John’s Believe It Or Not… June 24th

In 1497 – John Cabot From Bristol Claims America for England. In 1509 Henry VIII is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey. In 1997 U.S. Air Force reports on Roswell. In 1675 King Philip’s War begins. In 1901 Picasso exhibited in Paris.

Yay! It’s Saturday! Did you know…

* 1497 – John Cabot From Bristol Claims America for England. (Italian sailor and explorer John Cabot was born Giovanni Caboto around 1450. In 1497, Cabot traveled by sea to Canada, where he made a claim to land for England, mistaking the North American land for Asia.

Cabot was the son of a spice merchant, Giulio Caboto, in Genoa. At age 11, his family moved to Venice, where he learned sailing and navigation from Italian seamen and merchants. In 1474, John Cabot married a girl named Mattea and eventually became the father of three sons: Ludovico, Sancto, and Sebastiano. Sebastiano would later follow in his father’s footsteps, becoming an explorer in his own right.

In 1476, Cabot officially became a Venetian citizen and began conducting trade in the eastern Mediterranean. Records indicate that he got into financial trouble and left Venice as a debtor in November 1488. During this time, Cabot became inspired by the discoveries of Bartolomeu Dias and Christopher Columbus. Like Columbus, Cabot believed that sailing west from Europe was the shorter route to Asia. Hearing of opportunities in England, Cabot traveled there and met with King Henry VII, who gave him a grant to “seeke out, discover, and finde” new lands for England.

In early May of 1497, Cabot left Bristol, England, on the Matthew, a fast and able ship weighing 50 tons, with a crew of 18 men. Cabot and his crew sailed west and north under Cabot’s belief that the route to Asia would be shorter from northern Europe than Columbus’s voyage along the trade winds. On June 24, 1497, 50 days into the voyage, Cabot landed on the east coast of North America, though the precise location of this landing is subject to controversy. Some historians believe that Cabot landed at Cape Breton Island or mainland Nova Scotia. Others believe he may have landed at Newfoundland, Labrador or even Maine.) Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 24th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… June 23rd

In 1868 Christopher Latham Sholes patents the “Typewriter”. In 1992 Teflon Don sentenced to life. In 1934 Even without the corpse – a murderer is uncovered. In 2013 Wallenda makes Grand Canyon crossing on a high wire. In 1987 Tiffany visits the mall on her way to stardom.

It’s Friday – TGIF! Did you know…

* 1868 Christopher Latham Sholes patents the “Typewriter”.  (The idea behind the typewriter was to apply the concept of movable type developed by Johann Gutenberg in the invention of the printing press century to a machine for individual use. Descriptions of such mechanical writing machines date to the early eighteenth century. In 1714, a patent something like a typewriter was granted to a man named Henry Mill in England, but no example of Mills’ invention survives.

In 1829, William Burt from Detroit, Michigan patented his typographer which had characters arranged on a rotating frame. However, Burt’s machine and many of those that followed it were cumbersome, hard to use, unreliable and often took longer to produce a letter than writing it by hand.
Finally, in 1867, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin printer-publisher-politician named Christopher Latham Sholes, with assistance from Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule, patented what was to be the first useful typewriter. He licensed his patent to Remington & Sons of Ilion, New York, a noted American gun maker. In 1874, the Remington Model 1, the first commercial typewriter, was placed on the market.

Based on Sholes’ mechanical typewriter, the first electric typewriter was built by Thomas Alva Edison in the United States in 1872, but the widespread use of electric typewriters was not common until the 1950s.

The electronic typewriter, a typewriter with an electronic “memory” capable of storing text, first appeared in 1978. It was developed independently by the Olivetti Company in Italy and the Casio Company in Japan.) Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 23rd”

John’s Believe It Or Not… June 22nd

In 1944 FDR signs G.I. Bill. In 1775 Congress issues Continental currency. In 1989 Cease-fire established in Angolan civil war. In 1611 Hudson set adrift by mutineers. In 1675 Royal Greenwich Observatory established in England by Charles II.

It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…

* 1675 Royal Greenwich Observatory established in England by Charles II. (As Europeans took to the seas to explore the world and trade with other countries, astronomical information of sufficient quantity and accuracy to aid navigation, cartography, and timekeeping were needed, including working out how to measure longitude.

It was against this background that King Charles II appointed a Royal Commission to look into investing in astronomy.

Among those sitting on the Royal Commission was Sir Christopher Wren – most famous now for his architecture, but also a former professor of astronomy at Oxford. On March 4, 1675, the Commission reported back to Charles II, recommending the foundation of an observatory – Britain’s first state-funded scientific institution – and the appointment of an astronomer. Charles reportedly called for immediate action and on the same day John Flamsteed was named ‘astronomical observator’. A new era for Greenwich and for astronomy, time and navigation, had begun.

