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30 April 2008

On this day in history: Louisiana Purchase Treaty signed, 1803

In 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the Seven Years War between Great Britain and France. One of the articles required that the French give up all their colonies in North America. As such, Spain took control of the vast territory of Louisiana. Seven years later, the French and Spanish secretly signed the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso returning de jure control of the territory to the French, even though it remained under de facto Spanish control.

When Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, received news of this retrocession he sent Robert Livingston and James Monroe to France to negotiate the purchase of the city of New Orleans. Their initial overtures were rejected by the French; however, a year later, with the recently signed Peace of Amiens in tatters making a resumption of war between France and Great Britain more likely, Napoleon Bonaparte decided to offer not only New Orleans, but the whole of the Louisiana territory to the United States. Bonaparte realised that the territory would have been a tempting target for the British, and he could use the profits from the sale to fund the war.

Despite opposition in the U.S. the treaty was signed in Paris on 30th April 1803 by Livingston and Monroe on behalf of the U.S. and by the marquis de Barbé-Marbois for the French. The U.S. government made two payments in return for Louisiana: the first for sixty million francs ($11,250,000) and the second of 20 million francs ($3,750,000) would be paid to U.S. citizens to cover claims made by them against the French nation.

The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty on 20th October. The Americans took control of New Orleans on 20th December 1803, and the rest of the territory following a formal ceremony on 10th March the following year.

The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School website includes pages dedicated to the Lousiana Purchase, including the text of the treaty.

29 April 2008

On this day in history: Alfred Hitchcock dies, 1980

On 29th April 1980, the 'Master of Suspense', film director Alfred Hitchcock died of renal failure at his home in Bel-Air, Los Angeles. Just a few months earlier, he had been knighted for his services to the film industry.

He was born in relatively humble circumstances in Leytonstone, East London on 13th August 1899. Alfred's schooling finished when he was fourteen having to find work because of the death of his father. Nevertheless, he continued to study at night school while he worked as a draughtsman. In 1920 he started his first job in the film industry, illustrating the titles for silent movies.

His talents did not go un-noticed: following a stint as an assistant director in Germany, Hitchcock returned to Britain to direct for Gainsborough pictures. Success brought him a move to British International Pictures and the chance to direct his first film for which he also wrote the script: The Ring (1927). Hitchcock went on to direct the seminal British films The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935), Young and Innocent (1937), and The Lady Vanishes (1938).

The success of Hitchcock's work attracted the interest of Hollywood studios and in 1937 he sailed to America. During the 1950s and 1960s Hitchcock made movies that would give him recognition as a master of the craft: Dial M for Murder (1953), Rear Window (1955), (1958), VertigoNorth by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963). Hitchcock continued to work in cinema and television until his death.

To find out more about the man and his work see the Alfred Hitchcok Wiki.

28 April 2008

On this day in history: French Abolish Slavery for Second Time, 1848

On 26th August 1789, just over a month after the fall of the Bastille, the National Constituent Assembly adopted The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The first article of this document declared, "Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be based only on common utility." Despite this declaration of principle it was not until 4th February 1794, that the National Convention - then under the control of the Jacobins and at the height of the Revolutionary Terror - decreed that slavery be abolished in all French colonies:

The National Convention declares the abolition of Negro slavery in all the colonies; in consequence it decrees that all men, without distinction of colour, residing in the colonies are French citizens and will enjoy all the rights assured by the constitution."

Following the fall of Robespierre and the Jacobins, those that took over the reigns of government in France tried to undo what they saw as the excesses of the Revolution. As such, on 20th May 1802 the Consulate - with Napoleon elected as First Consul - reintroduced slavery to France and her colonies. Napoleon went on to become sole ruler of France until he was defeated and the Monarchy was restored.

In February 1848 the government of King Louis-Philippe I collapsed and a liberal provisional government declared the Second Republic. Two months later, the anti-slavery campaigner Victor Schoeler and president of the commission for the abolition of slavery oversaw the passage of the decree to end slavery in French territories for the second time. The first article read:

"Slavery will be completely abolished in all the colonies and the French possessions, two months after the promulgation of the present decree in each of them. From the promulgation of the present decree in colonies, any corporal punishment, any sale of not free persons, will be absolutely forbidden ."

