Awful Foreshadowing

Events in history sometimes seem as if they were written by a novelist, or should I say Novelist.  Such was the sad case of Philip Hamilton.  Eldest son of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Hamilton, Hamilton graduated at the age of 19 from Columbia, a brilliant student like his father.  It was at a Fourth of July celebration at Columbia that he heard George I. Eacker, a 27 year old lawyer and a political supporter of Aaron Burr, give a speech attacking his father.  Hamilton and his friend Richard Price called Eacker out in a Manhattan theater on November 21, 1801.  Eacker called them damned rascals and they responded by challenging Eacker to duels.  Eacker fought a duel the next day with Richard Price in which neither of the participants was injured, although shots were exchanged.

On November 22, 1801 in Weehawken, New Jersey, the same place where his father would receive his fatal wound from Aaron Burr, Hamilton and Eacker faced each other.  Apparently they faced each other about a minute without raising their pistols, and one wishes that reason had prevailed.  Eacker finally fired, hitting Hamilton in his right hip and left arm.  Hamilton also fired, but this may have been merely an involuntary reaction to the force of the shot that hit him.  Some sources say that Alexander Hamilton had counseled his son to fire in the air before his opponent fired, so that the matter could be settled honorably without blood shed. (more…)

Published in: on September 30, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Awful Foreshadowing  
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Lincoln and the Cat



The county seat for the county, Livingston, in which I live is Pontiac, Illinois.  Abraham Lincoln practiced law there as he rode the circuit with judges and attorneys from courthouse town to courthouse town.  Jesse W. Fell told a story about Lincoln and Pontiac.  An influential businessman, Fell was instrumental in the creation of Livingston County and named the town of Pontiac.  He was a good friend and supporter of Lincoln, and encouraged him to run against Stephen Douglas for the Senate in 1858, the turning point of Lincoln’s life. (more…)

Published in: on September 29, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Lincoln and the Cat  
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Remote Control

From 1961, a commercial for the RCA “Wireless Wizard”.  Not the first wireless remote, that title goes to the Zenith Flash-matic in 1955.  Remote controls are an interesting example of fairly rapid transition of technology from experimental into mass production.  The above commercial seems rather over the top to modern sensibilities, but the development of a mass market for electronics gave a strong peace time impetus to technological development.  My father initially denounced remote controls as toys for lazy rich people.  When we got one after prices came down and the technology was perfected, it was practically impossible to pry it from his hands!  Various revolutions during my lifetime have seized public attention, but the continuous technological revolutions of the last six decades probably will prove the most long lasting.

Published in: on September 28, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Remote Control  
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September 27, 1941: First Liberty Ship Launches


One of the more important innovations of World War II was the Liberty Ship.  Based on a British design the Liberty Ships were mass produced on an epic scale during World War II, eighteen ship yards turning out an astonishing 2710 of the cargo haulers.  The ships were made up of sections that were welded together.  They could be built in as little as five days.  President Roosevelt launched the first one, the SS Patrick Henry, on September 27, 1941.  The Henry made 12 wartime voyages and had a postwar career that ended in 1958 with it being sold for scrap.  The ships were slow and ugly, but no they played an immense part in bringing about Allied victory. (more…)

Published in: on September 27, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 27, 1941: First Liberty Ship Launches  
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J. Edgar Hoover in The FBI Story

The 1959 movie, The FBI Story, was a project near and dear to the heart of J. Edgar Hoover, founding director of the FBI, who ran it with an iron fist from 1935 until his death in 1972.  Based upon the best selling authorized history of the FBI, The FBI Story, Hoover wanted the FBI to be portrayed in heroic mode, with no controversial spots.  A squad of special agents supervised the film and everyone associated with the film, no matter how humble, had to be vetted by the FBI.   (more…)

Published in: on September 26, 2016 at 3:25 am  Comments Off on J. Edgar Hoover in The FBI Story  
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September 25, 1690: A Rocky Start For Freedom of the Press


Freedom of the Press in the colonies got off to a rough start when the first and only issue of Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first multi-page newspaper in the American colonies, was published on September 25, 1690 in Boston.  The powers that be in the Bay Colony were not amused and brought this new fangled nuisance to a sift halt:


Whereas some have lately presumed to Print and Disperse a Pamphlet, Entitled, Publick Occurrences, both Forreign and Domestick: Boston, Thursday, Septemb. 25th, 1690. Without the least Privity and Countenace of Authority. The Governour and Council having had the perusal of said Pamphlet, and finding that therein contained Reflections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports, do hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet, and Order that the same be Suppressed and called in; strickly forbidden any person or persons for the future to Set forth any thing in Print without License first obtained from those that are or shall be appointed by the Government to grant the same.

