Oct 192018
 

Today is the birthday (1873) of John Barton “Bart” King, a US cricketer, active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who was regarded as the best US all rounder of his day. You might think that being the best at cricket in the US is not saying much, but he played in first class cricket against English and Australian teams and was a key player in defeating them.  Don Bradman called him “America’s greatest cricketing son” and he was made an honorary member of the MCC.

King was born in Philadelphia in 1873. Early in his life, he worked in the linen trade in his family business, but when it was clear that he was cut out for cricket, which, at the time, was played in the US by men who had independent means and could devote themselves wholly to the sport, his teammates set him up in a sinecure selling insurance.

King came to cricket only after first playing baseball. He began to play club cricket at Tioga Cricket Club in 1888, aged 15, starting out as a batsman. Tioga was one of the lesser Philadelphia cricket clubs. King played his first recorded match for the club in 1889, when he was tried as a bowler due to his physique (he was 6’1”). He took 37 wickets for 99 runs for the club in the 1889 cricket season. King played for Tioga until 1896, when he joined Belmont Cricket Club, the premier team in the US.

In 1893, the Australian team stopped by Philadelphia on its way home from a tour of England. Australia fielded a strong side, but the team was tired after a long tour and trip. In spite of this fatigue, the Australians chose to face the full strength of the Gentlemen of Philadelphia in a three-day match starting September 29th. On a small ground at Belmont, the September grass was coarse. It had been rolled so that the ball moved very quickly across the ground. The Australian side, fielding first, dropped many catches and could not cope with the short boundary, allowing the Philadelphians to reach a total of 525 runs. King came in to bat last, at number 11, making 36 runs. The leading Australian bowlers, Hugh Trumble and George Giffen, took 2 for 104 and 0 for 114 respectively. When the Australians came to bat, they hoped that they would, by now, have recovered from their tiring journey, but ran into problems when dealing with Bart King’s developing swing bowling. The side was all out for 199, with King taking 5 wickets for 78 runs. The Australians followed on and were all out again for 268, allowing the Gentlemen of Philadelphia to win by an innings and 68 runs.

The cricket world was stunned that a single US city could turn out a side capable of beating the full strength of Australia. The Australians won the return match on October 6th by six wickets, but the Australian captain, Jack Blackham, said to the Americans, “You have better players here than we have been led to believe. They class with England’s best.”

King joined the US cricket team’s tour of England in 1897. The tour was very ambitious, and was arranged mainly for educational purposes: few on the US side expected to win many matches. Previous tours had tended to involve amateur English sides with a low level of competition. In 1897, the tour started on June 7th at Oxford, ending in late July at The Oval almost 2 months later. The schedule included fifteen matches against all of the top county cricket teams, the Oxford and Cambridge University teams, the Marylebone Cricket Club, and two other sides, though only a few of the counties thought it worthwhile to put their best elevens on the field.

While the tour initially aroused some curiosity, many English fans lost interest until Bart King and the Philadelphians met the full Sussex team at Brighton on June 17th. King demonstrated his batting ability in the first innings with a fourth-wicket stand of 107 with John Lester. He then took 7 wickets for 13 runs, and Philadelphia dismissed Sussex for 46 in less than an hour. King took 6 for 102 in Sussex’s second innings, helping the Philadelphians to victory by 8 wickets.

Despite the excitement surrounding King’s performance, the Americans did not fare well overall, and the results may have been worse than hoped for by the tour’s promoters. Philadelphia won only two of their fifteen matches, losing nine and earning a draw in the remaining four. After their win against Sussex, the only other win of the tour came against Warwickshire. During this match, King took 5 for 95 and 7 for 72 and scored 46 runs. According to Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, King proved himself to be the best bowler on the US side and had to do much of the work. He bowled 300 overs, more than anyone else in the team, taking 72 wickets with a bowling average of a little over 24 runs. In addition to his bowling, King scored 441 runs as a batsman at a batting average of just over 20.

Following the 1897 tour, many English counties were interested in securing King’s services. It was thought that he would not play as a professional, so alternative means of remuneration had to be found: one county reportedly offered to arrange a marriage with a widow who had an income of £7000 per year. In the end, King returned to the United States.

The Philadelphian team returned to England in 1903. This proved to be King’s most successful tour, particularly his performances in the matches against Lancashire and Surrey. King played in 13 of the 15 matches on the tour, missing two with a strained side. In his first match, against Cambridge University, he took 5 for 136 and 4 for 28. He followed that with 8 for 39 in the first innings against Oxford University, though the match was eventually abandoned as a draw due to rain. In his next match, against Gloucestershire, he took 2 for 26 in the first innings but did not bowl in the second. He also took 7 for 51 and 2 for 28 against a strong MCC side at Lord’s. Then came the Lancashire match at Old Trafford. In Lancashire’s first innings, King bowled 27 overs and took 5 wickets for 46 runs. The Philadelphians passed Lancashire’s first innings score, but their lead was quickly overtaken in Lancashire’s second innings. With the wind strong over King’s left shoulder, the scene was set for him to dominate the opposition. In his first over after the lunch break on day two of the match, he yorked one of Lancashire’s opening batsmen and his replacement with successive balls. He clean bowled two more batsmen in his second over, and bowled a stump out of the ground in the third. In 3 overs, he had taken 5 wickets for 7 runs. After this performance, King had to be rested in the field. One batsman was run out before King returned to take 4 more wickets, ending the innings with 9 for 62. The Philadelphians won next morning by nine wickets.

Against Surrey on August 6, King was overpowering again. It was in this match that King gave what Barker called his finest first-class performance ever. Batting first, he scored 98 runs in the Philadelphian’s first innings before being run out, and he then took 3 for 89 in Surrey’s reply. In the second innings, he made 113 not out and then took 3 for 98. Surrey lost the match by 110 runs. Apparently, King was so exhausted after his performance that he fell asleep during a speech by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Alverstone at a banquet after the match.

King played in his last two international matches in 1912, against Australia. His performances were of the highest quality, given that he was nearly 40. In the first match, he took 9 wickets for 78 runs to help Philadelphia win by 2 runs; in the second, Australia won by 45 runs despite him taking 8 for 74.

King died at a nursing home in his native Philadelphia in 1965, two days short of his 92nd birthday. The Times of London ran an obituary for him, which quoted Plum Warner as saying that: “Had he been an Englishman or an Australian, he would have been even more famous than he was.”

Though King focused on bowling throughout his career, he was also a very fine batsman. In 1905, he established a North American record batting record by scoring 315 at the Germantown Cricket Club. The following year, he scored 344 not out for Belmont against the Merion Cricket Club, setting a North American batting record which will almost certainly never be beaten. He scored 39 centuries in his North American career, and he topped 1,000 runs in six seasons. He took over 100 wickets in eight seasons, including a double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in four seasons. In his whole career, he scored 19,808 runs at an average of 36.47, and took 2,088 wickets at an average of 10.47. He took all 10 wickets in an innings on three occasions, and took 9 wickets in an innings five times. One of these occasions, in the Gentlemen of Ireland’s first innings in 1909, was followed by a hat-trick in the second innings.

