This Day in History, March 19: René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, Murdered by His Own Men (1687)

René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, Murdered by His Own Men (1687)

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (November 22, 1643 – March 19, 1687) was a 17th century French explorer and fur trader in North America. He explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico. He is best known for an early 1682 expedition in which he canoed the lower Mississippi River from the mouth of the Illinois River to the Gulf of Mexico and claimed the entire Mississippi River basin for France.

La Salle is often credited with being the first European to traverse the Ohio River, and sometimes the Mississippi as well. It has now been established that Joliet and Marquette preceded him on the Mississippi in their journey of 1673-74, and the existing historical evidence does not indicate that La Salle ever reached the Ohio/Allegheny Valley.

Sieur de La Salle

Sieur de La Salle is a French title roughly translating to “Lord of the manor”, from the old French sal(e) (modern salle), “hall”, a manor house. Sieur is a French title of nobility, similar to the English “Sir”, but under the French Signeurial system, the title is purchased rather than earned, and does not imply military duty. It refers to Robert Cavelier’s Signeurial purchase of Lachine from the Sulpician order at Ville Marie around 1667. The phrase La Salle has become iconic, and associated with the person as if it were his name, in expressions such as Robert La Salle, or simply “La Salle”.

Early life

Robert Cavelier was born on November 22, 1643, into a comfortably well-off family in Rouen, France, in the parish Saint-Herbland.[1] When he was younger, he enjoyed science and nature. As a man, he studied with the Jesuit religious order and became a member after taking initial vows in 1660.[a] At his request on March 27, 1667, after he was in Canada, he was released from the Society of Jesus after citing “moral weaknesses.”[3] Although he left the order, never took final vows in it, and later became hostile to it, historians sometimes described him incorrectly as a priest or a leader.[citation needed]

Family

La Salle never married,[4] but has been linked to Madeleine de Roybon d’Allonne, an early settler of New France.[5] His older brother, Jean Cavelier, was a Sulpician priest. His parents were Jean Cavelier and Catherine Geest.[3]

Lachine

Required to reject his father’s legacy when he joined the Jesuits, La Salle was nearly destitute when he traveled as a prospective colonist to North America. He sailed for New France in the spring of 1666.[6] His brother Jean, a Sulpician priest, had moved there the year before. He was granted a seigneurie on land at the western end of the Island of Montreal, which became known as Lachine.[7] [b] La Salle immediately began to issue land grants, set up a village and learn the languages of the native people, several tribes of Iroquois in this area.[8]

Expeditions

“Ohio” expedition

Preparation

The Seneca told him of a great river, called the Ohio, which flowed into the sea, the “Vermilion Sea”.[d]. He began to plan for expeditions to find a western passage to China. He sought and received permission from Governor Daniel Courcelle and Intendant Jean Talon to embark on the enterprise. He sold his interests in Lachine to finance the venture.[10]

Journey

La Salle left Lachine by the St. Lawrence on July 6, 1669 with a flotilla of nine canoes and 24 men, plus their Seneca Indian guides: himself and 14 hired men in 4 canoes, the two Sulpicians Dollier de Casson and Abbé René de Bréhan de Galinée with 7 new recruits in three canoes, and two canoes of Indians. There they went up the St. Lawrence and across Lake Ontario. After 35 days, they arrived at what we call today, Irondequoit Bay on the southern shore of Lake Ontario at the mouth of Irondequoit Creek, a place now commemorated as “La Salle’s Landing”.

Indian villages

There they were greeted by a party of Indians, who escorted them starting the next day to a village some leagues distant, a journey of a few days. At the village, the Seneca vehemently attempted to dissuade the party from proceeding into the lands of their enemies, the Algonquins, telling of the dire fate awaiting them. The necessity of securing guides for the further part of the journey, and the obstinacy of the Seneca to provide them, delayed the expedition a month. A fortuitous capture by the Indians in the lands to the south of a Dutchman who spoke Iroquois well but French ill, and was to be burned at the stake for transgressions unknown, provided an opportunity to obtain a guide. The Dutchman’s freedom was purchased by the party in exchange for wampum.

While at the Indian village in Sept. 1669, La Salle was seized with a violent fever[e] and expressed the intention of returning to Ville Marie.

Niagara and Lake Erie

At this juncture, he parted from his company and the narrative of the Jesuits, who continued on to upper Lake Erie.The missionaries continued on to the upper lakes, to the land of the Potawatomies. Other accounts have it that some of La Salle’s men soon returned to New Holland or Ville Marie.

Further evidence

Beyond that, the factual record of La Salle’s first expedition ends, and what prevails is obscurity and fabrication. It is likely that he spent the winter in Ville Marie.[12] The next confirmed sighting of La Salle was by Nicolas Perrot on the Ottawa River near the Rapide des chats in early summer, 1670, hunting with a party of Iroquois. That would be 700 miles as the crow flies from the Falls of the Ohio, the point supposed by some that he reached on the Ohio River.[13]

La Salle’s own journal of the expedition was lost in 1756.[14] Two indirect historical accounts exist. The one, Récit d’un ami de l’abbé de Galliné, purported to be a recitation by La Salle himself to an unknown writer during his visit to Paris in 1678[15], and the other Mémoire sur le projet du sieur de la Salle pour la descouverte de la partie occidentale de l’Amérique septentrionale entre la Nouvelle-France, la Floride et le Mexique. A letter from Madeleine Cavelier, his now elderly niece, written in 1746, commenting on the journal of La Salle in her possession may also shed some light on the issue.

La Salle himself never claimed to have discovered the Ohio River.[16] In a letter to the intendent Talon in 1677, he claimed discovery of a river, the Baudrane, flowing southwesterly with its mouth on Lake Erie and emptying into the Saint Louis (i.e. the Mississippi), a hydrography which was non-existent. In those days, maps as well as descriptions were based part on observation and part on hearsay, of necessity. This confounded courses, mouths and confluences among the rivers. At various times, La Salle invented such rivers as the Chucagoa, Baudrane, Louisiane (Anglicized “Saint Louis”), and Ouabanchi-Aramoni. These included segments of those he’d actually traversed, which were earlier the Illinois and Kankakee, St. Joseph’s of Lake Michigan, probably the Ouabache (Wabash) and possibly the upper Allegheny and later, the Chicago and lower Mississippi. He also correctly described the Missouri, though it was hearsay – he’d never been on it.

