Historical Misconceptions – WABAC Into History

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

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

“Let’s go back  and set the record straight at some crucial points in history, starting with the American Revolution, Sherman My Boy.”

Historical Myths

and Misconceptions

Memorial Day Beginnings – WABAC to The Old South

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Memorial Day Beginnings

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

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

“We will go back to the American south and the birth of a national holiday to honor our fallen soldiers.”

The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the American Civil War. A claim was made in 1906 that the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever decorated was in Warrenton, Virginia, on June 3, 1861, implying the first Memorial Day occurred there. Though not for Union soldiers, there is authentic documentation that women in Savannah, Georgia, decorated Confederate soldiers’ graves in 1862. In 1863, the cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers. Local historians in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, claim that ladies there decorated soldiers’ graves on July 4, 1864. As a result, Boalsburg promotes itself as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

by Erni Vales

Following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, there were a variety of events of commemoration. The sheer number of soldiers of both sides who died in the Civil War, more than 600,000, meant that burial and memorialization took on new cultural significance. Under the leadership of women during the war, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves had taken shape. In 1865, the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for the Union war dead.

The first widely publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. During the war, Union soldiers who were prisoners of war had been held at the Hampton Park Race Course in Charleston; at least 257 Union prisoners died there and were hastily buried in unmarked graves. Together with teachers and missionaries, black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony in 1865, which was covered by theNew York Tribune and other national papers. The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled “Martyrs of the Race Course”. Nearly 10,000 people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 school children, newly enrolled in freedmen’s schools, as well as mutual aid societies, Union troops, black ministers and white northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to lay on the burial field.

David W. Blight described the day:

This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.

However, Blight stated he “has no evidence” that this event in Charleston inspired the establishment of Memorial Day across the country.

On May 26, 1966, President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day. Earlier, the 89th Congress had adopted House Concurrent Resolution 587, which officially recognized that the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day began one hundred years prior in Waterloo, New York. Other communities claiming to be the birthplace of Memorial Day include Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, Carbondale, Illinois, Columbus, Georgia, andColumbus, Mississippi. A recent study investigating the Waterloo claim as well as dozens of other origination theories concludes that nearly all of them are apocryphal legends.

Thank You to WIKIPEDIA


Memorial Day Beginnings

Holidays-001

– WABAC to The Old South

Theodore Roosevelt Great American Hero – WABAC in History

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

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

“Bully, Sherman My Boy!”

Theodore Roosevelt

Great American Hero

A Teddy Thumbnail

On December 10, 1906, President Theodore “Teddy” Rooseveltbecame the first American to earn a Nobel Prize when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation of the Russo-Japanese War.  (Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama have also won Nobel Prizes since Roosevelt.)

The story of a genuine legend…

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Roosevelt was no stranger to accomplishing things and is immortalized on Mount Rushmore along with Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson.  By no means a namby pamby wimpy pencil pushing politician, Roosevelt, though born into the moneyed class, was a man of the American West and rushed to serve our country when we went to war with Spain.

Although an asthmatic as a child, Teddy went west to lead a life of outdoors ruggedness, a quality that stood him well when he led his men up the slopes of San Juan Hill (actually Kettle Hill) in Cuba against the Spanish.  His time out west also stoked his wonder of the natural world, and his desire to protect our natural resources.  While out west Roosevelt wrote outdoor themed articles and served as a deputy sheriff.  He even met and befriended the legendary Seth Bullock, lawman of Deadwood, South Dakota (played by Timothy Olyphant in the HBO series, Deadwood).

Serving the public as a US Civil Service commissioner and later as the New York City Police Commissioner, Teddy became the Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President McKinley in 1897.  Already a veteran of the New York National Guard, Roosevelt left his post in Washington to head up his famous “Rough Riders,”  leading them to fame and glory in the Spanish-American War.

Riding his fame from the war to the governorship of New York, Roosevelt was nominated Vice President following the death in 1899 of McKinley’s VP, Garret Hobart who died of a heart attack.  Roosevelt then became our youngest president ever in 1901 when President McKinley was assassinated, and served as President until 1909.

Sometimes called “Teddy the Trustbuster,” Roosevelt was concerned about the American consumer and was anti-monopoly for big businesses.  He also created our first National Parks, including the massive Yellowstone Park, as well as The National Forest Service and other environmental initiatives.  Teddy also sided with the miners during a major coal strike, though he stopped short of endorsing unions.  Also an advocate of pure food and drugs, Roosevelt supported legislation to provide clean products for the consumer.  Although personally pro-racial equality, the politics of the day prevented a more vigorous agenda in that regard.  Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick” foreign policy let the world know the US was one of the big boys on the block.

