History Articles

History of the 1st Moon Landing – Apollo 11: 55 Years Ago

July 19, 2024 /
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Apollo 11


Fifty-five years ago today, at 3:17 Eastern Time, July 20, 1969, the first human stepped out of the Apollo 11 lunar module onto the moon. With the immortal words of the 38-year-old Neil Armstrong:

“That’s one small step for (a) man,
one giant leap for mankind.”

…the first man in history began an excursion on the moon that lasted over two and a half hours.

Five hundred million people watched it on television.

Everyone I knew watched it.


History of US Presidential Assassinations: Political Violence

July 18, 2024 /
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Abraham Lincoln Assassination. Image: Wikipedia


Dion‘s 1968 hit song “Abraham, Martin, and John” tells of the well-known assassinations of three American leaders.

Then it ends with a last verse:

“Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin, and John.”

… referring to the assassination of Robert Kennedy, a Democratic candidate for president in the 1968 election.


An Interview with Bill Petro

July 16, 2024 /
london copy

Author in London, on Regent Street near Piccadilly Circus. Author’s photo


In addition to writing articles on my blog, I also publish on ILLUMINATION, a large and popular publication on Medium.com. The chief editor of that publication, Dr. Mehmet Yildiz, enjoys introducing influential writers and leaders in their fields to his audience.

During his postdoctoral studies in ethnographic leadership, he conducted many interviews with senior leaders and entrepreneurs in large organizations and startup companies. He wrote:

I gained insights into their learning patterns and shared them with the younger generation as a learning and development resource. Each interview opened a new window in my life, allowing me to connect with another kind soul on this earth.

Subsequently, on Medium, he conducted similar interviews to increase the visibility of the work of influential writers who could inform, guide, and entertain readers.


Click the link to see his interview with me on Medium.


Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

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History of Bastille Day: Its Relation to the French Revolution

July 12, 2024 /
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Each year on July 14, Bastille Day commemorates the Storming of the Bastille in Paris in 1789, an important date in the French Revolution. Also known as French National Day, it features feasting, fireworks, public dancing, and an address by the French President.

ArcHowever, the center of this celebration is the largest and oldest European military parade along the Avenue of the Champs-Élysées. This wide boulevard runs through Paris and is called la plus belle avenue du monde. Lined by high-end shops and eateries, as well as the Arch of Triumph in the middle, it is undoubtedly the most beautiful avenue in the world I’ve walked along.

Bastille Day is celebrated across the globe wherever French ex-patriots, people of French ancestry, and Francophiles live.


What is its origin, how has it been celebrated, what’s the American connection, what does it mean today?

History of French Fries: Are They Really French?

July 11, 2024 /
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french fries

French Fries. Image: Wikipedia


July 13th is National French Fry Day. While no one knows who began this celebration, placing it on July 13 is significant in that the important French holiday is the next day, July 14, Bastille Day.


Did they originate in France, why are they called that, who else enjoys them, and what is their history?


History of John Calvin: The Genius of Geneva

July 10, 2024 /
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jean calvin

John Calvin. Image: Wikipedia


On July 10, 1509, in Noyon, France, Jean Cauvin, known to us as John Calvin, was born. Of all the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, none were more significant in forming biblical theology or ecclesiastic thought than this one man. Calvin’s teaching and tradition penetrated more of the world than any other Protestant tradition.

He most influenced the worldview of Western Europe, the UK, and the Americas until the 20th century. His organization of the church government in Geneva influenced the church polity of Presbyterianism. His theology influenced the Congregational (Puritan) and German and Dutch Reformed Churches. Though they did not fellowship with Calvinistic churches, some Baptists and Unitarians often contained aspects of his theology.


Who was this singular Reformer, why did he work in Geneva, what did he influence?



History of Chocolate: Why is it the Food of the Gods?

July 7, 2024 /
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cocoa powder and chocolate on marble background

Cocoa Powder and Chocolate. Image: Wikipedia

History of Chocolate: Why Is It The Food of the Gods?

On World Chocolate Day

Chocolate comes from the cacao seed, which is roasted and ground from the kernel. While its taste might be considered heavenly…


Why is chocolate called the “food of the gods”? Is it the celestial texture, the velvety tongue feel, the beatific brilliance of its taste, the divine melt-on-your-tongue sumptuousness?


History of the American Experiment: A Democracy or A Republic?

July 4, 2024 /
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Since 1776, our 248-year experiment with non-monarchical government is rather unique in history. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 officially ended the War of the American Revolution against the colonial power that had previously ruled us, Great Britain. King George III of Great Britain had the most powerful army and navy in the world, but the American Colonies threw off British control through several battles, starting in 1775.

Congress had authorized George Washington to create a Continental Army. In time, the American Revolutionary War would gain the country’s independence.

But was the country’s government going to be a democracy or a republic?


Science of the Dog Days of Summer

July 3, 2024 /
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Where do we get the term “the dog days of summer?”

Does it refer to the hottest days of Summer, when even dogs go on strike due to the heat, refusing to do their job of lying on the floor?


Look to the Skies

Alas, no. The answer is “in our stars” or, rather, in a constellation. Astronomically, the time beginning July 3rd and running through August 11th is associated with the rising – above the eastern horizon around dawn – of the star system Sirius, commonly called the “Dog Star.” I’m serious when I say the Greeks connected this occurrence with heat, lethargy, thunderstorms, mad dogs, and generally bad luck. Its association with fever could only be remedied with more cowbell.


History of Independence Day: Was the Declaration of Independence really signed on July 4, 1776?

July 3, 2024 /
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Declaration of IndependenceHISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Day, or the Fourth of July, celebrates the adoption by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the severance of the American colonies’ allegiance to Great Britain. It is the most significant secular holiday in the United States, observed in all the states, territories, and dependencies.

Was it really signed on July 4, 1776?


History of Alexander Hamilton

July 2, 2024 /
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Alexander Hamilton


Alexander Hamilton has gained popularity recently, in large part due to the 2015 Broadway musical “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

What is the real story behind this remarkable revolutionary? What kind of leader was he? How was his background similar and different from the other Founding Fathers?


Birth of Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton was born in Charlestown, Nevis, in the Caribbean, out of wedlock to Rachel Faucette, of British & French Huguenot (French Protestant) descent. She had been married to and had a son with Johann Michael Lavien when she fell in love with the Scottish James Hamilton. She left her husband and their son and moved in with James Hamilton, where she lived with him in Nevis and on St. Croix. Alexander took his natural father’s surname.

Though he owned his paternity of Alexander, his Scottish father had abandoned them when Alexander was around ten when he’d learned her original husband intended to divorce her on the grounds of “adultery and desertion,” hoping to “spare her the charge of bigamy.” His mother ran a small provisions shop operated by the five female slaves she owned. When she died of yellow fever when he was 13, she left him 34 books, and he was mostly self-educated.


History of Canada Day: July 1

July 1, 2024 /
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As the U.S. will soon celebrate its Independence Day, Canadians have a celebration of their own. Canada Day (Fête du Canada) marks the anniversary of July 1, 1867, when the three independent colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, were united into a single dominion.

The British North American Act, known today as the Constitution Act, officially confederated Canada on that date. While it was still a subject of the British Empire, Dominion Day, as it was originally called (or Le Jour de la Confederation in French) marked this new beginning. It was renamed to Canada Day in 1982.