Words of Wisdom: January

  • January 1

    “I knew what they were after; that I had alarmed the country all the way up, that their boats were caught aground, and I should have 500 men there soon. One of them said they had 1,500 coming; he seemed surprised and rode off into the road, and informed them who took me, they came down immediately on a full gallop.”

    — Paul Revere

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  • January 1

    “We lived very simply — but with all the essentials of life well understood and provided for – hot baths, cold champagne, new peas and old brandy.”

    “In the course of my life. I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.”

    — Winston Churchill

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  • January 2

    “I have seized the light. I have arrested its flight.”

    — Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, considered one of the fathers of photography

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  • January 3

    “We had a world in miniature — we had enacted the French revolution over again with despairing hearts instead of corpses as a result. … It appeared that it was nature’s own inherent law of diversity that had conquered us … our ‘united interests’ were directly at war with the individualities of persons and circumstances and the instinct of self-preservation …”

    — Josiah Warren (Periodical Letter II 1856), a participant in the New Harmony Society, who asserted that Robert Owen's utopian community was doomed to failure due to a lack of individual sovereignty and private property. Warren's observations on the reasons for the community's failure led to the development of American individualist anarchism, of which he was its original theorist. The Forestville Commonwealth Owenite community at Earlton, New York was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

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  • January 4

    “[Charles III of Spain] was probably the most successful European ruler of his generation. He had provided firm, consistent, intelligent leadership. He had chosen capable ministers….[his] personal life had won the respect of the people.”

    — Historian Stanley Payne on Charles III

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  • January 5

    “Let me die in this old uniform in which I fought my battles. May God forgive me for ever having put on another.”

    ― Benedict Arnold, who died a pauper on June 14, 1801. He lays buried in his Continental Army uniform at St. Mary’s Church, Middlesex, London. To this day, his name remains synonymous with the word “traitor” in the United States.

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  • January 6

    “With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.”

    — William Lloyd Garrison, editor of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, which he founded with Isaac Knapp in 1831 and published in Massachusetts until slavery was abolished by Constitutional amendment after the American Civil War. He promoted "immediate emancipation" of slaves in the United States. In the 1870s, Garrison became a prominent voice for the woman suffrage movement.

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  • January 7

    Early balloon flights triggered a phase of public “balloonomania,” with all manner of objects decorated with images of balloons or styled au ballon, from ceramics to fans and hats. Clothing au ballon was produced with exaggerated puffed sleeves and rounded skirts, or with printed images of balloons. Hair was coiffed à la montgolfier, au globe volant, au demi-ballon, or à la Blanchard.

     

    — Gas balloons became the most common type from the 1790s until the 1960s. Balloonists sought a means to control the balloon's direction. The first steerable balloon (also known as a dirigible) was flown by Henri Giffard in 1852. Powered by a steam engine, it was too slow to be effective. Like heavier than air flight, the internal combustion engine made dirigibles—especially blimps—practical, starting in the late 19th century. In 1872 Paul Haenlein flew the first (tethered) internal combustion motor-powered balloon. The first to fly in an untethered airship powered by an internal combustion engine was Alberto Santos Dumont in 1898.

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  • January 8

    “That the Senators from this State in the Congress of the United States be, and they hereby are instructed, and the Representatives requested to adopt … such amendments in the Constitution of the United States as will remove any clause or article of the said Constitution which can be construed to imply or justify a decision that a State is compellable to answer in any suit by an individual or individuals in any Court of the United States.”

     

    — State reaction to the 11th Amendment. The Chisolm decision was unpopular. Arguments of Anti-Federalists from the 1787-89 ratification debates against centralized federal power were raised anew.  If federal courts could order states to pay money, states would become mere federal agencies contrary to federalism principles.

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  • January 9

    “I found that the only way of playing at the Golve is to stand as you do at fenceing with the small sword bending your legs a little and holding the muscles of your legs and back and armes exceeding bent or fixt or stiffe and not at all slackning them in the time you are bringing down the stroak (which you readily doe).”

     

    — The earliest known instructions for playing golf have been found in the diary of Thomas Kincaid, a medical student who played on the course at Bruntsfield Links, near Edinburgh University, and at Leith Links. His notes include his views on an early handicap system. In his entry for 20 January 1687 he noted how "After dinner I went out to the Golve", and described his Golf stroke.

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  • January 10

    “We, the People of the State of Florida in Convention assembled, do solemnly ordain, publish and declare: That the State of Florida hereby withdraws herself from the Confederacy of States existing under the name of the United States of America, and from the existing Government of said States; and that all political connection between her and the Government of said States ought to be and the same is hereby totally annulled, and said union of States dissolved; and the State of Florida is hereby declared a Sovereign and Independent Nation; and that all ordinances heretofore adopted in so far as they create or recognize said Union are rescinded; and all laws or parts of laws in force in this State, in so far as they recognize or assent to said Union be and they are hereby repealed.”