The following primary sources are available online:

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (26th August 1789) at the excellent Liberty, Equality, Fraternity pages

Decree of the National Convention of 4 February 1794, Abolishing Slavery in all the Colonies, also at Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

Decree of the abolition of the slavery (27th April 1848) at the History of Slavery in Martinique web site.

27 April 2008

On this day in history: Duel of the Mignons, 1578

During the French Wars of Religion, two factions developed at court. One loyal to Henry III, King of France (pictured on the left) and the other supporters of Henry, Duke of Guise (shown on the right). In April 1578, men from both groups pledged to fight a duel, possibly to resolve a dispute over the affections of a young lady.

So, on 27th April, Henry III's favourites, known as mignons ('dainties') - Jacques de Caylus, Jean d'Arcès and Louis de Maugiron - engaged in battle with the Guise faction - Charles de Balzac, Georges de Schomberg, and Ribérac. Only d'Arcès and Balzac survived the duel; Maugiron and Schomberg died on the field; Caylus took thirty-three hours to die from his wounds.

This duel may have been a re-enactment of the battle between two sets of triplets called Horatii and the Curiatii. These two sets of brothers fought in order to decide the result of a war between ancient Rome and the central Italian city of Alba Longa. Although, this may have been a later attempt to romanticise the pointless loss of life.

To read a (somewhat biased) account of the duel and the Wars Of Religion in France you can read the Memoirs of Henry the Great at Google Books. This Henry was the King of Navarre who became King Henry IV of France after converting from Protestantism to Catholicism, saying "Paris is worth a mass."

26 April 2008

On this day in history: Tanganyika and Zanzibar unite, 1964

On 26th April, 1964, the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar was born. In October of that year the country was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania (a portmanteau of Tanganyika and Zanzibar).

In December 1961, the East African state of Tanganyika achieved independence from the British, as a constitutional monarchy under a sultan, who was removed from power in June of the next year when the country became a republic. The British military had administered Tanganyika since the end of the First World War, before that it had been under the colonial control of the German East Africa Company. Prior to that, the Sultan of Oman ruled the area after he helped the indigenous population drive Portuguese colonists from the coast.

The Sultan of Oman also ruled the archipelago of Zanzibar from where he also forced the withdrawal of the Portuguese. In the nineteenth-century the islands became a British protectorate under the Sultan of Zanzibar. The British protection was part of their campaign against the slave trade, the islands' ports being an important to the trade. In December 1963, Britain granted Zanzibar full independence as a constitutional monarchy. Like Tanganyika, it became a republic, but only after a bloody revolution that cost thousands of lives.

See the U.S. Department of State's website for information about Tanzania, including the history of its constituent parts.

25 April 2008

On this day in history: Guillotine used for first time, 1792

On 25th April 1792, a highwayman called Nicolas-Jacques Pelletier receives the dubious honour of being the first person executed using the guillotine. The device was named after Joseph-Ignace Guillotin who was not - as is often thought - the inventor of the machine, but was in fact a physician who petitioned the National Assembly in October 1789 with six articles of penal reform. The second of which read:

In all cases where the law imposes the death penalty on an accused person, the punishment shall be the same, whatever the nature of the offence of which he is guilty; the criminal shall be decapitated; this will be done solely by means of a simple mechanism.

The guillotine was not the first mechanism to employ a falling blade to decapitate criminals. Records exist of similar devices being used in the fifteenth-century at Halifax in England ('The Halifax Gibbet') and from 1564 in Scotland ('The Maiden'). According to tradition 'the Halifax Gibbet' had been in use since the thirteenth-century.

Despite being seen as a more humane method of execution, the guillotine became a symbol of Revolutionary Terror. Thousands of victims went to "look through the Republican Window" (as it was called), including King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette. Many Revolutionaries were also sent to the 'National Razor' (as it was also known): George Danton, Camille Desmoulin, Jacques Hébert, and the man most commonly blamed for the Terror, Maximilien Robespierre. The guillotine continued to be used in France until 1977.

Visit Jørn Fabricius' excellent web site The Guillotine Headquarters to learn more about this iconic machine.

24 April 2008

Links to Primary Sources

This post contains links to primary source materials freely available on the web. Feel free to leave comments with suggestions or to inform me of dead links. I will continue to add more links to this post, so you may wish to bookmark this page.

