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|…that the famous Woodstock-Festival 1969 did not take place in Woodstock?|
In 1968 several rock and folk musicians, amogst them Jim Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana and others had gathered in Woodstock, an idyllic small village 70 km north of New York City. A recording studio should be installed here and on the occasion of this opening a rock festival and an art bazaar should take place. The studio was never opened, the art bazaar forgotten and in reality the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which on a long weekend in August 1969 brought together 32 of the most prominent musicians of the US and Great Britain, became a historical event – not in Woodstock but on a meadow in the the 90 km distant Bethel, NY. The organizer kept the name Woodstock because of its sound. The festival should become a special spectacle and the organizer expected 50000 visitors to come. There were half a million people coming and an enormous chaos was created. Streets wereblocked up and even musicians to perform did arrive late or not all because of this. Festival tickets could not be checked and sofar entrance was considered free. In addition heavy rain falls changed the Bethel pastureland into a muddy clay field. Even shortly after the festival Woodstock by the book Woodstock Nation by Abbie Hoffmann and by the award winning documentary film Woodstock, adaptation by Martin Scorsese, became an American legend. A whole host of stories is connected to this weekend and is engraved in the memories of one American generation. People who never have met before exchanged food, alcohol, drugs and partners with each other. Three men died – one was killed by a tractor in his sleeping bag – and supposedly a baby was borne during the festival. Woodstock had been one of the most magnificent music events and looking back did mark the peak of the American hippie and counterculture of the 1960ies.
|…who invented the carport?|
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), one of the most well-known and most successful architects of the USA, performed aside of his spectacular buildings a broad range of architectural innovations, e.g. the roof covered car parking, the carport. Nevertheless neither the big companies of the USA nor the American Government had ever given an order to Frank Lloyd Wright. During the rapid growth of the Federal Capital Washington in the years 1930 and 1940 a great number of representative governmental buildings were erected. F.D. Roosevelt explicitly decided against any contract with F.L. Wright, because his modern and very specific architectural style did not match the officially requested classical format for Washington DC. Therefore even on the nearly 2 km long National Mall with its numerous museums there is not one building from Americas most famous architect, who as no one else had been engaged to develop a genuine American style of construction.
|…that there had been womens suffrage in one US State between 1776 and 1807?|
The first New Jersey State Constitution, adopted July 2nd 1776, recognized the right of suffrage for women and black men who met certain property requirements. It gave the vote to all inhabitants of this Colony, of full age, who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money. This meant suffrage for all unmarried or widowed women and blacks as well if they could prove the required possession. Married women could not own property under the common law and were not allowed to vote by this reason. During following elections both political opponents accused each other of letting unqualified women – petticoat electors as they were called - (including married women) vote. . Only in 1807 the legislature passes a bill reinterpreting the constitution of 1776 to mean universal white male suffrage, with no property requirement. However, they disenfranchised paupers, to suppress the Irish vote. Only the second New Jersey State Constitution of 1844 adjusted the constitutional wordings to the suffrage spirit of the times.
|...the history of thePledge of Allegiance?|
Around 1890 the United States having overcome Civil War and Reconstruction struggle experienced a wave of rediscovery of national landmarks and national heroes such as Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee now side by side. In this mood the October 12, 1892, Columbus Day celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the discovery of America was planned for years in advance. Francis Bellamy, an educator actively involved in a National committee planning these Columbus Day celebrations, is assumed to be the author of the Pledge of Allegiance, which was first published on September 8th 1892 in the magazine The Youths Companion. A month later more than 12 million school children recited the words for the first time in schools across the nation. But it took many years to reach nationwide attention in all parts of society. Finally on Flag Day June 14th 1923 the Pledge received major attention from adults at the first National Flag Conference in Washington D.C.. At this occasion the words to my Flag were replaced by to the Flag of the United States, which one year later were further modified in to the Flag of the United States of America. The last change occurred on June 14th (Flag Day) 1954, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved adding the words under God. The actual version reads:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all. From the beginning there was a salute connected with the words. 1892 this salute was described as right arm lifted towards the Flag palm down. Shortly thereafter the pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart and after order To the Flag which started the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance the arm was extended towards the Flag, palm down. In World War II the salute too much resembled the Nazi salute, so it was changed to keep the right hand over the heart throughout. The Pledge of Allegiance gained heightened popularity among adults during the patriotic fervor created by World War II. But it was stil an inofficial pledge until June 22, 1942, when the United States Congress included the Pledge to the Flag in the United States Flag Code (Title 36). Today Congressional sessions are opened with the recital of the Pledge, as do many government meetings at local levels and meetings held by private organizstions. It is also commonly recited in school at the beginning of every school day, although the Supteme Court has ruled on several occasions that students cannot be compelled to recite the Pledge or punished for not doing so.
|…that the largest public power provider in the US is a non-profit governmental corporation?|
The Tennessee Valley Authority TVA was one of the most innovative ideas of the New Deal during the presidency of F. D. Roosevelts to overcome the depression of the 1930s. This organization became much more than what it seemd to be on a first view: to improve the living conditions in the Tennessee valley, which even when considering the general depression were in a very sad shape. Roosevelt asked for a totally different kind of agency. He asked Congress to create - a corporation clothed with the power of the government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise -.On May 18, 1933, Congress passed the TVA Act. TVA was envisioned not only as provider, but also as a regional economic development agency that would use federal experts and especially electricity to rapidly modernize the regions economy and society having in mind environmental issues as well. From the beginning there were controversies on the TVA model. A Conservative coalition in Congress defeated New Dealers hope to build numerous other authorities like TVA around the country e.g. a Columbia River Authority. The critics run from TVA being socialistic to TVA having unfair advantages on competive private companies by not being obliged to make profit. 1936 the Supreme Court ruled TVA to be constitutional by noting that regulating commerce among the states includes regulating of streames and that controlling floods is required for keeping stream navigation. Initially federal appropriations funded all TVA operations. Appropriations for the TVA power program ended in 1959 and appropriations for TVAs environmental stewardship and economic development activities were phased out by 1999. Today TVA is fully self financing primarily through elecrtricity sales and power system financing. Sales revenues are 11,7 billion U$ and 12000 employees provide electricity for 9 Mill people in parts of 7 southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA runs 11 fossil plants, 3 nuclear power plants, 29 hydro plants and around 20 renewable energy sites. Up to now TVA became a success story and is very popular with the people in the region. A nice story connecting TVA and politics is as follows: Ronald Reagan since 1954 advertised the General Electric Theater and became wealthy with this TV show. 1962 he was fired by GE (TVA being a major customer for GE turbines) in response fo his public referring to the TVA as one of the problems of big government.
|…that Washington DC looks older than it is?|
In 1751 Georgtown became the first settlement on the Potomac River. Looking for a permanent capitol 1790 George Washington selected a meadow and marsh area close to Georgetown while Philadelphia still remained temporary capital up to 1800. 1791 the District of Columbia – an area originally 10 times 10 miles square – was detached from the States of Virginia and Maryland and so included the Cities of Georgetown, Washington and Alexandria on both sides of the Potomac. In first ideas Thomas Jefferson suggested a chequered pattern for the new capital. According to this Pierre Charles L´enfant created a late-baroque city map including wide boulevard axis and spaciously open areas. Following some fierce arguments with George Washington L´enfant became dismissed in 1792 already and disappeared having taken many plans with him. He was replaced by a land surveyor Andrew Ellicott, who considerably modified L´enfant plans. The White House became smaller as planned; L´enfant had planned a palace six times bigger than todays White House. Otherwise as well Washington DC remained less impressive during wide parts in 19th century as Charles Dickens called it after a visit 1842. Because of the small city expansion 1847 District of Columbia, since 1801 consisting of the Washington and Alexandria Counties, became reduced by the Alexandria County, which was annexed to the State of Virginia and without the City of Alexandria later renamed in Arlington County. After a first construction period between 1793 and 1823 the Capitol only was widely enhanced between 1851 and 1863 adding both side wings and todays cupola. The construction period of the Washington Monument lasted from laying of the foundation stone on July 4th, 1848, up to December 6th ,1884, repeatedly interrupted by financial problems, struggles and blockades caused by stone donations from Pope Pius IX and by the Civil War. The general design of the Mall was completed in the 1920ies only, after having removed a railway station west of the Capitol, a wholesale market and several greenhouses. The neoroman Smithonian Castle, constructed and rebuild within the second half of the 19th century today nearly appears to feel out of place on the Mall. The Lincoln Memorial was opened officially 1922, the Supreme Court Building was erected between 1932 and 1935 and the funds for the Jefferson Memorial were approved in 1934 only. The history oriented architect John Russel Pope (1874 – 1937) left his strong mark on the classical cityscape of today by his most known buildings as the National Archives and Records Administration, the west wing of the National Gallery of Art at the Mall and the Jefferson Memorial which was completed after his death only.
