Saturday, March 31, 2012

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams (née Smith; November 22 [O.S. November 11] 1744 – October 28, 1818) was the wife of John Adams, who was the second President of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth. She was the first Second Lady of the United States, and the second First Lady of the United States.
Adams is remembered for the many letters she wrote to her husband while he stayed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Continental Congresses. John frequently sought the advice of Abigail on many matters, and their letters are filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics. The letters serve as eyewitness accounts of the American Revolutionary War home front.

“Drew out manure this forenoon (5 loads) I have out about 40 loads now.  This afternoon I went to the Preparatory Lecture.   Pleasant day but quite windy.”
Leesah

Friday, March 30, 2012

Anna Sewell

Anna Sewell, ca. 1878
Anna Mary Sewell was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England into a devoutly Quaker family. Her father was Isaac Phillip Sewell (1793–1879), and her mother, Mary Wright Sewell (1798–1884) was a successful author of children's books. She had one sibling, a younger brother named Philip and was largely educated at home.
At the age of twelve, the family moved to Stoke Newington, where Sewell attended school for the first time. Two years later, however, she slipped while walking home from school and severely injured both of her ankles. Her father took a job in Brighton in 1836, in the hope that the climate there would help to cure her. Despite this, and most likely because of mistreatment of her injury, for the rest of her life Anna was unable to stand without a crutch or to walk for any length of time. For greater mobility, she frequently used horse-drawn carriages, which contributed to her love of horses and concern for the humane treatment of animals.
At about this time, both Anna and her mother left the Society of Friends to join the Church of England, though both remained active in evangelical circles. Her mother expressed her religious faith most noticeably by authoring a series of evangelical children's books, which Anna helped to edit, though all the Sewells, and Mary Sewell's family, the Wrights, engaged in many other good works.
While seeking to improve her health in Europe, Sewell encountered various writers, artists, and philosophers, to which her previous background had not exposed her.
Sewell's only published work was Black Beauty, written during 1871 to 1877, after she had moved to Old Catton, a village outside the city of Norwich in Norfolk. During this time her health was declining. She was often so weak that she was confined to her bed and writing was a challenge. She dictated the text to her mother and from 1876 began to write on slips of paper which her mother then transcribed.
Sewell sold the novel to local publisher Jarrolds on 24 November 1877, when she was 57 years of age. Although it is now considered a children's classic, she originally wrote it for those who worked with horses. She said "a special aim [was] to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses".
Sewell died of hepatitis or phthisis on 25 April 1878, five months after her book was published, living long enough to see the book's initial success. She was buried on 30 April 1878 in the Quaker burial-ground at Lammas near Buxton, Norfolk, not far from Norwich, where a wall plaque now marks her resting place.

“I went up town and got a load of coal ashes this morning to put in front of the barn.  I drew out manure this afternoon (five loads)  the ground is getting thawed out some, not as good drawing as it was for part of the week.”
Leesah

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Fall of Saigon

Evacuation of CIA station personnel by Air America on April 29, 1975. Photo: Hubert van Es / UPI

The Fall of Saigon or Liberation of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975. The event marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period leading to the formal reunification of Vietnam into a communist state.
North Vietnamese forces under the command of the Senior General Văn Tiến Dũng began their final attack on Saigon, which was commanded by General Nguyen Van Toan on April 29, with a heavy artillery bombardment. This bombardment at the Tân Sơn Nhứt Airport killed the last two American servicemen that died in Vietnam, Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge.  By the afternoon of the next day, North Vietnamese troops had occupied the important points within the city and raised their flag over the South Vietnamese presidential palace. South Vietnam capitulated shortly after. The city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after communist leader Ho Chi Minh. The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians associated with the southern regime. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, which was the largest helicopter evacuation in history. In addition to the flight of refugees, the end of the war and institution of new rules by the communists contributed to a decline in the population of the city

“I went up town this morning with the milk.  This afternoon, Lettie and I accepted an invitation up to Mr Beadles to spend the afternoon.  Pleasant but cold day.”
Leesah

