What Happened Today in History . . .

For September 30th:

489 The Ostrogoths under king Theoderic the Great defeat the forces of Odoacer for the second time at Verona (Northern Italy).

737 Turgesh drive back an Umayyad invasion of Khuttal, follow them south of the Oxus and capture their baggage train.

1399 Henry IV is proclaimed King of England.

1541 Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto and his forces enter Tula territory in present-day western Arkansas, encountering fierce resistance.

1744 France and Spain defeat the Kingdom of Sardinia at the Battle of Madonna dell’Olmo.

1791 The first performance of The Magic Flute, the last opera by Mozart to make its debut, took place at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna, Austria.

1791 The National Constituent Assembly in Paris is dissolved; Parisians hail Maximilien Robespierre and Jérôme Pétion as “incorruptible patriots”.

1813 Battle of Bárbula: Simón Bolívar defeats Santiago Bobadilla.

1860 Britain’s first tram service begins in Birkenhead, Merseyside.

1882 Thomas Edison’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant (later known as Appleton Edison Light Company) begins operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin, United States.

1888 Jack the Ripper kills his third and fourth victims, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes.

1895 Madagascar becomes a French protectorate.

1903 The new Gresham’s School is officially opened by Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood.

1906 The Royal Galician Academy, Galician language’s biggest linguistic authority, starts working in Havana.

1907 McKinley National Memorial, the final resting place of assassinated U.S. President William McKinley and his family, is dedicated in Canton, Ohio.

1927 Babe Ruth becomes the first baseball player to hit 60 home runs in a season.

1931 Start of “Die Voortrekkers” youth movement for Afrikaners in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

1935 The Hoover Dam, astride the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada, is dedicated.

1938 At 2:00 am, Britain, France, Germany and Italy sign the Munich Agreement, allowing Germany to occupy the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

1938 The League of Nations unanimously outlaws “intentional bombings of civilian populations”.

1939 General Władysław Sikorski becomes commander-in-chief of the Polish Government in exile.

1939 NBC broadcasts the first televised American football game between the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets and the Fordham Rams. Fordham won the game 34-7.

1941 World War II: Holocaust in Kiev, Ukraine: German Einsatzgruppe C complete Babi Yar massacre.

1945 The Bourne End rail crash, in Hertfordshire, England, kills 43

1947 Pakistan and Yemen join the United Nations.

1947 The World Series, featuring the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, is televised for the first time.

1949 The Berlin Airlift ends.

1954 The U.S. Navy submarine USS Nautilus is commissioned as the world’s first nuclear reactor powered vessel.

1955 Film star James Dean dies in a road accident aged 24.

1962 Mexican-American labor leader César Chávez founds the National Farm Workers Association, which later becomes United Farm Workers.

1962 James Meredith enters the University of Mississippi, defying segregation.

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What Happened Today September 26th!

46 BC Julius Caesar dedicates a temple to his mythical ancestor Venus Genetrix in accordance with a vow he made at the battle of Pharsalus.

715 Ragenfrid defeats Theudoald at the Battle of Compiègne.

1087 William II is crowned King of England, and reigns until 1100.

1212 Golden Bull of Sicily is issued to confirm the hereditary royal title in Bohemia for the Přemyslid dynasty.

1345 Frisians defeat Holland in the Battle of Warns.

1371 Serbian–Turkish wars: The forces of the Ottoman sultan Murad I’s lieutenant Lala Şahin Pasha and the Serbian army under the command of Vukašin Mrnjavčević and Jovan Uglješa clash at the Battle of Maritsa.

1493 Pope Alexander VI issues the papal bull Dudum siquidem to the Catholic Monarchs, extending the grant of new lands he made them in Inter caetera

1580 Sir Francis Drake finishes his circumnavigation of the Earth.

1687 The Parthenon in Athens is partially destroyed by an explosion caused by the bombing from Venetian forces led by Morosini who are besieging the Ottoman Turks stationed in Athens.

1687 The city council of Amsterdam votes to support William of Orange’s invasion of England, which became the Glorious Revolution.

1777  British troops occupy Philadelphia.

1786 Protestors shut down the court in Springfield, Massachusetts in a military standoff that begins Shays’ Rebellion.

1789 Thomas Jefferson is appointed the first United States Secretary of State, John Jay is appointed the first Chief Justice of the United States, Samuel Osgood is appointed the first United States Postmaster General, and Edmund Randolph is appointed the first United States Attorney General.

