Cook-Peary North Pole Competition

Lead: In 1909 Robert Peary and Frederick Cook claimed to have discovered the North Pole. Their competing assertions form one of history’s mysteries.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: They began this saga as friendly associates. Peary hired Cook as a physician on a Greenland expedition in 1891, and the Doctor unflappably set the bones of his leader’s legs after an accident on the shipboard part of the journey. They soon became competitors, however, in the race to the North Pole, which was made extremely complex because unlike the land-bound South Pole, the position of 90 North sits on drifting sea ice.

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America’s First Century: Transatlantic Cod Bridge

Lead: In the decades before Columbus returned from his accidental discovery of the Caribbean in 1492, Basque fishermen, from the northern part of Spain, may have beat him to the New World.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Writing in his elegant and fascinating Cod: The Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, Mark Kurlansky presents strong evidence that Christopher may have been a Johnny-come-lately.

Along the southwestern slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France Spain lies Basque Country. None of multitude of ethnic groups that make up Spanish society have been more resistant to assimilation than the Basques. Spanish kings and Spanish dictators have tried to homogenize Basque culture and language but have largely failed. They are a hearty people and jealous, sometimes violently jealous, of their independence.

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54′ 40″ Or Fight (Expansion of America)

Lead: In 1844 the Democratic candidate for President of the United States, animated the campaign by insisting the U.S. claim most of what is now British Columbia. It was either 54" 40' or fight.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 the United States acquired a vast amount of territory across the upper tier of the Continent's heartland. This brought it into conflict with those powers who also occupied and claimed various parts of the western territories. The most serious dispute involved Great Britain. The United States claimed all of its present expanse and a huge slice of present day Canada. In the early years settlement of these competing claims was not essential. Few pioneers of either country were living there and the absence of commercial activity made the issue of ownership less pressing.

 

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Mount Vesuvius III

Lead: After being buried for seventeen centuries the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum became unparalleled archeological discoveries.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In point of fact, the excavations of these cities, buried in the enormous eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, initiated the modern science of archeology. Their discovery was quite by accident, the ruins of Pompeii were first in the late 1600s by the architect Domenico Fontana even though at the time its identity was something of a mystery.

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Mount Vesuvius II

Lead: The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 was one of most destructive events to take place in the ancient world. 

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Early in the afternoon of August 24th, at Misenum (my ‘see num), the sister of the imminent naturalist and Roman imperial bureaucrat, Gaius Plinus Secundus, commander of the fleet at Naples, called her brother from his study to see an unusual cloud formation rising east across the bay in the vicinity of Mount Vesuvius. It was shaped like a pine tree and both trunk and crown were punctuated with bright glowing flashes. Ever the scientist, the Elder Pliny ordered up a swift light vessel so as to investigate this phenomenon, but, before he embarked, a note arrived from Rectina, wife of Bassus, a family friend, whose villa at the base of the volcano was in imminent danger of destruction. Alarmed, Pliny ordered the entire fleet into the Bay on a mission of rescue.

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Mount Vesuvius

Lead: In the late summer of AD 79 the stratovolcano Vesuvius which towers over the Bay of Naples erupted. There was a tragic loss of life.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Vesuvius is a relatively young volcano, a little less than 200,000 years old. It towers a little more than 4000 feet over the waters of the Bay of Naples and the plain of Campania in south central Italy. Approximately half way up the sides of the volcano is a high semicircular ridge called Mt. Somma, but in the first century Vesuvius had a single conical summit. Apparently, the mountain has long periods of  quiescence in which there is little volcanic activity, followed by varying periods of eruption. During the quiet times vineyards and orchards grow in the rich soil that covers the lower approaches. Higher up groves of oak and chestnut trees proceed almost to the very summit. During the long six century period before the giant eruption of 1631 there apparently were forests down in the 1000 foot deep crater and three lakes from which herds of sheep and cattle grazed unaware of the rumbling giant below.

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Oregon Boundary Treaty: Negotiations

Lead: In 1845 because of his campaign promises, newly elected President James Knox Polk faced the daunting possibility of war with both Britain and Mexico at the same time.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1845, it was clear that acquiring Texas was going take the nation into war, it was less clear that war with Britain would be required to resolve their differences over the Oregon border. Polk was willing to back off from the extravagant claims that many expansionists made that American territory should go all the way to the 54th parallel, deep into what is now Canada. In this formulation was the heart of a compromise.

 

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Richard Byrd to the North Pole II

Lead:  For decades Richard Evelyn Byrd was credited as being the first to fly to over the North Pole. It was his lifetime dream, but in recent years scholarly skepticism regarding his claim has begun to cast doubt on his achievement.   

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in 1888 in Winchester, Virginia Richard Evelyn Byrd had aristocratic roots stretching back to the early days of Virginia, and if one considers his maternal ancestor Pocahontas, further than that. His brother was Governor and Senator Harry Flood Byrd, who for four decades dominated state politics through his political creation, the Byrd machine. An adventurous child, Byrd as a young man was captured by the possibility of exploring the poles among the few remaining virgin areas on the planet. He served as a Naval Squadron Commander during WWI and became a naval aviator in 1918. In 1925 Byrd helped lead a scientific expedition to Greenland sponsored by Navy and the National Geographic Society.

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