In the 1700s, Whalers Avoided Hawai’i for an Odd Reason

Honolulu was such an alluring port that many strong-minded captains refused to touch there, for desertions of nearly half a ship’s complement were not uncommon. In time the problem became so acute that ship owners banded together and paid head money to native gangs for each deserter hauled in from the hills or lush valleys, but some wise Yankee skippers avoided the whole problem by cruising back and forth in sight of land and sending ashore only longboats manned by trusted officers, who accumulated the required provisions and rowed back to their reluctant ships. Occasionally, of course, even such special crews deserted.

Michener, James A., et al. “The Globe Mutineers.” Rascals in Paradise. The Dial Press, 2016. 15, 16. Print.

Podcast Episode Recommendation on the Industrial Revolution

Hey all! I recently listened to a great podcast episode and thought I would share it with you all. History Extra, run by the BBC History Magazine, is a long-standing podcast of excellent quality. With the pandemic they started an "Everything you ever wanted to know" series on topics ranging from the Aztec Empire to the Renaissance. While the whole series is worth a listen, this post will highlight just one, The Industrial Revolution: Everything you wanted to know. Check it out here.

A French Prisoner in Norman Cross Barracks, had recourse to the following stratagem to obtain his liberty:–He made himself a complete uniform of the Hertfordshire Militia, and a wooden gun, stained, surmounted by a tin bayonet. Thus equipped, he mixed with the guard, (consisting of men from the Hertford Regiment,) and when they were ordered to march out, having been relieved, Monsieur fell in and marched out too. Thus far he was fortunate, but when arrived at the guard-room, lo! what befel him. His new comrades ranged their muskets on the rack, and he endeavoured to follow their example; but as his wooden piece was unfortunately a few inches too long, he was unable to place it properly. This was observed, and the unfortunate captive obliged to forego the hopes of that liberty for which he had so anxiously and so ingeniously laboured.

The Soldier’s Companion; or, Martial Recorder, 1824. The Norman Cross Prison in England was the first-known prison built specifically for prisoners of war. It was built in 1796-97 to hold prisoners of war from France and its allies during the French Revolutionary Wars and the later Napoleonic Wars.

A General's Trunk Bed, Late 1700s

Not just any general, either, but the hero of the American Revolution: George Washington. He likely used this particular bed when he traveled from his Newburgh, New York, headquarters in July 1783 -- as the war was winding down -- to tour upstate New York and the military installations located there.

Russian nobleman Georgy Gruzinsky faked his death in 1798 after he fell afoul of Tzar Paul I. He even staged his own funeral by bribing local officials! Gruzinsky stayed out of sight until 1802 when Tzar Alexander took the throne,  and returned to government, even raising a militia to fight Napoleon during the invasion. Gruzinsky finally died (we think) at age 89 in 1852.

Dense Network of Amazonian Villages Found with Laser Scanning

Laser scanning technology successfully peered through the Amazon rain forest’s thick canopy to reveal the footprint of a complex network of ancient villages in southeastern Brazil. Dwellings in these little-known settlements, which date to between 1300 and 1700 CE, were built atop raised mounds of earth arranged in a uniform circular pattern around a central plaza. Rather like clock faces according to researchers.

The scans also showed that the villages were connected via an organized system of roads. Most villages had two roads leading away to the north, and two leading away to the south. The roads also varied with some being smaller and sunken into the ground, others larger and protected on the sides by banks.

In total the archaeologists studied some 36 villages. The area appeared densely populated with some villages as little as 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) apart.

Jack of All Trades

During the Edo Period in Japan (1600−1868), firefighters primarily worked as steeplejacks -- people who climb tall structures such as apartment buildings or and steeples in order to carry out repairs. This meant that firefighters got paid when they put out fires, but they also got paid when fires damaged tall buildings and repairs were needed. The result? Multiple known cases of firefighters setting fires to create business for themselves. It was enough of a problem that the shogunate to issue warning ordinances and executed some offending firefighters.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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