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (May 23, 1883 – December 12, 1939) was an American actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He was best known for his swashbuckling roles in silent films such as The Thief of Bagdad, Robin Hood, and The Mark of Zorro.
An astute businessman, Fairbanks was a founding member of United Artists. Fairbanks was also a founding member of The Motion Picture Academy and hosted the first Oscars Ceremony in 1929. With his marriage to Mary Pickford in 1920, the couple became Hollywood royalty and Fairbanks was referred to as "The King of Hollywood", a nickname later passed on to actor Clark Gable. His career rapidly declined with the advent of the "talkies".
Fairbanks and Pickford separated in 1933, after he began an affair with Sylvia, Lady Ashley. They divorced in 1936, with Pickford keeping the Pickfair estate. Within months Fairbanks and Ashley were married in Paris.
He continued to be marginally involved in the film industry and United Artists, but his later years lacked the intense focus of his film years. His health continued to decline, and in his final years he lived at 705 Ocean Front (now Pacific Coast Highway) in Santa Monica, California, although much of his time was spent traveling abroad with Sylvia.
In December 1939, at 56, Fairbanks had a heart attack in his sleep and died a day later at his home in Santa Monica. By some accounts, he had been obsessively working out against medical advice, trying to regain his once-trim waistline. Fairbanks's famous last words were, "I've never felt better." His funeral service was held at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather Church in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery where he was placed in a crypt in the Great Mausoleum. He was deeply mourned and honored by his colleagues and fans for his contributions to the film industry and Hollywood.
Two years following his death, he was removed from Forest Lawn by his widow, who commissioned an elaborate marble monument for him featuring a long rectangular reflecting pool, raised tomb, and classic Greek architecture in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The monument was dedicated in a ceremony held in October 1941, with Fairbanks' close friend Charles Chaplin reading a remembrance. The remains of his son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., were also interred here upon his death in 2000.

D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin (seated) and Douglas Fairbanks at the signing of the contract establishing United Artists motion picture studio in 1919. Lawyers Albert Banzhaf (left) and Dennis F. O'Brien (right) stand in the background

“Went up Town this morning  This afternoon I went over to Isaac Johnsons and got the heifer.  Quite a cold disagreeable day.”
Leesah

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sakichi Toyoda

A statue of Toyoda
The descendants of Sakichi Toyoda who established Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, have long dominated the upper management of Toyota Motors, which was incorporated in 1937.
Kiichiro Toyoda, who would become the president of Toyota between 1941 and 1950; His son, Shoichiro Toyoda, was born in Nagoya on February 17, 1925.
In due course, Shoichiro Toyoda became president of the company between 1982 and 1992. His 54-year-old son, Akio Toyoda, was the chief contender for the office of president when Katsuaki Watanabe relinquished that post to become Chairman, and the expectation was confirmed in 2009.
Kiichiro Toyoda made the decision for Toyoda Loom Works to branch into automobiles, considered a risky business at the time. Shortly before Sakichi Toyoda died, he encouraged his son to follow his dream and pursue automobile manufacturing — Kiichiro created what eventually became Toyota Motor Corporation.
He resigned from the company in 1950 due to flagging sales and profitability, passing away two years later. In 1957, his cousin and confidant Eiji Toyoda, became head of Toyota Motor Corporation, overseeing its successful expansion worldwide and the launch of Japan's most prominent luxury vehicle brand, Lexus.

“Drew out ten loads of manure today.  The ground is froze hard on top and it is a good time to draw manure.”
Leesah

Monday, March 26, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald, photographed by Carl van Vechten in 1937
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.  Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, Tender is the Night and his most famous, The Great Gatsby. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also wrote many short stories that treat themes of youth and promise along with despair and age.
Novels such as The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night were made into films, and in 1958 his life from 1937–1940 was dramatized in Beloved Infidel

“I helped Lettie a little about washing and sawed wood rest of the forenoon.  Went to the sale at Isaac Johnsons this afternoon.  Last Tuesday we sold the Dougherty Cow to Joseph C Williams for $40.00 and I bought a three year old heifer today for the same price.  A little squirrelly and cold today.”
Leesah

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Scottsboro Boys

The Scottsboro Boys, with attorney Samuel Leibowitz, under guard by the state militia, 1932

