February 27, 1807: Birth of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

O ye dead Poets, who are living still Longfellow a
Immortal in your verse, though life be fled,
And ye, O living Poets, who are dead
Though ye are living, if neglect can kill,
Tell me if in the darkest hours of ill,
With drops of anguish falling fast and red
From the sharp crown of thorns upon your head,
Ye were not glad your errand to fulfil?
Yes; for the gift and ministry of Song
Have something in them so divinely sweet,
It can assuage the bitterness of wrong;
Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.

February 26, 1939: Eleanor Roosevelt resigns from the D.A.R.

In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution after it barred Marian Anderson from performing an Easter concert at its Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. citing a “white artists only” restriction in the hall’s lease.

After coming to the conclusion that to remain as a member of the D.A.R. implied approval of that action, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt sent the following letter:

My dear Mrs. Henry M. Robert, Jr.:

I am afraid that I have never been a very useful member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, so I know it Andersonwill make very little difference to you whether I resign, or whether I continue to be a member of your organization.

However, I am in complete disagreement with the attitude taken in refusing Constitution Hall to a great artist. You have set an example which seems to me unfortunate, and I feel obliged to send in to you my resignation. You had an opportunity to lead in an enlightened way and it seems to me that your organization has failed.

I realize that many people will not agree with me, but feeling as I do this seems to me the only proper procedure to follow.

Very sincerely yours,
Eleanor Roosevelt

On Easter Sunday 1939,  Marian Anderson gave her concert, but she performed at the Lincoln Memorial before seventy-five thousand people – black, white, old, and young.  She opened her concert with “America.” The operatic first half of the program concluded with “Ave Maria.” After a short intermission, she sang a selection of spirituals, and then with tears in her eyes, Marian Anderson closed the concert with “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”.

February 25, 1836. Samuel Colt granted Patent for a “Revolving Gun”

“The good people in this world are very far from being satisfied with each other and my arms are the best peacemaker.” ~ Samuel Colt (1852)

Colt 45

Sam Colt was a young seaman serving aboard the ship Corvo. He was intrigued by all thing mechanical and while at sea took note of the workings of the ship, particularly the capstan and the windlass, rotating machines used to raise ropes, cables, and hawsers. A spark ignited in Sam Colt’s young mind, and Sam quickly conceived the idea of a pistol with a revolving cylinder that would contain several bullets yet be fired through a single barrel. By the time that sea voyage ended, he had carved a prototype for his revolver out of wood.
Sam patented his idea in 1836 and opened his first gun making plant at the age of 22 in Paterson, New Jersey with the help of a successful uncle. He soon developed & produced the pocket, belt, and holster model pistols along with two types of rifles. Among his first customers was John Coffee Hays of the Texas Rangers, who not only purchased Colt’s revolvers for himself but his men.

Sales for the early guns were slow, however, and in 1842 the factory closed.  When war with Mexico broke out in 1846 US Army Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker wanted a new, more powerful revolver. Colt returned to gun manufacturing, partnering with Eli Whitney Jr. who had a factory in Connecticut, to fill an order for one thousand guns.

The new six-shot revolver, the Model 1847, was named the “Walker”, and it was the largest handgun manufactured by Colt’s company. As Sam Colt remarked, “It would take a Texan to shoot it.”

When it came to the production of revolvers, Colt was a pioneer of interchangeable parts and the assembly line. By 1856, Colt was producing 150 weapons a day, and the reputation of his firearms as accurate, reliable, and of the finest workmanship & design had spread throughout the world. It is estimated that in its first 25 years of manufacturing, Colt’s company produced over 400,000 revolvers

Colt’s success brought him fame & fortune. He became one of the ten wealthiest businessmen in the US, a pillar of the Hartford community, and was awarded the honorary title of “Colonel” by the governor of Connecticut. He and his wife Elizabeth built Armsmear, their private mansion with greenhouses & formal gardens at the western edge of the armory property in Hartford, where it still stands today.

“God made some men (and women) small, and some men large, but Samuel Colt made them equal”

February 24 1932: Sir Malcolm Campbell sets the World Land Speed Record

Malcolm Campbell was born in Chislehurst, Kent, England in 1885. He served in the Great War in the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and in the British Royal Air Force where he achieved the rank of Captain, a nickname that would remain with him the rest of his life.

Campbell loved to fly and he loved to drive fast. He set his first land speed record on June 17, 1922, when he drove at Bluebird138.08 mph on the Saltburn Sands in Wales in a Sunbeam V12 with a 350 Horse Power engine, which he named “Bluebird”.

Two years later, he brought another “Bluebird”, also a Sunbeam which had 550 Horse Power to Pendine Sands, South Wales, which he drove at 146.2 MPH. A year later he cranked it up to 150.76 MPH, and on February 4, 1927, again at Pendine Sands Malcolm Campbell achieved 174.88 MPH. in another “Bluebird”, a Napier-Lion with 12 cylinders and 450 Horse Power.

