Posts filed under “History”


More interesting.

Our correspondent “Big Brother” writes: Perhaps I could take this opportunity to ask a question which I have been wondering for the last few weeks…as a Pennsylvania man, where does the good Dr. Boli stand on the Wawa vs. Sheetz controversy?

Dear Sir: Dr. Boli believes that, as controversies go, it is lacking in color. Think of the controversies, for example, that led to the expulsion of one artist after another from the Surrealists, or the mighty kerfuffle that ensued when one of the members of De Stijl discovered the diagonal. Those were colorful controversies—incompre­hensible, but colorful. Con­sider the contro­versy between Newton and Leibniz over who had taken the last blueberry yogurt from the re­frigerator. Or it may have been about the inven­tion of calculus. Either way, it was a contro­versy worth giving some atten­tion, because the characters were colorful and distinct, whereas Dr. Boli has never learned to tell one con­venience store from another. Consider Luther and Erasmus and their compre­hensive catalogues of the various shades of excrement as they apply to the theo­logical reasoning of one’s opponent. Consider St. Nicholas of Myra slapping Arius in a solemn council of the whole Church. Consider the legal case of Helen Kane vs. Betty Boop.

At any rate, there is only a relatively small area where there can be controversy. Wawa does not penetrate as far as Pittsburgh, and Sheetz does not reach Philadelphia with its octopus tentacles. When Dr. Boli does travel through the small section of Pennsylvania where the two overlap, it is usually by private railroad car, and if stops are necessary to replenish the supplies, the staff have instructions to buy only from certain Deitsh farmers with whom we are personally acquainted.


On June 14, 1956, Quigby Grissom, a young Beat poet, was howling into the void when something in the void howled back. He was never able to describe or explain what he had heard, but he never wrote a line of poetry again and spent the rest of his life as a mattress salesman.


…while we fight off an army of malicious hackers. Enemy agents are well aware that the key to disrupting the economy of our fair land is the control of Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Pub­lishing Empire. They have been foiled, of course, but it may take a few days to restore normal service.


It’s time to play everybody’s favorite game, “Let’s Mock a Wikipedia Article Without Bothering to Improve It.” In this episode, we quote one sentence from the article on Falangism:

However, unlike other racialists such as the Nazis, Falangism is unconcerned about racial purity and does not denounce other races for being inferior, claiming “that every race has a particular cultural significance” and claiming that the intermixing of the Spanish race and other races has produced a “Hispanic supercaste” that is “ethically improved, morally robust, spiritually vigorous”.

Are you ready? Fingers on buzzers: Spot the internal contradiction.


Independence Day Number;


Fun Facts About the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

William Floyd

William Floyd, Idol of American Schoolchildren.

William Floyd. “Two centuries from now,” said William Floyd as he carefully inscribed his name on the Declaration of Independence, “every schoolchild in these provinces will remember my name.”

Button Gwinnett. Eight-year-old Irving “Button” Gwinnett, known as the cutest of all the signers of the Declaration, insisted on signing his mother’s favorite nickname rather than his Christian name.

Joseph Hewes. Mr. Joseph Hewes of North Carolina signed the Declaration of Independence under the mistaken impression that it was a life-insurance contract.

Arthur Middleton. Disdaining education as a degrading mark of the merchant classes, Arthur Middleton of South Carolina delegated one of his slaves to sign the Declaration for him.

John Witherspoon. In spite of his name and the reputation that invariably went with it, John Witherspoon admitted to close associates that he was completely incapable of withering a spoon.


In the course of preparing a page on Slavery in the United States for his Eclectic Library, Dr. Boli ran across a pamphlet entitled “The Despotism of Freedom; or the tyranny and cruelty of American republican slave-masters, shown to be the worst in the world; in a speech, delivered at the first anniversary of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, 1833.” It was published by the Boston Young Men’s Anti-Slavery Association for the Diffusion of Truth in 1833, and inside the front cover is the text of the Constitution of the Boston Young Men’s Anti-Slavery Association for the Diffusion of Truth, or BYMASADF, as we suppose it was familiarly known. “Article 1: This Association shall be called the Boston Young Men’s Anti-Slavery Association for the Diffusion of Truth.”

