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John’s Believe It Or Not… March 18th

Picture of John Fioravanti at the front of his classroom.

It’s Sizzling Saturday! Did you know…

* 1892 – Lord Stanley says he will donate a silver challenge cup to the champion hockey team in Canada. (The Stanley Cup (French: La Coupe Stanley) is the championship trophy awarded annually to the National Hockey League (NHL) playoff winner. Originally commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, the trophy is named for Lord Stanley of Preston, then–Governor General of Canada, who awarded it to Canada’s top-ranking amateur ice hockey club.)

Picture of the Stanley cup held aloft by a player.

*1852 Wells Fargo and Company established. (Businessmen in New York establish Wells, Fargo and Company, destined to become the leading freight and banking company of the West. The California economy boomed after the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1849, spurring a huge demand for shipping. Henry Wells and William Fargo joined with several other New York investors to create Wells, Fargo and Company to serve and profit from this demand. In July 1852, the company began transporting its first loads of freight between the East Coast and the isolated mining camps of California. The company usually used stagecoaches to move gold dust, critical business papers, and other express freight quickly. The stages could carry nine paying passengers, and if the interior seats were full, a few more hardy travellers could ride on top with the driver. The travelling conditions were far from luxurious, and passengers had to tolerate crowding, dust, cold, heat, and the occasional holdup or Indian attack. Nonetheless, the relatively fast pace of travel ensured a steady supply of customers.)Stagecoach used by Wells Fargo

* 1766 Parliament repeals the Stamp Act. (After four months of widespread protest in America, the British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act, a taxation measure enacted to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. The Stamp Act was passed on March 22, 1765, leading to an uproar in the colonies over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation. Enacted in November 1765, the controversial act forced colonists to buy a British stamp for every official document they obtained. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word “America” and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense–“Shame to him who thinks evil of it.” The colonists, who had convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalise their opposition to the impending enactment, greeted the arrival of the stamps with outrage and violence. Most Americans called for a boycott of British goods, and some organised attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest, and an appeal by Benjamin Franklin before the British House of Commons, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766. However, the same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Acts, asserting that the British government had free and total legislative power over the colonies.)

Cartoon depictingThe Repeal, or the Funeral Procession of Miss Americ-Stamp (1766). Benjamin Wilson (1721–1788),
The Repeal, or the Funeral Procession of Miss America-Stamp (1766). Benjamin Wilson (1721–1788)

* 1834 Tolpuddle Martyrs banished to Australia. (In England, six English agricultural labourers are sentenced to seven years of banishment to Australia’s New South Wales penal colony for their trade union activities. In 1833, after several years of reductions in their agricultural wages, a group of workers in Tolpuddle, a small village east of Dorchester, England, formed the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. Led by George Loveless, a farm laborer, the union rapidly grew in the area, and it was agreed that the men would not accept work for less than 10 shillings a week. With the urging of the British government, which feared a repetition of the rural unrest of 1830, local authorities arrested Loveless and five others on charges of taking an unlawful oath, citing an outdated law that had been passed in the late 18th century to deal with naval mutiny. In March 1834, these six men, including one who had never taken the oath, were sentenced to seven years imprisonment at an Australian penal colony. Public reaction throughout the country made the six into popular heroes, and in 1836, after continual agitation, the sentence against the so-called “Tolpuddle Martyrs” was finally remitted. Only one of the six returned to Tolpuddle; the rest emigrated to Canada, where one Tolpuddle Martyr–John Standfield–became mayor of his district. The popular movement surrounding the Tolpuddle controversy is generally regarded as the beginning of trade unionism in Great Britain.)

The painting of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in the Unite Hotel in Eastborne
The painting of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in the United Hotel in Eastborne.

* 1911 Irving Berlin copyrights the biggest pop song of the early 20th century. (A century ago, even before the phonograph had become a common household item, there was already a burgeoning music industry in the United States based not on the sale of recorded musical performances, but on the sale of sheet music. It was in the medium of printed paper, and not grooved lacquer or vinyl discs, that songs gained popularity in the first two decades of the 20th century, and no song gained greater popularity in that era than Irving Berlin’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Copyrighted on March 18, 1911, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” was the multimillion-selling smash hit that helped turn American popular music into a major international phenomenon, both culturally and economically.)Ad depicting a performance of the song.

Look who was born on this date!

Portrait of Chamberlain.* Neville Chamberlain in 1869. (British Prime Minister: Famous as the British Prime Minister who tried to appease Adolf Hitler (peace in our time), but in the end had to declare war in 1939.)




Portrait of Wyatt Earp.* Wyatt Earp 1848. (He was an American Old West gambler, a deputy sheriff in Pima County, and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, who took part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, during which lawmen killed three outlaw cowboys. He is often regarded as the central figure in the shootout in Tombstone, although his brother Virgil was Tombstone city marshal and Deputy U.S. Marshal that day, and had far more experience as a sheriff, constable, marshal, and soldier in combat.)

Head shot of De Klerk* F. W. de Klerk in 1932. (South African President: De Klerk held a series of ministerial posts before becoming the leader of the National Party after President P.W. Botha fell ill in early 1989. After being elected President later that year de Klerk indicated, in a famous speech to parliament, that he favoured dismantling Apartheid. He released political prisoners, such as Nelson Mandela and removed the ban on the ANC. In 1992 he won a white referendum to continue his reforms and negotiated with Mandela and the ANC, resulting in South Africa’s first free elections in 1994. For this he, somewhat controversially, and Mandela were awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. De Klerk went on to serve as Second Deputy President in Mandela’s government before retiring from politics in 1997.)

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

3 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… March 18th”

    1. Thanks, John. There are a lot of stories like that in industrialised countries – but this one fascinated me because they weren’t factory workers. As I often told my students, the workers did not spawn the union movement – the greed of the industrialists did that.

      Liked by 1 person

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