Saturday, November 30, 2013

NOVEMBER 30 = Oscar Wilde Dies


"Morality does not help me. I am a born antinomian.* I am one
of those who are made for exceptions, not for laws. But while I
see that there is nothing wrong in what one does, I see that
there is something wrong in what one becomes. It is well that I
have learned this."


* = "antinomian": one who rejects a socially established morality.

Osacr Wilde's Demise

So wrote Oscar Wilde in March of 1897 in an exceptionally long letter to Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on
today's date November 30, 1900. The letter was posted from "H.M. Prison, Reading". It was there that the celebrated writer, poet and dramatist was confined following his conviction on charges of sodomy. It was Wilde's close relationship with Lord Douglas (pictured, right - whom he called "Bosie") that led to his downfall at the hands of the younger man's father, the Marquis of Queensbury (author of the famous boxing rules). Bosie is believed to be the basis for the title character in Wilde's novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray". The story tells of a very handsome young man who sees the inner-decay of his soul reflected in an oil painting which grows progressively more hideous with each passing day. That character has an older mentor who early in the story declares:

"I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world."

Oscar Wilde and "Bosie"

The Marquess of Queensbury, a brutish and rude man, publicly accused Wilde of conducting a homosexual relationship with his son, Douglas (Wilde's "Bosie") by leaving his card at Wilde's club addressed to "Oscar Wilde posing as a sodomite (below)." Wilde sued the Marquess for libel, but that suit failed, when evidence of Wilde's other
homosexual activities surfaced. Counter-charges arose resulting in Wilde's conviction on charges of "gross indecency and sodomy," homosexual activity being very much a crime during this time. Wilde was sentenced to two years of hard labor.  It was during this time in prison that Wilde wrote the 50,000-word letter to Douglas from which a small fragment is quoted above. He was not allowed to send it while he was still a prisoner, but he did give it to an associate after his release with instructions to take it to Lord Douglas, but Douglas denied ever having received it. It's first complete publication came in 1962 with the publication of "The Letters of Oscar Wilde" from which it was quoted for this posting.

The Wit of Oscar Wilde

Wilde was known for his flowing wit, but one of his best moments came with two simple words in an exchange recorded by Barbara Tuchman:

"Since the death of Tennyson in 1895, the post (of Poet Laureate of England) had remained vacant....(many of the would-be) candidates were mediocrities, one of whom, Sir Lewis Morris, offered an opening to what a contemporary called 'the most spontaneously witty thing ever uttered in England'. Morris, who wanted the Laureateship badly, complained to Oscar Wilde, 'There is a conspiracy of silence against me, a conspiracy of silence. What ought I to do, Oscar?'

'Join it.' replied Wilde."




READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  krustybassist@gmail.com  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources:

"The Letters of Oscar Wilde"  Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1962; p. 468.

"Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius" by Barbara Belford, Random House, New York, 2000; pp. 305-06.

"The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914" by Barbara Tuchman, Macmillan Co., 1966, Folio Society edition, 1997; p. 32.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde









http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde

Image of Wilde:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9c/Oscar_Wilde_portrait.jpg

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+ 68.

Friday, November 29, 2013

NOVEMBER 29 = Nurse Fisher's Letter to Bereaved Mother




On today's date in 1918, a U.S. Army nurse wrote a letter to the bereaved mother of a soldier who died of influenza after surviving combat during the war.  The kindness of the nurse's gesture and the feeling with which she wrote have made the letter a classic of war correspondence.

Army Nurses During World War One

Over 25,000 of  America's women served in support of America's men over seas during World War One.  By 1918, there were over 12,000 nurses on active duty at some 198 stations world-wide.  Most of these women served in the European theater of operations.  During World War One, army nurses did not have officer's commissions but were appointed into the Army Nurse Corps.  Although I do not believe that they served in front-line areas (as with the M*A*S*H units of the Korean War and later), they were close enough to the action to come under air attack, and even occasional enemy artillery fire. While none of  the nurses were killed in such action, several were wounded.  And some were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in recognition of there valiant service.  This was also the time of the world-wide influenza epidemic of 1918, which killed over 18 million people around the globe.  Many of these victims were soldiers.

Maude Fisher and Richard Hogan

Such was the case with a U.S. Army private serving in France during 1918.  Private Hogan had survived front-line combat unscathed.  But only a few days after the Armistice was declared, like so many soldiers, he came down with influenza.  One of the nurses who tended to his condition was one Maude Fisher.  Private Hogan put up a brave struggle with the disease, joking and winning the affection of Miss Fisher as well as the other nurses in his ward.  Sadly, within two weeks of his being admitted to the hospital, Private Richard Hogan died of influenza.  Realizing that his mother would just receive a tersely-worded notification from the War Department, Nurse Maude Fisher decided to write the following beautiful letter to Hogan's mother:

"November 29th, 1918

My dear Mrs. Hogan: 

If I could talk to you I could tell you so much better about your son's last sickness, and all the little things that mean so much to a mother far away from her boy. 

"Your son was brought to this hospital on the 13th of November very sick with what they called Influenza. This soon developed into Pneumonia. He was brave and cheerful though, and made a good fight with the disease. Several days he seemed much better, and seemed to enjoy some fruit that I brought him. He did not want you to worry about his being sick, but I told him I thought we ought to let you know, and he said all right. 

"He became very weak towards the last of his sickness and slept all the time. One day while I was visiting some of the other patients he woke up and seeing me with my hat on asked the orderly if I was his sister come to see him. He was always good and patient and the nurses loved him. Everything was done to make him comfortable and I think he suffered very little, if any pain. 

"He laughed and talked to the people around him as long as he was able.... The last time I saw him I carried him a cup of hot soup, but he was too weak to do anything but taste it, and went back to sleep. 

"The Chaplain saw him several times and had just left him when he breathed his last on November 25th, at 2:30 in the afternoon.  He was laid to rest in the little cemetery of Commercy, and sleeps under a simple white wooden cross among his comrades who, like him, have died for their country. His grave number is 22, plot 1. His aluminum identification tag is on the cross, and a similar one is around his neck, both bearing his serial number, 2793346. 