The last article is a mechanism for amendments to this constitution, and we have an amendment to propose.


This is a day of freedom for all Americans; slavery makes slaves of us all, and one who believes that our life on earth is only a prologue to eternity may be forgiven for supposing that the slaveowner spends a longer time in more discomfort. In honor of the new federal holiday, here are some articles that have appeared in the Historical Spectator on the subject of slavery:

Slavery Is the Original Sin

The Real Motives of the American Colonization Society

Slaves of the Baker

Runaway Phil

A Frenchman Looks at American Race Relations

Now, here is an interesting exercise in historical research. How and when did the name “Juneteenth” come into use? It is quite possible that one of our readers knows, but Dr. Boli does not, and his sources of information have failed him. Wikipedia does not mention the question, let alone answer it. You can ask the Internet “Where did the name ‘Juneteenth’ come from?” and the Internet will helpfully tell you that it is a contraction of “June” and “nineteenth.” Yes, you guessed that, but where did that contraction come from? When was it first used? You will see people asking that in forums, and being told that it comes from “June” and “nineteenth.” When they politely remark that they knew that, but it wasn’t the question they were asking, they may be told the same thing in capital letters: IT COMES FROM “JUNE” AND “NINETEENTH.” There are articles with headlines that purport to explain the origin of the name, and they tell you that it comes from “June” and “nineteenth.”

But it is a distinctive contraction, isn’t it? It is not obvious that “June” and “nineteenth” should produce “Juneteenth.” We do not celebrate the Declaration of Independence on Julourth. It seems to Dr. Boli that some graduate student has a thesis topic here that would lead to some fascinating and fruitful byways of history. When was the name first used, and by whom? Dr. Boli will mention that the earliest use he could find was in 1890, but it seemed to refer to a celebration already well known by the name Juneteenth. Can anyone do better?


Chronica de Hespanya fo. XX verso

This is a very small cut from a Catalan chronicle printed in 1547, and here Dr. Boli must confess that he is not as much of a Catalan reader as he ought to be. It is a frustrating experience, because the language is close enough to French that it seems as though one ought to be able to read it; but aside from the language barrier, the book is printed virtually without punctuation, and words divide at the ends of lines without any such warning as a hyphen or a “dangerous curve” sign, and proper names are printed without capitals, and abbreviations are frequently employed—all of which makes the text just a little difficult. But it seems like something one would want to know about. Clearly if things like this were happening in Spain, then Spain was a very exciting place.

So we turn to Google and search by image, uploading this picture to see what Google can find. And here is what Google tells us:

Possible related search: dot

When used as a diacritic mark, the term dot is usually reserved for the interpunct, or to the glyphs ‘combining dot above’ and ‘combining dot below’ which may be combined with some letters of the extended Latin alphabets in use in Central European languages and Vietnamese. Wikipedia

So naturally the first site in the results is the Department of Transportation.


Now, having looked a little further at the text, Dr. Boli believes he may have recognized the story. He will provisionally identify it as the tale of King Wamba (spelled bamba in the Catalan chronicle, which is easily explained by the Iberian inability to distinguish the V and B sounds) and St. Giles, in which Wamba, out hunting, had accidentally shot and wounded Giles, and then cared for the wounded saint and ultimately built a monastery for the pilgrims who came to the spot. On this identification, the figure with the bow is meant to be Wamba—but why so skeletal? Dr. Boli had tried to stretch the point and suggest that this was the engraver’s attempt to represent the king in armor, but he was assured by an expert in medieval and Renaissance armor that there was no possibility that any engraver, no matter how lacking in skill, would make armor look like that. Otherwise the interpretation is plausible, since the other characters in surrounding text are known figures in the history and legend of Wamba. Clearly, however, the woodcut brings many incidents from different times together, and Dr. Boli does not pretend to understand all the symbolism.


Third Series.


Stonedwall Jackson in his battle jacket, by our staff artist.

Stonewall Jackson. The Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson received his nickname from the distinctive camouflage he wore. In rural Virginia, which is crisscrossed by stone walls, it was very effective in concealing him from Union forces; but it also rendered him nearly invisible to his own side, leading to his unfortunate but probably inevitable demise.