ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Monday, September 13, 2021

Thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

9:11I worked in the World Trade Center up until 9/11.  We lived on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, and I was on my way to work when the planes hit.  I was never in any danger.  My brain had such a hard time processing what I saw that day that I wasn't traumatized by any of it.

I was in the subway when the planes hit.  The subway stalled and eventually let us out at Wall Street, a few stops from my usual station.  The station was full of people, and I asked someone what was going on.  He said "Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center."  "That's my building!"  I said.  I assumed that the planes were small.  I was still thinking about the work I had hoped to accomplish that day, and I cursed the MTA for delaying my arrival.  I comprehended nothing.

I made it to the street, disoriented, because it wasn't my usual stop.  The street was littered with debris.  I had worked for a human rights organization that happened to have its offices on Wall Street after my first year of law school.  I remember thinking it peculiar that there was so much garbage in the street.  I didn't remember it looking that way on a typical workday morning.  This was debris from the World Trade Center, but I comprehended nothing.  

I asked someone how to get to the World Trade Center from where I was.  He pointed to the sky and said "Follow the smoke."  I comprehended nothing.

I followed the smoke and made it to my building.  With thousands of others, I gawked at the spectacle.  My building was on fire.  There was a huge hole in it and in the tower next to it.  I kid you not.  I contemplated still trying to get in to work.  In my expert opinion, the situation seemed under control.  Somebody had to tell me that they weren't letting people into the building.  I decided to go home.  I guess I get the day off, I thought.  I comprehended nothing.

The subway ride home was long.  I ran into a friend from law school whose building, near the WTC, had been evacuated.  He had been there when the planes had hit.  He saw people jumping from the upper stories of the building.  I began to comprehend.  It suddenly occurred to me that I needed to get home.  My wife was home with our six-week-old daughter.  Fortunately, I thought, she would not be watching television.  She would be occupied with our daughter.  

When I got to the building, our sweet doorman greeted me with relief.  He knew where I worked.  I ran upstairs to find my anxious wife.  Friends had called, and she was in a panic, but now all was well.  She told me that the first tower had fallen.  All was not entirely well.  A friend called.  I sat on our couch and watched as my building fell live on television and also out our window.

My law firm heroically moved us to new offices in midtown the following week.  We had 1000 employees in that building.  Everyone got out.  The firm had been in the building during the earlier attack on the World Trace Center.  There was an evacuation plan.  They executed it and saved lives.  One person disappeared, perhaps hit by debris outside of the building. 

Associates were packed into offices, but everyone had a chair, a desk, a new computer and a Blackberry.  The firm gathered everyone in a hotel ballroom and told us that the firm's most important resources were all gathered in that room.  There was not a lot of work to do, so we focused on sharing our stories and enjoying our community. 

3000 people died that day as a result of the various terror attacks.  The nation galvanized.  Our government responded, mostly in ways I did not approve of, but I was in a tiny minority. After we invaded Afghanistan, I remember talking with colleagues.  A conservative Persian-American associate was steely in her support for military action.  A progressive associate who wanted to switch offices and avoid tall buildings told me he didn't care about collateral damage in Afghanistan.  "We need to send a message that if you hit us, we will hit you back much harder."  The country united behind a President and a strategy.  I voiced my opposition to the war.  My conservative colleague told me that she respected my right to my opinion.  At the time, I thought that went without saying.

COVIDDuring the peak of the pandemic, more than 3000 Americans died every day of COVID.  Even with vaccines, we are still losing that many Americans every second day.  We made a lot of sacrifices after 9/11.  Today, Americans think it is too much when our government asks us to get a vaccine and put on a mask.  I am teaching in a classroom designed to accommodate 70 students but packed with 80.  Our state legislature passed a law that my university interprets as prohibiting us from requiring our students to wear masks.  The faculty begs students to wear masks.  Some of our students have unvaccinated children at home.  We ask students to wear masks to protect their classmates and their classmates' loved ones from infection.  Some of my students refuse to do so. 

Still, I comprehend nothing.

September 13, 2021 in Commentary, Teaching, Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Today in History -- December 10

1041 – Byzantine Empress Zoe, who had previously assassinated her husband Romanus III in his bath, puts her adopted son on the Imperial throne as Michael V. When he tries to have her banished, she will have him deposed, arrested, blinded, castrated, and confined to a monastery for the remainder of his life

A 1541 – Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham are executed for having affairs with Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard (left). It’s hard to imagine just how stupid you’d have to be to have an affair with Henry VIII’s wife.

