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Monday, November 19, 2018

Monday links

The Gettysburg Address was seven score and fifteen years ago: here's some history and a brief video with contemporaneous photos and illustrations. Related: Pennsylvania newspaper prints retraction (written in the style of the Gettysburg Address) for 1863 article calling Gettysburg address "silly remarks".

Napoleonic refugees in America.

I'd forgotten all about the USFL: Donald Trump’s Misadventures in Professional Football.

President James Garfield's birthday - when he was shot, Alexander Graham Bell showed up with a metal detector to try to locate the bullet. 

Three Centuries After His Beheading, a Kinder, Gentler Blackbeard Emerges.

There's still time to gather all of the ingredients: The traditional drunken turkey recipe.

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and include Veterans Day links, why pencils are yellow, hair washing advice from the 12th and 17th centuries, and football physics.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

November 19 is President James Garfield's birthday

For mere vengeance I would do nothing. This nation is too great to look for more revenge. But for security of the future, I would do everything. 

~ James A. Garfield (wiki) (speech, 15 April 1865, on the occasion of President Lincoln's assassination) 

Nobody but radicals have ever accomplished anything in a great crisis. Conservatives have their place in the piping times of peace, but in emergencies, only rugged issue men amount to much. 

~  Garfield (statement in his diary for 1876) 

I am trying to do two things: dare to be a radical and not be a fool, which, if I may judge by the exhibitions around me, is a matter of no small difficulty. 

~ Garfield (letter to Burke A. Hinsdale, 11 January 1867) 

The divorce between the church and the state ought to be absolute; It ought to be so absolute that no church anywhere in any State or in the nation should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a church tax on the whole community.

~ Garfield (in the House of Representatives, 22 June 1874) 

Garfield died of a gunshot wound, from a disgruntled office-seeker, that today would probably not be life threatening. They just couldn't find the bullet and get it out. Alexander Graham Bell's attempt to locate it electronically, with the first metal-detector, failed, confused by the metal bed springs. Sadly, within ten years, the discovery of X-rays would provide a technology that could have made finding the bullet easy, even routine. With no antibiotics to control the infection, Garfield lingered painfully for more than two months.

~ Kelley L. Ross (b. 1949) (The Great Republic: Presidents and States of the United States) 

He did not flash forth as a meteor; he rose with measured and stately step over rough paths and through years of rugged work. He earned his passage to every preferment. He was tried and tested at every step in his pathway of progress. He produced his passport at every gateway to opportunity and glory. His broad and benevolent nature made him the friend of all mankind.

~ William McKinley (1843-1901)* (eulogy on the unveiling of a statue of President Garfield, 19 January 1896) 

November 19 is the anniversary of the birth of James A(bram) Garfield (1831-1881), 20th President of these United States, in Moreland Hills, Ohio. Born to a widowed farm wife, Garfield worked at a series of menial jobs but eventually attended Williams College, graduating in 1856. 

He entered politics as a Republican and served in the Ohio State Senate until the outbreak of the Civil War, in which he saw combat as a Union major general. In 1862 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served in that body until 1880, after 1876 as Republican Leader of the House. 

Noted as a skilled orator, Garfield supported the more radical aspects of Reconstruction, but later moderated his views and became known for his strong support in Congress for the gold standard and free trade. He narrowly escaped involvement in the Crédit Mobilier scandal of 1872, but his stature was such that the Republican party nominated him in 1880 as a compromise candidate for the Presidency, which he won handily. His four-month administration, characterized by party squabbles over federal jobs and political patronage, was cut short by his fatal wounding by a disappointed office-seeker in Washington in July 1881:

