In 1854, Levi Boone became Mayor of Chicago on the Know-Nothing Party whose tenets were strongly anti-immigrant and what would later be called ‘America First.’ Boone, a Baptist and Temperance enthusiast, believed drinking was akin to worshiping the Devil – particularly on the Sabbath. So he dealt the Chicago liquor industry a double-blow: he ordered all taverns closed on Sunday and increased the cost of a liquor license by six times, from $50 to $300. It was not popular and viewed as anti-German because, of course, Germans were the only ones drinking beer. On April 21, 1855, a massive protest march was held which was so large Mayor Boone ordered the bridges over the Chicago River closed. A riot ensued and one of the protestors fired on the police, He was killed, the lone death of the riot. In the aftermath of the Lager Beer Riot, the price of a liquor license was dropped to $100.  Nothing was said of Boone’s attempt to honor the Sabbath by closing taverns on Sunday. The Sabbath is Saturday; Sunday is the first day of the week. 

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Not much of a photo, eh?  I agree. But in the early days of Alaska, this was PROGRESS!  During the Alaska Gold Rush, there were boomtowns scattered across an area 1/5th the size of the Lower 48. Some had post offices, others had telegraph lines but most had zip. But every town needed a court because bad people were everywhere.  In smaller towns, there were mining councils that dispensed justice. Larger communities had federally-appointed magistrates.  But some towns were so wild they needed bonafide judges even though the judges were in Juneau.  So the Territory of Alaska established a “floating court” where judges would take steamships – and then motor launches as you can see here – to “courtrooms” in saloons, churches, meeting halls or even residences to dispense justice. This photo is the “floating court” on its way to Unga, more than 1,000 miles by water from Juneau, in 1915.  The Wheels of Justice move slowly and in Alaska they often came by boat.

 

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An ancient Greek joke tells of a master and his slaves who are on a ship being battered by a powerful storm. As the slaves are shrieking in terror, the master yelled, “Why are you complaining? In my will, if I die you are all to be set free!”

This man is an ID-10-T.

If you don’t know what an ID-10-T is, write it without the dashes.

ID-10-Ts are everywhere and their stupidity is staggering.  The proof is this billboard.  How could anyone have put this up without knowing it was incorrect?  Well, when you have an ID-10-T in charge, no one can predict what will happen.  

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The Golden Age of Hollywood glamorized the cowboy and the Wild West. Unfortunately, what appeared on the silver screen ended up in our history books and far too many Americans believe all of the cowboys were white – and that all of the soldiers on the fronter were white.  And all the United States Marshals were white. Wrong! America’s frontier was a magnet for black slaves and later free blacks because, well, it was a frontier.  You could be ‘free’ and while the wages were not good, you would be paid for your work.  About 40% of all soldiers in the West were black – buffalo soldiers – and about the same percentage of cowboys were black, Mexican, Indian or a mix thereof.  And more than a fair share of United States Marshals, like this unnamed man, were black. So don’t believe everything you have seen at the movies.

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All Roman roads had mileage stones, set one thousand paces apart. The term “mile” comes from the Latin mille, one thousand. It was estimated that Roman army units marched at the rate of five feet per step.  The actual “mileage” of roads was standardized in 1959 at 1,609.344 meters – in the United States as 1760 yards.  

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Anne Royall was one of – if not the first – first female journalist. She grew up poor in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. At 16 years of age she and her widowed mother were employed by a wealthy American Revolution major, William Royall, as servants. He eventually married Anne and she lived comfortably until 1812 – when she was 43 – when William died. The Royall family sued Ann for her inheritance and, after seven years of litigation, won and left Anne penniless. She spent four years traveling around Alabama writing letters which later became the book Letters from Alabama. She went to Washington D. C. in 1824 to petition for a federal pension as the widow of veteran. She received the pension, but the Royall family claimed most of it. While in D. C. she became a journalist and asked President John Quincy Adams for an interview. He turned her down.  Undismayed, she waited until the President went swimming in the Potomac River. As he was bathing naked, she sat on his clothes and refused to leave until he answered her questions making her the first presidential interview by a woman.

