Category Archives: Historical Moments

Musical Premieres ► Throwback Thursday

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 the ink on the manuscript had barely time to dry. These last two performances featured Beethoven playing the piano.

This concert itself has become famous. As the WikiWackyWoo tells us:

The Beethoven concert of 22 December 1808 was a benefit concert held for Ludwig van Beethoven at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna that featured the public premieres of Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Choral Fantasy. This concert, then called an Akademie, occurred in a very cold hall and was approximately four hours duration. Its featured performers were an orchestra, chorus, vocal soloists, and the composer as piano soloist. Beethoven biographer Barry Cooper refers to the concert, in terms of its content, as the “most remarkable” of Beethoven’s career”.[1]

This would be the last time Beethoven performed a piano concerto before an audience. Again the Wiki picks up the story:

Beethoven’s hearing loss did not prevent him from composing music, but it made playing at concerts—a lucrative source of income—increasingly difficult. After a failed attempt in 1811 to perform his own Piano Concerto No. 5 (the “Emperor”), which was premiered by his student Carl Czerny, he never performed in public again until he directed the premiere performance of the Ninth Symphony in 1824, which involved him giving cues to conductor Michael Umlauf.[52]

But, as we say in the Not Now Silly Newsroom, it’s all about the music:

And just for fun:

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Henry Morgan Stanley ► Throwback Thursday

“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 get a good education.

He reinvented himself at the age of 17. First he took a job as a cabin boy on an American freighter. When he landed in New Orleans he took the name of a local cotton merchant, even claiming to have been adopted.

Stanley also fought on both sides in the Civil War. First he joined the Confederacy, fighting at the Battle of Shiloh. After his capture, he switched sides and joined the Union. However, he apparently deserted the Union Army to join the Federal Navy, before he eventually jumped ship. Freelancing as a journalist, he toured the American West covering the conquest of the Native Americans.

In 1869 the New York Herald sent him on assignment to find Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, who was thought to be lost or dead in Africa.

Livingstone hoped his African trips would make him world-renown, which they did. That popularity allowed him to speak out against the East African Arab-Swahili slave trade. “The Nile sources,” he told a friend, “are valuable only as a means of opening my mouth with power among men. It is this power which I hope to remedy an immense evil.”

Ironically his, and Stanley’s, trips began what became called the “Scramble for Africa,” in which the colonial powers took over the continent.

According to the BBC’s Historic Figures:

Livingstone became convinced of his mission to reach new peoples in the interior of Africa and introduce them to Christianity, as well as freeing them from slavery. It was this which inspired his explorations. In 1849 and 1851, he travelled across the Kalahari, on the second trip sighting the upper Zambezi River. In 1852, he began a four year expedition to find a route from the upper Zambezi to the coast. This filled huge gaps in western knowledge of central and southern Africa. In 1855, Livingstone discovered a spectacular waterfall which he named ‘Victoria Falls’. He reached the mouth of the Zambezi on the Indian Ocean in May 1856, becoming the first European to cross the width of southern Africa.

Returning to Britain, where he was now a national hero, Livingstone did many speaking tours and published his best-selling ‘Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa’ (1857). He left for Africa again in 1858, and for the next five years carried out official explorations of eastern and central Africa for the British government. His wife died of malaria in 1862, a bitter blow and in 1864 he was ordered home by a government unimpressed with the results of his travels.

At home, Livingstone publicised the horrors of the slave trade, securing private support for another expedition to central Africa, searching for the Nile’s source and reporting further on slavery.

And, this is where Stanley comes in. On this final trip Livingstone had not been heard  from in a while and the New York Herald hired the freelance writer to find him and report back. But first Stanley stopped off in Egypt to cover the opening of the Suez Canal.