Confounding fact with fiction started with publication in 1876 of Margry’s Découvertes et Etablissements des Français. Margry was a French archivist and partisan who had private access to the French archives. He came to be the agent of the American historian Francis Parkman. Margry’s work, a massive 9 volumes, encompassed an assemblage of documents some previously published, but many not. In it, he sometimes published a reproduction of the whole document, and sometimes only an extract, or summary, not distinguishing the one from the other. He also used in some cases one or another copies of original documents previously edited, extracted or altered by others, without specifying which transcriptions were original, and which were copies, or whether the copy was dated earlier or later. Reproductions were scattered in fragments across chapters, so that it was impossible to ascertain the integrity of the document from its fragments. Chapter headings were oblique and sensational, so as to obfuscate the content therein. English and American scholars were immediately skeptical of the work, since full and faithful publication of some of the original documents had previously existed. The situation was so fraught with doubt, that the United States Congress appropriated $10,000 in 1873, which Margry wanted as an advance, to have the original documents photostated, witnessed by uninvolved parties as to veracity.

Discovery of the Ohio and Mississippi

If La Salle is excused from discovering the two great rivers of the midwest, history does not leave a void. On May 8, 1541, south of present-day Memphis, Tennessee, Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River, which the Spanish called the Rio Grande for its immense size.[17] He was the first European to document and cross the river, though not traverse it.[citation needed] It is uncontested that Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette were the first Europeans to traverse the upper Mississippi in 1673,[18] and that Father Louis Hennepin and Antonine Augalle visited the Falls of St. Anthony on the upper Mississippi in spring, 1680,[19] in advance of La Salle’s own excursion in early 1682.

Credit for discovery of the Ohio River is provisionally given to two obscure early English explorers, Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam from Virginia who visited Wood’s River (today called the New River), a tributary of the Ohio via the Kanawha, in what is today West Virginia in Sept. 1671.[20] Other scholars declaim that this short (one month) expedition did not penetrate to the Ohio to the west, but elect instead Virginia Englishmen James Needham and Gabriel Arthur who in 1673-74 circumnavigated the southeast finally traversing Shawnee villages along the Ohio.[21] The lower Ohio River first began appearing on French maps about 1674[22] in approximately its correct hydrography, and in its relation to the Mississippi, though diagrammed more northerly, approaching Lake Erie from the west and may have been confounded with the Maumee portage route.[23]A memoir by M. de Denonville in 1688, recites that the lower Ohio, at least from its confluence with the Wabash to the Mississippi, was a familiar trade route.[24] In 1692, Arnout Viele, a Dutchman from New York, traversed the length of the Ohio from the headwaters of the Allegheny in Pennsylvania to it’s mouth on the Mississippi, though the hydrography of the Allegheny remained opaque for at least several decades thereafter.[25]  Read More…

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This Day in History, March 18th: UK Recognizes British Sign Language as Official Language (2003)

UK Recognizes British Sign Language as Official Language (2003)

British Sign Language (BSL) is a sign language used in the United Kingdom (UK), and is the first or preferred language of some deaf people in the UK. There are 125,000[5] deaf adults in the UK who use BSL, plus an estimated 20,000 children. In 2011, 15,000 people living in England and Wales reported themselves using BSL as their main language. The language makes use of space and involves movement of the hands, body, face, and head. Many thousands of people who are not deaf also use BSL, as hearing relatives of deaf people, sign language interpreters or as a result of other contact with the British deaf community.

History

History records the existence of a sign language within deaf communities in England as far back as 1570. British Sign Language has evolved, as all languages do, from these origins by modification, invention and importation.[7][8] Thomas Braidwood, an Edinburgh teacher, founded ‘Braidwood’s Academy for the Deaf and Dumb’ in 1760 which is recognised as the first school for the deaf in Britain. His pupils were the sons of the well-to-do. His early use of a form of sign language, the combined system, was the first codification of what was to become British Sign Language. Joseph Watson was trained as a teacher of the deaf under Thomas Braidwood and he eventually left in 1792 to become the headmaster of the first public school for the deaf in Britain, the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb in Bermondsey.

In 1815, an American Protestant minister, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, travelled to Europe to research teaching of the deaf. He was rebuffed by both the Braidwood schools who refused to teach him their methods. Gallaudet then travelled to Paris and learned the educational methods of the French Royal Institution for the Deaf, a combination of Old French Sign Language and the signs developed by Abbé de l’Épée. As a consequence American Sign Language today has a 60% similarity to modern French Sign Language and is almost unintelligible to users of British Sign Language.

Until the 1940s sign language skills were passed on unofficially between deaf people often living in residential institutions. Signing was actively discouraged in schools by punishment and the emphasis in education was on forcing deaf children to learn to lip readand finger spell. From the 1970s there has been an increasing tolerance and instruction in BSL in schools. The language continues to evolve as older signs such as alms and pawnbroker have fallen out of use and new signs such as internet and laserhave been coined. The evolution of the language and its changing level of acceptance means that older users tend to rely on finger spelling while younger ones make use of a wider range of signs.[9]

On 18 March 2003 the UK government formally recognised that BSL is a language in its own right.[10]

Linguistics

Linguistics are an integral component to any language because this allows for languages to be understood in a more efficient manner when taught[11]. In general, sign languages have their own ‘words’ (hand gestures) that could not be understood in other dialects[11]. How one language signs a certain number would be different than how another language signs it[11]. British Sign Language is described as a ‘spatial language’ as it “moves signs in space[11].”

Phonology

Like many other sign languages, BSL phonology is defined by elements such as handshape, orientation, location, movement, and non-manual features. There are phonological components to sign language that have no meaning alone but work together to create a meaning of a signed word: hand shape, movement, location, orientation and facial expression [12][11]. The meanings of words differ if one of these components is changed[12] [11]. Signs can be identical in certain components but different in others, giving each a different meaning[11]. Facial expression falls under the ‘non-manual features’ component of phonology[13]. These include “eyebrow height, eye gaze, mouthing, head movement, and torso rotation [13].”

Grammar

In common with other languages, whether spoken or signed, BSL has its own grammar which govern how phrases are signed. [11]. BSL has a particular syntax[11]. One important component of BSL is its use proforms[11]. A proform is “…any form that stands in the place of, or does the job of, some other form.[11]” Sentences are composed of two parts, in order: the subject and the predicate[11]. The subject is the topic of the sentence, while the predicate is the commentary about the subject[11].

BSL uses a topic–comment structure.[14] Topic-comment means that the topic of the signed conversation is first established, followed by an elaboration of the topic, being the ‘comment’ component[11]. The canonical word order outside of the topic–comment structure is object-subject-verb (OSV), and noun phrases are head-initial.[15]

Relationships with other sign languages

Although the United Kingdom and the United States share English as the predominant oral language, British Sign Language is quite distinct from American Sign Language(ASL) – having only 31% signs identical, or 44% cognate.[16] BSL is also distinct from Irish Sign Language (ISL) (ISG in the ISO system) which is more closely related to French Sign Language (LSF) and ASL.

It is also distinct from Signed English, a manually coded method expressed to represent the English language.

The sign languages used in Australia and New Zealand, Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language, respectively, evolved largely from 19th century BSL, and all retain the same manual alphabet and grammar and possess similar lexicons. These three languages may technically be considered dialects of a single language (BANZSL) due to their use of the same grammar and manual alphabet and the high degree of lexical sharing (overlap of signs). The term BANZSL was coined by Trevor Johnston[17] and Adam Schembri.