Collections of Full Text Books

National Histories


On this day in history: West German embassy seige in Stockholm, 1975

On the 24th April 1975, members of a group of armed revolutionary group from Germany known as the Red Army Faction entered the West German embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. They took the embassy staff hostage in the hope that they could negotiate the release of their fellow revolutionaries held in German prisons. These prisoners included Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, whose names were used by the media referring to the group as the Baader-Meinhof Gang as opposed to the Red Army Faction.

Whatever they were called, the group of self styled urban guerrillas had formed in the early 1970s after Meinhof and three others had helped Baader escape custody from a library in a research institution where he had been allowed to study, without handcuffs. Baader was serving a sentence for involvement in two fire bombings in response to the clampdown on radical student activities in West Germany. The group followed an extreme form of Marxist-Leninist ideology, which they saw as justification for their campaign of political assassinations that they funded by robbing banks. Needless to say, the West German government saw them as terrorists, not only for their actions but for their links to Palestinian groups such as Fatah and Black September.

The West German police captured several members of the RAF in June and July 1972. There was no further action by the Faction until the embassy siege three years later carried out by members of a radical anti-psychiatric group who had allied themselves with the RAF. The six hostage-takers - Hanna-Elise Krabbe, Karl-Heinz Dellwo, Lutz Taufer, Bernhard Rössner, Ulrich Wessel and Siegfried Hausner - killed one hostage, the Military Attache, Baron von Mirbach when the Swedish police did not withdraw when the group demanded it. The German Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, refused to negotiate with terrorists, and in response the RAF shot another hostage: an economic attache called Hillegaart.

As the Swedish police stormed the embassy explosives with which the hostage-takers had rigged the building were accidentally set off. The RAF members and the remaining hostages were all injured in the blast with Siegfried Hausner dying from his wounds. Nevertheless, this was far from the end of the RAF. In 1977, West Germany was rocked by a campaign of assassinations, which became known as the 'German Autumn'. Yet, following the apparent suicides of the principle activists in the RAF during 1976 and 1977, the group became less active until they finally called off their campaign in April 1992.

To learn more about the RAF see (the somewhat sympathetic article) 'A Brief History of the Red Army Fraction' on the World History Archives web site. Alternatively you can read the 'Who were the Baader-Meinhof gang?' article on the BBC web site.

23 April 2008

On this day in history: Shakespeare dies, 1616

On 23rd April 1616 William Shakespeare died at the age of 52 at his home in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, Shakespeare is also believed to have been born on April 23rd; although, the only extant record is of his baptism on the 26th April 1564 at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Following his marriage in 1582 to Anne Hathaway, who was eight years his senior, Shakespeare established himself as an actor and playwright in Elizabethan London. He worked for a variety of patrons including the Earl of Pembroke and the Earl of Southampton. He also appeared before Queen Elizabeth I on various occasions and was one of the owners of the Globe Theatre.

Having made his fortune, Shakespeare retired to Stratford. His plays were still performed and a collection of his sonnets was published in 1609. Following his death from unknown causes, he was buried at Holy Trinity Church in a grave that is marked with an epitaph written by the man himself.

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,

And cursed be he that moves my bones.

For more information on the 'Bard of Stratford' see the biographical essay at the Shakespeare Resource Center site, which also includes an excellent set of links.

22 April 2008

On this day in history: U.S. Congress authorises Two-Cent coin, 1864

On 22nd April 1864 the U.S. Congress passed an Act to authorise the issuance of a two-cent coin. This Act also gave the the U.S. Treasury discretionary powers to decide what inscriptions were stamped on the lower denomination coinage. As a result of this legislation the two-cent coin was the first U.S. currency to carry the inscription 'In God We Trust'.

Before this time the coins and notes in circulation bore no overt Christian references; however, the increased religious feeling during the American Civil War led to many appeals landing on the desk of the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, requesting that the country's currency show some reference to God. Other coins were also redesigned to carry the inscription, 'In God We Trust', which eventually became the motto of the U.S.A. in 1956. The following year the motto appeared on bank notes for the first time.

While the motto continued in usage until the current day, the two-cent coin did not fair so well. It was only produced for ten years. You can read about the rise and fall of the two cent piece at the Coin Community web site. Also, the U.S. Treasury web-site includes a page telling the history of the 'In God We Trust' motto.

