Saturday, February 28, 2015

Election Campaigning – State of the Art 2014

by Jack Le Moine

More red, more Republican votes;
more blue, more Democratic votes.
CC BY-SA 4.0 image from Wikipedia.
From the latest happenings in things historical. The article How We Won Texas was published 22 days ago in Politico. The article’s author is Dave Carney.

As 2014 passed into history we noticed what worked and what did not in political campaigning. Every election the state of the art changes. This article described
the Texas governor race and the innovative approaches that were taken.

Friday, February 27, 2015

France’s Wars: The 100 Years War 1338-1453

by Jack Le Moine

Did you ever notice that in almost every great war in history, France has been involved in some way? Here’s an example: England's 100+ war to conquer France.

The Kings of England attempted to unite both England and France under their rule. This led to a series of wars that lasted from 1337 to 1453 that are collectively known as The Hundred Years War. This conflict included some of the iconic battles of Medieval history, including Crecy and Agincourt.

The Plantagenet kings of England had long resentmented and regreted of the loss of their possessions in France under their King John. Calculations of inheritance as well as of the relative weaknesses of the French kings and kingdom led the Plantagenets to go for it all.

In reading stories of the Hundred Years War, it is important to remember that this was also the period of the Black Death that carried away over a third of the total population of Europe. With companies of mercenaries plundering the people and plague decimating them, the armies operated in a desolated land.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

All Progress Depends on Who?

Shaw in 1900
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

- George Bernard Shaw

More on George Bernard Shaw.

Tomorrow HUNDRED YEARS WAR, our next installment in the France's Wars series

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Florence, Primus Inter Pares

Featuring Oliphant Smeaton from his book The Medici and the Italian Renaissance published in 1901.

Introduction to our series Lorenzo de Medici and Florence’s Renaissance:
William Henry Oliphant Smeaton (1856 – 1914) was a Scottish historian. While the Renaissance began before Lorenzo de Medici’s time, his rule and his city served as a catalyst that took it to the next level. This is the story how that happened. And now, Oliphant Smeaton.

Time: 1449 - 1492
Place: Florence

The Magnificent Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance
a PBS documentary 

During the twelfth century several of the Italian cities—especially Florence and Venice--rose to great wealth and power. Venice, through her favorable situation, became preeminent in commerce, while Florence was coming to be the most important industrial center of Europe. In the thirteenth century Florence was the scene of continual strife between the Guelfs and Ghibellines, but she not only continued to develop in material prosperity, but also attained to intellectual activities whereby in the next century she gained a higher distinction. She took the foremost part in the Renaissance, and was the birthplace or the home of Dante, Boccaccio, and other leaders of the modern movement.

In the fifteenth century Florence reached a still loftier eminence under the Medici, a family celebrated for the statesmen which it produced and for its patronage of letters and art. Its most illustrious members were Cosmo (1389-1464) and his grandson Lorenzo, surnamed the "Magnificent." Lorenzo was born January 1, 1449, when the second great period of the Renaissance was nearing its close. That was the "period of arrangement and translation; the epoch of the formation of the great Italian libraries; the age when, in Florence around his grandfather Cosmo, in Rome around Pope Nicholas V, and in Naples around Alfonso the Magnanimous, coteries of the leading humanists were gathered, engaged in labors which have made posterity eternally their debtors."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Darius Takes Samos

Previously in Herodotus

137. The Persians then sailing thence and pursuing Demokedes reached Croton, and finding him in the market-place they laid hands upon him; and some of the men of Croton fearing the Persian power were willing to let him go, but others took hold of him and struck with their staves at the Persians, who pleaded for themselves in these words: "Men of Croton, take care what ye are about: ye are rescuing a man who was a slave of king Darius and who ran away from him. How, think you, will king Darius be content to receive such an insult; and how shall this which ye do be well for you, if ye take him away from us? Against what city, think you, shall we make expedition sooner than against this, and what city before this shall we endeavor to reduce to slavery?" Thus saying they did not however persuade the men of Croton, but having had Demokedes rescued from them and the ship of burden which they were bringing with them taken away, they set sail to go back to Asia, and did not endeavor to visit any more parts of Hellas or to find out about them, being now deprived of their guide. This much however Demokedes gave them as a charge when they were putting forth to sea, bidding them say to Darius that Demokedes was betrothed to the daughter of Milon: for the wrestler Milon had a great name at the king's court; and I suppose that Demokedes was urgent for this marriage, spending much money to further it, in order that Darius might see that he was held in honor also in his own country.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Game Changer in the History Profession

by Jack Le Moine

From the latest happenings in things historical. This January 1, 2015 a partnership of the world’s universities opened up their rare manuscript collections to the general public via the internet. Before January 1, these manuscripts had only been available to scholars with an associated university pass. This event opens up primary source material research in this area to the general public.