"The plot of the grave in the cemetery where your son is buried was given to the Army for our boys and the people of Commercy will always tend it with loving hands and keep it fresh and clean. I enclose here a few leaves from the grass that grows near in a pretty meadow. 

"A big hill overshadows the place and the sun was setting behind it just as the Chaplain said the last prayer over your boy.  He prayed that the people at home might have great strength now for the battle that is before them, and we do ask that for you now.  The country will always honor your boy, because he gave his life for it, and it will also love and honor you for the gift of your boy, but be assured, that the sacrifice is not in vain, and the world is better today for it. 

"From the whole hospital force, accept deepest sympathy and from myself, tenderest love in your hour of sorrow. 

Sincerely, 

Maude B. Fisher"

The nurses who cared for soldiers who, like Private Hogan, suffered from influenza were not in any way immune to the disease.  Some 200 of them died of the disease which they contracted from caring for soldiers who had it.

Sources:
http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/11/the-sacrifice-is-not-in-vain.html

http://www.army.mil/women/nurses.html

"War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars" by Andrew Carroll, Washington Square Press, New York, 2001

Images: 
Nurses =
http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/6972471644/lightbox/
The image is indeed of nurses from the W.W.I era, with the woman third from the right being identified as Maude Fisher.  Whether or not she is the same Fisher of today's posting, I don't know.

Army Hospital =
http://demons.swallowthesky.org/post/2110117800


Private Hogan's Grave =
http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/11/the-sacrifice-is-not-in-vain.html

Thursday, November 28, 2013

NOVEMBER 28 = Lady Astor is Elected to Parliament


The above picture is a portrait of Lady Astor by John Singer Sargent from 1909.

Lady Astor is Elected in 1919

On today's date in 1919, Nancy Witcher Astor, Viscountess Astor, was elected to the British Parliament, becoming the first woman so elected to ever take her seat. Nancy Astor was born in Danville, Virginia in 1879. Her father had been a Confederate officer and a one time slave owner. In 1897, she married Robert Gould Shaw II (brother of late commander of the fabled 54'th Massachusetts - regiment during the Civil War). and they had one child, a son, before they got divorced in 1903. Not long after that during a visit to England, she met and fell in love with Waldorf Astor (right), the great-great-grandson of the American fur trader John Jacob
Astor.  In 1906, they married. They lived at the Astor family estate in Clivedon. Lady Astor took the Unionist seat of her husband, Waldorf Astor, who was moving up to the House of Lords, after he inherited his father's seat. She had run a bright and flamboyant campaign for the seat and attracted international attention when she won a resounding victory(she was not actually the first woman ever elected -that laurel belongs to Constance Markiewicz, an Irish Nationalist who won in 1918, but declined to take her seat in protest to British policy in Ireland).

Lady Astor and "The Clivedon Set"
Lady Astor (below, circa 1940's) became known as a strong individualist, a friend of George Bernard Shaw, and prone to many
acidic comments on politics and society saying once "I married beneath me. All women do." Her comments would sometimes take on a self-deprecating nature: "My vigour, vitality, and cheek repel me. I am the kind of woman I would run from." She met once with Joseph Stalin despite her hate for communists, and told him that Winston Churchill was finished. This caused considerable comment and was just part of a life-long tendancy on her part to go against the grain. She eventually became identified with "the Clivedon Set" a group of British politicians who strongly favored a policy of appeasement towards the regime of Adolf Hitler in Germany. "The set" became so named because they frequently met at the Astor's estate, Clivedon.

Lady Astor Becomes a Favorite Target of Churchill

But it was as the object of two of Sir Winston Churchill's most venomous barbs that Lady Astor achieved what is likely her most enduring claim to fame. As noted above, she had written Churchill off as being finished long before he actually was. This was not unusual, as many others did this as well. But Lady Astor and Churchill developed a particularly biting relationship. After one exchange, she is said to have told Sir Winston:
"If you were my husband, I would put poison in your coffee!" To which Sir Winston is said to have replied "And if you were my wife, I'd drink it!"
Another exchange between the two came at a point when Churchill, as was often the case, had had a bit too much to drink.
Lady Astor - "Sir Winston, you are very DRUNK!"
Churchill - "Yes madam I AM very drunk. And you madam, are very ugly. But in the morning I shall be sober!"





READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  krustybassist@gmail.com  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources =

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Astor,_Viscountess_Astor


The Last Lion: Volume 1: Winston Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874 - 1932
------------------------- AND --------------------------------
The Last Lion: Volume 2: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940                              BOTH  by William Manchester. Little Brown & Co., Boston, 1983 and 1988.











Portrait by Sargent =
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ladyastor.jpg

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THANKSGIVING!!


"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among us with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted..."

The REAL First Thanksgiving

This was the scene at the first Thanksgiving feast as remembered by Pilgrim Edward Winslow in his Dec. 11, 1621 entry in "A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth". This first observance took place sometime between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, 1621, and lasted three days. But it was a one-time affair, and was not celebrated the following year. It did not even become a national holiday in the United States until much later. In 1827, theauthor Sarah Josepha Hale began a campaign for just such a holiday. "We have too few holidays..." She wrote into her novel "Northwood":

"Thanksgiving like the Fourth of July should be considered a national festival and observed by all our people."

She continued to pursue the idea as an editor for the popular journal "Godsey's Lady's Book". Due in part to the efforts of Sarah Hale, on October 1, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln wrote to remind Americans of their blessings, even in the midst of Civil War:

Lincoln's Declaration:

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins , hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States...to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father in the heavens."



READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  krustybassist@gmail.com  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources:

The full text of Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation can be found at:

http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm

The above picture from the hilarious Thanksgiving film "Planes, Trains &Automobiles" can be found at:
http://www.hwdyk.com/quiz/m/403/planes-trains-and-automobiles

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+ 32.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NOVEMBER 26 = The Great Diamond Hoax of 1872

"On a foggy day in 1871, two men walked into the Bank of California in San Francisco. One held a rifle and the other gripped a large buckskin pouch. Both were covered in a thick layer of grime. Initially, the nervous teller took the shady drifters for bank robbers. But his anxiety turned to elation when they showed him the contents of their pouch — a shimmery bounty of diamonds, rubies and sapphires." 

- from “Diamonds: The Rush of ’72,” by Sam North

This passage from Mr.North's novel describes the first step of an extremely daring scam that was pulled on one of the most prominent bankers in the country by a pair of Kentucky grifters. By the time their hoax was discovered and reported on today's date, November 26, in 1872 in the San Francisco Chronicle, it had come to involve some of the most prominent names in America. Greed would get the best of these tycoons, but it would wind up making a hero out of an unknown Geologist.

The Gold Rush Days in America 

 The Gold Rush which struck the United States and the rest of the world as a result of gold found in Sutter's Creek in January of 1848 had a huge impact on peoples lives. People from all walks of life abandoned everything to go and try their luck at getting rich quickly.  The young Lieutenant William Tecumseh Sherman wrote: "Not only did soldiers and sailors desert, but captains and masters of ships actually abandoned their vessels and cargoes to try their luck at the mines. Preachers and Professors forgot their creeds and took to trade, and even to keeping gambling houses." So it is hardly surprising that more than a few people turned to fraud in order to make their fortunes. A common practice was that of "salting" the grounds of a mine. This meant taking a few pieces of gold, or a small quantity of gold dust and planting it on the grounds of a certain plot of land in order to make it seem to a gullible prospector, or a would-be investor that it was a claim rich with gold. Then the huckster doing the salting could sell the worthless claim for big bucks, and disappear with the loot.

Arnold and Slack Show Up With a Bag.

Well, it wasn't always the gullible who fell for this scam. Philip
Arnold was a poorly educated Mexican War Veteran who, by 1870 was a bookkeeper for the Diamond Drill Co., a San Francisco producer of drills which used diamond bits. Arnold (above, left) was from Kentucky, and together with his cousin, John Slack (above, right) he hatched an extremely daring con. Dressed as ordinary prospectors and appearing to be a pair of oafish bumpkins they arrived at the office of George D. Roberts late in November of 1870 clutching a small bag.  The bag held something of great value which they said which they wanted to deposit with the bank of San Francisco, but it was late in the day. Seeming very suspicious, they whispered about the bag's contents, mentioning diamonds just loudly enough for Roberts to hear it. Dollar signs flashing before his eyes, Roberts eventually got his shy visitors to show him  the contents of their bag: a bunch of  uncut diamonds (which Arnold had swiped from his job). Then they let it slip that they had found these gems somewhere in Indian Territory.

Roberts Was "Very Much Elated...."

"Roberts was very much elated by our discovery, and promised Slack and myself to keep it a profound secret until we could 
explore the country further and ascertain more fully the extent of our discoveries." as Arnold told the Louisville Courier-Journal in December of 1872. Of course, Roberts promptly broke his promise to keep it quiet (as Arnold knew he would) by blabbering the whole story to one William Chapman Ralston,  founder of the Bank of California. Ralston was one of the most prominent financiers of his day, having invested in the legendary "Comstock Lode" (the huge find of silver in Nevada in the 1860's), the Transcontinental Railroad (operational and linking the country by 1869) and dozens of other ventures. Amazingly enough for a supposedly shrewd businessman, Ralston swallowed the entire story - hook, line and sinker.  He fronted the pair $50,000 to go back and check on the "mine" and come back with more evidence. So they took this cash, went to London, and bought more uncut, and crummy gems.

More Big Names Are Lured Into the Trap

While they were away, Ralston and Roberts lured more tycoons into this trap as investors, including William Lent, and Asbury Harpending, who was no more honest then the rest of these greed-heads, but who left an amusing, if self-serving memoir entitled "The Great Diamond Hoax and Other Stirring Events in the Life of Asbury Harpending." This fantastical memoir records the events in the summer of 1871 when the investors met with Arnold and Slack.  By this time the two hucksters had their routine down pat, with Arnold playing the solid, taciturn man, while Slack appeared to be something of a sleeping blow-off:

"Slack was asleep like a tired-out man. Arnold sat grimly erect like a vigilant old soldier with a rifle by his side, a bulky looking buckskin package. Slack soon awoke and we discussed the business in hand in low tones.  The men told a rather lurid story, but yet not improbable in it's way. They said they had luckily struck a spot which was enormously rich in stones, which they estimated to be worth two million dollars..."

 Later the men met at a club and Harpending displayed the "find" for everyone to see: " A sheet was spread on my billiard table, I cut the elaborate fastenings of the sack and, taking hold of the lower corners, dumped the contents. It seemed like a dazzling, many-colored cataract of light".  Their eyes dazzled by all of this loot, Ralston, Lent and Harpending in October of 1871 took all of this to be examined by no less than Charles Lewis Tiffany: yes THAT Tiffany, of Tiffany's of New York, the famous jeweler. By this
 time they had invited others who were eager to get in on the ground floor of this "gem find". This expanded group included Generals George B. McClellan and Benmain F. Butler, both of Civil War fame and Horace Greeley soon to be a candidate for President. According to Harpending, Tiffany "Viewed them gravely... and held them up to the light, looking every whit the part of a great connoiseur." The fact is that neither Tiffany, nor his lapidary to whom he took these stones were at all experienced in handling UNCUT diamonds which is what these were. Nevertheless, Tiffany declared these stones to be the real thing! Arnold's $20,000 worth of crummy uncut stones which he had bought in London were thus declared by Tiffany to be real stuff straight from the "mines'' worth over $150,000!! This veritable gallery of boobs is pictured above and can be viewed and      ID-ed by clicking on the picture to enlarge it.