21 April 2008

On this day in history: Emperor Haile Selassie visits Jamaica, 1966

Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, had been the central figure in the Rastafarian faith since the foundation of the movement in the early 1930s. The indigent population in Jamaica saw him as God incarnate, being the only independent black monarch in Africa and, by tradition, a descendent of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. To Rastafarians he is still a Messiah figure fulfilling certain biblical prophesies: he is the 'King of Kings' and the 'Conquering Lion of Judah'.

It is no surprise that when the Emperor visited Jamaica on 21st April 1966 he was received by a rapturous crowd of thousands of Rastafarians. Taken aback by the fervour of their welcome, Haile Selassie returned to the plane until he was given assurances that he would be protected from the throng. The visit continued with the Emperor meeting the ageing Prime Minister, Sir Alexander Bustamante, and receiving an honourary degree at the University of the West Indies.

April 21st has become a sacred date to Rastafarians, celebrated every year as 'Groundation Day' when they hold a Nyahbinghi meeting, during which they celebrate His Imperial Majesty with music, chanting and prayer.

To find out more about the Emperor's visit and Rastafarianism in general, visit the Rastafari section of the web-site.

20 April 2008

On this day in history: Pasteurization developed, 1862

Louis Pasteur was born on 27th December 1822; he attended the Ecole Normale Supérieur in Paris between 1843 and 1846 when he received a doctorate in chemistry and embarked on a career in science. After working in the field of optics he moved on to the study of biology and medicine for which he was to become famous.

Pasteur theorised and then showed by experiment that the fermentation of liquids was a result of external causes: particles that entered the liquid from the surrounding air. This displaced the popular theory of the time, which was that fermentation was a spontaneous process within the liquid.

On 20th April, 1862, Pasteur and his friend Claude Bernard conducted an experiment to test Pasteur's theory that heat could be used to kill moulds and bacteria in fermenting milk. The experiment was a success and the process of heating beverages to destroy harmful organisms was called pasteurization in honour of its inventor. Pasteur went on to work in the field of immunology before his death in 1895.

For a longer biography of Louis Pasteur, see this page on the site.

19 April 2008

On this day in history: Independence of Belgium and Luxembourg recognized, 1839

In the years following the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, the map of Europe was redrawn. As such the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was created, which incorporated modern day Belgium and Holland. Ethnic, cultural, and religious differences between the northern and southern territories resulted in the Belgian Revolution of 1830: a performance of the patriotic opera, La Muette de Portici, being the spark that lit the riotous fires.

After an unsuccessful attempt by King William I to retake Brussels , a provisional government was established in the city in September 1830 and a declaration of independence was made in the following month. Nevertheless, the country of Belgium was not recognised as an independent sovereign state until the Treaty of London was signed on the 19th April 1839 by the major powers of Europe.

This treaty guaranteed the independence of Belgium and Luxembourg, and the perpetual neutrality of Belgium. This latter clause was key in the declaration of war by the British against the Germans when the Kaiser's army invaded Belgium in 1914.

The site has extracts of the Treaty of London available to read. As is the chapter of George Endmundson's History of Holland, on the Authorama site, which focuses on the Belgian Rebellion.

18 April 2008

On this day in history: Thomas Bodley knighted, 1604

The Bodleian Library at Oxford University is one of the most famous in the World. It was named after an ex-diplomat and fellow of Merton College, Thomas Bodley. Bodley used the wealth he had acquired by marrying the widow of a pilchard magnate to save the library. The University used his money to house the existing collection of books and around 2,500 new texts donated by Bodley and others. The library opened its doors to the public in November 1602, four years after the University accepted Bodley's largesse.

Two years later, on 18th April, 1604, King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) knighted Bodley. Later that year the King, who was already a patron of the Library, granted the Bodleian an endowment of lands. When he died in 1613 the library also received a large part of Sir Thomas' fortune which, in part, has enabled it to survive until the present day.

For more information on Sir Thomas Bodley's life see the biography at the NNDB web-site; for more details of the Bodleian visit the History page on the Library's web-site.

17 April 2008

On this day in history: Bay of Pigs, 1961

On the morning of 17th April, 1961, a force of Cuban counter-revolutionary exiles, known as Brigade 2506, landed at the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro's regime. The attack was carried out with the support of the United States of America: the plan having been drafted by the C.I.A. while Dwight D. Eisenhower was still President, but was carried out during John F. Kennedy's Presidency. Kennedy required the original plan to be scaled back, so that it the attack would look less like a U.S. military operation and more like an operation that the exiles could plausibly carry out.

