HistoryBuff.com January 2009 Newsletter
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Trivia Short Takes

First African-American to Play in the Major Leagues

Jackie Robinson wasn~ez_rsquo~t the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. Actually, the first African-American to play in the major leagues was Moses Fleetwood Walker. His first major league appearance was on May 1, 1884 for the Toledo Blue Stockings against the Louisville Eclipse. In 1884 Toledo joined the American Association, which was a Major League at that time in competition with the National League. He played in 42 major league games, had 23 runs to his credit and a batting average of .263. He also had a brother named Welday Walker who later played six games with the Toledo Blue Stockings. Until 1947, the Walkers were the only black players ever to play in the major leagues. In 1891, Fleetwood Walker was assaulted outside a Syracuse bar on a Sunday afternoon as he returned home from church. He killed his attacker with a knife in self-defense. A jury acquitted him to the cheers of the spectators. Subsequent to this event, Moses retired from playing baseball and returned to his home in Steubenville, Ohio.

First Female Senator

In 1922, Governor Thomas W. Hardwick was a candidate for the next general election to the senate in Georgia, when senator Thomas E. Watson died prematurely. Seeking an appointee who would not be a competitor in the coming special election to fill the vacant seat, and a way to secure the vote of the new women voters alienated by his opposition to the 19th Amendment, Hardwick chose Rebecca Latimer Felton to serve as senator on October 3, 1922. Congress was not expected to reconvene until after the election, so the chances were slim that Felton would be formally sworn in as senator. However, Walter F. George won the special election despite Hardwick's ploy. Rather than take his seat immediately when the senate reconvened on November 21, 1922, George allowed Felton to be officially sworn in. Felton thus became the first woman seated in the senate, and served until George took office on November 22, 1922, one day later. Her tenure was the shortest for any senator in history. She was also the last former slave-owner to serve in the U.S. Senate. Hattie Caraway became the first woman to win election to the Senate in 1930.

First African-American Senator

Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African-American to serve in the United States Senate. Since he preceded any African American in the House, he was the first African American in the U.S. Congress as well. He represented Mississippi in 1870 and 1871 during Reconstruction. At the time, the state legislature elected U. S. senators. Revels was elected by a vote of 81 to 15 in the Mississippi state senate to finish the term of one of the state's two seats in the United States senate left vacant since the Civil War.

The election of Revels was met with opposition from Southern conservative Democrats who cited the Dred Scott Decision which was considered by many to have been a central cause of the American Civil War. They argued that no black man was a citizen before the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868. Because election to the senate required nine years' prior citizenship, opponents of Revels claimed he could not be seated, having been a citizen by law for only two years. Supporters of Revels countered by stating that the Dred Scott decision applied only to those blacks who were of pure African blood. Revels was of mixed black and white ancestry, and therefore exempt, they said, and had been a citizen all his life. This argument prevailed, and on February 25, 1870, Revels, by a vote of 48 to 8, became the first black man to be seated in the United States Senate.

Abraham Lincoln's Little-known Legacy

When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, workers hastily built a catafalque (platform) for his coffin to rest on while being viewed in the White House and Capitol building. Little did they know it would survive and be utilized for over 140 years. The catafalque is a simple flat frame of rough pine boards nailed together and covered with black cloth. Although the base and platform have occasionally been altered to accommodate the larger size of modern coffins and for the ease of the attending military personnel, it is basically the same today as it was in Lincoln's time. This same catafalque has been used for over twenty-six distinguished Americans including John F. Kennedy, many other presidents, senators, military commanders, and others.

Presently the catafalque measures 7 feet 1 inch long, 2 feet 6 inches wide, and 2 feet high. The attached base is 8 feet 10 inches long, 4 feet 3-1/2 inches wide, and 2 inches high. The platform is 11 feet 1 inch long, 6 feet wide, and 9-1/4 inches high. Although the cloth covering the catafalque has been replaced several times, the style of the drapery is similar to that used in 1865.

