Thursday, January 31, 2013

Assassination attempt on Andrew Jackson

Richard Lawrence's attempt on Jackson's life, as depicted in an 1835 etching
On January 30, 1835, what is believed to be the first attempt to kill a sitting President of the United States occurred just outside the United States Capitol. When Jackson was leaving through the East Portico after the funeral of South Carolina Representative Warren R. Davis, Richard Lawrence, an unemployed housepainter from England, aimed a pistol at Jackson, which misfired. Lawrence pulled out a second pistol, which also misfired. Historians believe the humid weather contributed to the double misfiring. Lawrence was restrained, and legend says that Jackson attacked Lawrence with his cane. Others present, including David Crockett, restrained and disarmed Lawrence.
Lawrence told doctors later his reasons for the shooting. He blamed Jackson for the loss of his job. He claimed that with the President dead, "money would be more plenty" (a reference to Jackson's struggle with the Bank of the United States) and that he "could not rise until the President fell". Finally, he told his interrogators that he was a deposed English King—specifically, Richard III, dead since 1485—and that Jackson was his clerk. He was deemed insane and institutionalized.
Afterward, due to public curiosity concerning the double misfires, the pistols were tested and retested. Each time they performed perfectly. Many believed that Jackson had been protected by the same Providence that protected the young nation. This national pride was a large part of the Jacksonian cultural myth fueling American expansion in the 1830s.

“Lettie and I drove out to John Pratts today.  Got home about 7 o’clock this evening.  Cold day and a little squirrelly at times.”

“I drove down in the woods and broke out the road today and brought home a load of wood.  Very pleasant day.”


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Australia Day

Federation Pavilion, Centennial Park, Sydney, 1 January 1901
Australia Day (previously known as Anniversary Day, Foundation Day, and ANA Day) is the official national day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, the date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, New South Wales in 1788 and the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia (then known as New Holland).
Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales held in 1818. It is marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve, announcement of the Australia Day Honors list and addresses from the Governor-General and Prime Minister. It is an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia, unless it falls on a weekend in which case the following Monday is a public holiday instead. With community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies, the day is celebrated in large and small communities and cities around the nation. Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia. 

“I went up to the works this morning and got two bbls of salt and 50 lbs for table use.  I found my son Pierson and his wife here when I came home to spend the afternoon.  Pleasant but cold day.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vince Lombardi

Vincent Thomas "Vince" Lombardi (June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970) was an American football coach. He is best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he led the team to three straight league championships and five in seven years, including winning the first two Super Bowls following the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons. The National Football League's Super Bowl trophy is named in his honor. He was enshrined in the NFL's Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
He played football at St. Francis Preparatory School, and later Fordham University. He began coaching as an assistant and later as a head coach at St. Cecilia High School. He would later become an assistant coach at Fordham University, the U.S. Military Academy, and the New York Giants before becoming a head coach for the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967 and the Washington Redskins in 1969. He never had a losing season as a head coach in the NFL, compiling an impressive regular season winning percentage of 73.8% (96-34-6), a preseason winning percentage of 78.6% (44-12), and 90% (9-1) in the postseason for an overall record of 149 wins, 47 losses, and 6 ties in the NFL. 

“I went up town this morning.  Lettie and I went over to Ad’s about 3 o’clock and staid durning the evening.  Very stormy and disagreeable day and evening.  Very windy.”

“Lettie and went to church this morning.  Stormed terribly all day and evening.”

“I helped Lettie work this forenoon.  Has been a very cold day.  But no storm.”