Although Roosevelt lost the Presidential election of 1912, he proved his mettle while giving a campaign speech when he was shot in the chest, but insisted on continuing the speech until complete.  He recovered from this wound, and it became part of his legend.

Teddy continued building his legend with a 2 year trip to Africa and an expedition to South America, where he continued his rugged out door ways, pressing on despite serious illness and injury while contributing to the scientific knowledge of the natural world.

TR as he was sometimes called, died of a blood clot in 1919, only 60 years old.  His incredibly energetic lifestyle and numerous injuries and illnesses had finally caught up to him.  He left behind a grand legacy of his own accomplishments, and also a son, Quentin, that died in aerial combat serving our country in World War I. Other sons, Kermit and Archie served during both World Wars.   Teddy’s son Theodore Jr. was a US Army brigadier general that earned a Medal of Honor by tirelessly leading the D-Day landings at Normandy where he was the only US general to land with the troops by sea.  A daughter, Ethel, served as a nurse in France during World War I and was active in the Red Cross and the affairs of her county afterwards.  She also served on the board of Trustees of The American Museum of Natural History and was devoted to the Civil Rights Movement.

Teddy Roosevelt is by any estimation a Great American, and in the author’s eyes, the Greatest American President.

Theodore Roosevelt

Great American Hero

WIF History-001

– WABAC in History

American Football – WABAC to BIG Games

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

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

“Are you ready for some football, Sherman My Boy?”

“Do you mean soccer Mr. Peabody/”

“Set the WABAC for 1932 Chicago Illinois, the place where real football was born.”

10 Historic Football Games

WIF History-001

First down

On December 18, 1932, the first National Football League (NFL) championship football game ever was played between the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans.  Obviously, this is what you would call an historic game, but for more reasons than you would think.  For one thing, due to a blizzard, it had to be relocated from Wrigley field to Chicago Stadium which had a field only 80 yards long!  Blasphemy!  Here 10 such historic football games, both memorable and significant, are presented.  Can you think of any others to add?

 

Untangling the pile

10. First NFL Championship, Chicago Bears vs. Portsmouth Spartans, 1932.

View of the Playing Field at the Bears vs. Spartans Game, 1932 (click on image to enlarge)

The home team, the Bears, won the game by a score of 9-0.  Although the league had existed since 1920, it had previously picked its champion based on winning percentage.  The NFL would go on to become the definitive professional American football league with many great champions.  Cracked History Fact:  With 13 wins so far, the Green Bay Packers are the team with the most championship wins.

9. First Night Football Game, 1902.

The Philadelphia Athletics Football Team, 1902 (click on image to enlarge)

In 1902, the Philadelphia Athletics played the Kanaweola A.C. under electric lights in Elmira, New York.  The first NFL night game took place in 1929 between the Providence Steamroller and the Chicago Cardinals.  Fans have been getting home late ever since.

8. First Super Bowl, Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1967.

(click on image to enlarge)

Prior to the merger of the NFL and its rival league the American Football League (the AFL) in 1970, owners had agreed to let each league’s champion play the other in what became known as “The Super Bowl.”  The NFL’s Packers won the first two Super Bowls convincingly, but then the AFL’s New York Jets rocked the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, and the Kansas City Chiefs repeated the trick for the AFL in Super Bowl IV.  Only 4 teams have never played in a Super Bowl, the Browns, Lions, Jaguars and Texans.  (Of course the Browns and the Lions had won championships before there even was a Super Bowl.)

7. Browns Enter NFL, Cleveland Browns vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1950.

1950 Newspaper Headline (click on image to enlarge)

Not only the Cleveland Browns, but also the Baltimore Colts and the San Francisco 49ers joined the NFL from the now defunct All-American Football Conference (the AAFC), a 1940s rival league to the NFL.  Like the AFL later, the AAFC got no respect!  The Browns had compiled an incredible record of wins (47-4-3) in their AAFC history and went undefeated and untied in 1948, a feat unmatched until the Miami Dolphins managed to do it in 1972.  (The Chicago Bears had been the first team to achieve this in 1934.)  The Browns first game in 1950 was against the 2-time defending NFL champion, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Browns schooled them 35-10, setting the stage for the first Browns NFL championship win later that season.   The Browns went on to win the championship game against the Los Angeles Rams, 30-28, on a late field goal in the last minute.  The Browns would win further NFL titles in 1954, 1955 and 1964.  Cracked History Fact:  The Rams had been the previous Cleveland franchise.  Cracked History Lament:  The NFL does not recognize the statistics of those terrific players from the old AAFC, although it does for the old AFL.  Its logic is that not all of AAFC was swallowed up in the merger.  Still, 6 players from the Browns’ AAFC days went on to gain admittance to the NFL Hall of Fame.