This is being done in phases. The initial phase releases manuscripts from the early modern era. The service is free.

Google Books may have some of these titles but for now probably they don’t.

The books are available to the public in text files. PDF files are still only available to University subscribers.

My thanks to Professor John R. Yamamoto-Wilson of Sophia University in Tokyo for bringing this news to everyone’s attention (via LinkedIn).

The University Free Partnership
Professor John’s blog post last year.
The discussion in LinkedIn.  (Basic membership in LinkedIn is free.)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Order Restored in the Gold Fields of Australia

Featuring Edward Jenks

Previously on Gold Discovered in Australia. And now Edward Jenks.

Time: February 12, 1851
Place: Lewes Pond Creek

A gold nugget from the Australian
gold fields dug up in 1872.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
The Governor at once ordered all the available military force to Ballarat; but, before reinforcements arrived, the coolness and promptitude of Captain Thomas--the officer in command of the troops on the Ballarat gold-field when the riot of November 30th took place—had nipped the insurrection in the bud. Captain Thomas saw that, while the Eureka Stockade threatened to become a serious obstacle to the Government if its completion were allowed, in its uncompleted state it was really a source of weakness to the insurgents. By collecting their forces in one spot, and thus rendering them more exposed to a crushing attack, and by drawing off the men who threatened the government camp, it really left the commander of the troops free to act with decision. Accordingly, Captain Thomas at once determined to attack the position. Assembling his forces (somewhat fewer than two hundred men) at three o'clock on the morning of December 3d, he moved toward the stockade.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Who are Historians?

by Jack Le Moine

From the latest happenings in the world of history.

This March 1 the Host of the History Carnival will be in Unspoken Assumptions. Last April 17, 2014 she wrote In Defense of Historians. Her essay’s theme is ‘I’m a historian and you’re not.’ I believe that there’s two things wrong with this essay: (1) it fails to address the differences between professional and amateur historians; and (2) it fails to address the underlying causes of the problems professional historians face today.

Hello, my name is Heather and I’m a historian . . .

I have studied history for over ten years. I’ve written about history, researched history, taught history, attended many history conferences, had my work scrutinized and criticized by other historians.

To sum up, she is a historian. She even has a PhD! The essay then goes to it’s first mark: the great unwashed must not criticize the professional.

Michael Grove is not an historian nor is he an expert on the First World War – therefore he has zero right to criticize how historians do their job.

If the reader doesn’t already know who this MG is; the historian doesn't enlighten him. If the reader puzzles at this decision of the historian, consider what right you might have to express your reaction. If you’re not a credentialed professional or if you’re not an expert, is your right 50%, 25%, 10%, or 0%? From the quote above the correct answer to this multiple choice question is zero but one still must wonder how the essayist arrived at that figure? Was it the result of some mathematical calculation or just mere turf war? Like in ‘I’m a historian and you’re not.’

Friday, February 20, 2015

Loretta Young's Crisis

Time: Summer, 1959
Place: Paris
by Jack Le Moine

Publicity still from sometime in the 1940’s. 
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
The phone rang. Loretta Young answered it. It was bad news. She was dropped.

Her sponsor, Proctor and Gamble had warned her repeatedly for years. Last time they had sent a member of their corporate Board of Directors to deliver their ultimatum. Either stop with all these religious themed episodes or they would drop their sponsorship of The Loretta Young Show. He explained that the company kept getting complaints. They did not like complaints. Large quantities of complaints they liked even less. Large quantities of complaints hitting them year after year, they liked even less still. A top network television show cost a lot of money. Sponsors want to get goodwill and sales for all that money. Sponsors don’t want to spend lots of money to receive badwill.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chinese New Year, 2015

This may be the oldest holiday we celebrate as it goes back 4,000+ years.  This is the year of the goat.  More about this holiday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday, 2015

by Jack Le Moine

This is the first day of Lent in the Christian religion. It is approximately 40 days before Easter when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The number 40 days comes from passages in the Bible where Jesus went to the desert and prayed and fasted for 40 days. The thinking is that Christians can stand to fit into their schedule some small amount of prayer and fasting, too.