1792 Marc-David Lasource begins accusing Maximilien Robespierre of wanting a dictatorship for France.

1810 A new Act of Succession is adopted by the Riksdag of the Estates and Jean Baptiste Bernadotte becomes heir to the Swedish throne.

1872 The first Shriners Temple (called Mecca) is established in New York City.

1907 New Zealand and Newfoundland each become dominions within the British Empire.
1908 the Norwegian football club SK Brann was founded.

1910 Indian journalist Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai is arrested after publishing criticism of the government of Travancore and exiled.

1914 The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is established by the Federal Trade Commission Act.
1917 The Battle of Polygon Wood begins.

1918  The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the bloodiest single battle in American history, begins.

1923 Gustav Stresemann resumes the Weimar Republic’s payment of reparations.

1933 As gangster Machine Gun Kelly surrenders to the FBI, he shouts out, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!”, which becomes a nickname for FBI agents.

1933 Ten convicts escape from the Indiana State Prison with guns smuggled into the prison by bank robber John Dillinger

1934 Steamship RMS Queen Mary is launched.

1942 August Frank, a higher official of the SS concentration camp administration department, issues a memorandum containing a great deal of operational detail in how Jews should be “evacuated”.

1944 Operation Market Garden fails.

1944  On the central front of the Gothic Line Brazilian troops control the Serchio valley region after ten days of fighting.

1950 United Nations troops recapture Seoul from North Korean forces.
1950 Indonesia is admitted to the United Nations.

1954 Japanese rail ferry Tōya Maru sinks during a typhoon in the Tsugaru Strait, Japan killing 1,172.

1959 Typhoon Vera, the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in recorded history, makes landfall, killing 4,580 people and leaving nearly 1.6 million others homeless.

1960 In Chicago, the first televised debate takes place between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

1960 Fidel Castro announces Cuba’s support for the U.S.S.R.

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Teaspoon of History: September 25th

275 In Rome, the Senate proclaims Marcus Claudius Tacitus Emperor.

1066 The Battle of Stamford Bridge marks the end of the Viking invasions of England.

1237 England and Scotland sign the Treaty of York, establishing the location of their common border.

1396 Ottoman Emperor Bayezid I defeats a Christian army at the Battle of Nicopolis.

1513 Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa reaches what would become known as the Pacific Ocean.

1555 The Peace of Augsburg is signed in Augsburg by Charles V and the princes of the Schmalkaldic League.

1690 Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first newspaper to appear in the Americas, is published for the first and only time.

1775 Ethan Allen surrenders to British forces after attempting to capture Montreal during the Battle of Longue-Pointe. Benedict Arnold and his expeditionary company set off from Fort Western, bound for Quebec City.

1789 The United States Congress passes twelve amendments to the United States Constitution: the Congressional Apportionment Amendment (which was never ratified), the Congressional Compensation Amendment, and the ten that are known as the Bill of Rights.

1790 Peking opera is born when the Four Great Anhui Troupes introduce Anhui opera to Beijing in honor of the Qianlong Emperor’s eightieth birthday.

1804 The Teton Sioux demand one of the boats from the Lewis and Clark Expedition as a toll for allowing the expedition to move further upriver.

1846 U.S. forces led by Zachary Taylor capture the Mexican city of Monterrey.

1868 The Imperial Russian steam frigate Alexander Nevsky is shipwrecked off Jutland while carrying Grand Duke Alexei of Russia.

1890 The United States Congress establishes Sequoia National Park.

1906 In the presence of the king and before a great crowd, Leonardo Torres Quevedo successfully demonstrates the invention of the Telekino in the port of Bilbao, guiding a boat from the shore, in what is considered the birth of the remote control.

1911 Ground is broken for Fenway Park in Boston

1911 An explosion of badly degraded propellant charges on board the French battleship Liberté detonates the forward ammunition magazines and destroys the ship.

1912 Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism is founded in New York City.

1915 World War I: The Second Battle of Champagne begins.

1926 The international Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery is first signed.

1929 Jimmy Doolittle performs the first blind flight from Mitchel Field proving that full instrument flying from take off to landing is possible.

1937 The Chinese Eighth Route Army gains a minor, but morale-boosting victory in the Battle of Pingxingguan.

1942  Swiss Police Instruction of September 25, 1942 this instruction denied entry into Switzerland to Jewish refugees.

1944 Surviving elements of the British 1st Airborne Division withdraw from Arnhem in the Netherlands, thus ending the Battle of Arnhem and Operation Market Garden.

