Everybody is familiar with the Longfellow poem of Paul Revere’s famous ride, “Listen my friends and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere….” We’ll it didn’t actually quite happen in the way that Longfellow so eloquently worded it.

After the Boston Tea Party the British authorities closed Boston Harbor and regular Army British soldiers were garrisoned in Boston at the colonist’s expense.  Mind you these were regular soldiers often referred to as the “King’s Soldiers” and the move was very unpopular with the public especially with those colonists that favored independence.

The army was under constant surveillance by patriot groups and there were rumors rampant that the army was planning some sort of action against the patriots up to and including the arrest of John Hancock and Samuel Adams who were at Lexington, Massachusetts at the time.

Prior to the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes were instructed by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride to Lexington to warn Hancock and Adams of the impending movement by the British Army.

Revere instructed the sexton of the Old North Church to light one lantern in the steeple if the army was going to move by land or two lanterns if the army was going to go by sea, meaning crossing the Charles River into Charlestown.  This system was devised to alert the citizens of Charleston in the event that Revere and Dawes were captured by the British.

On the night of April 18, 1775, the British Army made its move.  They started their long march to Lexington by crossing the Charles River and entering Charlestown.  From there they would proceed to Lexington.

At 11PM, Revere began his now famous ride by crossing the Charles River to Charlestown to begin his ride to Lexington to warn Hancock and Adams.

William Dawes was sent the long way around by land via the Boston Neck to commence his ride to Lexington.

Revere began his ride towards Lexington warning fellow patriots of the impending arrival of the British Army.  Thereupon other riders commenced traveling throughout Middlesex County warning other patriots of the army’s impending arrival.  By the end of the night there were over forty riders spreading the word.  Contrary to popular myth Revere never uttered the words “the British are coming!”  That would have been a dangerous thing to do since at this point everyone still considered themselves British subjects.  Independence was only advocated by radical rebels at this point, most notably Samuel Adams.  What Revere actually stated was “the Regulars are coming out!”

Revere arrived in Lexington around midnight.  He proceeded to the house where Hancock and Adams were staying.  Dawes arrived about a half hour later. 

After warning them Revere and Dawes decided to head towards Concord where the patriot’s arms were hidden from the British.

On the way to Concord, both Revere and Dawes were stopped by British troops at a roadblock.  Dawes managed to escape but he fell off his horse and was unable to complete his ride. 

Revere was detained and questioned by British officers.  After this transpired he was escorted at gunpoint back to Lexington.

At daybreak just as Revere and the British officers were approaching the Lexington meeting house, shots were heard.  The officers became alarmed and at this point they commandeered Revere’s horse and headed towards the shots which appeared to come from the direction of the meeting house.

Revere who was horseless headed through a cemetery and a series of pastures to the house where Hancock and Adams were staying.  As the Battle of Lexington was being waged, Revere helped Hancock and Adams escape along with their personal belongings including a chest of Hancock’s papers.

There have been a number of myths associated with Paul Revere’s famous ride mostly due to the Longfellow poem which sections of it were memorized by American schoolchildren throughout the years.  The poem alludes to the fact that Revere was the only rider, this is incorrect.  In fact there were several riders dispatched to warn the patriots of the impending arrival of the British Army.

Another myth has to do with the lanterns at the Old North Church.  The poem makes one believe that the signal was intended for Revere when in reality the signal was for the Charlestown residents in the event of the rider’s capture.

Another myth is that Revere’s rode into Concord to warn people just prior to the army’s arrival instead of Lexington where he actually arrived.  In fact, the poem makes his ride last far longer then it actually did.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, was accepted for many years as a historically accurate account of the ride of Paul Revere.  Further investigation into the actual events has proven that the poem was a gross exaggeration of the event.

Having stated all of this was Paul Revere’s ride a success?  It was a success because the first leg of his journey was completed and both he and Dawes were able to get to Lexington in order to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the impending arrival of the British Army.

