John’s Believe It Or Not… May 1st

John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

Good Monday All! Did you know…

* 1912 – Dominion of Canada issues first $5 bill, replacing the $4 one. (The Dominion of Canada issued five dollar bills for the first time in 1912. Many collectors see these notes and think they are incomplete because they do not feature a portrait. Each note has a simple vignette of a train. The train is the Ocean Limited and it is traveling on the Intercolonial Railway through the Wentworth Valley in Nova Scotia. These bank notes are relatively available in all grades, but that does not mean they are always cheap. Upon Confederation in 1867, the name Canada was officially adopted for the new Dominion, which was commonly referred to as the Dominion of Canada until after World War II.)

The $5 Bill

* 1931 Empire State Building dedicated. (On this day in 1931, President Herbert Hoover officially dedicates New York City’s Empire State Building, pressing a button from the White House that turns on the building’s lights. Hoover’s gesture, of course, was symbolic; while the president remained in Washington, D.C., someone else flicked the switches in New York. At the time of its completion, the Empire State Building, at 102 stories and 1,250 feet high (1,454 feet to the top of the lightning rod), was the world’s tallest skyscraper. The Depression-era construction employed as many as 3,400 workers on any single day, most of whom received an excellent pay rate, especially given the economic conditions of the time. The new building imbued New York City with a deep sense of pride, desperately needed in the depths of the Great Depression when many city residents were unemployed and prospects looked bleak. The grip of the Depression on New York’s economy was still evident a year later, however, when only 25 percent of the Empire State’s offices had been rented.)

The Empire State Building

* 1926 Ford factory workers get a 40-hour week. (On this day in 1926, Ford Motor Company becomes one of the first companies in America to adopt a five-day, 40-hour week for workers in its automotive factories. The policy would be extended to Ford’s office workers the following August. Henry Ford’s Detroit-based automobile company had broken ground in its labor policies before. In early 1914, against a backdrop of widespread unemployment and increasing labor unrest, Ford announced that it would pay its male factory workers a minimum wage of $5 per eight-hour day, upped from a previous rate of $2.34 for nine hours (the policy was adopted for female workers in 1916). The news shocked many in the industry–at the time, $5 per day was nearly double what the average auto worker made–but turned out to be a stroke of brilliance, immediately boosting productivity along the assembly line and building a sense of company loyalty and pride among Ford’s workers. In answer to the graphic below, history shows us that unions were created by workers to protect themselves from the capriciousness of greedy and uncaring business owners. Henry Ford’s enlightened labor policies prove this. So if present-day business owners don’t like unions, perhaps they should study people like Henry Ford.)

Henry Ford graphic citing his policies towards workers

* 1960 American U-2 spy plane shot down. (An American U-2 spy plane is shot down while conducting espionage over the Soviet Union. The incident derailed an important summit meeting between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that was scheduled for later that month. The U-2 spy plane was the brainchild of the Central Intelligence Agency, and it was a sophisticated technological marvel. Traveling at altitudes of up to 70,000 feet, the aircraft was equipped with state-of-the-art photography equipment that could, the CIA boasted, take high-resolution pictures of headlines in Russian newspapers as it flew overhead. Flights over the Soviet Union began in mid-1956. The CIA assured President Eisenhower that the Soviets did not possess anti-aircraft weapons sophisticated enough to shoot down the high-altitude planes. On May 1, 1960, a U-2 flight piloted by Francis Gary Powers disappeared while on a flight over Russia. The CIA reassured the president that, even if the plane had been shot down, it was equipped with self-destruct mechanisms that would render any wreckage unrecognizable and the pilot was instructed to kill himself in such a situation. Based on this information, the U.S. government issued a cover statement indicating that a weather plane had veered off course and supposedly crashed somewhere in the Soviet Union. With no small degree of pleasure, Khrushchev pulled off one of the most dramatic moments of the Cold War by producing not only the mostly-intact wreckage of the U-2 but also the captured pilot-very much alive. A chagrined Eisenhower had to publicly admit that it was indeed a U.S. spy plane.)

the u2 has been keeping tabs from the edge of space since the 1950s
the u2 has been keeping tabs from the edge of space since the 1950s

* 1915 International Congress of Women adopts resolutions. (On this day in 1915 in The Hague, Netherlands, the International Congress of Women adopts its resolutions on peace and women’s suffrage. The congress, also referred to as the Women’s Peace Conference, was the result of an invitation by a Dutch women’s suffrage organization to women’s rights activists around the world to gather in peaceful assemblage during one of the most divisive and intense international conflicts in history: World War I. It included more than 1,200 delegates from 12 countries—including Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Poland, Belgium and the United States. Starting with two basic assertions—that international disputes should be handled by pacific means and that women should have the right to exercise their own vote in government—the International Congress of Women called for a process of continuous mediation to be implemented, without armistice, until peace could be restored among the warring nations. By continuous mediation, the delegates meant that a conference of neutral nations should be convened that would invite suggestions for settlement from each of the belligerent nations and submit to all of them simultaneously, reasonable proposals as a basis for peace. Their resolutions announced at the close of the congress on May 1, endorsed measures designed for international cooperation, including an international court and a so-called Society of Nations, general disarmament and national self-determination. The delegates included a specific call for women to be given the vote: Since the combined influence of the women of all countries is one of the strongest forces for the prevention of war, and since women can only have full responsibility and effective influence when they have equal political rights with men, this International Congress of Women demands their political enfranchisement. Printed in English, French, and German, the resolutions of the International Congress of Women were distributed to European heads of state in early May 1915. The congress also determined that a delegation of women would be sent to meet with representatives of the belligerent governments to plead the cause of continuous mediation. To that end, 30 delegates toured Europe between May and June 1915; though its arguments did little to sway the leaders of the warring nations, the proposals introduced by the congress are still used today as guidelines for many diplomatic negotiations between hostile nations. It is truly shameful that they were ignored and the ‘wiser’ government leaders subjected their nations to three more years of butchery.)

WW1 Women's International Peace Conference
WW1 Women’s International Peace Conference  (Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre)
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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 (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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