The custom of ashes comes from Biblical Times where penitents used ashes to signify their remorse of their sins. It also ties into the idea of “ashes to ashes, from dust to dust”. In the end, we’re all going to some spiritual destination in the afterlife or if religion is just superstition, we’re going to just stop existing.

The custom of putting on a sprinkling of ashes on one’s forehead grew in the first millennium of Christianity and was ratified by Pope Urban II in 1091. Protestants had and have varying beliefs and practices on this.

I like the idea of this holiday because it reminds us of the big picture in life.

Further information: Wikipedia.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Expedition to Scout out the Greeks Begins

Previously in Herodotus

132. Then Demokedes having healed king Darius had a very great house in Susa, and had been made a table-companion of the king; and except the one thing of returning to the land of the Hellenes, he had everything. And first as regards the Egyptian physicians who tried to heal the king before him, when they were about to be impaled because they had proved inferior to a physician who was a Hellene, he asked their lives of the king and rescued them from death: then secondly, he rescued an Eleian prophet, who had accompanied Polycrates and had remained unnoticed among the slaves. In short Demokedes was very great in the favor of the king.

Monday, February 16, 2015

President’s Day, 2015

by Jack Le Moine

President’s Day consolidated the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln into one holiday together with the rest of the presidents. This consolidation of multiple holidays into one is a welcome exception to the trend of holiday overload that fills the calendar with holidays. It is a shame that people have stopped observing some of the official holidays.

Presidents have been accorded varying degrees of greatness. Some have been just overlooked. Today, this blog draws attention to one of those.

Chester A. Arthur (President 1881 – 1885) was one of those presidents who did not do much but the nation greatly expanded during his time. Perhaps there’s a causal connection there?

Of all the presidents his reputation and record of corruption in his previous office of Collector of the Port of New York made him distasteful. He epitomized the machine politics of that time. Then he became President on the death of James Garfield. He championed civil service reforms that did away with many of the corrupt practices he had done before.

He was sick at the end of his term and died the next year after his term ended.

Alexander McClure wrote, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired ... more generally respected, alike by political friend and foe."

Here are two pieces of wisdom to take away from his life: (1) the importance of repentance and redemption; and (2) results matter more than activity.

Mark Twain wrote, "[I]t would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."

Further information: The White House.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

War in the Australian Gold Fields

Featuring Edward Jenks

Previously on Gold Discovered in Australia. And now Edward Jenks.

Time: February 12, 1851
Place: Lewes Pond Creek

A gold nugget from the Australian
gold fields dug up in 1872.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
Just at this moment an event occurred which rendered it impossible for the Government to maintain its position unimpaired with the scanty forces at its disposal. In the middle of September, 1853, the total abolition of the license fee was seriously proposed in the Legislative Council of New South Wales. The news flew like wildfire to Victoria, where the diggers had hitherto looked upon the colonial legislatures—in which, it will be remembered, they were not yet represented--as their natural enemies. It seemed to them now that they had everything in their own hands, and it became clearly impossible for the Government, in the existing temper of the diggers, to exact the full amount of the license fee. A proclamation, hastily published with a view to allay excitement, by an unfortunate omission in the printed copies led the public to believe that the total abolition of the license system was contemplated by the Victorian Government. A select committee of the Legislative Council reported unfavorably upon the system. The Government made the best of a bad bargain, and accepted a fee of forty shillings for the three months ending November 30, 1853; and, on the following day, the Legislative Council passed a new Gold-fields Act, which greatly reduced the fees for diggers' licenses, while it substantially increased those demanded for permission to open stores at the gold-fields. It also provided for the grant of leases of auriferous lands, at a royalty of not less than 5 per cent., and gave legal sanction to the customs regarding the "claims" of diggers, which had gradually grown up to regulate the rival interests of neighboring miners. Offences against the act were to be decided upon by the magistrates; but the accused might demand a court of at least two members, and there was to be an appeal to General Sessions.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine’s Day, 2015

This is a passage from The Courting of Dinah Shadd, by Rudyard Kipling. This short story was part of Indian Tales, published in 1899.

"'A word wid you, Dempsey,' sez I. 'You've walked wid Dinah Shadd four times this fortnight gone.'

