Charles Kettering and the Auto-Starter I

Lead: Until the second decade of the twentieth century, the automobile was largely the play-toy of the wealthy. In 1911, however, Charles Franklin Kettering helped change all by getting the thing started.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In early 1910, Byron T. Carter coasted by a stalled automobile on the Belle Isle Bridge in Detroit. He stopped to help the lady, took the metal crank, put it in the slot at the front of the engine, gave it a vigorous turn, it caught, snapped back, and broke his jaw. An elderly man, Carter contacted pneumonia in the hospital and shortly thereafter he died - another victim of the arm strong auto starter. This time, however, things would change. One of Carter’s friends was Henry Leland, President of the Cadillac Motor Car Company. He determined at that moment that no Cadillac in the future would be responsible for death or injury due to crank starting. It was said at the time that to start a car one “required the strength of a Samson, the cunning of Ulysses and the speed of Hermes.” The car would never become more than a frivolous and expensive toy if you needed a chauffer or a weight-lifting regime to simply start the thing.

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Folies Bergere

Lead: Historically, the human desire for diversion and entertainment, like religion, morals and politics, is always nearly subject to evolution and changing tastes. Consider as an example if you will the Parisian Folies Bergère:

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 Content: When it comes to entertainment, with apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the French are not like you and me. From the middle of the 19th century until surpassed by American culture in the age of mass communication, the undisputed pace setter in entertainment was France. French theater was considered by many to be indecent, even obscene; it was certainly provocative and pushed the edge of the envelope in morals and taste. For most of that period, since its founding in 1869 as the Folies Trevise, both taking their names from nearby streets, the Folies Bergère always strove to be out front, slightly racier than the competition.

 

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Lincoln and Re-election

Lead: In 1864, with the country mired in a Civil War, the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln was by no means assured.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In retrospect, by the early months of 1864 it is possible to see the Confederacy as being on the ropes. Southern resources and troops were running out and the last great attempt at invasion had come to grief on the gentle slopes of Gettysburg the previous summer. But this was not apparent to a United States electorate weary of war and three years of sacrifice, and they were flirting with idea of dumping the incumbent. Whatever may have been the role played by Cabinet officials, military officers, or members of Congress, in the people's mind, the Chief Architect of the war to restore the Union was Abraham Lincoln. He was the object of praise in victory but in the winter of 1864, fairly or not, he was viewed by many as the author of stalemate. For that Lincoln was in political trouble.

 

 

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Red Scare II

Lead:  After World War I, America found itself in the grip of anti-communist hysteria. The so-called Red Scare grew out of economic and social disruption caused by the war and its end. It went away when things got better.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In June 1919, the home of US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer was bombed by an assailant who blew himself up when he tripped on the front steps of the Palmer house. Neither Palmer nor his family were harmed. Bombs also had been mailed to the mayor of Seattle and to the Atlanta home of former US Senator Thomas W. Hardwicke of Georgia. Eighteen similar packages were intercepted. Counting these with the 16 that had been embargoed because of insufficient postage, the picture began to emerge of a coordinated attempt to kill state and federal officials who were deemed opposed to radical causes.

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Red Scare I

Lead: Immediately after World War I, the United States endured a period of sharp hostility toward immigrants, blacks, and Bolsheviks. Called the Red Scare, it was not the first time it had happened nor would it be the last time.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In May 1919, at a celebration for the wartime success of the victory loan program in Washington DC, for one reason or another, a man failed to rise for the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." When the anthem was over, a sailor boiling with rage over the spectator’s alleged un-patriotism, fired three shots into his back to the cheers of the on-looking crowd. Such incidents were not rare in the 18 months just following the end of World War I.  

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Diderot’s Encyclopedie

Lead: There is no doubt. In the 1700s the best-selling book was the multi-volume Encyclopédie, edited by Jean d’Alembert and Denis Diderot.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: This massive compendium of knowledge actually got its start as a failed attempt at a French translation of Englishman Ephraim Chambers Cyclopedia in 1745. Chambers’ work was a well-respected summary of human knowledge popular on both sides of the English Channel, but the translators did a poor job. To save the project the printer sought out d’Alembert and Diderot, two of French society’s most respected young intellects. The printer had salvage on his mind, the two future collaborators had something far ambitious on theirs. They set out to assemble a exhaustive presentation of universal facts based on a new way of thinking.

 

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Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Lead: In the depth of the Great Depression the haunting voices of suffering millions reminded a flourishing society that times have not been always so rosy.

 Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Late in the last decade of the twentieth century, with its attending prosperity, many historians and commentators have attempted to draw a reluctant people back to a time when simply sustaining life was very difficult. Six decades have passed since the world entered the Great Depression. The stock market disintegration during the fall of 1929, a strangely inert Federal Reserve, and the ineptitude of the Hoover Administration shooting the wounded economy with such economically disastrous measures as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 and severe taxes increases in 1932, turned what might have been a temporary decline into a precipitous drop. People were in trouble.

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Taxation – America’s Disdain I

Lead: Since 1913, when the 16th Amendment authorizing the income tax was ratified, Americans have alternately bellowed or whined each year each year at tax time.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 Content: Historically, Americans have enjoyed a love/hate relationship with government’s revenues – that is taxes. It was disagreement over taxes imposed by Britain that helped spark the cry for independence in colonial America. “No taxation without representation.” Today, throughout the world, taxes are customarily paid with money. This is a fairly recent method of payment. From ancient times taxes were commonly paid in goods and services, including labor and military service. The most common form of tax in the ancient world and the largest revenue producer was the “tithe,” the giving of a fixed percentage of agricultural produce. Despite this,  collection of taxes were very efficient. Governments have always managed to get their due. Taxes supported the building of temples and monuments, the construction of   infrastructure such as roads and waterworks, they were used to increase of wealth of rulers, and, of course, the most expense thing any government can do, wage war. “Corvee,” or the mandatory contribution of personal labor to the state, was used by ancient Egyptians. It is the earliest form of taxation for which records exist.

 

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