Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Civil War Food Prices Were Lower Than Those of Today

Between 1861 and 1863, the Civil War caused huge percentage price jumps. Eggs went from 15 to 25 cents per dozen, cheese from 8 to 18 cents per pound, and a bushel of potatoes from $1.50 to $2.25.

But if the prices were actually lower than they were in 1918, why was there so much more economic anger about prices during the Civil War than during World War I? Because during the Civil War, income and wages were doing a much worse job at keeping pace with inflation.

Ostensibly the lesson here for the present day would be that politicians should try their best to insure that wages go up. Yet in 2016, American middle-class incomes reached their highest levels ever, yet the presidential election reflected seemingly the opposite result.

Civil War Food Prices Were Lower Than Those of Today (PDF)

From Sunday, January 9, 1918

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Written by Jesse

January 9th, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Business,History

“Keep Jolly!” Somme Veteran Tells Our Men

How does a soldier keep from going insane in wartime? Maintain your sense of humor. That was the advice in this 1917 article. Among the examples they gave were:

“They give absurd names to everything. The Tommies call the ‘R.I.P.’ that is put on a soldier’s grave ‘Rise If Possible.’ When the rats were bad in Belgium and we were amusing ourselves by shooting at them along the parapet, I heard a pal of mine tell a rookie that those trench rats were so big that he had seen one of them trying on his greatcoat.”

Alas, people wouldn’t become that fun until the late 1970s. If this was the best humor they had to offer, a lot of WWI soldiers probably did go insane.

“Keep Jolly!” Somme Veteran Tells Our Men: Soldiers at the Front Would Go Crazy If They Didn’t Joke, Says Lieutenant Alexander McClintock, U.S.R., Formerly in the Canadian Army (PDF)

From Sunday, December 23, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 22nd, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Posted in History,War

Precedents for Expulsion of Senators

A U.S. Senate member getting expelled from office hasn’t happened since 1862. So when this 1917 article was written, it had already been 55 years since the last time.

It’s come close to happening since. In the past century, there have been 9 senators who faced expulsion proceedings. But all of them either resigned before they could be removed from office, or else did not meet the required threshold that two-thirds of the Senate vote to expel them.

The most recent case was in 2011, when Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) was charged with financial misconduct, but he resigned before he could be expelled.

The last time a senator even faced an expulsion vote at all, and didn’t resign beforehand, was in 1942. Sen. William Langer (R-ND) was charged with corruption, but the Senate voted 52-30 to keep him in office.

14 of the 15 Senate expulsions that have ever taken place occurred during the Civil War, when multiple senators were expelled for supporting the Confederacy.

But it might potentially happen again later this year.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is facing a corruption trial this month. If Menendez is convicted and is expelled (or resigns), under New Jersey state law, the governor would appoint the successor.

If it’s before January 2018, that would be Republican Gov. Chris Christie. But if it’s after January 2018, the next governor would have the privilege — and polling indicates that the November gubernatorial election will likely be a landslide win for Democrat Phil Murphy.

With Republicans only holding a narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate, every vote counts —  see this summer’s health care repeal which failed by only a single vote. So a Senate seat that potentially switches parties could change things dramatically in Washington and the country at large.

Precedents for Expulsion of Senators: Some Cases During Civil War Days Recalled by Present Demand for Oustin of La Follette and Other Obstructionists (PDF)

From Sunday, October 7, 1917

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Written by Jesse

October 5th, 2017 at 10:01 am

Posted in History,Politics

‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as Nation’s Anthem

The Francis Scott Key song, though written in 1814, was not fully recognized as the American national anthem until patriotic fervor struck upon involvement in World War I in 1917. The Star-Spangled Banner would not be officially declared as the American national anthem until 1931, and would not even be played at a sports game for the first time until 1918.

As this article notes: “No theater audiences stood while it was being played in 1898, and, in fact, the general disposition at that period, at least in the Northeastern part of the United States, was to elevate ‘My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,’ to the place of honor.”

I can personally attest that being the singer for the national anthem before a sports game, as this column I wrote for my college newspaper years ago recounts:

‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as Nation’s Anthem: Only Since the Present War Against Germany Began Has It Been Generally Recognized — The Real Story of Its Origin (PDF)

From Sunday, July 15, 1917

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Written by Jesse

July 19th, 2017 at 7:31 am

Posted in History,Music,War

Earliest Known Manhattan Map Made in 1639

A map of “New Amsterdam” with Dutch inscriptions was created in 1639 by cartographer Joan Vingboom. It was then hidden and forgotten about in Holland for almost 200 years. Finally the “Manatus map” had been donated to the Library of Congress, believed to be the earliest map of what is now New York City.

The names used in the map didn’t quite adhere to the Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly lyrics mapping out the city: “New York, New York, a wonderful town / The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down…”

Earliest Known Manhattan Map Made in 1639: Indian Settlements Occupied the Area That Is Now Called Brooklyn, and Even Coney Island Occupied Its Present Place (PDF)

From Sunday, March 25, 1917

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Written by Jesse

March 30th, 2017 at 7:01 am

Posted in History