|… what means muckraker?|
The period bounded roughly by the end of the nineteenth century and American entry into World War 1 is usually called the progressive era. The movement sprang from different general roots. One was fight against corruption and inefficiency in government, the reform of politics most important in the cities but as well on State levels. Another was the regulation and control of big business, the increasing concern on the huge new trusts, which had been come up as a consequence of the fast industrialization after Civil War; these trusts should be broken up or at least strictly controlled. A third root was the concern about the welfare of urban poor, about the working and living conditions of slum dwellers and about the acute problem of child labor. A new type of journalism, beginning in the 1880ies already, brought this movement into focus. Over the years the tempo and forcefulness of this type of literature increased. In the fall of 1902, McClures – a New York magazine – began two particularly hard hitting series of articles, one on Standard Oil, the other on big cities political machines. Many comments provoked by these articles caused the editor S.S. McClure to publish a striking editorial. Something was radical wrong with the American character, he wrote. Large numbers of American employers, workers and politicians were said to be fundamentally immoral; lawyers were becoming tools of big business, judges were permitting evildoers to escape justice and so forth. “All of us, we have to pay in the end” he concluded. This editorial caused a sensation and an extremely wide reception. Other editors followed McClures example. A small army of professional writers soon flooded the periodical press with denunciation of the insurance business, the drug business, college athletics, prostitution, political corruption and dozens of other subjects. This type of articles inspired President Theodore Roosevelt to compare the journalists to “the Man with the Muck Rake” in John Bunyans Pilgrims Progress. Roosevelts characterization grossly misinterpreted the literature of exposure, but the label muckraking was thereafter affixed to that type. Despite its literal connotation muckraker became a term of honor.
|… how Teddy Bear got its name?|
In November 1902 the then President of the USA Theodore Roosevelt (nickname “Teddy”) took part in a hunting party in Mississippi. During this party he refused to shoot the only prey of this day – a young bear – whom the party had captured and presented to him. This occurrence was recorded by the cartoonist of the Washington Post Clifford K. Berryman and published on November 16th, 1902. Inspired by the high popularity of this cartoon a Russian immigrant named Michtom created a bear made of cloth and presented that in the window of his shop in Brooklyn. It was told that President Roosevelt had allowed in writing to name this toy “Teddys bear”. So Teddy Bear was borne. The Wholesaler Butler Brothers saw for a great demand for this kids toy and in 1903 Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Companyed and created a Teddy with supple joints.
But there is a German legend too. According to this the first Teddy Bear with supple joints, the 55 PB, was created 1902 by the German toy producing company Steiff and presented that year on the Leipzig Fair. An American commission agent acquired that as small present and by this the bear found its way into an American shop window. There the toy was recovered by the secretary of President Roosevelt and was presented on the birthday table of Roosevelts daughter. The girl was filled with enthusiasm for this bear so much that she baptized the bear “Teddy” after her daddy. It is told that the fast growing popularity with his kids toy had caused an order of 3000 Teddy Bears at the company Steiff during the spring Leipzig Fair for the US market.
|…that Equal Rights for women are not yet guaranteed in the US Constitution?|
Although the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution had guaranteed womens right to vote some suffragist leader argued that this right alone would not end remaining vestiges of legal discrimination based upon sex. The National Womans Party drafted the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1923 and submitted it to Congress where it was introduced for the first time as Senate Joint Resolution No. 21 on December 10, 1923, and as House Joint Resolution No. 75 on December 13, 1923, respectively. Though the ERA was introduced in every Congressional session between 1923 and 1970, it almost never reached the floor of either the Senate or the House for a vote — instead, it was usually bottled up in committee. Exceptions occurred in 1946, when it was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 38 to 35 and, in 1950 and 1953, when it was passed by the Senate with the Hayden Rider, making it practically worthless. In these early years the ERA was strongly opposed by the American Federation of Labor and other labor unions, who feared the amendment would invalidate protective labor legislation for women. ERA was also opposed by Eleanor Roosevelt and most New Dealers by similar reasons. The amendment was opposed by most northern Democrats, who aligned themselves with the anti-ERA labor unions and was supported by southern Democrats and most Republicans. The main support base for the ERA until the late 1960s was among wealthy, conservative women. A new womens movement in the late 1960s, the National Organization for Women (NOW), demanding full equality for American women, in February 1970 forced the United States Senate to discuss the ERA by disrupting subcommittee hearings on other issues. That August millions of American women held a nation-wide Womens Strike for Equality to demand full social, economic, and political equality. Finally Capitol Hill was ready to act and finally the ERA was adopted by Senate on March 22, 1972 after having passes the House in October 1971 already. With that, the ERA was finally presented by the 92nd Congress to the state legislatures for ratification as Article V of the Constitution prescribes, with a seven-year deadline for ratification by the required three-fourths (38) of the legislatures. By the end of the seven-year deadline on March 22, 1979, a total of 35 of the required 38 states had ratified it. An extension of this ratification deadline by 39 months changed nothing by which it became clear that the 1972 ERA Amendment had failed to win its ratification. As an explanation it is widely argued that the late 1970 years became dominated already by the beginning conservative change in the US. In these years the conservative journalist Phyllis Schlafly became well known nationwide by her campaigning against the ERA lasting for years, by which traditional American family values would be threatened as well as certain female privileges as exemption from military service or loss of being entitled to financial support from husbands. The amendment has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since 1982. In 1983, the ERA passed through House committees with the same text as in 1972; however, it failed by six votes to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority on the House floor. That was the last time that the ERA received a floor vote in the Congress. At the start of the 112th Congress on January 6, 2011, members of Senate and House held a press conference on the Equal Rights Amendment during which they advocated for its adoption.
|…that in 1932 units of the US Army attacked US World War I veterans in Washington DC using violence?|
The national depression of the 30ties forced the US veterans of World War I to demand immediate payment of a compensation for their war service, which Congress had provided by law in 1924 creating a trust fund with annual installments and issuing certificates to the veterans for full payment in 1945 only. The difference between the total face certificates and already loaned parts of this – adjusted by law in 1931 from originally 22,5 up to 50% - came to be referred to by members of Congress and veterans groups as a bonus. Because of the expected opposition of President Hoover and many senators and members of the House versus such legal solution, veterans groups throughout the country started to organize a march to Washington D.C. beginning in May 1932 to press their demands. These mostly very difficult journeys became known as the Bonus March of the Bonus Expeditionary Force. By mid-June it was estimated that as many as 20,000 veterans, in addition family members and affiliated groups had arrived in Washington, and were camping out, often in dirty, unsanitary conditions, in parks and military bases around the city, depending on donations of food from a variety of governments, churches and private citizens. On June 16, the House passed the bonus bill, but on June 18, the Senate defeated it. Throughout July the veterans continued to hold marches and rallies despite the fact that they were receiving ultimatums to leave the capital, with the White House proposing use of troops to force an evacuation. On July 28, 1932, Attorney General Mitchell ordered the police evacuation of the Bonus Army veterans. In these actions two veterans were deadly wounded by two police men, who used their revolvers in defense. When told of this, President Hoover ordered the army to effect the evacuation of the Bonus Army from Washington. The next morning, commanded by Gen. Douglas Mc Arthur, Infantry and Cavalry Regiments supported by six battle tanks commanded by Maj. George S. Patton, formed in Pennsylvania Avenue while thousands of civil service employees left work to line the street and watch. The Bonus Marchers, believing the troops were marching in their honor, cheered the troops until Maj. Patton ordered the cavalry to charge them - an action which prompted the civil service spectators to yell, "Shame! Shame!". After the cavalry had charged, the infantry, with fixed bayonets and using an arsenical vomiting gas agent from WWI, entered the camps, evicting veterans, families, and camp followers. The veterans fled across the Anacostia River to their largest camp and President Hoover ordered the assault stopped. However Gen. MacArthur, being convinced this exercise was a Communist attempt at overthrowing the U.S. government, ignored the President and ordered a new attack. Fifty five veterans were injured and 135 arrested. Another participant of the Bonus Marchers reportedly died. During the evacuation, Major, later President, Dwight D. Eisenhower served as MacArthur’s liaison with the Washington police. Over the next several months, a much smaller group of Bonus Expeditionary Force members continued to pressure Congress, and in May 1933 about 1,000 veterans marched again on Washington. Newly elected President Franklin Roosevelt also opposed the bonus but demonstrated his concern for the unemployed veterans by issuing an executive order permitting the enrollment of 25,000 of them in the Citizens’ Conservation Corps – a New Deal organization - for work in forests. When the veterans realized that President Roosevelt would also veto the bonus bill but was offering an alternative solution they gradually backed away from their demands, and the issue of the veterans’ bonus eventually faded from the news. Finally Congress passed the Adjusted Compensation Payment Act in 1936 authorizing the immediate payment of the $2 billion to WWI veterans over the President’s veto.