The Scottsboro Boys were nine black teenage boys accused of rape in Alabama in 1931. The landmark set of legal cases from this incident dealt with racism and the right to a fair trial. The case includes a frameup, all-white jury, rushed trials, an attempted lynching, angry mob, and miscarriage of justice.
On March 25, 1931, several people were hoboing on a freight train traveling between Chattanooga and Memphis, Tennessee. Several white boys jumped off the train and reported to the sheriff they had been attacked by a group of black boys. The sheriff deputized a posse, stopped and searched the train at Paint Rock, Alabama, arrested the black boys, and found two white girls who accused the boys of rape. The case was first heard in Scottsboro, Alabama in three rushed trials, where the defendants received poor legal representation. All but the twelve-year-old Roy Wright were convicted of rape and sentenced to death, the common sentence in Alabama at the time for black men convicted of raping white women. But with help from the American Communist Party, the case was appealed. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed seven of the eight convictions, and granted thirteen-year-old Eugene Williams a new trial because he was a juvenile. Chief Justice John C. Anderson dissented however, ruling that the defendants had been denied an impartial jury, fair trial, fair sentencing, and effective counsel.
The case was returned to the lower court and the judge allowed a change of venue, moving the retrials to Decatur, Alabama. Judge Horton was appointed. During the retrials, one of the alleged victims admitted fabricating the rape story and asserted that none of the Scottsboro Boys touched either of the white women. The jury found the defendants guilty, but the judge set aside the verdict and granted a new trial. After a new series of trials, the verdict was the same: guilty. The cases were ultimately tried three times. For the third time a jury—now with one black member—returned a third guilty verdict. Charges were finally dropped for four of the nine defendants. Sentences for the rest ranged from 75 years to death. All but two served prison sentences. One was shot in prison by a guard. Two escaped, were charged with crimes, and were sent back to prison. Clarence Norris, the oldest defendant and the only one sentenced to death, escaped parole and went into hiding in 1946. He was pardoned by George Wallace in 1976 after he was found, and wrote a book about his experiences. The last surviving defendant died in 1989.
The Scottsboro Boys, as they became known, at the time were defended by many in the North and attacked by many in the South. The case is now widely considered a miscarriage of justice that led to the end of all-white juries in the South. The case has inspired and has been examined in literature, music, theatre, film and television.

Leesah

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Holy Crown of Hungary

The Holy Crown of Hungary also known as the Crown of Saint Stephen, was the coronation crown used by the Kingdom of Hungary for most of its existence. The Crown was bound to the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen, (sometimes the Sacra Corona meant the Land, the Carpathian Basin, but it also meant the coronation body, too). No king of Hungary was regarded as having been truly legitimate without being crowned with it. In the history of Hungary, more than fifty kings were crowned with it (the two kings who were not so crowned were John II Sigismund and Joseph II).
The Hungarian coronation insignia consists of the Holy Crown, the sceptre, the orb, and the mantle. Since the twelfth century kings have been crowned with the still extant crown. The orb has the coat-of-arms of Charles I of Hungary (1310–1342); the other insignia can be linked to Saint Stephen.
It was first called the Holy Crown in 1256. During the 14th century royal power came to be represented not simply by a crown, but by just one specific object: the Holy Crown. This also meant that the Kingdom of Hungary was a special state: they were not looking for a crown to inaugurate a king, but rather, they were looking for a king for the crown; as written by Crown Guard Péter Révay. He also depicts that "the Holy Crown is the same for the Hungarians as the Lost Ark is for the Jewish".
Since 2000, the Holy Crown has been on display in the central Domed Hall of the Hungarian Parliament Building.


“I cut wood at the door this forenoon.  After dinner I drove over to Isaac Johnsons to look at his cows. He is to have a sale Monday.  Pleasant most of the day.  A little rainy tonight.”
Leesah

Friday, March 23, 2012

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor, (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) was a British-American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. As one of the world's most famous film stars, Taylor was recognized for her acting ability and for her glamorous lifestyle, beauty and distinctive violet eyes.
National Velvet (1944) was Taylor's first success, and she starred in Father of the Bride (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Butterfield 8 (1960), played the title role in Cleopatra (1963), and married her co-star Richard Burton. They appeared together in 11 films, including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), for which Taylor won a second Academy Award. From the mid-1970s, she appeared less frequently in film, and made occasional appearances in television and theatre.
Her much publicized personal life included eight marriages and several life-threatening illnesses. From the mid-1980s, Taylor championed HIV and AIDS programs; she co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985, and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1993. She received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Legion of Honour, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, who named her seventh on their list of the "Greatest American Screen Legends". Taylor died of congestive heart failure in March 2011 at the age of 79, having suffered many years of ill health.

