Your John Hancock – Declaration of Independence Signers

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Forgotten Signers

of the

Declaration of

Independence

What elementary school student in America couldn’t tell you about Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, two of the most famous signers of one of the three most momentous documents of American history? Most middle school students could go a little further and tell you about second president John Adams or John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, if only because of his most prominent signature.

That leaves 52 people who risked execution by making it official that the colonies were, and of right ought to have been, free, independent states whom most people probably couldn’t name. That doesn’t mean they weren’t themselves fascinating figures who are owed more prominent positions in posterity than history has provided them. Let’s do our small part to correct this.

10. James Wilson

A successful lawyer and esteemed judge by the time he became a congressional delegate for Pennsylvania, James Wilson had lent a practical sensibility to the revolution with his 1774 pamphlet “Considerations of the Nature and Extent of Legislative Authority in British Parliament” which argued that parliament had no authority to write laws for the colonies. It had been particularly popular reading among the congressional delegates in the meetings leading up to the Declaration.

Why He’s Forgotten:

In no small part is because of how badly he disgraced himself from 1777 on with gambling, speculation, and profiteering. The fledgling nation didn’t want to draw extra attention to someone like that after he’d served his purpose. He also was accused in 1779 of raising food prices in Philadelphia so high it led to riots that nearly cost him his life. These were the sorts of things that could overshadow a career that had never really become iconic with the public anyway.

Curiously, in the stage musical 1776, possibly his best opportunity to become a household name again, James Wilson is portrayed as voting in favor of declaring independence only as a means of remaining historically anonymous because doing so would be going with the crowd. This is quite ridiculous, as Wilson had clearly been a vocal advocate of separation before votes for independence were even being discussed, but the fact the authors of 1776 got away with it showed how far his star had fallen.

9. William Whipple

A former sailor who’d taken part in the

slave trade in the West Indies, William Whipple at least partially redeemed himself from a modern perspective by being one of the few members of Continental Congress who freed his slaves during his lifetime. During the Revolution he took the rank of brigadier general, distinguished himself at the vital American victory at Saratoga, and lost a leg from a cannon ball in 1778.

Why He’s Forgotten:

One of the contributions to his late life unpopularity was that he took a job in 1782 as the New Hampshire Superintendent of Finance, which unfortunately brought with it collecting taxes. It made him something of a pariah for doing a vital job, but also the fact it was an extremely difficult job (not aided by health problems his lost leg brought on) meant he did not collect enough money to please his colleagues either. Even a Founding Father sometimes cannot escape public scorn just for taking an unpopular but necessary job.

8. Elbridge Gerry

A Harvard graduate who became a merchant, and then was elected to Massachusetts Legislature in 1774, Elbridge Gerry’s main duties during his time in the Continental Congress (aside from signing the most important document) was in the naval and commercial departments. After the Revolution, he was part of the the Constitutional Convention, and came out of it hating the Constitution too much to sign it.

Why He’s Forgotten:

While the man himself is not remembered, he has a sort of unflattering legacy. Following his 1811 election as governor of Massachusetts, it was observed that the districts in his state were drawn to unfairly favor the Democratic-Republicans, which was dubbed “the salamander” by a cartoon in the Boston Globe. Perhaps you’ve heard the portmanteau “Gerrymander” lately in this politically charged climate. It’s the sort of thing that can easily overshadow the rest of a career, however distinguished it might have been.

7. Edward Rutledge

During his time in the Continental Congress as a delegate from South Carolina, former law student Edward Rutledge stood out in two ways according to the National Park Service. For one, he proposed a delay when the motion for independence was first made on June 7. Ostensibly it was to allow the colonies to arm themselves and reach out to foreign powers for alliances. The other way was that he was a mere 26 years old at the time, making him the youngest signatory. Indeed, today he’d be four years too young to even be a member of the Senate.

During the Revolutionary War he joined the army as a militia captain. While he was initially successful at the Battle of Port Royal, during the Battle of Charleston in 1780 he and thousands of other American soldiers were captured. He spent the rest of the war in irons.

Why He’s Forgotten:

Rutledge’s position as a political moderate left him initially opposed to the movement for independence. This has led a number of dramas, such as HBO’s John Adams to paint him as being completely opposed to revolution. It’s really quite unfair, as by the time of the vote he was the one who persuaded the rest of the divided South Carolinian delegates to vote for independence. Still, history found it harder to view the cool-headed, initially incorrect moderate as one of the inspirational founders of the nation, even though he was a military hero.

6. Richard Stockton

This delegate from New Jersey was such a successful lawyer before the revolution that King George III himself expressed a favorable opinion of him. Nevertheless, taxes such as the infamous Stamp Act had left Richard Stockton deeply in favor of independence, and in fact he became a delegate after New Jersey voters learned in 1776 that their original delegates intended to vote to stay with Great Britain, so he was one of two swapped in.

Why He’s Forgotten:

 Stockton was by far the least lucky signatory. In 1776 he was attempting to save his family after the British army invaded New Jersey and was captured. He held out in prison for five cold, agonizing weeks with the threat of execution for treason hanging over him before being offered a pardon in exchange for swearing to not take part in the rest of the war. Stockton accepted and resigned from  Congress, which was viewed as a general renouncement of the Revolution. He went back to teaching law, but tragically he was afflicted with cancer of the lip and lived only two more years, in pain to the end and widely held to be the Benedict Arnold of the Continental Congress.

5. Joseph Hewes

Before he became a delegate from North Carolina, Joseph Hewes was a highly successful sea merchant with a fleet of ships. So while in congress, he was basically one of the resident experts on maritime issues for the colonies. This might sound minor relative to the issues of the fate of nations, but it was actually a much-disputed issue during the debates. During the war itself, he offered his ships to be used for the Continental Navy.

Why He’s Forgotten:

Hewes didn’t survive the war. In 1779, he attended his final session of congress twelve days before his death on November 10. Thusly he was not able to continue distinguishing himself in the eyes of the new nation. His wife had also died in 1766 and he never remarried or had any children, so there was less of a family line to keep his name in the public consciousness.

4. Francis Lewis

Francis Lewis was born in Britain, went to America to found successful businesses around Philadelphia and New York, and became a military contractor. When the Seven Years War was started by George Washington, Lewis volunteered to join the army as an aide to General Hugh Mercer. Despite the relatively safe position he was taken prisoner. At the end of the war he was awarded 5,000 acres of land by the government of New York. Thus when he became one of the New York delegates, he was one of the greatest success stories among the distinguished traitors.

Why He’s Forgotten:

It turned out that the war would cost him almost everything. Long Island was lost to the colonials almost immediately during the war and with it his wife Elizabeth and their estate. His estate was destroyed and his wife treated abominably, the record stating that she had to sleep on the ground for months. Washington himself had to literally threaten to abuse the wife of a British official who’d been taken prisoner, though the long abusive treatment had left Elizabeth Lewis traumatized and she died shortly after. Though Lewis long survived the war, dying in 1803 at age 90, he lost his fortune and fell into obscurity.