Friday, January 25, 2013

The Cullinan Diamond

Glass copies of the nine diamonds cut from the Cullinan
The Cullinan diamond is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g).
The largest polished gem from the stone is named Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa, and at 530.4 carats (106.1 g) was the largest polished diamond in the world until the 1985 discovery of the Golden Jubilee Diamond, 545.67 carats (109.13 g), also from the Premier Mine. Cullinan I is now mounted in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross. The second largest gem from the Cullinan stone, Cullinan II or the Lesser Star of Africa, at 317.4 carats (63.5 g), is the fourth largest polished diamond in the world. Both gems are in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
The Cullinan diamond was found by Thomas Evan Powell, a miner who brought it to the surface and gave it to Frederick Wells, surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company in Cullinan, South Africa on January 26, 1905. The stone was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the diamond mine.
Sir William Crookes performed an analysis of the Cullinan diamond before it was cut and mentioned its remarkable clarity, but also a black spot in the middle. The colors around the black spot were very vivid and changed as the analyzer was turned. According to Crookes, this pointed to internal strain. Such strain is not uncommon in diamonds.
The stone was bought by the Transvaal government and presented to King Edward VII on his birthday.  It was cut into three large parts by Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam, and eventually into 9 large gem-quality stones and a number of smaller fragments. At the time, technology had not yet evolved to guarantee quality of the modern standard, and cutting the diamond was considered difficult and risky. In order to enable Asscher to cut the diamond in one blow, an incision was made, half an inch deep. Then, a specifically designed knife was placed in the incision and the diamond was split in one heavy blow. The diamond split through a defective spot, which was shared in both halves of the diamond


Thursday, January 24, 2013


Michigan Eagle Scouts in 1929, including President Gerald Ford at age 16
The Scout Association is the World Organization of the Scout Movement recognised Scouting association in the United Kingdom. Scouting began in 1907 through the efforts of Robert Baden-Powell. The Scout Association was formed under its previous name, The Boy Scout Association, in 1912 by the grant of a royal charter. The Boy Scout Association was renamed as The Scout Association in 1967.
The stated aim of The Scout Association is to "promote the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential, as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities".
The roots of The Scout Association come from the fame of Robert Baden-Powell following his exploits during the Second Boer War. In 1907, "B-P", as he is known to members of the Movement, ran a camp on Brownsea Island for boys of varying backgrounds. These boys came from Eton College and Harrow School, Parkstone, Hamworthy, and Bournemouth. This camp is now considered to be the start of the Movement.
The following year, Baden-Powell wrote a series of magazines, Scouting for Boys, setting out activities and programmes which existing youth organisations could make use of. The reaction was phenomenal, and quite unexpected. In very short time, Scout Patrols were created up and down the country, all following the principles of Baden-Powell's book. By the time of the first census in 1910, there were over 100,000 members of the Movement.
The Boy Scout Association was created in 1910 in order to provide a national body which could organize and support the rapidly growing number of Scout Patrols. It was also the wish of Baden-Powell to wrest control of Scouting from his book's publishers as it was felt the Movement was not given the status it deserved as the publishers controlled membership of Scouting.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The First Woman to Receive a Medical Degree in the U.S.

Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910) was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, as well as the first woman on the UK Medical Register. She was the first openly identified woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine in the United States, and a social and moral reformer in both the United States and in England.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The First Russian Revolution

A train overturned by striking workers at the main railway depot in Tiflis in 1905
The Revolution of 1905 was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies. It led to the establishment of limited constitutional monarchy, the State Duma of the Russian Empire, the multi-party system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906.

“I went up and had some work done on my teeth this morning.  This evening Lettie and I spent at Will Van Heusens.  Very stormy all day and evening.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

Thaddeus Stevens

Thaddeus Stevens (April 4, 1792 – August 11, 1868), of Pennsylvania, was a leader of the Radical Republican faction of the Republican Party and a fierce opponent of slavery. He was one of the most influential members in the history of Congress. As chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Stevens, a witty, sarcastic speaker and flamboyant party leader, dominated the House from 1861 until his death. He wrote much of the financial legislation that paid for the American Civil War. Stevens and Senator Charles Sumner were the prime leaders of the Radical Republicans during the war and Reconstruction era.
Scholarly views of Stevens have swung sharply since his death as interpretations of Reconstruction have changed. Historians of the Dunning School (1890s–1940s) held Stevens responsible for demanding harsh treatment of the white South and violating American traditions of republicanism, depicting Stevens as a villain for his advocacy of harsh measures in the South. This highly negative characterization held sway into the 1950s. The rise of the neo-abolitionist school in the 1950s led to a greater appreciation of Stevens' work on civil rights for Freedmen. A recent biographer characterizes him as, "The Great Commoner, savior of free public education in Pennsylvania, national Republican leader in the struggles against slavery in the United States and intrepid mainstay of the attempt to secure racial justice for the Freedmen during Reconstruction, the only member of the House of Representatives ever to have been known as the 'dictator' of Congress." 