As a child actress, circa 1942

“I took a log up to Miurt’s Mill this morning to be sawed into a timber.  After dinner, I got Will Holmes to help me and we went down and sawed up the bodies of the tree tops.  Pleasant but considerable colder today.”
Leesah

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stephen Decatur


Stephen Decatur, Jr., (January 5, 1779 – March 22, 1820) was an American naval officer notable for his many naval victories in the early 19th century. He was born on the eastern shore of Maryland, Worcester county, the son of a U.S. Naval Officer who served during the American Revolution. Shortly after attending college Decatur followed in his father's footsteps and joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 19.  He was the youngest man to reach the rank of captain in the history of the United States Navy.  Decatur's father, Stephen Decatur, Sr., also became a Commodore in the U.S. Navy - which brought the younger Stephen into the world of ships and sailing early on. Decatur supervised the construction of several U.S. naval vessels, one of which he would later command. He became an affluent member of Washington society and counted James Monroe and other Washington dignitaries among his personal friends.
Decatur joined the U.S. Navy in 1798 as a midshipman and served under three presidents, playing a major role in the development of the young American Navy.
In almost every theater of operations Decatur's service was characterized with acts of heroism and exceptional performance in the many areas of military endeavor. His service in the Navy took him through the first and second Barbary Wars in North Africa, the Quasi-War with France, and the War of 1812 with Britain. During this period of time he served aboard and commanded many naval vessels and ultimately became a member of the Board of Navy Commissioners. He built a large home in Washington, known as Decatur House, on Lafayette Square, which later became the home to a number of famous Americans, and was the center of Washington society in the early 19th century. He was renowned for his natural ability to lead and for his genuine concern for the seaman under his command. Decatur's distinguished career in the Navy would come to a early end when he lost his life in a duel with a rival officer. His numerous naval victories against Britain, France and the Barbary states established the United States as a world power comparable to Britain and France. Decatur subsequently emerged as a national hero in his own lifetime, becoming the first post revolutionary war hero. His name and legacy, like that of John Paul Jones, soon became identified with the United States Navy.

“I went down to the woods this morning and got a load of top wood and finished trimming the tops. Commenced raining about half past eleven and rained about all the afternoon.  Rained again about 9 o’clock this evening.  Lettie and I went to rehearsal this evening.”
Leesah

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Napoleonic Code

First page of the 1804 original edition

The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon (originally, the Code civil des français) — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified.[1]
It was drafted rapidly by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force on March 21, 1804.  The Code, with its stress on clearly written and accessible law, was a major step in replacing the previous patchwork of feudal laws. Historian Robert Holtman regards it as one of the few documents that have influenced the whole world.
The Napoleonic Code was not the first legal code to be established in a European country with a civil legal system — it was preceded by the Codex Maximilianeus bavaricus civilis (Bavaria, 1756), the Allgemeines Landrecht (Prussia, 1794) and the West Galician Code (Galicia, then part of Austria, 1797). It was, however, the first modern legal code to be adopted with a pan-European scope and it strongly influenced the law of many of the countries formed during and after the Napoleonic Wars.

“I pulled out some old cherry trees this forenoon.  Went down to John McPherson’s this afternoon.  Lettie and I went up to Wm Robbins and spent the evening.  A little showery this forenoon but cleared off quite pleasant and warm this afternoon.”
Leesah