3. Caesar Rodney

A former sheriff and delegate from Delaware, Caesar Rodney certainly seems like he should have been one of the most remembered figures to sign the Declaration. He was credited with casting the deciding vote for independence by providing one of two votes among the Delaware delegates for it. On the night before the vote he had ridden 80 miles through a storm to be present. And he also had the best name on this list, if we’re being honest.

Why He’s Forgotten:

Rodney’s vote actually went against the will of his constituents. Even as he made the most important vote of his life, his base turned against him and he was subsequently voted out of office. Public opinion had swung back in his favor by 1782 sufficiently for him to be elected back to national congress but he wasn’t healthy enough to take the office.

On the subject of his health, at the time Caesar Rodney signed the Declaration he was suffering from the cancer that would kill him eight years later. When he made that historic signature it had eaten away roughly half his face. He is thusly not included in John Trumbull’s famous painting of the vote and fits oddly with the way Americanhistorical propaganda tried to deify the Founding Fathers. Even the Delaware state quarter, which features him, does so with him at some distance on a horse. Some people just have to put up with ten times as much to receive one tenth the acknowledgement they deserve.

2. John Hart

John Hart came from such a simple, rustic farm background that the exact date he was born was not recorded except that it was around 1715. From that simple background he still became enough of a success that he spent ten years in the New Jersey state assembly. After that he went from committee to committee on his way to the Continental Congress.

Why He’s Forgotten:

The ink on the Declaration was scarcely dry before extreme hardship befell Hart. Most of all, just months after that momentous event, his wife died on October 8, 1776. He had scarce time to mourn before the British army invaded New Jersey and he became a particularly highly valued target. He had to resort to hiding in caves to avoid capture. Eventually the British gave up the chase and he was able to safely return home. He’d lost none of his patriotism, and in 1778, allowed Washington to camp the Continental Army – all 12,000 of them – on his estate for two days while Washington planned new strategies. Perhaps because of the strain all these horrible events and efforts for his country had placed on him, Hart fell ill and died in 1779. Much too early to take a direct part in shaping the new nation.

1. Robert Morris

Merchants were hardly unique among the members of the Continental Congress. This delegate from Pennsylvania took it a bit further than his peers. During the war, Robert Morris managed the financing and equipping of the Continental Army, but stood to profit immensely because he had all supplies go through his company, and thus the new nation was indebted to him in a more monetary sense than most.

On the other, more benevolent hand, during one of the low points of the revolution in 1776, he loaned $10,000 to the Continental Army to allow it to resupply itself in time to attack for the famous Delaware River Crossing and Battle of Trenton. He later provided credit that allowed the victory at the Battle of Yorktown. He even was one of the original architects of the National Bank.

Why He’s Forgotten:

All of his profiteering caught up with him quickly and alienated many, and in 1779 he was under investigation. Even though he was cleared of charges, criticisms from such iconic figures as Thomas Paine blotted his political and financial career. After the war his bullish financial practices would land him in debtor’s prison for three and a half years, dying in poverty.


Your John Hancock

 

– Declaration of Independence Signers

Roman Almanac – WABAC Into History

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Fascinating Facts

About the Romans

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Set the WABAC for Ancient Rome, Sherman My Boy.”

Ancient Rome had a huge effect on the world as we know it today. Many of the ideas they had in regards to governing and infrastructure are still in use in the modern world, and similar to Ancient Egypt, everyone knows quite a lot about the Ancient Romans.

 However, just like with the Ancient Egyptians, when a culture becomes that ingrained in the public consciousness, we tend to learn a lot of things that aren’t actually true. Some of the stranger or less convenient facts get swept entirely under the rug. The Ancient Romans are a fascinating culture, and in some ways stranger or more disgusting than you might have imagined.

10. Christians Weren’t Fed To Lions and Many Tales of Martyrdom Were Exaggerated

One of the most popularly told tales about the Romans is how they fed the Christians to the lions for having the audacity to start a new religion and do their own thing. This has been recounted in so much popular culture it is staggering, and at this point it may be impossible to remove it from the public mindset. The sad part here is that it is incredibly untrue, but the untruth has become so ingrained it may as well be fact to most people. Not only are the stories about feeding Christians to lions without any real basis, but many scholars argue that there is no real proof for the kind of sustained, and targeted persecution that many later Christian writers would put forth.

There were, truthfully, only a handful of scattered years where Christians were ever targeted specifically at all, and many of the more colorful accounts of martyrdom are completely impossible to verify, and there is good reason to believe many of the stories were much exaggerated. Now, this doesn’t mean that Christians weren’t ever put to death for reasons that involved their beliefs, but some scholars argue that in many cases where a Christian was killed for being Christian, it was because they made statements refusing the divinity of the emperor or something similar while in court. This wasn’t a specifically targeted persecution, even if it was a difficult position for them to be in – not wanting to say someone is divine when they do not believe they are.

9. In Ancient Rome the Word Decimate had an Entirely Different Meaning

When we use the word decimate today, we just mean to destroy something really badly, often completely or entirely. This is essentially the correct meaning now because of common usage, but when the term was first coined, its meaning was much more literal. As you might imagine from the root of the word, it originally had to do with the number ten. When a group of soldiers committed some crime, such as desertion, the entire troop would be punished to put them in their place. They would isolate the entire group, and then have them draw lots to decide who was going to die.

The Romans would then force those who were to live to kill the tenth of the troops that drew lots. This meant that, quite literally, they were removing one tenth of that troop, or “decimating” it. This was one of the earlier forms of something referred to today as military discipline, where an entire troop is punished for a few men’s infractions, to make sure the entire troop self-polices. This can be seen some today in modern armies where someone will make a mistake and the entire unit will be forced to pay for the mistake. However, in today’s modern world we don’t kill our troops, we just make them do push-ups or something similar.

8. Romans Shared a Sponge on a Stick for Cleaning Up After Using Public Toilets

Today we like to think of Romans as very hygienic for their time. In fact, we often consider them a beacon of cleanliness that the world didn’t see anything like for quite some time. They had their own sewer and water systems and they had public baths and were very much into being clean. However, the truth is that many of the Roman’s habits would disgust many people today who live in some of the countries without much infrastructure. For example, their public bathrooms were a horror show. It wasn’t uncommon for gigantic rats to come out of the sewer, and because they contained gases, fires could erupt randomly.

To make matters worse, the Romans at public toilets shared a single sponge on a stick that they used to clean up after using the bathroom. They would use the sponge on a stick to wipe themselves up, rinse it, and then leave it for the next person to use. Most people today would be absolutely disgusted by the thought of using a sponge to clean themselves that a bunch of random people had also used. And while people think they were clean, the Romans didn’t actually bathe traditionally, per se. Instead, they would cover themselves in oils, and then scrape it off their skin with an instrument called a strigil.