Following an an attack on Cuban airfields by light bombers of the exile air force, launched from Nicaragua, the main assault on the Bay of Pigs began. The failure of the air attack to destroy the Cuban air force resulted in the surviving planes wreaking havoc on the counter-revolutionary invasion force and their air support. Fighting continued, as a 20,000 strong Cuban force repulsed the invading troops, leading to the collapse of the attack on 19th April.

The failed invasion caused a rapid deterioration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments, which worsened during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the following year, and have improved little in the intervening decades to today.

To find out more about the Bay of Pigs Invasion, read the original New York Times report on the attack, and the article about the invasion on the JFK Library and Museum web site.

16 April 2008

On this day in history: Battle of Culloden, 1746

Following the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 (mentioned in a recent post). Some Britons, known as Jacobites, wanted James II restored to the throne. After James' death in 1701, the Jacobite cause shifted to his son, also called James but commonly known as 'the Old Pretender'. There were two major Jacobite risings in Britain in 1715 and 1745. Both of these rebellions began in the north of Scotland, because the Jacobite cause was popular with the Highlanders.

The 'Fifteen (as the 1715 revolt was known) ended when the 'Old Pretender' followed the advice of his counsellors and abandoned his troops to return to exile in France. The 'Forty-Five' was led by the charismatic Charles Edward Stuart, also known as the 'Young Pretender' or 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'. Initially Charles' campaign was a great success: his troops took Edinburgh and pushed into England making it as far as Derbyshire. But a lack of support from English Jacobites worried Charles' counsellors, and he grudgingly accepted a retreat to their power base in Scotland.

Battle of Culloden, by David Morier

The Hannoverian government in England raised an army, which - under the command of the King George II's son, the Duke of Cumberland - finally caught up with the Jacobite forces in April 1746 near Inverness. Against the wishes of his generals, Charles decided to fight a decisive battle. The battle lines were drawn on 16th April, 1746, with Charles' 7,000 strong army of mostly Highland Scots facing Cumberland's force of Lowland Scots, English troops and even a few Highlanders. The superior artillery of the Hanoverian army and dissent within the Jabocite ranks resulted in a clear victory for Cumberland, the flight of Charles back to exile, the brutal repression of Highlanders and the end of the Jacobite cause. This was the last battle fought on British soil (although some historians and commentators maintain that the Battle of Orgreave, during the Miners' Strike in 1984, should be considered as such).

If you wish to read more about the Battle of Culloden check out the site.

15 April 2008

Alcatraz Indians

In November 1969 a group of Native-Americans called "Indians of All Tribes" occupied Alcatraz Island. The group was initially made up of young urban Indian students inspired by a charismatic Mohawk, Richard Oakes (pictured). The occupation lasted until 10th June 1971, when a force of FBI agents, federal marshals and special forces removed the remaining occupiers.

Read more about the Alcatraz Indians in this excellent article written by Dr. Troy Johnson for the National Park Service.

There follows the texts of two pamphlets issued by the Alcatraz Indians.


Indians Of All Tribes greet our brothers and sisters of all races and tongues upon our Earth Mother. We here on Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay, California represent many tribes of the United States as well as Canada, Alaska, and Central and South America.
We are still holding the Island of Alcatraz in the true names of Freedom, Justice and Equality, because you, our brothers and sisters of this earth, have lent support to our just cause. We reach out our hands and hearts and send spirit messages to each and every one of you - WE HOLD THE ROCK!

Our anger at the many injustices forced upon us since the first whitemen landed on these sacred shores has been transformed into a hope that we be allowed the long-suppressed right of all men to plan and to live their own lives in harmony and co-operation with all fellow creatures and with Nature. We have learned that violence breeds only more violence and we therefore have carried on our occupation of Alcatraz in a peaceful manner, hoping that the government of these United States will also act accordingly.
Be it known, however, that we are quite serious in our demand to be given ownership of this island in the name of Indians Of All Tribes. We are here to stay, men, women and children. We feel that this request is but little to ask from a government which has systematically stolen our lands, destroyed a once-beautiful and natural landscape, killed off the creatures of nature, polluted air and water, ripped open the very bowels of the earth in senseless greed; and instituted a program to annihilate the many Indian Tribes of this land by outright murder which even now continues by the methods of theft, suppression, prejudice, termination, and so-called re-location and assimilation.