IN 1932 Malcom Campbell came to the United States looking to run on the eight mile stretch of cement hard sands found at Daytona Beach.

He adjusted the placement of the radiator so that the cooling air did not enter the engine compartment, but rushed through the radiator only, and moved the transmission to one side and the driver sat alongside the propeller shaft, thus making the car even lower and less resistant to wind. A larger stabilising directional fin was added.

Even more power was found by substituting a Schneider Trophy supercharged Napier engine for the earlier Lion type. This gave 1,350 horsepower at 3600 rpm, compared with the 900 horse-power of the un-supercharged engine.

As a huge crowd lined the beach, Malcolm smiled for the cameras, before he roared the “Bluebird” along the Florida sands at an incredible 253.96 miles per hour.

Upon smashing the record Campbell pulled up and gives his wife a hug and a kiss.

February 23, 1903: The United States Leases Guantanamo Bay


AGREEMENT Between the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba for the lease (subject to terms to be agreed upon by the two Governments) to the United States of lands in Cuba for coaling and naval stations.

The United States of America and the Republic of Cuba, being desirous to execute fully the provisions of Article VII of the Act of Congress approved March second, 1901, and of Article VII of the Appendix to the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba promulgated on the 20th of May, 1902, which provide:

“ARTICLE VII. To enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the Cuban Government will sell or lease to the United States the lands necessary for coaling or naval stations, at certain specified points, to be agreed upon with the President of the United States.”
have reached an agreement to that end, as follows:

The Republic of Cuba hereby leases to the United States, for the time required for the purposes of coaling and naval stations, the following described areas of land and water situated in the Island of Cuba:

In Guantanamo (see Hydrographic Office Chart 1857). From a point on the south coast, 4.37 nautical miles to the eastward of Windward Point Light House, a line running north (true) a distance of 4.25 nautical miles;
From the northern extremity of this line, a line running west (true), a distance of 5.87 nautical miles;
From the western extremity of this last line, a line running southwest (true) 3.31 nautical miles;
From the southwestern extremity of this last line, a line running south (true) to the seacoast.
This lease shall be subject to all the conditions named in Article II of this agreement…


The grant of the foregoing Article shall include the right to use and occupy the waters adjacent to said areas of land and water, and to improve and deepen the entrances thereto and the anchorages therein, and generally to do any and all things necessary to fit the premises for use as coaling or naval stations only, and for no other purpose.

Vessels engaged in the Cuban trade shall have free passage through the waters included within this grant.


While on the one hand the United States recognizes the continuance of the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba over the above described areas of land and water, on the other hand the Republic of Cuba consents that during the period of the occupation by the United States of said areas under the terms of this agreement the United States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control over and within said areas with the right to acquire (under conditions to be hereafter agreed upon by the two Governments) for the public purposes of the United States any land or other property therein by purchase or by exercise of eminent domain with full compensation to the owners thereof.

Done in duplicate at Habana, and signed by the President of the
Republic of Cuba this sixteenth day of February, 1903.

Signed by the President of the United States the twenty-third of February, 1903.

February 20, 1872: John Muir Invites Charles Warren Stoddard to visit Yosemite

Dear Stoddard,
I have been claiming you for a friend for a long time although a few miles of air has separated us. Mrs. Carr has john-muir1mirrored you up here many times and our mutual friend, Mrs. Hutchings has said many a loving word for you and last spring Mr. Emerson asked me many questions concerning you and spoke of verses you had sent him, in a way that made me hope that you had a song to sing grander than any you have yet conceived. In this way I have learned to know you, and I am cordially glad to feel that you are coming nearer.

You hope that you will not disappoint me. The danger of being disappointed is all on your own side. Don’t believe one half that Mrs. Carr says. I am only a piece of jagged human mist drifting about these rocks and waters, Heaven only knows how or wherefor.

Hitherto I have walked alone. I shall rejoice in you as companion but remember that in that case “A vagabond shalt thou be.” Moreover you must not hope that I can teach you, I am only a baby slowly learning my mountain alphabet. But I can freely promise that Nature will do great things for you. I know little of men. Yet I venture to say that half of our best teachers are manufactured, – so ground and pressed in the mills of culture that God cannot play a single tune upon them.

I am glad to learn my friend that you have not yet submitted yourself to any of the mouldy laws of literature – that your spiritual affinities are still alive and unsatisfied. Come then to the mountains and bathe in fountain Love. Stand upon our Domes and let spirit winds blow through you and you will sing effortless as any Eolian harp.

You will enjoy the ocean. There is but little difference between land and sea. Heavens! What glorious storm nights you will have among phosphorescent foam.