“I helped Lettie wash this forenoon.  This afternoon I went up town and worked a little while on my board.  I have it nearly done.”

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Cimbria

Photograph of the CIMBRIA docked at the Jonas, Hamburg. Source: Hans Jürgen Witthöft, HAPAG; Hamburg-Amerika Linie(3., überarbeitete Auflage; Hamburg: Koehler, 1997), p. 18.
The steamship CIMBRIA was built for the Hamburg-America Line by Caird & Co, Greenock, and was launched on 21 January 1867. 3,025 tons; 100,93 x 12,1 x 10,34 meters/329 x 39 x 33 feet (length x breadth x depth of hold); straight stem, 1 funnel, 2 masts; iron construction, single screw propulsion, compound engines, service speed 12 knots; accommodation for 58 passengers in 1st class, 120 in 2nd class, and 500 in steerage; crew of 120.
19 January 1883, bound from Hamburg for Havre and New York, sunk in collision with the British steamship SULTAN near the island of Borkum, with the loss of between 437 and 457 lives. The following account of the sinking of the CIMBRIA is taken from Charles Hocking,Dictionary of Disasters at Sea During the Age of Steam; Including sailing ships and ships of war lost in action, 1824-1962 (London: Lloyd's Register of Shipping, 1969), vol. 1, pp. 141-142:
The liner CIMBRIA, Capt. Hansen, left Hamburg on Thursday, January 18th, 1883, with 402 passengers--mostly emigrants from Russia, Prussia, Austria and Hungary--and a crew of 120. There were also a number of French sailors on board, bound for Havre, and a party of Chippewa Indians returning to the U.S.A. after performing at an exhibition. Early on the morning of the 19th the weather thickened, and later on became dense. Off the Island of Borkum the siren of an approaching steamship was heard, but her location was in doubt until the very moment that she loomed into sight, barely 150 feet away. She proved to be the SULTAN, of the Hull and Hamburg Line, Capt. Cuttill, and she crashed into the CIMBRIA's port side immediately in front of the foremast, cutting a hole which extended to below the water-line. She then backed away, finding her own plight extremely bad, as she had a 7-foot hole in the bows and was making water fast. In these circumstances she did not lower her boats or make any effort to get into touch with the vessel she had rammed, believing that her own case was the more serious. Shortly afterwards the two ships drifted out of sight of each other.

Conditions on the CIMBRIA were very serious, the startled passengers, who were asleep below, came on deck to find the ship heeling over to starboard and rapidly settling down. The seven boats were got away as quickly as possible, one capsizing on launching. In general there was good order and every means of saving life was adopted, even to cutting loose the ship's spars to provide assistance for the unfortunate people when they were flung into the water.

Two of the boats were picked up by the British barque THETA, on Sunday the 21st, with 39 survivors. A third boat containing 17 was picked up by the British ship DIAMANT [this identification is incorrect: the vessel was the Bremen bark DIAMANT] off the Weser Lighthouse, while a fourth boat with nine people arrived at Borkum, thus making 65 all told. Among the saved were the second, third and fourth officers and the second engineer. Nearly all of the 72 women and 87 children on board were lost.

At an official inquiry at Hamburg, Capt. Cuttill stated that he considered his ship the more damaged at the time, and that he did not lower his boats for fear of losing them in the fog. He affirmed that he was not aware of the disaster to the CIMBRIA, from which he had drifted away. It was proved that if the SULTAN had shipped a foot more water in her hold she would have foundered.

“I worked on my board today.  This afternoon when I went up I took 30 Doz. Eggs to Frank Ball.  Snowed hard this afternoon and is snowing this evening.”