|… that Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the USA, did visit Germany?|
Thomas Jefferson, one of the most influential State theorists in the USA and leading author of the Independence Declaration, had been ambassador to France from 1785 to 1789 before he himself became 3rd President of the USA from 1801 to 1809. During these years in France the wine connoisseur undertook various travels, so one in April 1888 along the rivers Mosel, Rhein and Neckar when in particular he learned and highly estimated the wines of the Rheingau. He spent one night in Rüdesheim and together with his travelling companion Baron de Geismar he made an acquaintance with a wine merchant John Adam Dick near Frankfurt, spent several nights in his house, visited the vineyards of Rüdesheim, Johannisberg and Hochheim and tasted their products. In particular he liked one vine, which he called “hock”. „You may taste at their tavern genuine Hock and one of the oldest” he is reported to have said, when “hock” meant the vine from the region around Hochheim. Before he left Hochheim on April 10th 1788 he purchased 100 vine plants for his garden in Paris – evidently intending to transfer them to Monticello in Virginia later, because Jefferson wrote to his friend Geismar from Paris, that his trip to Germany had been successful, that the vine plants from Hochheim and Rüdesheim would grow in his Paris garden and that he had in mind to ship them next winter across the Atlantic. It is unknown if this transport of the vine plants did happen in reality, because when Jefferson left Paris in September 1789 for a six month holiday he did not know that he would never return to Europe. Washington appointed him as Secretary of State and before he himself became President he served as Vice President from 1797 to 1801 under President John Adams. These events have come down in a book „Passions: The wines and travels of Thomas Jefferson“ by James Gabler.
|…that for 13 years the USA had no President?|
The first Constitution of the young USA - The Articles of the Confederation – had been drafted in July 1776 already but had been ratified in February 1781 only after final agreement of all 13 States and remained valid until 1789. This Constitution provided a Central Government but with Congress as central power body only, in which all 13 States should have one vote. A separate executive body e.g. the President was not provided as well as a separate judicial body. The authorities of this Central Government had been restricted to declaration of war, signing contracts ad alliances with foreign states, distribution of common expenses for the individual states, the right of coinage, the postal service and all questions dealing with Indians. Two extremely relevant authorities were missing, taxation rights and rights for trade politics. All authorities not assigned to the Central Government specifically remained with the individual States. The deeply rooted fear of the Americans to get a to strong central government and executive power, which would exceed the anyhow weak executive bodies of the individual States, surely gave reason for this Constitution. The inadequacies of this Constitution became relevant very soon. In foreign politics both Great Britain as well as Spain were encouraged by the hardly existing Central Government of the USA partly to ignore conclusion of the peace treaties in the vast regions of the West or Southwest. The individual States saw the interests of the USA second rated and were concerned with own problems in first place. They hesitated to nominate delegates for Congress or even did not send them at all. There had been big problems to get together the necessary number of delegates to ratify the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783 in Congress. But most serious proved to be the loss of reputation for this Congress-Government by the growing financial and currency problems for the Confederation. The strong depreciation of the paper money distributed at the end of the Independence War finally resulted in riots e.g, the Shay Rebellion 1787 in Massachussetts. The farmer Daniel Shay being deeply in debt and bankrupt led approximately 1200 armed people against the Arsenal of Springfield. All this made more and more clear that a stronger Government was necessary for survival of the Confederation. In the first place a simple reworking of the Articles was considered sufficient but finally 54 delegates in the Philadelphia Convention presided by George Washington worked out a completely new Constitution, the existing Constitution of the USA, between May and September 1787. After being ratified by 9 of the 13 States George Washington was elected as first President of the US on February 4th 1789.
|… that the National Prohibition had been part of the American Constitution for 13 years?|
Last not least German immigrants during 19th century contributed to the increasing consumption of beer but of other alcoholic drinks as well in the more and more spreading saloons. When in addition these saloons became centers of gambling and prostitution an increasingly stronger resistance against saloons and alcoholics in general was formed. 1893 the Anti-Saloon-League was founded in Oberlin, Ohio, which supported by a Prohibition Party from 1869 and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union quickly got wide consent throughout the country. The era of progressivism, the partly puritanical striving for social and economic reforms, helped the demand for prohibition. Up to 1916 prohibition was introduced in 23 States, in 17 from these by referenda. The increased need for food during World War I intensified the public pressure in his question, that finally a 2/3 Congress majority overcame President Wilsons Veto and made the Volstead Act a law. It became the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, because only in this way a nationwide trade embargo for beverages with more than 0,5 % content of alcohol, otherwise a question for the individual States, could be implemented, and it came into force on January 16th, 1920. An effective opposition , outspoken in public, against this „noble experiment“ was more or less not existing in these first years, despite alcohol was consumed illegally from the beginning everywhere and by any means, not only within the numerous „speakeasies“. Additionally social changes within society in the “Roaring Twenties” got some importance. The era of progressivism was over, the new President Harding named “normalcy” as the symbol of actual times. A new middle class became more and more numerous in the growing suburbans and tried to imitate the lifestyle of the rich high society, which on their part was not ready at all to reduce their consumption of alcohol. Sinclair Lewis convincingly described life and behavior of this new Business Class in his “Babbitt” novels. Recent studies name it unhappy timing that prohibition came across with activities for social advancement and dissociation of this new Business Class and their convivial life. This class, which earlier helped making the prohibition, now judged alcohol a status symbol for their wishes for lifestyle and dissociation because of ban and short supply. The private parties of the “Babbitts” developed a new drinking culture with cheers to the bad consciences. The increasing criminality within this illegal line of business finally brought an end for the prohibition. During campaigning of 1932 the question of prohibition was at least as important as the economic depression. According to campaign statements the new President F.D. Roosevelt in March 1933 by one of his first decrees declared beer legal again. The 21. Amendment to the US Constitution came into force on December, 5th, 1933, declaring the 18. Amendment null and void.
|… that the oldest still existing European settlement in North America had been founded by the Spanish?|
On August 28th, 1565, the Spanish admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded St. Augustine at the east coast of Florida in todays St. Johns County. Earlier attempts for settlement e.g. Pensacola (1559 – 1561) on the west coast of Florida by the Spanish or Fort Caroline (1564) by the French – located somewhat north of St. Augustine on the territory of todays Jacksonville – had been futile and had to be given up. Only 21 years later the first English attempt for settlement was started in North Carolina – Roanoke Colony , the “Lost Colony”. The next successful settlements only happened 42 years later – Santa Fe (New Mexico) again by the Spanish and Jamestown (Virginia) by the English.
|… that there exists a Hermann Monument in the USA?|
New Ulm is a small town having actually 14000 inhabitants and is situated above 130 km south-west of St.Pauls and Minneapolis in Minnesota. More than 65 % of the inhabitants claim German heritage. The settlement was founded 1854, when a first group of German immigrants from the Chicago Land Society led by Frederick Beinhorn detected this place. The settlement was named New Ulm because many settlers came from Württemberg. When another group of German immigrants from the Turner Colonization Society of Cincinnati led by Wilhelm Pfaender arrived two years later New Ulm was declared city in 1857. In the midst of the 19th century American nativism created in many places anti-immigration resentments resulting partly in street riots. In response German immigrants looked for a symbol to unite and defend them; the Order of the Sons of Hermann was founded, named after the legendary Cherusker-Leader Hermann (Arminius). In New Ulm too such a society was founded and particular actively led by Julius Berndt, who at the same time became secretary of the nationwide Sons of Hermann. Mainly by his activities and designs in 1897 the 102 feet (31 m) high Hermann Heights Monument was erected in New Ulm, which was designed after the Hermann Monument in Detmold, Germany. When the Order of the Sons of Hermann disbanded after World War I the City of New Ulm took over the care and ownership of the monument. In 1973 the Hermann Monument was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2000 the 106th Congress of the USA designated the „Hermann on the Prairie“ Monument to be an official symbol for the contributions of the Americans of German heritage.
|… that there had been a Russian settlement just north of San Francisco for nearly 30 years?|
In 1741 the Danish captain Vitus Bering sailing under Russian flag discovered the southern coast of Alaska and the Aleutians. Following that the Russian Tsars claimed huge territories in the extreme northwest of the North American continent. In 1799 Tsar Paul I allowed the formation of the Russian American Company and granted her a state trading monopoly for 20 years and which was to be renewed after that within the territory from the Bering Strait down to the 55th latitude (This corresponds to the actual west coast of today’s Alaska). But Russian seamen and dealer reached more and more further south and for a time there had been plans even to take in possession for Russia the whole pacific coast of North American. In 1812 the settlement “Rossija” – Fort Ross – was founded about 120 km north of San Francisco within today’s Sonoma County mainly to supply the Russian dealer in Alaska with fresh food. When Tsar Alexander I in 1821 announced to expand the Russian state trading monopoly further south – initially latitude 51 was mentioned - , this created strong protests from the USA but from Great Britain as well. These Russian ambitions gave President James Monroe grounds 1923 to announce his doctrine in which he rejected all kind of European colonization on American grounds. The Russian Tsars from now on behaved much more cautiously regarding the far reaching ideas of the Russian American Company. In 1841 Fort Ross was sold to the Swiss-American farmer John Sutter for 30000 piaster and the Russian American Company lost more and more economic meaning and influence. Its state trading monopoly was not renewed anymore in 1861 and in 1867 Tsar Alexander II sold Russian-America – the today’s Alaska – to the USA for 7,2, Mill U$.