King was one of the first bowlers to be able to deliver outswing and inswing balls. He used the outswinger most often, and rarely used the inswinger because he did not want batsmen getting used to it. In consequence it was deadly. As you can see from the first photo, his delivery was unusual – sort of a mix of baseball pitching and conventional bowling. He began his run up with the ball clutched in both hands behind his head, but then released it with a straight arm. He was never given a no-ball for throwing.

For today’s recipe I am reminded of the classic US statement, “As American as apple pie,” which to me is about as absurd as saying, “As American as pizza.” Wild apples are indigenous to Asia, and were brought to North America by European colonists. In the sense that the US was colonized by English immigrants you can peg apple pie as “American” in that it was an immigrant also. So was cricket. “American as pizza” is actually a better twist on the saying inasmuch as tomatoes were first domesticated in Mexico, and then used for pizza in Naples before returning to the US. It’s also true that US pizza is markedly different from Neapolitan pizza. Maybe, “As American as pumpkin pie” would be even better because it fuses a North American cultigen with European cooking style. Frankly, my sister’s apple pie recipe is the best there is, and I have given that already — http://www.bookofdaystales.com/johnny-appleseed/ — any other, US or otherwise, would be second-best. Apple pie with cheesecake using Philadelphia cream cheese seems like an ideal blending for today’s recipe because King was from Philadelphia. Here’s one idea:

Feb 232018
 

Today is the birthday (1868) of William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois, a U.S. sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor. Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to Alfred and Mary Silvina (née Burghardt) Du Bois. His mother’s family was part of the very small free black population of Great Barrington and had long owned land in the state. She was descended from Dutch, African and English ancestors. William Du Bois’ maternal great-great-grandfather was Tom Burghardt, a slave (born in West Africa around 1730) who was held by the Dutch colonist Conraed Burghardt. Tom briefly served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, which may have been how he gained his freedom during the 18th century. Du Bois’ paternal great-grandfather was James Du Bois of Poughkeepsie, New York, an ethnic French-American of Huguenot origin who fathered several children with slave women.

Great Barrington had a majority European-American community. He attended the local integrated public school and as an adult wrote about racism partly based on the experience of being a minority in the town. His teachers recognized his ability and encouraged his intellectual pursuits, and his rewarding experience with academic studies led him to believe that he could use his education to empower African-Americans. Du Bois graduated from the town’s Searles High School. When Du Bois decided to attend college, the congregation of his childhood church, the First Congregational Church of Great Barrington, raised the money for his tuition.

Du Bois attended Fisk University, an historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1885 to 1888. His travel to and residency in the South was Du Bois’ first experience with Southern racism, which at the time encompassed Jim Crow laws, bigotry, suppression of black voting, and lynchings. The latter reached a peak in the next decade. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Fisk, he attended Harvard College (which did not accept course credits from Fisk) from 1888 to 1890, where he was strongly influenced by his professor William James, then prominent in American philosophy. Du Bois paid his way through three years at Harvard with money from summer jobs, an inheritance, scholarships, and loans from friends. In 1890, Harvard awarded Du Bois his second bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in history. In 1891, Du Bois received a scholarship to attend the sociology graduate school at Harvard.

In 1892, Du Bois received a fellowship from the John F. Slater Fund for the Education of Freedmen to attend the University of Berlin for graduate work. While a student in Berlin, he traveled extensively throughout Europe. He matured intellectually in Berlin while studying with some of that nation’s most prominent social scientists, including Gustav von Schmoller, Adolph Wagner, and Heinrich von Treitschke. After returning from Europe, Du Bois completed his graduate studies; in 1895 he was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

In the summer of 1894, Du Bois received several job offers, including one from the Tuskegee Institute, but he accepted a teaching job at Wilberforce University in Ohio. At Wilberforce, Du Bois was strongly influenced by Alexander Crummell, who believed that ideas are necessary tools to effect social change. While at Wilberforce, Du Bois married Nina Gomer, one of his students, on May 12, 1896. After two years at Wilberforce, Du Bois accepted a one-year research job from the University of Pennsylvania as an “assistant in sociology” in the summer of 1896. He performed sociological field research in Philadelphia’s African-American neighborhoods, which formed the foundation for his landmark study, The Philadelphia Negro, published in 1899 while he was teaching at Atlanta University. It was the first case study of a black community in the United States. By the 1890s, Philadelphia’s black neighborhoods had a negative reputation in terms of crime, poverty, and mortality. Du Bois’ book undermined the stereotypes with experimental evidence, and shaped his approach to segregation and its negative impact on black lives and reputations. The results led Du Bois to believe that racial integration was the key to democratic equality in American cities. His later point of view became much more complex.

While taking part in the American Negro Academy (ANA) in 1897, Du Bois presented a paper in which he rejected Frederick Douglass’s plea for black Americans to integrate into white society. He wrote: “we are Negroes, members of a vast historic race that from the very dawn of creation has slept, but half awakening in the dark forests of its African fatherland.” In the August 1897 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Du Bois published “Strivings of the Negro People”, his first work aimed at the general public, in which he enlarged upon his thesis that African Americans should embrace their African heritage while contributing to American society.

By the turn of the 20th century Du Bois became a professor of history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University. Du Bois was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.

Du Bois rose to national prominence as the leader of the Niagara Movement, a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for blacks. Du Bois and his supporters opposed the Atlanta compromise, an agreement crafted by Booker T. Washington which provided that Southern blacks would work and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic educational and economic opportunities. Instead, Du Bois insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite. He referred to this group as the Talented Tenth and believed that African Americans needed the chances for advanced education to develop its leadership.

Racism was the main target of Du Bois’s polemics, and he strongly protested against lynching, Jim Crow laws, and discrimination in education and employment. His cause included people of color everywhere, particularly Africans and Asians in colonies. He was a proponent of Pan-Africanism and helped organize several Pan-African Congresses to fight for the independence of African colonies from European powers. Du Bois made several trips to Europe, Africa and Asia. After World War I, he surveyed the experiences of American black soldiers in France and documented widespread prejudice in the United States military.

Du Bois was a prolific author. His collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, was a seminal work in African-American literature, and his 1935 magnum opus Black Reconstruction in America challenged the prevailing orthodoxy that African-Americans were responsible for the failures of the Reconstruction Era. Borrowing a phrase from Frederick Douglass, he popularized the use of the term color line to represent the injustice of the separate but equal doctrine prevalent in American social and political life. He opens The Souls of Black Folk with the central thesis of much of his life’s work: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.”