The Summer of 1872: The Plot Thins

By now the time had come to examine the mine site itself.  A group including  Henry  Janin,  respected  engineer selected by Ralston & Co. was assembled, but because of cold weather did not depart for the
"Mine site" until June of 1872.  In the interim, Arnold and Slack had gotten to the site in Colorado (pictured above in 1872) and "salted" it liberally with more cheap uncut diamonds which they had bought in London.  Then, when leading the group to this faux mine site, they took the most circuitous, round about way there that they could manage. Thus, by the time that the group arrived there, they were not at all sure where it was, and they were tired and angry with each other, and anxious to find all of these gems.  I'm not sure why Janin was so gullible, but he, the only trained mining man present eagerly accepted all of the easily found "gems" which Arnold and Slack pointed out to him. And he began sending wildly enthusiastic reports about the richness of the site back to Ralston.  Arnold and Slack were quickly payed off with the remainder of @$600,000.00 that they were given by Ralston for the ownership of the mine. Then they disappeared for good, Slack never to be seen again, and Arnold to his farm in Kentucky. Meanhwile, Ralston had lined up over ten MILLION dollars worth of investors for this "find of a lifetime" as the newspapers of the time were touting it.

The Hoax is Finally Uncovered and Blown Into the Papers

At long last the hoax finally began to fall apart.  By chance, Janin and his men were on an Oakland bound train on which a party of geologists
lead by Clarence King (pictured right), a Yale-educated geologist happened to be travelling. King had been fighting Congress for funding of his geological expeditions to the precise area wherein Janin and his "find" were.  King and his men had surveyed the entire area and were well familiar with it. When they overheard Janin and his men talking about all of the gems that they were going to find there, King's ears perked up.  Joining in the talk, they offered to go to the precise location and determine whether there were any jewels to be found. If there were jewels to be found there it would make him and his group of surveyors who had found no such thing look pretty lame. So in October of 1872, King and his men arrived at what they knew to be the Colorado location described by Janin.  And they quickly concluded that the gems which had been found there had indeed been used to "salt" the area.  It was not, they concluded a mine at all, and Ralston and his investors had been defrauded.

On  Novmber 10, King went to Janin's hotel to tell him of his findings.  “Through nearly all the night I detailed to him the discovery, and at last convinced him of its correctness.” King would later record.  Janin and King went to Ralston and his men the next morning and spilled the beans about the enormous fraud to which they in their eagerness and greed had subjected themselves. And shortly thereafter the news was spread all over the newspapers, beginning with banner headlines on this morning's San Francisco Chronicle: “UNMASKED!” and below that: “THE MAMMOTH FRAUD EXPOSED”, “The Great Diamond Fiasco,” And along with that came the“Astounding Revelations.” which of course contained plenty of abuse of  Janin for allowing himself to be so easily taken. Every one of the men in Ralston's group suffered extreme public humiliation for having been defrauded by these two seemingly unsophisticated bumpkins.

As for the two "bumpkins", Slack had indeed disappeared from view. It was reported by one source that he had squandered his part of the take and died in 1896, having spent his last days as a casket maker.  Arnold, for his part had returned to his farm in Kentucky and spent  his money on improving the place.  A grand jury in San Francisco indicted Arnold and Slack for fraud, but the contents of the indictment were kept private.  They were likely kept quiet in order to spare the investors more bad publicity. Eventually, Arnold settled out of court with investor William Lent for $150,000.00.  He would die of pneumonia in 1878 at age 49.  The only man to come out of the whole mess with his reputation enhanced was Clarence King and his band of intrepid surveyors (pictured above).  King was hailed as a hero for his scientific methods which had unmasked  this dastardly fraud.  He eventually became a personal friend of President Theodore Roosevelt and was appointed as the first director of the U.S. Geological Survey.



Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The_Great_Diamond_Hoax_of_1872.html#ixzz2DRDFLFdh"Slack was asleep like a tired-out man. Arnold sat grimly erect like a vigilant old soldier with a rifle by his side, a bulky looking buckskin package. Slack soon awoke and we disussed the business in hand in low tones.  The emn told a rather lurid story, but yet not improbable in it's way. Thye said they had luckily struck a spot which was enormously rich in stones, which they esitmated to be worth two million dollars..."" A sheet was spread on my billiard table, I cut the elaborate fastenings of the sack and, taking hold of the lower corners, dumped the contents. It seemed like a dazzling, many-colored cataract of light"
Sources:

"The Great Diamond Hoax of 1872" by Robert Wilson, Smithsonian magazine, June, 2004
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The_Great_Diamond_Hoax_of_1872.html



by Asbury Harpending, Publ. in 1913








"This Day in History" The History Channel Website
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-great-diamond-hoax-is-exposed

"Exposing the Great Diamond Hoax" by Cassandra Willyard, "Earth", Nov. 26, 2008
http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/benchmarks-exposing-great-diamond-hoax


Pictures:

Arnold and Slack: http://jy3502.hubpages.com/hub/Old-West-Swindles-and-Cons

Wm. Ralston: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Chapman_Ralston

Clarence King:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_King

Clarence King, et al:  http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/benchmarks-exposing-great-diamond-hoax

+ 196.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

NOVEMBER 24 = Oswald is Shot.


"Just as they reached the edge of the ramp, I caught the movement of a man, and my first thought was, as I started moving, that somebody had jumped out of the crowd, maybe to take a sock at him....And as I moved forward I saw the man reach Oswald, raise up, and then the shot was fired. As he fired, Ruby yelled, 'You killed my President, you rat!'"
- Dallas Policeman Don Archer

"After Oswald had moved about ten feet from the door of the jail office, Jack Ruby passed between a newsman and a detective at the edge of the straining crowd on the Main Street ramp. With his right hand extended and holding a .38 caliber revolver, Ruby stepped quickly forward and fired a single fatal bullet into Oswald's abdomen."
- The Warren Report.

"I am Jack Ruby. You all know me."