|… that Afro-Americans fought for America’s freedom side by side with their white compatriots?|
In the beginning of the war for independence 1775 – 1781 the slave owner George Washington refused to recruit Afro-Americans for his army; he feared a slave rebellion by arming them. The appeal of the colonial Governor for Virginia Lord Dunmore 1775 to free all slaves willing to fight for the british Crown against the rebelling Americans and his own critical situation forced Washington to change his mind. Beginning January 1777 Washington and Congress started to recruit Afro-Americans, at first free Blacks and later slaves as well promising freedom. In total about 5000 Afro-Americans have fought on the side of the patriots partly in separate units lead by white officers – this way was decided by Rhode Island and Connecticut - but partly in mixed units as well. In the south only Maryland recruited Afro-Americans while Virginia did so as a special exception (Afro-Americans fought in place of their masters). The parliament of South-Carolina resolutely refused to arm 3000 to 5000 slaves as proposed. At the end of the independence war it is assumed that Washingtons army numbered up to 25 % black soldiers. Even the next war of the young USA against Great Britain 1812 – 1814 saw Afro-Americans fighting jointly with their white compatriots, and despite growing resistance still the same happened in the Mexican war 1846 -1848. The strict segregation of black and white soldiers in the US army begun not before the Civil War and became finished 1948 only by President Truman (Executive Order 9981).
|…what means “spoils system” and who introduced that into the political practice of the USA?|
“Spoils system” means that practice in which public offices e.g. those of a governmental administration are at the disposal of the victorious political party for its own purpose and in its own interest. This system was practiced for the first time by the 7th President Andrew Jackson after his first Inauguration 1829 and is used since by every newly elected President. Jackson himself defended this as a leading principle in republicanism; office-holders should be periodically replaced so as to check corruption, ensure against the creation of an entranched bureaucracy and enable more citizens to participate in public life. Andrew Jackson was the first President who had risen from poverty with little formal education. All his 6 predecessors had come from well-established Eastern families and were educated and cultured. His election was seen as the triumph of the small man, which may explain the tumultuous scenes following his Inauguration. During his 8 years in office he greatly enlarged executive authority. For the first time the Presidency was seen the undisputed head of the government and a plebiscitary character was assumed because now that the presidential electors were popularly elected he was able to claim that he was the only elected federal official who was the choice of the people as a whole other than Senators and House Representatives, who were elected by voters or part voters of one state only. Other than his predecessors Jackson insisted that cabinet members followed his orders and he introduced a consulting group of political cronies known as “kitchen cabinet”. He transformed the Presidency from a law-enforcing office into a policy-making one. He vetoed 12 bills more than all his predecessors combined and made use of the „pocket veto“ (a device to block legislation by refusing to sign bills presented in the last 10 days of a Congressional session.)
|…how the figure Uncle Sam became the personification oft he USA?|
The figure Uncle Sam dates back to the American-English war 1812-1814. The tradition tells that at that time at an army camp in the north of New York State soldiers were supplied with meat provisions in barrels which showed the letters “US”. It is said that the soldiers at first have taken these letters “US” for the initial letters of their meat supplier, a manufacturer of preserved in Troy, NY, with name Samuel Wilson III, as Uncle Samuel Wilson. Only later on they took the letters “US” for United States. The today well known appearance of this figure was created by the graphic artist James Montgomery Flagg who used his own appearance as model for an advertising poster for the US army during World War I. Earlier there had been various other portrayals of this figure. Despite existing reservations this story was recognized by an US Senate resolution in 1961 and the meaning of this figure was officially established. By this Uncle Sam is understood as personification of the USA. In principle he is shown as gaunt, elderly man with white skin and white hair, goatee and mostly keeping a straight face. He wears the national colors of the USA, a deep blue jacket and red white striped trousers. His topper mostly comes with the colors of the flag – Stars and Stripes.
|… how the national anthem of the Unites States was born?|
During the American-English war 1812 – 1814 the American amateur poet Francis Scott Key witnessed on September 13/14th 1814 as prisoner on the English battle ship HMS Minden the bombardement of Fort Mc Henry by Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay as part of the Battle of Baltimore. On the morning after the bombardement Key was inspired by the American victory and the American flag still to be seen over Fort Mc Henry to write down his four stanza poem which he named originally „Defence of Fort Mc Henry“. At that time the flag had 15 stars and stripes to indicate that Kentucky and Vermont had become two additional states in the meantime. Key’s brother in law Nicholson saw the text fitting to a popular British drinking song from 1780 „To Anacreon in Heaven“ and printed the song on September 17th 1814. Few days later it was published in the newspapers Baltimore Patriot and The American with the remark „Tune: Anacreon in Heaven“. After being published a little bit later by Thomas Carr under the title „The Star-Spangled Banner“ text and melody became more and more popular everywhere. On July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy signed a General Order making „The Star-Spangled Banner“ the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag. In 1916 President Wilson ordered that „The Star-Spangled Banner“ be played at military and appropriate occasions. In 1918 it is said to be played the first time during a baseball game of the World Series. When a well known cartoonist in November 1929 draw public attention by a panel „Believe it or not, America has no national anthem“, Congress became involved and on March 3, 1931, „The Star-Spangled Banner“ was adopted as the official national anthem of the United States by law signed by President Hoover. Before 1931 other songs had been used at official occasions as de-facto anthems, e.g. „My Country, `Tis of Thee“ to the melody of the English national anthem or „Hail Columbia“ .
|… that there had been a Prussian-Jewish chief of the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico?|
Salomon Bibo was born in Brakel, Westfalia – then a part of Prussia – in 1853, the sixth of eleven children. His father was cantor of the Jewish community in that town. His older brothers migrated to America and ended up working for a merchant family in Santa Fe. The brothers moved to Ceboletta, a tiny village, where they set up a trading post among Navajo Indians. In 1869 the sixteen-year-old Solomon took ship for the United States and joined his brothers serving several southwest Indian tribes at a series of trading posts. They bought Indian produce and sold it to the U.S. Army to supply forts in the region. In 1882 Salomon Bibo set up a trading post at the Acoma Pueblo west of Albuquerque. Soon Bibo was asked by some Acoma Indians to help represent them in disputes over land ownership. After having conquered the pueblo in 1599 a large portion of the Acoma Pueblo’s traditional lands had been given by the Spanish crown in land grants to Mexican soldier, some of whose descendants continued to hold them. Bibo helped the pueblo get some of its land back despite the opposition of the official U.S. Indian agent in Santa Fe. In 1885, Bibo married Juana Valle, granddaughter of the governor of the Acoma Pueblo. After the Spanish conquest the Pueblo Indians had become catholic and had taken over Spanish office titles as governor instead of chief but besides this kept their religious and tribal traditions. As no Rabbi was available in New Mexico at that time, there had been two marriage ceremonies – one before a catholic priest and one according to Indian tradition. Three years later Bibo was chosen to succeed his wife’s grandfather as governor-chief. He served a five-year term and stayed on in Acoma for five years more. His main success was the installation of the first school teacher within the pueblo. Wiped out financially in the depression of the 1890s, he and his wife took their children to San Francisco where they raised them in a Jewish community and gave them a Jewish education. Salomon Bibo ultimately rebounded and opened an upscale grocery. He died in San Francisco in 1934; Juana followed seven years later.
|… that 42.8 Millions of Americans are of German descent?|
Within 10years intervals the US Census Bureau of Department of Commerce reports on the descent of Americans. According to the last report from 2000 42,8 Million Americans – this is 15 % of the total population – indicate German or at least partly German descent. Next are 30,5 Mill. of irish descent and 24,9 Mill. of Afro-American descent; 24,5 Mill. indicate English descent, 18,4 Mill. name Mexican ancestors and 15,6 Mill. are of Italian descent. The long term tendency shows reduced European descent while Americans with Afro-American, Spanish or Asian ancestors will increase. You might argue the seriousness of these figures by various arguments e.g. multiple indications of ancestors of different ethnicity within one family (Germans, Irish and Scandinavians within the same family) or that there had been strictly speaking no Germans before 1871 but only people from Palatine, Saxonia or Bavaria. Nevertheless it is correct, that from 1776 up to today immigrants from Germany or countries which later became Germany formed the largest part of all immigrants into the USA during these years; 11 % of all immigrants were Germans – in total more than 7 Million people.
|… that American historians and political scientists since 1948 regularly set up rankings of the best and the worst Presidents of the USA?|
Up to hundred scientists take part in these rankings in which the performance of each President will be assessed within a 5-point range. The mean values will produce the rankings, which will be made public. The results even get attention in scientific literature and no presidential biography will miss them. Since decades these rankings are fairly stable, at least regarding the Tops and Flops. The 5 best regarded Presidents from No 1 to No 5 are Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and Theodor Roosevelt. Public opinion gives a somehow different ranking than the scientists; according to surveys Lincoln gets the first place as well but the succeeding darlings of the people Reagan, Kennedy and Clinton will not be placed within the Top 5 by the scientists. No 1 of the worst regarded Presidents is James Buchanan who was predecessor of Lincoln from1857 to 1861. He is criticized in particular because he practically did nothing when some Southern States left the Union. No 2 of these Flops is Warren G. Harding, successor of Wilson, who was elected 1920 but died 1923 already. Later President Hoover described Harding as “He was not the man with that experience and intellectual capability which this office is requesting”. Flop No 3 is Franklin Pierce (1853 – 1857), who completely misunderstood the importance of the slavery issue and by his stubbornness contributed mainly to the „Bleeding Kansas“ clashes and who on top of this provoked struggles with Spain and Great Britain. Flop No 4 is Andrew Johnson, successor of Lincoln from1865 to 1869, who is told to have been drunken at his swearing in as Vice President. But he is criticized much more for his behaviour during Reconstruction, whereby he got more and more in conflict to Congress and only just avoided impeachment. No 5 of the Flops is occupied by Ulysses S.Grant (1869 – 1877). The Presidency of the former commander-in-chief of the Armies of the Union and hero of the Civil War was assessed unsuccessful and surrounded by scandals by his contemporaries already. It will be of interest if and how George W. Bush will show up in these rankings. 2006 already his Presidency was assessed below average and unsuccessful already by 80% of a 744 scientists survey.
