Historians created a lot of history this week. So much, in fact, that I wonder if they get paid according to piece work. The more history they make, the more they get paid. Seeing as how this is the time of year people work extra for Christmas frenzy shopping, historians are probably no exception. Following are a few samples of their fine work.
November 14, 1851 – Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick is published. This story of an obsessed ship captain initially did so well Melville had to take up a job as a customs official. He wrote in his memoirs that he should have ‘listened to mother” and become a shoe salesman.
November 15, 1806 – Lieutenant Zebulon Pike sees a mountain. This man is the best evidence that accidental success is real. As President Bush would say, Pike “misunderestimated” the size and distance of a mountain, claiming his expedition would climb the peak and return by dinner. They ended up taking shelter in a cave and never scaled the mountain. It’s called Pike’s Peak today. Later he was arrested by the Spanish military while exploring the Louisiana Territory. He was promoted to brigadier general and gained fame for “strategically exploring new lands at the expense of the Spanish.” Also, his name really was Zebulon.
November 17, 1558 – The Elizabethan age begins. Queen Elizabeth I succeeds her half-sister Bloody Mary as monarch of England. The Pope and Spain refuse to recognize her as, keeping their eyes closed while pretending to view her portrait, they said, “Nope, she doesn’t look familiar to us at all.”
History recognizes the Elizabethan age as the Age of Everything Is Evil. In the Encyclopedia of Banned Activities, published one year later, volume 17, page 937 is found articles on “bathing” and “fun sex.” Historians believe both entries explain the popularity of spiked chastity belts and why Elizabeth I was the Virgin Queen
November 18, 1987 – Congress releases its (finally) final report on the Iran-Contra affair. This 12,000 page document is the short version of why nobody in Washington D.C. “knows what a Contra is.”
November 19, 2002 – Michael Jackson is caught on video dangling his infant son over a balcony. In a press release Michael Jackson said, “Who hasn’t dangled their baby son over a balcony?”
November 19, 2003 – An arrest warrant is issued for Michael Jackson over charges of sexual misconduct with a minor. In a press release he said, “Who hasn’t slept in the same bed with a child after giving him wine?” His lawyers also released a statement, which said, “Oh dear god…”
November 20, 1962 – President Kenney announces fair housing legislation. This was a major improvement for the housing market, allowing equal opportunity for all Americans to pay exorbitant bank fees on house loans.
Whew! So many major events in history this week; I hope historians received big fat bonuses for their extra efforts.
If you would like to learn more, or more accurate, versions of what happened this week in history, check out our source at History.com .