1955 The Royal Jordanian Air Force is founded.

1956 TAT-1, the first submarine transatlantic telephone cable system, is inaugurated.

1957 Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, is integrated by the use of United States Army troops.

1959 Solomon Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is mortally wounded by a Buddhist monk, Talduwe Somarama, and dies the next day.

1962 The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria is formally proclaimed. Ferhat Abbas is elected President of the provisional government.

1962 The North Yemen Civil War begins when Abdullah as-Sallal dethrones the newly crowned Imam al-Badr and declares Yemen a republic under his presidency.

1963 Lord Denning releases the UK government’s official report on the Profumo Affair.

1964 The Mozambican War of Independence against Portugal begins.

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What interests you in history?

I am curious as to what others find fascinating in history?  Perhaps the first question I need to ask is what do you consider to be history?

For me anything before my birth is considered history.  So, for me, anything prior to 1964 is history.  Anything after that date is current.  Although many could argue the second after any event could be described as history, I think time is needed to reflect on an event, anniversary, or reaction for it to be history.  The here and now simple does not give you enough insight into what something means in history without time to organize, codify, and rationalize the event.

For myself, I find ancient history the most fascinating.  I classify ancient history as anything prior to the Colombian Exchange, or simple 1490.  Before that before the world existed in halves, at least, perhaps even more so.  Large segments of the world was isolated and existed in itself in their own universe.  After 1490 I believe the world shrinks at an alarming rate, with each year figuratively making the world smaller and smaller.

I like Roman as well as Mesoamerican history.  I like European and Oriental medieval history equally well.  I find so much fun in trying to think how all of these tribes, city-states, kingdoms, and nations existed and their contribution to world history.

One thing we often forget about is that people from all ages are essentially the same.  They have the same dreams, aspirations, ideas, and motivations no matter if they are living in 2014 or 1814 or even 1014.  The world was not black and white back then, but just as colorful and alive as everything around us today.

With that being said, I query you into naming three 100 year spans that you find fascinating — or even a period of time or nation of people that you tend to always migrate to in a bookstore or museum.

For me?  Early Rome circa 100 BC;  Mesoamerica prior to the Colombian Exchange circa 300 BC; and English history around the time of King Henry VIII around 1500.

please write me at:  teaspoonofhistory @ gmail.com (remove the space of course)

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What happened today: September 12th!?!

490 BC Battle of Marathon: The conventionally accepted date for the Battle of Marathon. The Athenians and their Plataean allies, defeat the first Persian invasion force of Greece.

372 Sixteen Kingdoms: Jin Xiaowudi, age 10, succeeds his father Jin Jianwendi as Emperor of the Eastern Jin dynasty.

1185 Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos brutally put to death in Constantinople.

1213 Albigensian Crusade: Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, defeats Peter II of Aragon at the Battle of Muret.

1229 The Aragonese army under the command of James I of Aragon disembarks at Santa Ponça, Majorca, with the purpose of conquering the island.

1309 The First Siege of Gibraltar takes place in the context of the Spanish Reconquista pitting the forces of the Kingdom of Castile against the Emirate of Granada resulting in a Castilian victory.

1609 Henry Hudson begins his exploration of the Hudson River while aboard the Halve Maen.

1683 Austro-Ottoman War: Battle of Vienna several European armies join forces to defeat the Ottoman Empire.

1814 Battle of North Point: an American detachment halts the British land advance to Baltimore in the War of 1812.

1846 Elizabeth Barrett elopes with Robert Browning.

1847 Mexican–American War: the Battle of Chapultepec begins.

1848 Switzerland becomes a Federal state.

1857 The SS Central America sinks about 160 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, drowning a total of 426 passengers and crew, including Captain William Lewis Herndon. The ship was carrying 13–15 tons of gold from the California Gold Rush.

1885 Arbroath 36–0 Bon Accord, a world record scoreline in professional Association football.

1890 Salisbury, Rhodesia, is founded.

1897 Tirah Campaign: Battle of Saragarhi.

1906 The Newport Transporter Bridge is opened in Newport, South Wales by Viscount Tredegar.

1910 Premiere performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in Munich (with a chorus of 852 singers and an orchestra of 171 players. Mahler’s rehearsal assistant conductor was Bruno Walter)

1919 Adolf Hitler joins the German Workers’ Party (later the Nazi Party).

1930 In cricket Wilfred Rhodes ends his 1110-game first-class career by taking 5 for 95 for H.D.G. Leveson Gower’s XI against the Australians.

