Category Archives: Historical Events & Figures

Australia: Penal Colony Turned Sovereign Nation

Australia

Fun Facts About the Founding of Australia

 

Captain Arthur Phillip

Captain Arthur Phillip

On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guides a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. After overcoming a period of hardship, the fledgling colony began to celebrate the anniversary of this date with great fanfare.

Australia, once known as New South Wales, was originally planned as a penal colony. In October 1786, the British government appointed Arthur Phillip captain of the HMS Sirius, and commissioned him to establish an agricultural work camp there for British convicts. With little idea of what he could expect from the mysterious and distant land, Phillip had great difficulty assembling the fleet that was to make the journey. His requests for more experienced farmers to assist the penal colony were repeatedly denied, and he was both poorly funded and outfitted. Nonetheless, accompanied by a small contingent of Marines and other officers, Phillip led his 1,000-strong party, of whom more than 700 were convicts, around Africa to the eastern side of Australia. In all, the voyage lasted eight months, claiming the deaths of some 30 men.

HMS Sirius

HMS Sirius

The first years of settlement were nearly disastrous. Cursed with poor soil, an unfamiliar climate and workers who were ignorant of farming, Phillip had great difficulty keeping the men alive. The colony was on the verge of outright starvation for several years, and the marines sent to keep order were not up to the task. Phillip, who proved to be a tough but fair-minded leader, persevered by appointing convicts to positions of responsibility and oversight. Floggings and hangings were commonplace, but so was egalitarianism. As Phillip said before leaving England: “In a new country there will be no slavery and hence no slaves.”

Though Phillip returned to England in 1792, the colony became prosperous by the turn of the 19th century. Feeling a new sense of patriotism, the men began to rally around January 26 as their founding day. Historian Manning Clarke noted that in 1808 the men observed the “anniversary of the foundation of the colony” with “drinking and merriment.”

Finally, in 1818, January 26 became an official holiday, marking the 30th anniversary of British settlement in Australia. And, as Australia became a sovereign nation, it became the national holiday known as Australia Day. Today, Australia Day serves both as a day of celebration for the founding of the white British settlement, and as a day of mourning for the Aborigines who were slowly dispossessed of their land as white colonization spread across the continent.

Special thanks to History.com 

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Ice Hockey and The Stanley Cup: Canada’s Official Sport and the Game’s Ultimate Prize

Modern-day Ice Hockey

Modern-day Ice Hockey

Fun Facts About Ice Hockey and The Stanley Cup

The Origin of Hockey

Ancient hockeyHockey has been played in some form or other for 100s of years. It is thought to be 1 of the earliest sports in the world, and was played by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, and Arabs.

Hurling, a sport very similar to hockey, is known to have been played during the first millennium BC in Ireland, and other similar types of sports were adopted by other Europeans in the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century). In pre-Columbian times (before the 16th century) Native South Americans also played a game much the same as hockey. The name hockey, thought to have been adapted by the English from the French word hoquet (shepherd’s crook), was 1st given to the sport in the eighteenth century but was not in common usage until the nineteenth century.

Ice Hockey

The modern game of ice hockey was invented in the mid-1850´s by British soldiers based in Canada. Rules were set by students at McGill University in Montréal, Canada, in 1879, and many amateur clubs and leagues were organized in Canada by the late 1880´s. The game is believed to have been 1st played in the USA in 1893. By the beginning of the twentieth century the sport had spread to England and other parts of Europe. The modern game developed in Canada, and nowadays is very popular in North America and East Europe.

The NHL is the most important league in the world; this National Hockey League comprises teams from the United States and Canada, but for many years almost all NHL players Canadians. The winning team of this competition is awarded the Stanley Cup trophy. Ice Hockey became an Olympic sport in 1920 and is 1 of the most popular events at the Winter Olympics.

The Stanley Cup

“I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup, which would be held from year to year by the leading hockey club in Canada. There does not appear to be any outward sign of a championship at present, and considering the interest that hockey matches now elicit, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held annually by the winning club.”