The catafalque was previously kept in an area called Washington's Tomb, which was originally intended, but never used, as the burial place for the first American president. Washington's Tomb is a small room in the basement of the United States Capitol building. It was designed to entomb the body of President George Washington, the first President of the United States. The tomb is two levels beneath the ornate Capitol rotunda.

The original design of the rotunda, and the crypt beneath it, included a central glass floor allowing the public to view Washington's Tomb two floors below. This design was never implemented, however, and Washington was buried at Mount Vernon, his estate in nearby Virginia, in accordance with his will. When not in use, the catafalque is now kept in the United States Capitol Visitor Center in a small vaulted chamber.

North Dakota or South Dakota; Which Was First?

There is an interesting story to relate about a newspaper and the Dakota territory. President Benjamin Harrison was about to sign the proclamations which would admit the 39th and 4Oth states to the Union - North Dakota and South Dakota. Before signing the documents, he had his secretary place each document inside an identical edition of a newspaper. He then shuffled them back and forth until no one present could tell which document was which state.

Just enough of the proclamations were left exposed for the President to sign. He signed them and then shuffled the papers again before the documents were removed. Because of this "shell game," no one will ever know which of the Dakotas was actually the 39th or 4Oth state!

President Garfield's Unusual Ability

President James Garfield could perform a very unique parlor feat that entertained many. He could write in Latin with one hand, while writing in Greek with the other hand at the same time.

A Home Gets A New Name

The home of the President of the U.S. was originally called the ~ez_ldquo~Presidential Palace~ez_rdquo~ and didn't really become widely accepted as the ~ez_ldquo~White House~ez_rdquo~ until President Franklin Roosevelt had the name engraved on the stationary he sent out, while President.

Falling Through the Cracks

Although the United States has an excellent school system, there are some that manage to "fall through the cracks" and lack basic the basic education needed in everyday life.

Recently a new pizza parlor opened near my home and I took advantage of a grand opening sale. I waited in line and ordered the special. The clerk rang it up on the cash register. The total was $6.88. When the total appeared, the clerk had a strange look on her face. I handed her a $10 bill and inquired if the total was incorrect. She replied that she thought the total was correct but it didn~ez_rsquo~t tell her how much change to give me back. I told her to simply count back the change: "$6.88 plus one cent equals $6.89; another penny makes $6.90; then a dime makes $7.00 and then three one dollar bills would make $10." Her reply was that "I am no good at math." Luckily, a supervisor came by and gave me the correct change. The clerk appeared to be a recent graduate from high school.

At my previous employer, one day a recent high school graduate went to the employment office and asked for an application. He had with him his high school diploma and his mother. His mother filled out the application for him because he was unable to read and write well enough to fill it out himself!

At the same place of employment, I made a comment about one of the cashier's hair style. She was a recent high school graduate. I told her that her new hair style was like Cleopatra~ez_rsquo~s. Her reply was "Who is Cleopatra?" I replied, "You know, Cleopatra of the ancient Egyptian and Mark Antony of the Roman Empire?" She still didn~ez_rsquo~t know who she was.

A couple of years back I saw the following sign on the front window of a store: "aplkshuns bean excepted."

At another employer of mine, the person responsible for accounts payable, sent out a memo. The entire memo was one long, run-on sentence with no capital letters or punctuation and was filled with gramatical and spelling errors! When questioned about this, her reply that she "didn't write very good!"

Several years ago, I went to the Michigan State University Voice Library to obtain audio clips for my site. I found several I wanted, but was having a hard time finding the famous ~ez_ldquo~That~ez_rsquo~s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind~ez_rdquo~ from when man landed on the Moon. I inquired about it with the clerk behind the counter. She was working there while going to MSU. Her reply was that they did not have any Star Trek recordings. I was not able to make her understand that man landing on the Moon really did happen. She kept telling me that they did not have any science fiction recordings there.