He wrote one of the first scientific treatises in the field of American sociology, and he published three autobiographies, each of which contains insightful essays on sociology, politics and history. In his role as editor of the NAACP’s journal The Crisis, he published a number of influential pieces. Du Bois believed that capitalism was a primary cause of racism, and he was generally sympathetic to socialist causes throughout his life. He was an ardent peace activist and advocated nuclear disarmament. The United States’ Civil Rights Act, embodying many of the reforms for which Du Bois had campaigned his entire life, was enacted a year after his death.

During the 1950s, the U.S. government’s anti-communist McCarthyism campaign targeted Du Bois because of his socialist leanings. The FBI began to compile a file on Du Bois in 1942, but the most aggressive government attack against Du Bois occurred in the early 1950s, as a consequence of Du Bois’ opposition to nuclear weapons. In 1950 Du Bois became chairman of the newly created Peace Information Center (PIC), which worked to publicize the Stockholm Peace Appeal in the United States. The primary purpose of the appeal was to gather signatures on a petition, asking governments around the world to ban all nuclear weapons. The U.S. Justice department alleged that the PIC was acting as an agent of a foreign state, and thus required the PIC to register with the federal government. Du Bois and other PIC leaders refused, and they were indicted for failure to register. After the indictment, some of Du Bois’ associates distanced themselves from him, and the NAACP refused to issue a statement of support; but many labor figures and leftists – including Langston Hughes – supported Du Bois. He was finally tried in 1951 represented by civil rights attorney Vito Marcantonio. The case was dismissed before the jury rendered a verdict as soon as the defense attorney told the judge that “Dr. Albert Einstein has offered to appear as character witness for Dr. Du Bois. Du Bois’ memoir of the trial is In Battle for Peace. Even though Du Bois was not convicted, the government confiscated his passport and withheld it for eight years.

Ghana invited Du Bois to Africa to participate in their independence celebration in 1957, but he was unable to attend because the U.S. government had confiscated his passport. By 1960 – the “Year of Africa” – Du Bois had recovered his passport, and was able to cross the Atlantic and celebrate the creation of the Republic of Ghana Du Bois returned to Africa in late 1960 to attend the inauguration of Nnamdi Azikiwe as the first African governor of Nigeria.

While visiting Ghana in 1960, Du Bois spoke with its president about the creation of a new encyclopedia of the African diaspora, the Encyclopedia Africana. In early 1961, Ghana notified Du Bois that they had appropriated funds to support the encyclopedia project, and they invited Du Bois to come to Ghana and manage the project there. In October 1961, at the age of 93, Du Bois and his wife traveled to Ghana to take up residence and commence work on the encyclopedia. In early 1963, the United States refused to renew his passport, so he made the symbolic gesture of becoming a citizen of Ghana. While it is sometimes stated that he renounced his U.S. citizenship at that time, and he did state his intention to do so, Du Bois never actually did. His health declined during the two years he was in Ghana, and he died on August 27, 1963, in the capital of Accra at the age of 95.

I could give you a string of quotes from Du Bois, but this one says it all:

Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: … How does it feel to be a problem? … One ever feels his two-ness,–an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder … He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.

In answering a questionnaire Du Bois wrote that his favorite food was bread and milk (and his favorite drink was ginger ale). Bread and milk is something of a surprise because it is not something I would ever think of as comfort food. To make it is simplicity itself. Tear up fresh bread into bite-sized pieces, place them in a bowl, sprinkle them with sugar, and pour in whole milk. Not my thing. I would jazz it up by using the kind of sweet, buttery French bread the bakers make here in Cambodia, probably use cream rather than milk, and sprinkle over some spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg.

Feb 052018
 

Time for another omnibus post because so many anniversaries associated with movie history collide today. On this date in 1861 Samuel Goodale of Cincinnati patented his moving picture peep show machine. On this date in 1870 Henry Renno Heyl used his phasmatrope to project moving images for an audience, which some historians credit as being the first movie show. On this date in 1919 Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and DW Griffith launched United Artists, and on this date in 1937 Modern Times, starring Charlie Chaplin, was released. Let’s see if I can make sense of all of this in a single post.

Samuel Goodale patented a kind of peep show he called a stereoscope which was later called a mutoscope. The term “stereoscope” is misleading because it was more commonly used to describe a viewer of twin images taken by a special camera that showed the image in 3-D. Goodale’s peep show worked on the same principle as the flip book. The individual image frames were conventional black-and-white, silver-based photographic prints on tough, flexible opaque cards. Rather than being bound into a booklet, the cards were attached to a circular core, rather like a huge Rolodex.

Goodale’s and later peep shows were coin-operated. The patron viewed the cards through a single lens enclosed by a hood. The cards were lit by candles and the reel was driven by means of a geared-down hand crank. Each machine held only a single reel and was dedicated to the presentation of a single short subject, described by a poster affixed to the machine.  Because one machine contained only one subject, it made sense to have them transported by circus or carnival side shows from one location to another, rather than fixed in one place where audiences would soon tire of the same show being repeated.

Henry Renno Heyl’s Phasmatrope which was first publicly exhibited on this date in 1870 to a theater audience in Philadelphia was similar in operation to Goodale’s peep show in that it employed sequenced photographs on a reel, like a flip book. The difference was that Heyl’s machine allowed projection of the moving images, so that an entire audience could experience the show, not just one viewer at a time. Some historians have given Heyl the honor of being the first person to project photographic motion pictures, and an early promotional poster makes the same claim. In Popular Science Monthly of July 1898 Heyl wrote:

 Among the earliest public exhibitions of photographs taken from living subjects in motion projected by the lantern upon a screen was that given at an entertainment held in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, on the evening of February 5, 1870, and a repetition of the exhibition was made before the Franklin Institute at its next following monthly meeting, on March 16th, by [Heyl]. The printed programme of this event contains the following allusion to this feature of the entertainment:

“This is a recent invention, designed to give various objects and figures upon the screen the most graceful and lifelike movements. The effects are similar to those produced in the familiar toy called the Zoetrope, where men are seen walking, running, and performing various feats in most perfect imitation of real life. This instrument is destined to become a most valuable auxiliary to the appliances for illustration, and we have the pleasure of having the first opportunity of presenting its merits to an audience.”

The subjects exhibited embraced waltzing figures and acrobats, shown upon the screen in life size, while the photographic images were easily three fourths of an inch in height. At that day flexible films were not known in photography, nor had the art of rapid succession picture-making been developed; therefore, it was necessary to limit the views of subjects to those that could be taken by time exposure upon wet plates, which photos were afterward reproduced as positives on very thin glass plates, in order that they might be light in weight. The waltzing figures, taken in six positions, corresponding to the six steps to complete a turn, were duplicated as often as necessary to fill the eighteen picture spaces of the instrument which was used in connection with the lantern to project the images upon the screen.     