"'What's that to you?' sez he. 'I'll walk forty times more, an' forty on top av that, ye shovel-futted clod-breakin' infantry lance-corp'ril.'

"Before I cud gyard he had his gloved fist home on my cheek an' down I went full-sprawl. 'Will that content you?' sez he, blowin' on his knuckles for all the world like a Scots Greys orf'cer. 'Content!' sez I. 'For your own sake, man, take off your spurs, peel your jackut, an' onglove. 'Tis the beginnin' av the overture; stand up!'

"He stud all he know, but he niver peeled his jacket, an' his shoulders had no fair play. I was fightin' for Dinah Shadd an' that cut on my cheek. What hope had he forninst me? 'Stand up,' sez I, time an' again whin he was beginnin' to quarter the ground an' gyard high an' go large. 'This isn't ridin'-school,' I sez. 'O man, stand up an' let me get in at ye.' But whin I saw he wud be runnin' about, I grup his shtock in my left an' his waist-belt in my right an' swung him clear to my right front, head undher, he hammerin' my nose till the wind was knocked out av him on the bare ground. 'Stand up,' sez I, 'or I'll kick your head into your chest!' and I wud ha' done ut too, so ragin' mad I was.

"'My collar-bone's bruk,' sez he. 'Help me back to lines. I'll walk wid her no more.' So I helped him back."

"And was his collar-bone broken?" I asked, for I fancied that only Learoyd could neatly accomplish that terrible throw.

"He pitched on his left shoulder point. Ut was. Next day the news was in both barricks, an' whin I met Dinah Shadd wid a cheek on me like all the reg'mintal tailor's samples there was no 'Good mornin', corp'ril,' or aught else. 'An' what have I done, Miss Shadd,' sez I, very bould, plantin' mesilf forninst her, 'that ye should not pass the time of day?'

"'Ye've half-killed rough-rider Dempsey,' sez she, her dear blue eyes fillin' up.

"'May be,' sez I. 'Was he a friend av yours that saw ye home four times in the fortnight?'

"'Yes,' sez she, but her mouth was down at the corners, 'An'—an' what's that to you?' she sez.

"'Ask Dempsey,' sez I, purtendin' to go away.

"'Did you fight for me then, ye silly man?' she sez, tho' she knew ut all along.

"'Who else?' sez I, an' I tuk wan pace to the front.

"'I wasn't worth ut,' sez she, fingerin' in her apron.

"'That's for me to say,' sez I. 'Shall I say ut?'

"'Yes,' sez she, in a saint's whisper, an' at that I explained mesilf; and she tould me what ivry man that is a man, an' many that is a woman, hears wanst in his life.

"'But what made ye cry at startin', Dinah, darlin'?' sez I.

"'Your—your bloody cheek,' sez she, duckin' her little head down on my sash (I was on duty for the day) an' whimperin' like a sorrowful angil.

"Now a man cud take that two ways. I tuk ut as pleased me best an' my first kiss wid ut. Mother av Innocence! but I kissed her on the tip av the nose and undher the eye; an' a girl that let's a kiss come tumble-ways like that has never been kissed before. Take note av that, sorr. . . ."

Here’s the complete story.

Friday, February 13, 2015

France's Wars: King John’s Angevin War 1202 - 1204

by Jack Le Moine

Did you ever notice that in almost every great war in history, France has been involved in some way? Here’s an example: The wars between Angevin Empire of England between France.

Summary: By 1200 the Kings of England had inherited or conquered over half of France. When Richard the Lionheart died in 1199 and his brother John inherited the throne and his French possessions, King Philip II of France determined to make his sovereignty over those lands real. For two years (1202 – 1204) the two kings fought the climatic war of the Angevin Era.

Background: After William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he and his descendants kept their title of Duke of Normandy and control over that land. Hence, they were both independent equals of the Kings of France and their subjects, too. Afterwards, marriages brought the English Kings the additional lands and titles of Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, and other titles and areas of control. Henry II (reigned 1154 – 1189) expanded and consolidated his holdings in France, Scotland, and Ireland.

Philip II was coronated King of the Franks in 1180 and signaled his policy by designating himself “King of France”. It was like a Declaration of Independence.  All future kings of France used this new title. France was officially born.

