The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack

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Today in History: Hatfield Attempts to Assassinate George III

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 15, 2018 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 15) in 1800, James Hatfield attempted to assassinate King George III of England out of the belief that if he himself were killed, it would help bring about the second coming of Christ. So he tried to murder the king so that he, himself, would be executed. His lawyer successfully demonstrated that eight saber wounds to the head that Hatfield had received in war six years earlier had driven him into a delusional state. Parliament passed the Criminal Lunatics Act of 1800 to make it possible to legally confine Hatfield after his acquittal. He spent the rest of his life in Bethlem Royal Hospital—except for the brief period when he escaped and tried to flee to France.

Today in History: Lewis and Clarke

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 14, 2018 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 14) in 1804, Lewis and Clarke began their journey of exploration into the Louisiana Territory. The Louisiana Territory was the single largest land purchase in U.S. history, but in practical terms the extent of the new territory was unknown before the expedition.

Today in History: The Last Salem Witch Trial

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 14, 2018 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 14) in 1878 the last of the Salem Witch Trials was held nearly two hundred years after the first such trials. In this civil case, Lucretia Brown accused Daniel Spofford of attempting to harm her through the use of his “mesmeric” powers. Both were early Christian Scientists who believed illness was an illusion that could be cured by prayer alone. Founder of Christian Science, Mary Eddy, taught that through the use of “Malicious Animal Magnetism” (MAM) (possibly a form of hypnosis) mental harm could be brought on another person. Lucretia Brown, an invalid since childhood, believed that she had been cured through the power of prayer by Christian Science and that her relapses were caused by Spofford using MAM on her after he was expelled from the religion. The case was dismissed on May 17.

Today in History: Robert Smalls

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 13, 2018 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 13) in 1862 an African-American slave named Robert Smalls succeeded in taking over the steam ship CSS Planter and steering it through Confederate controlled waters to the U.S. Blockade where he surrendered the vessel to the union. As a reward, he was made captain of the ship (now called USS Planter) when the vessel was put into U.S. service. He went on to become a Representative to Congress for South Carolina after the war despite massive efforts by whites in South Carolina to defeat him. Twice his “defeats” were contested to Congress. There was massive evidence of voter intimidation both times. The first time, Congress overturned his defeat and he became the official Representative. The second time, Congress declined to do so, even though the voter intimidation efforts were greater than the first.

Today in History: The Donner Party

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 12, 2018 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 12) in 1846, the Donner Party left Independence, Missouri with no idea that they were about to become one of the most horrifying of American legends. Before the year was out, they would take an ill-advised short cut, be trapped by snow in the mountains, and resort to eating their dead to survive.

Today in History: Monty Python

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 11, 2018 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 11) in 1969, Monty Python formed. They'd go on to bring us a great comedy show and movies such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Life of Brion, and Monty Python and the Meaning of Life. I have such great memories watching these with my friends growing up and always get a thrill when I see one of the cast moving on to other projects such as Eric Idle in Nuns on the Run, Terry Jones with his wonderfully absurd Starship Titanic and popular histories such as Medieval Lives and Barbarian Lives, and of course John Cleese in Fawlty Towers, Time Bandits, and A Fish Called Wanda.

Today in History: The Tea Act

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 10, 2018 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 10) in 1773 Great Britain passed the Tea Act. The primary motivation for the act was to save the East India Company (EIC) from bankruptcy. They did this by lowering the tax on tea and granting the EIC a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies. The EIC had a substantial stockpile of tea built up in London warehouses that it had not been able to sell because of the American boycott of English Tea over taxes. The reduced tax level, however, would permit the EIC tea to undercut the price of smuggled tea making the British government believe they could kill two birds with one stone—save the EIC from bankruptcy and end the boycott by making legal tea cheaper than smuggled tea. The unintended consequence of this Act was the Boston Tea Party, which took the American colonies one step closer to rebellion.

Today in History: U-110

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 9, 2018 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 9) in 1941, Britain captured the Nazi submarine U-110 and gained possession of her Short Signal Book and one of Germany’s Enigma Machines. This coup would eventually permit Britain to crack many German codes, greatly enhancing their ability to fight World War II.

Today in History: Coca Cola

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 8, 2018 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May Eight) in 1886 John Pemberton sold a patent medicine called Coca Cola for the first time. Pemberton had suffered a saber wound in the chest during the Civil War and become addicted to morphine. He created Coca Cola as part of his search to find an opium-free alternative to morphine. He began experimenting with coca and coca wine. When temperance legislation compelled him to make a non-alcoholic version of his drink, he invented Coca Cola.

Today in History: Sony

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 7, 2018 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 7) in 1946 Sony was founded as Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering. The company would go on to carve out important global roles in music, television, movies, and video games.


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