On July 2, 1881, at 9:20 a.m., James A. Garfield was shot in the back as he walked with Secretary of State Blaine in Washington's Baltimore and Potomac train station. The proud President was preparing to leave for Williams College—he planned to introduce his two sons to his alma mater. The shots came from a .44 British Bulldog, which the assassin, Charles J. Guiteau, had purchased specifically because he thought it would look impressive in a museum. Garfield's doctors were unable to remove the bullet, which was lodged in the President's pancreas. On September 19, 1881, the President died of blood poisoning and complications from the shooting in his hospital rooms at Elberon, a village on the New Jersey shore, where his wife lay ill with malaria.
The shot in the back was not fatal, not hitting any vital organs. The bullet lodged behind the pancreas.
"If they had just left him alone he almost certainly would have survived," Millard said. Within minutes, doctors converged on the fallen president, using their fingers to poke and prod his open wounds. "Twelve different doctors inserted unsterilized fingers and instruments in Garfield's back probing for this bullet," Millard recounted, "and the first examination took place on the train station floor. I mean, you can't imagine a more germ-infested environment." 
He died two and a half months later and was succeeded in office by Vice-President Chester A. Arthur. 

* N.B. Ironically, President McKinley was the next president to be assassinated - in September 1901. 

A brief documentary:

The Gettysburg Address was delivered on November 19, 1863: history, photos, videos and more

Today is the anniversary of President Lincoln's delivery of his few "brief remarks" at the dedication of the new national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (wiki), only four or so months after the great Civil War battle there that emerged as "the high-water mark of the Confederacy." 

One of the only two confirmed photos of Abraham
 Lincoln
 (sepia highlight) at Gettysburg, taken
about noon, just after Lincoln arrived and
some three hours before the speech.
To Lincoln's right is his bodyguard, 
Ward Hill Lamon
At the time, the final issue of the war was still in some doubt, and Lincoln received second billing to a lengthy speech by Dr. Edward Everett, then president of Harvard University and reputedly America's greatest orator. 

Everyone's familiar with the Gettysburg Address - didn't we all have to memorize it in grammar school? But in these troubled times, its mere 272 words remain well worth reading again. The full text is below.

By the way, Garry Wills' brilliant study Lincoln at Gettysburg analyzes the Gettysburg Address in terms of its role in defining the ethos of the United States for subsequent generations, while also tracing the antecedents of Lincoln's argument and the structure of his peerless prose back to Thucydides' account of Pericles' 430 B.C funeral oration at the end of the first year of the Peloponnesian War. (Wills notes that despite the popular view that Lincoln generally preferred short, pithy utterances, the final sentence of the Gettysburg Address is 84 words long - almost a third of the whole.)


Lincoln's speech, like Pericles', begins with an acknowledgment of revered predecessors: "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent..."; Lincoln, like Pericles, then praises the uniqueness of the State's commitment to democracy: "..a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...government of the people, by the people, and for the people..."; Lincoln, like Pericles, addresses the difficulties faced by a speaker on such an occasion, "...we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground"; Lincoln, like Pericles, exhorts the survivors to emulate the deeds of the dead, "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the great task remaining before us"; and finally, Lincoln, like Pericles, contrasts the efficacy of words and deeds, "The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract...The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." It is uncertain to what degree Lincoln was directly influenced by Pericles' Funeral Oration.
Wills never claims that Lincoln drew on it as a source, though Edward Everett, who delivered a lengthy oration at the same ceremony at Gettysburg, began by describing the "Athenian example".
This 2014 article on Obama's recitation of the speech (the 150th anniversary) in which he left out the words "under God" is from WMAL. Excerpts:
WASHINGTON -- One nation under God? Under President Obama, maybe not so much.
Union soldiers dead at Gettysburg, July 1963
In advance of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address (full text below), which President Abraham Lincoln delivered on November 19, 1863, filmmaker Ken Burns gathered every living President, along with several prominent members of Congress, celebrities and news media stars to deliver the address themselves. Burns edited the individual speeches into one final mashup that is available on the site, but he also provided the complete speech as delivered by each individual dignitary. 
Curiously enough, in his version of the speech, President Barack Obama's delivery contained an omission - in a line that every other celebrity delivered as "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom" (click here for proof of that), the President left out the words "under God." 
You can watch all of the speeches at learntheaddress.org.

Gettysburg Address full text:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any other nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. 

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here died that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. 

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 

~ Abraham Lincoln ("The Gettysburg Address," 19 November 1863)

Here's a brief documentary which includes most of the available photographs of Lincoln, some photos of battlefields, and several (non-photographic) illustrations from contemporaneous newspaper accounts. It also describes the historical context of the speech and Lincoln's feeling that it had been a failure:


An animated version of the speech:

Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault Studio on Vimeo.