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ned Buntline

Ned Buntline (March 20, c. 1813 – July 16, 1886), was a pseudonym of Edward Zane Carroll Judson (E. Z. C. Judson), an American publisher, journalist, writer and publicist best known for his dime novels and the Colt Buntline Special he is alleged to have commissioned from Colt's Manufacturing Company
Traveling with William Cody, Buntline became enamored with the gregarious man and would claim that he devised the nickname "Buffalo Bill" for the hero of his serial novel Buffalo Bill,the King of the Border Men, published in the New York Weekly beginning 23 December 1869. Originally Buntline was going to cast Cody as a sidekick to "Wild Bill" Hickok, but found his character more interesting than Hickok's. Buntline presented Cody as a "compendium of cliches", however this did not stop New York Playwright Frank Meader from using Buntline's novel as the basis of a play about Cody's life in 1872. In that same year Buntline and James Gordon Bennett invited Cody to New York City, where Cody saw the play at the Bowery Theater. In December of that year, Buntline wrote a Buffalo Bill play of his own called Scouts of the Prairie starring Cody himself, Texas Jack Omohundro, the Italian ballerina Giuseppina Morlacchi and Buntline. For some time the then six-year-old Carlos Montezuma also was featured in the show as Atzeka, the Apache-child of Cochise, being the only genuine Native American on stage, while his adoptive father, the Italian photographer Carlo Gentile, was hired to produce and sell promotional cartes de visite of the cast members.
Cody at first was a reluctant actor, but then decided he enjoyed the spotlight. Scouts of the Prairie opened in Chicago in December 1872 and starred Cody and although panned by critics, the play was a success. It was performed to packed theaters across the country for years. Cody served as a scout for the Army in the summer; when campaining stopped for the winter, he would head to the stage. Buntline's play served as a training aid for Cody's later Wild West Show.

Ned Buntline, Bufalo Bill Cody, Giuseppina Morlacchi, Texas Jack Omohundro, 19th c

“Helped Mr. Holmes butcher their pigs this forenoon.  Made a frame for the granary window this afternoon and put it in.  Pleasant day though cool with east wind.”
Leesah

Monday, March 19, 2012

Balzac

Honoré de Balzac on an 1842 daguerreotype
by Louis-Auguste Bisson

Honoré de Balzac; 20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon.
Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multifaceted characters, who are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. His writing influenced many subsequent novelists such as Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Marie Corelli, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino, and philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into or have inspired films, and they are a continuing source of inspiration for writers, filmmakers and critics.
An enthusiastic reader and independent thinker as a child, Balzac had trouble adapting to the teaching style of his grammar school. His willful nature caused trouble throughout his life and frustrated his ambitions to succeed in the world of business. When he finished school, Balzac was an apprentice in a law office, but he turned his back on the study of law after wearying of its inhumanity and banal routine. Before and during his career as a writer, he attempted to be a publisher, printer, businessman, critic, and politician; he failed in all of these efforts. La Comédie Humaine reflects his real-life difficulties, and includes scenes from his own experience.
Balzac suffered from health problems throughout his life, possibly due to his intense writing schedule. His relationship with his family was often strained by financial and personal drama, and he ended several friendships over critical reviews. In 1850 he married Ewelina Hańska, his longtime love; he died five months later.


“Helped lettie wash this forenoon.  Worked at putting some siding on the south end of the grain barn.  Pleasant day.  Quite high winds about north-west.”
Leesah

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin (May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was an American composer and lyricist of Jewish heritage, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history.
His first hit song, "Alexander's Ragtime Band", became world famous. The song sparked an international dance craze in places as far away as Berlin's native Russia, which also "flung itself into the ragtime beat with an abandon bordering on mania." Over the years he was known for writing music and lyrics in the American vernacular: uncomplicated, simple and direct, with his aim being to "reach the heart of the average American" whom he saw as the "real soul of the country."
He wrote hundreds of songs, many becoming major hits, which made him "a legend" before he turned thirty. During his 60-year career he wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, including the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, with his songs nominated eight times for Academy Awards. Many songs became popular themes and anthems, including "Easter Parade", "White Christmas", "Happy Holiday", "This is the Army, Mr. Jones", and "There's No Business Like Show Business". His Broadway musical and 1942 film, This is the Army, with Ronald Reagan, had Kate Smith singing Berlin's "God Bless America" which was first performed in 1938. Smith still performed the song on her 1960 CBS television series, The Kate Smith Show. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Celine Dion recorded it as a tribute, making it #1 on the charts.
Berlin's songs have reached the top of the charts 25 times and have been extensively re-recorded by numerous singers including Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Waters, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Rosemary Clooney, Cher, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby, Rita Reys, Frankie Laine, Johnnie Ray, Al Jolson, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald. Composer Douglas Moore sets Berlin apart from all other contemporary songwriters, and includes him instead with Stephen Foster, Walt Whitman, and Carl Sandburg, as a "great American minstrel"—someone who has "caught and immortalized in his songs what we say, what we think about, and what we believe." Composer George Gershwin called him "the greatest songwriter that has ever lived", and composer Jerome Kern concluded that "Irving Berlin has no place in American music—he is American music."