1933 Leó Szilárd, waiting for a red light on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury, conceives the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.

1938 Adolf Hitler demands autonomy and self-determination for the Germans of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

1940 Cave paintings are discovered in Lascaux, France.

1940 An explosion at the Hercules Powder Company plant in Kenvil, New Jersey kills 51 people and injures over 200.

1942  RMS Laconia, carrying civilians, Allied soldiers and Italian POWs is torpedoed off the coast of West Africa and sinks with a heavy loss of life.

1942 First day of the Battle of Edson’s Ridge during the Guadalcanal Campaign. U.S. Marines protecting Henderson Field on Guadalcanal are attacked by Imperial Japanese Army forces.

1943 Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy, is rescued from house arrest on the Gran Sasso in Abruzzi, by German commando forces led by Otto Skorzeny.

1944  The liberation of Serbia from Nazi Germany continues. Bajina Bašta in western Serbia is among those liberated cities. Near Trier, American troops enter Germany for the first time.

1948 Invasion of the State of Hyderabad by the Indian Army on the day after the Pakistani leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s death.

1952 Strange occurrences, including a monster sighting, take place in Flatwoods, West Virginia.

1953 U.S. Senator and future President John Fitzgerald Kennedy marries Jacqueline Lee Bouvier at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island.
1958 Jack Kilby demonstrates the first integrated circuit.

1959 Premiere of Bonanza, the first regularly scheduled TV program presented in color.

1959 The Soviet Union launches a large rocket, Lunik II, at the moon.

1961 The African and Malagasy Union is founded.

1964 Canyonlands National Park is designated as a National Park.

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Check out the above tab, Today In History  . . .

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Cahokia, Lost in History

The Cahokia Mounds are one of the greatest mysteries of the North American continent, unfortunately the civilization is often forgotten about.  Many school children know of the grand Mesoamerican cultures of the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas, but rarely know anything about the civilization that reigned in the middle of the United States known as the Mound Builders. The height of this enigmatic lost culture was Cahokia, which built large tumulus of earthen pyramids in the Mississippi valley in what is now southern Illinois.    

During the 18th and 19th centuries, European settlers found the unique looking mounds of earth yet contributed them to ancient European migrations such as Atlantis or the Lost Tribes of Israel, disenfranchising the construction to Indians.  It was the perception of the day that it was simply impossible for “savage” Indians to have constructed what must have been massive earthen construction.  Early settlers plowed many of the smaller mounds into the earth, turning ancient sacred lands into farm fields.

With recent archaeological exploration, Cahokia is emerging from the mists of the past and the fog of imaginative cultures (i.e. Atlantis). With the help of a new generation of historians and archaeologists, such as Professor Monty Dobson and Professor Timothy Pauketat, Cahokia is finally getting the proper respect that it deserves as one of the key civilizations of America.  Professor Dobson is in the process of making a television documentary called “Cahokia: Native American City of Mystery” that will detail and discuss the culture and the new findings of recent archaeological exploration. A preview of the documentary can be found at:


Cahokia was known for monumental earthen architecture with flat-topped temple mounds and enormous communal architecture.  The civilization also had a complex hierarchical society that had advanced astronomical and mathematical skills, which is evident with the construction of a wooden “Stonehenge” for astronomical viewing and agricultural calibration. The large circle of timbers stood thirty feet high and had a circumference of four hundred feet.  The timber for this monument was salvaged from homes and was built over and over again at least four times.

 Cahokia also had an extensive trading network with complex relationship with other Indian tribes stretching to the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic seaboard, and far west into the Rocky Mountains. They traded a large list of commodities, but it is apparent that seashells were highly prized. Among other imported goods were arrowheads, stylized axe heads, and knives.

Recent archaeological evidence suggests that the culture also exhibited the practice of human sacrifice, but it is still unclear if it was religious, secular, or redemptive. It appears that the sacrifices coincided with large festivals held in the communal areas of the city. “The Cahokians seem to have been building a new kind of esprit de corps, a new sense of community – a community that, in its mix of festive gatherings and human sacrifice, in a way, linked the church and state.  Possibly Cahokians accommodated the bizarre mortuary spectacles and tolerated the excesses of their leaders in part because of social and economic rewards that might have accompanied the great festivals.”