1816 – The United States Senate creates the Committee on Finance as a standing committee. It’s good to know that they keep a close eye on the federal budget.

1817 – Mississippi joins the Union as the 20th U.S. state. What is its official state beverage?

1920 – Automobile pioneer Horace Elgin Dodge, Sr., one of the plaintiffs in the classic corporate law case of Dodge v. Ford Motor Company, 204 Mich. 459, 170 N.W. 668. (1919), dies of pneumonia at the age of 52.

1927 – Announcer George Hay, hosting The National Life & Accident Co’s radio program National Barn Dance on WSM in Nashville, describes the show for the first time as "the Grand Ole Opry."

1935 – Halfback Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago wins the first Heisman Trophy. Although he will be the first pick in the NFL draft, he will pass up pro football to found a company that makes extruded plastic parts.

1948 – The UN General Assembly, representing all the nations of the world adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, effectively putting an end to human rights abuses around the globe..


(Mississippi’s official state beverage is Milk)

December 10, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today in History -- December 8

65 B.C. – Future poet Quintus Horatius "Horace" Flaccus is born, the son of a freed slave at Venusia in southern Italy. Few poetic phrases will ever become as overworked as his "carpe diem."

A 1660 – Margaret Hughes becomes the first professional actress in English history, appearing as Desdemona in Shakespeare's Othello. She will also become the mistress of Prince Rupert, the "German prince" of Paradine v. Jane.  (Right: Margaret Hughes with an early wardrobe malfunction.)

1765 – Eli Whitney is born at Westborough, Massachusetts. His nvention of the cotton gin will make untold millions for Southern planters and Northern mill owners, he will lose nearly all his money in litigation and die broke.

1869 – Thirty-seven year-old Ecuadoran seamstress Narcisa de Jesús Martillo y Morán dies of a fever in Lima, Peru,  In 2008 she will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.

1954 – Future Yale Law School dean and State Department lawyer Harold Hongju Koh is born at Boston.

1980 – Former Beatle John Lennon is shot and killed outside his home in the exclusive and fabulously expensive Dakota apartment building in New York City, where 5-bedroom apartments can today be had for as little as $19.5 million.

1991 – Meeting in the ancient Belavezhskaya Forest, leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine sign the agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and creating the new Commonwealth of Independent States.

1993 – President Bill Clinton signs the North American Free Trade Agreement. Critics claim that at least 1 million U.S. jobs have subsequently fled to Mexico, while at least 6 million Mexican workers have fled to the United States.

2004 – Meeting at Cuzco in Peru, delegations from 12 nations create the Union of South American Nations, one of the goals of which is creation of a free trade zone in South America.


December 8, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Today in History: December 3

1552 – St. Francis Xavier, Jesuit missionary to India and the Far East, dies of a fever on Shangchuan Island, China.

1818 – Illinois becomes the 21st U.S. state. The state will be home to four future U.S. Presidents, but only one will grow up there: Who is it?  (Answer below.)

1842 – Future flour tycoon Charles Alfred Pillsbury is born at Warner, New Hampshire.

1854 – At Ballarat, Victoria, more than 20 rebellious gold miners are killed by mixed force of Australian soldiers and police at what comes to be known as the Battle of Eureka Stockade. The miners are outraged by the high price of government mining licenses and the taxes imposed on them.

A 1857 – Future merchant seaman and writer Joseph Conrad is born at Berdyczów in the Russian Empire. His service as captain of the Congo River steamer Roi des Belges (right) will be the basis for his novella Heart of Darkness.

1894 – Robert Louis Stevenson, who gave up a career at the Scottish bar to write adventure novels, dies of a brain hemorrhage at his estate in Samoa. Last words to his wife: "Does my face look strange?"

1910 – At the Salon de l'Auto in Paris, Georges Claude makes the first public demonstration of his new invention, the neon light.

1984 – At Bhopal, India, an accidental chemical release from a Union Carbide pesticide plant kills nearly 4,000 people and injures tens of thousands of others. The company will ultimately settle the resulting claims for $470 million.

1990 – Two passenger aircraft run into each other on the runway at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, killing 7 passengers and 1 crew member. The Transportation Safety Administration immediately decides that passengers on all future flights must wear fluorescent protective headgear.

