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History News Network
Updated: 16 weeks 1 day ago
THE impact of the Great Fire of Edinburgh in 1824 helped to change the face of firefighting forever. It heralded a new era as Scotland’s capital led the way by launching the world’s very first municipal fire service.
Edinburgh has been no stranger to devastating blazes throughout its history. The overcrowded and tightly-packed tenements of the Old Town were at constant risk. There is, however, one year in the city’s history which is more intensely associated with such incidents than any other. The unprecedented number of large fires which took place during 1824 threatened to destroy Scotland’s capital and led many citizens to believe that God was out to punish them. The most terrible of these fires ignited on the evening of November 15....Source: The Scotsman (UK) Source URL: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/lost-edinburgh-the-great-fire-of-edinburgh-1-3029833 Date: 8-7-13
SAUMUR, France – On a quiet Friday afternoon in western France, German Panzer tanks rolled out at a quick pace. They didn’t go unchallenged. They were met by British Stuart and American Sherman tanks, as well as some impressive armored vehicles that once packed plenty of firepower.
That isn’t a description of a battle that happened 70 years ago, but of a mock battle that went down here on Friday and Saturday. It was a part of the annual two-day Carrousel de Saumur, the highlight of which was a 45-minute demonstration of tanks and armored vehicles on the big field at Ecoles Militaires de Saumur.... [Pics follow in original story]Source: NYT Source URL: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/24/world-war-ii-tanks-roll-i-france-again/ Date: 7-23-13
On May 26, 1925, The New York Times’ front page featured a story from Tennessee that would become one of the most famous court trials in our history.
“John T. Scopes, young Dayton (Tenn.) high school teacher, tonight stands indicted for having taught the theory of evolution to students attending his science classes in violation of a law passed by the Tennessee Legislature and signed by the Governor on March 21, 1925. … The hearing of the case will bring many notables to the little mountain town, including William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow of Chicago and Dudley Field Malone of New York for the defense.”...Source: The Tennessean Source URL: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130803/OPINION04/308030051/2323/OPINION04 Date: 8-3-13
Brompton Road tube station is one of London’s abandoned underground stations which went on to play a critical role in the Second World War as the command bunker for the capital’s anti-aircraft defences.
Now the ghost tube station is being sold off after decades in the hands of the Ministry of Defence.
Situated in the heart of Kensington, a short walk from Harrods, the building and its tunnels beneath are expected to fetch more than £20 million when they go on the market next month.
“It will need quite a bit of work. There’s no power and there’s been no one down here full time for 60 years,” said Julian Chafer, an MoD property surveyor, as he showed the Telegraph through the abandoned tunnels and lift shafts....Source: Telegraph (UK) Source URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/britain-at-war/10226798/Brompton-Road-Underground-tube-bunker-for-sale.html Date: 8-7-13
An intricately-inscribed stone was discovered by excited archaeologists at the Ness of Brodgar on Wednesday.
Nick Card, the excavation team director at the dig – which lies in the heart of Neolithic Orkney, between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Strenness – said the latest find had created a “huge buzz” on the site.
The stone is unusual as it is artistically decorated on both sides and has impressive deep incisions.
Mr Card, of the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology and based at the University of the Highlands and Islands in the islands, said: “It is perhaps the finest piece of art we have recovered from the site, and one of the finest from the UK ever – amazing and awe-inspiring.”...Source: The Scotsman (UK) Source URL: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/5-000-year-old-neolithic-art-found-in-orkney-dig-1-3026157 Date: 8-7-13
A PLANNED housing development on the site of a 17th-century battlefield is an “insult” to the soldiers who lost their lives there, critics have said.
Cala Homes wants to move a war memorial and build a multi-million-pound estate on Covenanters’ Field in Bothwell, Lanarkshire. There are plans for 15 homes on the site of the 1679 Battle of Bothwell Bridge.
But the move has drawn fierce protests from objectors, who claim it would be an “act of desecration” at an important historic site.
Ten objections have been lodged so far, with some from as far afield as the United States....Source: The Scotsman (UK) Source URL: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/anger-over-bothwell-bridge-battle-site-building-plan-1-3026550 Date: 8-7-13
It has been nearly two decades since General Motors introduced OnStar. Since then, it has served as electronic emergency nurse, computerized auto theft detective and binary butler for millions of motorists. Sure, it’s had its problems – as when G.M. decided to make the switch to digital in 2008 and told all the analog customers their equipment would no longer work. But for the most part, it has been a functional system. It must be; OnStar has already cycled through nearly a dozen hardware and software updates over the years.
But the idea isn’t even 20 years new. Bet you thought it was, but it isn’t. It existed, floating in the ether, somewhere between press release and reality, for at least 30 years before G.M. released OnStar for real in 1996. According to an old press release from 1966, it was called Driver Aid, Information and Routing system, and was promoted by G.M. as a revolutionary concert of existing technology....Source: NYT Source URL: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/05/g-m-had-a-version-of-onstar-in-1966/ Date: 8-5-13
An audio recording of former U.S. President Richard Nixon spouting off an anti-gay rant has surfaced.