    — Ordinance of Florida's Secession from the Union; done in open Convention, January 10th, A.D. 1861 (Image: Florida's Secession Flag)

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  • January 11

    “Here, Mr. Salvador received three wounds; and, fell by my side. . . . I desired [Lieutenant Farar], to take care of Mr. Salvador; but, before he could find him in the dark, the enemy unfortunately got his scalp: which, was the only one taken. . . . He died, about half after two o’clock in the morning: forty-five minutes after he received the wounds, sensible to the last. When I came up to him, after dislodging the enemy, and speaking to him, he asked, whether I had beat the enemy? I told him yes. He said he was glad of it, and shook me by the hand – and bade me farewell – and said, he would die in a few minutes.”

    — A letter by Colonel William Thomson to William Henry Drayton, concerning his death of Francis Salvador, the first Jew elected to public office in the colonies. A patriot journal, called The Rememerance, wrote of Salvador: "he was universally loved and esteemed."

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  • January 11

    “This little event, of France possessing herself of Louisiana, … is the embryo of a tornado which will burst on the countries on both shores of the Atlantic and involve in it’s effects their highest destinies.”

    — President Thomas Jefferson wrote this prediction in an April 1802 letter to Pierre Samuel du Pont amid reports that Spain would retrocede to France the vast territory of Louisiana. As the United States had expanded westward, navigation of the Mississippi River and access to the port of New Orleans had become critical to American commerce, so this transfer of authority was cause for concern. Within a week of his letter to du Pont, Jefferson wrote U.S. Minister to France Robert Livingston: "every eye in the US. is now fixed on this affair of Louisiana. perhaps nothing since the revolutionary war has produced more uneasy sensations through the body of the nation." (Image: 1805 Map of Louisiana by Samuel Lewis; courtesy the Library of Congress)

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  • January 12

    Bourbon blues on the street, loose and complete
    Under skies all smoky blue green
    I can’t forsake a dixie dead shake
    So we danced the sidewalk clean

    My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?
    New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim

    Colonel Tom, what’s wrong? What’s going on?
    You can’t tie yourself up for a deal
    He said, Hey, north, you’re south, shut your big mouth
    You gotta do what you feel is real

    Ain’t got no picture postcards, ain’t got no souvenirs
    My baby she don’t know me when I’m thinking bout those years

    Pale as a light bulb hanging on a wire
    Sucking up to someone just to stoke the fire
    Picking out the highlights of the scenery
    Saw a little cloud that looked a little like me

    I had my hands in the river, my feet back up on the banks
    Looked up to the lord above and said, Hey, man, thanks

    Sometimes I feel so good I got to scream
    She said, Gordie, baby, I know exactly what you mean
    She said, she said, I swear to god she said

    My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?
    New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim

    Swim

    — "New Orleans Is Sinking," lyrics and music by the band Tragically Hip

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  • January 13

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That from and after the first day of May, Anno Domini, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five, the flag of the United States, be fifteen stripes alternate red and white. That the Union be fifteen stars, white in a blue field.

    — The Flag Act of 1794, the second of three acts passed by Congress between 1777 and 1888

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  • January 14

    Did you know: Cesarean section has been part of human culture since ancient times and there are tales in both Western and non-Western cultures of this procedure resulting in live mothers and offspring. According to Greek mythology Apollo removed Asclepius, founder of the famous cult of religious medicine, from his mother’s abdomen.

    Numerous references to cesarean section appear in ancient Hindu, Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, and other European folklore. Ancient Chinese etchings depict the procedure on apparently living women. The Mischnagoth and Talmud prohibited primogeniture when twins were born by cesarean section and waived the purification rituals for women delivered by surgery.

    Image (above): The extraction of Asclepius from the abdomen of his mother Coronis by his father Apollo. Woodcut from the 1549 edition of Alessandro Beneditti’s De Re Medica. 

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  • January 15

    “Hetherington’s hat points to a significant advance in the transformation of dress. Sooner or later, everyone will accept this headwear. We believe that both the court and the police made a mistake here.”

    — English haberdasher John Hetherington’s top hat literally made front page news in 1797 in "The London Times"

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  • January 16

    “[John] Frémont has touched my imagination. What a wild life, and what a fresh kind of existence! But ah, the discomforts!”

    — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1842

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  • January 17

    “We have reason to flatter ourselves that not only the Interest of this State but the United States in General . . . is interested in the Success of our undertaking.”

    — Moses and Stephen Austin

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  • January 18

    “How many Californians today realize that this state was the rendevous par excellence for daring bands of filibusters, who, whether in pursuit of mere individual wealth and adventure or in furtherance of what seemed to them an ideal, risked their lives in bold invasions of Hispanic lands? [The story of Filibuster William Walker was] more than romance. It is the necessary background of a living vital issue.”