On today's date, November 24, in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who was accused of murdering our President, John F. Kennedy was himself killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby (above) in the basement of a Dallas police station. The killing happened in full view of television cameras while Oswald was being escorted by Dallas police officers for transfer to another police facility. The shot was fatal. Officers quickly tackled the assailant. "The next thing, I was down on the floor," as Ruby later remembered. "I said 'I am Jack Ruby. You all know me.'"

The Public Doubts About the Warren Commission

As discussed in the "Today in History" for November 22, ever since the national tragedy that occurred during that awful weekend in Dallas over fifty years ago, conspiracy theories have abounded. As concluded by the Warren Commission, Oswald and Ruby both were acting on their own impulse and there was no conspiracy behind either crime, either foreign or domestic. And again as discussed, after the experience of Vietnam and Watergate, the willingness of the American people to just accept the government's word on this or any matter was at an all time low. And polls taken at the time of the murders, as well as polls taken today show that a strong majority of the American people still believe in the likelihood of a conpiracy being behind the crimes. A film made by Oliver Stone "JFK" (1994) raised further doubts as to the truth of the Warren Commission's findings.

Oswald Acted ALONE

Nevertheless, facts are facts. Recent probes into the murders - the 1993 book "Case Closed" by Gerald Posner (right), as well as the 2003 Television Documentary "The Kennedy Assassination - Beyond Conspiracy" show that as improbable as it may seem on the face of it, the Commission's basic conclusion was correct. The evidence of a second shooter firing from the "grassy knoll" remains fragmentary at best. In fact, when filming the scene wherein the "puff of smoke" that some claim to have seen coming from this direction, was to be shown, the film makers found that no gun shot could produce a suitable facsimile of this "puff" and it had to be produced artificially. The famous Zapruder film - a film of the assassination taken by citizen Abraham Zapruder with a home movie camera,which shows the President's head appearing to jerk backward after the second shot tore into his skull does indeed seem to support this second gunman theory. That is until the location of the entry wound of this shot is taken into account. The entry wound is in the back of the President's skull at an angle from which it would be impossible to hit from the grassy knoll.

Oliver Stone's Film Fantasy "J.F.K."

Further, the moment in Mr. Stone's film in which it would seem to require the second bullet - the famous "magic bullet" - to go through impossible contortions of trajectory to hit both the President and Governor Connally, is based on a false premise. In the Stone film, Kevin Costner portraying District Attorney Jim Garrison shows the bullet hitting two actors portraying the President and Governor Connally who are seated directly in line
with each other, and at the same height.  But in actual fact, Governor Connally was seated several inches lower than the President, and several inches in board. AND he was turned sharply to his right at the moment that the bullet struck. As shown by a computer simulation (above) by investigator Dale Myers in the documentary, when these facts of the President's and the Governor's realtive positions are taken into account, then a straight line can be drawn from the exit and entrance wound suffered by both men back to the sniper's nest occupied by Oswald.

Conspiracy Loons

Despite these and many other facts which point inescapably to the conclusion of Oswald and Ruby being the LONE gunmen behind the murder of our President, the ravings of the conspiracy theorists still continue to hold onto the public's fascination. Why? It could be that, as suggested by the late historian William Manchester (below) and others
that the public cannot accept that a crime of such magnitude and far-reaching consequences could possibly have been committed by one disgruntled loser who was striving to become the center of attention. If you take the holocaust, goes the analogy, you have a rough balance. The greatest crime on one side, and the greatest criminals on the other - the Nazis. But THIS - the murder of the U.S. President, his replacement by Lyndon Johnson and all of the consequences that flowed from that, both good and ill, on one side and on the other "that wretched waif Oswald" as Manchester calls him on the other.. it just doesn't seem at all right. One wants to add some weight to the other side. It would invest the President's death with greater meaning. The citizen and the reader of history can only guess at the reasons behind such attitudes.

Ruby Acted Alone

As for the subjects of this date's entry - Oswald suffered severe internal injuries from Ruby's shot and died a short time later. Depite having been interrogated by police several times before his death, he never confessed to having murdered the President. In
what can only be considered one of the supreme ironies of history, at the sublime moment of his life - when at long last Oswald achieved his life's ambition to be the center of everyone's attention - he was robbed of his moment in the sun by another man who was acting for the same reasons. Jack Ruby was tried and convicted of murdering Oswald. Despite exhaustive efforts on the part of legions of conspriacy theorists to link Ruby to a mafia plot to murder JFK - Oswald killing JFK and then Ruby killing Oswald to silence him - no definitive evidence to such a link has ever been produced. Ruby's behavior in the hours between the murder of JFK and his subsequent shooting of Oswald, as well as his statements to friends that he believed that he would be viewed as a hero make it clear that he too wanted to make a mark on the public's consciousness. Just as did Oswald, Ruby longed to be the center of attention. His conviction was later overturned on a technicality, and a new trial was ordered. But before the new trial could take place, Ruby died of a blood clot in 1967. He maintained to the end of his life that he had acted entirely on his own in killing Oswald.


READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  krustybassist@gmail.com  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources:

"The Warren Report: The Official Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy"
- published by the Associated Press Western Printing and Lithograph Co., 1964.

"Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies" - Gen. Ed., Mark C. Carnes "JFK", by Stanley Karnow. Henry Holt Inc., New York, 1995. pp. 270 - 273.