Two summers ago there was a catalogued paper auction held in Ann Arbor, Michigan that I attended. The auction site was the library at the University of Michigan. My GPS directed me to the street and block that the library was on. However, while there were several buildings on that block, none of them had signs relating which building they were or even street address numbers. The lots I wanted to bid on were early in the catalogue and time was running short. As it turned out, the auction was held on the weekend of graduation. There were dozens of graduates on the street wearing their cap and gown. I approached several and inquired as to which building in that same block was the library. NONE were able to tell me which building was the library! Finally, a man who appeared to be a professor rather than student, walked by me. I stopped him and he was able to tell me which building was the library. Imagine, attending a university for at least two years and NOT be able to direct another person to the library that was in the same block!

My question is how were these people able to "slip through the cracks?"


December Contest

CONTEST ONE QUESTION: Which First Lady's middle name was Kermit?

ANSWER: Edith Kermit Roosevelt (Theodore).

CONTEST TWO QUESTION: Who was older: Martha or George Washington?

ANSWER: Martha

Ninety-seven people entered. thrity-seven people had errors in their entry. The most common error was not selecting a prize. There were also entries where they selected a prize from the Contest One prize list, but answered the Contest Two question or answered the Contest One question but seltected a prize fom the Contest Two prize list. A few had the incorrect subject heading.
The December Contest Winners Were:
  • Janette Weaver - Pennsylvania
  • Kathy Johnson - Washington
  • Michael Wharton - Missouri
  • Evelyn Cooper - Maine
  • William Sutherland, Jr. - Mississippi
  • Roger Olson - Montana
  • Kevin Wick - Wisconsin
  • Victor Hollowell - North Carolina
  • Suzie Smith - Texas
  • Mike Madej - New York

This Issue's Questions:

To enter Contest One, answer the question: There are three classes of united States senators. What is the difference between class one, class two and class three?

To enter Contest Two, answer the question: What is Barack Obama's middle name?


Contest Rules

  • Contest entry deadline is Friday, January 16, 2009. Later entries will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the contest deadline. Winners' names and states will be published in the next issue of the HistoryBuff.com newsletter.

  • To enter Contest One or Contest Two, email your answer to curator at historybuff.com

  • To enter Contest One, use "Contest One Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading and answer the contest question one. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

  • To enter Contest Two, use "Contest Two Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading and answer the contest two question. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

  • Subscribers may enter both contests, but only win one prize.

  • If entering both contests, entries must be sent in separate emails.

  • Each entry MUST select ONE prize from the appropriate prize list.

  • If answering the Contest One question, select your prize from the Contest One prize list.

  • If answering the Contest Two question, select your prize from the Contest Two prize list.

  • From subscribers entering the contest, submitting the correct answer, correct subject heading, submission received by the deadline, as well as advising which ONE contest prize they want to win, NINE will be selected to win ONE of the contest prizes below.

  • Subscribers to this newsletter that won a prize in my trivia contests in the last 90 days are ineligible to win.
January Contest One Prize Selection
(Only one of each offered)

Hard Bound Book

The Story of a "Red Diamond"
Infantryman with the U.S. Third Army
By Michael Bilder

The book can be ordered from Amazon.com.

For information on all books published by
Casemate Publishing visit their Web site.


Goldilocks and the 3 Bears

Animated Movie
Voices of Tom Arnold
Brooke Shields, Janet Spears

January Contest Two Prize Selection
(Only one of each offered)


Oliver Twist (1948)
Staring Alec Guinness, Anthony Newley


The Painted Hills (1951)
Staring Lassie

Original Manchester American & Messenger (New Hampshire) historic newspaper from 1853
Original Historic Newspapers

The Atlas (Boston) historic newspaper from 1837

Original Manchester American & Messenger (New Hampshire) historic newspaper from 1853

Original The World historic newspaper from 1869

Original Coldwater Republican (Michigan) historic newspaper from 1876
That's it for this issue.

Rick Brown

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