    — Dr. C.E. Chapman, Assistant Professor of Hispanic American History, University of California

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  • January 19

    “From stoplights to skyscrapers, turn anywhere in civilization and you will see imagination at work. It’s in our inventions, advances and remedies and how a single parent masterminds each day. Imagination is boundless, surrounds us and resides in us all.”

    — Geoffrey S. Fletcher, American screenwriter, film director, and adjunct film professor at Columbia University and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in New York City

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  • January 20

    “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Courts must decide on the operation of each.”

    — Chief Justice John Marshall, proclaiming the doctrine of judicial review, which reserves to the Supreme Court final authority to judge whether or not actions of the president or of the congress are within the powers granted to them by the Constitution.  Illustration by Clarice Smith from "American Hero," by David Bruce Smith

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  • January 21

    “I was taken by the power that savoring a simple cup of coffee can have to connect people and create community.”

    — Howard Schultz, founder, Starbucks

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  • January 22

    “One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.”

    — Nolan Ryan, a former Major League Baseball pitcher and chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers

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  • January 23

    “There is a lot that happens around the world we cannot control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless and the sick exist, then we can help.”

    — Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Representative for Illinois's 9th congressional district, serving since 1999

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  • January 24

    “I picked up one or two pieces and examined them attentively; and having some general knowledge of minerals, I could not call to mind more than two which in any way resembled this, sulphuret of iron, very bright and brittle; and gold, bright, yet malleable. I then tried it between two rocks, and found that it could be beaten into a different shape, but not broken.

    “I then collected four or five pieces and went up to Mr. Scott (who was working at the carpenters bench making the mill wheel) with the pieces in my hand and said, “I have found it.””What is it?” inquired Scott.

    “Gold,” I answered.

    “Oh! no,” replied Scott, “That can’t be.”

    I said,–“I know it to be nothing else.”

    — American carpenter and sawmill operator James Wilson Marshall , who on the morning of January 24, 1848, was examining the channel below the mill when he noticed some shiny flecks in the channel bed. It was gold!

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  • January 25

    “I have been greatly abused, have been obliged to do more than my part in the war, been loaded with class rates, town rates, province rates, Continental rates and all rates … been pulled and hauled by sheriffs, constables and collectors, and had my cattle sold for less than they were worth … The great men are going to get all we have and I think it is time for us to rise and put a stop to it, and have no more courts, nor sheriffs, nor collectors nor lawyers.”

    — Farmer Plough Jogger, at a meeting convened by aggrieved commoners, who explained that when the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the European business partners of Massachusetts merchants refused to extend lines of credit to them and insisted that they pay for goods with hard currency. Despite the continent-wide shortage of such currency, merchants began to demand the same from their local business partners, including those merchants operating in the market towns in the state's interior. Many of these merchants passed on this demand to their customers, although the popular governor, John Hancock (pictured above), did not impose hard currency demands on poorer borrowers and refused to actively prosecute the collection of delinquent taxes. The rural farming population was generally unable to meet the demands being made of them by merchants or the civil authorities, and individuals began to lose their land and other possessions when they were unable to fulfill their debt and tax obligations. This led to strong resentments against tax collectors and the courts, where creditors obtained and enforced judgments against debtors, and where tax collectors obtained judgments authorizing property seizures.

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  • January 26

    “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

    “With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country…

    “I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

    — Benjamin Franklin's letter to his daughter about why the turkey would be a better symbol of American that the eagle.

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  • January 27

    “He originated the plan of the University of Georgia, drew up the charter, and with infinite labor and patience, in vanquishing all sorts of prejudices and removing every obstruction, he persuaded the assembly to adopt it.”

    — On March 4, 1807, at age 53, the first president of the University of Georgia — Abraham Baldwin (1754-1807) — died while serving as a U.S. senator from Georgia. Later that month the Savannah Republican and Savannah Evening Ledger reprinted a eulogy of the great statesman, which had first appeared in a Washington, D.C., newspaper. is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC.

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  • January 28

    “He was a warm gentleman of the old-school, who had the rare quality of engaging and winning the esteem and affection of children and youth.”

    — Eulogy of US chief engraver William Kneass (September 25, 1781 – August 27, 1840)

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  • January 29

    “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. ‘Tis some visiter,’ I muttered, ‘tapping at my chamber door. Only this and nothing more.”

    — Edgar Allan Poe, "Raven"

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  • January 30

    “Permit us, then, earnestly to recommend these articles to the immediate and dispassionate attention of the legislatures of the respective states. Let them be candidly reviewed under a sense of the difficulty of combining in one system the various sentiments and interests of a continent divided into so many sovereign and independent communities, under a conviction of the absolute necessity of uniting all our councils and all our strength, to maintain and defend our common liberties…”

    — Congress began to move for ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1777.

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  • January 31

    “I tried and failed. I tried again and again and succeeded.”

    — Epitaph from the gravestone of Gail Borden, the creator of Borden's condensed milk

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