Cahokia existed in the Late Woodland period, approximately between 300 CE and 900 CE and had completely disappeared by 1200 CE, more than 300 years before any European even set foot in the New World.   “Cahokia, more than any of its contemporary ‘Mississippian’ neighbors, was a vortex of native social, political, economic and religious activity.  For a time it was the preeminent cultural center in the Mississippian valley.” Cahokia, at its height, had a population of more than twenty thousand inhabitants, larger than any city in all of North America and rivaled early Mayan cities of Calakmul or Chichen Itza. “The Cahokia Group, the most important manifestation of the culture it represents, is a northernmost thrust of the great Lower Mississippi area, excluding the Aztalan ruin in Wisconsin.”

Based on the archaeological findings and geological data from the area, we can conclude that the environment and weather of this epoch was comfortable and life for the population was ostensibly easy.  “Nearly every fall hunters were able to stalk and bring as many deer as they needed to feed a village population of over a hundred for months to come.” The soil was both rich and easy to till, producing bountiful crops with minimal labor. The floodplains are ideal for this balance, except for the occasional floods that would occur along tributaries and the Mississippi. Corn and other crops grew in abundance, and often more than a single crop could be harvested in a year.   Though the people had no fired clay pottery for cooking and agriculture was in its infancy, some archaeologists believe the very richness in the ecosystem may have made it unnecessary to develop more advanced technologies.

The construction of the earthen pyramids were more than simply piling heaps of soil and forming a large tumulus.  “While it is clear that there were massive clay cores to the first pyramids of Cahokia’s central precinct, it is equally obvious that there was a highly ritualized construction cycle materialized around alternating light and dark “blankets” of mantles of soil to the mounds.” The pyramids of earth were both temples but also sites of veneration for elites and royalty buried within.  “The invention of tradition at Cahokia is no more evident than in the unprecedented construction of the pyramids and the Grand Plaza of the central precinct, perhaps an import from Toltec or other Coles Creek places to the south.”

It was in the breath of those 600 years that the civilization grew to engulf more than three square miles along the great river.  It was within this kingdom that more than 100 earthen mounds were built, with the greatest of these structures measuring larger in physical dimensions than the Giza pyramids of Egypt.  At the height of the Cahokia civilization, the city-state had a population of more than twenty-thousand inhabitants which was greater than the medieval cities of London or Paris.

            Unlike the massive stone structure of Egypt, the indigenous tribes of the Cahokia region used very little stone.  “In the sense of actual building, only incipient forms of stone construction are found in the mound area. No examples of actual dressing of stone or lying up of masonry walls, as practiced by the Pueblo peoples, are known in the mound area.” What Cahokia lacked in masonry, they made up for in sheer mass of baskets of transported soil.  As well as moving millions of baskets of earth to form the flat-topped earth mounds, the civilization also used timber from the local area to construct massive palisades and buildings. “At that time and over the next century, the Stirling phase residents of Cahokia and East St. Louis built a series of elite-sized pole and thatched domiciles and non-domestic buildings, some surrounded by compound walls or located near huge marker posts.”

            Where did the people of Cahokia come from and how did such a great civilization rise from the wilderness of the Southern United States?  This was the basic argument of 18th and 19th century Academics, who considered Indians to be a rather recent addition to the continent. Indigenous people have lived in the Americas for at least twelve thousand years and a recent archaeological discovery in Texas suggests that early cultures have been in America much longer.  There is new evidence that Indians have been living as far south as modern day Texas thousands of years earlier.  “Thousands of artifacts dating to between 13,200 and 15,500 years ago were uncovered by researchers led by Michael R Waters of Texas A&M University.”

            The most current theory of the origins of Indians considers that tribes of protolithic hunters driven by food and new lands stepped across the frozen peninsula of the Bearing straights and into North America approximately twelve to thirteen thousand years ago. Over the course of another four to eight thousand years, Indians fanned out across North America settling in numerous locations. In the Eastern United States a set of people collectively called the Hopewell, settled along the Mississippi and Ohio Valley forming a cultural identity that represents an advance in complexity, and it significantly influenced almost all the peoples of the eastern United States. The Hopewell culture also built huge earthen hills, of which the largest was over one hundred and fifteen feet tall (in comparison the Tempo Mayor, one of the main temples in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan stood slightly taller than ninety feet).