CNN published an excerpt from the tape, which was apparently recorded sometime during Nixon's time in the Oval Office from 1969-1974. In the clip, Nixon accuses the popular TV series "All in the Family" (which he initially mistakes for a movie) of "glorifying homosexuality,"
"The point that I make is that...I do not think that you glorify, on public television, homosexuality," Nixon proclaims. And the president doesn't stop there -- claiming that homosexuality "destroyed the Greeks," he notes, "Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates ... Homosexuality, immorality in general...these are the enemies of strong societies."...Source: Huffington Post Source URL: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/02/richard-nixon-anti-gay-rant_n_3695785.html?utm_hp_ref=tw Date: 8-2-13
British government files from 1983, opened to the public for the first time today, include an official’s view of the message Queen Elizabeth II would have broadcast to the nation in the event of World War III.
The speech was drafted as part of a war-games exercise codenamed Wintex-Cimex, in which officials in NATO countries acted out responses to an attack by Soviet-led forces. In 1983, they ended the simulated conflict by launching a limited nuclear strike on the enemy.
“I have never forgotten the sorrow and the pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father’s inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939″ when World War II was declared, the scenario had the queen telling her subjects at noon on Friday March 4, 1983. “Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me.”...Source: National Post (Canada) Source URL: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/08/01/solemn-and-awful-duty-secret-files-reveal-queens-world-war-iii-speech-in-event-of-nuclear-attack/ Date: 8-1-13
Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 visit to the Falklands was akin to a military operation in its own right and followed six months of meticulous planning.
The prime minister visited the islands for four days in January to mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of a permanent British settlement.
The trip, less than eight months after the end of the conflict, had to be kept secret because of the “significant” threat from Argentina, confidential government files show.
The documents, released today by the National Archives under the new 20-year rule, include extensive briefings from the Ministry of Defence marked “Secret UK Eyes A” about travel arrangements....Source: Telegraph (UK) Source URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/10211858/Memos-reveal-six-months-of-planning-behind-Thatchers-top-secret-visit-to-the-Falklands.html Date: 8-1-13
Margaret Thatcher secretly considered the use of troops to break a strike by coal miners, according to newly released government papers.
Documents released by the National Archives at Kew, west London, show the extent of the planning by Mrs Thatcher's Conservative government for the decisive showdown with the miners which helped define her political legacy.
The papers show that ministers and officials repeatedly warned that a confrontation with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and its leftwing leader, Arthur Scargill, was inevitable.
Mrs Thatcher, who had been a minister in Edward Heath's government in the 1970s when it was brought to its knees by a miners' strike was only too well aware of the stakes involved....Source: Belfast Telegraph (UK) Source URL: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/uk/secret-files-margaret-thatcher-planned-to-use-troops-to-break-miners-strike-29465066.html Date: 8-1-13
Previously confidential files from 1983 released on Thursday by the National Archives in Kew shed new light on the ongoing attempts by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to deal with the political and security situations in Northern Ireland and, in particular, the threat by Sinn Féin to overtake the SDLP as the voice of Northern nationalism.
Sinn Féin's record 13.4% of the regional vote in the June 1983 election and the return of its President, Gerry Adams, as MP for West Belfast came as a shattering blow to Mrs Thatcher, who had returned to power with a renewed mandate after the Falklands war.
Ministers believed that up to a quarter of the Sinn Féin vote was down to impersonation and intimidation.
At a cabinet meeting in June that year, Northern Ireland Secretary Jim Prior warned colleagues that the republicans' success could lead to the destruction of John Hume's SDLP....Source: BBC News Source URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-23534780 Date: 8-1-13
Margaret Thatcher warned of Pierre Trudeau’s ‘unsound personal views’ ahead of 1983 visit, secret files reveal
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was advised that Canadians’ sensitivity “is a fact of life” spurred on by the country’s “ham-fisted neighbour to the south,” in a set of confidential briefing notes prior to her Canadian visit in 1983.
Government files from 30 years ago, released this week by the British National Archives, included two telegrams dated Sept. 1 and Sept. 19, 1983 to No. 10 Downing Street to prepare Thatcher for her visit to Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton. In them, Canada is described as a country that is “dominated commercially and culturally by the United States, but is inclined to resent this.”...Source: National Post (Canada) Source URL: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/08/01/margaret-thatcher-warned-of-pierre-trudeaus-unsound-personal-views-ahead-of-1983-visit-secret-files-reveal/ Date: 8-1-13
LONDON — Thirty-year-old documents newly released by the British government reveal just how severely America’s decision to invade the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1983 tested the warm ties between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan.