So mused Lord Stanley of Preston in 1892, at a sports banquet in Ottawa. The following year Canada’s governor-general was true to his word, purchasing a silver bowl for $50 and naming it the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. Hockey folks went with a less formal designation, the Stanley Cup.

The first winner was a Montreal team that finished atop the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, considered the best league going at the time. But in its early years, the prize was not exclusive to one hockey league, nor was it meant to be. It was a challenge cup, changing hands in much the same way as a boxing title. Contenders issued challenges, and the champions held the Cup for as long as they could fend off all comers. Independent trustees ensured that legitimate challenges were met on a regular basis.

In later years, as professionalism swept the game, it was accepted that the Stanley Cup could not remain exclusive to amateur teams. The Stanley Cup officially turned pro in 1910, when the National Hockey Association took possession of it. But it was not until 1926 that the National Hockey League emerged indisputably as the top league in North America, effectively taking control of the Cup. That control was formalized in an agreement signed with the Cup trustees in 1947.

Special thanks to CollegeSportsScholarships.com and About.com

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Robert Goddard: The Father of Modern Rocket Propulsion

Robert Hutchings Goddard, 1882 - 1945

Robert Hutchings Goddard, 1882 - 1945

Fun Facts About Robert Goddard

Dr. Robert H. GoddardThe father of modern rocket propulsion is the American, Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard. Along with Konstantin Eduordovich Tsiolkovsky of Russia and Hermann Oberth of Germany, Goddard envisioned the exploration of space. A physicist of great insight, Goddard also had an unique genius for invention.

By 1926, Goddard had constructed and tested successfully the first rocket using liquid fuel. Indeed, the flight of Goddard’s rocket on March 16,1926, at Auburn, Massachusetts, was a feat as epochal in history as that of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk. Yet, it was one of Goddard’s “firsts” in the now booming significance of rocket propulsion in the fields of military missilery and the scientific exploration of space.

Primitive in their day as the achievement of the Wrights, Goddard’s rockets made little impression upon government officials. Only through the modest subsidies of the Smithsonian Institution and the Daniel Guggenheim Foundation, as well as the leaves of absence granted him by Worcester Polytechnic Institute of Clark University, was Goddard able to sustain his lifetime of devoted research and testing. He worked for the U.S. Navy in both World Wars. Eighteen years after his successful demonstration at Auburn, Goddard’s pioneering achievements came to life in the German V-2 ballistic missile.

Goddard first obtained public notice in 1907 in a cloud of smoke from a powder rocket fired in the basement of the physics building in Worcester Polytechnic Institute. School officials took an immediate interest in the work of student Goddard. They, to their credit, did not expel him. He thus began his lifetime of dedicated work.

In 1914, Goddard received two U.S. patents. One was for a rocket using liquid fuel. The other was for a two or three stage rocket using solid fuel. At his own expense, he began to make systematic studies about propulsion provided by various types of gunpowder. His classic document was a study that he wrote in 1916 requesting funds of the Smithsonian Institution so that he could continue his research. This was later published along with his subsequent research and Navy work in a Smithsonian Miscellaneous Publication No. 2540 (January 1920). It was entitled “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes.” In this treatise, he detailed his search for methods of raising weather recording instruments higher than sounding balloons. In this search, as he related, he developed the mathematical theories of rocket propulsion.

Towards the end of his 1920 report, Goddard outlined the possibility of a rocket reaching the moon and exploding a load of flash powder there to mark its arrival. The bulk of his scientific report to the Smithsonian was a dry explanation of how he used the $5000 grant in his research. Yet, the press picked up Goddard’ s scientific proposal about a rocket flight to the moon and erected a journalistic controversy concerning the feasibility of such a thing. Much ridicule came Goddard’s way. And he reached firm convictions about the virtues of the press corps which he held for the rest of his life. Yet, several score of the 1750 copies of the 1920 Smithsonian report reached Europe. The German Rocket Society was formed in 1927, and the German Army began its rocket program in 1931. Goddard’s greatest engineering contributions were made during his work in the 1920’s and 1930’s (see list of historic firsts). He received a total of $10,000 from the Smithsonian by 1927, and through the personal efforts of Charles A. Lindbergh, he subsequently received financial support from the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation. Progress on all of his work was published in “Liquid Propellant Rocket Development,” which was published by the Smithsonian in 1936.