            It was the Hopewell’s that created the innumerable structures such as the snakelike shapes that measured almost one thousand three hundred feet in length, twenty-three feet wide, and over five feet tall. It was the extension of this large geographical people that forged and formed the civilization of Cahokia.

            Where did the Cahokia culture go? It was during the late 1200s that the population began to decline, some evidence suggest that the depletion of timber and soil condition resulted in the gradual decline of the city.  Some evidence suggests that war was the cause of the culture’s decline. In any event, Cahokia was deserted hundreds of years before any European explorer even ventured into the Americas.  The few tribes that did live in the area after the decline of Cahokia had no true relationship with the ancient civilization and considered the hills nothing more than freaks of nature.  In the late 1400’s as Christopher Columbus landed in San Salvador, the Oneota culture of Indians had established small villages in the area – living in simple wigwams. It was even after the Oneota people lived with the area that the Illiniwek confederacy moved into the countryside taking up residence on the Monks Mound and other large unnatural earthen hills.  It was the Illiniwek people that gave the name “Cahokia” to the forgotten people of the area. It is rather strange to consider that many of the great civilizations of the past had names other than the ones we relate to them, but as in Cahokia no recognizable written language is present nor is there any speakers of the culture still around. It probably will never be known what the people of the flat-topped soil pyramids called themselves. 

            As it was said, earlier, Europeans venturing into the Mississippi valley had little idea that the huge mounds of earth was the remnants of an ancient grand civilization. For many, the idea that Indians could build such massive structures was beyond their feeble imaginations.  Early French explorers had no idea that many of the rises and low rising hills they discovered along the tributaries of southern Illinois were anything but natural formations.  It would not be for centuries until white settlers in the area would discover that the formations were more than that.  At first though, the exploration of the area by French explorers and traders occurred around 1672 when Louis Joliet was sent to “discover the south sea” and to explore “the great Mississippi, which is believed to empty in the California Sea”.  Joilet, Jesuit-educated, took along Jacque Marquette, and the pair with numerous others set out from Mackinac Island on May 17th, 1673, to journey along the tributaries that led into the great Mississippi river. Their exploits were recorded and they encountered few if any Indian tribes.  When they did, they met with small tribes that Marquette could understand (Jacque Marquette was gifted with the ability to speak languages and had learned at least 6 tongues of indigenous peoples).  This was most likely the first time that the Cahokia mounds were observed by Europeans which all along the river lay the mounds of the past, but they saw none of them.  From the river, mounds and embankments would seem mere natural formations and they would have no reason to examine them more closely unless they had seen Indian settlements.

            It would be more than a hundred years later before any further exploration would result in the chance discovery of the mounds.   The attitudes in the 19th century was more of obtuse confusion than anything else, because most white settlers and the intelligentsia of the day could not truly comprehend a civilization of the Americas, most aptly applying to the present day indigenous peoples, as having the capacity to build such large earthworks.

            In 1788, Manasseh Cutler arrived on one of the mound sites in the Ohio Valley and discovered settlers were felling huge trees on top of the earthen hills.  He logically deduced that if he counted the rings of the oldest of trees, he could guess the age of when the mounds were constructed. Although he erred on the exact epoch, he at least determined that the site was extremely old, ranging from four hundred to more than a thousand years old.

            In 1836, Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of Treasury for the Thomas Jefferson’s administration, concluded, “How shall we account for those ancient tumuli, fortifications, and the remnants, both east and west of the Mississippi, the origin of which is entirely unknown to the Indians, who in the seventeenth century were the sole inhabitants, and still continue to occupy a part of that country?”  Gallatin could not fathom how such huge earthen works could have been constructed and it was beyond his reasoning to think that indigenous people could be held responsible for the construction.  It was of Gallatin’s opinion that the mounds were perhaps a pre-cursor civilization to that of the Mexican and Central American highlands of the Aztec and Mayans, which according to the theorists of the time had “similar looking buildings”.

            It would only follow, and of course be supported by modern archaeology of the time, that peoples of the north would gradually migrate to the south, bringing with them agricultural and architectural technology. 