Furthermore the rides of Revere and Dawes were successful because they were able to warn other patriots and these other groups were able to set up successful guerrilla operations that harassed the British Army when they marched back to Boston after the Battle of Lexington and Concord was completed.  In fact, the patriots were able to repulse the British at Concord largely due to the advance warnings of the midnight riders.

Therefore one could state that the midnight ride of Paul Revere was a huge success because the warnings were carried out in ample time and the British were repulsed at Concord and harassed all the way back to Boston.  Without these midnight riders, Hancock and Adams may have very well had been arrested and the American Revolution would have ended even before it began.







Thornton Niven Wilder was born on April 17, 1897 in Madison, Wisconsin the son of an American diplomat, Amos Parker Wilder and Isabella Niven wilder.  As a result of his father’s occupation, Mr. Wilder spent a good part of his childhood in China.

Wilder began writing while he was a student at The Thatcher School in Ojai, California.  At this school he was tortured and teased constantly by his classmates for being overly intelligent.

Wilder found refuge in the library where books and writing became his refuge from the continued verbal assaults by his fellow classmates.

While living in China, he attended the English China Inland Mission Chefoo School in Yantai but was forced to leave in 1912 with his mother and siblings as the political situation in China became dangerous.

He also attended the Creekside Middle School in Berkeley, California and graduated from Berkeley High School in 1915.

Wilder attempted to study law at Purdue University but dropped out.

Wilder served in the Coast Guard during World War I and afterwards attended Oberlin College.  In 1920, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University in 1920.

While at Princeton Wilder joined the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity where he worked on improving his writing skills.

In 1926, Wilder earned his Masters of Art in French from Princeton University.

After graduation Wilder studied in Rome and he taught French at the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

In 1926 his first novel, The Cabala was published.  In 1927, The Bridge of San Luis Rey was published and brought him his first commercial success along with his first Pulitzer Prize in 1928.

From 1930 to 1937 he taught at the University of Chicago and in 1938 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with his play Our Town and again in 1942 for his play The Skin of Our Teeth.

During World War II, Wilder joined the U.S. Army Air Force intelligence where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.  He served in Africa and then in Italy until 1945.

After the war, Wilder served as a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii and he taught poetry at Harvard University as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor.

Even though Wilder considered teaching his main profession he continued to write all of his life and he won the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1957 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 and in 1967 he won the National Book Award for Eighth Day.

Wilder translated plays by André Obey and Jean-Paul Sartre and Alfred Hitchcock who was a huge fan asked him to write the screenplay for his movie Shadow of a Doubt.

His last novel, Theophilus North was published in 1973 and was made into the film, Mr. North in 1988.

Thornton Wilder died on December 7, 1975 in Hamden, Connecticut where he had lived with his sister Isabel.  He was buried in Hamden’s Mount Carmel Cemetery.

 The Treaty of 1818 was a treaty between the United States and Great Britain which resolved most long standing border issues between the U.S. and British North America (Canada).  The official name of the treaty was The Convention Respecting Fisheries, Boundary and the Restoration of Slaves Between The United States of America and The Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.  

As stated earlier the treaty settled most border issues between the two countries and it allowed for a joint occupation of the Oregon Country or as it was called in British North America, the Colombia District of the Hudson Bay Company including the southern portion of the New Caledonia District of the Hudson Bay Company.

There were six articles to this particular treaty.  Article I secured fishing rights off the shores of Newfoundland Labrador for the U.S.

Article II set the boundary between British North America and the United States “along a line from the most northwestern point of Lake of the Woods along the 49th parallel of north latitude to the Stony Mountains (Rocky Mountains).

Britain also ceded the part of Rupert’s Land and the Red River Colony south of the 49th parallel.

This part of the treaty settled a long border dispute between the two countries which was mostly due to ignorance of geography and incorrect mapping when the Treaty of Paris in 1783 ended the American Revolutionary War.

Article III called for the joint control of the Oregon Country (Colombia District of the Hudson Bay Company) for ten years.  Both countries could control the territory and both countries were guaranteed free navigation through the territory without any interference from the other country.