7. The Romans Invented an Early Form of Concrete

The Romans did an incredible amount of building, and their gigantic structures as well as their infrastructure such as aqueducts are one of the things they are most famous for. One of the biggest reasons we still talk about their buildings so much is because so many of them have managed to withstand the test of time. They managed this by using an early form of concrete, something that was essentially unheard of at that time in history. On top of that, once the Roman Empire fell, the knowledge was lost, and concrete was basically rediscovered much later on.

However, that doesn’t mean that Roman concrete is the same as modern concrete. Modern concrete is actually ten times the strength of Roman concrete, however, the concrete they had back in the day was still an incredible achievement, and not just because they were able to build it at all. Because they had their own unique kind of concrete, it may have been weaker, but it had advantages ours does not. Due to being made with volcanic ash, it actually performs way better against erosion, especially from water, something that modern concrete does not do very well with at all. This has allowed their buildings to withstand the test of time, for generations of tourists to continue to explore and be fascinated by.

6. The Romans Drove a Birth Control Plant to Extinction

Back in the day Romans were definitely known for their love of sex, and they would not have denied their love for it at all. There was a plant called Silphium which they greatly prized, because they believed that it could act as a method of birth control. It could only be grown wild and attempts to put a quota on the harvest failed miserably, due to how ridiculously popular the plant became. It was soon worth an incredible amount of money, and before too many years, the Romans had managed to lust their way to the extinction of the entire plant.

However, some people today wonder if it really worked. The problem is that there is really no way to be actually sure. The plant has gone extinct so we cannot really check samples, and there were plenty of dubious medical cures in Ancient Rome, so this could have been one of them. On the other hand, some experts believe it could have had abortion inducing affects, which means all the men taking it would have been wasting their time and the plant. However, the truth is that whether it worked or not is hardly important. The truth is that just thinking it had that effect was enough – the Romans loved consequence free sex so they drove the plant to extinction.

 5. Some Believe the Antichrist Referred to was Nero

The idea of an antichrist figure who becomes a ruler on earth, and helps set up the final battle between good and evil, that culminates in the second coming of Christ, has been fascinating people for a very long time. Many people will claim that the latest world leader they don’t like is the antichrist, and many people have been suggested to be this figure over the years. For some, the antichrist is always yet to come, but for others, he may have already been. Many scholars believe it is quite possible that the passages referring to the figure we now call the antichrist were actually talking about the Emperor Nero.

This man blamed the Christians for the fire of Rome, and persecuted them greatly. He killed his own mother and was known for being one of the most despicable tyrants in the history of Rome. However, even more telling, is the fact that when he died, many people believed he had just disappeared. Many believed he was actually going to be resurrected or return somehow, and bring more great evil to the world. And if you look at the encoded numbers that everyone always points to as the mark of the beast, the numbers can represent Nero’s name if you interpret them a certain way. Of course, this interpretation may not have been accurate either, but the fact the Christians thought he might resurrect at all shows how much they feared this man.

4. The Romans Flooded the Colosseum in Order to Conduct Mock Sea Battles

The Romans were a culture that liked to do things on a very grand scale, and they certainly kept true to this when they reenacted battles. Specifically, they decided that they wanted to reenact large scale naval battles, so they would dig out huge trenches in the ground, make artificial lakes, and then fill them with soldiers and rowers carrying out the various parts of the battle. In order to make it realistic as possible, prisoners and captured soldiers would literally be forced to fight to the death as part of the mock battles. These forms of entertainment were very popular, but due to the incredible expense they were only done on special occasions.

Many people were not sure at first if the coliseum was used for these spectacles, as it was hard to find physical evidence and it seemed like the structure would not support it. However, it turns out that the coliseum could have supported being flooded for such a purpose; they just would have had to use much smaller scale ships and such. And while there is little physical evidence, there are plenty of written sources that point to the coliseum being used at least a few times for this purpose. The Romans were always about going as big and all out as possible, and their theater was some of the most advanced and realistic you would find anywhere. Today, we stick with pretending to kill people when putting on a show.

3. The Very Strange Lives of Ancient Rome’s Vestal Virgins

The Romans were very religious and very superstitious and had many different gods. One of the more important gods was called Vesta, a great goddess of fire. They believed that as long as her fire was kept burning, Rome as a civilization would endure for the ages. To this extent, they decided they needed well trained and well-disciplined people to keep the fire burning always, to make sure Rome remained. For some reason, they decided that the best way to accomplish this would be to appoint six young girls at a time, who would remain virgins as long as they remained in their position.

It was a coveted position that gave them status most women would never get, but it did come with the price of having to remain virgins for as long as they were helping keep the fire lit. A vestal virgin who briefly let the fire go out was punished severely, usually taken aside, stripped and beaten in order to instill in them how important it is to attend to their sacred duty. And if a vestal virgin became a virgin no longer, it was considered an act of incest, because they were married to the city, and the cities citizens were related to the city in some form. This logic may not sound particularly sound, but to the Romans, it was very important that these women remained virgins. When they committed the crime of being a virgin no longer, certain rules forbade the normal means of execution for these women, so vestal no longer virgins were buried alive as punishment.

2. Urine Was Used as a Cleaning Product for Both Teeth and Clothes

As we mentioned earlier, the Romans were known for being hygienic, but they also did a lot of things that we might find rather questionable. And one of the most questionable things would likely be the way they made use of urine. Now, urine is mostly ammonia so it can be used in cleaning products, and ammonia does have cleaning properties, but the difference is that today we are essentially processing it to only keep the stuff we need.

Back in the day, Romans would use urine in order to whiten their teeth, and also in order to clean clothes. Urine would be collected throughout the day, and then diluted with water somewhat, and poured over clothes, where the launderer would then stomp on them to sort of simulate the workings of how a washing machine works now. While it may have indeed been useful at getting out the stains, we don’t really want to imagine what their clothes would have smelled like, since they soaked them in unprocessed urine in order to get them clean. However, likely the Romans would have been used to the smell, or perhaps would have used various oils or other perfumes to hide it. As we mentioned earlier, they also didn’t clean in the traditional sense to begin with and instead oiled themselves and then scraped off the excess.

1. There is Little Evidence That Romans Threw Up on Purpose So They Could Eat More Food

One of the most commonly believed myths is that Romans had a special room in which they threw up food so they could then go eat more food. This has been greatly confused because there is a word for a “vomitorium”, but this is just the exit of a coliseum, where it “vomits out” all the people back onto the street. This “fact” has made its way into books like the Hunger Games series, where the people of the capital are seen as being similar to the Romans in this respect. When most people learn that this isn’t actually true, many insist that the Romans at least still threw up on purpose to eat more.