A series of wars with the English king commenced, first with Henry and then with Richard. There was an interruption for the Third Crusade (1190 – 1192) but while Richard was still in the Holy Land wresting castles from the Saracens, Philip rushed home to resume operations against English interests in France. On the way home, Richard was arrested and imprisoned in Germany. Philip used the time to reconquer most of Normandy. When Richard got out, he took control of the English army and restored his holdings in France.

Richard began building the ultimate castle of the age on the east bank of the Seine River below Paris in 1196. Construction of just this one castle cost more than twice as much as all castle construction in England combined. Richard supervised the building and shrunk construction time from a decade to just two years. It’s name was “Chateau Gaillard “ and it contained innovations that castles would still be adopting a century later. Richard boasted that he could hold this castle “were the walls made of butter”.

But he died in 1199 and his brother John inherited the throne, the noble fiefdoms, and the King of France’s determination of doom.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gore's 2000 Election Recount Demands

Can we count them with our nose?
Can we count them with our toes?
Should we count them with a band?
Should we count them all by hand?
If I do not like the count,
I will simply throw them out!
I will not let this vote count stand
I do not like them, AL GORE I am!

Can we change these numbers here?
Can we change them, calm my fears?
What do you mean, Dubya has won?
This is not fair, this is not fun
Lets count them upside down this time
Lets count until the state is mine!
I will not let this VOTE count stand!
I do not like it, AL GORE I am!

I'm really ticked, I'm in a snit!
You have not heard the last of it!
I'll count the ballots one by one
And hold each one up to the sun!
I'll count, recount, and count some more!
You'll grow to hate this little chore
But I will not, cannot let this vote count stand!
I do not like it, Al Gore I am!

I won't leave office, I'm stayin' here!
I've glued my desk chair to my rear!
Tipper, Hillary, and Bubba too,
all telling me that I should sue!
We find the Electoral College vile!
RECOUNT the votes until I smile!
We do not want this vote to stand!
We do not like it, AL GORE I am!

How shall we count this ballot box?
Let's count it standing in our socks!
Shall we count this one in a tree?
And who shall count it, you or me?
We cannot, cannot count enough!
We must not stop, we must be tough!
I do not want this vote to stand!
I do not like it AL GORE I am!

I've counted till my fingers bleed!
And still can't fulfill my counting need!
I'll count the tiles on the floor!
I'll count, and count, and count some more!
And I will not say that I am done!
Until the counting says I've won!
I will not let this vote count stand!
I do not like it, AL GORE I am!

What's that? What? What are you trying to say?
You think the current count should stay?
You do not like my counting scheme?
It makes you tense, gives you bad dreams?
Foolish people, you're wrong you'll see!
You're only care should be for me!

- Author unknown and no, it was not Dr. Seuss.

More on the election of 2000.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Gold Causes Problems

Featuring Edward Jenks

Previously on Gold Discovered in Australia. And now Edward Jenks.

Time: February 12, 1851
Place: Lewes Pond Creek

A gold nugget from the Australian
gold fields dug up in 1872.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
After the comparative failure of the gold-diggings in South Australia, the Government had wisely set itself to secure some part of the prosperity of the gold discoveries for its colony by establishing both land and river traffic routes. In these efforts it was highly successful. Many South Australians made handsome fortunes by sending provisions to the Buninyong and Mount Alexander districts, and the new steamers on the Murray proved a source of profit to the colony which lasted until the development of the railroad system. Unfortunately, this prosperity could hardly be realized at the time, owing to the great scarcity of coined money in the colony. In 1851 the privilege of coining was still jealously monopolized by the mint in London; while the rapid expansion of business in the latter part of that year had rendered the supply of coin in Australia totally inadequate to the demand.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Darius Is Cured

Previously in Herodotus

128. Thus Darius asked, and thirty men undertook the matter, each one separately desiring to do it himself; and Darius stopped their contention and bade them cast lots: so when they cast lots, Bagaios the son of Artontes obtained the lot from among them all. Bagaios accordingly, having obtained the lot, did thus:—he wrote many papers dealing with various matters and on them set the seal of Darius, and with them he went to Sardis. When he arrived there and came into the presence of Oroites, he took the covers off the papers one after another and gave them to the Royal Secretary to read; for all the governors of provinces have Royal Secretaries. Now Bagaios thus gave the papers in order to make trial of the spearmen of the guard, whether they would accept the motion to revolt from Oroites; and seeing that they paid great reverence to the papers and still more to the words which were recited from them, he gave another paper in which were contained these words: "Persians, king Darius forbids you to serve as guards to Oroites": and they hearing this lowered to him the points of their spears. Then Bagaios, seeing that in this they were obedient to the paper, took courage upon that and gave the last of the papers to the secretary; and in it was written: "King Darius commands the Persians who are in Sardis to slay Oroites." So the spearmen of the guard, when they heard this, drew their swords and slew him forthwith. Thus did retribution for the murder of Polycrates the Samian overtake Oroites.