The Wiki picks up the story:

Stanley travelled [sic] to Zanzibar in March 1871, later claiming that he outfitted an expedition with 192 porters.[17]:68 In his first dispatch to the New York Herald, however, he stated that his expedition numbered only 111. This was in line with figures in his diaries.[18]:13 Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald and funder of the expedition, had delayed sending to Stanley the money he had promised, so Stanley borrowed money from the United States Consul.[5]:93–94

During the 700-mile (1,100 km) expedition through the tropical forest, his thoroughbred stallion died within a few days after a bite from a tsetse fly, many of his porters deserted, and the rest were decimated by tropical diseases.

Stanley found Livingstone on 10 November 1871 in Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika in present-day Tanzania. He may have greeted him with the now-famous line, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” It may also have been a fabrication, as Stanley tore out of his diary the pages relating to the encounter. Neither man mentioned it in any of the letters they wrote at this time.[5] Livingstone’s account of the encounter does not mention these words. The phrase is first quoted in a summary of Stanley’s letters published by The New York Times on 2 July 1872.[19] Stanley biographer Tim Jeal argued that the explorer invented it afterwards to help raise his standing because of “insecurity about his background”.[5]:117

The Herald‘s own first account of the meeting, published 1[20] July 1872, reports:

Preserving a calmness of exterior before the Arabs which was hard to simulate as he reached the group, Mr. Stanley said: – “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” A smile lit up the features of the pale white man as he answered: “Yes, and I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.”[21]

Livingstone died 2 years later from the malaria and dysentery. Stanley and Livingstone became known around the world due to Stanley’s dispatches and book. The ironically their gripping adventures only hastened the colonization of Africa.

Learn more from a documentary narrated by James Mason and the fictional 1939 Stanley and Livingstone, starring Spencer Tracy and Cedricc Hardwicke.

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Hurricane Wilma ► Throwback Thursday

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, Wilma not only scored the hat trick, hitting all three, but unconventionally started in the Caribbean as a low pressure trough southeast of Jamaica on October 13th. Barely moving, it went from a Tropical Depression, to Tropical Storm, to Hurricane in under 5 days, eventually becoming a Category 5, the largest on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Eventually pushed by other weather patterns to the north, Hurricane Wilma first drifted over to Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula. These weather patterns also slowed Wilma’s forward momentum, so once it hit Cozumel, it just sat there and churned for almost 2 full days. Usually a hurricane loses strength when over land, but Wilma was nearly as strong when it left Mexico as when it arrived.

This concrete wall, just a mile from me, has never been
replaced. It was blown over just by the sheer force of the wind.

After that, Wilma moved into the Gulf of Mexico where it was affected by another weather pattern, which not only turned the hurricane to the northwest, but luckily, it also increased its forward momentum. By the time it hit Florida, it was racing. It crossed the state on a diagonal in less than 5 hours, lessening the potential damage than if it had continued to move slowly.

As it was the damage in Florida was significant. As the WikiWackyWoo says about Broward County, where I live:

Wilma was the most damaging storm in Broward County since Hurricane King in 1950. Winds between 80 and 100 mph (130 and 160 km/h) lashed the county for about five hours. Widespread minor to major wind damages to residential and commercial buildings occurred. At least 5,111 dwellings were left uninhabitable, including 2,800 condominiums and apartments, 1,441 mobile homes, 42 single-family dwellings, and 170 commercial buildings. Much of the damage was incurred to roofing and siding, while interior damage was caused by rain and winds. Along the Intracoastal Waterway, a number of boats, docks, bulkheads, and dry storage marinas sustained impact, and many houses and businesses suffered roof damage.[41] The storm severely damaged 69 school, totaling as much as $100 million.[42]

I rode out Hurricane Wilma in the condo with Pops, who would turn 80 4 months later. I was scared because I had never experienced a hurricane before, but Pops was already a veteran of Florida hurricanes.

In fact, during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, when I was still writing news for BreakfastTelevision at Citytv, we did a live phoner with Pops because Andrew was lashing Florida while we were on the air. Pops was in no danger from Hurricane Andrew, which ravaged Homestead, some 60 miles to the south, before it went into the Everglades, the Gulf of Mexico, and, eventually, Louisiana.

