Today marks the 250th anniversary of the beginning of Pontiac’s Rebellion, known by a number of other monikers, including Pontiac’s War, Pontiac’s Uprising and Pontiac’s Conspiracy.
Pontiac was a chief of the Ottawa nation, and was one of many Indians dissatisfied with the results of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), which left the British in control of much of eastern North America.
Pontiac was born in the early part of the 18th century, most likely along a waterway in what is today the Midwestern US, likely either the Detroit or Maumee river.
He became an Ottawa war leader by the mid-1740s and supported the French in pivotal French and Indian War.
Following the British victory in North America and the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the British angered Indian tribes who had been allied with the French by cutting back on key supplies previously distributed from forts in the region.
The Indians had come to depend on gunpowder and ammunition distributed by Europeans for hunting game for food and to be able to take skins, which could be used in trade. The British, however, mistrusted their former Indian adversaries and began to restrict distribution of both.
Some Native Americans began to grow wary, believing the British were making preparations to attack them by disarming them. Many also resented being treated like a conquered people.
Efforts to raise the sole surviving German Dornier Do 17 bomber from World War II began last Friday, more than 70 years after it was shot down over the English Channel.
The aircraft, a light bomber, rests in approximately 50 feet of water and is in surprisingly good condition, according to those involved with the salvage operation.
Officials plan to raise the bomber with a specially designed cradle later this month.
The project will be the biggest recovery of its kind in British waters, and the price tag could top $900,000, according to Reuters.
The existence of the Dornier Do 17 – lost during the Battle of Britain – off the coast of Kent became known when it was spotted by divers in 2008 lying on a chalk bed with a small debris field around it.
“The plane will be packed in gel and plastic sheeting to shield it from the air before it can be transported to hydration tunnels where the crust created by 70 years underwater will be washed away over the next two years,” according to Reuters.
Eventually, the bomber will be exhibited in the Royal Air Force Museum in London.
British finance minister George Osborne wielded the cudgel of fiscal insecurity to warn Scots against voting for independence.
Scotland runs the risk of ceding control of much of its economy if it chooses sovereignty during a referendum next year and remains in a “currency zone” using the British pound – the preferred option of the pro-independence Scottish government.
Osborne also warned there was no guarantee that the rest of the United Kingdom would accept such an arrangement.
Speaking in Glasgow, Osborne said choosing such a path could result in Scotland ending up like Panama and Montenegro, which use the US dollar and the euro, respectively, but neither has control over policy, according to Agence France-Presse.
In case anyone in attendance was unclear where Osborne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, stood regarding Scotland’s 300-year-old union with England, the British Conservative politician made it crystal clear.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t break it,” he said.
There are two oft-cited shibboleths regarding the White Star Line’s decision to construct just 20 lifeboats for the RMS Titanic: cost and aesthetics.
There must have been some short-sighted reason to equip a ship that could carry more than 2,200 people with lifeboats that couldn’t even handle 1,200, right?
Not necessarily. We forget that the regulatory and safety environment is, in some ways, very different than it was 101 years ago today, when the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank, taking more than 1,500 souls with her.
Yet, as Chris Berg of the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, Australia, wrote last year, the Titanic was fully compliant with all marine laws.
The British Board of Trade required all vessels above 10,000 metric tonnes, or just over 11,000 US tons, to carry 16 lifeboats; the White Star Line went above and beyond the minimum by ensuring that the Titanic exceeded that requirements by four boats.
However, the Titanic weighed more than 51 tons, or far more than upper threshold that the Board of Trade used to base its lifeboat requirement upon.
The problem lay not with greed or a lack of foresight on the part of the Titanic’s builders or owners, but in the fact that regulations had not been updated in nearly 20 years and were designed for a different era.
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I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this was not put together by the typical Facebook user.
A research team led by underwater archaeologists from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology began searching this week for a revenue cutter that exploded in Charleston Harbor 200 years ago.
The US Revenue Cutter Gallatin came ashore on April 1, 1813, in Charleston, where its crew took on supplies and prepared for their next mission. Apparently, a spark reached the ship’s powder store because shortly after 11 a.m., the Gallatin was blown apart.
Despite the devastating impact of the explosion, which killed three crew members and seriously injured five others, researchers believe there’s a chance relics from the vessel may still be recoverable after two centuries, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
“Personal effects or artifacts that represent the state of South Carolina’s coastal defenses might ‘give a glimpse of the War of 1812 through the actual archaeological record,’” Jim Spirek, an underwater archaeologist at the S.C. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, told the newspaper.