Article IV confirmed the Anglo-American Convention of 1815 which regulated commerce between the two countries for an additional ten years.

Article V agreed to refer differences over a U.S. claim in regards to the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812.  The difference would be resolved by “some Friendly Sovereign or State to be named for that purpose.”

The Americans claimed that the British held some slaves that were either on British ships or on British territory when the treaty was signed ending the war.  The Americans were demanding either the return of these slaves or compensation for them.

Article VI stipulated that ratification would occur within six months after the treaty was signed.

The treaty was negotiated for the U.S. by Albert Gallatin, ambassador to France and Richard Rush, minister to the U.K.

On the British side was Fredrick John Robinson who was a Treasurer of the Royal Navy and a member of the Privy Council.  Also on the British side was Henry Goulburn who was an undersecretary of state.

The treaty was signed on October 20, 1818 and ratifications were exchanged on January 30, 1819.

In 1846, the Oregon Treaty settled the joint occupation of the Oregon Country once and for all and the 49th parallel was designated as the border between the United States and British North America from Lake of the Woods all the way to the Northern Puget Sound near the Pacific Ocean.

The significance of the Treaty of 1818 is that along with the Rush-Bagot Treaty of 1817 it marked the beginning of improved relations between the British Empire and its former colony.

The border between the United States and Canada is 5,525 miles (8,891 km) long.  It is the longest international boundary in the world.

Not only is it the longest international border in the world but it is also the longest demilitarized zone anywhere in the world as well.  There are no standing armies monitoring the border and there has been peace between the two countries since the end of the War of 1812 which was settled by the Treaty of Paris in 1815.

There are many areas of the border where you cannot even tell if you are in Canada or the United States.  In Maine for example there is a house that is one half in Canada and one half in the U.S.  The street that it resides on is what determines which country it belongs in.

Could you see something like this happening between China and Russia or perhaps Germany and Poland?  I highly doubt it. 

The U.S. and Canada have a unique and special relationship that is glued together by a common history and economic relationship that has no parallel anywhere else in the entire world.



 As I stated earlier, I am not going to expound on merely American history but I will attempt to write on history throughout the entire world.  I will admit that my strength is American history but I will try on occasion to expand my writings beyond the United States.

On April 15, 1452, Leonardo da Vinci was born in the town of Vinci which at the time was in the territory of Florence, a powerful Italian city-state.

He was the illegitimate son of a Messer Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci who was a Florentine legal notary and Caterina who was a peasant.

Da Vinci’s full name was Lionardo di ser Piero da Vinci.  Surnames were not used during this time of history and “da Vinci” simply means “of Vinci.”

Much of Leonardo’s early life is surrounded by mystery.  His first five years were spent in the home of his mother in the town of Anchiano.

At the age of five he moved into the home of his father and grandfather in the town of Vinci.

By this time his father had married a sixteen year old girl who loved Leonardo very much but unfortunately she died very young.  There Leonardo received an education in geometry, Latin and mathematics but showed no exceptional skills in these fields.

In 1466, Leonardo was apprenticed to Andrea di Cione who was more commonly known as the painter Verrocchio.  Here Leonardo was exposed to various types of skills including drafting, chemistry, metallurgy, metal working, plaster casting, leather working, mechanics and carpentry as well as drawing, painting, sculpting and modeling.

The story goes that Leonardo collaborated with Verrocchio on his painting The Baptism of Christ and the story goes is that the student’s skill was so far superior to the teacher that Verrocchio put down his paint brush and never painted again.  This may very well be a myth but it does illustrate the scope of Leonardo’s talent.

There is further conjecture that Leonardo might have been the model of two of Verrocchio’s more popular works, the bronze statue David and the Archangel Raphael in Tobias and the Angel.

By 1472, Leonardo had qualified as a master in the Guild of St. Luke which was a guild of artists and doctors of medicine.  His father set him up in his own workshop but Leonardo still collaborated with Verrocchio.  Leonardo’s earliest known work was a drawing in pen and ink of the Arno Valley and it was dated August 5, 1473.