Just like Pops rode out Hurricane Andrew, he was determined to ride out Hurricane Wilma and there was no way I was going to leave him alone.

That wasn’t as foolhardy a decision as it sounds. There are 2 bathrooms and a large walk-in closet in the condo that are relatively secure. They are what I call “interior rooms” or rooms within rooms. However, every decision we made after that was extremely foolhardy and dangerous.

That’s because Pops and I did not shelter in those places. We wandered around the condo watching all the debris fly by the windows. We were lucky nothing flew through the windows as we were watching. I am reminded of this comedy routine by Ron White.

Then it all stopped and everything became quiet. We were in the eye of Hurricane Wilma.I went outside and took a short walk. It was beautiful. The sun shone down and it looked like a typical day in Paradise. The eye wall was so far away that I couldn’t see it at all.

Then the wind started to pick up from the opposite direction and I headed back inside to stare at it through the windows again. SMH!!!

The aftermath for us is that we were without power for 18 days during what became a heat spell. It was like going camping, but with more comfortable furniture.

That was then. This is now:

Within the next 12 hours Hurricane Matthew will arrive. This time it’s taking the more traditional east to west direction.

However, then it chooses an alternate route.

There are weather patterns to the east of Florida. The latest models say they could push Hurricane Matthew to the south and then back to the west. Florida could get whacked by Matthew twice within the space of 5 days.

Hurricane prediction is still pretty shaky 5 days out, so I am not panicking yet. However, to be honest, I am more concerned about the 2nd hit. If it’s anything like the last time we won’t have any power after the first hit. Consequently, it will be that much harder to get the weather alerts on tee vee and computer. I’ll have to make sure I can keep a charge on my phone. However, if you don’t hear from me, you know I’ve been washed out to sea.

Meanwhile, here are some of the other pics I took of Hurricane Wilma damage.

Roots here do not grow down because of the sandy soil. They grow out. Consequently they blow over easily.
The same tree from the opposite direction. The force of the tree falling over lifted the concrete slab under which the roots grew.
Every street was filled with debris.
This is all building flashing, rain gutters, and hurricane shutters blown around my condo complex.
Despite being closed, some hurricane shutters did very little.
Yet, some condos were damaged while those right next to them were not.
This is a portion of a roof that was peeled off by the wind.
More roof peeled off by the wind.
Some of that roof landed on this car. When I came back with my camera it had been removed.
Another view.
Pops giving the universal sign for R.I.P.
This is another root ball perpendicular to the ground. The trunk is to the right, off camera. That long thing
is one of the roots. Most ripped apart, but this one was too thick to break. However, the tree falling over
ripped it out of the ground with such force that it distorted the concrete and steel bench in the background.
My mother planted this tree next to the condo when they first moved in. It’s a good thing it fell that way and not into the condo.

The Zero Factor ► Throwback Thursday

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 name drawn from a hat.

William Henry Harrison was the 9th president, elected in 1840 running on the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.” Tippecanoe was his nickname and referred to his military victory in the Battle of Tippecanoe, when his troops repulsed a Native American confederacy that was opposed to the illegal European aliens’ continued expansion west. As the Wiki puts it simply, “The defeat was a setback for Tecumseh‘s confederacy from which it never fully recovered.”

