Words of Wisdom: February

  • February 1

    “On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been. When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that ‘all men are created equal’ a self-evident truth; but now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim ‘a self-evident lie.'”

    — Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to George Robertson, Aug. 15, 1855

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  • February 2

    “Sir I am sorry to inform you that the Murder of two Six Nation Indians has lately happened in our County. The Murderer is now in our Gaol. I had him taken to Fort Pitt and confined there for a few days that the Indians might see him and know that we were inclined to do them Justice and took the information against him before them. They appeared to be well satisfied with it and declared in their way that their Hearts should still be well towards their Brothers tho’ this affair had given them much uneasiness. It has unluckily fallen in a bad Family as the People killed were near Relations to the Chief of the Six Nations in that part of the Country. That you may be the better acquainted with the Circumstances I have inclosed a copy of the Information and you will please to give Order for the Fellows Trial when you think Proper.”

    — Sir Your most obedient and very humble Servant, Arthur St. Clair (A letter to William Allen, September 24th, 1771)

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  • February 3

    “From pioneers like Jesse Williams, who founded the factory system of processing dairy products in large volume, came the ideas and tools that have made America great. Where would Jesse have been in his history-making development had he said ‘I can’t do it that way because that isn’t the way my father did it?’ Where would our nation be had not pioneers such as Jesse dared to do things differently?”

    — John H. Kraft, president of Kraft Foods. He was singing the praises of  Jesse Williams, known today as the Father of Cheese, in Rome, New York during a citywide celebration of the centennial of Williams' invention of the first American cheese factory in 1951. Pageants were held, and cheesemakers from around the world sent their representatives to attend the lavish final banquet.

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  • February 4

    “I will now take and write to you a few lines, to let you know that I am yet alive, and doing well. I joint(sic) the Army in January, 86 and had a good fight with Geronimo and his Indians. I also had two hard fights, where i came very near getting killed, but i got true alright. I was made Corporal when i first enlisted, but have now got high enough to be in Charge of Troop D. 6th U.S. Cavalry and it requires a good man for to get that office, and that is more than i expected. Charley White from Cranbury came out with me and got in the same Troop with me, and I sent him with twenty more men out on a Scout after Indians and Charley was lucky enough to be shot down by Indians the first day, and only three of my men returned. I was very sorry but it could not be helped.

    “The Territory of New Mexico is a very nice place never no Winter and lots of Gold and Silver Mines all around but for all that it is a disagreeable place on account of so many Indians. I like it first rate and I think as soon as my five years are up I will go bak(sic) to Old New Jersey but not today. My name isn’t Charley Winters no more since i shot that man at Jefferson Barracks when he tried to get away from me. My Captain at time told me to take the name of his son who died and so my name since then is Charles H. Wood. I will now close and hope that you will soon write and let me know how you are getting along. Give my best regards to all and to yourself and oblige.”

    — Charles Winters, Troop D of the 6th Cavalry, in a 1887 letter that describes a soldier's experiences during the Apache Wars in New Mexico.

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  • February 5

    “Watching the planer-feed set me to scheming on ideas for a machine to simplify the invention hard grind of the bookkeeper in his day’s calculation of accounts. I realized that for a machine to hold any value to an accountant, it must have greater capacity than the average expert accountant. Now I knew that many accountants could mentally add four columns of figures at a time, so I decided that I must beat that in designing my machine.”

    — Adding machine inventor Dorr Felt, 1885

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  • February 6

    “I have made a rule, whenever in my power, to avoid becoming the draughtsman of papers to be reviewed by a public body. I took my lesson from an incident which I will relate to you. When I was a journeyman printer, one of my companions, an apprentice hatter, having served out his time, was about to open shop for himself.

    “His first concern was to have a handsome signboard, with a proper inscription. He composed it in these words, ‘John Thompson, Hatter, makes and sells hats for ready money,’ with a figure of a hat subjoined. But thought he would submit it to his friends for their amendments. The first he showed it to thought the word ‘Hatter’ tautologous, because followed by the words ‘makes hats,’ which showed he was a hatter. It was struck out.

    “The next observed that the word ‘makes’ might as well be omitted, because his customers would not care who made the hats. If good and to their mind, they would buy them, by whomsoever made. He struck it out. A third said he thought the words ‘for ready money’ were useless, as it was not the custom of the place to sell on credit. Every one who purchased expected to pay.

    “They were parted with, and the inscription now stood, ‘John Thompson sells hats.’ ‘Sells hats!’ says the next friend. ‘Why, nobody will expect you to give them away. What then is the use of that word?’ It was stricken out, and ‘hats’ followed it, the rather as there was one painted on the board. So the inscription was reduced ultimately to ‘John Thompson,’ with the figure of a hat subjoined.”

    — Thomas Jefferson recalling a story that Benjamin Franklin told him as members of Congress picked away at the draft of the The Treaty of Alliance, 1778.