|… that President Obama had been in office several minutes already before he took the oath?|
Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the USA says on the office of the President: “Before he enter on execution of his office he shall take the following oath or affirmation…“, but Amendment XX from 1933 rules in Section 1: „The term oft the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January….; and the term of the successors shall then begin.” On January 20th, 2009, it was about 12:05 a.m. when Barack Obama took his oath, so he had been President already for about 5 minutes.
|… that there had been once a US-President and his Vice-President elected from opposing political parties?|
During both terms of President George Washington a first two-party system – called in literature “the first party system” – had been established; supporting this first administration there were the Federalists with dominating Alexander Hamilton and with growing opposition to Hamilton there were a group around Madison and Jefferson, which soon called themselves Republicans (not to be mixed up with the Republican Party of today). By this reason the Presidential elections 1795/96 for the first time saw two parties campaigning against each other. The then estranged Federalists finally compromised to nominate John Adams while the Republicans nominated Thomas Jefferson. In those early days - political parties were not provided in the Constitution - President and his Vice President were to be elected by the electoral delegates in one common ballot where each delegate had two votes without being able to indicate these for the President or the Vice President respectively. Who would collect the most votes - provided that this would mean the majority of all electoral votes – would become President and who would come in second would become Vice President. Hamilton did not like his fellow Federalist Adams, called him even not qualified for President and tried plotting against Adams in favour of the Vice Presidential Federalist nominee. This went wrong completely and so the Presidential election 1796 resulted in a Federalist President John Adams and a Republican Vice President Thomas Jefferson, which never was to happen again.
|… what has been the shortest term of an US President?|
1840 William H. Harrison was elected as 9th President of the USA. During his inauguration on a very cold day, the 4th of March 1841, he caught a flue, probably because of an extreme long speech, went ill on pneumonia and died on April 4th 1841 after one month in office only. Successor became his elected Vice President John Tyler, whose presidential rights were under discussion, but finally was accepted and counted as 10th President of the USA. The constitutional rights for the transfer of the Presidency to the following Vice President became established only by the 25th Amendment of 1965 which as well settled the right for the new President to nominee the new Vice President. This right to nominee the new Vice President had been seen necessary because otherwise the Nr 3 in the order of rank the Speaker of the House of Representatives had had to follow, by this the separation between executive and legislative powers would have been disturbed. By this reason during the complete tem of John Tyler the office of Vice President had stayed vacant.
|… who was the first Afro-American seriously running for presidential nomination?|
Jesse Louis Jackson, born 1941 in Greenville, South-Carolina, advanced to one of the most important black civil rights activists in the 1960s after Martin Luther King. His media competence became nationwide well known the first time when he presented the bloody shirt of Martin Luther King to the TV cameras immediately after King had been killed in Memphis on April 4th 1968. The same year he became Reverend of a Baptist Church. 1971 he founded his own civil right movement “People United to Save Humanity” (PUSH). Within the next 15 years Reverend Jesse Jackson became famous even outside the USA as the fiery black preacher and relentless fighter for civil rights. 1984 he run for the democratic presidential nomination but was clearly defeated by Walter Mondale. Four years later he repeated his candidacy. This time the democratic contest narrowed down to a duel between Governor Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts and Jesse Jackson after other early democratic favourites as Senator G. Hart and Governor Mario S. Cuomo had withdrawn. Jackson’s populist message got a ready response from poor whites as well as from members of his own race but, although he won a string of primaries, his campaign ran out of steam when it became clear that Americans were not ready to elect a black President or at least not one who held extreme views while lacking both political and administrative experience. Nevertheless Jackson came in second with 7 Million votes and held on to his delegates in the hope to receive the vice-presidential nomination but Dukakis chose as running mate Senator L. Bentson, a white Texas conservative. In later years Jackson repeatedly succeeded in freeing American and other citizens from prison out of countries like Syria, Cuba, Saddam Hussein’s Iracq and former Yugoslavia, sometimes without any official order from the US government.
|… who became the very first US Ambassador in Berlin?|
1797 John Quincy Adams, born 1767 in Massachussetts and died 1848 in Washington DC, came to Berlin and represented the young USA as Ambassador to the Prussian Court up to 1801. At that time residential buildings were not yet common and the Ambassador used rented rooms as his office, which by the way frequently changed. In the years following 1801 the USA were represented in Prussia only indirectly. It was only 1835 that a new Ambassador, Henry Wheaton, came to Berlin. From then on continually there had been all the years an US Embassy in Berlin – from 1871 to Germany instead to Prussia – except the war years. John Q. Adams was son of the 2nd US President, John Adams, and had served as Ambassador for his country before and after his time in Berlin to Portugal, the Netherlands, Russia and finally to Great Britain (1815-1817). 1825 he himself became the 6th President of the USA til 1829. 1841 he defended the slaves from the Spanish slave ship "La Amistad", who had freed themselves and had landed in the USA, before the Supreme Court. He succeeded in not handing over the former slaves to Spain but to let them return to their home countries as free people.
|… that there are 33 places in the USA named Germantown?|
These are towns, villages, neighbourhoods and other places. There are 6 Germantowns in Pennsylvania incliding the very first Germantown which is now a neighbourhood in Philadelphia; in Maryland 4 times; in New York, Tennessee and Wisconsin 3 times each; in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio 2 times each and 1 time each in Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, North and South Carolina and Virginia. Additionally there had been 2 US Navy ships USS Germantown named after the town in Pennsylvania.
|… that 9 Americans became President of the USA without being elected in this office?|
Of these 9 Vice Presidents, who became President, Gerald Ford was the only one, who was never elected by the American people neither as President nor as Vice President; G. Ford was nominated by President Nixon after retirement of former Vice President Spirow Agnew and became himself President after retirement of President Nixon because of Watergate. 4 of these Presidents coming into office as Vice Presidents were reelected as Presidents and 4 came into office because their predecessors were shot. Here the list of those 9 Vice Presidents:
John Tyler (10th President 1841-1845), Millard Fillmore (13th President 1850-1853), Andrew Johnson (17th President 1865-1869; predecessor A. Lincoln shot), Chester Arthur (21st President 1881-1885; predecessor J.A. Garfield shot), Theodore Roosevelt (25th President 1901-1909, reelected; predecessor W. McKinley shot), Calvin Coolidge (29th President 1923-1929, reelected), Harry Truman (32nd President 1945-1953, reelected), Lyndon B. Johnson (35th President 1963-1969, reelected; predecessor J.F. Kennedy shot), Gerald Ford (37th President 1974-1977; predecessor R. Nixon retired).
|… that Monrovia, the Capital of the West-African State Liberia, was named after the fifth US-President James Monroe?|
During the 19th century in the United States antislavery overshadowed more and more other reform movements, which found at least equal interest in the first decades. In the colonial period most Americans had accepted slavery as an economical necessity, sanctioned moreover by the Bible. The revolution, with its emphasis on liberty and equality, produced widespread condemnation of the institution, even in the South, but by the early 19th century antislavery sentiment had ebbed. Antislavery societies, most numerous in the upper South, kept up an subdued agitation but aspired to nothing more than gradual emancipation. The American Colonization Society , founded in 1817 with the support of such prominent slave holders as Henry Clay (one of the most important US politicians of those years) and John Marshall (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835), aimed at colonizing free slaves in West Africa. Under its auspices 1822 the independent republic of Liberia was founded, the capital Monrovia being named after President Monroe, who became fifth US President from 1816 to 1824. The society won adherents in the North as well as in the South. Even some men destined to become leading abolitionists believed at first that colonization might pave the way for emancipation. But many of its Southern supporters saw colonization merely as a means of ridding the country of its free blacks, regarded as potential leaders of slave revolts. But as early as 1830 it was apparent that colonization was a failure. This did not change even when President Lincoln at the beginning of the Civil War favored this idea as a means of solving the race problem. Up to 1860 not more than 12000 people had been colonized – a mere fraction of the black population.
|... what means Manifest Destiny?|
The phrase Manifest Destiny was formulated for the first time in 1845 by journalist John L. OSullivan urging the annexation of the Republic of Texas; a little later on December 27, 1845 he argued in his newspaper the that the United States had the right to claim "the whole of Oregon": “And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.”