Harrison was the oldest president until Ronald Reagan and the first to die in office, a mere 32 days after taking the oath. He was his own worst enemy. As we learn from the WikiWackyWoo:

He took the oath of office on March 4, 1841, a cold and wet day.[62]
He wore neither an overcoat nor hat, rode on horseback to the ceremony
rather than in the closed carriage that had been offered him, and
delivered the longest inaugural address in American history.[62] At 8,445 words, it took him nearly two hours to read, although his friend and fellow Whig Daniel Webster had edited it for length. Harrison then rode through the streets in the inaugural parade,[63] and that evening attended three inaugural balls,[64]
including one at Carusi’s Saloon entitled the “Tippecanoe” ball, which
at a price of US$10 per person (equal to $229 today) attracted 1000

Three weeks later he caught a cold, which developed into pneumonia and pleurisy. He died on April 4, 1841, the first victim of the Zero Factor, which also became known as Curse of Tippecanoe, blamed on a curse that Tecumseh was supposed to have uttered before his death during the War of 1812.

The next victim of The Zero Factor was Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. We all know what happened to him.

James A. Garfield was elected POTUS in 1880 and assassinated by deranged office seeker Charles J. Guiteau in 1881. Garfield might have lived had he been shot just a few years later when all doctors accepted the practices of Joseph Lister concerning infection. Again from the Wiki:

According to some historians and medical experts, Garfield might have
survived his wounds had the doctors attending him had at their disposal
today’s medical research, techniques, and equipment.[187]
Standard medical practice at the time dictated that priority be given
to locating the path of the bullet. Several of his doctors inserted
their unsterilized fingers into the wound to probe for the bullet, a common practice in the 1880s.[187] Historians agree that massive infection was a significant factor in President Garfield’s demise.[187]
Biographer Peskin stated that medical malpractice did not contribute to
Garfield’s death; the inevitable infection and blood poisoning that
would ensue from a deep bullet wound resulted in damage to multiple
organs and spinal bone fragmentation.[188] Rutkow, a professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey,
has argued that starvation also played a role. Rutkow suggests that
“Garfield had such a nonlethal wound. In today’s world, he would have
gone home in a matter of two or three days.”[187]

Next up? That would be President William McKinley, elected in 1900 and assassinated by a crazed anarchist Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, New York on September 6, 1901. It happened inside the Temple of Music during the Pan-American Exposition. On the 14th he died of the gangrene that had infected his body. The Zero Factor takes another life.

Twenty years later it was Warren Harding‘s turn to run up against The Zero Factor. Elected in 1920, he died on August 2, 1923, of a cerebral hemorrhage in San Francisco while on a swing through the west.

Also dying of a cerebral hemorrhage was the next victim of The Zero Factor, our longest-serving president, Franklin Roosevelt. Originally elected in 1932, Roosevelt was re-elected for an unprecedented (and no longer possible) 3rd term in 1940. Re-elected again in 1944, during World War II, Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. His last words were reportedly, “I have a terrific pain in the back of my head.”

John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States and the last to be assassinated.

The next president to be elected in a year ending in Zero was Ronald Reagan. When, on March 30, 1981, John Hinckley, Jr., slipped out of a crowd at the Washington Hilton and attempted to assassinate him, I was convinced it was The Zero Factor at work again. However, Reagan survived his wounds and eventually went back to work.

It wasn’t until years later the public learned how close to death Reagan had been and how much the assassination attempt took out of him.

In 2000 George W. Bush was elected president and, except for starting wars against countries that didn’t attack the United States, there were no incidents even remotely resembling The Zero Factor.

In 2000 Arianne R. Cohen of The Harvard Crimson wrote of George W. Bush and The Zero Factor:

According to legend, our new president has an extremely high chance of
dying while in office–an 87.5 percent chance, in fact, based on the
seven of eight eligible presidents who have died by the legend. Many
voters–45 percent, to be exact–would probably find this statistic to
be the only positive thing about Election 2000, although I personally
would prefer to have a president too incompetent to do damage in office
over one who voted against the Clean Water Act (our new Vice
President-elect Richard B. Cheney). However, a legend’s a legend, and a
legend doesn’t care about personal opinions.

[…]The only other president to die in office was President Zachary Taylor,
elected in 1848. However, President Taylor allegedly spent July 4, 1850,
eating cherries and milk at a ceremony at the Washington Monument. He
got sick from the heat and died five days later, the second president to
die in office. Frankly, he should have known better–that cherries and
milk combination is always a killer.