6. First Man Paid to Play, Allegheny Athletic Association vs. Pittsburgh Athletic Club, 1892.

William “Pudge” Heffelfinger as a LEGO Figure (click on image to enlarge)

Although John Brailler was known to have been paid $10 in 1895 to play a game for the Latrobe Athletic Association, it was not until 1960 when information surfaced that William “Pudge” Heffelfinger of Minnesota had been paid $500 in 1892 to play football, making him the first professional player.  Cracked History Side Note:  The first African-American professional footballer may have been Charles Follis of the Shelby (Ohio) Steamfitters in 1902.  Follis was from Wooster, Ohio.

5. First National Radio Broadcast of an NFL Game, Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears, 1934.

Lions vs. Bears, Thanksgiving Day 1934 (click on image to enlarge)

In addition to being the first game to be broadcast on radio, this game was also the first to take place on Thanksgiving, making it the first Turkey Day game in NFL history.  Previously, high schools and colleges had regularly played on Thanksgiving Day, a tradition that has since faded away.  Cracked History Note:  The Detroit Lions were once the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans.

4. First TV Broadcast Game, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Brooklyn Dodgers, 1939. 

Eagles vs. Dodgers, 1939 (click on image to enlarge)

NBC aired the game from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, then also home to the like-named National League Baseball team the Brooklyn Dodgers.  This historic event paved the way for the famous and sometimes infamous Super Bowl commercials!

3. First NFL Monday Night Football Game, Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets, 1970.

Browns vs. Jets, 1970 (click on image to enlarge)

In one of the most important non-championship games in NFL history, the Cleveland Browns beat Broadway Joe Namath and the New York Jets 31-21. Monday Night Football (MNF) has been an American television institution ever since and has made the NFL and (college football) zillions of dollars.

2. First NFL Football Games, Dayton Triangles vs. Columbus Panhandles and Rock Island Independents vs. Muncie Flyers, 1920.

The 1920 Football Champ - The Akron Pros (click on image to enlarge)

In the first season, what eventually became the NFL was originally known as the American Professional Football Association (the APFA).  The APFA was renamed the NFL in 1922, the first NFL champion being the Akron Professionals (the Pros), and the first 2-time champs being the Canton Bulldogs.

1. First College Football Game, Rutgers vs. New Jersey (Princeton), 1869.

Rutgers vs. New Jersey, 1969 (click on image to enlarge)

Rutgers won this game against the College of New Jersey (which later became Princeton) by a score of 6-4.  A rematch was played (the second ever college football game) with slightly different rules, and New Jersey prevailed this time 8-0.  By default, Rutgers and Princeton are considered National Co-Champions for 1869!  The first balls used were round (spherical), and no running was allowed.  The first game o more closely resemble modern football was between Harvard and Tufts in 1875.  This game was comprised of 11-men teams and played with an oval ball.  Now that college football has evolved into an enormous American tradition, common sense dictates that Cracked History recognize The Ohio State University Buckeyes as the greatest college football team of all time.

Playoff Fever

– WABAC to Football History

Laika the Space Dog – WIF into Space

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

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

“I don’t want to brag Sherman My Boy, but one of my relatives was the first astronaut.”

November 3, 1957:

The First Astronaut was a Dog!

Laika space dog

A Dog’s Life

On November 3, 1957, before any chimpanzee, any man, any woman, any Russian, any American went into space, the Soviet dog Laika became the first astronaut (cosmonaut in Soviet terms) in history, an indication of just how important dogs are to people.

Digging, burying etc…

Unfortunately, poor Laika was on a one way mission, as the fledgling space programs of the day did not include the technology for a safe return to Earth.  A stray found roaming the streets of Moscow, Laika was an 5 to 6 kilogram mixed breed dog.  (Note: We say mixed breed instead of mongrel or mutt, terms better applied to certain people such as politicians.)  Being a stray, Laika did not actually have a known given name, and the term Laika was merely a Russian description of a dog of that type.  The name stuck in the world press, and History knows her as Laika.