Manifest Destiny reflected the assumption that Providence had intended the United States to control the entire North American continent. Advocates of Manifest Destiny, at that time mostly Jacksonian Democrats, believed that expansion was not only good, but that it was obvious ("manifest") and certain ("destiny"). Manifest Destiny provided a convenient rationalization for the territorial expansion of the United States across North America towards the Pacific Ocean and - extravagantly expressed - for the conquest of lesser breeds like Indians and Mexicans by land hungry pioneers. It expressed the 19th-century belief that the United States had a mission to do so in spreading its form of democracy and freedom. As other 19th-century beliefs it contains a lot of idealism and romaticism but there were as well elements of aggressive thinking and even of racism which had been adressed in the political discussion of those days by critics of Manifest Destiny.
It was revived in the 1890s, this time with Republican supporters, as a theoretical justification for U.S. expansion outside of North America. The term fell out of usage by U.S. policy makers early in the 20th century, but some commentators believe that aspects of Manifest Destiny, particularly the belief in an American "mission" to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, continued to have an influence on American political ideology.
|… that Coca-Cola had been produced in Germany well into the Second World War?|
On April 8th 1929 in Germany the first bottle Coca-Cola was filled in Essen by „Deutsche Vertriebs GmbH für Naturgetränke“, called in short “Deverna”. 1930 the Coca-Cola GmbH was founded as Sales Organization while “Deverna” furthermore stayed responsible for the production of the syrup-concentrate. In 1933 there had been sold already more than 100000 cases of Coca-Cola in Germany; in 1934 there were more than 120 concessionaires and a filling station was built in Frankfurt/Main. The final breakthrough for Coca-Cola was achieved during the Olympic Games 1936 in Berlin. Even after the beginning of the Second World War the business with Coca-Cola continued in Germany. But it became more and more difficult for the German daughter company of „The Coca-Cola Company“ to acquire the necessary raw materials. So in 1940 a new refreshing beverage was invented: Fanta (derived from the word fantasy). Fanta at that time was based on dairy products but Fanta secured the existence of the Coca-Cola GmbH, while 1942 the production of Coca-Cola itself had to be stopped because of non-availability of raw materials. After the war the production of Coca-Cola was restarted in Germany in 1950. But Fanta remained as well known beverage under the roof of Coca-Cola, now not anymore based on dairy products but as orange lemonade and finally became an internationally known brand.
|…. how and when Hawaii became 50th state of the USA?|
First Americans - whaling fleets and New England missionaries – came to the Hawaiian islands about 1820, at that time ruled by a native monarchy. From then on ties with America grew steadily. By the close of the Civil War American settlers, mainly the children of the missionaries had developed sugar and pineapple plantations and dominated the economy and government of the islands. An 1875 trade treaty, permitting Hawaiian sugar to enter the American market freely and binding the Hawaiian government not to lease or dispose of any of its territory to any other power, made Hawaii economically dependent on the United States and an 1887 treaty diluted Hawaiian independence still further by granting the United States an exclusive naval base at Pearl Harbour. The American planters in Hawaii had not up to now pressed for annexation. But a new USA tariff in 1890 wiped off their trade advantage into the Union, and in 1891 a new native ruler ascended the Hawaiian throne determined to put an end to foreign domination. In January 1893, with the support of marines from cruiser Boston, then at Honolulu, American residents staged a revolt, deposed the monarch, established a provisional republican government, and promptly dispatched a mission to Washington to seek annexation. First annexation treaties received some resistance in Washington by anti-imperialist Democrats and domestic sugar producers. Only in 1898, during the war with Spain, was Hawaii at last annexed by means of a joint Congressional resolution, a procedure requiring only a simple majority. After the Hawaiian native people over the years had become a minority in their own country by foreign immigration from Asia and of continental Americans on August 21th 1959 a referendum Hawaii transformed to the 50th State of the Union. In November 1993 Congress passed a law which included an Apology Resolution and by which the Hawaiian revolution of 1893 was declared unlawful; the same day President Clinton signed this law. Today the Hawaiian native people are demanding more independence, rights and land and partly even secession from the Union.
|… that a society of aristocrats from the city of Mainz – called „Mainzer Adelsverein“ – had something to do with German in Texas?|
“Mainzer Adelsverein” was the short name for the “Society for protection of German Immigrants in Texas” (1842 – 1848) by which activity some 7380 German emigrated to Texas between 1844 to 1847. The society was founded by 21 aristocrats on the occasion of a meeting of “The Council of German Princes and Noble Gentlemen” in the castle of Biebrich on the river Rhine. The society had philanthropic as well as commercial interests and was converted to a joint-stock company 1844 temporary located in the city of Mainz. Following first inquiries in Texas by two society members in the years 1842 to 1844 Carl Prinz zu Solms-Braunfels was delegated to Texas by the „Texasverein“ as first General Commisioner. The first immigrants arrived Texas December 1844 and landed in Carlshafen (later Indianola), a harbour created specifically by von Solms-Braunfels for the society. But only March 18th, 1845 von Solms-Braunfels succeeded in buying some land close to the Guadalupe River for these first settlers; the new settlement was named Neu-Braunfesls (New Braunfels). Unfortunately the young Prince was not very successful in financial affairs and finally had to be bought free by his successor Otfried Hans Freiherr von Meusebach needing 10000 U$. When in 1845 Texas was admitted to the North American Union (USA) the dream of a German colony “Neu-Deutschland” collapsed finally. Nevertheless nearly 7400 Germans came to Texas up to 1847 by activities of this society. 1847 Meusebach founded the settlement Fredericksburg, named after Prince Frederick of Prussia, one of the society members. But the most important historical achievement of Meusebach was the same year to negotiate a peace treaty with the tribe of the Comanches. The Germans purchased spurs and food from the Indians which on their side avoided looting of the German settlements. It is a remarkable and unique fact that this treaty was never broken from both sides. Each second Saturday in May on occasion of the “Founder’s Day” party this memorable treaty is celebrated in Fredericksburg the stronghold of German Immigration. On the long run the “Mainzer Adelsverein” was absolutely stretched too far to realize it’s targets last not least because it ran out of money within few years. On February 23rd, 1848, the Adelsverein formally winded up. The management of assets and debts was transferred to the "Deutsche Colonisationsgesellschaft für Texas" in Biebrich on May 6th, 1848. In Texas business was continued by the "German Emigration Company". Meusebach later represented Texas as Senator in Washington. Even when the “texanian adventure” resulted in a complete failure for the society within the years there arose a flourishing settlement landscape around the foundations of the society New Braunfels and Fredericksburg, which finally became a new home for the emigrated Germans. The Germans in this area contributed much to the development of Texas. Both villages very soon became flourishing cities and a center of German Traditions in the USA. At the beginning of 20th century there were still some 100000 Texanians speaking German. Most of them lived in the center of Texas between Austin and San Antonio. Up to now there is a “German Belt” in Texas where “Friedrichsburger Deutsch” is spoken and up to now the Texanian English specifically is influenced by German inroads.
|… that the famous Route 66 connected Chicago with Los Angeles "only"?|
This “Mother Road” by no means run from coast to coast and she was not the first big East-to-West Road of the USA as well; this happened to be the Lincoln Highway designed as early as 1913, which started at Times Square in New York and ended at Lincoln Park in San Francisco. But nevertheless this Route 66 opened officially on November 11th, 1926, which began at Lake Michigan in Chicago and ended after app. 2500 miles at the shore of the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles became the symbol of America’s set off into the era of automotive travelling. Route 66 connected the industrialized region around the Great Lakes with the oil fields of Oklahoma and the booming southern California. She shaped the USA more than hardly any other traffic system even when the asphalt surface was fully completed in 1937 only. Along its route franchising became the all-over dominating business system. In the early 40s hotels like the Ansom in Albuquerque offered their guests to book rooms in partner hotels by free phone calls; this was the starting point for the Best-Western Hotel organisation. After World War II Holiday-Inn-Motels established themselves as synonym of good value holiday. Even McDonalds cradle was on Route 66 – in Californian San Bernardino. Towns which were touched by this Route flourished and went down again when “Mother Road” had to be replaced by other freeways. It was logical only that this Route itself finally became the victim of the growing requests of a more and more mobile society. From 1950 onwards she was replaced more and more by modern four-lane freeways. 1985 the last official traffic sign was removed and Route 66 became history. But she continues to live – in movies and with music. Additionally today there are several Route-66-Societies working to preserve as many original miles as possible; nearly 1000 miles still can be travelled today.