Spirek, however, is cautious. After 200 years, during which the city’s waterfront has been greatly altered, the odds of finding the cutter seem daunting.
“The initial plan calls for dragging a side-scan sonar device behind a boat while looking for sunken ‘anomalies’ in the muck,” the Post and Courier reported. “If something of curiosity is found, for example, a collection of ballast stones, divers would go into the water for a closer look. The ship’s cannons were reported to have been recovered shortly after the disaster, so they aren’t on the menu.”
The Los Angeles Times’ take on the recent report that William Shakespeare didn’t like to pay taxes and sought to profit from an archaic form of commodities trading says as much about the Times’ view of the world as it does about life in Elizabethan-era England.
The Times picked up on a report from researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales that claims the Bard of Avon was a grain hoarder and was pursued by authorities for tax evasion.
Profits from his actions were channeled into real estate deals, enabling Shakespeare to become a large landowner.
The Times calls Shakespeare a conniving character, a tax dodger and a profiteer. What it fails to do is add some economic context to its story.
While focusing on claims that Shakespeare “a tax dodger who profiteered during times of famine,” the Times makes just a brief mention of the fact that there was no copyright laws in Shakespeare’s time, meaning he could expect no future royalties from his works.
Instead, the publication manages to whip up a little class envy while portraying the playwright as little more than a thug:
“By combining both illegal and legal activities, Shakespeare was able to retire in 1613 as the largest property owner in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon,” according to the Times. “His profits – minus a few fines for illegal hoarding and tax evasion – meant he had a working life of just 24 years.”
An English museum has received confirmation that a painting in its collection since the 19th century is the work of Flemish Baroque master Anthony van Dyck.
Portrait of Olive Boteler Porter was purchased by the founders of the Bowes Museum in 1866 and has been in its collection since it opened to the public in 1892. However, because the work was in poor condition, it had long been relegated to storage.
“Its sophisticated drapery, coloring and facial expression are typical of van Dyck’s female portraits of the 1630s, although they were overlooked due to the painting’s poor condition, leading to it being recorded in the Museum’s files as, ‘School of Van Dyck,’” according to the museum.
“Art historian and dealer Dr. Bendor Grosvenor was perusing the Public Catalogue Foundation’s massive database of all 210,000 publicly owned paintings in the UK … to research an upcoming exhibition when he spotted the Portrait of Olive Boteler Porter,” according to The History Blog.
When Grosvenor suggested that it could be a work by van Dyke himself, the museum enlisted him and his colleagues at Philip Mould & Co., who have conserved more than 20 Van Dyck’s, to restore the painting.
The depth and breadth of the New York Times’ Disunion series never ceases to amaze. The articles focus on the War Between the States, but go far beyond examinations of battles and leaders, delving into an amazing array of topics, including the medical, legal and financial aspects of the 1861-65 period.
Recently, Disunion, which is written by a variety of historians, academics and other individuals knowledgeable on specific aspects of the war, focused on the ingenious concept of cotton bonds, financial instruments issued by the Confederacy in 1863.
In January of that year, the Confederate Congress secretly authorized bankers at the noted Paris-based financial house of Erlanger et Cie. to underwrite $15 million of Confederate bonds, to be denominated in British pounds or French francs.
“But unlike ordinary bonds backed only by the faith and credit of the issuing country, at the option of the holder an Erlanger certificate could be converted into a receipt for a pre-specified quantity of cotton,” Phil Leigh writes for Disunion.
This was important because Confederate currency was all but worthless in Europe at that point of the war.
The conversion rate for the cotton bonds was fixed at 12 cents a pound, regardless of the commodity’s market price, at the time about 48 cents. In addition, the bonds paid a 7 percent annual interest rate.
Manx, a language declared extinct in the 1990s, is staging an extraordinary renaissance.
Nearly 40 years after last native speaker of Manx died and half a generation after UNESCO declared it extinct, the Gaelic language is anything but dead.
“Road signs, radio shows, mobile phone apps, novels – take a drive around the Isle of Man today and the local language is prominent,” according to the BBC News Magazine.
Manx is a sister language of Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and like those two languages is descended from an old version of Irish. In the Manx tongue, the language is called “Gaelg” or “Gailck,” similar to the English word “Gaelic.”
Like many of the languages which once flourished within the British Isles, including Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Cornish, Manx was supplanted by English and later looked down upon by many, particularly those in power.
“In the 1860s there were thousands of Manx people who couldn’t speak English,” said Brian Stowell, 76, a native of the Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. “But barely a century later it was considered to be so backwards to speak the language that there were stories of Manx speakers getting stones thrown at them in the towns.”