The piece of mechanism, then named the ‘phasmatrope,’ consisted of a skeleton wheel having nine radial divisions, into which could be inserted the picture, in such relative position that, as the wheel was intermittently revolved, each picture would register exactly with the position just left by the preceding one. The intermittent movement of the wheel was controlled by a ratchet and pawl mechanism operated by a reciprocating bar moved up and down by the hand. It will be apparent that the figures could be moved in rapid succession or quite slowly, or the wheel could be stopped at any point to complete the evolution.            

In the exhibition at the Academy of Music above alluded to, the movement of the figures was made to correspond to the time of the waltz played by an orchestra, and when the acrobat performers were shown, a more rapid motion was given, and a full stop made when a somersault was completed. A shutter was then a necessary part of the apparatus to cut off the light rays during the time the pictures were changing places. This was accomplished by a vibrating shutter placed back of the picture wheel, that was operated by the same draw-bar that moved the wheel, only the shutter movement was so timed that it moved first and covered the picture before the latter moved, and completed the movement after the next picture was in place. This movement reduced to great extent the flickering, and gave very natural and lifelike representations of the moving figures.

 

Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and DW Griffith incorporated United Artists as a joint venture on this date in 1919. Each held a 25 percent stake in the preferred shares and a 20 percent stake in the common shares of the joint venture, with the remaining 20 percent of common shares held by lawyer and advisor William Gibbs McAdoo. The idea for the venture originated with Fairbanks, Chaplin, Pickford and cowboy star William S. Hart a year earlier. As Hollywood veterans the four talked of forming their own company to better control their own work. They were spurred on by established Hollywood producers and distributors who were tightening their control over actor salaries and creative decisions, a process that evolved into the studio system. With the addition of Griffith, planning began, but Hart bowed out before anything was formalized.

When he heard about their scheme, Richard A. Rowland, head of Metro Pictures, apparently said, “The inmates are taking over the asylum”. The four partners, with advice from McAdoo (son-in-law and former Treasury Secretary of then-President Woodrow Wilson), formed their distribution company. Hiram Abrams was its first managing director, and the company established its headquarters at 729 Seventh Avenue in New York City. The original terms called for each of the stars to produce five pictures a year. By the time the company was operational in 1921, feature films were becoming more expensive and polished, and running times had settled at around 90 minutes (eight reels). The original goal was thus abandoned.

UA’s first film, His Majesty, the American, written by and starring Fairbanks, was a success. Funding for movies was limited. Without selling stock to the public, following the other studios, all United had for finance was weekly prepayment installments from theater owners for upcoming movies. As a result, production was slow, and the company distributed an average of only five films a year in its first five years. By 1924, Griffith had dropped out, and the company was facing a crisis; the alternatives were to either bring in others to help support a costly distribution system or concede defeat. Veteran producer Joseph Schenck was hired as president. He had been producing pictures for a decade, and he brought commitments for films starring his wife, Norma Talmadge, his sister-in-law, Constance Talmadge, and his brother-in-law, Buster Keaton. Contracts were signed with independent producers, most notably Samuel Goldwyn,[citation needed] and Howard Hughes. In 1933, Schenck organized a new company with Darryl F. Zanuck, called Twentieth Century Pictures, which soon provided four pictures a year, forming half of UA’s schedule. Schenck formed a separate partnership with Pickford and Chaplin to buy and build theaters under the United Artists name. They began international operations, first in Canada, and then in Mexico. By the end of the 1930s, United Artists was represented in over 40 countries.

Modern Times, starring Chaplin, premiered on this date in 1936. Technically it is a talkie because it has a sound track, but Chaplin’s character is silent. It was written and directed by Chaplin; his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and financial conditions many people faced during the Great Depression, conditions created, in Chaplin’s view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization. The movie stars Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford and Chester Conklin.

During a European tour promoting City Lights, Chaplin got the inspiration for Modern Times from both the lamentable conditions of the continent through the Great Depression, along with a conversation with Mahatma Gandhi in which they discussed modern technology. Chaplin did not understand why Gandhi generally opposed it, though he granted that “machinery with only consideration of profit” had put people out of work and ruined lives.

Chaplin began preparing the film in 1934 as his first “talkie”, and went as far as writing a dialogue script and experimenting with some sound scenes. However, he soon abandoned these attempts and reverted to a silent format with synchronized sound effects and sparse dialogue. The dialogue experiments confirmed his long-standing conviction that the universal appeal of his “Little Tramp” character would be lost if the character ever spoke on screen. Most of the film was shot at “silent speed”, 18 frames per second, which when projected at “sound speed”, 24 frames per second, made the slapstick action appear even more frenetic. Available prints of the film now correct this. The duration of filming was long for the time, beginning on October 11, 1934 and ending on August 30, 1935.

Chaplin’s eating habits are well documented, fortunately. His son wrote:

Besides stewed tripe and onions, he likes lamb stew. Those are two of his three favorite dishes. He dislikes seasoning, never uses sauces or violent condiments and doesn’t care for highly spiced dishes. The one exception is curry, the hotter the better. That’s his third favorite dish. He is utterly inconsistent about eating. Sometimes he will go for twenty-four hours or longer without taking a morsel. Then he’ll eat four or five meals within the next day. He goes on diets but never keeps them up. He went rabidly on a raw vegetable diet for several days. “Look at animals,” he said, “they eat raw vegetables and are healthy. The elephant is the biggest and strongest animal; he eats only vegetables.” That night, Charlie ate two beefsteaks, rare.

Very well, I am partial to tripe too, although the English tripe and onions was the bane of my existence as a boy. If you don’t like tripe, make lamb stew or a curry with rice.  Here’s Mrs Beeton on tripe followed with her onion sauce recipe. If my mother had cooked it this way I might have liked tripe – but I doubt it.

  1. INGREDIENTS.—Tripe, onion sauce, No. 484, milk and water.

Mode.—Ascertain that the tripe is quite fresh, and have it cleaned and dressed. Cut away the coarsest fat, and boil it in equal proportions of milk and water for 3/4 hour. Should the tripe be entirely undressed, more than double that time should be allowed for it. Have ready some onion sauce made by recipe No. 4S4, dish the tripe, smother it with the sauce, and the remainder send to table in a tureen.

Time.—1 hour: for undressed tripe, from 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Average cost, 7d. per lb.

Seasonable at any time.

Note.—Tripe may be dressed in a variety of ways: it may be cut in pieces and fried in batter, stewed in gravy with mushrooms, or cut into collops, sprinkled with minced onion and savoury herbs, and fried a nice brown in clarified butter.

WHITE ONION SAUCE, for Boiled Rabbits, Roast Shoulder of Mutton, &c.

