Today's History Highlights Archive

Today’s History Highlights – 7.19.2013

Today’s Flashback Photo is far from New England. It is a painting of foreign “factories” in Canton, China (circa 1820). They were not what we think of today as factories, but trading posts. It was here, the blog Cow Hampshire reports, that New Englanders managed to cause a riot merely by hoisting a weather vane in 1844. Really? A weather vane? Apparently so. The Chinese, who had a number of bones to pick with foreign traders, believed the arrow-shaped weather vane was bringing them bad luck, as arrows were a potent symbol in China at that time. And the weather vane was at least a pretext for rioting.

Putting a roof over one’s head has never been easy, especially during the 1600s. This becomes clear as the State of Maine carries out the renovation to the replica 1625-era dwelling at the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site in Bristol. To top off the house, a master thatcher was hired to install the roof. The art of thatching a roof is nearly lost, and the Portland Press Herald has posted a video showing thatcher Colin McGhee talking about and demonstrating his craft. For do-it-yourselfers, we’re guessing reeds probably don’t go on sale at Home Depot until fall.

As American colonists rose up against Britain, the Crown naturally adopted all available methods to try to control the brewing revolution. Not so different from the typical insurgencies we see today springing up around the world today, notes Naval War College professor Marc Genest. And while King George III didn’t have aerial drones and electronic eavesdropping technologies at his disposal, he did very much attempt counterinsurgency efforts to head off all-out war with the colonists. Genest analyzes the British efforts, and points out (250 years too late) where they might have improved their tactics in a speech on “New Perspectives on the American Revolution.”If you’re hanging indoors to beat the heat, C-Span is airing the presentation on Saturday. Or you can check it out here online.

Think you can’t take on corporate America and win? Rose Finkelstein Norwood did it. In 1919, after taking a job at the telephone company, Norwood decided she and her fellow operators needed to fix a few things about the way the company treated its workers – mandatory split shifts, lower pay than men and abusive bosses. So she led 8000 workers on a strike that lasted less than a week and quickly brought the company to the negotiating table. Norwood was forced to quit the phone company when she got married (company policy), but went on to organize thousands of other workers over the course of her life. The Jamaica Plain Historical Society has posted a recording of its recent panel discussion highlighting the lives of Norwood and two other Jamaica Plain notables.

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Today’s Flashback Photo…

Factories at Canton, China (1820).

Factories at Canton, China (1820).

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