Percentage of slaves in the US over time, 1790-1860.
Data source: US Census data hosted by NHGIS.org, the National History GIS project at the University of Minnesota.
NHGIS is a great resource for historical GIS research on the US, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Empire State Building after having a B-25 crash into the side. July 28, 1945
Time to return to honest living and start earning that paycheck, I suppose.
The Kerner Commission
July 27, 1967. President Johnson appoints the Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission, named after the Chairman Otto Kerner of Illinois). The task of the Kerner Commission is to investigate the recent eruptions of civil disorders in the Nation and make recommendations on ways to prevent such violence in the future.
“So, my fellow citizens, let us go about our work. Let us clear the streets of rubble and quench the fires that hatred set. Let us feed and care for those who have suffered at the rioters’ hands—but let there be no bonus or reward or salutes for those who have inflicted that suffering.
Let us resolve that this violence is going to stop and there will be no bonus to flow from it. We can stop it. We must stop it. We will stop it.
And let us build something much more lasting: faith between man and man, faith between race and race. Faith in each other and faith in the promise of beautiful America.
Let us pray for the day when “mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Let us pray-and let us work for better jobs and better housing and better education that so many millions of our own fellow Americans need so much tonight.
Let us then act in the Congress, in the city halls, and in every community, so that this great land of ours may truly be “one nation under God—with liberty and justice for all.” Good night and thank you.”
—The President’s Address to the Nation on Civil Disorders. Read the rest of the speech at the American Presidency Project.
LBJ Presidential Library photos A6106-3, A6109-17, and A6108-8; images are in the public domain.
July 26, 1948: President Harry Truman Signs Executive Order 9981
On this day in 1948, President Truman issued an executive order abolishing racial segregation in all branches of the armed forces and establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. This major piece of legislation was a welcome victory for the African American soldiers’ “Double V” campaign, in which they fought both WWII abroad and racism at home.
Photo: The Chicago Defender announces Executive Order 9981. Library of Congress Exhibition
A vision of 2000, drawn by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists to be used on cigar boxes and postcards, for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris. It’s actually kind of sad how little of this we have. Who wouldn’t want to travel by whale?
These letters are written by 6th graders from a local east side public school and were collected for EVO.
Map of cartel influence in Mexico and smuggling routes 2011
Growth of undersea fiber optic cable network
More info and interactive hi-res map here.
Dungeons and Dragons, The Devil’s Board Game,
The granddaddy of all role playing board games, Dungeons and Dragons is perhaps also the most popular and important RPG in gaming history. Introduced in 1974, D&D quickly became a hit game among youngsters, teens, and college aged gamers. By 1980 it was the most popular game board game, with an estimated 3 million players and 750,000 copies being sold annually.
Like all things new, it wasn’t unusual for D&D to earn the suspicion of older generations. Many people thought the D&D was a corrupting influence on American youth, blaming the game for moral decline and leading to psychological illness. Then in 1979 the disappearance of a college student named James Dallas Egbert III fanned the flames into a roaring inferno.
Egbert was a student of Michigan State University, and a troubled teen who was being forced by his overly controlling parents into a career he did not want to pursue. On the night August 15th, 1979 Egbert disappeared after entering a steam tunnel. A large search was conducted but the boy was never found. His parents blamed his disappearance on his favorite game; Dungeons and Dragons, claiming that in a fit of D&D induced mania their son had a psychological break from reality and went off on a real life D&D adventure. The story made national headlines, and faster than the roll of a dice the evils of D&D spread across the country. As it turned out Egbert had entered the tunnels to commit suicide, but instead ran away to become an oil worker in Louisiana. He was discovered several months later and forced to resume his education by his parents. He committed suicide a year later.
The truth behind Egbert’s disappearance did little to stem the tide of anti-D&D sentiment, especially when the cause was taken up by the growing Christian Conservative movement. Soon preachers and televangelists such as Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, and Jerry Falwell were railing against the board game at the pulpit. Fundamentalist Christians accused the game of having satanic influence, encouraging occultism, black magic, and witchcraft. Christian groups decried the game as an instrument of the devil and a propagator of evil among the nation’s youth, causing murder and suicide.
Reaction against D&D was far from rational. Christian Groups often successfully pressured schools and colleges into banning the game. A few successful groups even convinced local government officials to adopt ordinances forbidding the game within their boroughs or towns. Inspired by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), a woman named Patricia Pulling founded BADD (Bothered By Dungeons & Dragons) with the aim of banning the board game everywhere, and if that couldn’t be done, then suing the game into bankruptcy. Other groups raised money from donors, bought as many D&D sets with it as possible, and destroyed them in large bonfires.
Dungeons & Dragons was not the only victim, but a host of other 80’s icons such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Care Bears, Transformers, GI Joe, and many others faced similar accusations of satanic influence and evil. In fact, the whole country was awash in a moral and religious panic over occultism and devil worship. The subject became the focus of every talk show on TV. The corporation Proctor & Gamble was accused of being a satanic company due to its centuries old logo, while rumors abounded that it’s president donated much of the company’s profits to The Church of Satan. Hundreds of childcare workers were imprisoned on the charge of child abuse based on the claim that they had conducted “satanic rituals” on the children. Many of the kids were toddlers, who were dragged into interrogation rooms and shouted at by detectives until they broke down and admitted to being the victims of weird satanic abuse. BADD head Patricia Pulling made the claim that 8% of the American population were satanists, which at the time amounted to around 20 million people. When questioned by a reporter where she came up with that number, she claimed that 4% of teens and 4% of adults were satanists, hence 8%. There was even a ridiculous claim parroted by the media that around 1 million people a year were murdered in occult human sacrifice rituals.
The war on D&D and the satanic panic ended in the 1990’s when a number of scientific organizations debunked the rumors. Among them were studies by Centers for Disease Control and the American Association of Suicidology which found that D&D had nothing to do with murder, suicide, or anti-social behavior. Regardless the stigma is still held by a few. In 2013, 700 Club leader Rev. Pat Robertson claimed on national TV that D&D, Harry Potter, and other “demonic games” was the source of teen suicide.
An aerial view of Hiroshima, Japan, one year after the atomic bomb detonation. Taken July 20, 1946.
Mirror of Famous Women of Japan (Honchō Meifu Kagami)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Japanese, 1839 - 1892. Published by Arakawa Tōbei; 9 banchi 2 chōme, Bakuro-chō, Nihonbashi-ku, Tokyo.
Meiji Period (1868-1912)
1880 (published 1883)
Color woodcut (triptych)
Philadelphia Museum of Art