“I went up today and worked awhile on my board.”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Great Brink's Robbery

The Great Brink's Robbery was an armed robbery of the Brink's Building at the corner of Prince St. and Commercial St. in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, on January 17, 1950. Today the building is a parking garage located at 600 Commercial Street.
The robbery resulted in the theft of $1,218,211.29 in cash, and $1,557,183.83 in checks, money orders, and other securities. At the time, it was the largest robbery in the history of the United States. Skillfully executed with only a bare minimum of clues left at the crime scene, the robbery was billed as "the crime of the century". The robbery was the work of an eleven-member gang, all of whom were later arrested
According to information later gleaned from Joseph "Specs" O'Keefe, Joseph "Big Joe" McGinnis was the originator of the heist. He brought Atonia "Fat" Pino, and Stanley "Gus" Gusciora.
Secretly, O'Keefe and Gusciora entered the Brink's depot; they picked the outside lock with an ice pick and the inner door with a piece of plastic. Later, they temporarily removed the cylinders from the five locks, one at a time, so that a locksmith could make duplicate keys for them. Once this was done, Pino recruited seven other men, including Pino's brother-in-law Vincent Costa, Michael Vincent "Vinnie" Geagan, Thomas Francis Richardson, Adolph "Jazz" Maffie, Henry Baker, James Faherty, and Joseph "Barney" Banfield.
The gang decided to wait for the optimal time for their heist. Pino studied schedules and was able to determine what the staff was doing based on the lights in the building windows. O'Keefe and Gusciora even stole the plans for the site alarms. The gang members entered the building on practice runs after the staff had left for the day. Costa monitored the depot from a room of a neighboring tenement building, exactly across from the Brink's building on Prince Street. By the time they acted, the gang had been planning and training for two years.
On January 17, 1950, after six aborted attempts, the robbers decided that the situation was favorable. They donned clothing outwardly similar to that of a Brink's uniform with Navy pea coats and chauffeur's caps, along with rubber Halloween masks, gloves, and rubber-soled shoes. While Pino and driver Banfield remained in the getaway car, seven other men entered the building at 6:55 PM.
With their copied keys, they came to the second floor through the locked doors and surprised, bound, and gagged five Brink's employees who were storing and counting money. They failed to open a box of the payroll of the General Electric Company but scooped up everything else.
The robbers walked out at 7:30 PM. In addition to money, they had taken four revolvers from the employees. Afterwards, the gang rapidly counted the loot, gave some of the members their cut, and agreed not to touch the loot for six years, after which the statute of limitations would have expired. The robbers scattered to establish their alibis.
Brink's Incorporated offered a $100,000 reward for information. The only clues police could initially find were the rope that the robbers had used to tie the employees and a chauffeur's cap. At first, any information police could get from their informers proved useless. The truck that the robbers had used was found cut to pieces in Stoughton, Massachusetts, near O'Keefe's home.
In June 1950, O’Keefe and Gusciora were arrested in Pennsylvania for a burglary. O’Keefe was sentenced to three years in Bradford County Jail and Gusciora to 5 to 20 years in the Western State Penitentiary at Pittsburgh. Through their informers, police heard that O'Keefe and Gusciora demanded money from Pino and MacGinnis in Boston to fight their convictions. It was later claimed that most of O'Keefe's share went to his legal defense.
FBI agents tried to talk to O'Keefe and Gusciora in prison, but the two professed ignorance of the Brink's robbery. Gang members came under suspicions, but there was not enough evidence for an indictment, so law enforcement kept pressure on the suspects. Adolph Maffie was convicted and sentenced to nine months for income tax evasion.
After O'Keefe was released, he was taken to stand trial for another burglary and parole violations and was released on bail of $17,000. O'Keefe later claimed that he had never seen his portion of the loot after he had given it to Maffie for safekeeping. Apparently in need of money, he kidnapped Vincent Costa and demanded his part of the loot for ransom.
Pino paid a small ransom but then decided to try to kill O'Keefe. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, he hired underworld hitman Elmer "Trigger" Burke to kill O'Keefe. Burke traveled to Boston and shot O'Keefe but failed to kill him, despite seriously wounding him. FBI approached O'Keefe in the hospital, and on January 6, 1956, he eventually decided to talk.
On January 12, 1956, just 5 days before the statute of limitations was due to run out, the FBI arrested Baker, Costa, Geagan, Maffie, McGinnis, and Pino. They apprehended Faherty and Richardson on May 16 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. O'Keefe pleaded guilty January 18. Gusciora died on July 9. Banfield was already dead. A trial began on August 6, 1956.
Eight of the gang members received maximum sentences of life imprisonment; except for McGinnis, who died in prison, all were paroled by 1971. O'Keefe received only 4 years and was released in 1960. Only $58,000 of the $2.7 million was recovered.