We are a proud people! We are Indians! We have observed and rejected much of what so-called civilization offers. We are Indians! We will preserve our traditions and ways of life by educating our own children. We are Indians! We will join hands in a unity never before put into practice. We are Indians! Our Earth Mother awaits our voices.
We are Indians of All Tribes! WE HOLD THE ROCK!



We, the native Americans, re-claim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery.
We wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land, and hereby offer the following treaty:

We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for twenty-four dollars (24) in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man`s purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago. We know that $24 in trade goods for these 16 acres is more than was paid when Manhattan Island was sold, but we know that land values have risen over the years. Our offer of $1.24 per acre is greater than the 47 cents per acre the white men are now paying California Indians for their land.

We will give to the inhabitants of this island a portion of the land for their own to be held in trust by the American Indian Affairs and by the bureau of Caucasian Affairs to hold in perpetuity - for as long as the sun shall rise and the rivers go down to the sea. We will further guide the inhabitants in the proper way of living. We will offer them our religion, our education, our life-ways, in order to help them achieve our level of civilization and thus raise them and all their white brothers up from their savage and unhappy state. We offer this treaty in good faith and wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with all white men.

We feel that this so-called Alcatraz Island is more than suitable for an Indian reservation, as determined by the white man`s own standards. By this we mean that this place resembles most Indian reservations in that:

1. It is isolated from modern facilities, and without adequate means of transportation.
2. It has no fresh running water.
3. It has inadequate sanitation facilities.
4. There are no oil or mineral rights.
5. There is no industry and so unemployment is very great.
6. There are no health care facilities.
7. The soil is rocky and non-productive; and the land does not support game.
8. There are no educational facilities.
9. The population has always exceeded the land base.
10. The population has always been held as prisoners and kept dependent upon others.

Further, it would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the Golden Gate, would first see Indian land, and thus be reminded of the true history of this nation. This tiny island would be a symbol of the great lands once ruled by free and noble Indians.

What use will we make of this land?

Since the San Francisco Indian Center burned down, there is no place for Indians to assemble and carry on tribal life here in the white man`s city. Therefore we plan to develop on this island several Indian institutions:

1. A CENTER FOR NATIVE AMERICAN STUDIES will be developed which will educate them to the skills and knowledge relevant to improve the lives and spirits of all Indian peoples. Attached to this center will be traveling universities, managed by Indians, which will go to the Indian Reservations, learning those necessary and relevant materials now about.

2. AN AMERICAN INDIAN SPIRITUAL CENTER which will practice our ancient tribal religious and sacred healing ceremonies. Our cultural arts will be featured and our young people trained in music, dance, and healing rituals.

3. AN INDIAN CENTER OF ECOLOGY which will train and support our young people in scientific research and practice to restore our lands and waters to their pure and natural state. We will work to de-pollute the air and waters of the Bay area. We will seek to restore fish and animal life to the area and to revitalize sea life which has been threatened by the white man`s way. We will set up facilities to desalt sea water for human benefit.

4. A GREAT INDIAN TRAINING SCHOOL will be developed, to teach our people how to make a living in the world, improve our standard of living, and to end hunger and unemployment among all our people. The training school will include a center for Indian arts and crafts, and an Indian restaurant serving native foods, which will restore Indian culinary arts. This center will display Indian arts and offer Indian foods to the public, so that all may know of the beauty and spirit of the traditional INDIAN ways.

Some of the present buildings will be taken over to develop an AMERICAN INDIAN MUSEUM which will depict our native food and other cultural contributions we have given the world. Another part of the museum will present some of the things the white man has given to the Indians in return for the land and the life he took: disease, alcohol, poverty and cultural decimation (as symbolized by old tin cans, barbed wire, rubber tires, plastic containers, etc.). Part of the museum will remain a dungeon to symbolize both those Indian captives who were incarcerated for challenging white authority, and those who were imprisoned on the reservations. The museum will show the noble and tragic events of Indian history, including the broken treaties, the documentary of the Trail of Tears, the Massacre of Wounded Knee, as well as the victory over Yellow Hair Custer and his army.