In Australia deaf schools were established by educated deaf people from London, Edinburgh and Dublin. This introduced the London and Edinburgh dialects of BSL to Melbourne and Sydney respectively and Irish Sign Language to Sydney in Roman Catholic schools for the deaf. The language contact post secondary education between Australian ISL users and ‘Australian BSL’ users accounts for some of the dialectal differences we see between modern BSL and Auslan. Tertiary education in the US for some deaf Australian adults also accounts for some ASL borrowings found in modern Auslan.

Auslan, BSL and NZSL have 82% of signs identical (using concepts from a Swadesh list). When considering similar or related signs as well as identical, they are 98% cognate. Further information will be available after the completion of the BSL corpus is completed and allows for comparison with the Auslan corpus and the Sociolinguistic Variation in New Zealand Sign Language project . There continues to be language contact between BSL, Auslan and NZSL through migration (deaf people and interpreters), the media (television programmes such as See Hear, Switch, Rush and SignPost are often recorded and shared informally in all three countries) and conferences (the World Federation of the Deaf Conference – WFD – in Brisbane 1999 saw many British deaf people travelling to Australia).

Makaton, a communication system for people with cognitive impairments or other communication difficulties, was originally developed with signs borrowed from British Sign Language. The sign language used in Sri Lanka is also closely related to BSL despite the oral language not being English, demonstrating the distance between sign languages and spoken ones.

BSL users campaigned to have BSL recognised on an official level. BSL was recognised as a language in its own right by the UK government on 18 March 2003, but it has no legal protection. There is, however, legislation requiring the provision of interpreters such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Read More….

This Day in History, March 8: US President Ronald Reagan Dubs the USSR an “Evil Empire” (1983)

US President Ronald Reagan Dubs the USSR an “Evil Empire” (1983)

Speaking to a convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Florida on this day in 1983, President Ronald Reagan publicly refers to the Soviet Union as an evil empire for the second time in his career. He had first used the phrase in a 1982 speech at the British House of Commons. Some considered Reagan’s use of the Star Wars film-inspired terminology to be brilliant democratic rhetoric. Others, including many within the international diplomatic community, denounced it as irresponsible bombast.

Reagan’s aggressive stance toward the Soviet Union became known as the Reagan Doctrine. He warned against what he and his supporters saw as the dangerous trend of tolerating the Soviets’ build-up of nuclear weapons and attempts to infiltrate Third World countries in order to spread communism. Advocating a peace through strength policy, Reagan declared that the Soviets must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards [nor] ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire. To do so would mean abandoning the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

Reagan proposed a policy that went beyond the Truman Doctrine of containment, urging active intervention. He vowed to increase U.S. military spending and to use force if necessary to roll back communist expansion in Third World nations. His administration provided military aid to Nicaraguan groups fighting the leftist Sandinista government and gave material support to the Afghan mujahideen in their ongoing war against Soviets. At the same time, he reassured Americans that he would pursue an understanding with totalitarian powers and cited the United States’ effort to limit missile development as a step toward peace.

Reagan’s doctrine came at the same time as a surge in international and domestic protests against the U.S.-Soviet arms race. His opponents blamed the administration for causing the largest increase in American military spending since the beginning of the Cold War, a policy that swelled the nation’s budget deficit.

The Soviet economy ultimately collapsed in the late 1980s, ending decades of communist rule in Russia and Eastern Europe. Americans disagreed as to the cause: while economists and Reagan’s critics claimed the Soviet empire had buckled under the weight of its own bloated defense spending and a protracted war in Afghanistan, Reagan and his supporters credited his hard-line anti-communist policies for defeating Soviet communism.

This Day In History for March 5: Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech (1946)

Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech (1946)

In one of the most famous orations of the Cold War period, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill condemns the Soviet Union’s policies in Europe and declares, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” Churchill’s speech is considered one of the opening volleys announcing the beginning of the Cold War.

Churchill, who had been defeated for re-election as prime minister in 1945, was invited to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri where he gave this speech. President Harry S. Truman joined Churchill on the platform and listened intently to his speech. Churchill began by praising the United States, which he declared stood “at the pinnacle of world power.” It soon became clear that a primary purpose of his talk was to argue for an even closer “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain—the great powers of the “English-speaking world”—in organizing and policing the postwar world. In particular, he warned against the expansionistic policies of the Soviet Union. In addition to the “iron curtain” that had descended across Eastern Europe, Churchill spoke of “communist fifth columns” that were operating throughout western and southern Europe. Drawing parallels with the disastrous appeasement of Hitler prior to World War II, Churchill advised that in dealing with the Soviets there was “nothing which they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for military weakness.” Read More….

This Day in History for March 4: Chicago Is Incorporated as a City (1837)

Chicago Is Incorporated as a City (1837)

On March 4, 1837, the Illinois state legislature enacted a city charter for Chicago.

At the time, Chicago was a different place than we would recognize today. The population was over 4,000, according to the 1840 federal census.

Read how Chicago evolved from a seasonal hunting ground for local Native American tribes to a thriving, modern city in City of the Century by Donald Miller. To explore the city’s history further, visit the Encyclopedia of Chicago online. If you like old maps, view this 1836 map of Chicago, printed a year before incorporation.

This summer, Chicago is the host city for the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference.

— Elisa Babel, Adult Librarian
Published on DC Public Library

This Day in History for Feb. 20: The Barber of Seville’s Disastrous Debut (1816)

The Barber of Seville‘s Disastrous Debut (1816)

The Barber of Seville

The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution (Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L’inutile precauzione) is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini’s opera (under the title Almaviva, o sia L’inutile precauzione) took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome.[1]

Rossini’s Barber has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music, and has been described as the opera buffa of all “opere buffe”. Even after two hundred years, its popularity on the modern opera stage attests to that greatness.[2]

Composition history

Rossini’s opera recounts the first of the plays from the Figaro trilogy, by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais, while Mozart’s opera Le nozze di Figaro, composed 30 years earlier in 1786, is based on the second part of the Beaumarchais trilogy. The first Beaumarchais play was originally conceived as an opéra comique, but was rejected as such by the Comédie-Italienne.[3] The play as it is now known was premiered in 1775 by the Comédie-Française at the Tuileries Palace in Paris.[4]

Other operas based on the first play were composed by Giovanni Paisiello (Il barbiere di Siviglia, 1782), by Nicolas Isouard (1796), and by Francesco Morlacchi (1816). Though the work of Paisiello triumphed for a time, only Rossini’s version has stood the test of time and continues to be a mainstay of operatic repertoire. On 11 November 1868, two days before Rossini’s death, the composer Costantino Dall’Argine (1842–1877), premiered an opera based on the same libretto as Rossini’s work,[5] bearing a dedication to Rossini.[6] The premiere was not a failure, but critics condemned the “audacity” of the young composer, and the work is now forgotten.[6][7]

Rossini was well known for being remarkably productive, completing an average of two operas per year for 19 years, and in some years writing as many as four. Musicologists believe that, true to form, the music for Il Barbiere di Siviglia was composed in just under three weeks,[8] although some of the themes in the famous overture were actually borrowed from two earlier Rossini operas, Aureliano in Palmira and Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra.