“I went up today and worked awhile on my board.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Crittenden Compromise

Matthew Brady's 1855 portrait of Sen. Crittenden
The Crittenden Compromise was an unsuccessful proposal introduced by Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden on December 18, 1860. It aimed to resolve the U.S. secession crisis of 1860–1861 by addressing the grievances that led the slave states of the United States to contemplate secession from the United States.
The compromise proposed six constitutional amendments and four Congressional resolutions. Crittenden introduced the package on December 18. It was tabled on December 31.
It guaranteed the permanent existence of slaves in the slave states and addressed Southern demands in regard to fugitive slaves and slavery in the District of Columbia. It proposed extending the Missouri Compromise line to the west, with: slavery prohibited north of the 36° 30′ parallel and guaranteed south of it. The compromise included a clause that it could not be repealed or amended.
The compromise was popular among Southern members of the Senate, but it was generally unacceptable to the Republicans, who opposed the expansion of slavery beyond the states where it already existed into the territories. The opposition of their party's leader, President-elect Abraham Lincoln, was crucial. Republicans said the compromise "would amount to a perpetual covenant of war against every people, tribe, and state owning a foot of land between here and Tierra del Fuego." The only territories south of the line were parts of New Mexico Territory and Indian Territory. There was considerable agreement on both sides that slavery would never flourish in New Mexico. The South refused the House Republicans' proposal, approved by committee on December 29, to admit New Mexico as a state immediately.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate rejected Crittenden's proposal. It was part of a series of last-ditch efforts to provide the Southern states with sufficient reassurances to forestall their secession during the final session of Congress prior to the Lincoln administration taking office.
The Crittenden proposals were also discussed in February 1861 at the peace conference, the final formal effort to avert the start of war, only to fail again as the provision guaranteeing slave-ownership throughout all Western territories and future acquisitions proved too unpalatable for Lincoln and the Republicans.

“I worked on my board today.  This afternoon when I went up I took 30 Doz eggs to Hank Ball.  Snowed hard this afternoon and is snowing this evening.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SuperBowl I

The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game in professional American football, later known as Super Bowl I and referred to in some contemporary reports as the Supergame, was played on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The National Football League (NFL) champion Green Bay Packers defeated the American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 35–10.
Coming into this game, there was still considerable animosity between the two rival leagues, and both teams felt pressure to win. The Chiefs posted an 11-2-1 record during the 1966 AFL season, and defeated the Buffalo Bills, 31-7, in 1966 AFL Championship Game. The Packers finished the 1966 NFL season at 12-2, and defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 34-27, in the 1966 NFL Championship Game. Still, many sports writers and fans believed that any team in the older NFL was vastly superior to any club in the upstart AFL, and thus expected that Green Bay would blow out Kansas City.
The first half of Super Bowl I was competitive, as the Chiefs out-gained the Packers in total yards, 181–164, to come within 14-10 at halftime. But Green Bay safety Willie Wood's 50-yard interception return early in the third quarter sparked the Packers to score 21 unanswered points in the second half. Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with 1 interception, was named Super Bowl MVP.
This remains the only Super Bowl not to have been a sellout. It also is the only Super Bowl to have been simulcast in the United States by two networks: NBC had the rights to nationally televise AFL games while CBS held the rights to broadcast NFL games; it was decided that both networks could televise the game. The first Super Bowl's entertainment largely consisted of college bands, instead of featuring popular singers and musicians as in more recent Super Bowls.

“I Helped Lettie wash this forenoon.  Went up town this afternoon with some eggs  (3 & ½ doz) for Frank Ball.  Quite cold and windy.”

