1800s

The Washington Monument Is Completed – 12/6/1884

Anyone who has been fortunate to visit the Washington Monument must have been impressed on its’ actual size. Others may have been in awe at looking at it and wonder how on Earth was this able to be built? To answer those and other questions that people may wonder about this huge structure, the answers go back to the 1800s when this monument was finally finished as well as further back to why it was constructed in the first place.Workers in Washington, D.C. place a nine-inch aluminum pyramid on top of a white marble tower that finishes the building of an awesome monument to the nation’s original president and the city’s namesake George Washington on December 6th, 1884. Looking back to when the U.S. Congress had basically started, a decision was reached in 1783 that a statue of the great Revolutionary War general, George Washington, should reside close to wherever the site would be for the new Congressional building.  Architect Pierre L’Enfant would be asked by President Washington to craft a new federal capital that would reside on the Potomac River in 1791; Pierre left a spot for the statue to be placed at the western end of the sweeping National Mall which is close to the present day location of the monument. Ironically, it wasn’t until thirty-three-years after the death of Washington that someone finally did something to have the monument built in 1832 and the same year saw the birth of the private Washington National Monument Society. They held a design competition and the winner was architect Robert Mills for his elaborate Greek temple-like creation. Then, a fundraising drive was held by the society in an attempt to acquire funds for the creation of the statue. Although this action, as well as appealing to the nations school children for assistance, $230,000 thousand was raised; unfortunately, this was well-short of the needed $1 million. Nevertheless, construction began as the society’s representatives worked to create the monument’s cornerstone; this was a pure white marble block that weighed 24,500 pounds on July 4th, 1848.Regrettably, construction would be halted after six years due to lack of funds. Author Mark Twain would later comment about the unfinished monument by it looking like a “hollow, oversized chimney” around the time of the start of the Civil War in 1861. Sadly, no progress would be made about completing the monument for another fifteen years until the centennial of American independence as authorization for completing the monument’s building by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1876.The monument became the tallest building in the world at that time as it was made of roughly 36,000 blocks of granite and marble that was stacked 555 feet in the air; it was finished in December of 1884. More than 10,000 individuals climbed the roughly 900 steps to the Washington Monument’s top just after the dedication ceremony six months prior. Presently, the trip to the top is made easier through the use of an elevator and each year, more than 800,000 individuals visit the monument. The city passed a law in 1910 that the height of new buildings would be limited to make sure that the tallest building in Washington, D.C. remains the monument; this is a fitting tribute to the individual remembered as the “Father of His Country.”

Read More>>

1800s

George Custer Is Born – 12/5/1839

Usually, individuals remembered throughout history are seen in a positive light when something good is accomplished while viewed in a negative light when something bad is achieved. Sometimes an individual can be remembered as having a favorable reputation while at the same time known for a devastating failure. One such person was born in Harrison County, Ohio on December 5th, 1839. Although Union General George Armstrong Custer is mostly remembered in history for his death in Montana at the Battle of the Big Horn by the Cheyenne Indians in 1876, he is also remembered for his reputation during the Civil War as an effective and dashing cavalry leader.Custer’s reputation was much different years before the Civil War when in 1857, he attended West Point and was known for the many demerits he received for his disobedient behavior as well as earning poor grades. While graduating at the bottom of his class in 1861, Custer would shortly be put into military action despite his showing of bad academic’s. He would be involved in fighting at Virginia in July of 1861 during the First Battle of Bull Run; this occurred roughly two months after his departure from West Point. During the entire war, Custer was a part of the Army of the Potomac. Being a part of almost all the important battles that involved the army, Custer accomplished being the youngest general in the Union army at age 23 in June of 1863. Custer would command the Michigan cavalry brigade in General Judson Kilpatrick’s third Cavalry Division. Custer and his troop known as his “Wolverines” played an important part in halting the cavalry attack by Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart, who assisted the victory of the Union in Pennsylvania at the Battle of Gettysburg. Custer achieved this just shortly after his promotion. He would personally lead every attack in battle which helped earn the admiration of his men as a leader. An observer of Custer’s command wrote, “So brave a man I never saw and as competent as brave. Under him a man is ashamed to be cowardly. Under him our men can achieve wonders.”During the campaigns of 1864, Custer secured his greatest battlefield success. He would lead the attack in Virginia at the Battle of Yellow Tavern on May 11th, 1864; the attack resulted in Stuart’s death. Custer would one month later lead an attack at Trevilian Station on a train carrying supplies that resulted in the Confederate cavalry surrounding them. Nonetheless, his soldiers created a triangle and fought valiantly to stop the Rebels until the arrival of reinforcements. Custer’s men in October achieved an impressive victory at Tom’s Brook in the Shenandoah Valley over the Confederate cavalry; this would become the best one-sided Yankee cavalry win of the war in the East.When the Civil War was finished, downsizing occurred which resulted in the demotion of Custer to lieutenant colonel. Fighting Native Americans, his postwar missions were not as effective which on June 25th, 1876 Custer’s reckless attack on the camp at Little Big Horn led to his demise; this earned him an undesirable reputation that reduced his previous success in the Civil War.