Monday, February 9, 2015

More Gold Discoveries

Featuring Edward Jenks

Previously on Gold Discovered in Australia. And now Edward Jenks.

Time: February 12, 1851
Place: Lewes Pond Creek

A gold nugget from the Australian
gold fields dug up in 1872.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
He had not long to wait. Almost immediately after the issue of the proclamation another gold-field was discovered on the Turon River, also a feeder of the Macquarie, only a few miles from Lewes Pond; and shortly afterward a third was opened up on the Abercrombie, a tributary of the Murrumbidgee, which takes its rise in the Cordillera, south of Bathurst. By the beginning of June, gold began to pour into Bathurst; but Mr. Hardy, the chief commissioner, was able to report an almost idyllic peace and plenty at the diggings.

In the middle of July an event occurred which at once produced a violent attack of gold fever. This was the discovery of an enormous mass of virgin gold, weighing upward of one hundred pounds, by Doctor Kerr, a squatter on the Meroo Creek. Doctor Kerr had been guided to the spot by an aboriginal who had been in his service several years; and, in his excitement, he broke the matrix in which the nugget was imbedded, and thus spoiled what would have been the most magnificent specimen of gold quartz hitherto discovered. Even as it was, the display in Bathurst of a single find of gold worth four thousand pounds was enough to excite the feelings of the inhabitants to a pitch inconsistent with steady industry.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Just Where He Thought It Would Be

Featuring Edward Jenks

Introduction to our series Gold Discovered in Australia:
Edward Jenks was a famous law professor whose reputation rested primarily on his books on law and government. After spending time in Australia he published A History of the Australasian Colonies in 1895. And now, Edward Jenks.

Time: February 12, 1851
Place: Lewes Pond Creek

A gold nugget from the Australian
gold fields dug up in 1872.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
In the year 1851 Edmund Hammond Hargraves, an old settler in New South Wales, returned thither from California, where he had spent about eighteen months in the search for gold. His efforts in California resulted in no immediate prosperity, but he gained much useful practical experience. More than this, as he looked at the natural features of the California gold-fields, a great idea grew up in his mind. Though not a geologist, he appears to have had a quick eye for stratiform resemblances; and the more he studied the peculiarities of rocks and soil in California, the more he became convinced that he knew, in his own colony, a district which presented the same features and which, therefore, might be expected to produce the same results.

Remaining in California only long enough to verify his observations, he returned to Sydney at the beginning of the year 1851. Seldom has such absolute confidence in unverified observation proved so completely justified. According to Hargraves's own account he went without hesitation to a spot on the banks of a little stream known as Lewes Pond Creek, a tributary of Summer Hill Creek, itself a tributary of the Macquarie River, and there at once, on February 12, 1851, found alluvial gold. In April he had so far advanced as to be able to write to the Government offering to disclose his treasures for five hundred pounds. But he subsequently decided to trust to the liberality of the Government, and offered at once to show his workings to the government geologist, an official recently sent out from England to report upon gold prospects. On May 19th Mr. Stutchbury officially reported the discovery of gold in workable quantities at Summer Hill Creek, and by the end of the same month the immigration to the diggings had begun. Hargraves himself took no part in the digging, merely pointing out to others, without reserve, the places in which his experience led him to predict discovery, and instructing them in the processes of washing and cleaning. He was soon made a commissioner of Crown lands, and received a reward of ten thousand pounds.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Probe Lands on

From the latest happenings in things historical. The article Ten Years on Titan linked below was published 23 days ago in Slate.  The article's author is Phil Plait.

This article describes a ten year anniversary that it truly historic. On January 15, 2005 a probe landed on the moon of another planet for the first time. The moon wasTitan, the largest moon of Saturn.

The video originated from the probe as it was landing.  Explanatory graphics were added.  For example, the atmosphere on Titan is thick enough that a parachute-assisted landing could be and was made.  The parachute animation gives you an idea what the probe looked like as it was going down.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Again: Mitch McConnell Fact File

by Jack Le Moine

Who is the new leader of the Senate that’s making so much news? A few years ago I put together a short fact file on his past.