 However, there is really little evidence of such actually happening. Romans did sometimes throw up on purpose, just as some people do today. But it is likely there were other reasons for it, just as there are today. There is really little reason to believe that Romans were actually throwing up just to make room for more food right there on the spot, and then stuffing down more, just to throw up again. This widespread belief, which is a great exaggeration, likely has made its way around due to the fact that Romans were known for elaborate feasts and hedonism in general, making it very easy to believe. The truth is, what people are talking about likely wouldn’t work that well anyway. Most people don’t feel like eating after being full, and don’t really want to make room for more, and most people certainly don’t feel like eating after recently throwing up.

Roman Almanac

– WABAC Into History


THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 273

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 273

…For someone about to give birth any day now, Cerella looks no plumper for the wear…

History Lesson

History according to Gus McKinney

A lot of pent-up emotion spills out onto the Eridanian landscape, expunging that indigenous cloak of suppression. For a brief time, this joyous time and place obscures what is 10 light years away; except for Gus McKinney, who never wants to forget one certain woman {Mindy} OR Deimostra who is enamored by the romantic history of the other 9+ billions people she never had the chance to meet.

That place and those times are long ago and far way. Right here they live in peace. Right now there is no room for homesickness.

Cerella is an excellent diversion to that end.

#Gotta love those Earth girls#

“Cerella, come join us dear. We were just getting a history lesson from the boys,” Celeste insists that mother of her pending grandchild share in the family setting; rare is the occasion that Eridanians feel compelled to do so. “You are absolutely glowing today.”

Bedecked in dresses cut above the knee, which is comfortably conducive in this clammy climate, Celeste and her daughter display flesh not seen in these parts.

Misconception

Image result for hubba hubba gif#There is nothing left to our imagination# lament the Native females.

#How refreshing {how about those Earth women}# praise the Native males.

What is amazing about Cerella’s appearance is centered above her waist instead of below. For someone about to give birth any day now, she looks no plumper for the wear.

But she is definitely with child, as Celeste had discovered when future mother-in-law Fortän invited her over to her city for some grandmotherly chit-chat a few cycles back.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 273


page 317

Contents TRT

Changing the World – Unknown Contributions

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Little Known

People Who

Changed the World

For many different reasons, the people on this list aren’t household names, but they had a major impact on the world. In some cases, there is something physically unique that is found only in them. Others have done something that has had a massive, rippling effect throughout history that we still feel today.

 Some of the people on this list, who are as anonymous to you as that weird neighbor you actively avoid when taking out the trash, are responsible for saving millions of lives. In other cases, they have caused millions of deaths. So again, probably like that weird neighbor.

10. James Harrison

In 1951, Australian James Harrison was 14 and had to undergo major surgery to remove one of his lungs. After he woke up from the procedure, his father explained to him that during his surgery, he was given 13 units of blood; all of it was from random strangers. As Harrison lay in bed recovering, he had time to think, and realized that without the donated blood, he would have died, so he vowed to donate blood as soon as he was old enough.

Four years later, Harrison started to donate, and not long afterwards, doctors noticed something unique in Harrison’s blood. What is unique about his blood has to do with blood group systems. There are 35 of them, and the most common is ABO. For example, most people have O-positive or A-positive blood.

The second most common blood group is the Rh blood group. The problem with Rh was that if a woman had Rh-negative blood and she was pregnant with a fetus that had Rh-positive blood, it would lead to rhesus disease. The disease caused women to develop antibodies that attack the fetus’ blood cells because they are foreign. This often resulted in brain damage and miscarriages. Thousands of babies died every year because of it.

What the doctors found in Harrison’s blood is a unique and very rare antibody. Using the antibody, doctors developed an injection called Anti-D that prevents rhesus disease; one of the first of its kind. As a result of his blood, it’s believed that 2 million babies have been saved.

9. John Bardeen

John Bardeen was born in Madison, Wisconsin, in May 1908, and was a gifted child. He enrolled in engineering at the University of Wisconsin when he was just 15. After school, he got a job as a geophysicist with Gulf Oil. He spent three years working as a geophysicist, but he didn’t care for the job so he went to Princeton and got his PhD in mathematical physics.

After a three year stint as a junior fellow at Harvard, Bardeen got a job at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1945. While working with William Shockley and Walter Brattain, they invented the transistor. Transistors could replace vacuum tubes in electronics, which were big and bulky, so with transistors, components and electronics could be miniaturized. Eventually, transistors would become important in the evolution of computers. For their work, Bardeen, Shockley, and Brattain were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956.

After helping create a life-changing invention, Bardeen went back to work on something that interested him throughout his life – superconductivity. Working with L.N. Cooper and J.R. Schrieffer, they developed the BCS theory of superconductivity, which is the foundation of all work in superconductivity that came afterwards. The theory explains why there is little to no electrical resistance when materials reach temperatures that are close to absolute zero. This theory led to inventions like CAT scans and MRIs. The theory also led to Bardeen’s second Nobel Prize for Physics in 1972, making him one of four people to win two Nobel prizes and the only person to win it twice for physics.

Despite winning two Nobel prizes that changed everyday life, Bardeen isn’t well known outside the world of science.

8. Olaudah Equiano

In contemporary times, we know that slavery is wrong. Enslaving another human is easily one of the worst things someone can do. It’s cruel and dehumanizing, to say the least. However, as you surely know, for a long time not everyone thought that way. Someone who is responsible for helping to change many minds on slavery was Olaudah Equiano.

Supposedly, Equiano and his sister were kidnapped at around the age of 11 by local slave traders in what is today Nigeria. They were separated days later, and Equiano was shipped to Barbados, where he experienced the horrifying middle passage, which is where slaves were locked in cages and shipped across the Atlantic from their homes in Africa to the New World. He eventually ended up in Virginia. Unfortunately, there is no way to verify the story of his early life. However, after he arrived in Virginia, there are plenty of records to back up the claims he would later make.

In Virginia, he was sold to an officer with the Royal Navy and spent eight years traveling the seas. During this time, he learned to read and write. He was also given the name Gustavus Vassa. He was then sold to a merchant where he worked as a deckhand, a valet, and a barber. He also did some trading on the side, and within three years he made enough to purchase his own freedom.

For the next 20 years, Equiano traveled the world and became active in the abolitionist movement in Europe. But most importantly, in 1798, he was the first former slave to publish an autobiography – The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African. The book was hugely popular and made Equiano a well-known activist.

What his book did was give a new perspective on slavery, because he gave a firsthand account. Thousands of people either read his book or listened to him speak, making him incredibly influential when it came to changing the laws around slavery.

The Slave Trade in England was finally abolished in 1807, 10 years after Equiano’s death.

7. Joseph Lister

Isn’t it nice that people have better than a 50/50 chance of living if they have to amputate a limb? Or how about the fact that people can now have surgery and not have to fight getting sepsis by only using hopes and prayers? Well, the person to thank for that is English surgeon Joseph Lister, who is hailed as the father of modern surgery.