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  • February 7

    “By reasonable computation there were about 300 persons on the stage and wings alone—soldiers in fatigue dresses—officers with side arms—a few jolly tars, and a number of ‘apple-munching urchins.’ The scene was indescribably ludicrous. Booth played [Richard III] in his best style, and was really anxious to make a hit, but the confusion incidental to such a crowd on the stage, occasioned constant and most humorous interruptions. It was every thing or any thing, but a tragedy.”

    — Madame Francisquy Hutin at New York City's Bowery Theater

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  • February 8

    Floria is an anti-opera. It satirizes Italian opera, systematically doing things that the Italians did not. It’s performed in English with moments of spoken dialogue and there are short, popular tunes instead of specially composed arias. If a traditional opera did it, the ballad opera didn’t.”

    — Conductor and orchestrator Neely Bruce

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  • February 9

    “The National Weather Service has its beginning in the early history of the United States. Weather always has been important to the citizenry of this country, and this was especially true during the 17th and 18th centuries. Weather also was important to many of the Founding Fathers. Colonial leaders who formed the path to independence of our country also were avid weather observers. Thomas Jefferson purchased a thermometer from a local Philadelphia merchant while in town for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. He also purchased a barometer — one of the only ones in America at the time — a few days later from the same merchant. Incidentally, he noted that the high temperature in Philadelphia, Pa., on July 4, 1776 was 76 degrees. Jefferson made regular observations at Monticello from 1772-78, and participated in taking the first known simultaneous weather observations in America. George Washington also took regular observations; the last weather entry in his diary was made the day before he died.”

    — History of the National Weather Service, a joint resolution of Congress was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, 1870

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  • February 10

    “Why is it that scuba divers and surfers are some of the strongest advocates of ocean conservation? Because they’ve spent time in and around the ocean, and they’ve personally seen the beauty, the fragility, and even the degradation of our planet’s blue heart.”

    — Sylvia Earle, American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer. Since 1998 she has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence.

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  • February 11

    “Coal, oil and gas are called fossil fuels, because they are mostly made of the fossil remains of beings from long ago. The chemical energy within them is a kind of stored sunlight originally accumulated by ancient plants. Our civilization runs by burning the remains of humble creatures who inhabited the Earth hundreds of millions of years before the first humans came on the scene. Like some ghastly cannibal cult, we subsist on the dead bodies of our ancestors and distant relatives.”

    ― Carl Sagan, author, "Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium"

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  • February 12

    No Slaves. No Liquor. No Lawyers! There were the only three formal laws enacted in the new colony of Georgia by its founder, James Edward Oglethorpe.

    1. No importation or use of rum and brandies. Oglethorpe tried to curb strong spirits, but permitted ale, beer and wine.

    2. No importation or use of black slaves. Oglethorpe believed slavery would create an idle upper class, “destroy all industry among the White inhabitants” and would create a potential for violent uprisings. Many of the colonists believe that slaves were necessary for the cultivation of Georgia and the work too difficult. Still the ban was upheld until 1750.

    3. Compliance with the law for maintaining peace with native Americans.

    — James Edward Oglethorpe named the 13th colony Georgia after King George II. Savannah became the first city. Under the charter, the colony was to benefit the poor, increase trade, and to provide a protective buffer between the northern English colonies and the Spanish in Florida. The last and poorest of the colonies would serve as a religious haven for all but Catholics who were originally banned from the new colony. 

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  • February 12

    “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

    — Abraham Lincoln

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  • February 13

    “Thus did the fatal disease rise like a demon bent on destruction; it took its course, not heeding mountain, sea nor clime; death was its object, man its victim, and the uttermost ends of the world its destination; wherever its cold hand was extended – the people died …. Death struggled with time itself, and gnawed the moments that separated him from his victim.”

    — The 'Cholera Morbus' was first described near Jessore, India, in 1817. In 1823 it had spread to Russia; by 1831 it was in Hamburg, and the first case in East London was on 12th February, 1832. 

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  • February 14

    “To breathe the same air as the angels, you must go to Tahoe.”

    — Mark Twain

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  • February 14

    The rose is red, the violet’s blue, The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
    Thou art my love and I am thine; I drew thee to my Valentine:
    The lot was cast and then I drew, And Fortune said it shou’d be you.

    — English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton's Garland (1784)

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  • February 15

    “What is the chief end of man’s existence? He is destined to make use of the faculties implanted in him by his maker, for the benefit of himself and others. To do this, he needs practice. He has to learn, and that learning must be acquired among his fellow creatures. No one can find out the proper use of his abilities, without having objects before him. For this an intercourse with man is necessary.”

    — Harmony Society founder George Rapp, excerpts from "Thoughts on the Destiny of Man"

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  • February 16

    The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
    The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
    The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
    And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

    Now fades the glimm’ring landscape on the sight,
    And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
    Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
    And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

    Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow’r
    The moping owl does to the moon complain
    Of such, as wand’ring near her secret bow’r,
    Molest her ancient solitary reign.