Diagram of Goddard's rocket design

Diagram of Goddard's rocket design

Goddard’s work largely anticipated in technical detail the later German V-2 missiles, including gyroscopic control, steering by means of vanes in the jet stream of the rocket motor, gimbalsteering, power-driven fuel pumps and other devices. His rocket flight in 1929 carried the first scientific payload, a barometer, and a camera. Goddard developed and demonstrated the basic idea of the “bazooka” two days before the Armistice in 1918 at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. His launching platform was a music rack. Dr. Clarence N. Hickman, a young Ph.D. from Clark University, worked with Goddard in 1918 provided continuity to the research that produced the World War II bazooka. In World War II, Goddard again offered his services and was assigned by the U.S. Navy to the development of practical jet assisted takeoff (JATO) and liquid propellant rocket motors capable of variable thrust. In both areas, he was successful. He died on August 10,1945, four days after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan.

Goddard was the first scientist who not only realized the potentialities of missiles and space flight but also contributed directly in bringing them to practical realization. This rare talent in both creative science and practical engineering places Goddard well above the opposite numbers among the European rocket pioneers. The dedicated labors of this modest man went largely unrecognized in the United States until the dawn of what is now called the “space age.” High honors and wide acclaim, belated but richly deserved, now come to the name of Robert H. Goddard.

On September 16, 1959, the 86th Congress authorized the issuance of a gold meal in the honor of Professor Robert H. Goddard.

In memory of the brilliant scientist, a major space science laboratory, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, was established on May 1, 1959.

 

GODDARD’S HISTORIC FIRSTS

Titan 23G Rocket

Titan 23G Rocket

Robert H. Goddard’s basic contribution to missilery and space flight is a lengthy list. As such, it is an eloquent testimonial to his lifetime of work in establishing and demonstrating the fundamental principles of rocket propulsion.

  • First explored mathematically the practicality of using rocket propulsion to reach high & altitudes and even the moon (1912);
  • First proved, by actual static test, that a rocket will work in a vacuum, that it needs no air to push against;
  • First developed and shot a liquid fuel rocket, March 16,1926;
  • First shot a scientific payload (barometer and camera) in a rocket flight (1929, Auburn, Massachusetts);
  • First used vanes in the rocket motor blast for guidance (1932, New Mexico);
  • First developed gyro control apparatus for rocket flight (1932, New Mexico);
  • First received U.S. patent in idea of multi-stage rocket (1914);
  • First developed pumps suitable for rocket fuels;
  • First launched successfully a rocket with a motor pivoted on gimbals under the influence of a & gyro mechanism (1937). 

 

Special thanks to nasa.gov

 

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Taxes: The Bad, The Ugly and the Absolutely Moronic

Russia's Peter the Great, 1672 - 1725

Russia's Peter the Great, 1672 - 1725

Fun Facts About Dumb, Annoying, Crazy or otherwise Controversial TAXES

BeardBeard Tax

To Shave or Not to Shave? Peter the Great taxed all (non-clergy) facial hair in 1705. As much as 90% of Peter the Great’s tax revenue used for military. (also taxed souls)

Facial Hair Tax

Massachusetts has a law on the books that makes it illegal to have a goatee without first purchasing a license to do so. A small fee must be paid in order to wear the facial hair in public, and one can be fined if a license is not presented to a law enforcement official upon request.

UrinalUrine Tax

Nero and Vespasian taxed collections from latrines. (used for textiles)

BribeBribe Tax

According to Page 87 of the IRS code, “if you receive a bribe, [you must] include it in your income.”

Mahatma GhandhiSalt Tax

Worth your weight in salt. 1930 Ghandhi’s first steps toward Indian Independence.