"The Kennedy Assassination - Beyond Conspiracy" - Dir. by Mark Obenhaus, Springs Media Inc., 2003

"Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK" By Gerald Posner. Doubleday Puble. Co., New York, 1993.

http://www.jfk-assassination.de/warren/wch/vol12/page399.php

Picture =

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ruby-shooting-oswald2.png

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Friday, November 22, 2013

NOVEMBER 22 = JFK is Murdered



John F. Kennedy is Murdered

On today's date in 1963, our nations 35'th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot while in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Governor John Connally of Texas, who was riding with Kennedy was also shot. The presidential limousine sped on to Parkland Memorial Hospital. There, President Kennedy was pronounced dead. Governor Connally was seriously wounded, but would eventually recover. Shortly after the President was murdered, a man named Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and charged with the crime. Two days later, while being transferred to another police facility, Oswald was himself assassinated by a Dallas nightclub owner, one Jack Ruby. The new president, Lyndon Baines Johnson soon appointed a panel of eminent Americans (pictured below with Lyndon Johnson) to investigate the crime. Led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, the panel, known as the "Warren Commission", concluded after a probe lasting several months that Oswald acted alone, and that Ruby did as well. No conspiracy either foreign or domestic was found to have been involved in either of the murders.

The Public Skepticism Over the Warren Commission's Report

Those are the bare facts of the case. Ever since the Warren Com- mission's report came out, there have been many questions raised as to the findings of the Warren Report. A veritable industry of conspiracy theories and theorists has grown up around this event. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that the American public has grown up since that time. Our government has since then been found to have lied to us on numerous occasions. The whole experience of Vietnam, Watergate, and other cases has greatly reduced the public's willingness to accept the government's word on matters of importance.

Questions About the Death of J.F.K.

And the particulars of JFK's death do indeed lend themselves to considerable skepticism. There were any number of groups who would have been happy to see JFK dead. The Soviets, who had just been faced down in a standoff over the presence of Missiles in Cuba certainly had reasons. And the accused killer, Oswald, had at one time defected to the Soviet Union. He also had attempted to defect to Cuba. That country's leader, Fidel Castro, certainly had no love for JFK. The attempted invasion of his country by US-backed rebels in the Bay of Pig's fiasco had left him and his government very wary of American intentions. On the home front, the President's brother Robert F. Kennedy had as the U.S. Attorney General been conducting successful probes against leaders of organized crime in the U.S. And Oswald's killer, Jack Ruby had had links to organized crime. Further, although it was not known until some years later, RFK had been in charge of US efforts to assassinate Castro. Indeed, while he publicly accepted the Warren Commission's conclusions, LBJ himself is now known to have believed that Castro had simply gotten to JFK before JFK got to Castro.

The Substance of J.F.K.

But the whole merry-go-round of conspiracy theories and theorists will be dealt with on November 24, the day that Oswald himself was shot. I want on this day to remember our murdered president. Much has been written about the magic qualities which he brought to the presidency, the glamour and the optimism. This author thinks that rather too much has been written about that. There was more than enough about JFK to point to him as a man of real substance and vision and to make him and his presidency worthy of study and also to make much of what he represented worthy of admiration. Yes, there were plenty of aspects of the man that were quite negative. His frequently cut-throat approach to politics, his persistent womanizing, which put him and his presidency at risk, as well as his policies all had things about them to concern anyone. The man was no saint, and his presidency was not all that successful at the time of his death.

"National Review" on the Death of J.F.K.

But his presidency had more than a year left to go when he was murdered. And we are now left with the tantalizing, yet melancholy consideration of what might have been. As to the meaning of his life and his presidency, I would like to quote the conservative magazine "National Review" which said at the time that Kennedy's loss would be grieved:

".... not because (his) policies were so universally beloved, but because he was a man so intensely charming, whose personal vigor and robust enjoyment of life so invigorated almost all who beheld him. The metabolism of the whole nation rose on account of the fairyland quality of the First Family. After all, no divine type caster could have done better than to get JFK to play JFK, Jackie to play Jackie, and the children to play themselves."



READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  krustybassist@gmail.com  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Source :


"J.F.K. - The Man and the Myth" by Victor Lasky. Arlington House, New Rochelle, New York,
1966. pp. xi to xii.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

NOVEMBER 21 = Lincoln's (?) Letter to Mrs. Bixby

An officer tells General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, that a Private by the name of
Ryan is apparently the sole survivor of four sons of one woman, and that he is somewhere in Normandy, and very much in the thick of the fighting. And the question is, should he be found and pulled out even though finding him may prove very difficult, and may cost the lives of other soldiers? General Marshall, as tough and hard-nosed a soldier as has ever lived says to the officers around him to listen to a letter he has. He goes to his desk and produces a piece of paper, from which  he recites - mostlry from memory - the letter from President Abaham Lincoln to a Mrs. Bixby, who had lost five sons during the American Civil War:

November 21, 1864

To Mrs. Lydia Bixby.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

General Marshall then orders that Private Ryan be found and gotten "the hell out of there." This was a very moving moment from a fine movie.  Although the letter was real, the story was of course fictional, and it went on to quite deservedly win the Academy Award in 1998 for "Best Picture of the Year". But a very untidy fact of history is that the letter to Mrs. Bixby, written on today's date in 1864, and later published in the Boston Herald, was probably not written by Abraham Lincoln, and Mrs. Bixby was actually a southern sympathizer who did not lose five sons in battle.

Mrs. Bixby - A Rebel at Heart, and Possibly Worse...

First of all, the Mrs. Lydia Bixby to whom it was addressed (pictured, left) was apparently a Confederate sympathizer who may also have been "a Madam". Sarah Cabot Wheelwright, was a Boston woman who knew Mrs. Bixby during the Civil War, wrote about her that she was “a stout woman, more or less motherly-looking, but with shifty eyes.” Wheelwright had thought of hiring Mrs. Bixby until she received a police report to the effect "that she kept a house of ill-fame, was perfectly untrustworthy and as bad as she could be.” Further, Mrs. Bixby's grandchildren and great grandchildren very distinctly recall being told not only that Mrs. Bixby was a southern sympathizer, who had little good to say about President Lincoln, but also that the letter made her so angry that she destroyed it. The part about Mrs. Bixby being a "Madam" may be apocryphal, but that she destroyed the letter is likely true, as the original has never been found. There have been many copies of it which have surfaced over the years, but these have all been found to be forgeries.

Mrs. Bixby's Sons. She Did Lose TWO in Battle.

