Hoffman's History

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This is a treasure hunt.  You never know what delightful fact you might learn that day.


Mrs. Hoffman

January 1, 2012 - Happy New Year! Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1 in 1863.

January 2, 2012 - Did you know the Revolutionary War was responsible for forming TWO countries? The other country was Canada. Many Loyalists left the original colonies and settled in Canada. The Loyalists were concerned with how they would be treated if they remained in the colonies with the Patriots.

January 3, 2012 - Ulysses S Grant can trace his family history back to Matthew Grant who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.  Matthew Grant is believed to have come from Scotland where his family can trace their history back to the clansmen. Their banner stated "Stand Fast, Craig Ellarchie!" Of course, closer relatives - his grandfather Noah was a lieutenant in the Connecticut militia during the Revolutionary War and his great grandfather, Captain Noah Grant commanded colonial militia during the French and Indian War.  Seems as if his career was built on family history.

January 4, 2012 - Every four years we head into a presidential election. We start with the Iowa caucus which is considered an excellent indicator of who our candidates will end up being.  Do you ever wonder how accurate the Iowa caucus truly is? That depends on who you speak with.

January 5, 2012 - Old Rough and Ready. This was the nickname for Zachary Taylor.  He was only in office for a bit over a year.  He got sick at the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington Monument and died five days later.

January 6, 2012 - Theodore Roosevelt had 6 children - Alice, Theodore, Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War, but he is best known for conservation.  Lastly - the Teddy Bear is named after him.

January 7, 2012 - President Woodrow Wilson, our president during WWI, was a professor of political science and also the president of Princeton University. He was persuaded to run for president in 1912 and got 42% of the popular vote in a three-way race.

January 8, 2012 - President Woodrow Wilson outlined 14 points for peace in Europe. When the war ended, his 14 points were distributed to soldiers in Germany and Austria-Hungary.  President Wilson traveled to France for the treaty. In 1920, Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

January 9, 2012 - Ever hear of Quasi War?  Neither had I.  The Quasi War took place in 1787 between the new United States and France.  The US government did not think it had to repay its debt because they said it was owed to the King of France, not the government of France. (Remember the king has been overthrown - oh, and beheaded).  France started seizing ships.

January 10, 2012 - Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with poliomyelitis. Throughout his life he fought to regain use of his legs by swimming. He used leg braces to help him stand when making appearances, but never hid the fact he had a physical disability. He went on to be elected 4 times.

January 11, 2012 - Thomas Edison invented an electric vote recorder in 1869, but it wasn't used until the Wisconsin Assembly in 1917.  I guess they wanted to keep counting votes by hand. I can only imagine that after 50 years, the population had grown enough that counting by hand just took too long.
electric vote recorder
January 12, 2012 - Right after the Great Chicago Fire, the city was placed under military rule for two weeks. According to General Sheridan to General Belknap, the Secretary of War, "I ordered, on your authority, rations from St.  Louis, tents from Jeffersonville, and two companies of infantry from Omaha. There will be many houseless people, much distress."  Belknap writes back "I agree with you that the fire is a national calamity; the sufferers have the sincere sympathy of the nation."

January 13, 2012 - In 1946 the first meeting of the United Nations occurred.  Fifty one nations were represented.  The UN was founded to maintain international peace. Now more than 193 member states are given a voice. Its four main purposes are: 1. to keep peace throughout the world; 2. to develop friendly relations among nations; 3. to help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease, and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other's rights and freedoms; and 4. to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.

January 14, 2012 - The Battle of Roanoke Island was important during the Civil War yet many people do not know about it.  The island is off the North Carolina coast.  It was guarded by Brigadier General Wise.  He requested additional forces but they never made it. Brigadier General Ambrose for the Union attacked the fort on several fronts. He sent in 65 ships and 11,000 men. The Confederates surrendered after a short bombardment and the CSS Curlew was sank. With Union in control of Roanoke Island, they controlled the Carolina coastal waters.

 Ambrose Burnside
January 15, 2012 - Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 but he was really born Michael. Both him and his father changed their names to Martin in honor of Martin Luther, a man his father respected.  They became Martin Luther King, Sr. and Martin Luther King, Jr. when they were baptized in 1931.  For more facts on MLK, click here - the site by the National Parks Service and see the new memorial in Washington, DC.