What’s amusing about this curious slice of history is how for more than a century this silly superstition was considered to have been a Native curse against the White interlopers. Guilt much?

Official Stamp of Approval ► Throwback Thursday

Further reading elsewhere:

The First 5 African-Americans to be Featured on U.S. Stamps
African-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 against the treatment of Black folk in the country.

History channel has more highlights:

Born a slave on a Virginia farm, Washington (1856-1915) rose to become one of the most influential African-American intellectuals of the late 19th century. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Institute, a black school in Alabama devoted to training teachers. Washington was also behind the formation of the National Negro Business League 20 years later, and he served as an adviser to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Although Washington clashed with other black leaders such as W. E. B. Du Bois and drew ire for his seeming acceptance of segregation, he is recognized for his educational advancements and attempts to promote economic self-reliance among African Americans.

The Famous American
stamp series of 1940

The Washington stamp, coming 2 days after his birthday and 35 years after his death, was issued as part of the Famous American Series of stamps that included 34 other people in various categories. (See full list below the picture to the right.) As we learn from Wikipedia:

In 1940, the U.S. Post Office issued a set of 35 stamps, issued over the
course of approximately ten months, commemorating America’s famous
Authors, Poets, Educators, Scientists, Composers, Artists and Inventors.
The Educators included Booker T. Washington, who now became the first
African-American to be honored on a U.S. stamp. This series of Postage
issues was printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
These stamps were larger in size than normal definitive issues, with
only 280 stamp images contained on the printing plate (400 images was
standard for the Presidential series). Notable also is the red-violet
color chosen for the 3¢ stamps, a brighter hue than the traditional

This was not Washington’s only honour. According to the WikiWackyWoo:

For his contributions to American society, Washington was granted an honorary master’s degree from Harvard University in 1896 and an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College in 1901.
At the end of the 2008 presidential election, the defeated Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, referred to Booker Washington’s visit to Theodore Roosevelt’s White House, a century before, as the seed that blossomed into Barack Obama as the first African American to be elected President of the United States.[citation needed]

In 1934 Robert Russa Moton,
Washington’s successor as president of Tuskegee University, arranged an
air tour for two African-American aviators. Afterward he had the plane
named the Booker T. Washington.[citation needed]

On April 7, 1940, Washington became the first African American to be
depicted on a United States postage stamp. Several years later, he was
honored on the first coin to feature an African American, the Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar, which was minted by the United States from 1946 to 1951. He was also depicted on a U.S. Half Dollar from 1951–1954.[47]

In 1942, the liberty ship Booker T. Washington was named in his honor, the first major oceangoing vessel to be named after an African American. The ship was christened by Marian Anderson.[48]

On April 5, 1956, the hundredth anniversary of Washington’s birth, the house where he was born in Franklin County, Virginia, was designated as the Booker T. Washington National Monument.

A state park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was named in his honor, as was a bridge spanning the Hampton River adjacent to his alma mater, Hampton University.

In 1984 Hampton University dedicated a Booker T. Washington Memorial on campus near the historic Emancipation Oak,
establishing, in the words of the University, “a relationship between
one of America’s great educators and social activists, and the symbol of
Black achievement in education.”[49]

Numerous high schools, middle schools and elementary schools[50] across the United States have been named after Booker T. Washington.

At the center of the campus at Tuskegee University, the Booker T. Washington Monument, called Lifting the Veil, was dedicated in 1922. The inscription at its base reads:

He lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry.