Monday, January 14, 2013

Albert Schweitzer

 Albert Schweitzer, (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) was a German and then French theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He was born in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire. Schweitzer, a Lutheran, challenged both the secular view of Jesus as depicted by historical-critical methodology current at his time in certain academic circles, as well as the traditional Christian view. He depicted Jesus as one who believed the end of the world was coming in his own lifetime and believed himself to be a world savior. He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of "Reverence for Life", expressed in many ways, but most famously in founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa (then French Equatorial Africa). His "Reverence for Life" principle was also a precursor to modern biocentrism (ethics). As a music scholar and organist, Schweitzer studied the music of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach and influenced the Organ reform movement (Orgelbewegung).
Schweitzer's passionate quest was to discover a universal ethical philosophy, anchored in a universal reality, and make it directly available to all of hum

“I went to ride with Oliver Rogers this morning and afternoon.  This afternoon we Keeney farm and over to South St. and around to the village.  Pleasant but very clear and cold.”

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ernie Kovacs

Ernie Kovacs (January 23, 1919 – January 13, 1962) was an American comedian, actor, and writer.
Kovacs' uninhibited, often ad-libbed, and visually experimental comedic style came to influence numerous television comedy programs for years after his death in an automobile accident. Such iconic and diverse shows as Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, Saturday Night Live, The Uncle Floyd Show, Captain Kangaroo, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and TV hosts such as David Letterman and Craig Ferguson have been influenced by Kovacs. Chevy Chase thanked him during his acceptance speech for his Emmy award for Saturday Night Live. Chase appeared in the 1982 documentary called Ernie Kovacs: Television's Original Genius, speaking again of the impact Kovacs had on his work.
On or off screen, Kovacs could be counted on for the unexpected, from having marmosets as pets to wrestling a jaguar on his live Philadelphia television show. When working at WABC (AM) as a morning-drive radio personality and doing a mid-morning television show for NBC, Kovacs disliked eating breakfast alone while his wife was sleeping in after her Broadway performances. His solution was to hire a taxi driver to come into their apartment with his own key and whose job was to make breakfast for them both, then take him to the WABC studios.
While Kovacs and his wife Edie Adams received Emmy nominations for best performances in a comedy series in 1957, his talent was not formally recognized until after his death. The 1962 Emmy for outstanding electronic camera work and the Directors' Guild award came a short time after his fatal accident. A quarter century later, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. Kovacs also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in television. In 1986, the Museum of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) presented an exhibit of Kovacs' work, called The Vision of Ernie Kovacs. The Pulitzer Prize winning television critic, William Henry III wrote for the museum's booklet:
Kovacs was more than another wide-eyed, self-ingratiating clown. He was television's first significant video artist. He was its first surrealist... its most daring and imaginative writer. He was... television's first and possibly only auteur. And he was a genius. In commercial terms, a genius is any entertainer... who finds a new way to make money. Kovacs never fit that description. Kovacs' genius lay in the realm of art. There, a genius is someone who causes an audience to look at the world in a new way.

“I drew two loads of wood today.  One for Arch Stuart and one for Perry Clark.  Sleighing is rather thim tonight.”

“Lettie and I went to church this morning but the weather was so stormy we did not go this evening.  Has stormed very hard all day and is storming tonight.”

Friday, January 11, 2013

Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky (7 November 1879 – 21 August 1940), born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army.
Trotsky was initially a supporter of the Menshevik Internationalists faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He joined the Bolsheviks immediately prior to the 1917 October Revolution, and eventually became a leader within the Party. During the early days of the Soviet Union, he served first as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs and later as the founder and commander of the Red Army as People's Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs. He was a major figure in the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War (1918–20). He was also among the first members of the Politburo.
After leading a failed struggle of the Left Opposition against the policies and rise of Joseph Stalin in the 1920s and the increasing role of bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, Trotsky was successively removed from power (1927), expelled from the Communist Party, and finally deported from the Soviet Union (1929). As the head of the Fourth International, Trotsky continued in exile in Mexico to oppose the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. An early advocate of Red Army intervention against European fascism, in the late 1930s, Trotsky opposed Stalin's non-aggression pact with Adolf Hitler. He was assassinated on Stalin's orders in Mexico, by Ramón Mercader, a Spanish-born Soviet agent in August 1940. (Most of his family members were also killed.)
Trotsky's ideas were the basis of Trotskyism, a major school of Marxist thought that is opposed to the theories of Stalinism. He was one of the few Soviet political figures who were not rehabilitated by the government under Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s. In the late 1980s, his books were released for publication in the Soviet Union, and in 2001 he was finally rehabilitated.