January 16, 2012 - James Garfield was born in a log cabin in Cuyahoga County, Ohio in 1831.  He won the election by 10,000 popular votes.

January 17, 2012 - Supreme Court Justices can serve until their death.  Several have served a very long time.  Justice Hugo Black served 34 years. Justice William O. Douglas served 36 years and 6 months.  The justices are seated according to seniority.

January 18, 2012 - The Paris Peace Conference drew up the peace settlement after World War I.  The main decisions were made by the Big Four - the United States (Woodrow Wilson), the United Kingdom (David Lloyd George), France (Georges Clemenceau), and Italy (Vittorio Orlando).

January 19, 2012 - Where do Tall Tales come from? What are Tall Tales?  Tall Tales are the stories pioneers told in the 1800s to understand our country - to explain how things came to be.  For example - where did the Great Lakes really come from?  Other cultures had their myths and legends, but America did not. The stories are usually exaggerations - like Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan. Some were based on real people - like Johnny Appleseed or Davy Crockett.  All in all, they were fun stories to pass down from generation to generation - and today - they tell us something about the people who settled our great country.

January 20, 2012 - As we look at the bizarre weather occurring all across the country - a blizzard in the state of Washington, one wonders about weather predictions.  The first weather predictions actually were read in almanacs.  Remember Benjamin Franklin? He had Poor Richard's Almanac in the 1700s. Franklin said, "in 1732 when I first published my Almanack, . . . I endeavored to make it both entertaining and useful." (from Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography.)

January 21, 2012 - James Madison helped write the US Constitution. In it, he spoke about freedom for all people.  He also stressed the government should have three branches of government - the executive, the judicial, and the legislative.

January 22, 2012 - John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States actually joined the Confederacy when the Civil War broke out.

January 23, 2012 - Who would have thought a pie tin would turn into one of the most amazing toys ever? The frisbie was invented when local college students would toss them to each other yelling "Frisbie!"  Capitalizing on those Frisbie pie tins, Morrison and Franscioni made them from plastic and called it the Flying saucer in 1948.

January 24, 2012 - Gold is discovered in California. The people who came out west to find their fortune were called the "Forty Niners".  The population increased from 15,000 to 100,000 in only one year.

January 25, 2012 - Harriet Beecher Stowe was born into a wealthy family.  She wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852 and it sold more than one million copies.

January 26, 2012 - What is Walkers Appeal?  In 1829, a free African American man named David Walker wrote a pamphlet called "The Appeal" that called for slaves to rise up against their masters. Walker lived in Boston, Massachusetts, but his words reached the south.  In man states, including Georgia, the people demanded the Boston police arrest Walker.

January 27, 2012 - Do you know what the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance in Paris are?  The Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed on February 6, 1776 between the US and France in order to create a commercial alliance between the two countres.

January 28, 2012 - Who is Montgomery Blair?  He made a name for himself during the Dred Scott trial arguing before the Supreme Court.  He also became the Postmaster General during the Civil War. He wrote a biography of our seventh president - Andrew Jackson.
Montgomery Blair
January 29, 2012 - What did we do before cell phones and computers? Ask Samuel Morse.  One of American's foremost inventors, he was a portrait painter and the first president of the National Academy of Design. He learned about electricity which led him to invent the electric telegraph.  What is a telegraph? A combination of dots and dashes assigned to each letter of the alphabet.  Soon poles were hooked up all across the country, sending messages across a wire so people could communicate with others.

January 30, 2012 - Polio is the disease that is believed to have affected Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Dr. Jonas Salk searched for a way to prevent this disease from affecting others.  Polio attacks the nerve cells and the central nervous system. He tested the vaccine on himself, his wife, and his three sons. Testing began nationwide and by 1955, there were only 29,000 cases, but by 1957, the number of polio cases were only  about 6,000.  Today, polio is extremely rare.

January 31, 2012 - John Wilkes Booth was what we would call a screen idol idol today. He always drew quite a crowd when he acted and was considered handsome. He toured with his acting troupe and developed a passion for the South. He became an extremist and many did not agree with his ideas. He first planned to kidnap Abraham Lincoln to ransom him for the release of Confederate prisoners of war. The attempt failed on March 17, 1865.  When the South surrendered he changed his plans to assassination.