Lister came up with common practices that are still used, and will always be used, by doctors and surgeons. This includes practices like doctors have to wash their hands and sterilize their surgical instruments. Which seems like amazingly basic stuff today, but somehow more amazingly, he was apparently the first surgeon to use methods that now just seem like common sense. He came up with the idea in 1865, based on Louis Pasteur’s theory that microorganisms cause infection.

While Lister was honored in the medical community, and had a mouthwash named after him, he never reached the fame that other doctors received despite developing techniques that have saved countless lives over the past 150 years.

6. Henrietta Lacks

Loretta Pleasant was born in Roanoke, Virginia, in August 1920, and she would later change her name to Henrietta. Her mother died when she was 4 and she was sent to live with her grandfather, who lived in a log cabin that had previously existed as slave quarters on a plantation. She shared a room with her cousin, David Lacks. 10 years later, when Henrietta was 14, she gave birth to a baby boy that David fathered. Four years later, they had a daughter, and then they got married in 1941.

In January 1951, they were living in Maryland and Henrietta went to the only hospital in the area that treated African-Americans, John Hopkins, because she had pain and bleeding in the abdomen. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. For several months, Henrietta went to get radiation treatment and during one of her treatment sessions, doctors took two samples of the tumor without her knowledge. Henrietta passed away on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31, but part of her never died.

For decades, scientists at John Hopkins had tried to grow tissue, but they weren’t very successful; usually the cells died after a few days. However, for some reason Henrietta’s cells were much more durable. Dr. George Otto Gey was able to isolate and multiply a specific cell belonging to Henrietta, making it the first time immortal cells were grown in culture.

The cell line, called HeLa, became quite popular in the scientific community and it was a crucial part of many important discoveries and breakthroughs. For example, it was used in the discovery of the vaccination for polio and her cells were used in the first space missions to see what would happen to human cells in space. The cell line was also important when it came to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and cloning. The cell line is still popular and there are over 10,000 patents that used the HeLa cell line in their development.

However, the family of Henrietta had no idea her cells were being used until 1970. For years they tried to gain control of the cell line with little success. Then in 2013, Henrietta’s genome sequence was published without the family’s knowledge or permission, which is a huge violation of privacy. After this happened, the National Institutes of Health asked two descendants of Henrietta’s to join the HeLa Genome Data Access working group, which looks at how the cells are used. Finally, the family gained a little bit of control over the cell line.

5. Mohamed Bouazizi

In 2011, Mohamed Bouazizi was 26-years-old and lived in the small, impoverished city of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. Bouazizi was the main breadwinner for his family of eight, making his living from selling fruits and vegetables in a market. His family said that his dream was to buy a pickup truck to replace the cart that he used to sell his wares.

On December 17, 2010, a female municipal inspector named Media Hamdi confiscated Bouazizi’s fruit-weighing scales for not having a vending license. Bouazizi had been hassled in the past by government officials, but this incident got particularly ugly. Supposedly, when Bouazizi tried to pay a fine, or a bribe depending on who you ask, Hamdi became enraged.She supposedly slapped him, spit at him, and insulted his dead father.

Humiliated, Bouazizi went to the provincial headquarters to complain. When he couldn’t get anyone to speak to him, he went and got some gasoline. When he returned to the headquarters, he poured the gas over himself and set himself on fire. Bouazizi didn’t die right away, taking over two weeks to succumb to his injuries on January 4, 2011.

 Before he died, people were already drawing inspiration from his act of self-immolation. At the time, Tunisia was under the rule of the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who took over the country in a bloodless coup in 1987. Under his rule, corruption spread and unemployment, especially among recent university graduates, was very high in the country. When Bouazizi set himself on fire, it was falsely reported that he was university educated and despite it not being true, it made the narrative of his death more powerful to his fellow countrymen.

Nevertheless, Bouazizi’s death, that stemmed from his frustration of dealing with a corrupt government headed by a dictator, became symbolic and inspired mass protests in Tunisia. Due to the civil unrest, Ben Ali went into exile in early 2011 and in 2014, they had their first free and fair election since gaining independence in 1956.

These protests also inspired people in other countries in the area to protest, giving birth to the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring has led to three other dictators being ousted or overthrown and the ongoing civil war in Syria.

4. Rosalind Franklin

Born in 1920 in England, Rosalind Franklin decided at the age of 15 that she wanted to be a scientist. When she was old enough, she attended Cambridge University and at 26 she received her PhD in chemistry. After her schooling, Franklin began working with a technique called X-ray diffraction, which is using X-rays to create images of crystallized solids. This allowed her to look at something at a molecular level.

In 1950, Franklin went to work at King’s College in London. Her job was to use X-ray diffraction to look at DNA. During her time there, she came close to providing an answer to how DNA is structured, but she never got a chance to figure it out because a co-worker named Maurice Wilkins cheated her out of the opportunity to do so.

When Franklin started working at King’s College, Wilkins was on vacation. When he came back, he claimed not to know what Franklin’s role was in the lab and just assumed that, because she was a woman, she was there to assist him in his work. Franklin, on the other hand, did not know that anyone else was working on DNA, so she shared information about her work with Wilkins. Another problem was that Franklin and Wilkins had clashing personalities, leading to a contentious workplace. All of these elements would come together and forever change history, while completely cheating Franklin out of credit for her work.

In May 1952, Franklin and her PhD student, Raymond Gosling, captured an X-ray diffraction image called Photograph 51, which was a piece of DNA. Without her knowledge, Wilkins showed the picture to American biologist James Watson and when he saw it, something clicked. Watson and a molecular biologist named Francis Crick used Photograph 51 to write an article explaining that DNA had a double helix structure. The article was published in Nature in April 1953 and in it, they failed to credit Franklin for her contribution to the discovery.

At this point, Franklin’s relationship with King’s College was strained and the head of her department let her quit on the condition that she never again work on DNA. At her new job at Birkbeck College, she wrote 17 papers and her team created the foundation for structural virology. In 1956, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died two years later on April 16, 1958, at the age of 37.

Four years later, in 1962, Watson, Crick and, unbelievably, Maurice Wilkins were given the Nobel Prize for Medicine, but Franklin has never been given official recognition for her contributions to one of the biggest discoveries in modern science.

3. Norman Borlaug

Norman Borlaug was born in Cresco, Iowa, in March 1914. When he was 27, he got his PhD in plant protection. In the 1930s and 1940s, he went to work in Mexico and helped the farmers there by improving their techniques and methods. He also developed a special type of wheat for them, called dwarf wheat, which is ideal for being grown in Mexico. By 1956, thanks to Borlaug’s work Mexico had become self-sufficient with wheat.

Around the same time, other countries around the world were experiencing population explosions and their governments were having a hard time producing enough food for all their citizens. Two countries that were plagued by food shortages due to increasing populations were India and Pakistan. During the 1960s, Borlaug brought his techniques and dwarf wheat to India and Pakistan, which improved their agricultural systems immensely.

In 1970, Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but the award never made him a celebrity. Instead, he continued to work in developing countries, trying to improve their agriculture systems, for five decades. It’s believed that because of Borlaug’s five decades of work, a billion people were saved.

