Sunday, October 28, 2012

US presidential election 1888: Groover Cleveland

While we're waiting for the 2012 presidential election let's take a look at some of the previous races to the White House. This month's also-ran is incumbent president Groover Cleveland. The year is 1888.

The Democrat Grover Cleveland defeated the Republican Benjamin Harrison in popular votes (48.6% against 47.8%) but he lost in electoral votes 168-233.

Harrison victory parade, 1888.

facts of interest:
  • the first time an incumbent Democratic president had been renominated since Dutch speaking Martin Van Buren in 1840.
  • Only in 3 other elections the winner in popular votes did not become the president: Andrew Jackson in 1824, Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, and Al Gore in 2000.
  • If in New York, Cleveland's home state, 7187 voters (from the 1.319.748) would have voted for Cleveland instead of Harrison the latter would have lost the election (source).
  • When the former First Lady Frances Cleveland left the White House, she assured the staff that they would return in four years, which they did.

next episode: Monsieur Loria

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Army tent encampments at Guard's Hill. In the background the landing place Balaklava Harbor, filled with ships. At the top of the hill the ruins of the old Genoese Castle. Roger Fenton, 1855.

This day October 25th 1854 the Battle of Balaclava took place.

Present day Balaclava

next episode: victorie parade

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gloria Swanson

next episode: Balaclava

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Queen Louise of Prussia

Louise, Queen of Prussia, 1802 (by Josef Grassi)

Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1776 – 1810) was Queen consort of Prussia as the wife of King Frederick William III. The couple's happy, though short-lived, marriage produced nine children, including the future King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia and German Emperor Wilhelm I.

In 1805 she took the initiative of contacting the Tsar of Russia and the Emperor of Austria to sign a treaty with Prussia to form an alliance against Napoleon. In 1807, after disastrous losses, she met Napoleon at Tilsit to plead for favorable terms. Napoleon callously called her "the only real man in Prussia".

Louise, Queen of Prussia, 1801 (by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun)

Her early death at the age of thirty-four "preserved her youth in the memory of posterity", and caused Napoleon to reportedly remark that "the King has lost his best minister". Her (graceful) death mask can be seen here.

next episode: Gloria

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alaska over a century before the official discovery

Left a map of Alaska over a century before the official discovery. From the Wytfliet atlas of 1597. Right the same area on a modern map (source)

According to Wikipedia, in 1732 the first Europeans explored Alaska. But the Wytfliet atlas of 1597 already provides a accurate deacription of Alaska.

In the north it has the large mouth of the Mackenzie river, first reached by Alexander Mackenzie 1789. The Brooks Mountain chain is called "Bergi Regio" what sounds like the Dutch "Bergige Regio" (mountainous region). The large river below looks like the Yukon.

The origin of the cartographic data about Alaska and parts of Canada is a mystery.

It is usually assumed that the first European boat to reach Alaska was the Russian St. Gabriel on August 21, 1732. In 1741 Vitus Bering led an expedition for the Russian Navy. After his crew returned to Russia with sea otter pelts judged to be the finest fur in the world, small associations of fur traders began to sail from the shores of Siberia towards the Aleutian islands.

The first permanent European settlement was founded in 1784. Between 1774 and 1800 Spain sent several expeditions to Alaska in order to assert its claim over the Pacific Northwest. These expeditions gave names to places such as Valdez, Bucareli Sound, and Cordova.

next episode: Queen of Prussia

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cornelius van Wytfliet

Cornelius van Wytfliet (1555-1597) was a cartographer from Brabant (a part of The Netherlands). In 1597 he published the atlas 'Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum', the first atlas devoted exclusively to the New World. It contains nineteen regional maps of North and South America.  Here is one of those maps:

Cornelius van Wytfliet: 'Norumbega et Virginia', 1607. 
This map was the most accurate map of the east coast until 1630.

It shows the east coast of North America from the North Carolina Outer Banks to Canada. It was created at a period just before a number of English and Dutch voyages explored and settled the coast.

No Long Island or Hudson River are shown. Because of the already notoriously dangerous Carolina Outer Banks and the rocky waters around New England and Cape Cod ships kept well away from these waters.

First Issue of the First Edition Of the First Atlas of the Americas

next episode: Alaska

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Night Stalker (Manambulus Perhorridus)

Night Stalker (Manambulus Perhorridus) (by Dougal Dixon, 1981).

In his excellent book 'After Man - A Zoology of the Future' (1981) the Scottish geologist Dougal Dixon describes how evolution can progress after mankind has disappeared. About 50 million years from now all the large predators and most of the large herbivores died out and the more resilient species expanded into new ecological niches.

On the islands of Indonesia a flightless predator bat has evolved.  He still uses his hind limbs for grasping, but his wings have evolved as legs. Being blind, he uses echolocation to find its prey, therefore his ears and nose flaps have been strongly developed at the expense of his eyes. He is 1.5 meter high ands wanders in groups through the the forests at night. Screaming and yelling they hunt mammals and reptiles, which they attack with their pointy teeth and claws.

next episode: Virginia

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cows near Amersfoort

A bunch of cows. In the background the skyline of a new part of the northern outskirts of Amersfoort.

next episode: night stalker

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Carte De Visite

Civil War era Carte De Visite. Woman in a hoop dress.
Made by 'The Great New York Photograph and Ferrotype Rooms, 508 Arch Street Philada'.

next episode: Amersfoort cows

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jane Wyman

Jane Wyman (1917-2007), actress & first wife of Ronald Reagan (when he still was a democrat). Photo by George Hurrell.

Jane Wyman's acceptance speech when receiving the Oscar for her role as a deaf-mute in Johnny Belinda (1948) went something like this: "I gratefully accept this award for keeping my mouth shut. I think I'll do it again."

Jane Wyman is to date the only ex-wife of an United States President (Ronald Reagan is the only US President to have been divorced).

next episode: CDV female

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Waterloo Veteran of the Month: Monsieur Ducel

The Mamluk de la Garde is Monsieur Ducel who took part in battles between 1813 and 1815. 

Napoleon used Mamluks in a number of his campaigns. Napoleon's famous bodyguard Roustan Raza was a Mamluk from Egypt.

next episode: Jane


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