Ski Resort

Amusement Tax

In most states including Massachusetts and Virginia, is considered a tax on the patrons of places such as ski resorts, craft shows, and golf courses, but in reality is collected from the operators of such places. The government taxes the owners of places that offer “amusement” and in return those businesses pass the aforementioned taxes on to us.

Fountain sodaFountain Soda Drink Tax

Illinois has on record a tax rate on fountain drinks of 9 percent, as opposed to the standard sales tax of 3 percent.

Chinese take outTake-out Tax

Little did you know some areas levy a 0.5 percent tax on all take-out food. Chicago and Washington, D.C. both have enacted a tax on fast food, purportedly to pay for the removal of litter often accrued with the purchase of burgers and dogs. This tax applies to everything take-out, from your morning egg McMuffin to your late night cheese steak.

BlueberriesBlueberry Tax

In Maine, “anyone who grows, purchases, sells, handles, or processes the fruit in the state” makes those persons eligible for a ¾ cent per pound tax.

Playing cardsPlaying  Card Tax

Alabama has in place a 10 cent tax on the sale of all playing cards with 54 cards or less.

sparklerSparkler and Novelties Tax

West Virginia imposes a special fee on all businesses selling sparklers and other novelties. On top of the state’s 6 percent sales tax you can expect to pay an additional fee courtesy the state.

Illegal drugsIllegal Drug Tax

11 states in the U.S., including North Carolina and Nevada, tax citizens on possession of illegal drugs. After acquiring an illegal substance in North Carolina you are supposed to go to the Department of Revenue and pay a tax on it. In exchange, you will receive a stamp to affix to your drug which serves as evidence that a tax was paid.

NudityNudity Tax

In the State of Utah, taxpayers that own businesses where “nude or partially nude individuals perform any service” have to pay a 10% sales and use tax. It applies to all revenue from admission fees as well as the sales of merchandise, food, drink and services. These expenses are paid by the business owners who likely pass along the additional costs to their customers.

 

Special thanks to Huffington Post: A Dozen Dumb Taxes (from a compilation by Nick Sabloff)

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The Pony Express: First Mail Delivery Across the Untamed West

Pony Express Advertisement

Pony Express Advertisement

Fun Facts About the Pony Express

Purpose:

To provide the fastest mail delivery between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. To draw public attention to the central route in hope of gaining the million dollar government mail contract for the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company.

Date:

April 3, 1860 to late October 1861.

Mechanics:

Relay of mail by horses and riders. The Pony Express ran day and night, summer and winter.

Riders:

183 men are known to have ridden for the Pony Express during its operation of just over 18 months.

Rider Qualifications:

Ad in California newspaper read: “Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” Most riders were around 20. Youngest was 11. Oldest was mid-40s. Not many were orphans. Usually weighed around 120 pounds.

Riders Pay

$100 per month.

First Riders:

Johnny Fry was first westbound rider from St. Joseph. Billy Hamilton was first eastbound driver from Sacramento.

Rider Relay:

New riders took over every 75 to 100 miles.

Horse Relay:

Riders got a fresh horse every 10 to 15 miles.

Speed:

Horses traveled an average of 10 miles per hour.

Horses:

400 horses purchased to stock the Pony Express route. Thoroughbreds, mustangs, pintos, and Morgans were often used.

Stations:

Approximately 165 stations.

Trail Length:

Almost 2,000 miles.

Route:

St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Through the present day states of Kansas, Nebraska, northeast corner of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.

Departure:

Once a week from April 3 to mid-June 1860. Twice a week from mid-June to late October 1861. Departures were from both the east and the west.

Schedule:

10 days in summer. 12 to 16 days in winter.

Fastest Delivery:

7 days and 17 hours between telegraph lines. Lincoln’s Inaugural Address.

Longest Drive:

Pony Bob Haslam rode 370 miles (Friday’s station to Smith Creek and back. This is in present-day Nevada.)