In 2000, West Virginia State University
(WVSU; then West Va. State College), in cooperation with other
organizations including the Booker T. Washington Association,
established the Booker T. Washington Institute, to honor Washington’s boyhood home, the old town of Malden, and the ideals Booker Washington stood for.[51]

On October 19, 2009, WVSU dedicated a monument to the memory of noted African American educator and statesman Booker T. Washington. The event took place at West Virginia State University’s Booker T. Washington Park in Malden, West Virginia.
The monument also honors the families of African ancestry who lived in
Old Malden in the early 20th century and who knew and encouraged Booker
T. Washington. Special guest speakers at the event included West
Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, Malden attorney Larry L. Rowe, and the president of WVSU. Musical selections were provided by the WVSU “Marching Swarm.”[52]

Florida Joined the Union ► Throwback Thursday

It was probably inevitable — Manifest Destiny, and all that — but on this date in 1845, Florida became the 27th state in the Union.

The first Europeans to set foot in Florida were the Conquistadors, led by Juan Ponce de León in 1513. It is a myth that he was looking for the famed Fountain of Youth.

Of course, long before the Spanish got to Florida, there were aboriginal peoples living all along the peninsula. According to the WikiWackyWoo:

By the 16th century, the earliest time for which there is a historical record, major Native American groups included the Apalachee (of the Florida Panhandle), the Timucua (of northern and central Florida), the Ais (of the central Atlantic coast), the Tocobaga (of the Tampa Bay area), the Calusa (of southwest Florida) and the Tequesta (of the southeastern coast).

The Spanish founded St. Augustine in 1565, making it the oldest continually inhabited city in the U.S. But, St. Augustine has another distinction, so says the Wiki:

Florida attracted numerous Africans and African Americans from adjacent
British colonies in North America who sought freedom from slavery. The
Spanish Crown gave them freedom, and those freedmen settled north of St. Augustine in Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first free black settlement of its kind in what became the United States.[citation needed]

In 1763, Spain traded Florida to the Kingdom of Great Britain for control of Havana, Cuba, which had been captured by the British during the Seven Years’ War. It was part of a large expansion of British territory following the country’s victory in the Seven Years’ War. Almost the entire Spanish population left, taking along most of the remaining indigenous population to Cuba.[14] The British soon constructed the King’s Road connecting St. Augustine to Georgia. The road crossed the St. Johns River at a narrow point, which the Seminole called Wacca Pilatka and the British named “Cow Ford”, both names ostensibly reflecting the fact that cattle were brought across the river there.[15][16][17]

However, England lost Florida back to the Spanish after they lost the Revolutionary War to the insurgent ‘Merkins. 

In 1810, parts of West Florida were annexed by proclamation of President James Madison, who claimed the region as part of the Louisiana Purchase. These parts were incorporated into the newly formed Territory of Orleans. The U.S. annexed the Mobile District of West Florida to the Mississippi Territory in 1812. Spain continued to dispute the area, though the United States gradually increased the area it occupied. 

Seminole Indians based in East Florida began raiding Georgia settlements, and offering havens for runaway slaves. The United States Army led increasingly frequent incursions into Spanish territory, including the 1817–1818 campaign against the Seminole Indians by Andrew Jackson that became known as the First Seminole War. The United States now effectively controlled East Florida. Control was necessary according to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams
because Florida had become “a derelict open to the occupancy of every
enemy, civilized or savage, of the United States, and serving no other
earthly purpose than as a post of annoyance to them.”.[23]

Florida had become a burden to Spain, which could not afford to send
settlers or garrisons. Madrid therefore decided to cede the territory to
the United States through the Adams-Onís Treaty, which took effect in 1821.[24] President James Monroe was authorized on March 3, 1821 to take possession of East Florida and West Florida for the United States and provide for initial governance.[25] Andrew Jackson
served as military governor of the newly acquired territory, but only
for a brief period. On March 30, 1822, the United States merged East Florida and part of West Florida into the Florida Territory.[26]

Florida was admitted to the Union as a Slave State on this day in 1845.

I’ve lived in Florida for the past 10.5 years and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t like it all that much. 