|…that a german revolutionary became US Secretary of the Interior?|
In 1848, the year of revolutions in Europe, the 19 years old student Carl Schurz demonstrates in Bonn for freedom and national unification. One year later he fights in Pfalz and Baden against the advancing Prussian troops to defend the Constitution of the Paulskirche. He escapes into Switzerland, frees his professor Kinkel from prison in Rastatt by a spectacular action, where the victorious Prussians have sentenced Kinkel for lifelong detention and flees to London. Disappointed by the political development in Europe he as many other men of 1848 turns his back to this continent and together with his wife emigrates to the USA, where he settles down in Watertown, Wisconsin. He soon joins the young Republican Party and influenced by A. Lincoln, with whom he gets close acquaintance, becomes opposed to slavery and finally to one of the most influencing “black Republicans”. By many speeches and lectures all over the country he looks for the german Americans to support Lincoln and his politics. Following Lincolns election 1860 he is sent as ambassador of the USA to Spain for a short period, where he manages to withhold Spain from intervening in the Civil War at the side of the Confederation. Returning back to the USA he demands immediately a high rank within the Army and 1863 will be finally promoted to a General Major thanks to his contacts to the White House despite strong opposing arguments from leading generals. Privately he is not very successful with real estate businesses in the first years, this changes only when 1867 he is offered to become Co-Publisher of the german-language newspaper Westliche Post in St. Louis. During winter 1867/68 Schurz visits Germany and is received by Bismarck in Berlin. As many other former bourgeois freedom fighter he is impressed by Bismarck and the success of his politics. Elected as Senator in Missouri 1869 he starts to change his political views himself. He leaves the Republican Party and tries to set up a new Liberal Republican Party. This fails and he behaves now politically as independent, supporting today the Republicans and tomorrow the Democrats. 1872 he visits again Germany together with his family; he is very much impressed by the new Deutsches Reich but he is disconcerted by the boasting nationalism. 1876 he supports the presidential campaign of the Republican Hayes and becomes Secretary of the Interior after Hayes victory. But during his term he is acting not very lucky and successful. After 4 years the Republicans are replaced by the Democrats and the Secretary term of Schurz is finished. The one-time revolutionary keeps a patriotic feeling in favour of his old home country; 1870/71 already he supported full hearted and without any critical thoughts Germany in the war against France and celebrated the german victory by decorating his newspaper house in St. Louis with black-white-red flags. When 1888 Wilhelm I dies – that prince who once in Baden threatened the life of the young freedom fighter – the now old politician Schurz formulates a long obituary and praises the national deeds of the Emperor. Being nearly 70 years old he argues intensively against all imperialistic intentions in the USA and all attempts of the government, to create a colonial empire. When the USA started war against the colonial Spain in 1898 he reproaches the government that they claim to do so “in the name of freedom and humanity” but to act in reality “for the purpose of self-enrichment”. He dies on May 14th, 1906, in New York. President Theodore Roosevelt and Emperor Wilhelm II write letters of condolence; Mark Twain write an obituary.
|….what means the Muehlenberg legend?|
The legend has persisted for 200 years: German lost by a hair to be the official language of the USA, when a bill was defeated by one vote. The man who cast the deciding vote for English is said to have been of German descent. The fact is that a vote for an official language never took place on neither at federal nor at state level.
However, like all legends, this one has a core of truth to it: on January 9, 1794, a group of German immigrants from Virginia submitted a petition to the House of Representatives demanding that laws be translated into German. This would help immigrants who hadnt yet learned English to become acclimated faster in their new homeland, however the petition was voted down in the House of Representatives 42 to 41. The German-born, bilingual Speaker of the House, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muehlenberg, who himself abstained from the vote, declared afterwards "the faster the Germans become Americans, the better it will be."
Among the German settlers, this led to a certain bitterness which provided root for this legend to grow into the celebrated folklore a generation later. In 1828, the legend evolved further, that a vote was cast in Pennsylvania whether German should be named as the second official language, and this proposal also lost by one vote. The crucial vote which prevented German as an official status was cast by State House Speaker Muehlenberg.
So went the legend. It is true that Germans were not an insignificant percentage of the population of Pennsylvania at the beginning of the 19th Century, although they never exceeded one-third. German immigrants comprised about nine percent of the total U.S. population in 1830. Nevertheless, there are a great number of german words which found their way into the American language as "muesli", "reinheitsgebot" or "weltschmerz" and there are even today new words coming in e.g. "fahrvergnuegen" or "bremsstrahlung".
|….since when the President of the USA can be elected fort two terms only?|
It is true that George Washington, first President of the USA, acted two terms only, that he rejected a proposed third election and by this created a kind of tradition for two terms only. But in all the years to follow up to 1946 there had been never a whatsoever legal action or statement regarding the number of presidential terms. In so far it was absolutely legal that Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected for President four times – 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944. Sometimes it is believed that this was due to the 2nd World War and a kind of exemption rule by this reason; this is in so far incorrect as only his fourth election 1944 happened during the war. During the election campaign 1940 against the Republican Willkie - the USA had not yet been at war - Roosevelt hat promised that „American boys would not be sent into any foreign war“. The Congressional elections 1946 – President Roosevelt had died 1945 and his Vice-President since 1944 Harry S. Truman had become President – resulted in a landslide victory for the opposing Republicans and for the first time since 1930 they won control of both houses of Congress. In a belated act of vengeance against Roosevelt’s long occupation of the White House Congress adopted the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified 1951 and which states that all future Presidents after Harry S. Truman will be restricted to two terms.
|…. that 400 years ago the first permanent English settlement in North America - Jamestown - had been established?|
Between 1585 and 1587 Sir Walter Raleigh under approval of Queen Elizabeth I undertook several attempts to found a colony on Roanoke Island off that land what is known today as North Carolina. Last not least the ongoing threat of England by the Spanish Armada, which lasted up to 1588, made it impossible, to supply regular support to this colony. But in 1591 a relief expedition found Roanoke utterly deserted. The fate of that “lost colony” and her inhabitants could never be solved. But England learned two things from this disaster; one man alone could not supply enough resources for an activity like this and for success continuous supply must be guaranteed.
In 1606 King James I granted a charter to two groups of merchants, the London Company and the Plymouth Company, giving them the right to colonize North America between the 34th and 45th parallels. Both groups had commercial interests only and aimed at establishing trading post to collect furs and other high value raw materials. The first attempts of the Plymouth Company at the coast of today’s Maine run into disaster. Following some failures the London Company reached success further south and on April 26th 1607 three ships – Discovery, Godspeed and Susan Constant –landed at the southern shore of the Chesapeake Bay with 104 men and boys. After having named this place Cape Henry they continued their exploration into the wide mouth of a river until they found a suitable place to anchor their boats. To honour King James they named their new home Jamestown and the river James River. Several hundred additional settlers joined them in the next two years. The colony was in big troubles from the start; climate, internal struggles and low interest for farming activities and to grow food threatened the survival of the colony seriously. Famine and disease during the “starving time” of 1609 and 1610 reduced the population from500 to 60. The colony only survived by the continuous support from England and additionally because of energetic and disciplining leadership of Captain John Smith and Sir Thomas Dale. Several years later it was discovered that tobacco grows especially well in the colony and soon reasonable amounts of tobacco were exported. In 1619 the stabilizing of the colony was reflected by the company’s decision – now renamed in Virginia Company – to send shiploads of woman. At the same time the Virginia Company had ordered the calling of an elective assembly to establish and introduce self-government which would serve to distinguish all the England colonies from the colonies of other European powers. Nevertheless the colony still was at risk; 1622 it was almost wiped out by an Indian attack. Finally 1624 the crisis was over; the Company went bankrupt and Virginia became a royal colony, the crown reluctantly continuing the right of representation.
The famous “Pilgrim Fathers” only landed December 16th 1620 at Plymouth.
|… that the last Indian victory against the White Man dates back 131 years?|
On June 25th 1876 – it was a very hot summer day – near the river Little Bighorn, Montana, Sioux Indians led by Crazy Horse paid a crushing defeat to a regiment of US-Cavalry led by Colonel George Armstrong Custer and killed 261 soldiers, Custer himself as well as 40 Germans, some of them only recently immigrated. Custer had been promoted to General during the Civil War because of extraordinary bravery as youngest General in US military history. In the post-war army he served as Colonel only but was allowed to keep his title General.
The availability of the horse to the nomadic tribes of Indians of the Great Plaines had given them superiority on the farming Indian tribes by much more effective ways of hunting bisons. The horse was unknown to these Indians before app. 1740 and they had named it „sunka wakan“ – the incomprehensible dog. But this should be over now. The Indians had lost their status as independent nation by order from Washington; they should give up this kind of bison hunting and hand over the land to the white man which had been granted to them earlier.
The nomadic tribes in Montana and Dakota – mainly Sioux Indians – should be forced into a reservation area by an extensively planned action - named “Centennial Campaign“ – involving 3 armies. Custer’s 7th US-Cavalry with its 600 men was serving as leading unit only and generally ordered to wait for the armies coming up. But Custer, believing that no Indian whatsoever could resist his unit, decided to attack himself immediately a large Indian camp. (Contemporaries talked of 7000 Indians to be attacked but by today’s understanding it is more realistic to talk of 1200 Indians only.) To do so he divided his troops; Major Reno and he himself should attack the Indian camp separately and from opposite directions. At first Major Reno and his people had been stampeded under severe casualties. Following this Custer and his soldiers, who didn’t know anything from this, were attacked in their back by Indians led by Crazy Horse and wiped out completely. The famous chief Sitting Bull had been in camp at Little Bighorn as well but probably not fought himself.
