Archive for the ‘history’ Category

DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

April 16, 2021

DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

On April 16, 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act freeing the 3000 enslaved people in the District of Columbia. This was nine months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Confederate states, many of whom actually remained in bondage until the the war’s end in 1865, and 20 months before ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which definitively outlawed slavery everywhere in the United States.

Understandably, April 16th is a holiday in the District of Columbia, District Emancipation Day, traditionally celebrated with speeches, concerts, fireworks and parades. There’s a bit of rain on that parade, though, if you take a closer look at history. That 1862 act was called the Compensated Emancipation Act, and it authorized payments to DC slaveowners rather than liberation of enslaved people on moral grounds. It even sought to promote emigration of former slaves outside the borders of the United States.

In any case, black Washingtonians had their freedom. That’s definitely worth celebrating.

More:

“When Slaveowners Got Reparations,” Tera W. Hunter, New York Times

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Pope Gregory XIII: Father of April Fools’ Day?

April 1, 2021

Pope Gregory XIII: Father of April Fools’ Day?

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII instituted the (you guessed it) Gregorian Calendar, which moved New Year’s Day from March 32nd (honest) to January 1st. People who didn’t know that March 32nd was now April 1st and were still celebrating the old New Year looked pretty foolish that day, hence April Fools’ Day.

Or maybe the story’s just a prank. Pretty good yarn, anyway.

More:

“A brief, totally sincere history of April Fools’ Day,” Sarah Caplan, Washington Post

“April Fools’ Day, explained earnestly,” Michelle Hackman, Vox

“April Fools: The Roots of an International Tradition,” Stephen Winick, Folklife Today

“April Fools International: World’s Best Pranks Ever?” Anne-Sophie Goninet, Worldcrunch

“No Kidding: We Have No Idea How April Fools’ Day Started,” Ashley Ross, TIME

“Stamos Documentary? Trader Joe’s Closing? Cornhub? Must Be April Fools’ Day,” NPR

(more…)

Rasputin

November 27, 2020

Who was Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin? Eden Girma explores the history of the “Mad Monk.” A TED-Ed video animated by Luisa Copetti.

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Armistice Day

November 11, 2020

Armistice Day

Today Veterans Day is observed in the United States. It was originally named Armistice Day and commemorated the time the agreement to stop The Great War was signed, at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. After World War I failed to be The War to End All Wars, the U.S. observance was officially renamed Veterans Day in 1954, probably because veterans of later wars vote and dead WWI soldiers don’t, and we already have Memorial Day. Britain still commemorates the WWI Armistice and those who died to achieve it, and today it is known as Remembrance Day in Commonwealth nations.

More:

“History of Veterans Day,” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

“A day by many names, celebrated all the same,” Jason Duhr, Stars and Stripes

(more…)

George Washington, Mount Vernon Slaveowner

September 28, 2020

George Washington, Mount Vernon Slaveowner

“Brenda Parker’s job is to help shape the narrative of the enslaved people at Mount Vernon. Parker, the head of African American interpretation, says the plantation is now focused as much on the lives of the enslaved people as it is on the life of George Washington.”

“Parker feels a deep, emotional connection to Caroline Branham, the interpretive character she portrays as part of her job.”

“’You know like if your grandmother gave to you a dog, and that dog did have a litter of puppies. It would be your choice to keep one, sell one, and give one away as a gift. That’s how we’re thought about,’ says Parker, as Branham, recalling how she explains to children the way in which enslaved families were torn apart.”

–” George Washington’s Mount Vernon Highlights More Stories Of Enslaved People,” Esther Ciammachilli, WAMU 88.5

More:

“10 Facts About Washington & Slavery,” MountVernon.org

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Image (“George Washington Observes Black History Month”) by Mike Licht. Download a free copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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When German Spies Blew Up New Jersey

January 17, 2020

Before the U.S. entered World War I, German spies blew up the munitions works on Black Tom Island in New York Harbor. A Vox video.

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Ooops! There Goes the Berlin Wall.

November 15, 2019

November 9, 1989: one of the biggest moments in the Cold War started with a little confusion at Günter Schabowski‘s press conference. A Vox video.

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Operation Dragoon

August 29, 2019

Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of occupied Southern France during World War II. Troops from France’s African and Carribean colonial garrisons took part, and thousands of them died. Their contrubution has been largely ignored, until now.

More:

“France commemorates its ‘forgotten’ African veterans,” Christina Okello, RFI

“African leaders join Macron at commemoration of WWII landings in Provence,” France 24

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The Invasion of America

August 12, 2019

“The story of Native American dispossession is too easily swept aside, but new visualisations should make it unforgettable.

Between 1776 and the present, the United States seized some 1.5 billion acres from North America’s native peoples, an area 25 times the size of the United Kingdom. Many Americans are only vaguely familiar with the story of how this happened. They perhaps recognise Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears, but few can recall the details and even fewer think that those events are central to US history.”

— “The invasion of America,” Claudio Saunt, Aeon

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D-Day’s ‘Matchbox Fleet’

June 6, 2019

D-Day’s ‘Matchbox Fleet’

Sixty wood-hulled boats made in Brooklyn were carried across the North Atlantic to England on the decks of Liberty Ships seventy years ago. The patrol boats, each 83 feet long, were designed for anti-submarine patrol and coastal search and escort, but had been modified as rescue craft. Most had radar; some had sonar.

The group of small, wooden, gasoline-powered cutters, vulnerable to incendiary shells, was understandably nicknamed the ”Matchbox Fleet.”  On June 6, 1944, these boats crossed the English Channel as U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Flotilla One (ResFlo1), part of Operation Neptune/Overlord.

Inscription on the Rescue Flotilla 1 (The “Matchbox Fleet”) Memorial, harborside at Poole, Dorset, UK:

“From this Quay, 60 cutters of the United States Coast Guard Rescue Flotilla 1 departed for the Normandy Invasion, 6 June 1944.  These 83 foot boats, built entirely of wood, and the 840 crewmembers were credited with saving the lives of 1437 men and 1 woman.  In remembrance of the service of Rescue Flotilla 1, and with appreciation of the kindnesses of the people of Poole to the crews, this Plaque is given by the men and women of the United States Coast Guard.”

Above: 83-footer off the Normandy coast on June 8, 1944.

More:

U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Flotilla One at Normandy

The Iron Sailors of the Last Wooden Patrol Boat (WPB)

The Cutters,” E. Bishop, Naval History May/June 1994 (PDF courtesy of uscg83footers.org)

Rescue Flotilla 1WW2Talk (good selection of photos)

The U. S. Coast Guard at Normandy, Scott T. Price (overview of D-Day operations by USCG)

“How Rescue Flotilla One saved more than 400 men on D-Day,” The History Guy (video)

 

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Top image adapted from a Wheeler Shipyard graphic by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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