In the name of all Indians, therefore, we re-claim this island for our Indian nations, for all these reasons. We feel this claim is just and proper, and that the land should rightfully be granted to us for as long as the rivers shall run and the sun shall shine.

Indians Of All Tribes
November 1969
San Francisco, California

Source: P. Stansill and D. Z. Mairowitz (eds.), BAMN: Outlaw Manifestos and Ephemera 1967-70 (Harmondsworth, 1971)

On this day in history: Samuel Johnson`s Dictionary published, 1755

"Dictionary, s. a book explaining the words of any language alphabetically; a lexicon"

The above definition is taken from Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, first published on 15th April 1755. Whilst not the first dictionary in the English language - that honour belongs to Robert Cawdrey's A Table Alphabeticall of 1604 - Dr. Johnson's dictionary is widely regarded as one of the most influential. The first edition contained definitions of 42,773 words and took about nine years to compile.

You can read more about Dr. Johnson and his dictionary in Jack Lynch's guide on the Rutgers University web-site. You can also find a review of Lynch's book, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, along with Henry Hitchings' Dr. Johnson Dictionary (both published in 2005 to mark the dictionary's 250th Anniversary) on The Times' web site.

For those that are interested in the earliest dictionary of the English language, University of Toronto's website hosts a hypertext copy of Cawdrey's A Table Alphabeticall.

14 April 2008

On this day in history: First Volvo car produced,1927

Eighty years ago today the Swedish vehicle manufacturer Volvo produced their first car. On 14th April, 1927, the first ÖV4 - nicknamed the 'Jakob' left the company's Hisingen factory in Gothenburg driven by Sales Director, Hilmer Johansson.

Three years earlier, two employees of ball bearing manufacturer AB SKF, Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson, decided that Sweden needed a car industry. So, they founded Volvo, which is Latin for 'I roll', as a subsidiary of AB SKF. The company went on to produce their first truck in 1927; in 1934, they manufactured their first bus; and, after World War II, a very succesfull line of tractors.

For more information about eighty years of Volvo, see the history page on their web site.

13 April 2008

On this day in history: First official Poet Laureate to British Crown, 1668

Whilst there had been various unofficial royal poets previously, the first person to be officially recognised as poet laureate by letters patent was John Dryden on 13th April, 1668. King Charles II also conferred upon him the title of historiographer royal on 18th August 1670.

Following the ascension to the throne King James II in , Dryden converted to Catholicism. Apparently, this was not to curry favour with the new monarch who had rapidly promoted many Catholics to high public office. Dryden was a critic of this policy, which - in his view - was counter-productive. Indeed, in 1688, Parliament approached William of Orange and his Stuart wife Mary with the offer of the crown in order to protect protestantism in Britain.

James went into exile, and Dryden lost his position as poet laureate to his rival, Thomas Shadwell, because he would not swear allegiance to the new monarchs. He continued to write until his death from gangrene in 1700. He was initially buried in a parish church before being interred in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey.

You can find out more about Dryden and his works on his page at the Bartleby web site.

12 April 2008

On this day in history: Galileo interrogated by the Inquisition, 1633

Following the publication of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the Inquisition summoned Galileo Galilei to Rome for interrogation. Galileo had managed to alienate Pope Urban VIII by ridiculing Urban's geocentric opinions in the Dialogue, ending the protection that the Pontiff had extended to Galileo. The insult was probably unintentional but it was enough for the Pope to allow the Inquisition to effectively charge Galileo with heresy, for promoting the heretical Copernican idea that the Earth orbited the Sun, rather than being the centre of the Universe as per the geocentric view.

The interrogation began on 12th April, 1633, and lasted for until the 30th April. During the questioning, Galileo was detained in the Inquisition's building, albeit in luxurious apartments. Following a plea bargain by which Galileo would recant some of his claims in return for a more lenient sentence, he was finally sentenced to house arrest, under which he remained for the rest of his life.

To learn more about Galileo see the Galileo Project website at Rice University.

11 April 2008

On this day in history: Launch of Apollo 13, 1970

On April 11th 1970, A Saturn V rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying the crew of the Apollo 13, James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert and Fred W. Haise, on what was intended to be the third manned landing on the Moon.