In 1478 he received his first commission to paint the altarpiece at the Chapel of St. Bernard in the Palazzo Vecchio.

In 1481, Leonardo painted The Adoration of the Magi for the monks of San Donato a Scopeto.

Leonardo was working in Milan between the years of 1482 and 1499.  Here he was commissioned to paint the Virgin of the Rocks for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception and The Last Supper for the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie.  

While in Milan, Leonardo worked on many projects including several floats for various pageants and parades.  He also worked on various designs for the dome of the cathedral in Milan.

In 1499, at the beginning of the Second Italian War, Leonardo fled Milan ahead of advancing French troops and settled in Venice.

In Venice he was employed as a military architect and engineer.  Leonardo worked on building fortifications and devising strategies to defend Venice from naval bombardments.

In 1500, he returned to Florence and was provided a workshop by the monks of the monastery of Santissima Annunziata.  Here he created the cartoon The Virgin and Child With St. Anne and John the Baptist.  

In 1502, Leonardo travelled to Cesena where he started working with Cesare Borgia, who was the son of Pope Alexander VI.  He was employed as a military architect and travelled throughout Italy with Cesare.

While under Cesare’s employ, Leonardo produced a map of Cesare’s stronghold, the town of Imola.

Maps at this time were very rare.  Cesare was so impressed with it that he hired Leonardo to be his chief military architect and engineer.

He also produced another map, this one of the Chiana Valley in Tuscany.  This gave Cesare a good overlay of the topography and helped him build a strategic defense of the area.

Along with this map in a related project, Leonardo constructed a dam from the sea to Florence which enabled a supply of water to fill the canal in all seasons.

On October 18, 1503, Leonardo returned to Florence and rejoined the Guild of St. Luke.  Here he designed and painted the mural of The Battle of Anghiari.  

Between the years 1513-1516, Leonardo spent most of his time at the Vatican.  At the same time the artists Raphael and Michelangelo were also living there.  In October of 1515, Francis I of France captured Milan.  In a meeting between Francis I and Pope Leo X, he was commissioned by Francis I to make a mechanical lion which could walk forward, then open its chest to reveal a cluster of lilies.

Leonardo travelled to France to work on this project and he resided near the king at the Château d’ Amboise.  Here he became a very close friend of the French king.

Leonardo da Vinci died on May 2, 1519 at Clos Lucé.  According to legend, Francis I held Leonardo in his arms as he died and there have been several paintings describing this.  This very well may only be legend to sooth the French romantic spirit of the time.

In accordance with his will, sixty beggars followed his casket as it proceeded to the cemetery.  He was buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in Château d’ Amboise, France.

Leonardo da Vinci was not only an artist.  He was a physician, an architect, an inventor and an all around genius.  He was a true epitome of the Renaissance Era and Leonardo would be the perfect definition of what is called a “Renaissance Man.” There have been few if any since Leonardo’s time that can equal his talent and intelligence.




A friend of mine posed a question for discussion the other night about the constitutionality of the statehood of West Virginia during the Civil War.  I have thought about this subject periodically in the past and I thought that it might be a good topic to discuss and I will attempt to do so now.

Before we go into the subject matter, I think that it might be a good idea to look at the demographics of both West Virginia and Virginia at the time.  It is my belief that both states have very different peoples and in my view they were two very distinct states long before West Virginia seceded and formed their own separate state.

For simplicity, I will refer to West Virginia as western Virginia and Virginia as eastern Virginia prior to the actual split.

Eastern Virginia can trace it’s origins to the Colony of Jamestown which was the first English settlement that was established in 1607.  Jamestown is on the banks of the James River and was named for King James I.

The topography of eastern Virginia was perfect for farming and Europe at the time had an unquenchable thirst for tobacco.

This area was settled primarily by the English and to solve the labor shortage a large number of African slaves were imported and a lot of indentured servants were also utilized to eliminate the labor shortage.  At one time, 75% of all the settlers of eastern Virginia were indentured servants.

