How Did Firefighting Develop?

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The London Great Fire of 1666 revolutionized firefighting

Firefighting began to be a focus only with the rise of very large cities such as Rome. Earlier cities, such as those in Mesopotamia or the Indus, likely developed ad hoc firefighting departments and respondent to events. As with other institutions, however, the history of firefighting is complicated and influenced by major technical and social change that occurred in different centuries.

Early fighting developed in the early urban societies of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus. Very likely, however, these were not dedicated fire departments but rather as volunteer or paid individuals who would be responsible in assembling a crew and extinguishing a fire in the city. Few archaeological remains have attested to such firefighters, but laws, such as those from Hammurabi’s law code, indicate they existed. There was a law that stated that a firefighter who stole from a burning house that he was responsible for would be punished by death by being thrown into the fire. The law makes it clear though that it is a volunteer that the law applies to. This does not mean there were no paid firefighters but it could mean volunteers may have volunteered because fires gave opportunity for theft.[1]

Read the entire article at DailyHistory.org.

What Was the Importance of Bill Mauldin to WWII Infantrymen?

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Comic by Bill Mauldin from World War Two

Bill Mauldin once said that the infantryman “gives more and gets less than anybody else.”[1]He knew this from his experience on the front lines with K Company, 180th Infantry Regiment, of the 45th Division. Mauldin went through basic training as an infantryman and stayed with his regiment throughout the invasion of Sicily and the Allied campaign up the boot of Italy. The talented cartoonist succeeded in ruffling the feathers of the “brass” all the way up to General George Patton. In a time when American news outlets were sanitizing World War II for the folks on the home front, Bill Mauldin depicted the grim reality of war. Through the use of meticulous detail, keen observations, and sardonic wit, this baby-faced young man spoke for the masses of ordinary soldiers who had no voice of their own within the massive military machine of the United States.

William Henry Mauldin was born October 29, 1921 in the New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains in a town named, Mountain Park. He survived a nomadic and impoverished childhood as a sickly child with a young mother and frequently unemployed father. He and his older brother Sid were frequently left alone for days at a time while their mother, Katrina, went on harsh drinking binges. When their parents permanently separated in July 1936, Bill and Sid left the family home for Phoenix, Arizona. While in the Valley of the Sun, Bill attended Phoenix Union High School where he promptly joined the ROTC.[2]

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What was the impact of the Irish Famine on Ireland and the world?

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Irish Potato Famine in 1847 (Scene at Skibbereen James Mahony)

The Great Irish Famine (1845-1850), one of the last great famines in western Europe. The Famine was a disaster for Ireland and in many ways the country has not recovered from its impact to this day. The Famine or the ‘Great Hunger’ as it was known led to the deaths of 1 million people and the emigration of another two million. The article will examine the impact of the famine on Irish society and how it ‘decisively shaped the country’s history and the nature of its society and economy.[1] The Irish Famine was not just of local importance but was to have international repercussions. This was because it led to the emigration of millions of Irish people, which changed societies from North America to Australasia.

Ireland in 1840 was largely a peasant society, where Catholic tenants worked the land of a Protestant landowning elite. Much of the agricultural land in the country was part of the estates of Protestant landlords.[2] The country was part of the United Kingdom and was ruled by a British appointed administration in Dublin Castle, who were under the direct control of the London government. The country was overwhelmingly agricultural with little or no industry. Much of the population depended on the potato for their livelihood. The vast majority of the Irish population lived in conditions of abject poverty.[3] In 1845, the potato blight was inadvertently brought to Europe from South America. The potato blight arrived in Ireland in the summer of 1846. It caused the potato crop to fail in many areas.[4]

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How did baseball develop?

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Prisoners of war playing baseball during the American Civil War

Baseball is called America’s pastime and looking at it one can see that the modern sport of baseball not only developed in the United States but it continues to be associated with the United States, similar to iconic places such as the Statue of Liberty or the Grand Canyon. The path baseball took to becoming the sport it is today started in the early Medieval period, where it was a very different game. As with other major American sports, key developments occurred in Great Britain before then developing differently in the United States.