2007 – Thousands of delegates from 180 countries and dozens of other entities arrive at the luxurious oceanfront Bali International Convention Center on carbon-spewing jet aircraft for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.


[Answer to the trivia question:  Ronald Reagan.  The other presidents with ties to Illinois are Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Barack Obama.]

December 2, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Today in History: December 2

1409 – Frederick, Elector of Saxony, opens the University of Leipzig. One of its first four faculties is a law school, today one of Europe's oldest.

1763 – At Newport, Rhode Island, the Touro Synagogue is dedicated. It is today the oldest synagogue in North America.

A 1775 – Lieutenant John Paul Jones hoists the Grand Union Flag—the first national flag of the United States—aboard the USS Alfred. As befits the first nation largely founded by business corporations, the flag is based on that of the British East India Company.

1804 – Corsican artillery officer Napoleon Buonaparte, the son of a small-town lawyer, crowns himself Emperor of the French at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

1859 – Abolitionist John Brown is hanged for treason at Charles Town in what is now West Virginia. On the day of his death, he writes,"I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood."

1927 – After 19 years of manufacturing the Model T, Ford Motor Co.—facing heavy competition from companies offering more modern vehicles—announces plans for a new car it will call the Model A.

1930 – Future Nobel Prize economist Gary Stanley Becker is born at Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

1961 – Cuban caudillo Fidel Castro declares that he is a Marxist-Leninist and that Cuba is going to adopt Communism. He will go on to turn the island into a workers’ paradise with a vibrant economy and great respect for human rights..

2001 – After being named "America’s Most Innovative Company" five times by Fortune magazine, Enron Corp. files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


December 1, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Exxon-Mobil: How to do a deal right?

1908RandallCountyCourthouseCanyonTexas907TJnsn Yesterday in our "Today in History" feature we noted that November 30 was the anniversary of the 1999 merger between Exxon and Mobil, the largest in history.  Today is the anniversary of the deal's public announcement.

There were lots of naysayers (like me) at the time.  But over at the Wall Street Journal blog, Gregory Corcoran takes a look back at the very controversial merger, and rates it as one of the most successful ever -- the "archetype of a successful deal."  He makes a pretty good case.


December 1, 2010 in Commentary, Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Today in History -- November 30

1804 – The U.S. Senate begins the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Samuel "Old Bacon Face" Chase, on charges he is biased, intemperate, and incompetent. As these are not disqualifications for judicial office, he will be acquitted.

1824 – The Welland Canal Co., with $150,000 in stated capital, turns over the first shovel of earth on the canal that will connect Lake Erie with Lake Ontario, bypassing Niagara Falls. The first trip on the Welland Canal will take place exactly five years later to the day.

1886 – The Folies Bergere stages its first revue in Paris. Skeptics doubt that men will pay good money to watch naked women cavorting on a stage, but they are proved wrong.

1934 – The London & Northeastern Railroad’s locomotive no. 4472—known as the Flying Scotsman—is the first train to exceed 100 mph without plunging off a trestle.

1940 – 29-year-old B-movie comedienne Lucille Ball marries Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz in Greenwich, Connecticut. Ten years later, they will found Desilu Productions and revolutionize television with hits like Ben Casey, Star Trek, The Andy Griffith Show, Mission: Impossible, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Lucy Show, My Three Sons, Family Affair, Make Room for Daddy, The Untouchables, Gomer Pyle, USMC, and I Spy.

1954 – Mrs. Ann Hodges of Sylcauga, Alabama,is hit by a meteorite while taking a nap in her home in Sylacauga, Alabama. She escapes with bruises and a pretty good story to tell.

1999 – Exxon and Mobil agree to terms on a $73.7 billion merger agreement, thus creating Exxon-Mobil, the world's largest company.  [Corrected]

November 29, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Today in History -- November 29

1394 – General Yi Seong-gye, who has seized the Korean throne, moves the capital of the kingdom from Kaesong to Hanyang, today known as Seoul. His Joseon Dynasty will rule the peninsula for more than 500 years.

1695 – Scots judge and statesman James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount Stair, author of the influential Institutions of the Laws of Scotland, dies at Edinburgh.

1777 – Nine soldiers, one vaquero, and five settler families establish the first town in the Spanish province of Alta Califonria. It is named San José de Guadalupe. It will grow to become California’s third largest city.

1781 – The crew of the he crew of the British slave ship Zong throw 54 sick African slaves overboard to claim £30 a head in insurance money.