Needless to say this built up a class structure similar to that in England.  You had the upper classes, the gentry who owned the tobacco plantations and the lower classes who were the laborers.  Below that were the slaves.

The gentry of eastern Virginia are all names that we know like Washington, Jefferson, Lee and Madison.  There were more but you get the idea.

These families were all of English descent, were members of the Church of England and the entire society was basically an extension of the class based society back in England.

According to the 2000 US Census, Virginia still has 22% of its citizens that claim English ancestry even though the demographics have changed a lot over the years.

The area of western Virginia is completely different.  The geography is significantly different than eastern Virginia.  Western Virginia is located entirely within the Appalachian Mountain Range.  About 75% of the State of West Virginia is located within the Cumberland Plateau and the Allegheny Plateau regions.

There is little farmland in western Virginia, most of its interests are mining and was not significantly developed until after the Civil War.

The settlement of western Virginia is different too.  It was not English as was the case in eastern Virginia.  A significant number of the settlers were people that moved from Pennsylvania and were of German descent.  Another large block of settlers were Ulster-Scots also known as Scots-Irish.

Because of this the English styled society did not develop and many of the residents of western Virginia had anti-British sentiments.

During the American Revolution there was a movement to form a separate 14th Colony named “Westsylvania.” It would have comprised the entire state of West Virginia, part of western Pennsylvania and eastern Kentucky.

The residents of this are believed that their concerns were different then the concerns of eastern Virginia and eastern Pennsylvania; and they felt that they were being ignored by their respective state governments.

In 1776 they petitioned the Second Continental Congress to become the 14th Colony but their petition was ignored.

Now let’s take a look at the secession movement in western Virginia during the Civil War.  Before we do that, let’s take a look at what the U.S. Constitution actually says about the subject.

Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 reads as follows: New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

Basically what this is saying is that western Virginia could not secede and form its own state without the approval of the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  After that the U.S. Congress had to approve.

Let us not take a look at what transpired.  On April 17, 1861, the Virginia legislature met to vote on an Ordinance of Secession from the United States.

Of the 49 delegates from western Virginia, 17 voted in favor, 30 against and there were 2 abstentions.  The Virginia legislature as a whole voted for secession.  Now it was going to be up to the voters in a plebiscite as to whether Virginia was going to secede.

Almost immediately after the vote, the delegates from western Virginia met at Clarksburg where it was decided that each county in western Virginia were going to send delegates to a convention in Wheeling on May 13, 1861 to determine if they would be able to secede from Virginia and form their own state.

At this convention some of the delegates favored immediate secession and formation of a new state but others wanted to wait until the plebiscite decided the secession issue once and for all.  They also felt that since Virginia had not yet seceded, their secession movement from Virginia might be construed as a rebellion against the United States.

It was decided at this point to hold off on voting for secession until the results of the plebiscite were made public.

On May 23, 1861 the plebiscite was held and Virginia overwhemly approved secession from the U.S.  The vote was much different in western Virginia.  The vote tally was 19,121 for secession from the U.S. and 34,677 against.

The Second Wheeling Convention met on June 11th and they promptly declared that the Secession Convention that Virginia had called was illegal because it was done without the consent of the people.  Therefore all of its acts were void and all of the elected represenatives who supported secession by doing so had vacated their offices.

On June 19th, an act for reorganizing the government was passed.  The next day, Francis H. Pierpont was chosen by the delegates to be the Governor of Virginia.

Other officers were appointed and Unionists were appointed to fill other state offices.  They even sent two senators to Washington and they were immediately recognized by the Senate as the legal Senators of Virginia.  In essence there were two state governments, one supporting the Union and one supporting the Confederacy.

The Wheeling Convention reconvened on August 20th and called for a popular vote on the formation of a new state and to frame a new constitution should that vote be favorable.

On October 24, 1861 the election occurred.  The votes were 18,408 for the formation of a new state and 781 against.

There have been accusations of voter irregularity since the vote totals were significantly lower then the secession votes were.  The Union Army was in place and they perhaps prevented any Confederate sympathizers from casting a nay vote.  At any rate, the election results were certified as valid.