Read More>>

1800s

Napoleon Proclaimed First Emperor of France – 12/2/1804

On this exact day in 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Napoleon I in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, making him the first Frenchman to have the title of an emperor in a thousand years. The conqueror of Europe had placed the crown on Pope Pius VII who now proclaimed Napoleon emperor of France.Born on August 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica, France to an average family from the minor nobility, he became one of the most celebrated leader and military strategist in the history of the West. Napoleon served as an artillery officer in the French army during the French Revolution of 1789. By 1798, Napoleon led a military expedition to Egypt but returned in 1789 when France was at war with most of Europe, and engineered a coup to take over the French government and save his country from destruction.  In February of 1800, he became the First Consul and later led an organized military campaign that defeated Austria. Two years later, he created the Napoleonic Code, another arrangement of French law, and in 1804, he set up the French empire and was proclaimed emperor of France. By 1807, Napoleon's reign had extended from the River Elbe in the north, down through Italy in the south, and from the Pyrenees to the Dalmatian coast in the west.Napoleon experienced his first major military defeat in 1812, when Austria and Prussia joined Russia forces against France, and then he lost Spain to the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula War, and in 1813, a full military crusade was launched by the Allied Forces against France, which led to the fall of his empire. Captured and banished to the island of Elba near Rome, yet he found his way back into France in 1815, raised another Grand Army and took over France once again. However, his success did not last before the Allied Forces responded and defeated him in the Battle of Waterloo in June of the same year.Captured again, Napoleon was exiled to the Island of Saint Helena in the southern Atlantic off the coast of Africa, where he was placed under house arrest along with a few of his followers. He was allowed to do what he want in his new home, he write often and read a lot. Unfortunately, Napoleon died of possibly stomach ulcer in May 1821, at the age of 51. In 1840, Louis Philippe I received permission from the British to return Napoleon's remains to France. A glorious funeral service was held in his honor. A hearse carried his body through the Arc de Triomphe, before buried under the dome at Les Invalides.

Read More>>

1800s

Darwin's Origin of Species Is Published - 11/24/1859

Today in 1859, British naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin published a noteworthy scientific work on the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, in England. In the work, Darwin hypothesis argued that organisms develop through a procedure he called "natural selection." During the process, organisms with hereditary variations, which fit their surrounding have a tendency to multiply a larger number of offspring than organisms of similar species that do not have the variation thus, affecting the general genetic existence of the species. Born on February 12, 1809, Darwin was inspired by the work of French naturalist Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck and the English economist Thomas Mathus. He obtained the vast majority of the proof for his hypothesis amid a five-year voyage on board the HMS Beagle in the 1830s. The expedition took him to places like the Galapagos Islands and New Zealand, known for their diversity, where he obtained accurate information of the flora, fauna, and geology of several places. This data, alongside his studies in variation and interbreeding helped improve his theory of the organic evolution when he returned to England. The possibility of natural evolution of organisms was not new. Among others, his grandfather Erasmus Darwin, a notable English scientist who with the help of Lamarck who in the mid nineteenth century drew the first evolutionary diagram had earlier suggested the evolution theory. Nevertheless, Darwin made science have a handy clarification for the mystery of evolution.By 1844, Darwin had detailed his theory of natural selection by, but to make the theory public made Darwin uneasy because it clearly opposed the scriptural account of creation. In 1858, while Darwin was yet to make is discoveries public, a British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace published a paper that was the whole summary of Darwin's theory. In 1858, before the Linnean Society of London, Darwin and Wallace gave a joint lecture on evolution. Following the lecture, Darwin arranged for the publication of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.By November 24, 1859, Origin of Species became published and sold out. Immediately, most scientists accepted the theory because it shed lights on the mystery behind biological science, yet conventional Christians denounced the work as a blasphemy to God and the Christian faith. Subsequently, his publication of The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), in which he proved that man evolved from apes made matter worse.His evolution theory had been widely acknowledged before his death in 1882. To pay tribute to his notable work, Darwin was buried in Westminster Abbey alongside kings, queens, rulers, and other celebrated figures from British history. Until this day, Darwin's theory remains the bedrock of the evolution theory. 