It was Wren who suggested using the ruined Greenwich Castle as the site for the new observatory. This location had the advantages of having solid foundations in place from the old castle, as well as being located on high ground in a royal park. Wren also oversaw the design of the building.

Flamsteed House was the first part of the Observatory to be built. It was intended as a home for the Astronomer Royal and for entertaining guests.

The project was notable for the speed in which it happened, and for the small budget with which it was achieved. Flamsteed was installed by 10 July 1676, less than a year after the foundation stone was laid, and a total of £520.45 ($104,068.67 USD today) was spent on construction, with costs being kept down by using recycled materials.) Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 22nd”

John’s Believe It Or Not… June 21st

In 1996 – National Aboriginal Day is proclaimed. In 1788 U.S. Constitution ratified. In 1963 French withdraw Navy from NATO. In 1964 The KKK kills three civil rights activists. In 1965 Mr. Tambourine Man is released.

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did you know…

* 1996 – National Aboriginal Day is proclaimed. (On June 13, 1996, Canada’s Governor General Roméo LeBlanc proclaimed June 21 as National Aboriginal Day after consulting with various aboriginal groups.
“Many cities in Canada are less than a hundred years old. But aboriginal people have lived in this land for more than a hundred centuries,” said LeBlanc at Rideau Hall.

“From coast to coast and in the Arctic, they first explored our lakes and rivers, they first mastered our forests and prairies, and they helped those who came later to join them.”

June 21 was chosen because of the summer solstice, the first day of summer and longest day of the year. Many Aboriginal groups mark the date as a time to celebrate their heritage.

“On June 21st, this year and every year, Canada will honor the native peoples who first brought humanity to this great land,” said Leblanc. “And may the first peoples of our past always be full and proud partners in our future.”

NAD is a day for all Canadians to celebrate the cultures and contributions to Canada of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.) Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 21st”

John’s Believe It Or Not… June 20th

In 1837 – Queen Victoria ascends throne at age 18. In 1895 Caroline Willard Baldwin 1st female PhD from an American University. In 1975 Jaws released. In 1789 Third Estate makes Tennis Court Oath in France. In 1900 Boxer Rebellion begins in China.

It’s Tuesday! Did you know…

* 1837 – Queen Victoria ascends throne at age 18. (On 20 June 1837, King William IV died in his sleep after a reign of seven years. His niece, the 18-year-old Princess Victoria, inherited the throne. Her accession marked the dawn of a new era in Britain’s history, which would come to represent industrial growth, scientific advances, and vast imperial expansion.

On a personal level, Queen Victoria is remembered for her passionate relationship with her husband Prince Albert (the Canadian province of Alberta was named in his honor), the grief that engulfed her after his death, and her longevity, with a reign of over sixty-three years. However, had it not been for the infidelities of her grandfather George III’s offspring and the untimely death of her cousin Princess Charlotte, it is probable that Britain’s second longest-reigning monarch may never have been born.

George III, commonly remembered as the ‘Mad King’, sired fifteen children, including nine sons, yet among their offspring was only one legitimate heir, Princess Charlotte. Charlotte was the daughter of George III’s oldest son, also called George, who would reign as the Prince Regent and later as King George IV. Charlotte was extremely popular with the British public and made a happy marriage with Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, but she died at a tragically young age following the birth of a stillborn son in 1817.

Edward, Duke of Kent, was the fourth son of George III. Charlotte’s unforeseen death forced him (along with his other brothers) to recognize the necessity of producing an heir since none of them had any surviving legitimate children. In the spring of 1818, he, therefore, wed Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, sister of the recently bereaved Leopold. It was a harmonious match and on 24 May 1819, the new Duchess of Kent gave birth to a daughter, who was named Alexandrina Victoria. Edward is reported to have said of the infant, ‘look at her well, for she will be Queen of England’. Alas, he died when she was less than a year old, but he had done his duty and the succession was secure.

George III died in 1820 and George IV ruled for ten years thereafter, after which the crown passed to another of Victoria’s uncles, William IV. It was around the time that William became King that Victoria was made aware of her place in the succession. Although fully conscious that she was mother to a future monarch, the Duchess of Kent persisted in limiting Victoria’s time at court and did little to endear herself to her late husband’s relatives. Conroy’s personal aspirations of power remained tangible, not least in the autumn of 1835 when he and the Duchess tried to force Victoria, who was severely ill at the time, to sign a document that would make Conroy her personal secretary and mean that she came of age at 21 instead of 18. Demonstrating immense strength of character, Victoria refused to sign.