            By other accounts, however, most notably those in Europe that mythical significance was being attached to the Cahokia mounds.  In 1795 Jacob Bailey wrote stories of a great ancient empire being brought down by savages.  “Bailey described the gory struggle between the Mound Builders and the fierce savages, driven on by famine, who burst like an impetuous torrent upon their polished more effeminate neighbors, involving in destruction all the monuments of industry, art, and refinement.”  throughout the discourse never were Indians suggested as being the more advanced civilization, often suggesting fanciful concepts of ancient Viking or lost European colonies.  Other stories circulating around Europe about the mounds draw conclusions to a party of Israelites being drawn to ships by the hand of God and then finding a new civilization in America. And if it could not get any worse, Major Powell, a U.S. soldier, geologist, and explorer of the American West, proclaimed that the mounds of Cahokia, and elsewhere in the Mississippi and Ohio valley, were that of the lost continent of Atlantis.

            Every day reveals a new page in the history of the forgotten people and culture along the Mississippian valley.  It is such a tragic shame that for the last three hundred years Americans have ignored and incorrectly attributed the hills, mounds, and tumulus as anything but natural formations, or even worse to the wanderings of mythical people such as the Lost Tribes of Israel or the fanciful mental creations of the Atlanteans. It was the pure racial intolerance of the 18th and 19th centuries to exclude Indians as the rightful heir to the lost civilization. It is only now within the last forty years we are finally rediscovering the epic civilization that existed along the Mississippi; learning their culture, religion, and how they constructed the great mounds known as Cahokia and finally giving credit to the American Indian as the children of this most prestigious and grand civilization. The Cahokia Mounds are one of the greatest mysteries of the North American continent, but in perhaps future generation of American school children the name Cahokia will reign up with the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans and be recognized as a major culture that existed in America six hundred years before European explorers and settlers even stepped on to the North American continent. 


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August 26th; Today in History

Today on August 26th this is all that happened (and then some)


1071 Battle of Manzikert: The Seljuk Turks defeat the Byzantine Army at Manzikert.

1278 Ladislaus IV of Hungary and Rudolph I of Germany defeat Premysl Ottokar II of Bohemia in the Battle of Marchfield near Dürnkrut in (then) Moravia.

1303 Ala ud din Khilji captures Chittorgarh.

1346 Hundred Years’ War: the military supremacy of the English longbow over the French combination of crossbow and armoured knights is established at the Battle of Crécy.

1444 Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs: A vastly outnumbered force of Swiss Confederates is defeated by the Dauphin Louis (future Louis XI of France) and his army of ‘Armagnacs’ near Basel.

1466 A conspiracy against Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici in Florence, led by Luca Pitti, is discovered.

1498 Michelangelo is commissioned to carve the Pietà.

1748 The first Lutheran denomination in North America, the Pennsylvania Ministerium, is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1768 Captain James Cook sets sail from England on board HMS Endeavour.

1778 The first recorded ascent of Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia.

1789 The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is approved by the National Constituent Assembly of France.

1791 John Fitch is granted a United States patent for the steamboat.
1810 The former viceroy Santiago de Liniers of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata is executed after the defeat of his counter-revolution.

1813 War of the Sixth Coalition: An impromptu battle takes place when French and Prussian-Russian forces accidentally run into each other near Liegnitz, Prussia (now Legnica, Poland).

1814 Chilean War of Independence: Infighting between the rebel forces of José Miguel Carrera and Bernardo O’Higgins erupts in the Battle of Las Tres Acequias.

1821 The University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is officially opened.

1883 The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa begins its final, paroxysmal, stage.

1914 In Brazil, Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras is founded.

1914 World War I: the German colony of Togoland is invaded by French and British forces, who take it after 5 days.

1920 The 19th amendment to United States Constitution takes effect, giving women the right to vote.

1940 Chad becomes the first French colony to join the Allies under the administration of Félix Éboué, France’s first black colonial governor.

1942 Holocaust in Chortkiav, western Ukraine: At 2.30 am the German Schutzpolizei starts driving Jews out of their houses, divides them into groups of 120, packs them in freight cars and deports 2000 to Belzec death camp. 500 of the sick and children are murdered on the spot.

1944 World War II: Charles de Gaulle enters Paris.

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Today in History

Check out the tabs along the top of the page, specifically Today in History to learn what momentous events and anniversaries are being celebrated or recognized on this day in history.

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History 1964 Part II

My follow up to the events and historical tidbits of 1964.  Certainly more of talking points, as the animation does not allow a finer discussion on the actual events. 


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