Read More>>

1800s

Abraham Lincoln Elected The 16th President of The United States of America - 11/6/1860

Today in history, Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election to become the 16th president of the United States of America over a severely partitioned Democratic Party, thus, making him the first ever Republican to win the White House race. He was able to get only 40 percent of the electorate, yet Lincoln beat the other three different candidates from Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, Constitutional Union candidate John Bell, and Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, a onetime rival and U.S. congressman for Illinois. Born and bred in Kentucky, Lincoln became a lawyer, and even the former Whig representative to the Congress. He gained popularity during the great debate against Stephen Douglas of Illinois for U.S. Senate seat in 1858.  The senatorial battle highlighted an astounding arrangement of well-constructed open arguments on the matter relating to slavery, which is widely known as the "Lincoln-Douglas debates" where Lincoln opposed the spread of slavery, while Douglas argued that every region ought to have the privilege to choose whether it would turn out to be free or slave. In the final analysis, Lincoln lost the Senate race, however his campaign conveyed national awareness regarding the youthful Republican Party. Two years later, Lincoln won the party's presidential primaries.At the presidential election in November 1860, Lincoln once again had to compete against Douglas, who is representing a faction of a vigorously separated Democratic Party, and additionally Breckinridge and Bell. The declaration of Lincoln's triumph flagged the withdrawal of the Southern states, which since the start of the year had been openly threatening to secede if the Republicans won the White House race.As at the time of Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861, the Confederate States of America had been formally formed with only seven Southern Democratic states. The Confederate States decided to make Jefferson Davis as president of the newly established states. This event led to the American Civil War that started one month later when Confederate armies under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Eventually, in 1863, the Confederacy lost the battle, Lincoln liberated the slaves and in 1864, he was reelected for a second term as the president of the United States. At Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. in April 1865, a Confederate supporter named John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln. The assault came just five days after the American Civil War ended with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.To this day, Abraham Lincoln is regarded as one of the greatest American presidents ever for his role in protecting the Union, abolishing slavery, and for his exceptional character and effective eloquence.

Read More>>

1800s

George Selden Acquires Patent for Gas-Powered Cars - 11/5/1895

Although Rochester attorney George Selden had never personally invented nor built a car, he did have the intelligence to submit a patent that made it seem like he did. On November 5, 1895, Selden was granted the U.S. Patent No. 549,160 for an enhanced car engine, the patent of which should broadly apply to any form of liquid-hydrocarbon engine of the compression type. The patent submitted by Selden was unclear to begin with. On top of that, it was really someone else’s idea. He saw a two-cylinder internal combustion engine at the 1872 Philadelphia Exposition and copied it. In 1899, he made the decision to make money from the patent and sold this to Electric Vehicle Company. It so happened that someone else had already been building gas-powered cars, the Winton Motor Carriage Company. Investors at the Electric Vehicle Company thought that this was in violation of the patent they acquired from Selden and made the decision to sue Winton Motor Carriage Company which was the largest car manufacturer in the US during that time. The court upheld Selden’s patent in 1903 while Winton Motor Carriage Company on the other hand was forced to settle. At first, automobile makers were dismayed by the existence of the patent but soon realized that it was possible to turn the situation around. The patent was one way for them to leverage competition in a very competitive industry. Winton and other car companies met with Selden and the Electric Vehicle Company and together, they agreed to establish the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers (ALAM). Manufacturers who built gas-powered cars but were not members of the organization ended up getting sued. The organization also threatened their potential buyers, saying that they would be slapped with a lawsuit if they bought a car from an unlicensed company.Most of the members of the Selden group were Eastern carmakers that catered only to the affluent buyers. The Midwestern manufacturers that targeted ordinary people were excluded. One of the Midwestern manufacturers that tried to get into the group but got denied was Henry Ford. He found the demands of ALAM unreasonable and was irked by it. Instead of giving in to these, he went ahead with his plans and ignored ALAM, which got him sued by the organization on October 22, 1903 for patent infringement. The case went to trial in 1909, seven months after the company’s Model T was introduced. Although Ford failed to impress ALAM and its members, he did get most Americans to side his case because they were pleased when Ford made cars accessible to most of them. The judge on the other hand thought that Ford violated the Selden patent and ruled against him.Things took a different turn in January 11, 1911 when the appeals court ruled in favor of Ford. The court issued a statement saying that the patent was only applicable to replicas of the same exact engine that Selden saw in 1872.

Read More>>