  1. INGREDIENTS.—9 large onions, or 12 middling-sized ones, 1 pint of melted butter made with milk (No. 380), 1/2 teaspoonful of salt, or rather more.

Mode.—Peel the onions and put them into water to which a little salt has been added, to preserve their whiteness, and let them remain for 1/4 hour. Then put them in a stewpan, cover them with water, and let them boil until tender, and, if the onions should be very strong, change the water after they have been boiling for 1/4 hour. Drain them thoroughly, chop them, and rub them through a tammy or sieve. Make 1 pint of melted butter, by recipe No. 380, and when that boils, put in the onions, with a seasoning of salt; stir it till it simmers, when it will be ready to serve. If these directions are carefully attended to, this onion sauce will be delicious.

Time.—From 3/4 to 1 hour, to boil the onions.

Average cost, 9d. per pint.

Sufficient to serve with a roast shoulder of mutton, or boiled rabbit.

Seasonable from August to March.

Note.—To make this sauce very mild and delicate, use Spanish onions, which can be procured from the beginning of September to Christmas. 2 or 3 tablespoonfuls of cream added just before serving, will be found to improve its appearance very much. Small onions, when very young, may be cooked whole, and served in melted butter. A sieve or tammy should be kept expressly for onions: an old one answers the purpose, as it is liable to retain the flavour and smell, which of course would be excessively disagreeable in delicate preparations.

 

Sep 272017
 

On this date in 1777 Lancaster, Pennsylvania was the capital of the United States for one day, after the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia because it had been captured by the British. The revolutionary government then moved still farther away to York, Pennsylvania. I’ll give a few details about Lancaster (and other dribble) first, and then move to a more general discussion about capital cities.

Lancaster was originally called Hickory Town but the city was renamed after the English city of Lancaster by native John Wright. Its symbol, the red rose, was the symbol of the House of Lancaster. There’s a certain droll irony in both Lancaster and York being capitals of the nascent United States given that they were “capitals” of rival factions during the Wars of the Roses. The House of Lancaster was represented by the red rose and the House of York by the white rose – hence wars of roses. The word “capital” here is not strictly apposite. Lancaster and York in England are more correctly styled the “county seats” of Lancashire and Yorkshire, political and military centers for the ancient duchies of Lancaster and York.  Nowadays the reigning monarch is the claimant to the duchy of Lancaster, and the monarch’s 2nd son is given the title duke of York.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was part of the 1681 Penn’s Woods Charter of William Penn, and was laid out by James Hamilton in 1734. It was incorporated as a borough in 1742.  Things were looking grim for the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in September 1777. British forces under General William Howe had been advancing north from the Chesapeake Bay in an effort to capture Philadelphia, and forces led by George Washington had moved south of Philadelphia to intercept the invading force. On September 11, Washington’s men clashed with Howe’s troops in the Battle of Brandywine.

The battle was a catastrophe for the Continental Army. Howe outmaneuvered Washington, and the colonists had little choice but to retreat after the British appeared on their flank. Although Washington’s forces sporadically engaged the advancing British soldiers over the next two weeks, the loss at Brandywine effectively ended the chances of successfully defending Philadelphia. On September 26, 1777, the British marched unopposed into the city.

On hearing the news of the defeat at Brandywine the Second Continental Congress realized that it needed to find a new revolutionary capital post haste. The delegates packed up their gear and moved quickly the 60 miles west of Philadelphia to Lancaster. On September 27, 1777, just one day after the British strolled into Philadelphia, the Continental Congress met in Lancaster’s county courthouse, a building that had been constructed in the town square in 1737. The Continental Congress got some work done that day, including electing Benjamin Franklin as commissioner to negotiate a treaty with France, but the delegates didn’t have much time to get comfortable.

The 60-mile buffer between Philadelphia and Lancaster seemed a bit thin given how easily the British troops had marched into Philadelphia, so they packed their bags and moved the additional 20 miles to York, where, in addition to the extra distance, the Susquehanna River made the site more defensible. The Second Continental Congress had a longer stay in York. The delegates met in York’s courthouse from September 30, 1777, all the way through June 27, 1778, at which time the congress moved back to Philadelphia.

The Articles of Confederation of the United States stipulate that the capital is the place where Congress meets.  Thus, there have been NINE capitals of the US:

Chronological Table of the Capitals

First Continental Congress

September 5, 1774 to October 24, 1774:
Philadelphia, Carpenter’s Hall

Second Continental Congress

May 10, 1775 to December 12, 1776:
Philadelphia, State House

December 20, 1776 to February 27, 1777:
Baltimore, Henry Fite’s House

March 4, 1777 to September 18, 1777:
Philadelphia, State House

September 27, 1777:
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Court House

September 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778:
York, Pennsylvania, Court House

July 2, 1778 to March 1, 1781:
Philadelphia, College Hall, then State House

Congress under the Articles of Confederation

March 1, 1781 to June 21, 1783:
Philadelphia, State House

June 30, 1783 to November 4, 1783:
Princeton, New Jersey, “Prospect,” then Nassau Hall

November 26, 1783 to August 19, 1784:
Annapolis, Maryland, State House

November 1, 1784 to December 24, 1784:
Trenton, New Jersey, French Arms Tavern

January 11, 1785 to Autumn 1788:
New York, City Hall, then Fraunce’s Tavern

Congress under the Constitution

March 4, 1789 to August 12, 1790:
New York, Federal Hall

December 6, 1790 to May 14, 1800:
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County Building–Congress Hall

November 17, 1800 – present:
Washington, U.S. Capitol

We can get into a bit of quibbling match concerning whether the cities that housed Congress before the Articles of Confederation were “true” capitals, and purists often do. You can also argue whether or not the United States existed as a nation before the Treaty of Paris of 1783 which ended the Revolutionary War and recognized the independence of the nation from Britain. Nevertheless, a breakaway state can have a capital whether it is recognized by other nations or not. This, then, leads to a consideration of what constitutes a capital city.

Typically, a capital city (or simply capital) is the municipality exercising primary status in a country, state, province, or other administrative region, usually as its seat of government. A capital is most commonly a city that physically encompasses the offices and meeting places of its respective government; the status as capital is often designated by its law or constitution. In some jurisdictions, including several countries, the different branches of government are located in different settlements. In some cases, a distinction is made between the official (constitutional) capital and the seat of government, which is in another place. Capital cities that are both the centers of government and the prime economic, cultural, and intellectual centers of a nation or an empire are sometimes referred to as primate cities. Examples include Athens, Beijing, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Cairo, London, Mexico City, Paris, Stockholm, Tokyo, and Warsaw.

The modern capital city has, however, not always existed. In the ancient and medieval world a migrating form of government, the itinerant court, was more common.  This manner of ruling a country is particularly strongly associated with German history, where the emergence of a capital city took an unusually long time. The German itinerant regime (“Reisekönigtum”) was, from the Frankish period and up to late medieval times, the usual form of royal or imperial government. The Holy Roman Emperors, in the Middle Ages and even later, did not rule from any permanent central residence. They constantly traveled, with their family and court, through the kingdom.