“I drew a load of wood home on the bobs this forenoon.  This afternoon, I went up to the village and had another tooth filled.  Lettie and I spent the evening at Mr. A Van Valkenbuagh’s.  Has been a very fine day and the sleighing is fine.”

Thursday, January 10, 2013


The Lucas gusher at Spindletop, January 10, 1901. This was the first major gusher of the Texas Oil Boom

Spindletop is a salt dome oil field located in the southern portion of Beaumont, Texas in the United States. The Spindletop dome was derived from the Louann Salt evaporite layer of the Jurassic geologic period. On January 10, 1901, a well at Spindletop struck oil ("came in"). The new oil field soon produced more than 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil per day. Gulf Oil and Texaco, now part of Chevron Corporation, were formed to develop production at Spindletop.
The strike at Spindletop represented a turning point for Texas and the United States; no oil field in the world had ever been so productive. The frenzy of oil exploration and the economic development it generated in the state became known as the Texas Oil Boom. The United States soon became the world's leading oil producer.

“I went up town with the milk this morning and brought Mrs C McKeeney down to spend the day.  It snowed and rained nearly all day and the sleighing is very good again.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Trip to the Dentist

“I went up town today and had some teeth filled.  Got home about half past three and helped Lettie make some ice cream.  Lettie and I went up to Will McEwens this evening.  Has been a pleasant day.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wilhelm Rontgen

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (27 March 1845 – 10 February 1923) was a German physicist, who, on 8 November 1895, produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range today known as X-rays or Röntgen rays, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. In honour of his accomplishments, IUPAC named element 111, Roentgenium, a very radioactive element with multiple unstable isotopes, after him.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

The First US Presidential Election

The United States presidential election of 1788–1789 was the 1st quadrennial presidential election. It was held from Monday, December 15, 1788 to Saturday, January 10, 1789. It was the first presidential election in the United States of America under the new United States Constitution, which was adopted on September 17, 1787, and the only election to ever take place partially in a year that is not a multiple of four. In this election, George Washington was elected for the first of his two terms as president, and John Adams became the first vice-president.
Before this election, the United States had no chief executive. Under the previous system agreed to under Articles of Confederation, the national government was headed by the Confederation Congress, which had a ceremonial presiding officer and several executive departments, but no independent executive branch.
The enormously popular Washington essentially ran unopposed. The only real issue to be decided was who would be chosen as vice-president. Under the system then in place, each elector cast two votes; if a person received a vote from a majority of the electors, that person became president, and the runner-up became vice-president. All 69 electors cast one vote each for Washington. Their other votes were divided among eleven other candidates; John Adams received the most, becoming vice-president. The Twelfth Amendment, ratified in 1804, would change this procedure, requiring each elector to cast distinct votes for president and vice-president.

Presidential election results map. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state. (Note: North Carolina and Rhode Island had not yet ratified the Constitution, the New York legislature was deadlocked, and Vermont was operating as a de facto unrecognized state.)

“I helped Lettie wash this forenoon.  I went up Town on some errands this afternoon.  Has thawed since yesterday morning and the sleighing is about all gone.”

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Samuel Morse

Samuel Finley Breese Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872) was an American inventor. He contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs, was a co-inventor of the Morse code, and also an accomplished painter.
Morse additionally supported the institution of slavery as well as anti-Catholic and anti-immigration efforts within the United States

“I drew one load of wood home and one to Archie Stuart today.  Tried the Rogers Mare this afternoon.  Has been very cold and stormy this afternoon. Mercury stood at zero this morning.”


Friday, January 4, 2013

The Meiji Restoration

A teenaged Meiji Emperor with foreign representatives at the end of the Boshin War, 1868-1870.
The Meiji Restoration ,, also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868 under Emperor Meiji. The goals of the restored government were expressed by the new emperor in the Charter Oath. The Restoration led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure, and spanned both the late Edo period (often called Late Tokugawa shogunate) and the beginning of the Meiji period. The period spanned from 1868 to 1912 and was responsible for the emergence of Japan as a modernized nation in the early twentieth century.

“I took a grist to mill this morning.  After dinner, I took a load of wood to Perry Clark and went from there and got my grist.  Pleasant though chilly day.”

“I drew three loads of wood home today.”