Cost of Mail:

$5.00 per 1/2 ounce at the beginning. By the end of the Pony Express, the price had dropped to $1.00 per 1/2 ounce.

Founders:

William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell. The company was the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. The Pony Express was a subsidiary of the famous freight and stage company.

Other Mail Routes:

Water route from New York to San Francisco and across Panama by pack mule. Southern or Butterfield route from St. Louis and Memphis to El Paso to Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Telegraph Completed:

October 24, 1861. Official end of the Pony Express.

Failures:

Financially, the owners spent $700,000 on the Pony Express and had a $200,000 deficit. The company failed to get the million dollar government contract because of political pressures and the outbreak of the Civil War.

Successes:

Improved communication between east and west. Proved the central route could be traveled all winter. Supported the central route for the transcontinental railroad. Kept communication open to California at the beginning of the Civil War. Provided the fastest communication between east and west until the telegraph. Captured the hearts and the imagination of people all over the world.

Folklore:

One mochila lost and one rider killed. Location, date and names have not been verified. [Mochila is Spanish for the leather saddlebag with four locked pouches.]

 

Special thanks to AmericanWest.com

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The Kent State Massacre: A Day Ending in Tragedy Forever Immortalized in Song

Life Magazine covers the Kent State Shootings

The Kent State Shootings featured in Life Magazine

Facts About the Kent State Massacre

 

  • Cambodia, North & South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh trail and Gulf of Tonkin

    Cambodia, North & South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh trail and Gulf of Tonkin

    In May 1970, students protesting the bombing of Cambodia by United States military forces clashed with Ohio National Guardsmen on the Kent State University campus. When the Guardsmen shot and killed four students on May 4, the Kent State Shootings became the focal point of a nation deeply divided by the Vietnam War.

  • By 1970, thousands of Americans were actively protesting the Vietnam War. There were numerous reasons why these protests took place. Some of the prominent ones included revelations that former President Lyndon Baines Johnson had misled the American people about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which led to the escalation of American involvement in Vietnam in late 1964. The ending of college deferments, which previously had exempted most college students from the draft and service in Vietnam, further contributed to the protests. Finally, revelations that the United States military was bombing and sending troops into Cambodia, a country neighboring North and South Vietnam, and the increasing number of American casualties further angered many Americans.
  • President Lyndon Baines Johnson

    President Lyndon Baines Johnson

    Numerous people protested the Vietnam War for these and other reasons. These protests usually were peaceful and included such things as burning draft cards, fleeing to Canada or some other country to escape the draft, protest rallies and marches, or simply remaining enrolled in college to avoid the draft. However, even peaceful protests sometimes turned violent, as United States involvement in the Vietnam War divided the American people.

  • The most well-known protest involving the Vietnam War occurred at Kent State University in Ohio in May 1970. On May 1, Kent State students held an anti-war protest. That evening several incidents occurred, including rocks and bottles being thrown at police officers, the closure of bars by authorities before normal closing time to reduce alcohol consumption, and the lighting of bonfires. Eventually students, other anti-war activists, and common criminals began to break windows and loot stores.
  • Kent State University ROTC Building Fire

    Kent State University ROTC Building Fire

    The mayor of Kent, Leroy Satrom, declared a state of emergency on May 2. He requested that Governor James A. Rhodes send the Ohio National Guard to Kent to help maintain order. Rhodes agreed, and the National Guard members began to arrive the evening of May 2. As the soldiers arrived, they found the Reserve Officer Training Corps building at Kent State University in flames. It is unclear who set the building on fire. It may have been anti-war protesters, but it also could have been someone seeking to have the protesters blamed. Interestingly, Kent State officials had already boarded up the ROTC building and were planning to raze it. Protesters were celebrating the buildings destruction as fire fighters arrived. The protesters, which included both students and non students, jeered the fire fighters and even sliced the hoses that the fire fighters were using to extinguish the flames. National Guard members arrived to reestablish order and resorted to tear gas to disperse the protesters.

  • Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes

    Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes

    On May 3, approximately one thousand National Guard soldiers were on the Kent State campus. Tensions remained high, and Governor Rhodes further escalated them by accusing the protesters of being un-American. He proclaimed, “They’re the worst type of people that we harbor in America. I think that we’re up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.” Some Kent State students assisted local businesses and the city in cleaning up damage from the previous night’s activities, but other students and non-students continued to hold protests, further exacerbating the situation. The National Guard continued to break up these demonstrations, including threatening students with bayonets.

  • Ohio National Guardsman stand off against student protesters

    Ohio National Guardsman stand off against student protesters

    On May 4, a Monday, classes resumed at Kent State. Anti-war protesters scheduled a rally for noon at the campus. University officials attempted to ban the gathering but proved unsuccessful in their efforts. As the protest began, National Guard members fired tear gas at the demonstrators. Due to wind, the tear gas proved ineffective. Some of the protesters threw the canisters, along with rocks, back at the soldiers. Some of the demonstrators yelled slogans such as “Pigs off campus!” at the soldiers.

  • May 4, 1970: Four Kent State Students were killed

    May 4, 1970: Four Kent State Students were killed

    Eventually seventy-seven guardsmen advanced on the protesters with armed rifles and bayonets. Protesters continued to throw things at the soldiers. Twenty-nine of the soldiers, purportedly fearing for their lives, eventually opened fire. The gunfire lasted just thirteen seconds, although some witnesses contended that it lasted more than one minute. The troops fired a total of sixty-seven shots. When the firing ended, nine students lay wounded, and four other students had been killed. Two of the students who died actually had not participated in the protests.

  • These shootings helped convince Americans that the anti-war protesters were not just hippies, drug addicts, or promoters of free love. They also included middle- and upper-class people, as well as educated Americans. Rather than causing a decline in protests, the Kent State shootings actually escalated protests. Many colleges and universities across the United States canceled classes and actually closed their doors for the remainder of the academic year in fear of violent protests erupting on their campuses. In 1970, Ohio State University dismissed its spring quarter classes in early May rather than in June because of protests at this institution. Other Ohio institutions followed suit. Kent State University immediately closed with the shootings on May 4, and did not offer classes again for six weeks, when the summer term began.
  • President Richard Nixon

    President Richard Nixon

    The various protests drew to an end as President Richard Nixon, who served from 1969-1974, began to withdraw American soldiers from North and South Vietnam. With the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, which basically ended American involvement in the Vietnam War, the protests drew to a close. Still, the Kent State shootings continue to reverberate through American society and culture. An example of this is Neil Young’s song, “Ohio,” which commemorated the shootings.

“Ohio” Lyrics

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’.
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin’.
Four dead in Ohio.

Neil Young

Neil Young

Gotta get down to it.
Soldiers are gunning us down.
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.

Gotta get down to it.
Soldiers are cutting us down.
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Kent State MassacreTin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’.
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin’.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.

VIDEO:  Neil Young – “Ohio”

Special thanks to OhioHistoryCentral.org and Lyrics007.com

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Attila the Hun: “Scourge of God”

Attila the Hun, ?-453 AD

Attila the Hun, ?-453 AD

Fun Facts About Attila the Hun

Attila’s Rise to Power

Called the Scourge of God by the Romans, Attila the Hun was king and general of the Hun empire from A.D. 433 to 453. Succeeding his uncle, King Roas, in 433, Attila shared his throne with his brother Bleda. He inherited the Scythian hordes who were disorganized and weakened by internal strife. Attila’s first order of affairs was to unite his subjects for the purpose of creating one of the most formidable and feared armies Asia had ever seen.

Peace Treaty Between Rome and Attila the Hun

In 434 East Roman Emperor Theodosius II offered Attila and Bleda 660 pounds of gold annually with hopes of securing an everlasting peace with the Huns. This peace, however, was not long lived. In 441 Attila’s Huns attacked the Eastern Roman Empire. The success of this invasion emboldened Attila to continue his westward expansion. Passing unhindered through Austria and Germany, Attila plundered and devastated all in his path.

