Electric Chair

Lead: Caught up in the frenzy of competition in the early days of electric power, Thomas Edison gave impetus to development of the twentieth century’s most fearsome form of judicial execution, the electric chair.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the 1880s, inventor Thomas Edison and industrialist George Westinghouse were locked in a fierce competition over the future of electric power. The issue was transmission. Edison championed direct current, Westinghouse, in alliance with the brilliant and erratic Nikola Tesla, was an advocate of alternating current. Westinghouse eventually prevailed because AC, with its more efficient distribution over longer distances, was clearly the superior choice.

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Fireworks

Lead: Brought from China by Italian traders over five centuries ago, fireworks are enticing, spectacular, complex and especially dangerous. We love them.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Sometime in the ninth century of the Common Era, Chinese alchemists combined the enriching powers of potassium nitrate, or saltpeter, with charcoal and sulfur. Francis Bacon, the English philosopher, said the resulting wizardry revolutionized the world. Lacking a true gun, however, the Chinese could make little more use of gunpowder in warfare than fire lances and war rockets. Therefore, they used it primarily for entertainment. Not so the Europeans. When they got hold of gunpowder, the cannon soon became a vital component of continental militarism. The social and political landscape of Western Europe and then the world was changed.  

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First Ladies: Sarah Childress Polk

 Lead: The wife of the tenth President of the United States was the ideal political spouse: devoted, principled, and ambitious.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1823 James Knox Polk was stuck in what he considered a dead end job as a clerk employed by the Tennessee legislature. He asked Andrew Jackson, just beginning his first run for the Presidency, what advice he would give for success in politics. Jackson told him, "stop this philandering...settle down as a sober married man." "Which lady shall I choose?" asked Polk. "The one who will never give you no trouble," replied Jackson, "you know her well." "You mean Sarah Childress?" Polk asked, thought a minute, went out and asked her to marry him. He never regretted the choice.

 

A House Divided: Bloody Civil War Tactics II

 

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In later years, General Daniel Harvey Hill remembered the Confederate dead stacked like cordwood before Yankee lines at Gaines Mill east of Richmond during the Seven Days Battles in 1862. He said, “It was thought to be a great thing to charge a battery of artillery or an earthwork lined with infantry….We were very lavish of blood in those days.” But, in fact, it was the tactics of Hill and his fellow leaders as much as the gallantry of their men that caused such a surfeit of gore. Union and Confederate leaders alike threw men into horrendously fatal charges against breastworks filled with vigilant enemy soldiers armed to the teeth over and over and over again. It was calculated that a charging enemy had to have a 3-1 advantage if it was to overcome troops dug and ready.

 

A House Divided: Bloody Civil War Tactics I

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the course of military history it has often been the case that armies prepare for the last war. Unable to see into the future, changes in strategy, tactics and weaponry come only with the experience of the current war. It is one of the great tragedies of the American Civil War that the learning curve among military leaders was so slow that tactics even up until the last year produced a grisly ingathering of causalities on both sides – more than 600,000 dead over a four-year period. Recognizing that disease was one of the most vicious of executioners in both Rebel and Yankee armies, leaders still were painfully slow on the uptake, not realizing that the tactics they were using increased casualty rates.

A House Divided (Civil War): The Great Congress II

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Despite its reputation for inertia, the U.S. Congress on occasion is capable of electrifying and revolutionary activity. But if the truth be known, such seasons of spectacular innovation occur more often than not when a single political party is in close to absolute control of the levers of congressional power and Congress is driven by an determined President of the majority party with visionary ambitions.

A House Divided (Civil War): The Great Congress I

 

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The position of a legislature in a republic is essentially conservative. Elected representatives tend to reflect the sentiments of their constituents who are not particularly inclined toward revolutionary enterprise. This is not difficult to understand as voters are usually required to pay the price in blood and treasure for their leaders’ ambitions. In U.S. history this has tended to insure that Congress has acted as a brake on Executive pretension. Presidents propose, Congresses dispose, or more often reject, the motivations of Chief Executives.

 

Charles Edward Stuart and the ’45 II

Lead: The Stuart claim to the English Crown finally came to grief on Drummossie (drm ‘mos ee) Moor in April 1746 with the defeat of the rag-tag army of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Time and again the Stuarts tried, time and again they failed. Having surrendered the throne to William and Mary in 1688, King James II, his son James Frances Edward, the old Pretender, and his son Charles Edward Stuart, the young Pretender, with mounting regret, longed to reclaim what they and many others considered their birthright. They, however, would not abandon their Catholic religion and England would have no Catholic monarch. Stalemate. Therefore, the Stuarts to force the issue by constant intrigue and a series of aborted invasions.

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