In Medieval England, during the Anglo and Norman periods, there appears to have been a game played in a type of field or clearing in the woods. This may have involved some type of ball game and some have suggested the word for this game, craic, which may have developed into the term cricket.[1] The game may have been played by children but almost no records exist of how this game was played. Another game developed in France in the Medieval period, which may have had similarities to craic, was La soule. This was a type of ball game using a leather or wooden ball that would involve people forming teams in a field and the ball would be hit or kicked around. Scoring a goal was likely the objective and, similar to many other games of the day, the game seemed violent and injury was common.[2]

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Primed for Violence in Interwar Poland: Interview with Paul Brykczynski

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Primed for Violence by Paul Brykczynski

After the Great War, instead of being divided between the Austro-Hungary, Germany and Russia, Poland emerged from the Treaty of Versailles as an independent nation. Despite being granted independence, Poland was immediately drawn into a series of border wars with the Soviet Union, Lithuania and the Ukraine. As Poland fought with neighbors to define its borders, it also sought to create a truly democratic state. Paul Brykczynski’s new book Primed for Violence: Murder, Antisemitism, and Democratic Politics in Interwar Poland published by the University of Wisconsin Press explores the tragic efforts of the Polish people to create a new democratic state after electing their first President, Gabriel Narutowicz.

Paul Brykczynski received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in European History and Primed for Violence is currently being translated into Polish.

Here is our interview Dr. Brykczynski.

How did you become interested in writing about interbellum Poland?

The interbellum period was a fascinating age of experiments and extremes. The radical right and radical left had not yet discredited themselves with the crimes of Nazism and Stalinism, and the political horizon appeared to be wide open for all kinds of potential solutions to political, social, and economic problems. Advocates of democracy, authoritarianism, liberalism, socialism, communism, nationalism, fascism, and other ideologies all vied for power in the multitude of small states created by the collapse of old empires. In Poland, nationalism and anti-Semitism played an ever bigger role in politics. I wanted to understand why this was the case, and what this can tell us about the relationship between politics, ideology, and violence more generally.

Read the rest of the interview at DailyHistory.org.

How did illegal abortions spur the push for medical licensing in the 19th Century?

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John T. Hoffman Governor of New York vetoed the medical licensing law in 1872

In late August 1872 in New York City, a young pregnant woman named Alice Augusta Bowlsby read an advertisement in the newspaper for a Dr. Ascher. The advertisement stated that Dr. Ascher could help “[l]adies in trouble, guaranteed immediate relief, sure and safe; no fee required until perfectly satisfied; elegant rooms and nursing provided.”[1] Bowlsby went to Ascher’s office where he performed an abortion. Bowlsby died from Ascher’s botched abortion, and her tragic death provided an opportunity for New York’s organized Regulars to open the debate for medical licensing.

Bowlsby’s death captured the attention of the New York Times and the New York Herald because the details of her death were incredibly salacious. After Bowlsby died, Ascher attempted to hide the woman’s death by shipping her body in a ramshackle trunk to Chicago by train. After an alert railroad employee searched the trunk, police authorities were quickly contacted and conducted an autopsy on the body. The coroner determined that the young woman died from several “severe lacerations” that “had been sustained in the attempt to affect an abortion.” The police quickly ascertained the identity of the young women and tracked down Jacob Rosenzweig, a 39-year-old Polish physician. The police learned that Rosenzweig practiced in New York City under the name Dr. Ascher.[2]

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How Was Hitler Responsible for the German Defeat in World War II?

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Adolph Hitler and Field Marshall Gunther von Kluge in 1940

There were a plethora of factors that went into deciding the outcome of World War II. Political ideologies and national opinions were vastly different for the combatants, even amongst allied countries such as the United States and the Soviet Union. The industrial might of the United States was unmatched and Russia was the largest state in the world. Germany boasted brilliant generals and early in the conflict made great use of their innovative Lightning War, the Blitzkrieg.

Belligerents on each side had great strengths; however, it was the military leadership of Adolph Hitler that proved to be the greatest liability to Germany and ultimately cause its defeat. For Germany, the three greatest military mistakes made by Hitler concerned Dunkirk, Operation Barbarossa, and the Allied invasion of Normandy. The imprudent command decisions made by the Führer resulted in the Allied victory in Europe.

Hitler came to power in January 1933. Two months hence, on March 23, the Enabling Act was passed through the Reichstag. This legislation essentially voided the Weimar Constitution and created a legal dictatorship, under which Hitler no longer needed approval from the Reichstag to enact any new laws. Further, on July 14, he declared that the Nazi Party was to be the only legitimately recognized party in the nation. Through a tremendous propaganda campaign, he appeared as Germany’s Messiah and established a massive following. As his popularity grew, he deemed the time appropriate for Germany to annex European lands that housed ethnically German people.[1]

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