This video is a series of photos from the morning after the battle, set to music:


At the Smithsonian, a Battle of Gettysburg Interactive Map.

Related: Paper prints retraction for 1863 article calling Gettysburg address "silly remarks"; retraction written in the style of Gettysburg Address (read the whole thing!):
Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to its audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives.
Mental Floss has an excellent post - Gettysburg: The Great Reunion of 1913.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Early attempts to produce the flying car we were supposed to have by now


Hobbes: "A new decade is coming up."

Calvin: "You call this the future?? HA! Where are the rocket packs? Where are the disintegration rays? Where are the flying cars?"

~ Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes (wiki) December 30, 1989

Mark my word: a combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come. 

~ Henry Ford, 1940 

By 1953 motor-cars will be obsolete, because aeroplanes will run along the ground as well as fly over it.

~ Sir Philip Gibbs,  1928.

Instead of a car in every garage, there will be a "copter". These tiny "copters", when school lets out, will fill the sky as the bicycles of our youth filled the prewar roads.

~ Harry Bruno, 1943

Weren't we supposed to have flying cars (wiki) by now? Below are some early attempts:

Nov 1947:


A ConVair Car Model 118 flying car during a test flight. The hybrid vehicle was designed by Theodore P. Hall for the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Company of San Diego, California, but never went into production. A test pilot had to make a crash landing after the vehicle unexpectedly ran out of fuel — he'd been reading from the car's fuel gauge, not the plane's. 
 April 1924:
A car with wings and a propeller protruding from the radiator grille drives through Times Square, New York. It was the invention of A.H. Russell of Nutley, New Jersey.
1928:

An aerocar, unconfirmed as being able to fly, which had a triple function: a combined car, airplane and boat.
Jan. 1946:

Ted Hall's NX59711. It had a top road speed of 60mph and flight speed of 110mph. Hall developed it as a design for paratroopers and commandos.
Lots more at Mashable, Daily Beast, and Smithsonian.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Friday links

"The War to End All Wars" ended 100 years ago on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month in 1918. Before it was Veterans Day it was Armistice Day, for the fallen of the First World War: here's some history. 


The Little-Known Reason Pencils Are Yellow.

Advice on hair washing from the 12th and 17th centuries.

Football Physics: Newton, Einstein and The Forces Behind Those Big Hits.

NASA has plans to probe Uranus in search of gas.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include how telegraph operators were the first to know news of the Civil War (which arrived in code), political maps of the United States from 1850 and 1880, Nazi werewolves, making whiskey and wine in a lab, and Guy Fawkes Day.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Before it was Veterans Day it was Armistice Day, for the fallen of the First World War: here's some history

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

~ Lawrence Binyon (wiki), For The Fallen

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. 

In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day in the U.S. (and Remembrance Day in British Commonwealth nations), a holiday dedicated to veterans of all wars. 

So, the First World War was what Veteran's Day was once really about... 

When every autumn people said it could not last through the winter, and when every spring there was still no end in sight, only the hope that out of it all some good would accrue to mankind kept men and nations fighting. When at last it was over, the war had many diverse results and one dominant one transcending all others: disillusion. 

~  Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989) (of World War I, The Guns of August, "Afterward") 

Are these weeks... months... years going by? No, really only days. We see time passing us by in the colorless faces of the dead; we shovel in our food, we run, we throw, we shoot, we kill, we lie around. We are weak and apathetic, and we only endure because there are those who are weaker, more apathetic, and even more helpless, who look wide-eyed on us as Gods, because we have outrun death so many times.

~ Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) (All's Quiet On The Western Front, Ch. 6)

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

~ A.E. Housman (1859-1936) ("Here Dead We Lie")

As a lover of truth, the national propaganda of all the belligerent nations sickened me. As a lover of civilization, the return to barbarism appalled me.