On November 26, 1861 the Constitutional Convention began.  A constitution was formulated and approved by the convention on February 18, 1862.  The constitution was approved by the people in a plebiscite on April 11, 1862.  The vote totals were 18,162 for and 514 against.

On May 13th the state legislature of the reorganized government approved the formation of a new state and an application for admission to the Union was made to Congress.

On December 31, 1862 an enabling act was approved by President Lincoln approving West Virginia’s admittance to the Union with the provision that the provision of the gradual abolition of slavery be inserted into their constitution.

Many people felt that the admittance of West Virginia into the Union was both illegal and unconstitutional.

President Lincoln issued his Opinion on the Admission of West Virginia finding that “the body which consents to the admission of West Virginia, is the Legislature of Virginia, and that its admission was therefore both constitutional and expedient.”

On February 12, 1863 the convention reconvened and President Lincoln’s demand was met.  The revised constitution was adopted on March 26, 1863.

On April 20, 1863 President Lincoln issued a proclamation proclaiming that West Virginia will become a state after 60 days (June 20, 1863).

Officers of the state were chosen and the governor moved his capitol to Alexandria where he not only administered West Virginia but all area of Virginia that were under Federal control as well.

After the Civil War, the new Virginia Legislature repealed the Ordinance of Secession in 1866.  At that point they filed suit against the state of West Virginia stating that West Virginia’s secession from Virginia and admittance to the Union as a sovereign state was unconstitutional.

Meanwhile while all of this was going on, Congress passed a joint resolution on March 10, 1866 recognizing West Virginia as a sovereign state.  Finally in 1870, the Supreme Court sided with West Virginia thereby disallowing Virginia’s claim of sovereignty over West Virginia.

The question remains, is West Virginia’s secession and ultimate statehood constitutional?  According to the Supreme Court it was.  There were several irregularities in the manner in which statehood was achieved and if this were to happen today I highly doubt that it would occur.

When the Supreme Court sided with West Virginia in 1870, Reconstruction was still a fact of life in the former Confederacy.  Congress as well as the Supreme Court was filled with radical Republicans whose main purpose was to punish the South for starting a bloody and costly war.  I highly doubt at this period in our history anyone in the Federal Government was going to side with Virginia.

West Virginia was the only state to secede from another state during the Civil War and considering the times and its geographical location President Lincoln probably considered it a military necessity.  He was trying to put a lot of territory between Washington, D.C. and the Confederacy and considering the lack of competence of his generals this was probably a very prudent decision at the time.

The only other state in U.S. history to secede from another state was Maine.  Maine seceded from Massachusetts in 1820 as part of the provisions of the Missouri Compromise.

I firmly believe that Civil War or no Civil War western Virginia was so different both economically and socially from eastern Virginia secession would have eventually happened.  The Civil War merely sped up the process.


While preparing today’s this day in history section I noticed that today is the anniversary of a notable American businessman who is rarely mentioned in any headlines anymore but his accomplishments in my view are fairly remarkable.

His name is Frank Winfield Woolworth.  He was the founder of F.W. Woolworth’s, the world’s first five and ten cent store.  Most people of my age group will remember them as dime stores where we could spend our meager allowances on pretty much anything that the store would carry.

He was born of fairly humble origins on April 13, 1852 on a potato farm in Rodman, New York.  His parents were John Hubbell Woolworth and Fanny McBrier.

On June 11, 1876 he married he married Jennie Creighton with whom he had three daughters.  One of his daughters, Edna Woolworth committed suicide in 1918.  She was the mother of Barbara Hutton.

Woolworth wanted to be a merchant.  In 1873, he took a job in a dry goods store in Watertown, New York.  The owner refused to pay him for the first few months because he felt that he shouldn’t pay someone for learning the business.  Woolworth remained there for six years.

On thing that Woolworth observed while working at the stores.  Surplus items were placed on a table for sale at five cents.  He thought that this was a great idea.  Why not open a store where everything sold costs only five cents?