South Florida is hundreds of miles of continuous suburbia; single family homes and gated communities, between strip malls and gas stations, only interrupted by larger malls, condo complexes, and man-made drainage canals to keep The Everglades at bay. Not to mention Florida Man. And, the never-ending corruption. And, the stifling heat and oppresive humidity.

I agree with Bugs Bunny:

It hardly matters. Florida will be under water soon anyway.

Remembering the Challenger Crew 30 Years Later ► Throwback Thursday

►►► R.I.P. ◄◄◄

Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka
Teacher Sharon Christa McAuliffe
Payload Specialist Greg Jarvis
Mission Specialist Judy Resnick
Pilot Mike Smith
Commander Dick Scobee
Mission Specialist Ron McNair

The Birthday of the Ku Klux Klan ► Throwback Thursday

As the south grapples with removing the names of Confederate traitors from buildings and monuments, it’s a good time to remember the Ku Klux Klan was formed exactly 150 years ago today.

Wait. That’s a not entirely true. It’s more accurate to say the first iteration of the Ku Klux Klan was formed on this date in 1865. There were two others.

Three, if you count what’s been going on in this election cycle.

“I’m so glad we’re living in a post-racial society” is something I say frequently on Facebook and Twitter. I am always being sarcastic because I’ve never thought racism was eradicated. Ten years ago, when I first moved back to the States, I had people come up to me and say the most racist things, thinking we belonged to the same White skin club. And, this was before that Muslim Obama (/sarcasm) smoked out all the current racists.

According to

The organization of the Ku Klux Klan coincided with the beginning of the second phase of post-Civil War Reconstruction,
put into place by the more radical members of the Republican Party in
Congress. After rejecting President Andrew Johnson’s relatively lenient
Reconstruction policies, in place from 1865 to 1866, Congress passed the
Reconstruction Act over the presidential veto. Under its provisions,
the South was divided into five military districts, and each state was
required to approve the 14th Amendment, which granted “equal protection”
of the Constitution to former slaves and enacted universal male

From 1867 onward, African-American participation in public life in
the South became one of the most radical aspects of Reconstruction, as
blacks won election to southern state governments and even to the U.S.
Congress. For its part, the Ku Klux Klan dedicated itself to an
underground campaign of violence against Republican leaders and voters
(both black and white) in an effort to reverse the policies of Radical
Reconstruction and restore white supremacy in the South. They were
joined in this struggle by similar organizations such as the Knights of
the White Camelia (launched in Louisiana
in 1867) and the White Brotherhood. At least 10 percent of the black
legislators elected during the 1867-1868 constitutional conventions
became of violence during Reconstruction, including seven who
were killed. White Republicans (derided as “carpetbaggers” and
“scalawags”) and black institutions such as schools and churches—symbols
of black autonomy—were also targets for Klan attacks.

By 1870, the Ku Klux Klan had branches in nearly every southern
state. Even at its height, the Klan did not boast a well-organized
structure or clear leadership. Local Klan members–often wearing masks
and dressed in the organization’s signature long white robes and
hoods–usually carried out their attacks at night, acting on their own
but in support of the common goals of defeating Radical Reconstruction
and restoring white supremacy in the South. Klan activity flourished
particularly in the regions of the South where blacks were a minority or
a small majority of the population, and was relatively limited in
others. Among the most notorious zones of Klan activity was South Carolina, where in January 1871 500 masked men attacked the Union county jail and lynched eight black prisoners.


The Ku Klux Klan was eventually broken up by the Federal government, which passed the Enforcement Act of 1871 (aka the Civil Rights Act or the Ku Klux Klan Act). Then it took measures to arrest and convict the terrorists attacking Black folk in the south.