Performance history

The premiere of Rossini’s opera was a disastrous failure: the audience hissed and jeered throughout, and several on-stage accidents occurred.[8] However, many of the audience were supporters of one of Rossini’s rivals, Giovanni Paisiello, who played on mob mentality to provoke the rest of the audience to dislike the opera.[8] Paisiello had already composed The Barber of Seville and took Rossini’s new version to be an affront to his version. In particular, Paisiello and his followers were opposed to the use of basso buffo, which is common in comic opera.[9] The second performance met with quite a different fate, becoming a roaring success.[8] The original French play, Le Barbier de Séville endured a similar story, poorly received at first only to become a favorite within a week.

The opera was first performed in England on 10 March 1818 at the King’s Theatre in London in Italian, soon followed on 13 October at the Covent Garden Theatre by an English version translated by John Fawcett and Daniel Terry. It was first performed in America on 3 May 1819 in English (probably the Covent Garden version) at the Park Theatre in New York.[10] It was given in French at the Théâtre d’Orléans in New Orleans on 4 March 1823,[11] and became the first opera ever to be performed in Italian in New York, when Manuel Garcia (who played Almaviva) and his Italian troupe opened their first season there with Il barbiere on 29 November 1825 at the Park Theatre. The cast of eight had three other members of his family, including the 17-year-old Maria-Felicia, later known as Maria Malibran.[12]

The role of Rosina was originally written for a contralto. Because of its popularity, singers have frequently distorted Rossini’s intentions. The most serious distortion has been transposition of the role to a higher pitch, “turning her from a lustrous alto into a pert soprano.”[13] In addition, the singing lesson in Act 2 has often been turned into “a show-stopping cabaret.”[13] Adelina Patti was known to include Luigi Arditi’s “Il bacio”, the Bolero from Verdi’s I vespri siciliani, the Shadow Song from Meyerbeer’s Dinorah, and Henry Bishop’s “Home! Sweet Home!”. Nellie Melba followed suit, accompanying herself on the piano in the final song.[13] Pauline Viardot began the practice of inserting Alabiev’s “Nightingale”. Maria Callas sang a cut-down version of Rossini’s own “Contro un cor.”

Once after Patti had sung a particularly florid rendition of the opera’s legitimate aria, ‘Una voce poco fa’, Rossini is reported to have asked her: “Very nice, my dear, and who wrote the piece you have just performed?”[14]

As a staple of the operatic repertoire, Barber appears as number nine on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide.[15] Because of the increasing scarcity of good contraltos,[16] the role of Rosina has most frequently been sung by a coloratura mezzo-soprano (with or without pitch alterations, depending on the singer), and has in the past, and occasionally in more recent times, been sung by coloratura sopranos such as Marcella Sembrich, Maria Callas, Roberta Peters, Gianna D’Angelo, Victoria de los Ángeles, Beverly Sills, Lily Pons, Diana Damrau, Kathleen Battle and Luciana Serra. Famous recent mezzo-soprano Rosinas include Marilyn Horne, Teresa Berganza, Lucia Valentini Terrani, Susanne Marsee, Cecilia Bartoli, Joyce DiDonato, Jennifer Larmore, Elīna Garanča, and Vesselina Kasarova. Famous contralto Rosinas include Ewa Podleś.

Act 1

In a public square outside Bartolo’s house a band of musicians and a poor student named Lindoro are serenading, to no avail, the window of Rosina (“Ecco, ridente in cielo”; “There, laughing in the sky”). Lindoro, who is really the young Count Almaviva in disguise, hopes to make the beautiful Rosina love him for himself—not his money. Almaviva pays off the musicians who then depart, leaving him to brood alone. Rosina is the young ward of the grumpy, elderly Bartolo and she is allowed very little freedom because Bartolo plans to marry her, and her not inconsiderable dowry, himself – once she is of age.

Figaro approaches singing (Aria: “Largo al factotum della città”; “Make way for the factotum of the city”). Since Figaro used to be a servant of the Count, the Count asks him for assistance in helping him meet Rosina, offering him money should he be successful in arranging this. (Duet: “All’idea di quel metallo”; “At the idea of that metal”). Figaro advises the Count to disguise himself as a drunken soldier, ordered to be billeted with Bartolo, so as to gain entrance to the house. For this suggestion, Figaro is richly rewarded.

The scene begins with Rosina’s cavatina, “Una voce poco fa” (“A voice a little while ago”). (This aria was originally written in the key of E major, but it is sometimes transposed a semitone up into F major for coloratura sopranos to perform, giving them the chance to sing extra, almost traditional, cadenzas, sometimes reaching high Ds or even Fs, as is the case of Diana Damrau’s performances.)

Knowing the Count only as Lindoro, Rosina writes to him. As she is leaving the room, Bartolo and Basilio enter. Bartolo is suspicious of the Count, and Basilio advises that he be put out of the way by creating false rumours about him (this aria, “La calunnia è un venticello” – “Calumny is a little breeze” – is almost always sung a tone lower than the original D major).

When the two have gone, Rosina and Figaro enter. The latter asks Rosina to write a few encouraging words to Lindoro, which she has actually already written. (Duet: “Dunque io son…tu non m’inganni?”; “Then I’m the one…you’re not fooling me?”). Although surprised by Bartolo, Rosina manages to fool him, but he remains suspicious. (Aria: “A un dottor della mia sorte”; “To a doctor of my class”).

As Berta, the Bartolo housekeeper, attempts to leave the house, she is met by the Count disguised as an intoxicated soldier. In fear of the drunken man, she rushes to Bartolo for protection and he tries to remove the supposed soldier, but does not succeed. The Count manages to have a quick word with Rosina, whispering that he is Lindoro and passing her a letter. The watching Bartolo is suspicious and demands to know what is in the piece of paper in Rosina’s hands, but she fools him by handing over her laundry list. Bartolo and the Count start arguing and, when Basilio, Figaro and Berta appear, the noise attracts the attention of the Officer of the Watch and his men. Bartolo believes that the Count has been arrested, but Almaviva only has to whisper his name to the officer and is released right away. Bartolo and Basilio are astounded, and Rosina makes sport of them. (Finale: “Fredda ed immobile, comme una statua”; “Cold and still, just like a statue”).

