History’s Turning Points: Who Didn’t Discover America II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider history’s turning points: who really discovered America.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Setting aside legendary, ethnic, and national enthusiasts, there are basically three candidates in the race for European discovery of the Western Hemisphere. Prior to the voyages of Columbus, who clearly laid the groundwork for the genocidal destruction of native-American culture and the colonization by Europeans of the western isles, the second group to settle parts of America were Norsemen from Scandinavia. Until the 1800s, most scholars confined the Norse sagas firmly to the realm of legend. Then archeological discoveries made it clear that part of their narrative was true. The first to land in the West was Bjani Herjolfsson who missed his landing on Greenland and briefly touched Labrador. He shared his discovery with Leif Ericson, and in several attempts the Vikings tried to settle the flat, wooded country they called Vineland, but the Norse were not colonizers. They lacked the capital necessary to establish permanent settlements and soon cold, wolves, and hostile natives caused them to abandon their attempts after about a dozen years.

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History’s Turning Points: Who Didn’t Discover America I

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider history’s turning points: who really discovered America.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The ongoing debate surrounding Columbus Day, the annual celebration in the United States of that fateful dawn in October 1492 when Italian explorer, in service to the Spanish crown, Christopher Columbus, made landfall in the Bahamas, is often quite lively. Yet, in reality this is essentially a Euro-centric argument. Scholars or ethnic advocates exercise their theories and marshal their evidence over which European or eastern explorers “discovered America.” Surprisingly, there are not a few ideas about who beat the Genoese sea captain to the Western hemisphere and they often originate with ethnic groups and their cheer leaders. Legendary black Africans were said to have made it to western shores in 1500 BCE followed by Phoenicians in 600 BCE and Roman explorers in 64 CE. One of the most interesting conjectures is that of a Chinese expedition led by Hoei-shin, sailing east across the Pacific in the year 499. The exotic legend of the Irish cleric St. Brendan who, with 17 monks, discovered a western island where birds actually spoke Latin before piloting their Celtic boat covered with skins back to Ireland.

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Elizabeth Vigee LeBrun

Lead: In 1778, young French portrait painter Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun was summoned to Versailles to become the court painter of one of the most fascinating figures of French history—Queen Marie Antoinette.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Marie Louise Elizabeth Vigee LeBrun was born in Paris in 1755. She received art lessons from her father. She was largely self-taught at a time when female artists were denied admittance to art academies. By age fifteen, Vigee LeBrun had demonstrated such skill that she able to help support her widowed mother and brother. At the age of 20, at the insistence of her mother, Vigee LeBrun married their landlord, Jean Baptise Pierre LeBrun, an art dealer and artist. By copying many of the fine works around her, she later recalled that she “received the best lessons I could have attained.”

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Flying Blind (Autopilot)

Lead: If the airplane was ever to become more than an object of sport or tool of war, it had to be flown at night and in bad weather.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The enormous potential for aviation was beginning to be felt in the early 1920s but flying at night and during bad weather was hazardous and unreliable and posed serious limitations on the airplane in carrying cargo and passengers. Planes could compete with the railroads because of their speed but trains were far more reliable and in the case of mishap did not bounce as high. Often aviators would be caught in fog or lose sight of the ground at night, become disoriented, lose control of their aircraft, and crash, more often than not with fatal consequences.

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History’s Turning Points: Black Death II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Among history’s turning points: Consider the results of the Black Death.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After the arrival of the bubonic plague in the 1340s, the people of Europe did not know what was consuming them. This ignorance spawned great acts of courage and compassion, particularly among the clergy, but also near barbaric brutality. Many people blamed the Jews, specifically for poisoning the drinking water. Christian civility went out the window and thousands of Jews were murdered. According to one source, 16,000 were killed in 1349 in Strasbourg alone. Many fled to Poland where in the 20th Century their descendants would be consumed in another Holocaust of human origin.

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History’s Turning Points: Black Death I

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. We examine history’s turning points: Consider the Black Death.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In early October 1347, a ship left the city of Caffa in Southern Russia, bound for the Sicilian port of Messina. Along with its cargo it played host to its usual compliment of migratory black rats. They in turn were infested with tiny fleas bearing the deadly bacillus, identified finally in 1800s as pasteurella pestis, the bubonic plague.

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