Leesah

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Jim Bridger

James Felix "Jim" Bridger (b. March 17, 1804 in Richmond, Virginia – d. July 17, 1881 south side Kansas City, Missouri) was among the foremost mountain men, trappers, scouts and guides who explored and trapped the Western United States during the decades of 1820-1850, as well as mediating between native tribes and encroaching whites. He was of English ancestry, and his family had been in North America since the early colonial period.
Jim Bridger had a strong constitution that allowed him to survive the extreme conditions he encountered walking the Rocky Mountains from what would become southern Colorado to the Canadian border. He had conversational knowledge of French, Spanish and several native languages. He would come to know many of the major figures of the early west, including Brigham Young, Kit Carson, George Armstrong Custer, John Fremont, Joseph Meek, and John Sutter.

I fixed a timer in front of the barn doors this forenoon.  Drew some coal ashes from the salt works this afternoon to fill up in front of the doors.  Very pleasant day.”
Leesah

Friday, March 16, 2012

The United States Military Academy at West Point

Corps of Cadets c. 1870

The United States Military Academy at West Point (also known as USMA, West Point or Army) is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. The entire central campus is a national landmark and home to scores of historic sites, buildings, and monuments. The majority of the campus's neogothic buildings are constructed from gray and black granite. The campus is a popular tourist destination complete with a large visitor center and the oldest museum in the United States Army.
Candidates for admission must both apply directly to the academy and receive a nomination, usually from a Senator or Representative. Students are officers-in-training and are referred to as cadets. Tuition for cadets is fully funded by the Army in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon graduation. Approximately 1,300 cadets enter the Academy each spring with about 1,000 cadets graduating.
The academic program grants a bachelor of science degree with a curriculum that grades cadets' performance upon a broad academic program, military leadership performance, and mandatory participation in competitive athletics. Cadets are required to adhere to the Cadet Honor Code, which states that "a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." The academy bases a cadet's leadership experience as a development of all three pillars of performance: academics, physical, and military.
Most graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army. Foreign cadets are commissioned into the armies of their home countries. Since 1959, cadets have also been eligible to "cross-commission," or request a commission in one of the other armed services, provided they meet that service's eligibility standards. Every year, a small number of cadets do this, usually in a one-for-one "trade" with a similarly inclined cadet or midshipman at one of the other service academies.
Because of the academy's age and unique mission, its traditions influenced other institutions. It was the first American college to have class rings, and its technical curriculum was a model for later engineering schools. West Point's student body has a unique rank structure and lexicon. All cadets reside on campus and dine together en masse on weekdays for breakfast and lunch. The academy fields fifteen men's and nine women's National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports teams while every student competes in at least one sport, either at intramural or intercollegiate level, each semester. Its football team was a national power in the early and mid-20th century, winning three national championships. Its alumni and students are collectively referred to as "The Long Gray Line" and its ranks include two Presidents of the United States, numerous famous generals, and seventy-four Medal of Honor recipients.

Leesah

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ides of March

Vincenzo Camuccini, Mort de César, 1798
The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martii or Idus Martiae) is the name of the 15th day of March in the Roman calendar.
The word Ides comes from the Latin word "Idus" and means "half division" especially in relation to a month. It is a word that was used widely in the Roman calendar indicating the approximate day that was the middle of the month. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months.  The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held.
In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Roman Senate by a group of conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus. The group included 60 other co-conspirators according to Plutarch.
According to Plutarch, a seer had foreseen that Caesar would be harmed not later than the Ides of March and on his way to the Theatre of Pompey (where he would be assassinated), Caesar met that seer and joked, "The Ides of March are come", meaning to say that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied "Aye, Caesar; but not gone." This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned by the soothsayer to "beware the Ides of March." Julius Caesar was stabbed 33 times (three and thirty wounds) according to Shakespeare's play.