Two days into the mission a faulty oxygen tank caused an explosion that damaged the spacecraft's oxygen supply and electrical systems. The astronauts and ground crew faced a race against time to find a solution to the life threatening situation and achieve a return to Earth.

By using the Lunar Module as a 'lifeboat', reducing energy consumption and making repairs to the oxygen supply system the spacecraft managed to splashdown safely on 17th April.

To learn more about the Apollo 13 see the Lunar Surface Journal for the mission at the NASA web site.

10 April 2008

On this day in history: Emiliano Zapata assassinated, 1919

On the 10th April, 1919, at the Hacienda de San Juan, near the city Ayala in the Mexican state of Morelos, Emiliano Zapata was assassinated by forces loyal to General Huerta, military dictator.

Emiliano Zapata Salazar, a mediero (sharecropper) and horse trainer from the village Anenecuilco in Morelos, was a political campaigner and a major figure in the Mexican Revolution. Undefeated in battle, his enemies hatched a plan to ambush Zapata and his forces. One of Huerta's Generals, Pablo González, pretended to want to switch sides and support the revolution. He contacted Zapata to arrange a meeting at the Hacienda de San Juan; however, the meeting was a trap.

The lasting image of Zapata is that of a romantic revolutionary hero, like Che Guevara. You can read more about him at the site.

9 April 2008

On this day in history: Louisiana claimed for France, 1682

On 9th April, 1682, René-Robert Cavelier claimed the Mississippi basin in the name of the France by erecting a cross and a column, and by burying a inscribed copper plate. He named the region, la Lousiane (Lousiana), in honour of King Louis XIV.

Cavelier, a destitute ex-Jesuit, had travelled in search of a new life in the Americas in 1667. He became an explorer based in what is now Canada and journeyed extensively throughout North America. He was murdered whilst on an expedition in Texas on 19th March, 1687, by mutinous members of his party.

You can read more about Cavelier in his biography on the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online site.

8 April 2008

On this day in history: French Protestants granted freedom of worship, 1802

Following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louix XIV in October 1685, Protestant worship was illegal in France. This was the case until they received limited toleration during the French Revolution culminating on 8th April 1802, when Napoleon Bonaparte promulgated the law of 18 Germinal an X, also known as the Organic Articles, which granted full religious tolerance to Protestants.

Under the terms of this legislation there was to be no national synod, rather the law established regional church organisations known as consistoires; there was to be no state within the state. This same law also set down the relationship between the French state and the Catholic church, which was effectively nationalised.

You can read more about the Organic Articles in an article on the Catholic Encyclopedia site.

6 April 2008

On this day in history: First modern Olympiad, 1896

On 6th April 1896, the Greek King, George I, officially opened the first summer Olympic games of the modern period, at the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens, Greece. The event was the culmination of the work of the French educator and historian, Pierre de Coubertin, who said of the games:

"May joy and good fellowship reign, and in this manner, may the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure."

You can read more about the 1896 games on the official site of the International Olympic Committee.

5 April 2008

On this day in history: First public park opens in Britain, 1847

Birkenhead Park opened for the first time on 5th April 1847. Designed by Joseph Paxton, it is widely regarded as the first civic park in Britain, and provided templates for many of the features that Frederick Law Olmsted later incorporated into New York's Central Park. Olmsted wrote of the park:

"five minutes of admiration, and a few more spent studying the manner in which art had been employed to obtain from nature so much beauty, and I was ready to admit that in democratic America there was nothing to be thought of as comparable with this People’s Garden".
Read more on the park at the Wirral local government site.

4 April 2008

The Modern Historian

This introductory post is somewhat  unconventional as it does not appear as the earliest post on this blog. This is because I have imported a number of posts from another blog of mine, which used to be themed around the history of counter-culture. Due to pressures of research, work and writing other blogs I cannot dedicate enough time to that subject to keep that blog going in that form. It is now going to be my personal/general blog.

I still wish to maintain a blog on the subject of history where I can share my thoughts, writing and research. As such this blog will focus on modern history (or if you prefer post-medieval history). I am going to look over some of my undergraduate essays and see if they can be edited into a form suitable for posting here, and I will also share some of the fruits of my current research on the response of British newspapers to the French Revolution. I will also share links to primary and secondary sources, and other web based materials that will be interesting to historians of the modern world.