May God be good to you. Lave your existence in the Beauty and Love of those Isles of the sea. Keep your heart pure, and it shall be like a silvered plate printed with God in a thousand forms.Muira

Ever your friend


February 19, 1807: Aaron Burr is Arrested for Treason

Thomas Jefferson never trusted Aaron Burr. Not after he almost snaked the presidency away from him in the contested election of 1800. Not after Vice President Burr shot Alexander Hamilton dead in a duel. Not after Burr took off down the Ohio River and the rumors swirled that he was headed for New Orleans, and Mexico after that…

When he saw the letter Burr had written, in cypher, to General James Wilkinson in July, 1806, Jefferson was sure that Aaron BurrBurr was planning to lead the west in revolt against the United States.

The decoded letter read as follows:

“Your letter, postmarked 13th May, is received. At length I have obtained funds, and have actually commenced. The eastern detachments from different points, and under different pretenses, will rendezvous on the Ohio, 1st of November. Everything internal and external favors our views. Naval protection of England is secured. Truxton is going to Jamaica, to arrange with the Admiral on that station. It will meet us at the Mississippi. England, a navy of the United States, are ready to join, and final orders are given to my friends and followers. It will be a host of choice spirits. Wilkinson shall be second to Burr only, and Wilkinson shall dictate the rank and promotion of his officers.

BURR will proceed westward 1st of August, never to return. With
him go his daughter and grandson. The husband will follow in October, with a CORPS of worthies. Send, forthwith, an intelligent friend with whom Burr may confer. He shall return immediately with further interesting details: this is essential to harmony and concert of movement.

Send a list of all persons known to Wilkinson west of the mountains, who could be useful, with a note delineating their character. By your messenger, send me four or five of the commissions of your officers, which you can borrow under any pretense you please. They shall be retained faithfully. Already are orders given to the contractor to forward six months’ provision to points Wilkinson may name ; this shall not be used until the last moment, and then under proper injunctions.

Our project, my dear friend, is brought to a point so long desired. Burr guarantees the result with his life and honor, with the lives, and honor, and the fortunes of hundreds, the best blood of our country. Burr’s plan of operation is to move down rapidly, from the falls, on the 15th of November, with the first five hundred or one thousand men, in light boats now constructing for that purpose, to be at Natchez between the 5th and 15th of December, there to meet you, there to determine whether it will be expedient, in the first instance, to seize on, or pass by, Baton Rouge. … on receipt of this, send Burr an answer, …. draw on Burr for all expenses, etc.

The people of the country to which we are going are prepared to receive us ; their agents, now with Burr, say that if we will protect their religion, and will not subject them to a foreign power, that, in three weeks, all will be settled. The gods invite us to glory and fortune; it remains to be seen whether we deserve the boon. The bearer of this goes express to you; he will hand a formal letter of introduction to you, from Burr ; he is a man of inviolable honor and perfect discretion, formed to execute rather than project, capable of relating facts with fidelity, and incapable of relating them otherwise.

He is thoroughly informed of the plans and intentions of , and will disclose to you, as far as you inquire, and no further ; he has imbibed a reverence for your character, and may be embarrassed in your presence; put him at ease, and he will satisfy you.’ “

February 18, 1879: August Bartholdi is granted Patent No. 11,023


Specification forming part of Design No. 11,028, dated February 18, 1879;  To all whom it may concern:

Be it known that I, Auguste BARTHOLDI, of Paris, in the Republic of France, have originated and produced a Design of a Monumental Statue, representing “Liberty enlightening the world,” being intended as a commemorative monument of the independence of the United States; and I hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description of the same, reference being had to the accompanying illustration, which I submit as part of this specification.

Liberty U_S__Patent_D11023The statue is that of a female figure standing erect upon a pedestal or block, the body being thrown slightly over to the left, so as to gravitate upon the left leg, the whole figure being thus in equilibrium, and symmetrically arranged with respect to a perpendicular line or axis passing through the head and left foot. The right leg, with its lower limb thrown back, is bent, resting upon the bent toe, thus giving grace to the general attitude of the figure. The body is clothed in the classical drapery, being a stola, or mantle gathered in upon the left shoulder and thrown over the skirt or tunic or under-garment, which drops in voluminous folds upon the feet.

The right arm is thrown up and stretched out, with a flamboyant torch grasped in the hand. The flame of the torch is thus held high up above the figure. The arm is nude; the drapery of the sleeve is dropping down upon the shoulder in voluminous folds. In the left arm, which is falling against the body, is held a tablet, upon which is inscribed 4th July, 1776.” This tablet is made to rest against the side of the body, above the hip, and so as to occupy an inclined position with relation thereto, exhibiting the inscription. The left hand clasps the tablet so as to bring the four fingers onto the face thereof. The head, with its classical, yet severe and calm features, is surmounted by a crown or diadem, from which radiate divergingly seven rays, tapering from the crown, and representing a halo. The feet are bare and sandal-strapped.

