Napoleon may be the one most responsible for the unification of Germany and the two world wars. Of course, Hitler looms large and many lay blame with the German people.
But in many cases, it was the elite, led by Bismarck and then the Kaiser, who directed the affairs of the German state. The German people, particularly the peasants, have suffered greatly throughout history.
And after losing two key battles in the Napoleonic Wars, Prussia instituted two critical reforms which reshaped society and the military.
“After the lost battles of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806, Prussia was the first European state to introduce compulsory military service as well as compulsory education.”¹
So I have many, many ancestors who likely served in the Prussian Army. And most, if not all, were learned men.
1. This quote is from the book The Seduction of Culture in German History by Wolf Lepenies.
On this day in history…
In 1600, Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in Rome for the crime of heresy. He advanced upon Copernican theory, but ran afoul of the Church for allegedly denying certain aspects of Catholic dogma.
In 1801, what had been an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr was resolved by the House of Representatives, with Jefferson becoming the president and Burr vice president.
In 1871, a victorious Prussian army paraded through Paris after having won the Franco-Prussian War. This victory led to the creation of the German Empire.
In 1904, Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly received its premiere performance in Milan. Nearer to the end of the 20th century, the story inspired the Broadway musical Miss Saigon.
The seventeen people murdered at the school & their families deserved better from the FBI, the police, and local authorities. I am so damn tired of authorities refusing to enforce our current laws. Do your jobs!
AND PEOPLE, INCLUDING HIM & HIS FRIENDS,
ARE MINING IT FOR COMEDY GOLD
Colin is best known as hosting Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live during a period in the 1990s.
In a statement explaining why he had to cancel a gig in Florida, he provided some details.
“I’ve had a health scare in the form of a heart attack. My heart goes out to all the people who bought tickets to my show. Literally. My heart went out. I know you people are still mad that I postponed the show even though I had a heart attack. I felt the same way when I bought Lou Reed tickets last year. I will reschedule once you tell me which weekends are best for you.”
Browse his Twitter feed for more gems.
GENETICS CAN HELP SORT THE FAMILY TREE
A few years back, I discovered a third cousin using genetics. We have 50 relatives in common within the 23andMe database. She and I share 0.88% of our DNA. It doesn’t seem like much, but it helps confirm the paper trail of the family tree.
Her hyphenated surname included the name Tressler, which makes it easy. My great-great grandmother’s parents were named Lint and Tressler.
Catherine Tressler was a daughter of Samuel, son of Goodhart, and Franey. The family came from Germany.
Catherine’s daughter, Ellen Catherine Lint — the aforementioned great-great grandmother — married John Conner. Their daughter Mae Ola Conner married Charles Martin Hill, my great grandfather.
“Guard with jealous attention
the public liberty.
Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it
but downright force.
Whenever you give up that force,
you are ruined….
The great object is that
every man be armed.
Everyone who is able might have a gun.”
— Patrick Henry
Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention
June 5, 1778
CIRCA THE YEAR 270
According to narrative tradition, Valentine — a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius II, also known as Claudius Gothicus — is beheaded along the Flaminian Way on February 14th, sometime during the decade of the 270s, perhaps the year 270 or 278. At least that’s how numerous tales share the story.
Emperor Claudius had outlawed marriage, thinking that fewer family ties would make recruiting soldiers easier. Valentine ignored the decree and performed secret marriages, which led to his arrest and execution.
Kinda changes the meaning of “Will you be my Valentine?”
ENEMIES OF THE STATE
“As I write this, in front of me sits the German Reich and Prussian State Gazette of August 28, 1939. It contains a list, running to two pages, of Germans living abroad who are being stripped of their citizenship because they are deemed to have harmed the Reich. My mother, who was six at the time and therefore capable of inflicting only limited damage upon the Reich, was on the list with her parents and sisters. They were living abroad because they had been forced to flee.”
TO BE AWARDED
THE MEDAL OF HONOR
One of my heroes is Frederick Douglass, ever since reading his incredible life story in his autobiography. Another is Malcolm X, who also wrote an autobiography, which I enjoyed reading. Now I am adding to my list of heroes the name William Carney, a sergeant in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Carney, like Douglass, was born into slavery. He served alongside two Douglass’ sons in the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment. Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor on May 23, 1900.