William IVIt appears that William IV (pictured) had some sense of the schemes afoot, for at his birthday celebrations in 1836 he delivered a notorious speech, the gist of which was that he wished to survive another nine months so that a regency could be avoided and that he believed the Duchess of Kent was ‘surrounded by evil advisers’ and acting in an improper manner. It was an embarrassing interlude for both the Duchess and Victoria. The King’s wish that he should live beyond his niece’s 18th birthday was nonetheless realized – but only just. Victoria reached her majority on 24 May 1837. Within a month, William was dead. Victoria was woken early on the morning of his death and informed that she was now the Queen.) Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 20th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… June 19th

In 1793 – Upper Canada Assembly passes an act banning the import of slaves. In 1862 Slavery outlawed in US territories. In 1953 Rosenbergs executed. In 1864 CSS Alabama sinks off the coast of France. In 1905 First Nickelodeon opens.

Oh, oh… It’s Monday! Did you know…

* 1793 – Upper Canada Assembly passes an act banning the import of slaves. (The Act Against Slavery was an anti-slavery law passed on July 9, 1793, in the second legislative session of Upper Canada, the colonial division of British North America that would eventually become Ontario. It banned the importation of slaves and mandated that children born henceforth to female slaves would be freed upon reaching the age of 25.
John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of the colony, had been a supporter of abolition before coming to Upper Canada; as a British Member of Parliament, he had described slavery as an offense against Christianity. By 1792 the slave population in Upper Canada was not large. However, when compared with the number of free settlers, the number was not insignificant. In York (the present-day city of Toronto) there were 15 African-Canadians living, while in Quebec some 1000 slaves could be found. Furthermore, by the time the Act Against Slavery would be ratified, the number of slaves residing in Upper Canada had been significantly increased by the arrival of Loyalists refugees from the south who brought with them, servants and slaves.

At the inaugural meeting of the Executive Council of Upper Canada in March 1793, Simcoe heard from a witness the story of Chloe Cooley, a female slave who had been violently removed from Canada for sale in the United States. Simcoe’s desire to abolish slavery in Upper Canada was resisted by members of the Legislative Assembly who owned slaves, and therefore the resulting act was a compromise. The bulk of the text is due to John White, the Attorney General of the day. Of the 16 members of the assembly, at least six owned slaves.

The law, titled An Act to Prevent the further Introduction of Slaves and to limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude within this Province, stated that while all slaves in the province would remain enslaved until death, no new slaves could be brought into Upper Canada, and children born to female slaves after passage of the act would be freed at the age of 25.

This law made Upper Canada “the first British colony to abolish slavery”. The Act remained in force until 1833 when the British Parliament’s Slavery Abolition Act abolished slavery in most parts of the British Empire.) Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 19th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… June 18th

It’s Father’s Day Sunday! Did you know…

* 1812 War of 1812 begins. (The day after the Senate followed the House of Representatives in voting to declare war against Great Britain, President James Madison signs the declaration into law–and the War of 1812 begins. The American war declaration, opposed by a sizable minority in Congress, had been called in response to the British economic blockade of France, the induction of American seaman into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A faction of Congress known as the “War Hawks” had been advocating war with Britain for several years and had not hidden their hopes that a U.S. invasion of Canada might result in significant territorial land gains for the United States.

In the months after President Madison proclaimed the state of war to be in effect, American forces launched a three-point invasion of Canada, all of which were decisively unsuccessful. In 1814, with Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire collapsing, the British were able to allocate more military resources to the American war, and Washington, D.C., fell to the British in August. In Washington, British troops burned the White House, the Capitol, and other buildings in retaliation for the earlier burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. soldiers.

In September, the tide of the war turned when Thomas Macdonough’s American naval force won a decisive victory at the Battle of Plattsburg Bay on Lake Champlain. The invading British army was forced to retreat back into Canada. The American victory on Lake Champlain led to the conclusion of U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, and on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, formally ending the War of 1812. By the terms of the agreement, all conquered territory was to be returned, and a commission would be established to settle the boundary of the United States and Canada.

British forces assailing the Gulf Coast were not informed of the treaty in time, and on January 8, 1815, the U.S. forces under Andrew Jackson achieved the greatest American victory of the war at the Battle of New Orleans. The American public heard of Jackson’s victory and the Treaty of Ghent at approximately the same time, fostering a greater sentiment of self-confidence and shared identity throughout the young republic.) Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 18th”