Posts Tagged ‘history’

Thanksgiving

November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving

Sorry to rain on your Thanksgiving Day Parade, but today’s holiday myth covers up lots of tragic history. Europeans were in contact with northern Atlantic Coast Native Americans long before that English religious cult landed in Massachusetts, and indigenous people paid a heavy price for it. There were earlier meetings between native peoples and French and Basque fishermen and whalers, and Giovanni da Verrazzano documented contacts with native peoples in the Carolinas, New York Bay, and Narragansett Bay in 1544. John Smith met the Powhatans in 1608. Henry Hudson met Mohican people in 1609. The Spanish were as deadly to the indigenous nations of Florida as they had been in the Southwest and Southern Hemisphere.

Six years before the Mayflower, in 1614, Captain Thomas Hunt visited Massachusetts, where he abducted two dozen Wampanoag people from Patuxet and brought them to Spain for sale as slaves. One of them learned English and worked in Newfound as a translator in 1616, and on the New England Coast, which had been depopulated due to diseases brought by Europeans, in 1619. The man, Tisquantum, called Squanto by the English, remained, and was there when the so-called Pilgrims arrived in 1620. He helped the newcomers establish a mutual defense pact with the remaining Wampanoag people, as they and the English were threatened by the much larger Narraganset nation. They had a meal during their meeting, the mythic basis for today’s gluttonous orgy of stuffed turkey, candied yams, and pumkin pie.

Fifty years later, the good Christian people of Plimouth Colony attacked their native allies, killed their chieftain, and displayed his severed head on a pole in their settlement. They celebrated that event on June 29, 1676 with (you guessed it) a feast of thanksgiving.

More:

“Before Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrims, There Was Patuxet,” Virginia Williams, Atlas Obscura

“The rise of Thankstaking,” Russell Contreras, Axios

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

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Bicycles & Women’s Rights

November 21, 2022

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

— Susan B. Anthony, 1896

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Armistice Day

November 11, 2022

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 had 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

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40,000 years of music explained in 8 minutes

September 30, 2022

Michael Spitzer explains the history of music on earth. A Big Think video (transcript here).

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The British Empire Was Stuck Together With Gutta-percha

September 20, 2022

Latex from the Gutta-percha tree, a wonder of 19th century technology, allowed Victorian Britain to connect with far-flung overseas colonies. A BBC video by Archie Crofton, narrated by Emily West.

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Apple and Xerox

September 9, 2022

Early personal computers had just keyboards and a monochrome text-only interface. In 1972, the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) invented the Xerox Alto minicomputer, with a graphical interface, a mouse, and more. Early Apple computers had those same features. So was Steve Jobs just a Xerox copier? It’s more nuanced than that.  Phil Edwards explains.

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Labor Day

September 5, 2022

Big Bill Haywood

“Every dollar that the boss did not work for, one of us worked for a dollar and didn’t get it.”

William “Big Bill” Haywood

Related:

“What Is Labor Day? A History of the Workers’ Holiday,” Karen Zraick, New York Times

“Most Americans view unions favorably, though few workers belong to one,” Drew DeSilver, Pew Research Center

“Unions struggle in the courts, but they have a fighting chance in the streets,” Barry Eidlin, Washington Post

“Americans’ support for labor unions at highest in nearly 60 years,” Erum Salam, The Guardian

“A Labor Day Reflection on Unions, Race, and Division,” Dan Kaufman, The New Yorker

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The Medieval Islamic Empire

August 29, 2022

Petra Sijpesteijn and Birte Kristiansen of of Leiden University detail the rise and fall of the medieval Islamic Empire. A TED-Ed video directed by Elahe Baloochi and Fardi Mahmoodi.

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The Romans Stole Silk Secrets from China

August 19, 2022

Emperor Justinian I helped Romans steal the secrets of silk production from China. Industrial espionage in classical times. A video animation by Kings and Generals.

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Deng Xiaoping at the Rodeo

August 12, 2022

China’s Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping visited a rodeo in Simonton Texas, in 1979. He got a Stetson, and a couple of prize bulls. But that’s not all. Phil Edwards explains.

More:

“How a 10-gallon hat helped heal relations between China and America,” Adam Taylor, Washington Post

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