February 19, 2009
Domestic Bliss, Today in History
According to Mostly Cajun, today is the 97th anniversary of the first prize to ever be put into a box of Cracker Jack. The snack has been around since 1893, when it was served at the Chicago World’s Fair. It wasn’t named Cracker Jack until 1896; prizes weren’t included until 1912. The sailor, “Jack”, who is pictured on the front of the box is such an enduring icon that the uniform he’s wearing in the picture is referred to by the U.S. Navy as “Crackerjacks”. The dog’s name is ‘Bingo’. Click on the box on the left for a link to Wikipedia, which lists more trivia about this taste of Americana.
Now I have to go to the store … I can’t remember the last time I had a box.
January 15, 2009
Politics, Today in History
“A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion”
January 15, 1870, p.48. -Wood engraving-
The donkey first appeared as a symbol for the Democratic Party in the 1830s when the Democrat Andrew Jackson was President. The donkey continued in American political commentary as a symbol for the Democratic Party thereafter. Thomas Nast built upon this legacy and used his extraordinary skill to amplify it. For a time, the rooster also served as the symbol of the Democratic Party, but gradually the donkey replaced it in popular usage after the 1880s. Nast first used the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party in “A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” published January 15, 1870, in Harper’s Weekly to comment on Northern Democrats (nicknamed Copperheads) dealings with Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War.
via Thomas Nast.
November 19, 2008
Today in History
November 19, 1863
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.
January 4, 2008
Miscellaneous, Today in History
You’ve heard the expression “slower than molasses in January”? The following story, lifted from the Urban Legends section at about.com, tells the story of The Molasses Disaster of 1919, during which molasses was clocked at 35 MPH – in Boston – in January.
The story you’re about to read isn’t an urban legend per se, though there is a longstanding folk belief associated with it: On hot, summer days in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston, they say, a faint, sickeningly-sweet odor wafts up from cracks in the pavement — the stench of 85-year-old molasses….The date was January 15, 1919, a Wednesday. It was about half-past noon. In Boston’s industrial North End, folks were going about their business as usual. Only one small detail seemed out of the ordinary, and that was the temperature — unseasonably warm, in the mid-40s, up from a frigid two degrees above zero just three days before. The sudden thaw had lifted everyone’s spirits. To anyone who was out on the street that day, it scarcely seemed a harbinger of disaster.But trouble was brewing fifty feet above street level in the form of a cast-iron tank containing two-and-a-half million gallons of crude molasses.The molasses, owned by the United States Industrial Alcohol Company, was slated to be made into rum, but this particular batch would never make it to the distillery.
Sweet, sticky, deadly goo
At about 12:40 p.m. the giant tank ruptured, emptying its entire contents into Commercial Street in the space of a few seconds. The result was nothing less a flash flood consisting of millions of gallons of sweet, sticky, deadly goo.
June 19, 2007
Today in History
Today is Tuesday, June 19, 2007, the 170th day of the year. There are 195 days remaining.
On this date in 1892, from History.com:
1892 : A bloody fingerprint elicits a mother’s evil tale in Argentina
Francesca Rojas’ two young children are killed in their home in the small town of Necochea, Argentina. According to Rojas, a man named Velasquez had threatened her when she rejected his sexual advances earlier in the day. Upon returning home later, Rojas claimed to have seen Velasquez escaping out her open door. Once inside, she found both her six-year-old boy and four-year-old girl stabbed to death.
Police arrested and questioned Velasquez, but he denied any involvement, even after some rather painful interrogation techniques were used to obtain a confession. Law enforcement officials even tried tying him to the corpses of the children overnight. When that didn’t produce any results, Velasquez was tortured for another week. Still, he maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal.
Juan Vucetich, in charge of criminal identification at the regional headquarters, had been intrigued by the new theories of fingerprint identification and sent an investigator to see if the methods could help crack the case. Until then, the only other method of identification was the Bertillonage, named after its inventor, Alphonse Bertillon, who worked for the Paris police. This method involved the recording of body measurements in more than 11 different places. In an age when photography was very expensive, Bertillonage gave police their best chance of definitively identifying a person.
When the investigator examined Rojas’s house, he found a bloody thumb print on the bedroom door. Rojas was then asked to provide an ink-print of her thumb at the police station. Even with only a rudimentary understanding of forensic identification, investigators were able to determine that the print on the door belonged to Rojas. Using this new piece of evidence against her, detectives were able to exact her confession.
Apparently, Rojas had killed her own children in an attempt to improve her chance of marrying her boyfriend, who was known to dislike children, and then pegged the crime on Velasquez. She was sentenced to life imprisonment.