    — Thomas Gray, author of the beloved poem on death, "Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard," 1751

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  • February 17

    “Gas lights, without oil, tallow, wicks or smoke. It is not necessary to invite attention to the gas lights by which my salon of paintings is now illuminated; those who have seen the ring beset with gems of light are sufficiently disposed to spread their reputation; the purpose of this notice is merely to say that the Museum will be illuminated every evening until the public curiosity be gratified.”

    — Artist Rembrandt Peale, 1817, on why he installed gas lights to attract paying visitors to his Baltimore museum of portraits and natural history exhibits.

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  • February 18

    “Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”

    ― Jack Kerouac, "On the Road"

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  • February 19

    “When coal came into the picture, it took about 50 or 60 years to displace timber. Then, crude oil was found, and it took 60, 70 years, and then natural gas. So it takes 100 years or more for some new breakthrough in energy to become the dominant source. Most people have difficulty coming to grips with the sheer enormity of energy consumption.”

    — Rex Tillerson, American businessman and is the chairman, president, and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation since 2006. His annual compensation, as of 2011, was $40.3 million.

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  • February 20

    Famous duels in America: 

    Hamilton-Burr — Perhaps the most famous duel in U.S. history was fought between former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, a Federalist, and Vice President Aaron Burr, a Democratic-Republican. The two New Yorkers had been political enemies for more than a decade, and on July 11, 1804, at the dueling grounds in Weehawken, N.J., Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach. Hamilton died the next day. Burr was charged with murder, though he was never tried. His image was forever tainted and his political career was destroyed.

    Jackson-Dickinson — Nearly two decades before he became president, Andrew Jackson was nearly killed in a duel with Charles Dickinson, a horse breeder who had insulted him and his wife. Jackson, shot in the chest, killed Dickinson on his second shot after his first shot misfired.

    Lincoln’s Near Duel — Abraham Lincoln nearly fought in a saber duel in 1842. After a disagreement regarding the state bank in Illinois, Lincoln humiliated his fellow state legislator, James Shields, in a letter to the editor of a newspaper. When Lincoln refused to retract the letter, Shields challenged him to a duel. The two arrived at the dueling grounds prepared to fight, but their seconds helped settle the dispute before the duel.

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  • February 21

    “I am sick at heart when I look into the social world and see woman so willingly made a dupe to the beastly selfishness of man.”

    — Sarah Bagley, 1847, in a letter to Angelique Martin

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  • February 22

    “Trade wars aren’t started by countries appealing to respected, independent trade authorities. Rather, trade wars begin when one country decides to violate international trade rules to undercut another country’s industries.”

    — Ron Wyden, senior United States Senator for Oregon, serving since 1996, and a member of the Democratic Party. He previously served in the United States House of Representatives from 1981 to 1996.

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  • February 23

    “Elixirs, potions, powders: the practice of pharmacy in the early 19th century still relied on centuries-old folk wisdom passed down from apothecary to apothecary. Pharmaceutical education began at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) in 1821, the first such institution in North America. A new era ushered in with the practice of pharmacy- the identification, selection, compounding and analysis of drugs – the foundation for future advances and discoveries.”

    — Cate Murway, "Prescription for a Perfect Town." Image: Asa Fabian’s Pharmacy, courtesy of Harold & Carol Mitchener

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  • February 24

    “I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.”

    ― Mark Twain, an American author and humorist known for his novels, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876).

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  • February 25

    “[M]ake and enforce such regulations as in his judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the States or possessions, or from one State or possession into any other State or possession.”

    — Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act, 1799, in which Congress endowed the Surgeon General with new responsibility and power.

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  • February 26

    “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”

    — German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors, "Communist Manifesto."

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  • February 27

    “Not until the science of life and man is equally understood by men as well as by women; Not until this understanding brings equal weight of responsibility to men as well as to women; Not until the preparation for fatherhood and motherhood forms a lasting curriculum in our higher school instruction and in our universities, can we expect a sound and lasting progress of mankind.”

    — Emma Marwedel, founder of the kindergarten movement in the US, from her book, "Conscious Motherhood," page 76.

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  • February 28

    “The good people in this world are very far from being satisfied with each other and my arms are the best peacemaker.”

     

    — Gunmaker Samuel Colt (1852). When he said these words, the Colt .45 Single Action Army revolving cylinder handgun, made famous on the American frontier and the Old West as the Peacemaker, had not yet been invented. Still, he was well on his way to revolutionizing gun manufacturing in the United States.

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  • February 29

    1796 – The Jay Treaty between the United States and Great Britain comes into force, facilitating ten years of peaceful trade between the two nations.

    1864 – American Civil War: Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid fails. His plans to free 15,000 Union soldiers being held near Richmond, Virginia are thwarted.

    — Two events that occurred on February 29

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