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

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

Slavery & Freemen

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Abraham Lincoln

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”

― Abraham Lincoln

Horace Greeley

“It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a bible-reading people. The principles of the bible are the groundwork of human freedom.”

― Horace Greeley

Slavery & Freemen

Slavery

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Patrick Henry

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
― Patrick Henry
 
Frederick Douglass

“Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.”
― Frederick Douglass

Abraham Lincoln

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”

― Abraham Lincoln

Frederick Douglass

“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of ‘stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.’ I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.”
― Frederick DouglassNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

 

Slavery

Abraham Lincoln – The Man With The Stovepipe Hat

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848c2-your-top-ten

Top 10 Fascinating Facts

About Abraham Lincoln

 

Abraham Lincoln is one of the most well-known politicians in history, and arguably the most popular President in the history of the United States. However, his history has been incredibly distorted by many with an agenda, some positive and some negative. Below are ten interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln; some clear up common misunderstandings, others are just outright fascinating, and some may cause you to view him in an entirely new light.

10. His Law Career

lincoln-lawyer

Everyone’s heard of ol’ Abe. But many don’t realize that, before he was President, he was the most well-known lawyer in the state of Illinois. Lincoln, and the partners he worked with, managed over five thousand cases. Lincoln would take pretty much any case that was thrown at him. He once represented a railroad company, and eventually had to sue them to get the legal fees they owed him. Lincoln was also known for being an expert in Constitutional law.

9. He Was An Avid Hunter

young-lincoln

Many people have the mistaken idea that Lincoln did not hunt animals, or even that he practiced vegetarianism later in life. The truth, however, is that there is really nothing to back up such claims. A scholar who did a lot of digging found that the only quote that suggested Lincoln may have been an animal rights advocate was a fabrication. He also found evidence that Lincoln had not stopped hunting when he was young, but that he had hunted coons, turkeys and other similar game all the way up to his adult years. While there isn’t much evidence that he hunted as an adult, he would have been too busy at that point, what with living in the big city and practicing law.

8. He Dueled With Swords

swords

When Lincoln was a state legislator in Illinois, he had trouble getting along with a fellow politician by the name of James Shields. Insulting letters about Shields were published, using pseudonyms such as Rebecca and Jeff. While it has never been proven, many believe that the letters were written by Lincoln’s wife, or by Lincoln himself. Either way, Shields blamed Lincoln, and challenged him to a duel; because Lincoln was the one challenged, he got to choose the weapons that would be used. Going against normal dueling tradition, Lincoln picked broadswords as the weapon. Realizing that he was about to go up against by a freakishly tall man wielding a sword, Shields made peace with Lincoln, and the duel ended without bloodshed.

7. Lincoln Had Lots Of Pets

fido-lincolns-dog

Lincoln may have been a hunter, but he also had a plethora of pets in the White House, and was known to be a cat lover. His wife Mary Todd even said that her husband’s main hobby was “cats”. He once adopted several orphaned kittens, had a White House dog named Fido, and had two goats named Nanny and Nanko. The Lincolns also had rabbits, and a horse named Old Bob.

In addition, while many people attribute the tradition of granting a turkey a reprieve to Truman, the real originator was Lincoln. A turkey was sent to the White House for killin’ and eatin’, but Lincoln’s young son Tad became really attached to it, and begged his dad to let it leave, beginning the tradition.

6. Lincoln’s Killer May Have Survived

lincoln-assassination

John Wilkes Booth, an actor, killed Lincoln while he was at the theater, and then fled the scene. History says that he was eventually tracked down and killed in a barn. However, some say that it may not have been him who died there, and that he eluded justice until the very end. It is believed by some that he went under aliases such as John St. Helen and David E. George, occasionally confessing to people and then suddenly disappearing.

David E. George is said to have had the same injuries and scars, and was the same age, as John Wilkes Booth. As an actor, it is not entirely unbelievable that Booth could pull off such a charade, but while some claim to be quite certain one way or the other, the mystery remains unsolved.

5. Women’s Suffrage

womens-rights

For his time, Lincoln was quite progressive when it came to voting rights. He believed that all who contributed to the country, either through taxes, or taking up arms for their country, deserved a right to vote. And in one particular quote, he specifically said that this should not exclude females. While he was not an incredibly strong advocate for women’s rights, saying even that much in his time was quite beyond normal. It is also said by some historians that his legacy was very important for the women’s rights movement. Lincoln strongly believed in freedom and the right to vote, more so than many even today.

4. Lincoln’s Beard

lincoln-beard

Lincoln’s bearded face is one of the most famous in the world, especially in the US where he and his beard appear on several forms of currency. However, even during part of his run for President, he had not yet grown his iconic beard. While beards had been starting to gain some traction as a new style craze, Lincoln had not really considered growing one. However, a little girl named Grace Bedell changed his mind. The girl sent a letter to Lincoln, asking him to grow a beard, because she thought that it would make women convince their husbands to vote for him, and give him a better chance.

Whether the beard actually helped or not is hard to say, but he won the election, so it couldn’t have hurt his chances too much. Lincoln was also known to not have a particularly pretty face, and the beard did hide his narrow neck and sunken cheekbones, so if the goal was to impress the ladies, mission accomplished.

3. The Republican Party

lincoln-republican

This is one of the most oft-repeated misconceptions in regards to Lincoln, and it is completely untrue. SO many people have repeated the untruth that Lincoln founded the Republican Party that it has basically become the truth, even to the point that President Obama made the mistake recently while speaking. While Lincoln did join the Republican Party a few short years after it was founded, he was not the first. He wasn’t even the first Republican to run for President; that was John C. Fremont. The confusion most likely stems from Lincoln being the first Republican to ever win the Presidency. But still, it’s been over seven score and ten years! Can this blatant myth just fade away already?

2. Lincoln’s Grandfather

abe-lincoln-grandfather

Abraham Lincoln, like most people, had a grandfather, and his name was also Abraham Lincoln. Great Abe was a militia captain who fought in the American Revolution, and lived in Kentucky. Unfortunately, President Lincoln never got to meet his grandfather, because he was killed well before he was born. Grandpa Abe was tending crops when an Indian war party attacked and killed him. Legend has it that his son Josiah ran to get help, while his sons Thomas and Mordecai ran back to the cabin. It is said that Mordecai took a shotgun and killed an Indian who was going to scalp his father. After this unfortunate incident, the Lincoln family moved away from the area.

1. His Stance On Slavery

lincoln-slavery

Nothing is more misunderstood than Lincoln’s views about slavery. Some say that he didn’t care about the slaves and just wanted them gone; others say he was the greatest anti-slavery crusader of all time. As is usually the case, the truth is a lot more complicated than that. His views changed over time, and his ideas in regards to a black colony of some sort were not because he hated black people. Rather, he felt that, in the society they lived in, with all of its prejudice and outright hatred, an equal society was not possible, and that black people would never get fair treatment.

As time progressed he was very outspoken against the further spread of slavery, supported the 13th Amendment which made slavery illegal, and signed the Emancipation Proclamation. And if one wants to look any further for evidence that he was truly anti-slavery, they need only look at the platform of the party he chose to join. The entire Republican Party was basically the party of Abolitionism. Lincoln had to play politics to get elected and achieve what he wanted, and he may not have been progressive by today’s standards, and his views may have been complicated, but there is no question that he was against slavery, and believed in equality for all. And, for his time, he was the champion against slavery that the USA needed.

Abraham Lincoln

– The Man With The Stovepipe Hat