Laika and other dogs in the Soviet space program were trained to become accustomed to being confined in small spaces and space capsule type environments.  One of the scientists even took Laika home to play with his children as a reward to the doomed pup for her cooperation.  Laika earned the right to be blasted into space by exhibiting a calm and cooperative nature.

Laika was hooked up to various instruments to measure her vital signs during her flight, and she was loaded into the Sputnik 2 capsule atop an R7 rocket and launched into orbit.  The dog tolerated the launch forces well, with her hearbeat more than doubling during launch.  Unfortunately, she died of overheating only a few hours (5 to 7 hours) into the flight.  Interestingly, the steadfast canine did calm down after achieving orbit, and even ate her food provided.  Cause of death by overheating was probably caused by a failure detach part of the booster rocket that resulted in failure of heat shielding insulation.  The capsule containing Laika eventually made over 2700 orbits of the Earth before burning up upon reentry in April of 1958.

As governments are apt to do, the Soviets lied about the timing and cause of Laika’s death, giving various stories about her being euthanized by poison food, eventually suffocating, and living for several days into the flight.  Only many years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union has the truth been told.

In 2008 the Russians unveiled a monument to Laika, the Space Dog in Moscow, and she also appears on another Russian monument to space pioneers.  Criticism by animal lovers about the one way mission led to future missions using dogs and other animals being planned with live re-entry and recovery, although those were not always successful, just as human flight into space has not always concluded with live recovery.

Dogs are indeed “Man’s Best Friend,” being our companions and partners for as long as 30,000 years.  No other animal on Earth is as in-tune to humans as dogs.

Laika the Space Dog

WIF Space2-001

– WIF into Space

The Texas Rangers – WABAC to Real Border Security

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

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

“We’re going to go back to the formation of the Texas Rangers, Sherman My Boy.”

“Swell, Mister Peabody, I love baseball!”

“Oh never mind.”

 

November 24, 1835: Texas Provincial Government Creates Texas Rangers

 Texas-Rangers-1835

Securing the border

On November 24, 1835, the Texas Provincial Government (Permanent Council) authorized the creation of a mounted para-military police force to enforce laws throughout The Republic of Texas and protect its borders.

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The men behind the badge

Stephen Austin had first formed the unit under the command of Captain Morris as an unofficial call for volunteers in 1823, while Texas was still the property of Mexico.  Texas became an independent republic in 1836, and was admitted as a state in the United States in 1845.  Although Mexico had welcomed American settlers to Texas, the Americans insisted on violating Mexican law by keeping slaves.  Fed up with the flaunting of Mexican law, Mexico decided to end immigration of Americans to Texas in 1830, triggering a war for independence from Mexico from 1832 to 1836 when Texas became an independent country.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers developed a reputation for courage and skill, and became known as an elite law enforcement force, fighting criminals, Indians, and anyone that threatened the settlers.   Disbanded briefly during reconstruction after the Civil War, Texas quickly reconstituted the force, and today it exists as The Texas Ranger Division of The Texas Department of Safety, not to be confused with the entirely separate Texas State Police.

With as many as 300 Rangers during the War for Independence, the Rangers maintained a small number of men afterwards, around 56 to 150 Rangers at a time.  Today, there are only about 150 Rangers, along with 66 support personnel.  Such is the reputation for toughness and effective law enforcement that the saying, “One riot, one Ranger.” (stemming from an 1896 Dallas illegal prize fight where only 1 ranger was sent to enforce the law when many seemed more appropriate) has come to symbolize the Spartan like reputation of this agency.

Part of the cachet of the Rangers can be traced to the arming of the Rangers with the Walker Colt revolver (1847), a massive .44 caliber handgun that outclassed all black powder repeating handguns in history.  In fact, the Walker Colt was the most powerful revolver produced until the introduction of the .44 Smith & Wesson Magnum in 1955!  Designed especially for the Texas Rangers by Ranger Captain Samuel Walker and Samuel Colt, the Walker Colt was made to stop an enemy decisively with one shot.  Only  super gunslingers could wield such a super pistol, and that was the Texas Rangers.