Act 2

Almaviva again appears at the doctor’s house, this time disguised as a singing tutor and pretending to act as substitute for the supposedly ailing Basilio, Rosina’s regular singing teacher. Initially, Bartolo is suspicious, but does allow Almaviva to enter when the Count gives him Rosina’s letter. He describes his plan to discredit Lindoro whom he believes to be one of the Count’s servants, intent on pursuing women for his master. In order not to leave Lindoro alone with Rosina, the doctor has Figaro shave him. (Quintet: “Don Basilio! – Cosa veggo!”; “Don Basilio! – What do I see?”).

When Basilio suddenly appears, he is bribed to feign sickness by a full purse from Almaviva. Finally Bartolo detects the trick, drives everybody out of the room, and rushes to a notary to draw up the marriage contract between himself and Rosina. He also shows Rosina the letter she wrote to “Lindoro”, and convinces her that Lindoro is merely a flunky of Almaviva.

The stage remains empty while the music creates a thunder storm. The Count and Figaro climb up a ladder to the balcony and enter the room through a window. Rosina shows Almaviva the letter and expresses her feelings of betrayal and heartbreak. Almaviva reveals his identity and the two reconcile. While Almaviva and Rosina are enraptured by one another, Figaro keeps urging them to leave. Two people are heard approaching the front door, and attempting to leave by way of the ladder, they realize it has been removed. The two are Basilio and the notary and Basilio is given the choice of accepting a bribe and being a witness or receiving two bullets in the head (an easy choice, he says). He and Figaro witness the signatures to a marriage contract between the Count and Rosina. Bartolo barges in, but is too late. The befuddled Bartolo (who was the one who had removed the ladder) is pacified by being allowed to retain Rosina’s dowry.

References
Notes

^ Casaglia, Gherardo, “20 Febbraio 1816”, Almanacco Amadeus, 2005
^ Fisher, Burton D., The Barber of Seville (Opera Classics Library Series). Grand Rapids: Opera Journeys, 2005.
^ Weinstock 1968, p. 54; Oborne, Charles 1994, p. 57.
^ Cordier 1883, p. 13.
^ Weinstock 1968,p. 366.
^ a b D’Arcais, F. (1869). “Rassegna Musicale”. Direzione della nuova antologia (in Italian) (Firenze: Direzione della nuova antologia) 10: 404.
^ Gazzetta Piemontese (in Italian). 17 November 1868. p. 2.
^ a b c d Osborne, Richard 2007, pp. 38–41.
^ The Barber of Seville at musicwithease.com
^ Loewenberg 1978, columns 643–646.
^ Kmen 1966, p. 97.
^ Sommer 1992, p. 586.
^ a b c Osborne, Richard 1992, p. 311.
^ Quoted by Richard Osborne, 1992, p. 311.
^ “Opera Statistics”. Operabase. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
^ Myers, Eric, “Sweet and Low: The case of the vanishing contralto, Opera News, December 1996.
^ Roles are listed as given in the 1816 libretto (Rome: Crispino Puccinelli).
^ The voice types given here refer to the original cast as listed in a 2010 program book from Fondazione Teatro La Fenice di Venezia (see Il barbiere di Siviglia, p. 37 [pdf p. 51]), except for Figaro. Although the program book lists Figaro as a bass, all other sources cited here have baritone.
^ Originally written for contralto according to a 2010 program book from La Fenice, as well as Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311. Contemporary printed scores tend to list Rosina as a mezzo-soprano role, and the role is listed as mezzo-soprano by Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; Gosset & Brauner 2001, p. 776; and Kobbé 1997, p. 667. Actual casting practice of opera houses varies widely. Some mezzo-sopranos can sing it as originally written without alteration, but a popular transposed version is often used when a soprano is cast in the role. Singers of all three voice types have found considerable success with the role (Foil & Berger 2006).
^ Listed as baritone by Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311; Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; Gosset & Brauner 2001, p. 776; and Kobbé 1997, p. 310.
^ Also listed as soprano by Gossett & Brauner 2001, p. 776; Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; and Kobbé 1997, p. 667. In modern performance the role of Berta is also sung by mezzo-sopranos, and it is listed as mezzo-soprano by Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311. See also, Il barbiere di Siviglia on the MetOpera Database (performance archives of the Metropolitan Opera)
^ Also listed as bass by Richard Osborne 1992, p. 311; Charles Osborne 1994, p. 52; and Kobbé 1997, p. 667. Listed as baritone by Gossett & Brauner 2001, p. 776.
^ The hard of hearing Ambrogio is limited to asking “Eh?”, notated on middle C.
^ The plot synopsis is partly based on Melitz 1921, pp. 29–31., with updates, clarifications, and modifications to its often out-of-date language.
Sources

Cordier, Henri (1883). Bibliographie des oeuvres de Beaumarchais. Paris: A. Quantin. Copy at Google Books.
Foil, David; Berger, William (2006). Text accompanying Rossini: The Barber of Seville. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal. ISBN 978-1-57912-618-6. OCLC 840078233.
Gossett, Philip; Brauner, Patricia B. (2001). “Gioachino Rossini”, pp. 765–796, in The New Penguin Opera Guide, edited by Amanda Holden. New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4.
Kmen, Henry A. (1966). Music in New Orleans: The Formative Years 1791–1841. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 9780807105481.
Kobbé, Gustav (1997). The New Kobbé’s Opera Book, edited by The Earl of Harewood and Antony Peattie. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. ISBN 978-0-399-14332-8.
Loewenberg, Alfred (1978). Annals of Opera 1597–1940 (third edition, revised). Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-87471-851-5.
Melitz, Leo (1921). The Opera Goer’s Complete Guide, translated by Richard Salinger. Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishing. Copy at Google Books.
Osborne, Charles (1994). The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0-931340-71-3
Osborne, Richard (1992). “Barbiere di Siviglia, Il” in Sadie 1992, vo. 1, pp. 311–314.
Osborne, Richard (2007), Rossini: His Life and Works Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-518129-6
Sadie, Stanley, editor (1992). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-56159-228-9.
Sommer, Susan T. (1992). “New York” in Sadie 1992, vol. 3, pp. 585–592.
Sterbini Romano, Cesare (1816). Almaviva o sia L’inutile precauzione … Con Musica del Maestro Gioacchino Rossini, libretto in Italian. Rome: Crispino Puccinelli. Copy at Google Books.
Weinstock, Herbert (1968). Rossini: A Biography. New York: Knopf. OCLC 192614 and 250474431. Reprint (1987): New York: Limelight. ISBN 978-0-87910-071-1.

This Day In History for Feb. 13: Thomas Edison Observes the Edison Effect (1880)

Thomas Edison Observes the Edison Effect (1880)

In early 1880, Thomas Edison and his team were hard at work trying to find a light bulbfilament that worked well. He had already settled on a carbonized (burned) bamboo filament, but even this solution was not perfect. After glowing for a few hours, carbon from the filament would be deposited on the inside walls of the bulb, turning it black. This would not do.

Edison tried to understand what was happening. His assistant noticed that the carbon seemed to be coming from the end of the filament that was attached to the power supply, and seemed to be flying through the vacuum onto the walls of the bulb.