1816 – Future U.S. Chief Justice Morrison Remick Waite is born at Lyme, Connecticut. In 1874, after four men have turned down President Grant’s offer of the job and two more nominations have been withdrawn, the largely unknown Waite will hear of his own nomination by telegraph.

1890 – The new Constitution of the Empire of Japan goes into effect.

1898 – Clive Staples Lewis is born at Belfast. Watching Hollywood butcher his Narnia books makes you grateful for the control J.K. Rowling insisted on keeping over her Harry Potter franchise.

– The video game industry is born at Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, California, when Nolan Bushnell of Atari Corp. unveils Pong. It is a success.


November 28, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Today in History -- November 28

1520 – Seeking a westward route to the Spice Islands that doesn’t impinge on Portuguese territory, Spanish ships under the command of Ferdinand Magellan become the first Europeans to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

1660 – Twelve men gather together to found a new weekly meeting group to discuss scientific experiments. It’s originally called the "College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning," but will later be come known as the Royal Society.

1843 – After several years of squabbling over the Hawaiian Islands, Britain and France agree to recognize the islands as an independent nation.

1851 – Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey, is born at London. As Governor-General of Canada he will donate a cup, named in his honor, that will be given annual to the champions of the Canadian Football League.

1907 – Twenty-three year-old scrap metal dealer Louis B. Mayer opens the refurbished Gem Theater in Haverhill, Massachusetts, as his first motion picture theater, the Orpheum.

1914 – After a shutdown caused by the outbreak of World War I, the New York Stock Exchange reopens for business.

1919 – American-born Nancy Witcher Astor, 2 nd Viscountess Astor, becomes the first woman Member of the British Parliament, as a Conservative member for Plymouth.


1929 – Future Motown record entrepreneur Berry Gordy, Jr., is born at Detroit.

1984 – Over 250 years after their deaths, William Penn and his wife Hannah Callowhill Penn are made Honorary Citizens of the United States. They must be very happy about that.


November 27, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Today in History -- November 27

A 511 – Clovis I (right, middle), the first king to unite all the Franks, dies His conversion to Catholicism from the Arianism popular with other German tribes would go on have an immense impact on the future history of Europe.

1746 – Future lawyer, judge, and diplomat Robert Livingston is born at New York City. He is best remembered as one of the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the man who negotiated the most profitable land deal in history, the Louisiana Purchase.

1839 – The American Statistical Association is founded in Boston. Among its goals are to "work for the improvement of statistical education at all levels" and to "promote the proper application of statistics." It will fail miserably in both of these efforts, though not from lack of effort.

1895 – Chagrined by a premature newspaper obituary that calls him a "merchant of death," Alfred Nobel signs a new will leaving his estate to create the Nobel Prizes—but not until after he dies and no longer needs the money.

1901 – Lawyer and U.S. Secretary of War Elihu Root establishes the U.S. Army War College at Washington Barracks in the District of Columbia.

1924 – Looking to jump start Christmas holiday sales, and stealing an idea from rival Gimbels (which had pioneered the concept in Philadelphia), the R.H. Macy Department Store on 34th Street creates the first Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

1934 – Hit with six bullets in a gunfight with FBI agents, 25-year-old Lester "Baby Face" Nelson dies at Wilmette, Illinois.

1973 – The U.S. Senate votes 92-3 to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice President of the United States, replacing Spiro Agnew. Those were the days when politicians who engaged in tax evasion lost their jobs and went to jail.  Hard to believe, I know.


November 26, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Today in History -- November 26

1607– Future clergyman John Harvard is born at Southwark, England. He will later become the first American college benefactor to have the college he endows change its name in his honor.  There will be many others.

1789 – President George Washington declares a national Thanksgiving Day. Washington’s proclamation begins:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.

1842 – Fr. Edward Sorin of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and eight other brothers found a new college with two students in a log chapel in St. Joseph County, Indiana. It will be named Notre Dame du Lac..

A 1858 – Katharine Mary Drexel, who will become the second American-born saint, is born to a wealthy banking family at Philadelphia. She is today known as the patron saint of racial justice.

1863 – President Abraham Lincoln, following Washington’s example, proclaims an annual Thanksgiving to be celebrated annually on the last Thursday of November.

1917 – At the Windsor Hotel in Montreal, representatives of three teams from the defunct National Hockey Association create a new "National Hockey League." The Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, and Ottawa Senators will add a fourth team, the Toronto Arenas (later the "Blueshirts" and then "Maple Leafs") for the inaugural season.