Then came the sequel. From the WikiWackyWoo:

Refounding in 1915

In 1915 the film The Birth of a Nation was released, mythologising and glorifying the first Klan and its endeavors. The second Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1915 by William Joseph Simmons at Stone Mountain, outside Atlanta, with fifteen “charter members”.[86] Its growth was based on a new anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, prohibitionist
and anti-semitic agenda, which reflected contemporary social tensions,
particularly immigration and industrialization. The new organization and
chapters adopted regalia featured in The Birth of a Nation.

The Birth of a Nation

Director D. W. Griffith‘s The Birth of a Nation glorified the original Klan. His film was based on the book and play The Clansman and the book The Leopard’s Spots, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr.

Much of the modern Klan’s iconography, including the standardized
white costume and the lighted cross, are derived from the film. Its
imagery was based on Dixon’s romanticized concept of old England and
Scotland, as portrayed in the novels and poetry of Sir Walter Scott. The film’s influence was enhanced by a purported endorsement by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson,
a Southerner. A Hollywood press agent claimed that after seeing the
film Wilson said, “It is like writing history with lightning, and my
only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” Historians doubt he
said it.[87]
Wilson felt betrayed by Dixon, who had been a classmate. Wilson’s staff
issued a denial, saying he was entirely unaware of the nature of the
play before it was presented and at no time has expressed his
approbation of it.”[88]

The new Klan was inaugurated in 1915 by William Joseph Simmons on top of Stone Mountain.
It was a small local organization until 1921. Simmons said he had been
inspired by the original Klan’s Prescripts, written in 1867 by
Confederate veteran George Gordon, but they were never adopted by the first Klan.[89]

The third Klan is generally accepted to be that time after World War II, through the Civil Rights Era of the ’60s.

Today there has been a reemergence Ku Klux Klan. The Klan’s former leader came out in support of Donald Trump, whose racist and xenophobic rants have energized the White Power Movement.

Everything old is new again.

Wright Flight ► Throwback Thursday

On this day in 1903, the Wright Brothers made the first successful flight of a heavier-than-air plane powered by its own motor. And, nothing was ever the same again.

According to the WikiWackyWoo:

The U.S. Smithsonian Institution
describes the aircraft as “the first powered, heavier-than-air machine
to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard.”[2] The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
described the 1903 flight during the 100th anniversary in 2003 as “the
first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.”[3] The Flyer I’s date of its first flight generally marks the beginning of the “pioneer era” of aviation.

People have dreamed of flying, ever since we saw our first bird. We’ve now had 112 years of flight and airlines still lose people’s luggage.

The Wiki also tells us:

Orville Wright
Wilber Wright

The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are credited[1][2][3] with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903. From 1905 to 1907, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft.
Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the
Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made
fixed-wing powered flight possible.

To quote myself from 3 years ago:

Inventors around the globe were looking for a way to control flight,
including bicycle salesmen Orville and Wilbur Wright. The idea began
with them in 1899, when Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian Institution
asking for info on aeronautics. The brothers spent the next several
years working on their invention, realizing that they should perfect
controlled glider flight before adding an engine to their airplane.
There were many failures, but the Wright Brothers kept refining the
glider until they were able to control its flight. In 1903 they added an
engine and traveled to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, their perennial
testing ground. On December 14, Wilbur — who won a coin toss — took a
3-second flight, but the engine stalled after take-off and the
subsequent crash made repairs necessary. On December 17, 1903, this time
with Orville behind the controls, they succeeded with the “first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier than air human flight.
It doesn’t sound like much today, but Orville traveled 120 feet in 12
seconds about 10 feet above the ground, which works out to about 6.8
MPH. Exactly one photograph was taken of the historical event.

Other early attempts at flight were not nearly as successful:

FULL DISCLOSURE: The truth of the matter is that one of the reasons I take my marathon road trips is because I have an inner ear problem. Flying, in a pressurized cabin, makes me wonky. When I get off a plane I am dizzy for days, as if I just got off the wildest ride at the C.N.E., with a migraine that lasts several days. It’s a leftover symptom of the vestibular disorder I had several years ago.

Happy flying!!!