As to the actual fate of Mrs. Bixby's five sons, the historical record is a bit clearer (see also the letter written below on the details of Mrs. Bixby's sons). Two of her sons, Sgt. Charles N. Bixby, Company D, 20th Massachusetts, and Cpl. George A. Bixby, Company H, 25th Massachusetts were in fact killed in action. Another, Cpl. Henry C. Bixby, Company K, 32nd Massachusetts, was captured and later released. A fourth son, Pvt. Arthur Edward Bixby, Company C, Massachusetts 1st Heavy Artillery joined the army underage and was ordered discharged for that reason, but had gone AWOL by that time. The fifth son, Cpl. George A. Bixby, Company H, 25th Massachusetts, may have been captured, or may have deserted to the enemy, but his precise fate is unknown. However he was apparently not killed in action. A report to Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew, regarding the father of five sons serving in the war, reached the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, William Schouler, and was sent by him to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.  Somewhere along  this route through official channels, the information got changed  to read that ALL of the Bixbys had been killed.  This was the information which was delivered along with the records of the five sons to President Lincoln and at that point the letter was written. The claims by some writers that Mrs. Bixby lied about the death of all five of her sons, in order to gain some sort of monetary reward are not beyond Mrs. Bixby's character, but are largely speculative. The woman may simply have been as misinformed about her sons as the Adjutant General was.

Did President Lincoln Actually Write the Letter?

On this point, the record once again becomes rather murky. It is because the original of the letter has never been found that it cannot be said for certain to have been written by our 16'th President. It was later claimed by Lincoln's Assistant Private Secretary John Hay (pictured, right) according to Hay's associates, that he had written the letter on Lincoln's behalf. The letter did come during a time at which Lincoln was extraordinarily busy with his re-election campaign, and Hay did say that Lincoln was unable to read many of the letters which were sent to him. Further, some analysis of the letter in comparison to the other known writings of the two men does lend itself to some doubts as to Lincoln's authorship. For example nowhere else in Lincoln's writings is the word "beguile" used. Whereas it frequently appears in the known writings of Hay. But whomever the actual author of the letter may have been, the greatness of the man, and the meaning of the letter remain beyond question. As Michael Burlingame, who wrote the article "The Trouble With the Bixby Letter" in "American Heritage" Magazine in the summer of 1999 concluded:

"The author of the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural will always command the world’s admiration. As a journalist wrote in 1925, “If under the merciless hand of investigation it should be shown that this remarkable document was not only based upon misinformation but was not the composition of Lincoln himself, the letter to Mrs. Bixby would still remain … ‘One of the finest specimens of pure English extant.’” The letter can never diminish the status of Lincoln, but it deserves to elevate that of John Hay. And of course it has long since won Mrs. Bixby a most unlikely immortality."

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!! You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at: krustybassist@gmail.com I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources:

http://www.americanheritage.com/content/trouble-bixby-letter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_to_Mrs._Bixby

"Saving Private Ryan" Released by Dreamworks Paramount Pictures, 1998; directed by Steven Spielberg.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NOVEMBER 19 = Lincoln Gives his Gettysburg Address



"I was close to the President and heard all of the Address, but it seemed short. Then there was an impressive silence like our Menallen Friends Meeting*. There was no applause when he stopped speaking."
- Sarah A. Cooke Myers

This is how Mrs. Sarah Cooke Myers recalled the reaction which greeted Abraham Lincoln after he finished his Address at Gettysburg which he delivered on today's date, November 19 in 1863. The Battle of Gettysburg was the largest military engagement ever fought in North America. For three days - July 1, 2 and 3 in the summer of 1863 the once peaceful farmlands of Pennsylvania were soaked with blood as the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Robert E. Lee clashed head-on with the Army of the Potomac under the command of George G. Meade. The result was victory for the Union as Lee's second invasion of the North was driven back. While the Confederate Armies would never again penetrate so far into the north, Lincoln was furious that Meade had not followed up the victory by attacking Lee's army as it retreated back into the south. But by November of that year all of this was in the past. Lincoln now was warily eyeing his prospects for re-election the following year. And the citizens of Gettysburg had cleaned up the scene of death and destruction that had been the battlefield. A new national cemetery marked the final resting place of those killed in the battle.

Lincoln Was Invited for a "Few Appropriate Remarks"

By November, the cemetery had been completed, and was ready to be dedicated. The Governor of Pennsylvania had charged an attorney, David Wills with the task of arranging the cemetery for the more than 7,500 men who fell during those three days, and for a solemn ceremony
to mark that dedi- cation. Many digni- taries were to be present, including six gover- nors, as well as Army officers, members of the President's cabinet, and a large number of local residents. Wills had arranged for the celebrated statesman and orator Edward Everett to deliver the main address - something that would be suitably exalted and solemn as befitted the occasion. The President was invited almost as if by afterthought, to deliver a few appropriate remarks. Well Everett's oration was indeed grand and flowing - lasting more than two hours. Lincoln listened to Everett's words quite intently. Others standing on the outskirts of the crowd drifted away. Secretary of State Seward who was bothered by the bright sun sat with his arms folded, and his hat drawn over his eyes. Then Lincoln rose to speak.

"Although a heavy fog clouded the heavens in the morning during the procession, the sun broke out in all it's brilliancy during the Reverend Mr. Stockton's prayer and shone upon the magnificent spectacle. The assemblage was of great magnitude, and was gathered around within a circle of great extent around the stand which was located on the highest point of ground on which the battle was fought. A long line of military surrounded the position taken by the immense multitude of people."