1949 – The Constituent Assembly adopts a constitution for the new Republic of India.

1983 – Six men break into the Brink's-MAT warehouse at Heathrow Airport in London, inintending to steal what they think is £3 million in cash; instead they find three tonnes (6,800 gold bars) worth £26 million. Four of the robbers and most of the gold have never been recovered.


November 25, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Today in History -- November 24

1632 – Philosopher Baruch Spinoza is born at Amsterdam in the Dutch Republic. He will turn down numerous academic appointments to keep his job as a lens grinder, even though that job didn’t promise him tenure.

1642 – On a voyage for the Dutch East India Co., Abel Tasman’s crew become the first known Europeans to spy Van Diemen's Land (later renamed Tasmania) in Australia.

1835 – The Texas Provincial Government authorizes the creation of the oldest law enforcement agency in North America, the Texas Rangers. Their original badges were hammered out of Mexican peso coins.

1859 – Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.  He didn't have tenure, either.

1877 – Future lawyer, judge, Senate Majority Leader, and Vice President Alben William Barkley is born at Graves County, Kentucky.

 1916 – Hiram Stevens Maxim—inventor of the first practical portable machine gun—dies at London. Hillaire Belloc would later comment on the gun’s effect on colonialism:

                            Never fear the Hottentot.
                            Whatever happens we have got
                            The Maxim gun, and they have not.

1963 – In the first shooting death to be broadcast live on national television, bar owner Jack Ruby kills Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters.  Viz:



November 23, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Today in History -- November 23

534 BC – Thespis of Icaria becomes the first actor to act out the part of a character—as opposed to being a narrator or commentator—on the Greek stage. This new style of drama will become known as "tragedy."

1499 – Perkin Warbeck—who had the very bad judgment to pretend to be the lost son and heir of King Edward III of England—is hanged by King Henry VII, who is not amused.

1644 – John Milton publishes Areopagitica, a philosophical and moral attack on censorship, except when the censored statements at issue are critical of the Transportation Security Administration.

1804 – Future lawyer, Senator, Mexican War general, U.S. President, and law-school namesake Franklin Pierce is born in a log cabin at Hillsborough, New Hampshire

1859 – Future gunman William "Billy the Kid" Bonney is born at New York City.
              "Too mean to live,
              "Too young to die.
              ".He did anyway."

1876 – William "Boss" Tweed is handed over to Federal debtors’ prison after being captured in Spain. He is held on $3 million bond.

1889 – The earliest known progenitor of the iPod music device—called a "jukebox"—is put into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. Songs are a nickel apiece but you can only listen to them once.

1992 – Roy Acuff, the pioneer fiddler, singer, and music publisher who invented the Nashville music industry, dies at age 89. Here’s him doing his 1936 hit, The Great Speckled Bird:

On that same day, future Disney pop star Destiny Hope "Miley" Cyrus is born at Nashville, Tennessee. This is proof positive that the idea of progress in human affairs is illusory.


November 22, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Today in History -- November 22

1307 – French King Philip IV, who has borrowed more money than he can repay and has decided to blame the lenders, has puppet Pope Clement V order the arrest of all Knights Templar in Europe and seizure of their assets.  It serves the greedy lenders right. 

1718 – In Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, legendary pirate Edward "Blackbeard" Teach is killed in battle by British seamen from the sloop HMS Ranger.

1858 – Land speculator William Larimer lays out a proposed mile-square city on a hill near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in what is then Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory. He names it after the territorial governor, James William Denver.

1869 – The 975-ton Cutty Sark—the last clipper ship ever to be built—is launched. She will be the world’s fastest ship, but at a construction price of £17 a ton, she will bankrupt her builders, Scott & Linton of Dumbarton, Scotland.

1935 – Pan American Airways’ China Clipper takes off from Alameda, California on its first trans-Pacific flight. It will get to Manila a week later.

1963 – President John F. Kennedy is shot to death while riding in an open car in Dallas, 36th President. If you ever go and stand on the "grassy knoll," you’ll see that it’s impossible to believe anyone could have been shooting from that location without being seen.

1995 – Pixar Studios releases the first full-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery. Toy Story will become a surprisingly big hit.

2005 – Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.


November 21, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Today in History -- November 21

Aa 1272 – One of the great lawgivers in English history, King Edward I (left), ascends to the English throne.