The news of this event – a crushing defeat of an US-Army unit caused by Indians – shocked the contemporaries in a similar way than the news of Pearl Harbour 1941 or the news of 9/11 2001. Custer was exhumed later and buried 1877 in West Point with all honours. In 1890 app. 300 Sioux Indians were suspected to prepare an uproar within a reservation and subsequently encircled by soldiers near a village named Wounded Knee. Shooting started but it was never found out why and who shot first, but the result was that all the 300 Indians were dead soon. Generally this massacre of Wounded Knee is said to be the last battle of the Indian Wars; it had been fought by the 7th US-Cavalry, Custer’s old regiment.
|… how America got it’s name?|
This year the American double continent celebrate it’s 500th name day - which would not exist without a german cartographer. In 1507 for the first time Martin Waldseemüller – born around 1470 in Freiburg and died 1521 - named the New World “America” three times: in a big map of the world, in a segmental map of the globe and in the script „Cosmographiae introductio“ together with Matthias Ringmann. Waldseemüller had heard about the italian sailor AmerigoVespucci and his voyage of discovery which had taken him in the year 1500 along the east coast of today’s South-America. Following the latin-type name of the discoverer Waldseemüller - without Vespuccis knowledge - named this region “Land of the Americus” in short “America”. The huge distribution of this map helped decisively that this name soon was in use for the whole double continent. Waldseemüller himself did not use anymore this name for his subsequent maps and used the exptression “terra incognita” instead since he had heard about the voyages of Christopher Columbus who had already landed in America several years earlier.
1901 one specimen from the originally app. 1000 pieces of the world map was rediscovered in Castle Wolfegg, Baden-Würtemberg, Germany. 2001 this specimen was sold to the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Presumably the oldest of the four remaining specimen of his segmental map of the world actually is shown in the exhibition “Neue Welt & Altes Wissen – Wie Amerika zu seinem Namen kam“ which runs up to April 1st, 2007, in the Museum Ritterhaus Offenburg, Ritterstr. 10, 77652 Offenburg, www.museum-offenburg.de.
|….that Wyatt Earp never became Sheriff or Marshal in Tombstone?|
Truth is that Wyatt Earp repeatedly applied for the job of Sheriff in various towns of the west, but always without success; so the same 1880 in Tombstone. Instead he became a saloon owner. 1928 – shortly before he died – he told his life to a journalist. This man created posthumous the legend Wyatt Earp as we know it. The hard core of this legend is an event which really happened. 125 years ago on October 26th 1881 there had been a shoot-out in front of the stable OK-Corral showing on one side Wyatt Earp, his two brothers and an alcoholic gunslinger Doc Holiday and on the other side four cowboys. When everything was finished there were 3 cowboys dead on the ground. The whole shoot-out – in total 17 shots had been fired – took hardly more than 30 seconds, but it was set in scene in 223 TV-shows or movies as main event or as side aspect only. Today there are 500 000 tourists each year to visit the city of Tombstone – “the town to tough to die” as it is advertised – and to see two times a month the reconstructed shoot-out show.
|…. that the first crossing of the north-american continent was completed just more than 200 years ago?|
On September, 23rd, 1806 an expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned to St. Louis where they had set off 2 ½ years ago. Up to 1803, when President Thomas Jefferson succeeded in the Louisiana Purchase, the Mississippi had been the western frontier of the young USA. The huge area of Louisiana, which stretched from the Mississippi, including the at that time strategical important city and harbour of New Orleans, westward to the Rocky Mountains and up to the Canadian border, had been purchased for 15 million U$ from France. This purchase, which more than doubled the national territory of the USA, strengthened the interest of the government for the western part of their continent. Main focus of this interest was at the beginning the exploration of a possible water way over to the Pacific Ocean. Thomas Jefferson himself initiated an expedition to explore the west, which under direction of his former secretary, Meriwether Lewis, and Lieutenant William Clark, an experienced frontier man, took off from St. Louis on May, 14th , 1804. The expedition followed the Missouri river up to its headwaters and later discovered that the Rocky Mountains were much higher and larger than expected; the water way to the Pacific run to illusion. After crossing the Rockies they followed the Snake and the Columbia River to the pacific coast, which they reached the 7th November, 1805.
This expedition not only resulted in numerous new information and knowledge on the land, maps, animals, plants and the Indians of the West, it also caused a great sensation in the nation. The Lewis-Clarke expedition contributed decisively that the west of the American continent was conquered and settled during the following decades. Westward ho!
|…that the designer of the world famous Brooklyn Bridge in New York had been born just more than 200 years ago in Mühlhausen, Thüringen, Germany?|
Johann August Röbling was born June 12th, 1806, in Mühlhausen, Thüringen. He graduated 1827 from the renowned Berliner Bauakademie and during this time became fascinated by the new ideas of chain and suspension bridges. 1831 he emigrated to the USA and 1837 became American citizen – now renamed as Roebling – after his first son Washington had been born. 1841 he succeeded in the development of a new wire cable which led to the foundation of a wire cable plant in Trenton, New Jersey, which under his sons later became world’s largest wire cable company.
First sensational jobs as bridge designer had been the refixing of the Pennsylvania Canals when crossing the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh in a suspension construction and 1855 the construction of a railway suspension bridge across the Niagara Falls.
As of 1856 he was occupied with the construction of the Cincinnati Bridge across the Ohio-River. Weather problems and then the Civil War delayed the completion up to 1866. At that time this bridge with its 322 m span had been celebrated by the American press as the world’s largest suspension bridge; today this bridge is quite often called the small, early sister of the following bridge project – the Brooklyn Bridge; in deed, both bridges have a lot of similarities. Regarding this next project – a suspension bridge with a span of 490 m across the East river from New York to the at that time still independent city of Brooklyn – Roebling had to convince a lot of scepticism; a suspension bridge of this format would simply collapse, she would not withstand the wind, she would be too expansive and too long and no one would walk the bridge half a kilometre and so on. Finally 1870 the construction should start. On June 28th, 1869, A.J. Roebling was injured during surveying works at the East River which led to his death July 22th , 1869. 1883 his son Washington completed his fathers work – the Brooklyn Bridge of New York.
|… that Benjamin Franklin did sign 1785 a treaty of friendship between the young USA and Frederick the Great ?|
Together with Benjamin Franklin, whose 300. birth anniversary we remember this year, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson did sign this first treaty of friendship with a german country. Special relations between Benjamin Franklin and the Germans lasted his lifetime. In 1732 Franklin began publishing his German-language newspaper called “Philadelphische Zeitung” and published the first German hymn book printed in America. 1766 he spent two months traveling in Germany and was invited by the Göttingen Academy of Science during this trip. On the other hand he expressed concerns on the rapid increase of the German-born Population in his vicinity: the Germans „will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language and our custom, any more than they can acquire our complexion.“ Here Benjamin Franklin was wrong.
|…. that in 1914 New York City had been the second largest german city following the german capital Berlin?|
Before first World War there had been about 800 000 Germans living in New York. In the beginning german immigrants preferred to settle in what became known as Little Germany, a section of the city east of the Bowery and extending from Houston Street to 12th street. Following the Civil War many german families were seeking more pleasant surroundings and were particular attracted to Yorkville, which extended from 59th to 96th street and from the East River to Fifth Avenue. The newly constructed Second and Third Avenue electric street trains improved access and by this attractiveness of Yorkville in particular for new immigrating Germans. The first World War changed everything; man Germans changed or “americanized” their names in order to stress that they wanted to be seen now as good Americans – “Born in Germany but made in USA” was one slogan of those years. Even from 1920 to 1940 Yorkville remained to be a german city, but in the years following 1933 american-german followers of Hitler became increasingly dominant in Yorkville so that most of those Germans who left Germany in these years and in particular german jews, forced by the Nazis to leave Germany, refused to experience this Yorkville as first contact in the New World. After second World War the german Yorkville disappeared nearly completely; only few german restaurants remained and reminded on former times.
|... how the first flag of the United States was created?|
Elizabeth “Betsy” Griscom, born January 1, 1752 in Philadelphia, had been apprenticed
by her father to a local upholsterer after completing her schooling. In 1773 she married John Ross. She was widowed already when in early June of 1776 according to Betsys own telling she had that fateful meeting with the three members of a secret committee from the Continental Congress which led to the sewing of the first flag: George Washington, the head of the Continental Army, George Ross, the uncle of her late husband, and Robert Morris. General Washington showed her a rough design of the flag that included a six-pointed star. Betsy, a standout with the scissors, demonstrated how to cut a five-pointed star in a single snip. Impressed, the committee entrusted Betsy with making the first flag. The flag was sewed in her living-room and was waved, when the Declaration of Independence was announced in public on July 8th, 1776 at Independence Hall.
In 1782, the Congress of the Confederation listed the meaning of the colors as follows: white to mean purity and innocence, red for valor and hardiness, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. According to legend, George Washington interpreted the elements of the flag this way: the stars were taken from the sky, the red from the British colors, and the white stripes signified the secession from the home country. However, there is no official designation or meaning for the colors of the flag.
The 13 stars represent Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. They were in a circle so that no one colony would be viewed above another.
Betsy would be married again twice and continued working until 1827. She died on January 30, 1836, at the age of 84.