John’s Believe It Or Not… March 12th

John standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Superlative Sunday! Did you know…

* 1857 – Great Western Railway train collapses bridge over Desjardins Canal, 60 killed. (The day was March 12, 1857. A Great Western Railway train en route to Hamilton from Toronto was crossing the swing bridge over the Desjardins Canal — the narrow channel crossed by the High-Level Bridge, Highway 403 and a rail bridge today — when a wheel axle broke. The train derailed with such force that the structure of the bridge gave way and the train and cars plummeted to the frozen canal below, breaking through the ice. Sixty people died in what, in its day, was one of the worst railway disasters in North America.)

A drawing of the bridge collapsed

* 1888 Chinese labourers excluded from U.S. (Agreeing to cooperate with a policy unilaterally adopted by Congress six years earlier, China approves a treaty forbidding Chinese labourers to enter the United States for 20 years. In the 1850s, large numbers of Chinese immigrated to the American West. Most came from the Pearl River Delta region of South China, where famine and political instability made if difficult for them to support the large extended families thought to be essential to happiness and success. When exaggerated reports of the California Gold Rush reached China, thousands of Chinese men booked passage for California. In contrast to many of the other immigrants to the American West, few of the Chinese immigrants intended to settle permanently in the U.S. They planned instead to work in the gold fields only until they had saved enough money to return to China and support their families. Inevitably, the success and distinct culture of the Chinese immigrants made them an easy target for xenophobic Anglos. Wherever they went, however, the Chinese were treated with growing resentment. By the 1880s, many working-class Anglos began to accuse the Chinese of depriving them of jobs and undermining early efforts to unionise the western mining industry. Blatant racism fed Anglo-hatred. One San Franciscan argued that God intended the Chinese to remain only in China, for “they are not a favoured people, they are not to be permitted to steal from us what we have.”)

Political cartoon: a Wasp picking up a white citizen by the collar to help him while dangling a Chinese labourer over the water by his hair braid.
The Wasp: What We Would Like To See


* 1776 Public Notice urges recognition of “humane ladies”. (On this day in 1776, in Baltimore, Maryland, a public notice appears in local papers recognising the sacrifice of women to the cause of the revolution. The notice urged others to recognize women’s contributions and announced, “The necessity of taking all imaginable care of those who may happen to be wounded in the country’s cause, urges us to address our humane ladies, to lend us their kind assistance in furnishing us with linen rags and old sheeting, for bandages.”On and off the battlefield, women were known to support the revolutionary cause by providing nursing assistance. But donating bandages and sometimes applying them was only one form of aid provided by the women of the new United States. From the earliest protests against British taxation, women’s assent and labour was critical to the success of the cause. The boycotts that united the colonies against British taxation required female participation far more than male—in fact, the men designing the non-importation agreements generally chose to boycott products used mostly by women.)

"Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth, June 1778,"
“Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth, June 1778,”

* 1933 FDR gives first fireside chat. (On this day in 1933, eight days after his inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his first national radio address or “fireside chat,” broadcast directly from the White House. Over the course of his historic 12-year presidency, Roosevelt used the chats to build popular support for his groundbreaking New Deal policies, in the face of stiff opposition from big business and other groups. After World War II began, he used them to explain his administration’s wartime policies to the American people. The success of Roosevelt’s chats was evident not only in his three re-elections but also in the millions of letters that flooded the White House. Farmers, business owners, men, women, rich, poor–most of them expressed the feeling that the president had entered their home and spoken directly to them. In an era when presidents had previously communicated with their citizens almost exclusively through spokespeople and journalists, it was an unprecedented step.)FDR sitting before radio microphones

* 1966 – Bobby Hull first NHL player to score more than 50 goals in a season. (In 1962 he joined Rocket Richard and Bernie Geoffrion as the only NHLers to score 50 goals in a season (54), a feat he achieved four more times, and was the first player to record more than 50 goals a season. Hull revived hockey in Chicago and led his team to the 1961 Stanley Cup. With his blistering slap shot – one was measured at 118.3 mph, 35 mph above the NHL average – he won the Art Ross Trophy leading the NHL in scoring 3 times, was 2-time Hart Memorial Trophy MVP (1965, 1966), and was an NHL first-team all-star 10 times.) Hull pictured with no shirt working in a farm field.

Look who was born on this date!

Portrait of John Abbott* John Abbott in 1821. (Canadian Prime Minister of Canada:  The third Prime Minister of Canada, he served in the office from June 1891 to November 1892. He considered himself a caretaker prime minister as he only spent 17 months in office. He was the first Prime Minister born in Canada.)



Kerouac pictured holding his cat.* Jack Kerouac in 1922. (Jack Kerouac was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Kerouac is recognised for his method of spontaneous prose.)



Portrait of Romney beside the US flag.* Mitt Romney in 1947. (American Politician and businessman who was the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election. He was also the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.)




Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

5 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… March 12th”

    1. Although I’m not pointing a finger at my American brothers and sisters (because all of these things happened in my country too), I do wish to remind us all that we haven’t really eradicated the sins of the past in a more enlightened society. Personally, I think the Holocaust can happen again and again. It’s interesting that upon the election of a person who habitually makes outrageous remarks publicly, that encourages others to speak out about their deeply-held prejudices. Making such beliefs socially unacceptable does not eliminate them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, John!

      Liked by 1 person

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