The Holy Roman Empire did not have even a rudimentary capital city; the emperor and other princes ruled by constantly changing their residence. Imperial dwelling-places were typically palaces built by the Crown, sometimes episcopal cities. The routes followed by the court during the journeys are usually called “itineraries”. Palaces were notably erected in accessible, fertile areas – surrounded by Crown mansions, where imperial rights to local resources existed. These princely estates were scattered around the whole country. The composition of the ruler’s retinue changed constantly, depending on what area the court was passing through, and which noblemen joined their master on the trip, or left him again.

During the course of a year, impressive distances were passed through. German historians calculate for example, on the basis of royal letters and charters, that Emperor Henry VI and his entourage in 1193 (between January 28 and December 20) traversed more than 4,000 kilometers – crisscrossing the entire German area. A reconstruction of destinations gives the following chronological route: Regensburg – Würzburg – Speyer – Hagenau – Straßburg – Hagenau – Boppard – Mosbach – Würzburg – Gelnhausen – Koblenz – Worms – Kaiserslautern – Worms – Haßloch – Straßburg – Kaiserslautern – Würzburg – Sinzig – Aachen – Kaiserswerth – Gelnhausen – Frankfurt am Main – and finally Gelnhausen again.

Nowadays there is a host of different possibilities for capital cities, as there has been in the past.  For example, having 2 capitals is not uncommon. Usually this means that one city is the official capital, but the national government meets in another. For example, in Chile, Santiago is the official capital, site of many government offices but the national government meets in Valparaiso.  Some countries actually have no official capital cities. Neither Paris nor London are official capitals.

Then there are countries, such as Myanmar, where I live right now, that never seem to be able to make up their minds. In the past the capital was wherever the king wanted it to be. After independence from Britain it was Yangon (Rangoon). Right now the official capital is Naypyidaw but you’d never know it.  Yangon is the largest city as well as the hub of business, transport, and most of the judiciary and embassies. Naypyidaw was founded in 2002 and is still pretty much a wasteland. The real reason for the move is not known. Some say it was a vanity project of political strongman general Than Shwe. But also, Naypyidaw is more centrally located than Yangon. It is also a transportation hub located adjacent to the Shan, Kayah, and Kayin states which have been historically turbulent regions because of ethnic conflict, and some leaders felt that a stronger military and governmental presence nearby might provide stability. The official explanation for moving the capital was that Yangon had become too congested and crowded with little room for future expansion of government offices.

Capital City, LLC, is a Washington DC business founded in 2011 to produce some rocking down home foods. Their website is here, https://www.shopcapitalcity.com with plenty of recipes for you.  Their signature product is Mambo Sauce for chicken wings and other dishes.  The recipe for the sauce is a proprietary secret of course, but this is supposed to be close. It comes (slightly modified) from here https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/almost-capital-city-mumbo-sauce/13476/?utm_term=.275b9d725c25 Pure cane syrup can be hard to find. Tate & Lyle’s Golden Syrup is acceptable and reasonably available in the US. Under no circumstances substitute Karo Light Corn Syrup as the original suggests.

Fake Capital City Mambo Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup ketchup
1 cup cane syrup
1 tbsp mild Hungarian paprika
3 tbsp hot sauce
¼ cup water
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp Gentleman Jack whiskey (optional)

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir to blend well. Once the mixture comes to a steady boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool and use right away, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep for about 2 weeks.

 

Oct 142014
 

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Today is the birthday of William Penn (1644), an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Indians. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

In 1681, King Charles II handed over a large piece of his North American land holdings to William Penn to satisfy a debt the king owed to Penn’s father. This land included present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. As one of the earlier supporters of colonial unification, Penn wrote and urged for a union of all the English colonies in what was to become the United States of America. The democratic principles that he set forth in the Pennsylvania Frame of Government served as an inspiration for the United States Constitution. He developed a forward-looking project for a United States of Europe through the creation of a European Assembly made of deputies that could discuss and adjudicate controversies peacefully. He is therefore considered the first advocate for the creation of a European Parliament.

A man of profound religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous writings in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic. Penn’s biography is really too long to go into in detail here so I will simply outline a few highlights.

Penn was born in 1644 at Tower Hill, London, the son of English Admiral Sir William Penn, and Margaret Jasper, from a Dutch family, previously the widow of a Dutch captain, and the daughter of a rich merchant from Rotterdam. William Penn, Sr. served in the Commonwealth Navy during the English Civil War and was rewarded by Oliver Cromwell with estates in Ireland. The lands were seized from Irish Catholics in retaliation for the failed Irish Rebellion of 1641. Admiral Penn took part in the restoration of Charles II and was eventually knighted and served in the Royal Navy. At the time of his son’s birth, Captain Penn was twenty-three and an ambitious naval officer in charge of quelling Irish Catholic unrest and blockading Irish ports.

Penn was educated first at Chigwell School, by private tutors whilst in Ireland, and later at Christ Church, Oxford. Penn’s education heavily leaned on the classical authors and “no novelties or conceited modern writers’’ were allowed including William Shakespeare. The school itself was cast in an puritanical Anglican mode – strict, humorless, and somber – and teachers had to be pillars of virtue and provide sterling examples to their pupils. Though later opposing Anglicanism on religious grounds, Penn absorbed many Puritan values, and was known later for his serious demeanor, strict behavior and lack of humor.

After a failed mission to the Caribbean, Admiral Penn and his family were exiled to his lands in Ireland. It was during this period, when Penn was about fifteen, that he met Thomas Loe, a Quaker missionary, who was maligned by both Catholics and Protestants. Loe was admitted to the Penn household and during his discourses on the “Inner Light,” young Penn recalled later that “the Lord visited me and gave me divine Impressions of Himself.” A year later, Cromwell was dead, the royalists resurging, and the Penn family returned to England. The middle class aligned itself with the royalists and Admiral Penn was sent on a secret mission to bring back exiled Prince Charles. For his role in restoring the monarchy, Admiral Penn was knighted and gained a powerful position as Commissioner of the Navy.

In 1660, Penn arrived at Oxford and enrolled as a gentleman scholar with an assigned servant. The student body was a volatile mix of swashbuckling Cavaliers (aristocratic Protestants), sober Puritans, and nonconforming Quakers. The new government’s discouragement of religious dissent gave the Cavaliers the license to harass the minority groups. Because of his father’s high position and social status, young Penn was firmly a Cavalier but his sympathies lay with the persecuted Quakers. To avoid conflict, he withdrew from social life and became a reclusive scholar.