Borlaug, who is considered a central figure in the Green Revolution, died in September 2009 at the age of 95.

2. Dona Marina

Dona Marina was born with the name Malintzin around 1501 to a noble Aztec family. Her father, who was a chief, died when she was very young. Her mother remarried and that marriage produced a son, and most likely at the urging of her stepfather who wanted his son to be chief, Malintzin was sold into slavery.

She was sent to the city of Tabasco, and by the time she arrived she could speak the languages of both the Aztecs, which was called Nahuatl, and the Mayans. In 1519, Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in the city of Tabasco, and he was given 20 female slaves, which he baptized. One of those slaves was Malintzin, who he christened Dona Marina.

Not long afterwards, Cortés learned that Marina could speak both Mayan and Nahuatl. This was important because Cortés had a priest who was a slave that could speak both Mayan and Spanish. Using the two interpreters, Cortés passed along messages of peace to the leader of the Aztecs, Montezuma.

Marina, who clearly had a gift for languages, quickly learned to speak Spanish and Cortés used her as an interpreter when his forces started to attack non-Aztec cities. What would happen is that the Spanish would attack the non-Aztec Indians, but then back off. Marina was then brought in to negotiate peace. Part of the negotiation was that she also asked them for their help with Spain’s upcoming war against the Aztecs. The non-Aztec Indians agreed to help not only to save their own cities from the Spanish, but also because the Aztecs used their cities as farms for human sacrifices. They hated it, but they were never strong enough to do anything about it.

All of Marina’s work would pay off for Cortés and the Spanish forces because when they invaded the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs were surprised because they thought that they were coming in peace. In fact, they welcomed Cortés and his men in their city. Not only was their guard down, but since the Spanish had forged alliances with the non-Aztec Indians, the Aztecs found themselves outnumbered and out-weaponed and they were conquered in just two years.

Besides helping with the logistics of bringing down the Aztec empire, Marina was also Cortés’ mistress. She got pregnant and gave birth to a son, Martín Cortés, making him the first Mestizo, which is a person who has both European and Amerindian blood.

While Marina could be considered a traitor because she did help foreigners take over her native land, the people of her time respected her. She is credited with saving thousands of lives by being able to negotiate peace instead of Cortés declaring all out war.

Of course, the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs not only gave birth to the country of Mexico, but it also led to the colonization of South America.

1. Gavrilo Princip

We told you at the beginning, not everyone on this list is responsible for lives saved. Now we get to millions of lives that were lost. While there were many contributing factors that led to the start of World War I, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is considered the spark that set it off.

On June 28, 1914, Ferdinand, who was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was doing a tour of the newly acquired state of Bosnia. A group of Bosnian-born Serbs weren’t happy they were now under Austrian rule, so they decided to assassinate the heir to their throne.

The most famous version of the story is that a grenade was thrown at the motorcade by Nedeljko Cabrinovic, but it was an old grenade and had a 10 second fuse on it. So it didn’t do anything to Ferdinand’s car, instead causing chaos that led Ferdinand’s limo to flee from the motorcade. Cabrinovic then swallowed a cyanide pill and jumped into the river. However, the pill was past its expiration date so it didn’t kill him, it just made him sick. Also, the river was only four inches deep, so he was arrested… a sequence so hilarious we wish footage existed so we could set it to the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song.

Anyway, one of Cabrinovic’s allies, 20-year-old Gavrilo Princip, watched the failed assassination attempt, and decided to leave. He walked a few streets over to a deli, where he ordered a sandwich. Meanwhile, Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, who had been hiding out in the town hall, decided to go to the hospital to visit the men who were injured by the grenade. However, along the way their limo driver got lost and they ended up on the same street where Princip was eating a sandwich. Seeing his opportunity, Princip pulled out a pistol and fired two bullets; the first one hit Sophie and the second hit Ferdinand. They were both killed in the shooting and Princip was arrested.

It’s certainly an interesting story that a series of coincidences sparked the First World War, but it’s probably not true. First off, sandwiches weren’t really popular in Bosnia at the time. Secondly, while Princip was still standing outside of the restaurant when he killed the Ferdinands, it was a restaurant on the original route the motorcade was on before it was sent off course by the bomb.

Nevertheless, in October 1914, Princip was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but died on April 28, 1918. While he may be the best known person on this list, he’s still not a household name considering his actions directly started the First World War, which left 80 million dead, and World War I directly led to massive historical events like the rise of Hitler, the Russian Revolution, and ultimately World War II.


Changing the World

– Unknown Contributions

History a la Carte (Op-Ed)

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History A Lá Carte

Picking and choosing which “past”

is worthy keeping around

What or who is next?

Let’s delve into the growing trend of tailoring history to suit individual sensibilities in what I am calling:

History A Lá Carte

There are important milestones in the academic discipline we call history.

  1. Pre-History
  2. Antiquity
  3. Modern History

Pre-history happens to academia’s best guess as to what happened before written/recorded language like:

  • 3 million B.C., when an upright-walking ape-man appears on the Earth
  • Or the invention of the wheel (to whoever’s family is owed an incredible royalty)
  • We can’t include fire because lightning probably made the 1st fire and God made lightning

Antiquity is the period around 3400 B.C. when that civilization called the Egyptians got going and was clever enough to record history using hieroglyphics, which normal people cannot read b/c it is a conglomeration of stick-men and lions. That and the rest of antiquity requires too-smart people to reassemble properly and we don’t question them.

Modern History revs up somewhere after the dark ages  (our thanks to Wikipedia for providing the details).  It has been labeled as a time of intellectual darkness between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance.

Perhaps we should add the category Revisionist History.

Are we currently entering a time of  “intellectual darkness”?

This author believes so. If all the statues and tributes to people and events in history are removed from sight, can the recorded evidence of those people & events be stricken as well?

However misguided or heinous some periods of history may be, they did happen and should be remembered, lest we repeat the mistakes of the past.

Statues of Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis are meant to be memorials, not edifices of glorification. These men were an integral part of a young nation. Yes the “cause” of slavery was a weak foundation which to champion, but only 100 years in to the country of the United States of America, nearly half of the country legally seceded. The CIVIL WAR settled that dispute after a huge price paid by loss of life. Look it up – it happened and the “South” lost. Destroying visual reminders does not change the facts.

Will the movie Amistad be banned because that ship brought slaves to America in the first place?

We have entered a time of toxic political correctness, where anyone who is offended by anything has the power to overpower history. The needs of the few are outweighing those of the many.

And even tough our nation was founded on the Word of God, for the express purpose of religious freedom, the questions need to be raised:

  • Are Jesus and tributes to Him to be eradicated because some of us are offended?
  • Will atheists overrule common sense, just because they can?

Unfortunately, those who either don’t believe Jesus to be who He said he was OR do believe he and The Bible is a figment of 1st Century imagination.