~ Bertrand Russell (wiki) (1872-1970) (of World War I, Autobiography, Vol. 2, Ch. 1)

Today is the anniversary of Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, when at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, the First World War came to an end after more than four years of carnage. (Armistice Day became Veterans' Day in 1954.) Described by British historian Corelli Barnett as a war that had "causes but no objectives, "the "Great War" left a legacy of disillusionment in its wake and made a shambles of the rest of the 20th century. All told, there were ten million military dead and seven million civilians killed. 

The resulting economic collapse, the draconian terms of the Treaty of Versailles (wiki), and the conviction of many Germans that they had been "stabbed in the back" led to an even more destructive rematch only two decades later. One could argue - and I do - that World War I was the greatest misfortune that ever befell Western civilization.

It destroyed the West's belief in inevitable human progress. It brought down the Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, and Ottoman empires, bankrupted France and England, and put the British Empire on the skids. It was the proximate cause of the triumph of Communism in Russia and the formation of the Soviet Union, drove the United States into two decades of international isolation, and instilled in Germany a thirst for revenge that led directly to the rise of the Nazis and World War II.

Moreover, in the Middle East, Britain's and France's cack-handed and self-serving division of the remains of the Ottoman Empire was largely responsible for all the turmoil we suffer there today. On hearing the terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany's much-maligned Kaiser Wilhelm II noted from exile that, 
"The war to end war has resulted in a peace to end peace." 
Here's a casualty chart for World War 1:
Country/RegionMobilizedKilledWoundedTotal K and WCasualties
Africa 55,00010,000unknownunknown-
Australia330,00059,000152,000211,00064%
Austria-Hungary6,500,0001,200,0003,620,0004,820,00074%
Belgium207,00013,00044,00057,00028%
Bulgaria400,000101,000153,000254,00064%
Canada620,00067,000173,000241,00039%
The Caribbean21,0001,0003,0004,00019%
French Empire7,500,0001,385,0004,266,0005,651,00075%
Germany11,000,0001,718,0004,234,0005,952,00054%
Great Britain5,397,000703,0001,663,0002,367,00044%
Greece230,0005,00021,00026,00011%
India1,500,00043,00065,000108,0007%
Italy5,500,000460,000947,0001,407,00026%
Japan800,0002501,0001,2500.2%
Montenegro50,0003,00010,00013,00026%
New Zealand110,00018,00055,00073,00066%
Portugal100,0007,00015,00022,00022%
Romania750,000200,000120,000320,00043%
Russia12,000,0001,700,0004,950,0006,650,00055%
Serbia707,000128,000133,000261,00037%
South Africa149,0007,00012,00019,00013%
Turkey1,600,000336,000400,000736,00046%
USA4,272,500117,000204,000321,0008%

Here's a 6 minute overview of World War I:



A 3 minute time-lapse video of the changing front lines:



An 8 minute video on The Treaty of Versailles and its consequences:


And, on a broader scale, 1000 years of war in 5 minutes:



Related posts:

April 25th is ANZAC Day - the Battle of Gallipoli was 100 years ago.

100 years ago today Austria declared war on Serbia, the first declaration of World War 1.



Gorgeous set of WW1 posters.

June 6 is D-Day: quotes (Shakespeare, Eisenhower, Churchill), videos (footage, FDR's and Reagan's speeches), lots of links.

It's V.E. Day: 70 years ago today, World War 2 ended in Europe.


The assault on Iwo Jima started 70 years ago today: quotes, history, and a documentary.

If you're interested in further information on the subject on the First World War, there are hundreds of books and films - the best books I know of (although I'm no expert) are Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August (which won a Pulitzer back when they meant something) and John Keegan's The First World War

Parts of the text above are adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Monday links

November 5 is Guy Fawkes Day: God preserved us from the "secret contrivance and hellish malice of Popish Conspirators".


Telegraph operators were the first to know news of the Civil War, which arrived in code. Related: how the breaking news spread in 1776.


The Nazi Werewolves Who Terrorized Allied Soldiers at the End of WWII. 


ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include Daylight Saving Time history (including Ben Franklin's satirical proposal), the science of chocolate, personal eating knives if Medieval Europe, 16th century eyebrow interpretation, and that time Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist proposed to Supreme Court Justice O'Connor.