Uriah P. Levy, the United States' First Jewish Commodore

Uriah was a veteran of the Barbary Wars and the  War of 1812. He rose through the ranks, but faced considerable antisemitism. He reacted to slights and was court-martialed six times, was twice dismissed from the navy but re-instated, and was once demoted from the rank of captain. Uriah won his fight. He became the first Jewish commodore, was instrumental in banning flogging, and served forty-nine years in the US Navy.

But that's not all! He was also a real estate investor in New York City and a philanthropist. Uriah particularly liked Thomas Jefferson, and bought and refurbished Jefferson's home Monticello in the 1830s. He also commissioned a statue of Jefferson and donated it to the government; today it is the only privately-commissioned statue in the Capital Rotunda.

Hawaii Has A Protected Valley, Where Its Ancient Plants Are Preserved

For the past 1,500 years, Limahuli Valley on Kauai has been a green haven, a wilderness preserved to exist just as the native Hawaiians experienced it. It is home to plant life unlike anything found in the rest of the world, with many endangered plants thriving in the valley.

Ancient Log Jams

Before the arrival of Europeans, “log jams” formed by the accumulation of fallen trees and driftwood on rivers and streams were a common phenomenon across North America.

The most famous, and largest, was the Red River. At its peak, this log jam — known as the Great Raft — extended between 130 and 160 miles, clogging the lower part of the river in what is now Northwest Louisiana and Northeast Texas. It formed sometime around 1000 CE. Its great size made it a natural dam, forcing water over the banks of the Red River and into the valley, creating numerous large and deep lakes. A few even remain today, two centuries after European steam boats removed the Great Raft to allow boats to navigate the river.

A Weird Musical Crime

At his death in 1794, Czech composer František Xaver Pokorný had written more than 160 symphonies, concertos, serenades, and divertimentos. But more than half of them were then reattributed to other composers. The culprit was apparently Theodor von Schacht, a competing Regensburg composer who may have been jealous of Pokorný’s large output.

After Pokorný’s death it appears that Schacht went through more than half his compositions, systematically removed Pokorný’s name, and inserted the name of another composer who he thought might not find out. He assigned most of the pieces to composers whose names began with A or B.

It wasn’t until the early 1960s that musicologists Jan la Rue and J. Murray Barbour uncovered this odd crime and Pokorný was given proper credit.

The Uniquely Beautiful Roofs of Bermuda

Bermuda’s earliest houses had roofs made from palm leaves, but by the late 1600s, the residents began upgrading their roofs to stone shingles. Stone shingle roofs are heavy and resistant to hurricane winds. But flat roofs, the norm everywhere else in the world, are not a good idea in Bermuda. Over the centuries builders learned to cut steps into the roofs to slow down heavy rain so that they could be collected without overwhelming the building’s gutters. The geometric white roofs that Bermuda is famous for are actually extremely practical! Rain water harvesting is critical for survival in Bermuda — there are no fresh water springs or lakes in Bermuda — and until recently, it was the only source of fresh water on the islands. So by law, all Bermudan houses must have underground cisterns which collect rainwater and supply the house with its water.

Who Ran Korea During The Choson Period?

Scholar-Officials (sadaebu or sonbi) represent the highly educated ruling class that emerged during the Choson dynasty (1392-1910 CE) of Korea. The founder of the Choson dynasty, Yi Songgye adopted Neo-Confucianism - the modified teachings of the early Chinese philosopher Confucius to establish new principles for Korean governance. Implementing a competitive Confucian examination system to select civil servants, early Choson kings created a class of government officials who were familiar with Chinese and Korean historical and literary classics. Their new system was modeled on the older Chinese one. The new class of scholar-officials challenged aristocratic families that had monopolized power during the previous Koryo period (935 - 1392 CE).

The Triple Bridge of Pontarfynach

In Wales, is a small village named Pontarfynach, meaning “the bridge on the Mynach”. But its name is a little bit of a misnomer: there are actually three bridges!

The original and the lowest bridge was built in the 11th century. When that was thought to be unstable, a second stone bridge was built over the gorge directly atop the original bridge. That was in the mid-1700s. The original bridge was not demolished; rather it was used to support scaffolding during construction. The third and the final bridge is an iron bridge constructed in 1901. Click through the image gallery to see the more pictures of the three bridges of Pontarfynach!

"An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person's main task in life - becoming a better person."

Leo Tolstoy

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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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