Woolworth decided to go out on his own.  He borrowed $300 and on February 22, 1879, he opened his first five cents store in Utica, New York.  The store failed within three weeks.

He established his second store in April of 1879 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  He expanded the concept to also include items for ten cents.

The second store was a huge success and Woolworth and his brother, Charles Sumner Woolworth opened a large number of five and ten cent stores.  Ironically Woolworth’s first employer was made a partner in the business.

In 1911, the F.W. Woolworth Company was incorporated which united 586 stores that the Woolworth brothers along with others had founded.

Woolworth died on April 8, 1919 five days before his 67th birthday.  His company owned more than 1,000 stores in the United States and other countries.  At his death the corporation was worth $65 million ($806 million in today’s dollars).

The reason that I find Mr. Woolworth’s story so remarkable is that he founded an idea and a form of merchandising that is very popular today.

Today’s dollar stores can trace their lineage back to Frank Woolworth.  In today’s fragile economy these dollar stores are showing huge growth whereas other more traditional retailers are having a much more difficult time.

Just look at the legacy of Mr. Woolworth.  All of these stores can attribute their foundation on Frank W. Woolworth:  Duckwall-ALCO, Ben Franklin Stores, Butler Brothers, S.S. Kresge Company(K-Mart), S.H. Kress and Company, McCrory’s, J.J. Newberry’s, TG&Y, McLellans, Neisner’s, H.L. Green, G.C. Murphy, Walton’s Five and Dime (Wal-Mart) and Sprouse-Reitz.

All of these dollar stores can trace their lineage back to Woolworth.  In the U.S.: Dollar Tree, 99 Cent Only Stores, Deal$, Fred’s, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Five Below, Galloway Dollar and Real Deals.

In Canada:  A Buck Or Two, Dollarama, Everything For A Dollar Store, Great Canadian Dollar Store, Dollar Giant and Your Dollar Store With More.

In Mexico:  Waldo’s Dollar Mart.

In Spain:  Todo A 100.

In Germany:  ToBi, EuroShop, HEMA, Pfennigland and TEDi.

In Japan:  Daiso, Daiei and Seria.

In Australia:  The Reject Shop, The Basement, Go-Lo, Crazy Clark’s, Chickenfeed, Red Dot, Browse In And Save and Hot Dollar.

There are plenty more out there but this is a good overview of the legacy of Frank W. Woolworth.

My father had his first job at a Woolworth’s store in downtown Chicago back in the 1940’s.  My grandmother used to confiscate his paycheck.  She gave him some of it but most of it was put in the bank for his college fund.  You could say that because of Mr. Woolworth my father was able to attend college.

My fondest memory of Woolworth’s was the store that they had in Cadillac, Michigan.  On a Saturday afternoon I used to take my children there where they would spend their allowance.  The floor was wood planked and they had an old fashioned soda fountain in the store where you could buy a milk shake and a hamburger.  Yes, they still employed a soda jerk!

It was a sad day when the store was closed back in the mid 1990’s.

Frank W. Woolworth left an incredible legacy that I am quite sure that back in the 1870’s he never imagined he would leave.  When Woolworth’s closed in the ‘90’s not only did a great business close, but a true piece of Americana had ended never to return.


On April 12, 1861 began the Battle of Ft. Sumter.  This has been commonly referred to as the opening shots of the American Civil War. The battle resulted in a Confederate victory.

Before we even begin to go over the actual battle I think that a little bit of background information needs to be covered first.

The causes of the Civil War are quite lengthy and would take a lot of time.  I will just go over the background required to explain this battle.  Civil War causes are for another time.

On December 20, 1860 South Carolina seceded from the Union.  On December 26th, Major Robert Anderson abandoned the indefensible Ft. Moultrie and secretly redeployed Companies E and H (127 men) of the 1st U.S. Artillery to Ft. Sumter without orders from Washington on his own imitative.  Major Anderson felt that Ft. Sumter was easier to defend and its location would delay an attack by the South Carolina Militia.