She wrote extensively and in 1831 started publishing an investigative newspaper, Paul Pry, out of her home. The paper focuses extensively on political corruption and fraud. Paul Pry grew into The Huntress in 1836. She hired orphans to set type for the journal and faced financial hardship with the Post Office refused to deliver her issues to subscribers. She died in 1854 and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery, a cemetery where plots are reserved for those who helped form the nation.

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In 1910, Victor Berger, a founding member of the Socialist Party of America, was elected to the United States House of Representatives representing Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Russian Revolution had not occurred so being a Socialist was not a big deal. But being a Socialist and of German stock was a big deal when World War I started. Berger’s opposition to the war – and being a Socialist – landed him in court for violated the Espionage Act. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail in February of 1919 – AFTER the end of World War I. (The judge in that trial was Kenesaw Landis who later became the first Commissioner of Major League Baseball.)  The Supreme Court overturned the conviction in January of 1921.

BUT, while on trial and during his appeal, Berger was re-elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1918. Congress refused to seat him in 1919 citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment: 

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

 

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If you are a pilot and are planning on making airdrops, make absolutely certain that you and your partner have the signals straight. If you want to know why, ask Doug Geeting of Talkeetna. One Christmas while he was supplying a number of mountain climbers on Mt. Denali, Geeting received an order for a halibut.

Working with a cargo handler who was inexperienced, Geeting flew out for Mt. Denali with the requested halibut and an assortment of other goods for other climbers scattered up the mountain. When he arrived at the first encampment, he turned to his cargo thrower-outer and yelled “Halibut.”

She thought he said, “All of it.”

So she opened the fuselage door and proceeded to toss out all of the cargo. It rained supplies on the mountain climbers. The halibut hit a tent and ripped it in two. A case of beer landed between two men inside another tent and sprayed them with foam. Other supplies pockmarked the landscape giving the campsite the appearance of a bomb-testing range.

Feeling the plane unexpectedly light, Geeting turned around to see what the problem was. When he saw the cargo bay empty, he asked what had happened to the cargo?

“I threw it out,” his cargo handler said. “You said, ‘All of it.”‘

“No, I said ‘Halibut!'” Then he turned his Beaver and went back to see what kind of damage the falling cargo had done. But as he approached the campsite, he saw everyone scattering. They thought he was making a return run!

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OK, history buffs. What’s this? Let me give you a hint.  It is the statue of a boot in Saratoga, New York, to honor of one of America’s greatest Revolutionary War heroes. At a crucial moment in the Battle of Saratoga, as American forces were getting the stuffing beat out of them, an American general, against direct orders of his commander, Horatio Gates, rallied troops loyal to him personally and turned the tide against the British.  How? He ordered a sniper to shoot the British Commander Simon Fraser. The shoot was – at that time – an astounding 300 yards.  The British advance fell apart and the British retreated. Then Horatio Gates claimed the victory had been his brainchild. The General in question was wounded in the leg and this statue honors – his leg. But his name is not on the statue or listed on the inscription on the back of the leg statue. Why not? Here’s his name, scrambled:

btcenicd dolnra

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If you think money exists, go to your bank and ask to see the actual $500 in your checking account. Expect to be laughed at. That’s because money does not exist; just the illusion of it. This has been the problem since the cave. Wealth is the belief of the value of what you own. In the early days of Alaska, there were very few American dollars or coins so Alaskan businesses printed them. Called bingles, these were good in any store in the community where you lived.  It wasn’t called counterfeiting; it was called doing business the Alaskan way. The bingles were even good in the local United States Post Offices because the local Post Offices could redeem them for American dollars from the businesses which printed the bingles. All was going well until some Alaskans tried to use bingles in a United States Post Office in Seattle. That, as the expression goes, upset the applecart. Since then, it has been cash, check or credit card in even the smallest villages. 

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