“Took our pork up town this morning and got ¼ bu clover seed.  Snowed hard about half the forenoon and a good deal of the time this afternoon.  But the evening is pleasant. Lettie and I spent the evening with Mr & Mr. G.H. Osborne.  Had a very pleasant time.”
Leesah

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.
As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was the primary author of the economic policies of the George Washington Administration, especially the funding of the state debts by the Federal government, the establishment of a national bank, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. He became the leader of the Federalist Party, created largely in support of his views, and was opposed by the Democratic-Republican Party, led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
Hamilton served in the American Revolutionary War. At the start of the war, he organized an artillery company and was chosen as its captain. He later became the senior aide-de-camp and confidant to General George Washington, the American commander-in-chief. He served again under Washington in the army raised to defeat the Whiskey Rebellion, a tax revolt of western farmers in 1794. In 1798, Hamilton called for mobilization against France after the XYZ Affair, and secured an appointment as commander of a new army, which he trained for a war. However, the Quasi-War, although hard-fought at sea, was never officially declared. In the end, President John Adams found a diplomatic solution that avoided war.
Of illegitimate birth and raised in the West Indies, Hamilton was effectively orphaned at about the age of 11. Recognized for his abilities and talent, he came to North America for his education, sponsored by people from his community. He attended King's College (now Columbia University). After the American Revolutionary War, Hamilton was elected to the Continental Congress from New York. He resigned to practice law, and founded the Bank of New York.
Hamilton was among those dissatisfied with the first national constitution the Articles of Confederation, because it lacked a president, courts, and taxing powers. He became a driving force behind the Annapolis Convention which successfully called on Congress to issue a call for the Philadelphia Convention to create a new constitution. He was an active participant and played a major role in the ratification process by writing half of the Federalist Papers, to this day the single most important source for Constitutional interpretation. In the new government under President George Washington, he was appointed the Secretary of the Treasury. An admirer of British political systems, Hamilton was a nationalist who emphasized strong central government, and successfully argued that the implied powers of the Constitution could be used to fund the national debt, assume state debts, and create the government-owned Bank of the United States. These programs were funded primarily by a tariff on imports and later also by a highly controversial excise tax on whiskey.
Embarrassed when an extra-marital affair with Maria Reynolds became public, Hamilton resigned from office in 1795 and returned to the practice of law in New York. However, he kept his hand in politics and was a powerful influence on the cabinet of President Adams (1797–1801). Hamilton's opposition to John Adams helped cause Adams' defeat in the 1800 elections. When Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied in the electoral college, Hamilton helped defeat his bitter personal enemy Burr and elect Jefferson as president. After opposing Adams, the candidate of his own party, Hamilton was left with few political friends. In 1804, as the next presidential election approached, Hamilton again opposed the candidacy of Burr. Taking offense at some of Hamilton's comments, Burr challenged him to a duel and mortally wounded Hamilton, who died within days.

“Butchered our pigs this morning (four).  Lettie and I went up and took dinner with J.S. Stalker and family.  Quite a good deal cooler today.  The sow pigged last night but did not have very good luck with the pigs only saved four.”
Leesah

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thumbelina

"Thumbelina" is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen first published by C. A. Reitzel on 16 December 1835 in Copenhagen, Denmark with "The Naughty Boy" and "The Traveling Companion" in the second installment of Fairy Tales Told for Children. "Thumbelina" is about a tiny girl and her adventures with appearance- and marriage-minded toads, moles, and cockchafers. She successfully avoids their intentions before falling in love with a flower-fairy prince just her size.
"Thumbelina" is chiefly Andersen's invention, though he did take inspiration from tales of miniature people such as "Tom Thumb." "Thumbelina" was published as one of a series of seven fairy tales in 1835 which were not well received by the Danish critics who disliked their informal style and their lack of morals. One critic, however, applauded "Thumbelina." The earliest English translation of "Thumbelina" is dated 1846. The tale has been adapted to various media including song and animated film.
In the first English translation of 1847 by Mary Howitt, the tale opens with a beggar woman giving a peasant's wife a barleycorn in exchange for food. Once planted, a tiny girl, Thumbelina (Tommelise), emerges from its flower. One night, Thumbelina, asleep in her walnut-shell cradle, is carried off by a toad who wants the miniature maiden as a bride for her son. With the help of friendly fish and a butterfly, Thumbelina escapes the toad and her son, and drifts on a lily pad until captured by a stag-beetle. The insect discards her when his friends reject her company. Thumbelina tries to protect herself from the elements, but when winter comes, she is in desperate straits. She is finally given shelter by an old fieldmouse and tends her dwelling in gratitude. The mouse suggests Thumbelina marry her neighbor, a mole, but Thumbelina finds repulsive the prospect of being married to such a creature. She escapes the situation by fleeing to a far land with a swallow she nursed back to health during the winter. In a sunny field of flowers, Thumbelina meets a tiny flower-fairy prince just her size and to her liking, and they wed. She receives a pair of wings to accompany her husband on his travels from flower to flower, and a new name, Maia.