History a lá Carte has arrived.

And do not be surprised when the next “offensive” part of history is covered by the “tarpaulin of sensitivity”.

Our God has the power to strike down a vial nation. He has done it before.

The preceding article are the express opinions of Gwendolyn K. Hoff. This is solely her work. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


History a lá Carte

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 255

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 255

…the McKinney boys thought that they had just nodded off a bit…

Old Woman Dozing Over a Book by Nicolaes Maes

“Wait a minute Gussy… I think we are leaving out something in all this. Forget about seeing our long dead/gone/whatever parents on this bizarre planet. I seem to remember thinking that we were phasing in and out of reality right after we lit the SOL fuse.”

“That’s right! I was trying to engage the emergency decelerator and my hand could not reach the console,” Gus recounts his frustration.

“At the time I was thinking we had had it, lab-rat hell, how about you?”

Image result for fist bump gifthey reach across and bump their fists; someone had to do it and this is what we signed up for…

“It did not look good did it bro?”

“And that’s about where we stepped in,” Celeste inserts the current time-stem into their recollection of events.

“Are you telling us that we died and you changed history? That is a bit bizarre?” Deke is coming to grips.

That is when Cerella needed to add the perspective of the time-space angle, #You did expire, right after the point when your molecules destabilized#

time_travel_subway_by_necrania_art

“Shit Deke, I told you this was a dream!”

#But we noticed that your presence in the 2051.025 timestem was no longer and after consulting with the High Counsel, we decided to save your lives, for the sake of your mother and father#

“I’m a big fan of the space-time continuum, but I’m pretty sure you have messed with Earth history.”

 

#We have not Gus McKinney. Earth has continued on its path, steeped in the knowledge that you expired in space aboard your version of the Explorer#

“Our version… you talking about SEx?”

#Yes, the other ship named Explorer, Sammy Mac has called it NEWFOUNDLANDER, is in the berth next to yours#

It isn’t long before Deke notices that Gus is discussing time-travel with a very different looking girl.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 255


page 298

Contents TRT

Game Changing Moments – WIF History

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Historical Moments

That Changed

Everything

Like the moment when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was taken out because his assassin stopped for a sandwich, some small moments in history can have absolutely incredible impact. While most things in the world take place because of boring and tedious work done over decades, there are those times when things hang in the balance, and the wrong move can alter the course of history forever. Below are several scenarios where the history of the world changed in a very short span of time – if these things had happened differently, we could be living with a very different world today.

 10. James Comey Releasing The Final Report About Hillary Clinton

Certainly, there are many factors involved in the recent election that caused it to come out the way it did, and no one can say that Hillary Clinton was an incredibly strong campaigner. However, when it got close to the end, most of the polls said that Hillary Clinton was going to win handily, and yet somehow she did not manage to do so. In fact, while locking up the popular vote, she lost the Electoral College by quite a lot. Some of the reason for her inability to cross the finish line at the end is that her candidacy was not the most exciting, but the folks at FiveThirtyEight, who perform statistical number crunching of elections, believe it was at least the final straw.

They believe that the final Comey letter about Hillary Clinton, her “October Surprise” as it were, was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back. After all the various election ads against her, and all the various things that she was questioned over such as Benghazi, a final suggestion that she was once again being investigated, after it was supposed to be over, likely tipped the final scales in favor of Donald Trump. While we cannot know for sure how Hillary Clinton would have governed, it is safe to say that she would have had a very different presidency from Donald Trump, and left a very different mark on the world.

9. The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln

Just weeks before the American Civil War came to a close, Abraham Lincoln found himself inside Ford’s Theater to relax and take in a show. Then, as we all know, the actor and southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in the head and ended the second term of his presidency early. Unfortunately, while Booth shot Lincoln in the head, he may have also shot himself, and the South, in the foot. The problem is that right after the Civil War, Lincoln’s plan was to try to get the South rebuilt, forgiven and friendly with the North again as soon as possible. He wanted true reconciliation and reconstruction, and he didn’t want to waste any time. However, the so-called radical Republicans in congress wanted stricter measures against the South, for which the South didn’t want to cooperate.

Then Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, was much more of a Southern sympathizer, which meant that the radical Republicans did not want to work with him on Southern reconstruction, or really on anything. This led to an atmosphere where, instead of both sides working together to rebuild and reconcile, the South tried to get away with as much as it could, and the North tried to punish them for past crimes. This eventually led to Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, and poor leadership that caused the Jim Crow South to be an issue to this very day. The South is still a bit of a mess, all because one angry Southerner’s misguided desire for revenge caused him to take out the man with the plan and influence to fix it. And while some may think Lincoln couldn’t have done it, there is evidence that Lincoln already had support for plans similar to those presented by Andrew Johnson, but that support was withdrawn when Johnson was sworn in, because many politicians did not want to work with a Southern sympathizer.

8. The Yalta Conference Reinforced Soviet Hegemony In Eastern Europe

The Cold War raged up until very recently and if you asked some, it never ended at all. Certainly, even if it did end temporarily, it would seem that a serious conflict with the Russians is nearing again. People are once again getting worried about a violent and global domination-hungry Russia, and tensions have not been higher since the early days of the Cold War. However, it is possible all of this could have long ago been avoided, or at least been very different from how it is now. At the Yalta Conference, in the final discussions between the three major allied leaders, Franklin Roosevelt was nearing the end of his life, and his skills as a negotiator were greatly slipping.

It was said Winston Churchill could not convince Stalin (and did not get along with the man), but Roosevelt was able to get on with him as a friend and equal, and get a lot out of him in terms of negotiation. Experts say that at the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt was exhausted and gave away far too much to Stalin, basically giving away the Eastern European countries that went on to be held by the Soviet Union for decades. While Stalin already held some of the territory, Roosevelt basically gave it up without a fight. If he had managed to get Stalin to back off from much of Eastern Europe to begin with, Churchill may never have given his Iron Curtain speech, and we may not have a man like Putin today who thinks half of Europe belongs to his country by birthright.

7. The Challenger Disaster Was Caused By A Dangerous Few Moments Of Groupthink In A Single Meeting

The Challenger was set to launch, and people were incredibly excited to see it, with NASA promoting it as much as possible. Then, disaster struck. After watching the shuttle explode on national TV, with school children watching around the country, it turned out that the issue was a faulty o-ring that messed up the heat seal and caused the whole thing to be consumed. Immediately many people wondered how the shuttle could go up like that at all. After all, there were procedures in place to test every last part down to the last decimal to make sure there were no issues.

However, it quickly turned it that it did indeed come down to human error. At a meeting the issue of the o-ring had been brought up, but those who were in charge of the meeting seemed uninterested in seriously discussing it, and even though many in the meeting knew it needed to be discussed more for safety, they did not want to upset their superiors. In the end, the meeting became such a perfect example of the psychological phenomenon of groupthink – where people make bad decisions to not rock the boat in a group, even when they know the decision is catastrophically terrible – that mock ups of the meeting have been made using professional actors, in order to help teach the concept to psychology students.

