Everyone knows that Elvis Presley had an immense influence on popular music and culture from the mid-twentieth century to the present. But who knew that he had a presence in the first part of the nineteenth century?
Evidence of his early life is found in an image on an 1837 bank note from Philadelphia’s Manual Labor Bank.
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Private paper money was ubiquitous before the Civil War. The federal government hadn’t yet issued currency, and coins were often in short supply. Notes issued by banks, merchants, and others emerged in a great proliferation. Issuance of private paper money was not illegal, but nevertheless, some notes were much easier to receive in transactions than to spend later. The Manual Labor Bank was one of the many enterprises of Thomas W. Dyott, a purveyor of patent medicines. He needed bottles for his concoctions (which included “Infallible Worm Destroying Lozenges” and “Vegetable Nervous Cordial”), and he acquired and expanded a glass factory near Philadelphia.
Click on the image for a larger version
The central image (or vignette) on the one-dollar note shows workers in a glass factory, perhaps modeled after Dyott’s own enterprise. Right in the middle is Elvis with his white jump suit and sideburns, rolling out molten glass on the end of a blow pipe. It remains for future investigators to learn how Elvis progressed from glass blower to cultural icon.
Posted in Artifact of the Month, Numismatics | Leave a Comment »
On this day in 1970: The pregnant wife and two young daughters of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald are murdered at their Fort Bragg apartment. MacDonald blames drug-crazed hippie intruders who chant, “Acid is groovy, kill the pigs,” but prosecutors will contend it was he who clubbed and stabbed his wife and 5-year-old in a fit of rage, then killed his 2-year-old to cover up his crime.
In 1979 a federal court in Raleigh convicts MacDonald on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree murder. The case inspires a TV mini-series, “Fatal Vision,” and numerous books debating his guilt.
MacDonald remains in federal prison but continues to appeal his conviction.
Posted in On This Day | Tagged fayetteville nc, fort bragg nc, jeffrey macdonald | Leave a Comment »
On this day in 1995: After a 24-hour stakeout of his Raleigh apartment building, FBI agents capture Kevin Mitnick, “the most wanted computer hacker in the world.” Mitnick, 31, had used his sophisticated skills to worm his way into the nation’s telephone and cellular telephone networks and vandalize government, corporate and university computer systems.
He first came to national attention at age 17 when, as a prank, he tapped into a North American Air Defense Command computer.
Mitnick’s crucial mistake: breaking into the home computer of Tsutomu Shimomura, a San Diego computer security expert, who became obsessed with tracking him down.
Most recently Mitnick has worked as a security consultant.
Posted in On This Day | Tagged hackers, kevin mitnick, raleigh nc, Tsutomu Shimomura | Leave a Comment »
“To the very end of Reconstruction, blacks would insist that ‘those who freed them shall protect that freedom.’ The strength of their commitment to this principle, and to the [Freedmen's] Bureau as an embodiment of the nation’s responsibility, became clear in 1866 when President Johnson sent generals John Steedman and Joseph S. Fullerton on an inspection tour of the South. Johnson hoped to elicit enough complaints to discredit the agency, but in city after city, blacks rallied to the Bureau’s support….
“In Wilmington, North Carolina, 800 blacks crowded into the Brick Church to voice support. ‘If the Freedman Bureau was removed,’ one speaker insisted, ‘a colored man would have better sense than to speak a word in behalf of the colored man’s rights, for fear of his life.’
“Somewhat taken aback, General Steedman asked the assemblage if the army or the Freedman’s Bureau had to be withdrawn, which they would prefer to have remain in the South. From all parts of the church came the reply, ‘The Bureau.’”
– From “Reconstruction, America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877″ by Eric Foner (2002)
By 1869 the role of the Freedmen’s Bureau had been greatly diminished, and it was closed in 1872.
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged eric foner, freedmen's bureau, john steedman, joseph s fullerton, reconstruction in nc, reconstruction: america's unfinished revolution, wilmington nc | Leave a Comment »
Charlotte Democrat, September 4, 1876
We’ve seen much ink spilled in these parts on the question of whether Abraham Lincoln has North Carolina roots. In short, the most commonly-told story goes this way. Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks, arrived in North Carolina as a teenager. She lived with Abraham Enloe (also spelled Inlow) and his family in Rutherford County. At some point Enloe got Hanks pregnant. Ashamed of having fathered a child out of wedlock, Enloe moved with his family to Kentucky. He eventually sent for Hanks and paid Thomas Lincoln to marry her. Although details of the first years of Lincoln’s life are a little sketchy, his date of birth is generally accepted to be February 12, 1809. And, as this article from the Charlotte Democrat seems to suggest, that’s 2 1/2 years after a marriage certificate was issued for his parents.
Does this controversy sound vaguely familiar? Perhaps a certain New York real estate magnate-cum-television personality could look into this one. Ah, but could we trust a “Yankee carpetbagger?”
Posted in From the Stacks, History, NC Historic Newspapers, On This Day, Tar Heelia, Tar Talk | Leave a Comment »
“In early 1862, George McClellan, then general in chief of the army and a vocal opponent of a war against slavery, gave extremely conservative instructions regarding military emancipation to General Ambrose Burnside as he was about to embark on another joint army-navy operation aimed at capturing Roanoke Island:
” ‘[Say] as little as possible about politics or the negro. Merely state that the true issue for which we are fighting is the preservation of the Union and upholding the laws of the General Government….’
“Upon capturing Roanoke Island in early February, Burnside [denied intending] ‘to liberate your slaves.’ McClellan’s instructions, like Burnside’s proclamations, were technically correct: The ‘purpose’ of the Union invasion was the restoration of the Union, not the liberation of slaves. The policy of the federal government, however, was to emancipate all slaves coming within Union lines…. Occupation forces would not actively interfere with the peaceful operation of slavery among loyal farmers and planters, [or] entice slaves away from their owners, but slaves escaping to Union lines were emancipated and employed as wage laborers.
“Slavery deteriorated rapidly in the occupied parts of North Carolina thanks to the policy instructing Union forces to employ fugitives entering their lines, coupled with the prohibition against military enforcement of the fugitive slave clause.”
– From “Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865″ by James Oakes (2012)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged ambrose burnside, freedom national: destruction of slavery, george mcclelland, james oakes, roanoke island, slavery in nc, union occupation of nc | Leave a Comment »
“[Billy] DeBeck‘s primary focus as a cartoonist was always amusement rather than cultural edification, and he played a leading role in constructing a broad-based public conception of Southern hill folk as cartoonish figures.
“He was also instrumental in freely blending Ozark and Appalachian settings into a single mythical geographic location. Although [his comic strip "Barney Google & Snuffy Smith" ] was initially set in the North Carolina mountains, characters in an early episode refer to ordering store-bought clothes from the nearby big city of ‘Little Rock’ — in reality, 600 plus miles to the west. A month later, Sairy Hopkins runs away from Hootin’ Holler and after three days of wandering through the woods arrives in ‘Crystal Springs, Arkansas.’
“Such geographic confusion suggests the willingness of both the creators of the hillbilly image and the reading public to accept the conflation of hundreds of miles of distance and two diverse cultures into a homogenous fantasy mountain South — a process that would only accelerate in the work of ["Li'l Abner" cartoonist] Al Capp.”
– From “Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon” by Anthony Harkins (2003)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged al capp, anthony harkins, barney google & snuffy smith, billy debeck, hillbillies, hillbilly: a cultural history, li'l abner | Leave a Comment »