1579 – Merchant Thomas Gresham, the man whose work with Queen Elizabeth put the pound sterling on a solid footing and who created the Royal Exchange, dies at age 60. "Gresham’s Law"—that bad money drives out good if the exchange rate is set by law—is named for him.

1694 – François-Marie Arouet is born at Paris. Under the pen name "Voltaire" he will go on to prove that you can earn a great reputation and a very good living if you can make clever sneers at others without actually accomplishing much yourself.

1787 – Future shipping tycoon Samuel Cunard is born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of loyalist emigrants from the United States.

1789 – North Carolina ratifies the United States Constitution and is admitted as the 12th U.S. state.

1861 –Judah Philip Benjamin is appointed Secretary of War to the Confederate States of America. Even more important than his Confederate service will be his Treatise on the Law of Sale of Personal Property, which is still in print today in its seventh edition.

1877 – Thomas Edison announces that he has created a machine that can record and play back sounds. It will come to be known as the phonograph, and will play an important role in the classic agency law case of Kidd v. Thomas A. Edison, Inc.

1899 – Lawyer and U.S. Vice President Garrett Augustus Hobart of New Jersey dies suddenly in Washington, D.C. This will open the way for Theodore Roosevelt to become President McKinley’s running mate in 1900.

1905 – The journal Annals of Physics publishes a paper, Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?, by an unknown Swiss patent clerk. The publication, which posits the relationship between mass an energy, will eventually help Albert Einstein get a teaching job.  Sound familiar?

1920 –On "Bloody Sunday" in Dublin, 31 people are killed in clashes between the Irish Republican Army and British troops. Final score, England 17, Ireland 14.

1922 – Eighty-seven year-old Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia becomes the first female U.S. Senator. Her appointment to fill a vacant slot lasts only one day.


November 20, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Today in History -- November 20

869 – St. Edmund the Martyr, King of East Anglia, is shot with arrows and beheaded after he is captured by Danes and refuses to submit to a pagan overlord.

1194 –Emperor Henry VI completes his conquest of the Kingdom of Sicily by taking Palermo. Henry promptly has the 8-year-old Sicilian king William III blinded and castrated.

Aa 1695 – Portuguese authorities execute Zumbi dos Palmares (right), last leader of the independent colony of escaped slaves known as Quilombo dos Palmares (1605-1695) in what is now Alagoras, Brazil.

1789 – New Jersey becomes the first state to ratify the U.S. Bill of Rights.

1820 – Two thousand miles from the west coast of South America, the 238-ton Nantucket whaler Essex is attacked and sunk by a large sperm whale.  Herman Melville, reading later of the event, decides that this might make a good story.

1866 – Future lawyer, judge, and baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis is born at Millville, Ohio. He got his name because that was the battle where his father, a Union Army physician, lost a leg.

1910 – In San Antonio, Texas, Mexican exiles led by Francisco Madero issue the Plan de San Luis Potosi, calling for the overthrow of dictatorial President Porfirio Díaz, effectively igniting the Mexican Revolution.

1984 – The SETI Institute is incorporated to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. You’d think they’d have tried to find some one earth, first.

1985 – Microsoft Corporation issues Windows 1.0. It will be a success.


November 19, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today in History -- November 19

1908RandallCountyCourthouseCanyonTexas907TJnsn 1095 – The Council of Clermont convenes. The Council will hears Bl. Pope Urban II call on western Christians (left) to go to the aid of the Byzantine Empire, which in the previous 20 years has seen the whole of Greek-speaking, Christian Anatolia overrun by Muslim Turks.

1493 – Christopher Columbus goes ashore on an island he first saw the day before. The inhabitants call it "Borinquen" but he will rename it "San Juan Bautista."  Later still, it will be called "Puerto Rico."

1816 – The Royal University of Warsaw (now Warsaw University) is established. Its first two schools are Law and Medicine.

1863 – President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address. In keeping with the traditional civility of American public discourse, the Chicago Times observes, "The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."

1916 – Samuel Goldfish and brothers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn establish Goldwyn Pictures Corp. Sam likes the new name so much he takes it as his own.

1985 – Pennzoil wins a $10.53 billion judgment against Texaco for tortious interference with contractual relations. At issue was the alleged oral agreement Pennzoil had to buy Getty Oil, which Getty dropped after getting a higher bid from Texaco.