At Oxford Penn considered a medical career and took some dissecting classes. Rational thought began to spread into science, politics and economics, which he did not take a liking to. When theologian John Owen was fired from his deanery, Penn and other open-minded students rallied to his side and attended seminars at the dean’s house, where intellectual discussions covered the gamut of new thought. Penn learned the valuable skills of forming ideas into theory, discussing theory through reasoned debate, and testing the theories in the real world.

He also faced his first moral dilemma. After Owen was censured again after being fired, students were threatened with punishment for associating with him. However, Penn stood by the dean, thereby gaining a fine and reprimand from the university. The Admiral, despairing of the charges, pulled young Penn away from Oxford, hoping to distract him from the heretical influences of the university. The attempt had no effect and father and son struggled to understand each other. Back at school, the administration imposed stricter religious requirements including daily chapel attendance and required dress. Penn rebelled against enforced worship and was expelled. His father, in a rage, attacked young Penn with a cane and forced him from their home. Penn’s mother made peace in the family, which allowed her son to return home but she quickly concluded that both her social standing and her husband’s career were being threatened by their son’s behavior. So at age 18, young Penn was sent to Paris to get him out of view, improve his manners, and expose him to another culture.

In Paris, at the court of young Louis XIV, Penn found French manners far more refined than the coarse manners of his countrymen – but the extravagant display of wealth and privilege did not sit well with him. Though impressed by Notre Dame and the Catholic ritual, he felt uncomfortable with it. Instead he sought out spiritual direction from French Protestant theologian Moise Amyraut, who invited Penn to stay with him in Saumur for a year.The undogmatic Christian humanist talked of a tolerant, adapting view of religion which appealed to Penn, who later stated, “I never had any other religion in my life than what I felt.” By adapting his mentor’s belief in free will, Penn felt unburdened of Puritanical guilt and rigid beliefs, and was inspired to search out his own religious path.

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With his father laid low by gout, young Penn was sent to Ireland in 1666 to manage the family landholdings. While there he became a soldier and took part in suppressing a local Irish rebellion. Swelling with pride, he had his portrait painted wearing a suit of armor, his most authentic likeness. His first experience of warfare gave him the sudden idea of pursuing a military career, but the fever of battle soon wore off after his father discouraged him, “I can say nothing but advise to sobriety…I wish your youthful desires mayn’t outrun your discretion

Despite the dangers, Penn began to attend Quaker meetings near Cork. A chance re-meeting with Thomas Loe confirmed Penn’s rising attraction to Quakerism. Soon Penn was arrested for attending Quaker meetings. Rather than state that he was not a Quaker and thereby dodge any charges, he publicly declared himself a member and finally joined the Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends) at the age of 22. In pleading his case, Penn stated that since the Quakers had no political agenda (unlike the Puritans) they should not be subject to laws that restricted political action by minority religions and other groups. Sprung from jail because of his family’s rank rather than his argument, Penn was immediately recalled to London by his father. The Admiral was severely distressed by his son’s actions and took the conversion as a personal affront. His father’s hopes that Penn’s charisma and intelligence would win him favour at the court were crushed. Though enraged, the Admiral tried his best to reason with his son but to no avail. His father not only feared for his own position but that his son seemed bent on a dangerous confrontation with the Crown. In the end, young Penn was more determined than ever and the Admiral felt he had no option but to order his son out of the house and to withhold his inheritance.

As Penn became homeless, he began to live with Quaker families. Quakers were relatively strict Christians in the seventeenth century. They refused to bow or take off their hats to social superiors, believing all people equal under God, a belief antithetical to an absolute monarchy which believed the monarch divinely appointed by God. Therefore, Quakers were treated as heretics because of their principles and their failure to pay tithes. They also refused to swear oaths of loyalty to the King. Quakers followed the command of Jesus not to swear, reported in the Gospel of Matthew, 5:34.

Penn became a close friend of George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, whose movement started in the 1650s during the tumult of the Cromwellian revolution. The times sprouted many new sects besides Quakers, including Seekers, Ranters, Antinomians, Seventh Day Baptists, Soul sleepers, Adamites, Diggers, Levellers, Anabaptists (such as Swiss and German Mennonites, etc.), Behmenists, Muggletonians, and many others, as the Puritans were more tolerant than the monarchy had been. Following Oliver Cromwell’s death, however, the Crown was re-established and the King responded with harassment and persecution of all religions and sects other than Anglicanism. Fox risked his life, wandering from town to town, and he attracted followers who likewise believed that the “God who made the world did not dwell in temples made with hands.” By abolishing the church’s authority over the congregation, Fox not only extended the Protestant Reformation more radically, but he helped extend the most important principle of modern political history – the rights of the individual – upon which modern democracies were later founded. Penn travelled frequently with Fox, through Europe and England. He also wrote a comprehensive, detailed explanation of Quakerism along with a testimony to the character of George Fox, in his introduction to the autobiographical Journal of George Fox. In effect, Penn became the first theologian, theorist, and legal defender of Quakerism, providing its written doctrine and helping to establish its public standing.

Though freed, Penn demonstrated no remorse for his aggressive stance and vowed to keep fighting against the wrongs of the Church and the King. For its part, the Crown continued to confiscate Quaker property and put thousands of Quakers in jail. From then on, Penn’s religious views effectively exiled him from English society; he was sent down (expelled) from Christ Church, Oxford for being a Quaker, and was arrested several times. Among the most famous of these was the trial following his 1670 arrest with William Meade. Penn was accused of preaching before a gathering in the street, which Penn had deliberately provoked to test the validity of the new law against assembly. Penn pleaded for his right to see a copy of the charges laid against him and the laws he had supposedly broken, but the judge (the Lord Mayor of London) refused – even though this right was guaranteed by the law. Furthermore, the judge directed the jury to come to a verdict without hearing the defence.

Despite heavy pressure from the Lord Mayor to convict Penn, the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty”. When invited by the judge to reconsider their verdict and to select a new foreman, they refused and were sent to a cell over several nights to mull over their decision. The Lord Mayor then told the jury, “You shall go together and bring in another verdict, or you shall starve”, and not only had Penn sent to jail in loathsome Newgate Prison (on a charge of contempt of court), but the full jury followed him, and they were additionally fined the equivalent of a year’s wages each. The members of the jury, fighting their case from prison in what became known as Bushel’s Case, managed to win the right for all English juries to be free from the control of judges. This case was one of the more important trials that shaped the future concept of British and U.S. freedom, and was a victory for the use of the writ of habeas corpus as a means of freeing those unlawfully detained.

With his father dying, Penn wanted to see him one more time and patch up their differences. But he urged his father not to pay his fine and free him, “I intreat thee not to purchase my liberty.” But the Admiral refused to let the opportunity pass and he paid the fine, releasing his son.