Attila Attacks Italy

In 451, having suffered a setback on the Plains of Chalons, by the allied Romans and Visigoths, Attila turned his attention to Italy. After having laid waste to Aquileia and many Lombard cities in 452, the Scourge of God met Pope Leo I who dissuaded him from sacking Rome.

Attila’s Ignominious Death

Attila’s death in 453 wasn’t quite what one would have expected from such a fierce barbarian warrior. He died not on the battlefield, but on the night of his marriage. On that night Attila, who, despite common misconceptions, was not a heavy drinker, drank heavily in celebration of his new bride. In his wedding chambers at the end of the event, Attila passed out flat on his back. It was then and there that Attila had a massive nosebleed which caused him to choke on his own blood.

 

Special thanks to www.about.com

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Fort Knox: Gold Bullion Depository and Asset of the United States

Fort Knox

Fun Facts About Fort Knox

  • On June 28th, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized construction of the federal bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky
  • Amount of present gold holdings: 147.3 million ounces.
  • The only gold removed has been very small quantities used to test the purity of gold during regularly scheduled audits. Except for these samples, no gold has been transferred to or from the Depository for many years.
  • The gold is held as an asset of the United States at book value of $42.22 per ounce.
  • The Depository opened in 1937; the first gold was moved to the depository in January that year.
  • Highest gold holdings this century: 649.6 million ounces (December 31, 1941).
  • Size of a standard gold bar: 7 inches x 3 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 3/4 inches.
  • Weight of a standard gold bar: approximately 400 ounces or 27.5 pounds.
  • Construction of the depository:
    Building materials used included 16,000 cubic feet of granite, 4,200 cubic yards of concrete, 750 tons of reinforcing steel, and 670 tons of structural steel.
    The cost of construction was $560,000 and the building was completed in December 1936.
  • In the past, the Depository has stored the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, three volumes of the Gutenberg Bible, and Lincoln’s second inaugural address.
  • In addition to gold bullion, the Mint has stored valuable items for other government agencies. The Magna Carta was once stored there. The crown, sword, scepter, orb, and cape of St. Stephen, King of Hungary also were stored at the Depository, before being returned to the government of Hungary in 1978.
  • The Depository is a classified facility. No visitors are permitted, and no exceptions are made.

 

Special thanks to www.usmint.gov 

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Alaska: The United States’ 49th and Largest State

Alaska, 49th State of the United States

Alaska, 49th State of the United States

Fun Facts About Alaska

2 CentsIn 1867, United States Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000. How much was that per acre?

two cents.

Where does the word ‘Alaska’ come from?

An Eskimo word Alakshak meaning great lands or peninsula.

Rhode Island can fit into Alaska 425 timesHow many times could Rhode Island fit into Alaska?

425.

What is Alaska’s official state sport?

dog mushing. The Alaska Legislature adopted this in 1972.

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage, AK

What is Alaska’s largest city in population?

Anchorage. Alaska’s second largest city is Fairbanks. The third is Juneau.

Secretary of State, William Seward circa 1860-1865

Secretary of State, William H. Seward circa 1860-1865

On what date did Alaska officially became the property of the United States?

October 18, 1867. The purchase of Alaska was called ‘Seward’s Folly’ by many Americans.

What is Alaska’s official state gemstone?

Jade.

Alaska State Flag

Alaska State Flag

In what year did Bennie Benson design Alaska’s state flag?

1926. Bennie Benson was only 13 years old when he designed Alaska’s state flag.

Mt. Augustine

Mt. Augustine

In what year did Mount Augustine erupt?

1986. Mt. Augustine is 104 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Tongass National Forest

Tongass National Forest

True or False? Alaska contains the largest national forest in the United States.

True . The name of this forest is the Tongass National Forest.

Juneau, capital of Alaska

Juneau, capital of Alaska

True or False? Juneau is only accessible by boat or plane.

True . It is the only capital city in the United States that is only accessible by boat or plane.