Throughout their history the Rangers have performed numerous law enforcement and paramilitary roles, including investigating murder and other crimes, fighting hostile Native Americans, protecting the Governor, putting down riots, and investigating political corruption.  Their reputation was enhanced by putting down notorious criminals such as Sam Bass and John Wesley Hardin.  A former Ranger was instrumental in killing Bonnie and Clyde.  During the height of range wars and Indian wars, the Rangers were accused of ruthless tactics such as summary execution and torture, but that only added to their mystique.  The Rangers protected the meeting between US President Taft and Mexican President Diaz in 1909, preventing assassination attempts on both statesmen.

During the period of upheaval in Mexico in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries the Rangers combated Mexican raiders along the border, killing as many as 3000 Mexicans from 1910 to 1919!  The brutality of the Rangers at this time was not ignored, and some of the Special Ranger units were disbanded, and the number of Rangers was reduced, reaching only about 45 Rangers during the Depression.  In fact, all serving Rangers were dismissed in 1933 by a reform minded state governor, and in 1935 the Rangers were placed in the Department of Safety where they remain today, maintaining all the reputation for toughness and effectiveness with a sterling reputation for professionalism.

The Texas Rangers have achieved almost mythical status as the epitome of rugged Western law enforcement and individualism.  A small, elite force, popular culture such as movies, books, and television has added to the legend.  Even the Texas Rangers baseball team has latched onto the reputation by taking their name.  You can visit the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas, established in 1968.

The Texas Rangers

– WABAC to Real Border Security

Shays’ Rebellion – WABAC to the 13 Colonies

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Peabody & Sherman-001

“Where are we going this time Mr. Peabody?”

“I am to introduce you to an important figure in the founding of the United States.”

The Story of

Daniel Shays

  History is rich

On this date, September 29, 1825, American soldier, revolutionary, and farmer Daniel Shays (c.1747–1825) died at age 78 in Sparta, New York.  In those storied 78 years, Shays became most famous for being one of the leaders of Shays’ Rebellion, a populist uprising against controversial debt collection and tax policies in Massachusetts in 1786 and 1787.  The seeds of that rebellion were planted nearly a decade earlier amidst a revolution…

waybac-machine

The rest of the story…

In a bitter struggle against the most powerful industrializing nation on earth, the thirteen colonies that would later be called the United States of America (U.S.), won their independence from Great Britain.  Victorious, the citizens of the new nation of America thought that their freedom from British rule would bring them together as a young and prosperous nation.  In some aspects they were right, but in others they were wrong.

By defeating, Britain, the Americans had proved themselves not only hard-workers, but also a new nation, held together by high ideals.  The Americans had a whole continent to explore and a new government to form.  The problems then that faced the Americans might not have been totally expected, but also could not have been a total shock.  It is not exactly easy trying to form a new country.

One such problem was the economy.  High taxes were imposed to pay for war debts, and in Massachusetts, the problem reached a dangerous level.  Although there was paper money in circulation, little of it was honored at face value.  When farmers were thrown into debt they wanted more paper money to help pay off some of their debts.  When the Massachusetts state legislature failed to issue paper money and reform the debtor laws, the farmers took action.

Daniel Shays, born in 1747 probably at Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and died September 29, 1825 at Sparta, New York, was a U.S. soldier who served as an Army Officer at the battles of Bunker Hill (1775), Saratoga (1777), and Stony Point (1779) in the American Revolution.  He later lead the uprising of several hundred male farmers to force the Supreme Court in Springfield to adjourn in September of 1786.  In January of 1787, Shays’s force of 1,200 men tried to attack a federal arsenal at Springfield.  There his revolt began to fall apart as the militia fired upon his party, before they could reach the arsenal.  As the militia pursued him, he was decisively defeated on February 4 at Petersham.  He then fled to Vermont.

At first the leaders of the rebellion were condemned to die for their treason, but they were eventually pardoned.  Later, Shays even received a war pension!

Shays’ Rebellion was not the only rebellion of its kind to take place in the newly independent U.S.  Several disturbances occurred in other states with the unsuccessful Whiskey Rebellion of 1791-1794, primarily in Western Pennsylvania, being the most famous.  Collectively and despite the rebels being technically defeated, these revolts resulted in two significant changes.  In Massachusetts, the state legislature created laws that would ease the economic condition of debtors.  On a larger scale, the Federal government became aware that it had to be strong enough to keep tranquility within its borders.  Although, Daniel Shays’ Rebellion to capture the arsenal had failed, he and his debt-ridden farmers had succeeded in helping to make the country strong and fairer and that is why we remember him on this 190th anniversary of his death on September 29, 1825.

Shays’ Rebellion

Thirteen Colonies

– WABAC to the 13 Colonies