The old man had gained respect for his son’s integrity and courage and told him, “Let nothing in this world tempt you to wrong your conscience.” The Admiral also knew that after his death, young Penn would become more vulnerable in his pursuit of justice. In an act which would not only secure his son’s protection but also set the conditions for the founding of Pennsylvania, the Admiral wrote to the Duke of York, the successor to the throne. The Duke and the King, in return for the Admiral’s lifetime service to the Crown, promised to protect young Penn and make him a royal counselor.

As conditions for Quakers deteriorated in England, Penn decided to appeal directly to the King and the Duke. Penn proposed a solution which would solve the dilemma—a mass emigration of English Quakers. Some Quakers had already moved to North America, but the New England Puritans, especially, were as hostile towards Quakers as Anglicans in England were, and some of the Quakers had been banished to the Caribbean. In 1677, a group of prominent Quakers that included Penn purchased the colonial province of West Jersey (half of the current state of New Jersey). That same year, two hundred settlers from the towns of Chorleywood and Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire and other towns in Buckinghamshire arrived, and founded the town of Burlington. George Fox himself had made a journey to America to verify the potential of further expansion of the early Quaker settlements. In 1682, East Jersey was also purchased by Quakers.

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With the New Jersey foothold in place, Penn pressed his case to extend the Quaker region. Whether from personal sympathy or political expediency, to Penn’s surprise, the King granted an extraordinarily generous charter which made Penn the world’s largest private (non-royal) landowner, with over 45,000 square miles (120,000 km2). Penn became the sole proprietor of a huge tract of land west of New Jersey and north of Maryland (which belonged to Lord Baltimore), and gained sovereign rule of the territory with all rights and privileges (except the power to declare war). The land of Pennsylvania had belonged to the Duke of York, who acquiesced, but he retained New York and the area around New Castle and the Eastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. In return, one-fifth of all gold and silver mined in the province (which had virtually none) was to be remitted to the King and the Crown was freed of a debt to the Admiral of £16,000, equal to £2,188,166 today.

Penn first called the area “New Wales”, then “Sylvania” (Latin for “forests” or “woods”), which King Charles II changed to “Pennsylvania” in honor of the elder Penn. On 4 March 1681, the King signed the charter and the following day Penn jubilantly wrote, “It is a clear and just thing, and my God who has given it me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation.” In 1682 in England, he drew up a Frame of Government for the Pennsylvania colony. Freedom of worship in the colony was to be absolute, and all the traditional rights of Englishmen were carefully safeguarded. Penn drafted a charter of liberties for the settlement creating a political utopia guaranteeing free and fair trial by jury, freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment and free elections.

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I did not have to think at all about which recipe to choose today; it had to be Philly cheesesteak. A cheesesteak, also known as a Philadelphia cheesesteak, Philly cheesesteak, cheesesteak sandwich, cheese steak, or steak and cheese, is a sandwich made from thinly-sliced pieces of steak and melted cheese in a long roll which – duh!—has its roots in the city of Philadelphia.

The cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century “by combining frizzled beef, onions, and cheese in a small loaf of bread,” according to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s’. The exact story behind its creation is debated, but in some accounts, Pat and Harry Olivieri originally owned a hot dog stand, and on one occasion, decided to make a new sandwich using chopped beef and grilled onions. While Pat was eating the sandwich, a cab driver stopped by and was interested in it, so he requested one for himself. After eating it, the cab driver suggested that Olivieri quit making hot dogs and instead focus on the new sandwich. They began selling this variation of steak sandwiches at their hot dog stand near South Philadelphia’s Italian Market. They became so popular that Pat opened up his own restaurant which still operates today as Pat’s King of Steaks. The sandwich was originally prepared without cheese; Olivieri claims provolone cheese was first added by Joe “Cocky Joe” Lorenza, a manager at the Ridge Avenue location.”

The meat traditionally used is thinly sliced rib-eye or top round, although other cuts of beef are also used. On a lightly oiled griddle at medium temperature, the steak slices are quickly browned and then scrambled into smaller pieces with a flat spatula. Slices of cheese are then placed over the meat, letting it melt, and then the roll is placed on top of the cheese. The mixture is then scooped up with a spatula, pressed into the roll, and cut in half.

I was once in a cheesesteak restaurant on South St with a gigantic line out the door and around the block (always a good sign). But the line moved very fast, and I calculated that the cook was averaging 20 seconds per cheesesteak. He had an assistant cooking the meat and shoveling it over to him where he chopped it, added cheese, and scooped it up into a bun. Any people fools enough to get to him without knowing what they wanted were abruptly told “next!” It was one of the best ever.

Philadelphians have great debates about the best place to get a cheesesteak with “Pat’s or Gino’s” being a common question. I have had a great many and they were all good. Some of the best are served by food trucks, especially around the University of Pennsylvania campus. They are very messy to eat usually, so standing to eat them is a good idea.

The basic cheesesteak has numerous variations including the addition of sautéed onions, peppers, mushrooms, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and ketchup. Pizza sauce can also be added in which case it is called a pizza steak. After trying many variations I have become a purist and prefer plain steak, cheese and a roll.

In Philadelphia, most cheesesteak places use Amoroso or Vilotti-Pisanelli rolls; these rolls are long, soft, and slightly salted. One source writes that “a proper cheesesteak consists of provolone or Cheez Whiz slathered on an Amoroso roll and stuffed with thinly shaved grilled meat,” while a reader’s letter to an Indianapolis magazine, lamenting the unavailability of good cheesesteaks, wrote that “the mention of the Amoroso roll brought tears to my eyes.” After commenting on the debates over types of cheese and “chopped steak or sliced,” Risk and Insurance magazine declared “The only thing nearly everybody can agree on is that it all has to be piled onto a fresh, locally baked Amoroso roll.”

Cheez Whiz, provolone, and American cheese are the most commonly used cheeses. White American cheese along with provolone cheese are the favorites due to the mild flavor and medium consistency of American cheese. Some establishments pre-melt the American cheese to achieve the creamy consistency, while others place slices over the meat, letting them melt slightly under the heat. Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan says “Provolone is for aficionados, extra-sharp for the most discriminating among them.” Geno’s owner, Joey Vento, said, “We always recommend the provolone. That’s the real cheese.” Cheez Whiz, however, has a strong following even at Gino’s.

In a 1985 interview, Pat Olivieri’s nephew Frank Olivieri said that he uses “the processed cheese spread familiar to millions of parents who prize speed and ease in fixing the children’s lunch for the same reason, because it is fast.” Cheez Whiz is “overwhelmingly the favorite” at Pat’s, outselling runner-up American by a ratio of eight or ten to one, while Geno’s claims to go through eight to ten cases of Cheez Whiz a day. I’m a provolone kinda guy.

I don’t recommend making a cheesesteak at home although I have done it. Better to go to Philadelphia and shop around. Find a joint with a long line out the door and it will be good.