1990 – Members of Milli Vanilli (above) are stripped of their Grammy Awards because they didn’t actually sing on their Girl You Know It's True album. Meanwhile, Walter Duranty still has his Pulitzer Prize.

1998 – Christie’s New York sells Vincent van Gogh's Portrait de l'artiste sans barbe at auction for $71.5 million. It’s the twelfth most-expensive painting of all time on an inflation-adjusted basis.


November 18, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today in History -- November 18

326 – On the site of what is believed to be the tomb of St. Peter in Rome, a basilica ordered by Constantine I and dedicated to the apostle is consecrated.

1302 – Lawyer Benedetto Gaetani (a/k/a Pope Boniface VIII) issues the Papal bull Unam sanctam (One Faith), which stresses the unity of the Church, the Church’s role in eternal salvation, and the position of the pope as supreme head of the Church.

1307 – Swiss bowman William Tell splits an apple on his son’s head with a crossbow bolt.

1477 – William Caxton’s Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres, become the first book printed on a printing press in England.  More would follow, most not nearly as improving.

1686 – After practicing the surgery on several handy prisoners to make sure he could do it correctly surgeon Charles François Felix successfully removes an abscess from the anus of French King Louis XIV.  It’s good to be the king.

1803 – Haitian rebels under the command of Jean-Jacques Dessalines decisively defeat the French at the Battle of Vertires, effectively securing independence for Haiti.

1883 – American and Canadian railroads unite to institute five standard continental time zones in an effort to avoid dealing with thousands of different local times.

1928 – Disney Cartoons releases the animated short Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon and the birth of Mickey Mouse.

1993 – The U.S. House of Representatives ratifies the North American Free Trade Agreement.


November 17, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today in History -- November 17

1558 – Queen Mary I of England dies and is succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth, with very unfortunate results for Catholics.

1777 – The Articles of Confederation are submitted to the thirteen united American colonies for ratification.

1800 – The United States Congress holds its first session in Washington, D.C. No one’s life, liberty, or property will ever be safe again.

1908RandallCountyCourthouseCanyonTexas907TJnsn 1869 – The Suez Canal opens, linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas, and ultimately giving rise to the group of great commercial impracticability cases known as the Suez Canal Cases, including Ocean Tramp Tankers Corp. v. V/O Sovfracht (The Eugenia), [1964] 2 Q.B. 226.

1871 – Lawyer George Wood Wingate and publisher William Conant Church obtain a New York charter for a group that will later become the National Rifle Association. Its first president is former General Ambrose Burnside..

1947 – Under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, the largest labor union in the acting field, the Screen Actors Guild, votes to require officers to swear they are not members of the Communist Party. This vote is regarded by many as more evil than anything Stalin ever did.

1947 – Scientists at Bell Laboratories, trying to figure out why an amplifier isn’t working as it should, make observations that will ultimately lead to the development of the transistor.

2004 – Kmart Corp. announces that it is buying Sears, Roebuck and Co. for $11 billion and naming the newly merged company Sears Holdings Corporation.


November 16, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Today in History -- November 15

1515 – Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, is invested as a Cardinal. As Chancellor to Henry VIII, he will later set maximum retail prices for meat and use the Star Chamber to prosecute persons who sold meat at "unjust" prices.

1777 – After more than a year of work and debate, the Continental Congress approves the Articles of Confederation.

1859 – Land developer Evangelos Zappas—who left home at 13 and received no formal education—sponsors the first modern revival of the Olympic Games in Athens.

1908RandallCountyCourthouseCanyonTexas907TJnsn 1923 – To combat inflation, Germany introduces a new temporary currency, the Rentenmark, to replace the deutsche mark. The conversion price is 1 trillion deutsche marks (left) to one Rentenmark, and four Rentenmarks to the dollar.

1926 – A consortium of Radio Corporation of America, General Electric, and Westinghouse launches the National Broadcasting Company, with an initial 24 radio stations.

1949 – From the "isn’t it ironic" file, Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte are hanged at Ambala Jail for assassinating apostle of nonviolence.Mahatma Gandhi.

1959 – Four members of the Herbert Clutter Family are murdered at their farm outside Holcomb, Kansas. But it's an ill wind that blows no one good.  Their deaths is will make Truman Capote rich.

1969 – Dave Thomas opens the first Wendy's fast-food restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. He makes the burgers square so that the corners sticking out make the patties look bigger than those of his competitors.


November 14, 2010 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)