Prospect Creek Camp

Prospect Creek Camp

What is the lowest recorded temperature for Alaska?

-80 degrees F. This temperature was recorded at Prospect Creek Camp in 1971.

The Yukon River

The Yukon River

How many rivers does Alaska have?

Over 3,000. The largest of these is the Yukon, which flows for 1,980 miles into the Bering Sea.

Barrow, AK

Barrow, AK

What Alaskan city is the northernmost in the US?

Barrow. It’s only 800 miles from the North Pole. Wonder if Santa stops there first?

Libby Riddle

Libby Riddle

What is Alaskan Libby Riddles noted for?

First woman to win the Iditarod. In 1985 she won the Iditarod, Alaska’s famous 1,049-mile dogsled race. Her time, from Anchorage to Nome, was 18 days, 2 minutes, 17 seconds.

Sitka, former capital of Alaska

Sitka, former capital of Alaska

What was the capital of Alaska when it belonged to Russia?

Sitka.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Which Alaskan National Park is the nation’s largest?

Wrangell- St. Elias. It encompasses 12.4 million acres, including ten of America’s highest peaks.

What’s the meaning of the term ‘Cheechako’?

Newcomer to Alaska. Term meaning first-time Alaskan traveler or newcomer to the area.

Muktuk, an Eskimo delicacy

Muktuk, an Eskimo delicacy

If you ordered muktuk, what would you be served?

Raw whale blubber. This is considered a delicacy by the Eskimos.

Juneau, AK

Juneau, AK

What is the capital of Alaska?

Juneau. Anchorage is the largest city, but Juneau is the state capital.

In Alaska the length of daylight is ___________ ?

more in the summer. The days are much shorter(darker)in the winter and, in the the summer the days are much longer(lighter). This is due to the tilt in the earth’s axis.

In 1998 which Alaskan High school won the 4A state championship for football?

Service. The Service Cougars won the state championship in 1997,1998,and 1999.

In 2002 Anchorage had a record snowfall for a 24 hour period. How much did they get?

30 inches. In the deepest spots it was inches but, the at the airport were the official depth is recorded it was 28 inches.

Mt. McKinley, US's largest mountain

Mt. McKinley, US's largest mountain

North America’s largest mountain (Mt. McKinley) is in Alaska. What is the name of the national park it is in?

Denali National Park.

From what country did the U.S buy Alaska?

Russia. It was bought from Russia in 1867 at two cents an acre. At the time it was known as “Seward’s Folly”, after the Secretary of State who arranged the purchase.

The forget-me-not

The forget-me-not

The Alaskan state flower is a_____ ?

forget-me-not.

The Alaskan oil pipeline

The Alaskan oil pipeline

Alaska is known for the great Alaskan pipe line. What runs through it?

Oil. The great Alaskan Pipeline carries oil from the north slope to Valdez. This is a distance of about 800 miles.

The Willow Ptarmigan

Willow Ptarmigan

What is Alaska’s state bird?

Willow ptarmigan. The origin of the word “ptarmigan” is unknown. One theory is that it comes from a Gaelic word meaning “mountaineer”. Feathered feet help this bird conserve heat and it can survive the winter by eating nothing more than willow buds. Also in the winter, the birds are camouflaged by turning completely white.

Sitka Spruce

Sitka Spruce

What is the state tree?

Sitka spruce. Spruce needles are usually sharp and four-sided and emit a pungent odor when crushed. The mature cones hang down from a branch, instead of erect like the cones of a fir. Spruces are typically tall and conical, but soil and climate can change their growth pattern.

Bowhead Whale

Bowhead Whale

What is the state sea animal?

Bowhead whale. Other wildlife found in Alaska are bears, moose, elk, deer, wolves, mountain goats, and many kinds of birds and fish.

What is the state fish?

King salmon. A salmon’s appearance is molded by the environment to an extraordinary degree; therefore, scientists do not know the exact number of species in the group. There are believed to be about 40 species native to North America.

Special thanks to www.funtrivia.com

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