6. The Hessian Commander Neglected A Note Saying George Washington Was Crossing The Delaware

The Crossing of the Delaware is one of the most famous moments in the American Revolution, and has been immortalized with an incredibly famous painting, which stirs the imagination of the bold deed performed by George Washington and his men, in order to take the enemy off guard when they were at their most vulnerable. It was a crucial point in the war that we all know very well, and it could have turned out very differently if the Hessian Commander had taken the warnings he got more seriously.

The Hessian Commander was found much later with a note that told of Washington planning an imminent attack, something a spy had slipped the commander days before. However, he did not take the warnings particularly seriously, and was caught up not properly prepared when Washington came for him and his men. Part of the issue was that they were constantly being harassed by local militias, which made things more chaotic when the full attack from the Colonials arrived. However, the simple fact of the matter is that if the commander had prepared himself for a full blown attack (not just from the local militias, but from Washington) and stayed alert, the entire plan may have been foiled.

5. Andrew Wakefield’s Fake Anti-MMR Study Is Causing Deaths To This Day

Andrew Wakefield is a man who has more blood on his hands than most people who have ever been called a doctor – which he isn’t anymore, because he was kicked off the medical register in the UK for his fraudulent nonsense. Back in the late 1990s Wakefield published a fraudulent medical paper that he was later forced to retract, claiming that vaccines caused autism in children. Despite the fact that the study was swiftly disproven, and Wakefield shown as the scam artist he is, this is still causing horrible problems to this day.

His paper was a catalyst that started a movement, now endorsed by multiple celebrities, to not vaccinate your children. This nonsense has already led to outbreaks of measles in the United States, and has led to more bouts of whooping cough and other potentially deadly diseases that we had previously had under control. Just one fraudulent scientific paper is causing increased deaths decades later, due to so many people that listened to bad medical advice, and decided to embrace conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, it’s hard to convince these anti-vaxxers to protect their children and everyone else’s, because anti-vaccine believers tend to have a cult-like mindset. If you believe that vaccines don’t cause autism, in their mind, you are a part of the big cover-up, or a sheep unwilling to see the truth.

4. President Truman’s Controversial Decision To Launch Two Atomic Bombs On Populated Cities

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a moment in history that will remain in infamy forever. Some people defend it saying that at that point, nothing less had any chance of convincing the Japanese to surrender peacefully, and that otherwise we would have had total war that led to way more deaths on both sides overall. Others would argue that the Japanese were already low on resources and morale, and we could have possibly worked out a peaceful surrender from them without dropping two giant bombs on populated cities.

However, whether you agree with the decision or not, it was an historic moment that forever shaped the globe. Since then nuclear paranoia set in, and countries immediately started racing to build as many of their own and test them all over the world, releasing untold amounts of radiation. This global arms race persists today, where many people still face the possibility of nuclear annihilation daily, and are only comforted by the fact that nuclear war would be unlikely to happen because it would be a no win scenario.

The world could possibly have been a very different place. Even if nuclear testing had continued in various countries, without the historic example of heavily populated cities being leveled in a moment, the true paranoia we see today would likely not exist – we might have had a world where people knew a nuclear weapon existed, but didn’t particularly fear them and feel so paranoid, because they had no proper context in which to put a real life nuclear attack.

3. Teddy Kennedy’s Actions Immediately Following Chappaquiddick Ruined His Presidential Dreams

Most people have heard of Teddy Kennedy, one of the three original Kennedy brothers and often called the lion of the senate. Some wondered, as he got on in years, why he never sought the presidency, and the answer is that he once did, and ended up being sunk by his own actions. Back when he was younger, he was a very powerful up and coming politician, and was indeed running for president. He was charismatic, had a lot of support, and likely would have won the Democratic primary, with a good chance at the general election. And while we cannot know exactly what kind of policies he would have had, the Kennedys never did anything small, so it is certainly likely he would have had a strong historical impact as president. However, just as his star was as bright as it could be, he got himself into big trouble.

He was out with a woman in his car on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, when the car crashed over a bridge into the water. He managed to make it out of the car, but not with the woman – Mary Jo Kopechne. He did not notify the police until many hours later, and not until after he had had a good talk with his lawyers about how he could get out of trouble. Many speculated that he did not go to the police immediately or report it because he was drunk and wanted to sober up – he suspected he would be arrested for things like manslaughter and drunk driving if he went to the police right away. Still, he was a Kennedy and they were known for being playboys, he could have potentially managed to avoid it sinking his political career if he had went straight to the police, but the way he handled the incident sunk him. Most people were rather disturbed how callously he left the woman to die.

2. Reagan’s Firing Of Over 1000 Air Traffic Controllers Has Had Lasting Repercussions For All Unions

Many people do not remember the firing of the air traffic controllers under President Reagan, but it still has vast ramifications to this day. The short version of the story is that the then-union for the air traffic controllers was on strike for better pay, and the negotiations were simply not going very well at all. Both sides kept going back and forth, and an agreement was not being put in place quickly enough. Fed up with the entire thing, President Reagan declared it an illegal strike and threatened to fire each and every single one of them if they didn’t stop striking. Unfortunately for them, they called what they thought was a bluff. It wasn’t, and they were all fired.

At first people thought this would be a huge disaster, because air traffic controllers are really important, but he put in military controllers until others could be trained and everything worked out okay. This was a huge blow to unions in general and greatly set them back over the years. However, this wasn’t necessarily something Reagan would have wanted. He didn’t think unions in general were bad or that workers shouldn’t have rights, but he saw a situation where these were vital jobs that absolutely must be filled, and the terms could not be agreed upon. He saw it as an extreme act in an emergency – he did not plan to break the backs of labor unions.

1. Colin Powell’s False Presentation About Iraq Got Us Into War With A Potential Ally

Colin Powell’s presentation about WMDs before congress will go down as one of the most pivotal moments in history. Now, there is some debate and confusion as to whether Powell was simply being used, or was complicit in what was happening. Either way, an incredibly false and misleading presentation made it look like there were WMDs in Iraq when there actually were none at all. This led the United States into a full blown war in Iraq that has had lasting ramifications to this very day. And to make matters worse, there is reason believe that if we hadn’t taken out Saddam, we may have had a stable ally in the region who could have been of great help.

When Saddam Hussein was captured, he explained that he was actually shocked and confused that Iraq was attacked. He thought that the United States would want to ally with him to help find terrorists after what happened on 9/11, and didn’t understand why he was a target when none of the terrorists were from Iraq. He had thought he could help us and that what happened would bring Iraq and the United States closer together. While some may believe Saddam to be brutal, he kept the region stable, something we have been unable to accomplish. If Saddam had remained in power and his words are to be believed, we may have had both a stable Iraq and a solid and stalwart ally in the region.


Game Changing Moments

– WIF History