Published in: on September 25, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 25, 1690: A Rocky Start For Freedom of the Press  
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Entry of the Gladiators



Something for the weekend.  Entry of the Gladiators by Julius Fucik.  Written in 1897, Czech composer Julius Fucik wanted the march to evoke Roman gladiators entering the arena.  Ironically it has become the entrance song for clowns in circuses around the globe.

Published in: on September 24, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Entry of the Gladiators  
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Speak Like a Pirate Day

To all pirates I have but one thing to say:  amateurs.

Donald R. McClarey


(It was actually on September 19, but better late than never.)




Aye Maties, tis Speak Like a Pirate Day again!


Pirate Gettysburg Address

Ar, it be about four score and seven years ago since our fathers made ye new nation, a liberty port for all hands from end to end, and dedicated t’ t’ truth that all swabs be created equal.

Now we be fightin’ a great ruckus, testin’ whether ye nation, or any nation so minted like it, can last through the long watch. We be met on a great boardin’ fight o’ that war. We have come t’ dedicate a spot o’ that field, as a final restin’ place for those who here swallowed the anchor forever that that nation might live. It be altogether fittin’ and proper that we be doin’ this.

But, truth be told, we can not set aside, we can not pray over, we can not hallow this ground. T’ brave swabs, livin’ and went t’ Davy Jones’ locker, who fit here, have blessed it, far over our poor power t’ add or swipe back. T’ world won’t writ what we say here, but it can never forget what those swabs did here. It be for us t’ livin’, rather, t’ be dedicated here t’  finishin’ t’ work which they who fit here have begun.   It be rather for us t’ be here dedicated t’ t’ great chore remainin’ before us—that from these honored swabs we take increased love t’ what they died for—that we here Bible swear that these shipmates shall not have went t’ Davy Jones’ locker for nothin’—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth o’ freedom—and that government o’ t’ crew, by t’ crew, for t’ crew, shall not perish from t’ seven seas. (more…)

Published in: on September 22, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Speak Like a Pirate Day  

Training Film: M1 Rifle

Some 5.5 million M1 Garand were manufactured for use by US forces in World War II.  Both the troops and the generals loved it, General Patton calling it the greatest battle implement ever designed.  The gas operated semi-automatic went through a long development process in the 20’s and 30’s by its French-Canadien designer, John Garand.  One the eve of US entry into World War II, the rifle went into mass production in 1940 and by the end of 1941 the Army was completely equipped with M1s.  Troops liked its accuracy, rate of fire and overall dependability in field conditions.  The Army would use the M1 as its primary rifle until 1959.

Published in: on September 21, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Training Film: M1 Rifle  
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September 20, 1737: Walking Purchase

William Penn was normally fair in his dealings with the Indians, but he did not pass this trait on to his sons. in 1737 they produced a deed purportedly from 1686  which the Lenape tribe promised to sell a tract beginning at the junction of the Delaware River and Lehigh River (modern Easton, Pennsylvania) and extending as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half.   Whether the deed was a forgery remains a matter of controversy Unwisely the Lenapes agreed to abide by the deed, assuming that a man couldn’t walk far in one day.  The Penn’s land office agent James Logan gained their agreement by use of a map which misrepresented the Tohickon Creek for the Lehigh River, which, if accurate, would have produced a far smaller amount of land ceded by the Indians.  He also had a dotted line on the map purporting to show the short distance that could be walked.  The Indians reasonably assumed that only about 40 miles could be walked. (more…)

Published in: on September 20, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 20, 1737: Walking Purchase  
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