Every so often we like to resurrect an article from the blog’s past. This one is from March 11, 2010 and first appeared in my Political Journal blog. – Just one of the gems buried in the archives.
Only major Senator to oppose campaign finance reform on Constitutional grounds.

Here’s  the rest of the article. The original article was written by JL, too.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What Rulers Need Most

Bust of Seneca
CC BY-SA 3.0 image by Calidius from Wikipedia.
It is impossible to imagine anything which better becomes a ruler than mercy.

- Seneca the Younger

More on Seneca.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

James II Executes the Duke of Monmouth

Featuring Gilbert Burnet

Previously on Monmouth’s Rebellion. And now Gilbert Burnet.

Time: 1685
Place: Ledgemoor, Somerset

View Larger Map
Satellite view of the battlefield today.

His body was quite sunk with fatigue, and his mind was now so low that he begged his life in a manner that agreed ill with the courage of the former parts of it. He called for pen, ink, and paper, and wrote to the Earl of Feversham, and both to the Queen and the Queen dowager, to intercede with the King for his life. The King's temper, as well as his interest, made it so impossible to hope for that, that it showed a great meanness in him to ask it in such terms as he used in his letters. He was carried up to Whitehall, where the King examined him in person, which was thought very indecent, since he was resolved not to pardon him.[3] He made new and unbecoming submissions, and insinuated a readiness to change his religion; for, he said, the King knew what his first education was in religion. There were no discoveries to be got from him; for the attempt was too rash to be well concerted, or to be so deep laid that many were involved in the guilt of it. He was examined on Monday, and orders were given for his execution on Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Oroites Must Die

Previously in Herodotus

123. Polycrates having heard this rejoiced, and was disposed to agree; and as he had a great desire, it seems, for wealth, he first sent Maiandrios the son of Maiandrios, a native of Samos who was his secretary, to see it: this man was the same who not long after these events dedicated all the ornaments of the men's chamber in the palace of Polycrates, ornaments well worth seeing, as an offering to the temple of Hera. Oroites accordingly, having heard that the person sent to examine might be expected soon to come, did as follows, that is to say, he filled eight chests with stones except a small depth at the very top of each, and laid gold above upon the stones; then he tied up the chests and kept them in readiness. So Maiandrios came and looked at them and brought back word to Polycrates:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Battle of Ledgemoor

Featuring Gilbert Burnet

Previously on Monmouth’s Rebellion. And now Gilbert Burnet.

Time: 1685
Place: Ledgemoor, Somerset

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After Fletcher had ridden about as he was ordered, as he returned, the owner of the horse he rode on--who was a rough and ill-bred man—reproached him in very injurious terms for taking out his horse without his leave. Fletcher bore this longer than could have been expected from one of his impetuous temper. But the other persisted in giving him foul language, and offered a switch or a cudgel, upon which he discharged his pistol at him and shot him dead. He went and gave the Duke of Monmouth an account of this, who saw it was impossible to keep him longer about him without disgusting and losing the country people who were coming in a body to demand justice. So he advised him to go aboard the ship and to sail on to Spain whither she was bound. By this means he was preserved for that time.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Duke of Monmouth Lands in England

Featuring Gilbert Burnet

Introduction to our series Monmouth’s Rebellion:
This series is from History of My Own Time. Gilbert Burnet was a Whig who opposed King James. He was in exile when these events occurred. After the Glorious Revolution he ended up as Bishop of Salisbury. And now, Gilbert Burnet.

Time: 1685
Place: Ledgemoor, Somerset

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James II was scarcely seated on the English throne in 1685 when serious disturbances began in his realm. The King had inherited the peculiar traits of the Stuarts. His first purpose was to overcome the Parliamentary power and make himself absolute ruler. He was likewise a Roman Catholic, and one of his objects was the suppression of English Protestantism.

During the first days of his reign the Protestant peasants in the west of England rose in revolt. They supported the claims of James Fitzroy, Duke of Monmouth, to the throne. Monmouth was the (reputed) illegitimate son of Charles II and Lucy Walters. With other exiled malcontents, English and Scotch, he had taken refuge in Holland. One of those exiled was the Earl of Argyle, whose father had figured prominently on the side of the Scottish Presbyterians against Charles I.