Edison determined that not only was carbon flying through the vacuum, but that it carried a charge. That is, electricity was flowing not only through the filament but also through the evacuated bulb. In order to measure this flow, he made a special bulb with a third electrode, to which he could attach an instrument to measure the current. He reasoned that if the current would flow between the two ends of the filament, it would also flow to this third electrode.

While he was proven to be right about the flow, Edison could not explain it, and the third electrode did not prevent blackening of the bulb, so he moved on to other experiments. But he did patent the new device, because he believed that it might have some commercial applications, such as measuring electric current.

Although he did not realize it, Edison had discovered the basis of the electron tube (also called a vacuum tube). Many years later, modified light bulbs would be used not to make light, but to control a flow of electrons through a vacuum. The electron tube would become the basis of modern electronics. Years later, when he was elderly, the discovery of what became known as the “Edison Effect” was remembered, but because Edison had no idea what it was or how it worked, he is rarely given credit for this contribution to the development of electronics.

Source

https://ethw.org/Edison_Effect

This Day in History, February 12: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Founded (1909)

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Founded (1909)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)[a] is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as a bi-racial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington and Moorfield Storey.[3]

Its mission in the 21st century is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.” National NAACP initiatives include political lobbying, publicity efforts and litigation strategies developed by its legal team.[4] The group enlarged its mission in the late 20th century by considering issues such as police misconduct, the status of black foreign refugees and questions of economic development.[5] Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term colored people, referring to those with some African ancestry.

The NAACP bestows annual awards to people of color in two categories: Image Awards are for achievement in the arts and entertainment, and Spingarn Medals are for outstanding achievement of any kind. Its headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland.[6]

Organization

The NAACP is headquartered in Baltimore, with additional regional offices in New York, Michigan, Georgia, Maryland, Texas, Colorado and California.[7] Each regional office is responsible for coordinating the efforts of state conferences in that region. Local, youth, and college chapters organize activities for individual members.

In the U.S., the NAACP is administered by a 64-member board, led by a chairperson. The board elects one person as the president and one as chief executive officer for the organization. Julian Bond, Civil Rights Movement activist and former Georgia State Senator, was chairman until replaced in February 2010 by health-care administrator Roslyn Brock.[8] For decades in the first half of the 20th century, the organization was effectively led by its executive secretary, who acted as chief operating officer. James Weldon Johnson and Walter F. White, who served in that role successively from 1920 to 1958, were much more widely known as NAACP leaders than were presidents during those years.

Departments within the NAACP govern areas of action. Local chapters are supported by the ‘Branch and Field Services’ department and the ‘Youth and College’ department. The ‘Legal’ department focuses on court cases of broad application to minorities, such as systematic discrimination in employment, government, or education. The Washington, D.C., bureau is responsible for lobbying the U.S. government, and the Education Department works to improve public education at the local, state and federal levels. The goal of the Health Division is to advance health care for minorities through public policy initiatives and education.

As of 2007, the NAACP had approximately 425,000 paying and non-paying members.[9]

The NAACP’s non-current records are housed at the Library of Congress, which has served as the organization’s official repository since 1964. The records held there comprise approximately five million items spanning the NAACP’s history from the time of its founding until 2003.[10] In 2011, the NAACP teamed with the digital repository ProQuest to digitize and host online the earlier portion of its archives, through 1972 – nearly two million pages of documents, from the national, legal, and branch offices throughout the country, which offer first-hand insight into the organization’s work related to such crucial issues as lynching, school desegregation, and discrimination in all its aspects (in the military, the criminal justice system, employment, housing).[11][12]

Predecessor: The Niagara Movement

The Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, New York featured many American innovations and achievements, but also included a disparaging caricature of slave life in the South as well as a depiction of life in Africa, called “Old Plantation” and “Darkest Africa,” respectively.[13] A local African American women, Mary Talbert of Ohio was appalled by the exhibit, as a similar one in Paris highlighted black achievements. She informed W.E.B. DuBois of the situation, and a coalition began to form.[13]

In 1905, a group of thirty-two prominent African-American leaders met to discuss the challenges facing people of color and possible strategies and solutions. They were particularly concerned by the Southern states’ disenfranchisement of blacks starting with Mississippi’s passage of a new constitution in 1890. Through 1908, southern legislatures dominated by white Democrats ratified new constitutions and laws creating barriers to voter registration and more complex election rules. In practice, this caused the exclusion of most blacks and many poor whites from the political system in southern states, crippling the Republican Party in most of the South. Black voter registration and turnout dropped markedly in the South as a result of such legislation. Men who had been voting for thirty years in the South were told they did not “qualify” to register. White-dominated legislatures also passed segregation and Jim Crow laws.

Because hotels in the US were segregated, the men convened in Canada at the Erie Beach Hotel[14] on the Canadian side of the Niagara River in Fort Erie, Ontario. As a result, the group came to be known as the Niagara Movement. A year later, three non-African-Americans joined the group: journalist William English Walling, a wealthy socialist; and social workers Mary White Ovington and Henry Moskowitz. Moskowitz, who was Jewish, was then also Associate Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. They met in 1906 at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and in 1907 in Boston, Massachusetts.[15]

The fledgling group struggled for a time with limited resources and internal conflict, and disbanded in 1910.[16] Seven of the members of the Niagara Movement joined the Board of Directors of the NAACP, founded in 1909.[15] Although both organizations shared membership and overlapped for a time, the Niagara Movement was a separate organization. Historically, it is considered to have had a more radical platform than the NAACP. The Niagara Movement was formed exclusively by African Americans. Three European Americans were among the founders of the NAACP.

History

Formation

The Race Riot of 1908 in Springfield, Illinois, the state capital and President Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, was a catalyst showing the urgent need for an effective civil rights organization in the U.S. In the decades around the turn of the century, the rate of lynchings of blacks, particularly men, was at a high. Mary White Ovington, journalist William English Walling and Henry Moskowitz met in New York City in January 1909 to work on organizing for black civil rights.[17] They sent out solicitations for support to more than 60 prominent Americans, and set a meeting date for February 12, 1909. This was intended to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, who emancipated enslaved African Americans. While the first large meeting did not take place until three months later, the February date is often cited as the founding date of the organization.

The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, by a larger group including African Americans W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Archibald Grimké, Mary Church Terrell, and the previously named whites Henry Moskowitz, Mary White Ovington, William English Walling (the wealthy Socialist son of a former slave-holding family),[17][18] Florence Kelley, a social reformer and friend of Du Bois;[19]Oswald Garrison Villard, and Charles Edward Russell, a renowned muckraker and close friend of Walling. Russell helped plan the NAACP and had served as acting chairman of the National Negro Committee (1909), a forerunner to the NAACP.[20]

On May 30, 1909, the Niagara Movement conference took place at New York City’s Henry Street Settlement House; they created an organization of more than 40, identifying as the National Negro Committee.[21] Among other founding members was Lillian Wald, a nurse who had founded the Henry Street Settlement where the conference took place.

