In 1207, Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) placed the kingdom of England under an Interdict as the result of actions taken by King John (1199-1215) culminating in a debate over the appointment for a successor to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. The Interdict would stand until 1213 when John finally accepted Innocent's choice of Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury. Innocent's main negotiator throughout the Interdict was a Roman Cardinal and papal legate, Nicholas de Romanis.
During the time the Interdict was in effect, a scholar at Oxford was accused of raping a woman. When the burghers couldn't find the scholar, they hanged three of his friends in retaliation for his crime. The school at Oxford protested by abandoning the city and scattering to other schools throughout England, possibly setting up a facility in Cambridge.
On October 1, 1213, while Nicholas de Romanis was working to bring about the end of the Interdict, the citizens of Oxford sent him a letter asking him to resolve their problems with the scholars who had taught there. de Romanis agreed to help, visiting the city twice, in November 1213 and May 1214. On June 20, 1214, de Romanis's actions resulted in the issuance of a Charter for the University of Oxford.
The terms Nicholas de Romanis won for the scholars demonstrates how important the citizens of Oxford felt the school was to the fortunes of their city. Among other items, the citizens agreed to charge fixed rates for student housing and food, an annual payment to the school, the right of the school to judge anyone associated with the school and the creation of a Chancellorship for the University.Return to index
Martin van Buren
|The eighth President of the United States, van Buren was the first to be born after the writing of the Constitution. During his lifetime, there were many rumors that van Buren's natural father was, in fact, Aaron Burr. Van Buren got his start as part of the Tammany Society, which later evolved into Tammany Hall. Through Tammany and his own Albany Regency, he helped create machine politics in the U.S. While working as Andrew Jackson's campaign manager, van Buren was instrumental in creating the lightweight political campaign which focusses on non-issues, still the most common political campaign to this date.|
During Jackson's first term as President, van Buren became a trusted advisor, succeeding John Calhoun as Vice-President during Jackson's second term. Van Buren followed Jackson into the White House. Perhaps his most notable contribution to American society has nothing to do with politics at all. One of his many nicknames was Old Kinderhook, referring to his birthplace in Kinderhook, NY. Van Buren referred to this nickname when he initialed items brought for his approval: O.K.
Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard
|Born on August 22, 1802 in Windsor, Vermont, the first time Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard arrived in Chicago was on October 1, 1818. At the time, Hubbard wrote, the area was "Four and a half houses, a fort and a Potawatomi town." Beginning as a French voyageur, he would become a friend to the Indians, an adopted son of Chief Waba of the Kickapoo, husband to Watseka, niece of Chief Tamin of the Kankakees, Chicago's first insurance underwriter, the builder of Chicago's first stockyard, a financier and land speculator.|
The Indians called Hubbard "Pa-pa-ma-ta-be", which translates as "Swift-walker." He got this name after walking 75 miles in a single day to bring settlers in Danville back to Chicago to help fight off an Indian raid.. When a local Indian tribe questioned his ability to perform this feat, he challenged their champion walker to a race. Hubbard's challenger lost by several miles and was unable to move the next day. Hubbard seemed to be unaffected.
The first winter Hubbard worked as a meatpacker was so cold, he was able to store the pig carcasses on the banks of the Chicago River without worrying about them spoiling. He later built the largest warehouse in the Midwest to house his meatpacking facilities.
The Chicago Fire of 1871 nearly bankrupted him, however Hubbard eventually paid all the insurance claims his company was liable for.
Today, Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard is virtually unknown in Chicago, his name mostly associated with "Hubbard's Cave", an area where the Kennedy Expressway passes under a series of streets, beginning with Hubbard Street. Writing in 1881, A.T. Andreas could state "only [Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard] became identified with the modern commerce and trade of the city, who had been connected with the rude Indian traffic which centered in Chicago in the earlier times."Return to index
|Roosevelt may have been the most flamboyant man to hold the office of the Presidency. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard and decided against a law career, entering politics, instead. He was elected to the New York State Assembly when he was only 24 and seemed to settle in. Both his wife and mother died within a few hours of each other in the same house in 1884. Roosevelt went West to greive and became a cowboy. Initially the object of scorn from his comrades, he managed to gain their respect.|
Roosevelt returned to the East and politics, but continued to yearn for adventure, both military and otherwise. President McKinley eventually appointed Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, a minor position. Roosevelt would usurp the Secretary's power whenever his superior was out of the office. On one occassion, when the Secretary was at a doctor's appointment, Roosevelt ordered Admiral Dewey to Hong Kong. While awaiting disciplinary action, the US went to war with Spain and quickly defeated them in the Pacific because Roosevelt's wire had ensured that warships would be in the vicinity.
With the coming of the war, Roosevelt resigned from the Department of the Navy and organized a cavalry unit. Finally at war, Roosevelt treated the Spanish American War as a game. He acted as if bullets were non-lethal, both to himself and to his men. Following the war, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York. The machine, anxious to be rid of him, arranged his nomination (against Roosevelt's will) to the Vice-Presidency.
Once elected Vice-President, Roosevelt enrolled himself in law school, seeing the next four years as something of a waste of time. When McKinley died after Leon Czolgosz shot him because "it would be a good thing for the country to kill the President," Roosevelt was on a camping trip. McKinley's doctors had informed Roosevelt that the wounds wouldn't be fatal.
Although a Republican, Roosevelt fought for the common man, established the National Park system, was a staunch anti-monopolist and in favor of desegregation, inviting the first African-American as a guest to the White House (Booker T. Washington). In 1905, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize. He failed in many endeavors, such as removing "In God We Trust" from coinage (he saw it as sacriligious) and trying to simplify spelling.
The first man who succeeded to the Presidency on the President's death to be elected in his own right, Roosevelt made the public pledge not to run for re-election, later coming to fully regret that promise, although he lived up to it. After being turned out of office, he did try to win the office back from his chosen successor, William Howard Taft.Return to index
Clyde William Tombaugh
|Clyde Tombaugh was born in Streator, Illinois on February 4, 1906. While a teenager, Tombaugh became interested in astronomy, and, when the family moved to Burdett, Kansas in 1922, he began to build a telescope for himself.|
Tombaugh sent some drawings he had made of Jupiter to V.M. Slipher at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizonia. These resulted in an invitation to join the observatory staff, and in 1929, Tombaugh made the journey from Burdett to Flagstaff.
Slipher put Tombaugh on a tedious job, comparing photographic plates of the sky, in an attempt to find anything which moved which could be a ninth planet which was predicted by Percival Lowell several years earlier.
On 18 February 1930, Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto while working from Lowell's calculations. That night, in his excitement, Tombaugh went to see the movie "The Virginian", and comments that he had no idea what he was watching.
After discovering Pluto and continuing to search the skies for several more months (and discovering myriad asteroids), Tombaugh went to college to get a BS in astronomy.