“Went down to the woods and got a load of wood from the oak tops where the logs were cut.  Commenced raining about one o’clock and rained considerable this afternoon.”
Leesah

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fairies at St. Cuthbert's Well


Fairies at St. Cuthbert's Well

Saint Cuthbert (c. 634 – 20 March 687) was an Anglo-Saxon monk, bishop and hermit associated with the monasteries of Melrose and Lindisfarne in the Kingdom of Northumbria, at that time including, in modern terms, northern England as well as south-eastern Scotland as far as the Firth of Forth. Afterwards he became one of the most important medieval saints of England, a cult centred at Durham Cathedral. Cuthbert is regarded as the patron saint of northern England. His feast day is 20 March.

“Helped Lettie wash this forenoon.  Took our beans up town after dinner to A. B. Keeney & Sons.  Price $1.45 very pleasant and warm day.”
Leesah

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ben Thompson


City Marshal Ben Thompson.

Ben Thompson (November 2, 1843 - March 11, 1884) was a gunman, gambler, and sometime lawman of the Old West. He was a contemporary of Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody, Doc Holliday, John Wesley Hardin and James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock, some of whom considered him a trusted friend, others an enemy.

Ben Thompson had a colorful career, fighting with the Confederates during the American Civil War, and in Mexico under the Emperor, before being imprisoned at the age of 25 for the severely injuring his brother-in-law, who had physically abused Thompson's wife. After his release, Thompson made his name as a gunman and a gambler in Texas and Kansas. After he was hired in 1881 as Marshal in Austin, Texas, the crime rate dropped sharply during his term. He was murdered at the age of 40 in San Antonio on March 11, 1884 during the Vaudeville Theater Ambush.

On March 11, 1884 in San Antonio, Thompson ran into gunfighter and rancher King Fisher; they were there on separate business. The two men, who had known one another for several years, decided to attend a show at the Vaudeville Theater. Thompson was aware of threats from friends of Harris, but he did not appear concerned.

Fisher and Thompson attended a play at the Turner Hall Opera House, and later, at around 10:30pm, they went to the Vaudeville Variety Theater. A local lawman named Jacob Coy sat with them. Thompson wanted to see Joe Foster, a theater owner and friend of Harris's, and one of those fueling the ongoing feud. Thompson had already spoken to Billy Simms, another theater owner, and Foster's new partner.

Fisher and Thompson were directed upstairs to meet with Foster. Coy and Simms soon joined them in the theater box. Foster refused to speak with Thompson. Fisher allegedly noticed that something was not right. Simms and Coy stepped aside, and as they did Fisher and Thompson leapt to their feet just as a volley of gunfire erupted from another theater box, with a hail of bullets hitting both Thompson and Fisher. Thompson fell onto his side, and either Coy or Foster ran up to him and shot him in the head with a pistol. Not able to return fire, Thompson died almost immediately. Fisher was shot thirteen times, but fired one round in retaliation, possibly wounding Coy. He was crippled for life, but the shot may have been from friendly fire.

Trying to draw his pistol, Foster shot himself in the leg, which was later amputated. He died soon after the surgery. The description of the events of that night are contradictory. There was a public outcry for a grand jury indictment of those involved, but no action was ever taken. The San Antonio Police and the prosecutor showed little interest in the case.

Fisher was buried on his ranch. His body was later moved to the Pioneer Cemetery in Uvalde, Texas. Thompson's body was returned to Austin, where his funeral was one of the largest the city has ever seen. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Texas.

 Leesah