphasized that “Manifest Destiny” was a contested concept—Democrats endorsed the idea but many prominent Americans (such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and most Whigs) rejected it. Historian Daniel Walker Howe writes, “American imperialism did not represent an American consensus; it provoked bitter dissent within the national polity...Whigs saw America’s moral mission as one of democratic example rather than one of conquest.”
- Wilkes-Barre’s population exploded due to the discovery of anthracite coal in the nineteenth century, which gave the city the nickname of “The Diamond City.” Hundreds of thousands of immigrants flocked to the city, seeking jobs in the numerous mines and collieries that sprung up. The Vulcan Iron Works was a well-known manufacturer of railway locomotives from 1849 to 1954. The demolished Old Fell House on Northampton Street is believed to be the first place in the entire world that anthracite was burned for heat.
- George Emil Banks (born June 22, 1942) is an American spree killer, sentenced to death by electrocution, but later declared by the court to be too psychotic to execute. Banks, a former Camp Hill prison guard, shot thirteen people to death on September 25, 1982 in Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township, Pennsylvania, including five of his own children. Banks said he killed his children because he felt they would be tormented by the cruelty of racial views against mixed race children. Since his conviction, Banks has tried to kill himself four times and has gone on hunger strikes that required him to be force fed. A psychiatric report filed in the case says Banks believes he is in a spiritual fight with an Antichrist in New York, that Pennsylvania was controlled by the Islamic religion and he has engaged in a “private war with President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.”
- Sherman’s March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the military Savannah Campaign in the American Civil War, conducted through Georgia from November 15 to December 21, 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army. The campaign began with Sherman’s troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, on November 15 and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah on December 21. His forces destroyed military targets as well as industry, infrastructure, and civilian property and disrupted the South’s economy and its transportation networks. Sherman’s bold move of operating deep within enemy territory and without supply lines is considered to be revolutionary in the annals of war.
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