While the two leaders had a strong and affectionate personal rapport, the British official papers reveal how little warning Mrs. Thatcher was given about the pending military invasion, a move that left the British irritated, bewildered and disappointed. They also show how Mr. Reagan justified the secrecy as a way to prevent leaks, and how the British later concluded that the invasion had in fact been planned long in advance. At one point during tense written exchanges, both leaders claimed, in defense of their opposing approaches to the unrest in Grenada, that lives were at stake....Source: NYT Source URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/world/europe/documents-show-thatcher-reagan-rift-over-us-grenada-invasion.html Date: 7-31-13
ORANGE, VA.- The Montpelier Foundation today announced findings from new archaeological excavations at the lifelong home of James Madison – Father of the Constitution, Architect of the Bill of Rights, and Fourth President of the United States. Discovered by teams of professional archaeology staff, students and visitors participating in special “Archaeology Expeditions,” two newly revealed subfloor pits provide an initial footprint for field slave quarters on the Montpelier landscape.
“Montpelier is unique among archaeological sites in the United States with regards to our ability to recreate and visualize the experience of enslaved life,” said Matthew Reeves, Ph.D., Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration at James Madison’s Montpelier. “Because the fields have lain fallow since Madison’s time, the sites we are discovering are virtually undisturbed. We are meticulously documenting available evidence from the sites so we can begin to reconstruct the farm in a way that will authentically represent the complexity of life on the plantation.”...Source: ArtDaily Source URL: http://artdaily.com/news/64104/New-evidence-contributes-to-unprecedented-portrait-of-enslaved-life-at-James-Madison-s-Montpelier#.Uf1p1VO9wal Date: 8-3-13
TOKYO — Japan’s finance minister on Thursday publicly retracted comments he made this week that appeared to call on Japan’s current conservative government to emulate Hitler’s takeover of prewar Germany. The gaffe underscored the potential for disputes over Japan’s own wartime history to derail its popular prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
The finance minister, Taro Aso, insisted that his comments on Monday, in which he seemed to say that Japan should learn how the Nazi party quietly rewrote Germany’s Constitution, were taken out of context. Faced with growing criticism in Japan and abroad, he countered that he had never meant to praise the Nazis. He said he had hoped to prompt debate in Japan over whether to change its current pacifist Constitution to allow a full-fledged military, as many conservatives now seek.Source: NYT Source URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/02/world/asia/japans-finance-minister-retracts-statement-on-nazis.html?pagewanted=all Date: 8-1-13
It is perhaps the best known and most enduring image of the First World War: the commanding, moustached face of Lord Kitchener, his accusing, pointing finger and the urgent slogan “Your country needs YOU”.
The picture is credited with encouraging millions of men to sign up to fight in the trenches, many of them never to return.
But new research has found that no such poster was actually produced during the war and that the image was never used for official recruitment purposes. In fact, it only became popular and widely-used after the conflict ended....Source: Telegraph (UK) Source URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/10218932/Your-Country-Needs-You-The-myth-about-the-First-World-War-poster-that-never-existed.html Date: 8-2-13
In an isolated corner of bucolic Belgium, down a dusty track that cuts through great fields of lettuce and shivering wheat, stands the farm that won Waterloo. Of the 170,000 people who visit the battlefield each year, few find their way to this particular spot. Fat wood pigeons coo undisturbed from the crumbling walls. The view across the miles of rolling fields over which Napoleon launched waves of attacks, is unspoilt by any building. The only sound of modern life is the faint roar of a motorway, hidden by a bank of trees.
Hougoumont is largely unchanged from where, on Sunday June 18, 1815, it was the centre of action throughout the Battle of Waterloo. Of the tens of thousands who died that day, 6,500 men were killed, or suffered terrible injuries, at Hougoumont. Many were dumped in a mass grave there to deter thieves....Source: Telegraph (UK) Source URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/10218931/Rescuing-the-farm-where-Wellington-won-the-battle-of-Waterloo.html Date: 8-2-13
New data from Greenland ice cores suggest North America may have suffered a large cosmic impact about 12,900 years ago.
A layer of platinum is seen in ice of the same age as a known abrupt climate transition, US scientists report.
The climate flip has previously been linked to the demise of the North American "Clovis" people.
The data seem to back the idea that an impact tipped the climate into a colder phase, a point of current debate.
Rapid climate change occurred 12,900 years ago, and it is proposed that this is associated with the extinction of large mammals - such as the mammoth, widespread wildfires and rapid changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation....Source: BBC News Source URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23536567 Date: 8-1-13
Thalian Hall houses what might be the oldest painted stage curtain in the United States, a theater historian told a Wilmington audience Thursday.
"These things were not meant to last," said David Rowland, president of Pennsylvania's Old York Road Historical Society. Most surviving examples of drop curtains in New England date from only the 1890s at the earliest, Rowland said.
Thalian Hall, however, still has its original drop curtain, which hung onstage when the historic theater opened on Oct. 12, 1858....Source: Wilmington Star News Source URL: http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20130801/ARTICLES/130809966/1177?Title=Thalian-curtains-might-be-oldest-in-entire-U-S- Date: 8-2-13