Bear in mind that Ft. Sumter was still under construction and had only half of its cannons.  The fort wasn’t completed yet because President James Buchannan had been actively downsizing the military throughout his entire term in office.

Over the next few months the government of South Carolina and finally Brigadier General P.T.G. Beauregard were continually demanding that Union forces abandon the fort.  These demands were ignored by the Federal government.

The Federal government attempted to resupply and reinforce the garrison on January 9, 1861.  They were repulsed by forces compromised of cadets from the Citadel also known as the Military College of South Carolina.

They fired upon a steamer named Star of the West which was hired by the Union for this purpose.  Because of the attack on the ship the fort was not resupplied.

President Abraham Lincoln was informed after his inauguration on March 4, 1861 that the fort would run out of food by April 15th.  Something decisive had to be done and quickly.

President Lincoln ordered a fleet of ships under the command of Gustavus V. Fox to attempt to enter Charleston Harbor and resupply and reinforce Ft. Sumter.

The ships assigned to this task were the following:  sleep sloops of war USS Pawnee and USS Powhatan as well as armed screw steamers USS Pocahontas and USRC Harriet Lane, also the steamer Baltic carrying 200 troops from Companies C and D from the 2nd U.S. Artillery.  Three added tug boats also were deployed to provide additional protection from small arms fire.

The ships left on April 6, 1861 and the first to arrive at the rendezvous point was the Harriet Lane just before midnight of April 11, 1861.

On April 11, 1861 Gen Beauregard sent three aides, Colonel James A. Chesnut, Jr, Captain Stephen D. Lee and Lieutenant A.R. Chisolm to demand the surrender of the fort.  Major Anderson declined and they went back to Beauregard to report.

Beauregard then consulted with Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Walker.  He then sent the aides back to the fort and authorized Colonel Chesnut to decide whether or not the fort should be taken by force.

Major Anderson stalled the Confederate aides for several hours before he announced his decision.  At 3 A.M. he delivered his conditions to the Confederate aides.

Colonel Chesnut replied that Major Anderson’s terms were “manifestly futile and not within the scope of the instructions verbally given to us”.

At that point the aides left the presence of Major Anderson and proceeded to nearby Ft. Johnson where Colonel Chesnut gave the orders to fire upon Ft. Sumter.

On Friday, April 12, 1861 at 4:30 A.M. Confederate batteries began firing on Ft. Sumter.  They fired continuously for thirty-four straight hours.

No attempt to return fire was made for two hours because there were no fuses for their explosive shells and only solid balls could be used against the Rebel batteries.  To put it simply, they were just not up to the task.

Around 7A.M. Union Captain Abner Doubleday was given the “honor” of firing the first shot at Confederate forces.  His shot was ineffective because he did not use the upper tier of cannons which were more exposed to Confederate fire.

The firing continued all day but the Union batteries fired slowly in order to conserve ammunition.

By nightfall, the firing from the fort stopped and only an occasional lob from Confederate forces towards the fort was fired.

On Saturday, April 13, 1865, Ft. Sumter was surrendered and the fort was evacuated the following day.

During the entire battle there were no casualties on the Union side although there was one casualty after the battle during a salute permitted by the Confederates.  There was one Confederate casualty.  A soldier bled to death after being injured by a misfiring cannon.

After the fort was evacuated, the supply ship Star of the West took all evacuated soldiers to New York City where there was a parade on Broadway in their honor.

The ships deployed to reinforce and resupply Ft. Sumter were unable to do this task because of the bombardment.

The bombardment of Ft. Sumter was in essence the first military engagement of the Civil War.  After the battle, Northerners rallied behind President Lincoln’s call for the states to send troops to recapture the fort and preserve the Union.

With the scale of the rebellion so small at this point Lincoln requested 75,000 troops to be called up for ninety days.

This call for troops caused four more states to secede from the Union.  Notably Virginia who would give the Confederacy it’s most competent officers.

The Civil War would continue for another four long years culminating with the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865.