Posts Tagged ‘history’

The Art of War In 5 Minutes

May 20, 2022

Chinese General Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War in the Fifth Century BC. It has influenced warfare across the globe for centuries. A Life Guide video.

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Roman Concrete

April 27, 2022

From the 2nd century BC on, concrete (opus caementicium) was everywhere in the Roman Empire, in breakwaters of artificial harbors, soaring vaults of great public baths, the Colosseum, and the dome of the Pantheon. But during late antiquity, concrete all but vanished, and would not be used again until the twentieth century. Garrett Ryan explains.

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

April 15, 2022

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.

Tomorrow Saturday, April 16th, the District of Columbia will celebrate District Emancipation Day, 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

“D.C. celebrates Emancipation Day,” Cuneyt Dil, Axios Washington D.C.

“D.C. celebrates its 160th Emancipation Day this weekend,” Elliot C. Williams, Alexya Brown, and Rachel Kurzius, WAMU News

“Bondage to Freedom: Commemorating DC Emancipation Day,” Karl Racine, Medium

“The DC Emancipation Day Celebration Is Back After Two Years. Here Are the DC Street Closures for Saturday’s Parade and Concert.”  Damare Baker, Washingtonian

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

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Horn & Hardart Automats

April 11, 2022

Horn & Hardart Automat cafeterias provided meals without waiters in Philadelphia and New York during the 20th century. Playwright Neil Simon called automats “the Maxim’s of the disenfranchised.” The restaurants looked like they were automated because patrons couldn’t see the dozens of sweating workers preparing their dishes and putting them behind the serving doors.

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Linoleum!

April 4, 2022

Linoleum, the miracle flooring, was invented by Frederick Walton in 1863. Linoleum was in the Titanic, the British Houses of Parliament, your grandma’s kitchen, and under spinning break dancers. Thought tacky in the late 20th century, “Lino” is hip again. A Vox video by Marie Cascione.

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April 1, 1582: Pope Gregory XIII Invents April Fools’ Day. Maybe.

April 1, 2022

April 1, 1582: Pope Gregory XIII Invents April Fools’ Day. Maybe.
In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII instituted the (you guessed it) Gregorian Calendar, which moved New Year’s Day from March 32nd (really) 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 is just a prank. Pretty good tale, anyway.

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

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The US Photographed Its Own WWII Concentration Camps

March 31, 2022

President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed Executive Order 9066 in February 1942, two months after Japan bombied Pearl Harbor. It empowered the US army to incarcerate 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II.

In March 1942 the government created a new department, the War Relocation Authority, and hired photographers to document “resettlement” and life in the “relocation” camps, possibly to complement the work of the WRA’s Community Analysis Section. One of those photographers was Dorothea Lange, who had documented dustbowl migrants and other rural Americans for the Farm Security Administration. The WRA photographs were surpressed until 1972.

A Vox video by Coleman Lowndes.

More:

Dorothea Lange’s WRA photos at the University of California

Dorothea Lange’s WRA photos at the US National Archives

The Densho Encyclopedia

Japanese American incarceration

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Vatican City

March 22, 2022

Vatican City, explained by CGP Grey.

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Danger: Tomatoes!

March 21, 2022

The tomato: many think it’s a vegetable, but technically it’s a fruit. The Aztecs and other early Americans though it was great, and so did the Spanish who conquered them. The Brits were not so sure about those blood-red “love apples,” though. A Fire of Learning video by Justin LaViolette.

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St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2022

St. Patrick (née Maewyn Succat) was a 5th century Brit, abducted as a teenager as a forced laborer and carried to Ireland, where he got religion. He later escaped to France and became a priest before returning to proselytize in Ireland. A millennium later, North America’s early Irish immigrants and their descendants began to celebrate the day of his death as a joyous holiday, which seems a wee bit ghoulish.

The party ramped up after the Potato Famine increased Irish immigration to the US in the mid 19th century. St. Patrick’s Day became a celebration of parades, corned beef and cabbage, fiddle music, soda bread, and green beer rather than the solemn saint’s day it had been in the Auld Sod, but that’s America for you. US tourists in Ireland expected a big bash on March 17th, and the host country was glad to oblige, in celebration of greenback dollars. The holiday has now gone global. Faith and begorrah!

A National Georgraphic video.
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