Du Bois played a key role in organizing the event and presided over the proceedings. Also in attendance was Ida B. Wells-Barnett, an African-American journalist and anti-lynching crusader. At their second conference on May 30, 1910, members chose the new organization’s name to be the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and elected its first officers:[22]

  • National President, Moorfield Storey, Boston
  • Chairman of the Executive Committee, William English Walling
  • Treasurer, John E. Milholland (a Lincoln Republican and Presbyterian from New York City and Lewis, New York)
  • Disbursing Treasurer, Oswald Garrison Villard
  • Executive Secretary, Frances Blascoer
  • Director of Publicity and Research, W. E. B. Du Bois.

The NAACP was incorporated a year later in 1911. The association’s charter expressed its mission:

To promote equality of rights and to eradicate caste or race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for the children, employment according to their ability and complete equality before law.

The larger conference resulted in a more diverse organization, where the leadership was predominantly white. Moorfield Storey, a white attorney from a Boston abolitionist family, served as the president of the NAACP from its founding to 1915. At its founding, the NAACP had one African American on its executive board, Du Bois. Storey was a long-time classical liberal and Grover Cleveland Democrat who advocated laissez-faire free markets, the gold standard, and anti-imperialism. Storey consistently and aggressively championed civil rights, not only for blacks but also for Native Americans and immigrants (he opposed immigration restrictions). Du Bois continued to play a pivotal leadership role in the organization, serving as editor of the association’s magazine, The Crisis, which had a circulation of more than 30,000.

The Crisis was used both for news reporting and for publishing African-American poetry and literature. During the organization’s campaigns against lynching, Du Bois encouraged the writing and performance of plays and other expressive literature about this issue.

The Jewish community contributed greatly to the NAACP’s founding and continued financing.[23] Jewish historian Howard Sachar writes in his book A History of Jews in America that “In 1914, Professor Emeritus Joel Spingarn of Columbia University became chairman of the NAACP and recruited for its board such Jewish leaders as Jacob Schiff, Jacob Billikopf, and Rabbi Stephen Wise.”[23]

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This Day In History, Feb. 10th: HMS Dreadnought Is Launched (1906)

HMS Dreadnought Is Launched (1906)

HMS Dreadnought was a Royal Navy battleship that revolutionised naval power. Her name and the type of the entire class of warships that was named after her stems from archaic English in which “dreadnought” means “a fearless person”.[1] Dreadnoughts entry into service in 1906 represented such an advance in naval technology that its name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the “dreadnoughts”, as well as the class of ships named after it. Likewise, the generation of ships she made obsolete became known as “pre-dreadnoughts”. Admiral Sir John “Jacky” Fisher, First Sea Lord of the Board of Admiralty, is credited as the father of Dreadnought. Shortly after he assumed office, he ordered design studies for a battleship armed solely with 12-inch (305 mm) guns and a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). He convened a “Committee on Designs” to evaluate the alternative designs and to assist in the detailed design work.

Dreadnought was the first battleship of her era to have a uniform main battery, rather than having a few large guns complemented by a heavy secondary armament of smaller guns. She was also the first capital ship to be powered by steam turbines, making her the fastest battleship in the world at the time of her completion.[2] Her launch helped spark a naval arms race as navies around the world, particularly the German Imperial Navy, rushed to match it in the build-up to World War I.[3]

Ironically for a vessel designed to engage enemy battleships, her only significant action was the ramming and sinking of German submarine SM U-29, becoming the only battleship confirmed to have sunk a submarine.[4] Dreadnought did not participate in the Battle of Jutland in 1916 as she was being refitted. Nor did Dreadnought participate in any of the other World War I naval battles. In May 1916 she was relegated to coastal defence duties in the English Channel, not rejoining the Grand Fleet until 1918. The ship was reduced to reserve in 1919 and sold for scrap two years later.

Background

Gunnery developments in the late 1890s and the early 1900s, led in the United Kingdom by Percy Scott and in the United States by William Sims, were already pushing expected battle ranges out to an unprecedented 6,000 yards (5,500 m), a distance great enough to force gunners to wait for the shells to arrive before applying corrections for the next salvo. A related problem was that the shell splashes from the more numerous smaller weapons tended to obscure the splashes from the bigger guns. Either the smaller-calibre guns would have to hold their fire to wait for the slower-firing heavies, losing the advantage of their faster rate of fire, or it would be uncertain whether a splash was due to a heavy or a light gun, making ranging and aiming unreliable. Another problem was that longer-range torpedoes were expected to soon be in service and these would discourage ships from closing to ranges where the smaller guns’ faster rate of fire would become preeminent. Keeping the range open generally negated the threat from torpedoes and further reinforced the need for heavy guns of a uniform calibre.[5]

In 1903, the Italian naval architect Vittorio Cuniberti first articulated in print the concept of an all-big-gun battleship. When the Italian Navy did not pursue his ideas, Cuniberti wrote an article in Jane’s Fighting Ships advocating his concept. He proposed an “ideal” future British battleship of 17,000 long tons (17,000 t), with a main battery of a dozen 12-inch guns in eight turrets, 12 inches of belt armour, and a speed of 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph).[6]

The Royal Navy (RN), the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy all recognised these issues before 1905. The RN modified the design of the Lord Nelson-class battleships to include a secondary armament of 9.2-inch (234 mm) guns that could fight at longer ranges than the 6-inch (152 mm) guns on older ships, but a proposal to arm them solely with 12-inch guns was rejected.[7][Note 1] The Japanese battleship Satsuma was laid down as an all-big-gun battleship, five months before Dreadnought, although gun shortages allowed her to be equipped with only four of the twelve 12-inch guns that had been planned.[8] The Americans began design work on an all-big-gun battleship around the same time in 1904, but progress was leisurely and the two South Carolina-class battleships were not ordered until March 1906, five months after Dreadnought was laid down, and the month after it was launched.[9]

The invention by Charles Algernon Parsons of the steam turbine in 1884 led to a significant increase in the speed of ships with his dramatic unauthorised demonstration of Turbinia with her speed of up to 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph) at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee at Spithead in 1897. After further trials of two turbine-powered destroyers, HMS Viper and HMS Cobra, coupled with the positive experiences of several small passenger liners with turbines, Dreadnought was ordered with turbines.[10]

The Battle of the Yellow Sea and Battle of Tsushima were analysed by Fisher’s Committee, with Captain William Pakenham’s statement that “12-inch gunfire” by both sides demonstrated hitting power and accuracy, whilst 10-inch shells passed unnoticed.[11]Admiral Fisher wanted his board to confirm, refine and implement his ideas of a warship that had both the speed of 21 knots (39 km/h) and 12-inch guns,[12] pointing out that at the Battle of Tsushima, Admiral Togo had been able to cross the Russians’ “T” due to speed.[13] The unheard of long-range (13,000 metres (14,000 yd))[14] fire during the Battle of the Yellow Sea, in particular, although never experienced by any navy prior to the battle, seemed to confirm what the RN already believed.[15]

