Painting by Joseph Karl Stieler On this day in 1808 Ludwig van Beethoven premiered his most well-known composition. The first 8 notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony are immediately recognizable.  Not only did he premiere– and conduct — the Fifth, but this concert at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna goes down in history as one of his most famous. It also saw the world premier of his Sixth Symphony. Other compositions on the bill that night were Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, premiered at a private event a year earlier, but this was its first public performance; and Choral Fantasy, so new ...
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    “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” was first spoken on this day in 1871 and repeated millions of times in the last 145 years. Henry Morgan Stanley, born John Rowlands, spoke those words to David Livingstone, who was thought to be lost in Africa while searching for the source of the Nile River during the great White Colonization of that great continent. Stanley’s early life is almost unbelievable. He was a bastard whose mother turned him over to his grandfather. When the old man died while the boy was 6, he was sent to a workhouse where, despite the reputation of workhouses, managed to ...
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    The path of Hurricane Wilma was one of the oddest. As Hurricane Matthew barrels towards Florida, let’s take a look back to Hurricane Wilma, my first and last hurricane. Hurricane Wilma smashed into the west coast of Florida — at Cape Romano, south of Naples — on October 24, 2005. However, Wilma had already been a devastating storm for 8 days prior. Wilma was unlike most hurricanes, which start off the west coast of Africa as a area of low barometric pressure. They move across the ocean, picking up speed and power until they hit somewhere in the Caribbean, Mexico, or Florida. However, ...
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    William Henry Harrison (1773 – 1841) was the first president to run afoul of The Zero Factor. The Zero Factor is a spooky superstition which insisted that all Presidents elected in a year ending in zero — which happens every 20 years — will die in office. The Zero Factor was blamed for an uninterrupted chain of presidential deaths that didn’t end until President Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. The first inkling I had concerning Presidential Deaths and the Zero Factor was back in grade school when I had to do an essay on William Henry Harrison, a presidential ...
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    Further reading elsewhere: The First 5 African-Americans to be Featured on U.S. StampsAfrican-Americans on Stamps (to 2004)Black Heritage (1978-present) On this day in 1940 the United States Postal Service issued a stamp featuring Booker T. Washington, the first Black person to be so honoured on a U.S. stamp. Booker Taliaferro Washington was born into slavery in April 5, 1856, and became one of the most respected men in the entire world. During the earliest years of the Jim Crow Era, when just looking at someone the wrong way was enough to get a Black man lynched, Washington was one of the leading voices ...
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