Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The American Patriot's Almanac by Bennett and Cribb

The American Patriot's Almanac

The American Patriot's Almanac
by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb

Hardback: 516 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
First Released: 2008

Buy from Amazon

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Blurb:
365 reasons to love America!

The fife and drum of history mark the time of each passing day. And within their cadence, personalities, conflicts, discoveries, ideas, and nations peal and fade. American history is no different. From the starving time of Jamestown during the Winter of 1609, through the bloody argument of the Civil War, and to today, the United States is a tale best told one day at a time.

Best-selling author and educator Dr. William J. Bennett is a master of the story that is the United States. And in The American Patriot's Almanac, Bennett distills the American drama into three hundred sixty-five entries-one for each day of the year. Fascinating in its detail and singular in its grasp of the big themes, Bennett's Almanac will make anyone a fan of history, assembling even some of the most obscure details. Even better, it will make of everyone a patriot.

I think this book would be a great gift for history buffs, people who like history trivia, and anyone interested in “firsts” (when a technology or event first happened). Each day, you read a page essay on some important event that happened in American history (including science, military, government, and sports) on this day. At the end of the essay, a list of four to seven events that happened on this day is listed. There are also sections at the end of most of the months that cover things like Flags of the Revolutionary War, How the Declaration of Independence was Written and Signed, The Gettysburg Address, and Songs of American Patriotism.

This book helped the facts of history come alive for me. For example, I knew that the Pilgrims began coming ashore at Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 21, 1620, but reading this entry while looking out at freezing cold weather (and I’m in the south!) gave the fact totally new dimensions. I also enjoyed the frequent quotes given from people in those events. It’s interesting to see how they viewed the events happening around them.

The book is well-written, easy to read, and easy to understand. Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the United States of America.

January 6 - Samuel Morse Starts a Communications Revolution

As a young man, Samuel Morse set out to become a famous painter. His ambition was "to rival the genius of a Raphael, a Michelangelo, or a Titan." He studied at the Royal Academy in London and won acclaim by painting portraits of men such as President James Monroe and the Marquis de Lafayette.

In 1832, onboard a ship crossing the ocean, Morse heard another passenger describe how electricity could pass instantly over any length of wire. He began to wonder: Could messages be sent over wires with electricity? He rushed back to his cabin, took out his drawing book, and began to sketch out his idea for a telegraph.

He knew little about electricity, but he learned as he went. He used a homemade battery and parts from an old clock to build his first models. He developed a code of long and short electrical impulses--"dots" and "dashes"--to represent letters. His invention raised the interest of Alfred Vail, a machinist who became his partner.

On January 6, 1838, the inventors were ready to test their device over two miles of wire at the Vail family ironworks in New Jersey. Vail's father scribbled "A patient waiter is no loser" on a piece of paper and handed it to his son. "If you can send this and Mr. Morse can read it at the other end, I shall be convinced," he said. A short time later, his words came out on the receiving end.

On May 24, 1844, an amazed crowd in the Supreme Court chambers in Washington, D.C., watched Samuel Morse demonstrate his telegraph by sending a message over a wire to Baltimore, 35 miles away. In Morse code, he tapped out a quote from the Bible: What hath God wrought!

Soon telegraph lines linked countries and continents, and the word entered the age of modern communication.


1759 George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis are married.

1838 Samuel Morse conducts a successful demonstration of his telegraph near Morristown, New Jersey.

1912 New Mexico becomes the forty-seventh state.

1942 The Pan American Airways Pacific Clipper arrives in New York City to complete the first round-the-world trip by a commercial airplane.

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