This design may be carried out in any manner known to the glyptic art in the form of a statue or statuette, or in alto-relieve or bass-relief, in metal, stone, terra-cotta, plaster-of-paris, or other plastic composition. It may also he carried out pictorially in print from engravings on metal, wood, or stone, or by photographing or otherwise.

What I claim as my invention is the herein-described design of a statue representing Liberty enlightening the world, the same consisting, essentially, of the draped female figure, with one arm upraised, bearing a torch, while the other holds an inscribed tablet, and having upon the head a diadem, substantially as set forth.

In testimony whereof I have signed this specification in the presence of two subscribing witnesses.

Witnesses: C. Terinier, Cottin

February 17, 1913; Teddy Roosevelt Reviews the Armory Show

“In this recent art exhibition the lunatic fringe was fully in evidence, especially in the rooms devoted to the Cubists and the Futurists, or Near-Impressionists. I am not entirely certain which of the two latter terms should be used in connection with some of the various pictures and representations of plastic art—and, frankly, it is not of the least consequence.

ArmoryThe Cubists are entitled to the serious attention of all who find enjoyment in the colored puzzle pictures of the Sunday newspapers. Of course there is no reason for choosing the cube as a symbol, except that it is probably less fitted than any other mathematical expression for any but the most formal decorative art. There is no reason why people should not call themselves Cubists, or Octagonists, or Parallelopipedonists, or Knights of the Isosceles Triangle, or Brothers of the Cosine, if they so desire; as expressing anything serious and permanent, one term is as fatuous as another.

Take the picture which for some reason is called “A naked man going down stairs.” There is in my bath-room a really good Navajo rug which, on any proper interpretation of the Cubist theory, is a far more satisfactory and decorative picture. Now if, for some inscrutable reason, it suited somebody to call this rug a picture of, say, “A well-dressed man going up a ladder,” the name would fit the facts just about as well as in the case of the Cubist picture of the “Naked man going down stairs.”

From the standpoint of terminology, each name would have whatever merit inheres in a rather cheap straining after effect; and from the standpoint of decorative value, of sincerity, and of artistic merit, the Navajo rug is infinitely ahead of the picture.”

Source: “A Layman’s Views of an Art Exhibition,” Outlook, 103 (29 March 1913)

February 16, 1804: Stephen Decatur raids Tripoli Harbor

At the turn of the nineteenth century, American trade with the Mediterranean countries was being shut down by the extremists who controlled the “Barbary Coast” states along the north shore of Africa. Ship after ship was taken hostage and hundreds of sailors sold into slavery unless ransom was paid. Tripoli’s envoy, Sidi Haji Abdrahaman was blunt when he explained his country’s position:Philalphia

“It was written in the Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.”

In March 1801, Thomas Jefferson, just elected as President, ordered a squadron of the nascent United States Navy to cruise the region, and the United States frigate Philadelphia (sister ship to the USS Constitution) set out to blockade Tripoli’s harbor.

On October 31, 1803, a number of Barbary corsairs approached the Philadelphia, annoying her purposely, and lured the frigate across an uncharted reef where she ran aground. Captain William Bainbridge tried to refloat her, casting off all of her guns in order to make her lighter. He tried to dump all other unnecessary equipment off the ship, and then he ordered the foremast sawed off in one last desperate attempt to lighten her. All of these attempts failed.

Under withering fire from shore batteries and Tripolitan gunboats, Bainbridge was forced to surrender the ship.

Pasha Yussef Karamanli demanded that the United States pay a $2 million ransom which was more than the young country’s treasury could possibly afford, and the Philadelphia was too great a prize to be allowed to remain in enemy hands. The Americans couldn’t risk the possibility that the frigate could be converted it into a Barbary warship. The call went out for volunteers for a carefully planned raid.

On the evening of February 16, 1804 Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr. stood on the deck of the ketch Intrepid with a Sicilian pilot as it approached Tripoli harbor. His clothing made him out to be a Mediterranean sailor and the ketch had been rigged to look like a local trading vessel in distress. Navigating by moonlight, they sailed into the harbor. Claiming to have lost his anchors in a storm, he requested permission to tie up alongside the Philadelphia. The guards to the Philadelphia had been lulled into complacency and had no idea that an elite raiding force hid below the Intrepid’s deck.

As soon as the vessels rafted together, Decatur’s men swarmed from below decks and onto the captured frigate.  The overwhelmed guards jumped overboard and swam ashore, while the Americans rapidly torched their prize. Less than twenty minutes later the Philadelphia was blazing brightly. Casting off just ahead of the flames, the Intrepid’s men rowed out of the now well-lighted harbor, pursued by gunfire.

According to Horatio Nelson, it was “the most bold and daring act of the age.”

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