Andy Jackson Wins the Battle of New Orleans With Some Piratical Help

In 1812, the United States was a bit more than a generation old, having finally wrested itself from control of Great Britain in 1782. Meanwhile, Great Britain was again at war with France (in fact, they’d spent at least 226 full years between 1066 and 1812 at war with France,) but since the outbreak of the War of 1812, Britain had instituted a naval blockade to choke off neutral trade to France, an act which President Madison considered a violation of international law. Further, to man the blockade, Britain forcibly impressed* American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy. This enraged the American public, as did British political support for a creating a large, “neutral” Native American state that would cover much of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan by allying themselves with the Indian Confederacy, under Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Many warriors, left their tribes to follow Tecumseh’s brother, Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee medicine man, who had a vision of purifying his society by expelling the “children of the Evil Spirit”, that is, the American settlers.

* Kidnapping sailors to fight as part of the crew of the enemy. Generally applied to the Royal Navy

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Congress: Armed and Dangerous

When a deranged loon attempted to shoot Republicans at a baseball practice a couple of weeks ago and seriously wounding Steve Scalise of Louisiana, several of his Congressional colleagues shocked the public by declaring that they would now arm themselves under certain situations. This prompted the usual drivel from the usual parties about how the once-mighty Senate and House have devolved into the Wild West.

In fact, weapons in Congress is nothing new. During the decades leading up to the Civil War, it was normal for senators and house members to carry guns, knives, and/or canes, just in case they needed to take care of unpleasant people, generally meaning anyone expressing a different political philosophy. For example, during a debate in 1850, Senator Henry Foote of Mississippi pulled a pistol on Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. That problem was resolved without incident when someone slapped the gun from Foote’s hand.

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California Town Elects Dog as Mayor

Sunol, CA is a sleepy little town of around 1000 residents about 25 miles due north of San Jose. It boasts fine weather, steam train rides, and bed races, but its main claim to fame is that it once had a canine mayor (a “dogmocracy,” according to one newspaper reporter.)

The story begins in a local bar one night in 1981. Two men were playfully arguing about which one of them would be the better mayoral candidate. A third man chimed in that his dog, “Bosco,” a black Lab/Rottweiler mix, could beat them both.

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Nylon Stockings Introduced; Women Everywhere Rejoice

First experimental stockings. Tops and feet were made of silk, the rest was nylon.

In the mid 1930s, DuPont chemists were studying chains of molecules called polymers, large “building block” molecules that are now used in everything from modern plastics to tennis shoes to DVDs. They were looking for a cheap substitute for silk, then used mainly for clothing and very expensive since it relied wholly on silkworms. In 1935, they discovered that when they pulled a heated rod from a beaker containing carbon- and alcohol-based molecules, they found the mixture stretched, and, at room temperature, had a silky texture. This work eventually led to the production of nylon and the beginning of the synthetic fiber industry. (Note that rayon, introduced in 1910, is considered a semi-synthetic fiber because it is manufactured from naturally occurring wood pulp.)

The word “nylon,” so the story goes, originated from the first suggestion, “nuron,”—“no run” spelled backward. Trademark issues caused DuPont to adapt the word to “nilon,” and then finally to “nylon” to remove any pronunciation ambiguity.

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Barbed Wire Helps the Nation Expand West

As the American frontier pushed westward into the Great Plains, farmers and others who lived off the land were forced to share space with cattlemen and sheep herders. Traditional fence materials—wooden rails and stone—ranged from scarce and expensive to non-existent, and landowners began looking for a way to keep the animals from straying onto their properties.

In the years prior to 1863, several individuals created forms of fencing that could be considered as barbed wire, but none of these creations ever reached the mass market. In 1863 a man by the name of Michael Kelly developed a type of fence with points affixed to twisted strands of wire, but Kelly failed to promote his invention properly, and his invention was soon forgotten.

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Alexander Fleming Accidentally Discovers Penicillin

Alexander Fleming Was born on August 6, 1881 in Ayrshire, Scotland. After completing his basic studies, he moved to London, where he attended the Royal Polytechnic Institution. After working in a shipping office for four years, the twenty-year-old Fleming inherited some money from an uncle, and decided to become a doctor like his older brother Thomas. So in 1903, he enrolled at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in Paddington, later graduating with distinction with an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1906.

Fleming had served as a private in the London Scottish Regiment of the Volunteer Force in 1900, and had been a member of the rifle club at the medical school. The captain of the club, wishing to retain Fleming in the team, suggested that he join the research department at St Mary’s, where he became the assistant bacteriologist to Sir Almroth Wright, a pioneer in vaccine therapy and immunology. In 1908, he achieved a Bachelor of Science degree with Gold Medal in Bacteriology, and became a lecturer at St Mary’s until WWI began, whereupon he took up a position as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He and many of his colleagues worked in battlefield hospitals at the Western Front in France, and Fleming witnessed many soldiers dying of sepsis from infected wounds. Antiseptics, which were used at the time to treat infected wounds, often worsened the injuries, and Fleming wondered why. After some experimentation, he was able to explain why antiseptics were killing more soldiers than the infection itself.

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Martin Luther Ushers in the Protestant Reformation

After more or less hiding from the Roman authorities for a couple of hundred years, Christianity began to take shape when Emperor Constantine formed the Council of Nicea in 325AD. A group of religious leaders from all over the empire came together and decided exactly which books would be in the bible, and which were to be considered apocryphal, and also settled a number of other church matters such as hierarchy. Constantine died in 337, just after being baptized, and in 380, mainstream Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

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The Great Seabees Train Robbery

Because it’s April Fool’s Day, there will be some who think this article is a hoax. But it actually did happen, and several sailors were awarded Navy Commendations for their actions.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States entry into WWII, the use of civilian labor in war zones became impossible. Under international law civilians were not permitted to resist enemy military forces, and those that did often faced summary execution as guerrillas. However, the military needed personnel to build advance bases, roads and bridges in war zones, so immediately after Pearl Harbor, an admiral by the name of Ben Moreell (1892-1978) requested special authority from the Bureau of Navigation to recruit men from the construction trades for assignment to one of three Naval Construction Battalions. This was the actual beginning of the renowned Seabees, who obtained their designation from the initial letters of Construction Battalion. Admiral Moreell, himself a member of the Naval Civil Engineering Corps, also furnished them with their official motto: Construimus, Batuimus — “We Build, We Fight.” (Their unofficial motto is, “the difficult we do right away, the impossible takes a little longer.”)

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Florence Nightingale Becomes the Pioneer of Modern Nursing

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence, Italy. Her father was a wealthy landowner by the name of William Edward Nightingale; her mother, Frances, hailed from a family of merchants and took pride in socializing with people of prominent standing. Florence was provided with a classical education, including studies in mathematics, German, French and Italian. She proved to be an above-average student, however she was somewhat awkward in social situations and preferred to avoid being the center of attention whenever possible.

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Monopoly Games Help Thousands of British Fliers Escape

Monopoly began in the early 1900s as something called, The Landlord’s Game, patented by a woman named, Elizabeth Magie. Property names and rules were changed and added to for nearly 30 years, until a man named Charles Darrow began producing a version using place names of Atlantic City, NJ, which he eventually sold to Parker Brothers. Parker Bros initially turned the game down because it was “too complicated, too technical, [and it] took too long to play,” but Christmas of 1934 showed that sales were pretty good at New York’s FAO Schwartz, so Parker Bros bought the game. And just in case, they also bought the copyright for The Landlord Game.

In December 1935, Parker Brothers granted licensing rights to the London-based Waddington Company, which produced its own version in 1936, with London locations substituted for the original Atlantic City sites.

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