Lincoln Delivers a Short, Quick Masterpiece

As reported above in the New York Times the next morning, it was a sunny scene with a large crowd who no doubt strained to hear Lincoln speak, if it had not already been put to sleep by Everett's long winded remarks. There were in fact photographers present for the occasion, but it took some time for them to get set up for their pictures to be shot.
After Everett's address, one photographer, David Bachrach likely guessed that the President would go on for a similar amount of time, and thus was not ready to take a full picture of the president in the astonishingly short three minutes that it took for Lincoln to speak. By the time he actually got his shot in, the president had already left the podium and was taking his seat. Thus we have only the rather blurry image above. Reports differ as to the reaction which the president received. The Times reported that the address was interrupted several times by applause and that he finished to "Long continued applause". Whereas we have the report of Mrs. Cooke above saying that there was little or no applause at all. The pro-Republican Springfield Times said that the address was " a perfect gem". The Democratic favoring Chicago Sun Times said: "The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States." Whereas Edward Everett (Pictured above, left) himself made his reaction clear in a letter to Lincoln which he wrote the next day: "Mr. President, I would flatter myself if I came as close to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you came in two minutes." The full text of Lincolns extraordinary address {Click on image below to enlarge}:


"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate...we can not consecrate...we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."


* = Menallen Friends = A religious brotherhood of Pennsylvania Quakers.



READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  krustybassist@gmail.com  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address

THE NEW YORK TIMES..... Book of the Civil War....Ed. by Arleen Keylin Douglas John Bowen, Arno Press, New York 1980, pp. 194 - 195.

"The Gettysburg Soldiers' Cemetery and Lincoln's Address: Aspects and Angles"  
by Frank J. Klement, White Mane Publ. Inc. pp. 104 -105.













Images:

Broad image = http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/speechgfx/gettys.jpg
Close-up image = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

NOVEMBER 16 = Pizzaro Conquers the Inca


"So many tents were visible that it truly frightened us. We never thought that Indians could maintain such a magnificent estate nor have so many tents... Nothing like this had been seen in the Indies up till then. It filled all of us Spaniards with confusion and fear although it was not appropriate for us to show any fear nor to turn back. For had they sensed any weakness in us the very Indians [porters]we were bringing along would have killed us. Thus with simulated good spirits and after having thoroughly observed the town and the tents... we descended into the valley and entered the town of Cajamarca."
- Migeul de Estete.

The notary for the Spanish Army under the command of Francisco Pizarro (below,right) is describing the first glimpse which the Spanish army caught of the @ 80,0000 man army with which they were about to contend in the Battle of Cajamarca which took place on today's date, November 16 in 1532. The Spaniards had good reason to be fearful, as they had about 200 men in their retinue to face this native host.

Pizarro Meets the Inca

When Pizarro (right) arrived in what is now Peru in 1531, he found the Incan empire embroiled in a civil war between Atahualpa, the younger son of the former Incan ruler Huayna Capac and Huascar, his half brother. Pizarro was determined to capture the Incan empire in the name of the Spanish King Charles V with whose blessing he had come to these lands. Hearing of the internecine fighting between the two factions, Pizarro marched his army into the interior of the country to the city of Cajamarca. The Spaniards took camp in the city square which was surrounded by a wall with only two entrances, and thus seemed the safest place to be. When no word arrived from the Inca, Pizarro sent a small contingent of 15 men under the command of Captain Hernando de Soto to invite Atahualpa to a meeting. The Incans were clearly intrigued by their visitors. None of them had ever seen horses before. But Atahualpa was under none of the illusions which had bedeviled Montazeuma before Cortez in Mexico some twelve years earlier. He did not believe these men to be divine Gods, nor representatives thereof. He intended to smash them the next day, and breed these strange animals for his own use in smashing Huascar. He accepted the invite.

Pizarro Versus Atahualpa - A Fight to the Finish!!


Arriving with his whole army the next day, November 16, Atahualpa, not fearing the handful of Spaniards who had paraded before him so arrogantly the day before, decided to enter the city with a much smaller force, some 7,000 men of his personal guard unarmed, in a show of goodwill. The rest of his men would remain outside the city. Arriving in the square amongst the Spaniards who were all carefully hidden and awaiting the orders to launch their ambush, Atahualpa called for the Spanish to come out and show themselves. Instead he was approached by Friar Vincente de Valverde. The friar invited Atahuapa to climb down off of his litter and meet privately in one of the buildings with Pizarro, thinking that this would be the easiest way to capture the heathen. Atahualpa declined, saying that he would stay there until the Spaniards returned all that they had taken from him. The friar then began delivering speeches to the effect that Atahualpa would have to accept Christianity, and the sovereignty of King Charles V. Atahualpa then asked to see the Friar's Bible. Having never seen a book before he fumbled about with it. When the friar reached forward to show him how to handle the book, Atahualpa struck him on the arm and threw the book aside. The friar cried out and the attack was on.

Cannons were fired from around the square. Simultaneously, Spaniards came bearing down upon the surprised and frightened Inca with a ferocious cavalry charge. These proud and brave warriors, having never before seen these huge animals that were now charging towards them mounted by armoured men slashing at them with swords broke into a panic. They began heading for the exits of the square, while the Spaniards hacked and cut their way through the mass of fleeing Inca. Meanwhile Pizarro lead a detachment straight for Atahualpa. According to the scribe Xerez:

"(Pizarro) armed himself with a thick cotton coat of armor, took his sword and dagger and entered into the midst of the Indians with the Spaniards who were with him.... he reached Atahualpa's litter and fearlessly grabbed (his)left arm...But he could not pull him out of his litter which was still held high. All those who were carrying Atahualpa's litter appeared to be important men and they all died."

The Beginning of the End for the Inca

The result was a slaughter of those Inca who were in the square and the quick disbandment of Atahualpa's large army outside the city in confusion without it's leader and it's command structure. Atahualpa was indeed taken prisoner and later murdered. Fighting between the Inca and the Spanish would continue for some time,but with the capture of their leader at Cajamarca, and his later murder, the end was already written for the Incan Empire and the beginning of full-scale European colonization of the Americas.


READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  krustybassist@gmail.com  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources:

"The Last Days of the Incas" by Kim MacQuarrie. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007 pp. 55 - 137.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cajamarca

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/among-vs-amongst/

Picture:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Inca-Spanish_confrontation.JPG

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