Development of Dreadnought

Admiral Fisher proposed several designs for battleships with a uniform armament in the early 1900s, and he gathered an unofficial group of advisors to assist him in deciding on the ideal characteristics in early 1904. After he was appointed First Sea Lord on 21 October 1904, he pushed through the Board of Admiralty a decision to arm the next battleship with 12 inch guns and that it would have a speed no less than 21 knots (39 km/h). In January 1905, he convened a “Committee on Designs”, including many members of his informal group, to evaluate the various design proposals and to assist in the detailed design process. While nominally independent it served to deflect criticism of Fisher and the Board of Admiralty as it had no ability to consider options other than those already decided upon by the Admiralty. Fisher appointed all of the members of the committee and he was President of the Committee.[16]

The committee decided on the layout of the main armament, rejecting any superfiring arrangements because of concerns about the effects of muzzle blast on the open sighting hoods on the turret roof below, and chose turbine propulsion over reciprocating engines to save 1,100 long tons (1,100 t) in total displacement on 18 January 1905. Before disbanding on 22 February, it decided on a number of other issues, including the number of shafts (up to six were considered), the size of the anti-torpedo boat armament,[17] and most importantly, to add longitudinal bulkheads to protect the magazines and shell rooms from underwater explosions. This was deemed necessary after the Russian battleship Tsesarevich was thought to have survived a Japanese torpedo hit during the Russo–Japanese War by virtue of her heavy internal bulkhead. To avoid increasing the displacement of the ship, the thickness of her waterline belt was reduced by 1 inch (25 mm).[18]

The Committee completed its deliberations on 22 February 1905 and reported their findings in March of that year. It was decided due to the experimental nature of the design to delay placing orders for any other ships until the “Dreadnought” and her trials had been completed. Once the design had been finalised the hull form was designed and tested at the Admiralty’s experimental ship tank at Gosport. Seven iterations were required before the final hull form was selected. Once the design was finalized a team of three assistant engineers and 13 draughtsmen produced detailed drawings.[19]

To assist in speeding up the ship’s construction, the internal hull structure was simplified as much as possible and an attempt was made to standardize on a limited number of standard plates, which varied only in their thickness.

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This Day in History, Feb. 8: The Orangeburg Massacre (1968)

The Orangeburg Massacre (1968)

The Orangeburg massacre refers to the shooting of protesters by South Carolina Highway Patrol officers in Orangeburg, South Carolina, on the South Carolina State University campus on the evening of February 8, 1968.[1] The approximately 200 protesters had previously demonstrated against racial segregation at a local bowling alley. Three of the protestors, African-American males, were killed and twenty-seven other protesters were injured.[2]

The event pre-dated the 1970 Kent State shootings and Jackson State killings, in which the National Guard at Kent State, and police and state highway patrol at Jackson State, killed student protesters demonstrating against the United States invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Background
There were several incidents centering on the segregation of the local bowling alley, All Star Bowling Lane, that led up to the Orangeburg Massacre on February 8, 1968. In the fall of 1967, some of the black leaders within the community tried to convince Harry K. Floyd, the owner of the bowling alley, to allow African Americans. Floyd was unwilling to desegregate; as a result protests began in early February 1968.

On February 5, 1968, a group of around forty students from South Carolina State University entered the bowling alley and left peacefully after they were asked to leave by Floyd.[3] The next night more students led by John Stroman returned and entered the bowling alley. This time there were police waiting for them and several students were arrested, including Stroman. After the arrests, more students began showing up, angry that protesters were being arrested. Next the crowd broke a window of the bowling alley and chaos ensued. Police began beating student protesters (both men and women) with billy clubs. That night, eight students were sent to the hospital.[4]

Over the next couple of days the tension in Orangeburg escalated. Student protesters submitted a list of demands that consisted of integration and the elimination of discrimination within the community. The Governor of South Carolina at the time, Robert E. McNair, responded by calling in the National Guard after commenting that black power advocates were running amok in the community.[5] Over the next two days, about 200 mostly student protesters gathered on the campus of South Carolina State University, a historically black college in Orangeburg, to demonstrate against the continued segregation at the bowling alley.

Conflict
On the night of February 8, 1968, students started a bonfire at the front of SC State’s campus. As police and firefighters attempted to put out the fire, officer David Shealy was injured by a heavy wooden bannister taken from a nearby unoccupied house and thrown in his direction.[6] Shortly thereafter (around 10:30 p.m.) South Carolina Highway Patrol officers began firing into the crowd of around 200 protesters. Eight Patrol officers fired carbines, shotguns, and revolvers at the protesters, firing for around 10 to 15 seconds. Twenty-seven people were injured in the shooting, most of whom were shot in the back as they were running away, and three African-American men were killed.[7] The three men killed were Samuel Hammond, Henry Smith (both SCSU students), and Delano Middleton, a student at the local Wilkinson High School. Middleton was shot while simply sitting on the steps of the freshman dormitory awaiting the end of his mother’s work shift.

The police later said that they believed they were under attack by small arms fire. A newspaper reported: “About 200 Negros [sic] gathered and began sniping with what sounded like ‘at least one automatic, a shotgun and other small caliber weapons’ and throwing bricks and bottles at the patrolmen.”[8] Similarly, a North Carolina newspaper reported that week that students threw firebombs at buildings and that the sound of apparent sniper fire was heard.[9]

Protesters insisted that they did not fire at police officers, but threw objects and insulted the men. Evidence that police were being fired upon at the time of the incident was inconclusive, and no evidence was presented in court, as a result of investigations, that protesters were armed or had fired on officers.

Aftermath
At a press conference the following day, Governor Robert E. McNair said the event was “…one of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina”.[10] McNair blamed the deaths on Black Power outside agitators and said the incident took place off campus, contrary to the evidence.[11]

The federal government brought charges against the state patrolmen in the first federal trial of police officers for using excessive force at a campus protest. The state patrol officers’ defense was that they felt they were in danger and protesters had shot at the officers first. All nine defendants were acquitted although thirty-six witnesses stated that they did not hear gunfire coming from the protesters on the campus before the shooting and no students were found to be carrying guns.[12]

In a state trial in 1970, the activist Cleveland Sellers was convicted of a charge of riot related to the events on February 6 at the bowling alley. He served seven months in state prison, getting time off for good behavior. He was the national program director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1973 he wrote The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC. Twenty-five years later, Sellers was officially pardoned by the governor of South Carolina.

The Smith–Hammond–Middleton Memorial Center, South Carolina State’s on-campus arena, was renamed in honor of the three victims, opening the same year as the massacre.  Read More….