The Lost Amendment?

On December 6, 1865, America officially abolished slavery with the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, some people, known as Thirteeners, believe that this was actually the 14th Amendment. The real 13th Amendment, they argue, has been erroneously removed from existence. What is the Lost Titles of Nobility Amendment?

The Titles of Nobility Amendment?

In 1983, David Dodge and Tom Dunn were searching through public records in Maine. They came across an 1825 copy of the U.S. Constitution. To their surprise, it contained a strange 13th Amendment, which is now referred to as the Titles of Nobility Amendment. For the next few years, Dodge and Dunn searched archives across the United States. They recovered 18 documents printed between 1822 and 1860 that also included this previously unknown amendment. And slowly, a bizarre story began to unfold.

In the early 1800s, American citizens were extremely concerned about foreign involvement in their newly formed government. For example, the marriage of Jerome Bonaparte (Napoleon’s younger brother) and Betsy Patterson caused some controversy when they gave birth to a baby boy. Although Patterson was an American, she wanted her child to have a title from France. She may have even wanted a title for herself, reflected in the fact that texts at the time referred to her as the “Duchess of Baltimore.”

The idea of its citizens holding allegiance to another country didn’t sit well with the young American government. And the idea of such a person holding a U.S. political office was unthinkable. Thus, the Titles of Nobility Amendment was created in order to modify the following section of the Constitution:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” ~ Article I, Section 9

The amendment, shown below, would’ve extended the law to all citizens. Furthermore, it would’ve increased the law’s domain, making it illegal for a citizen to receive any sort of honor or title from a foreign country without the consent of Congress.

“If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain, any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.” ~ Titles of Nobility Amendment

Was the Titles of Nobility Amendment ever Ratified?

In order for a U.S. amendment to become law, it must receive support from two-thirds of the members of each house of Congress or be approved by a convention called by two-thirds of all states. Afterward, it must be ratified by either three-fourths of the states or by three-fourths of the convention. So, how did the Titles of Nobility Amendment do?

Pretty well, it turns out. The amendment passed both houses of Congress by large margins. Then it was presented to the states. At the time, there were 17 states so 13 votes were needed for ratification. But by that time, America was engrossed in the War of 1812 and the amendment was forgotten. When the issue was raised again by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in 1818, he discovered that twelve separate states had voted for ratification, three had rejected it, and one had taken no action. The sole remaining state, Virginia, apparently never replied. So, how did it end up in all those copies of the Constitution? Is it possible that Virginia did ratify the bill and this oversight was corrected?

Dodge thought so. His research led him to a rather significant discovery. On March 12, 1819, Virginia’s legislature published its own official edition of the Constitution and amendments. That edition contained the mysterious Titles of Nobility Amendment.

“Knowing they were the last state necessary to ratify the Amendment, the Virginians had every right [to] announce their own and the nation’s ratification of the Amendment by publishing it on a special edition of the Constitution, and so they did.” ~ David Dodge

The Lost Titles of Nobility Amendment?

Wow. So, if Dodge is correct, how could the United States, in effect, lose an amendment? According to a 2010 Newsweek article on the subject, it’s not so hard to believe.

“If you find it hard to believe that an amendment to the Constitution could have been in effect for four decades and then mysteriously excised and forgotten, well, the times were different. There was no single reference copy of the Constitution to which scribes with quill pens ceremoniously added amendments as they were ratified.”

Of course, Dodge’s evidence is fairly circumstantial. And Jol A. Silversmith, who has written extensively on the subject, argues that by 1819, 13 votes wouldn’t have been enough since other states had joined the Union. A quick check shows that America had 21 states as of March 12, 1819, which means that 16 votes would’ve been required for ratification.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

David Dodge and other proponents of the Titles of Nobility Amendment believe that a greater conspiracy is at work. They think that the amendment was deliberately excised due to the fact that it would’ve made it illegal for lawyers to hold political office since the British Bar refers to American lawyers as “Esquire.” Silversmith and others consider this crazy due to the fact that Esquire carries no special privileges and is not inheritable, among other things.

Interestingly enough, the Titles of Nobility Amendment is still technically pending since its time for ratification was never limited by the 1810 Congress. In order to pass, it would require another 26 votes although I imagine that state legislatures that had already voted on the amendment would demand a revote. In total, 38 votes would be needed in order for the bill to become law.

You may scoff at the idea of modern society passing a law that’s been in limo for over two hundred years. But there is precedence. After all, how do you think the 27th Amendment was passed?

How Wild was the Wild West?

The “Wild West” is an expression used to refer to life in the western United States during the late 1800s. For decades, films and books have depicted the Wild West as a place of gunfights, outlaws, and mass disorder. But recent scholarship shows otherwise. It turns out that the Wild West may not have been so wild after all.

Was the Wild West a Powder Keg waiting to Explode?

The Wild West has long been a staple of American culture. Immortalized in dime novels and Hollywood movies, it has long been depicted as lawless, violent, and chaotic. And a cursory look at trends taking place in the American west during the 1800s would seem to confirm that image.

The Wild West was populated with strangers from various backgrounds, countries, and nationalities who wanted to get their hands on gold. For the most part, they didn’t intend to stay in the area – they wanted to get rich and get back home. Most individuals carried guns. And to top things off, there wasn’t much in the way of official government to keep the peace. At first glance, the Wild West appears to be a power keg filled with a toxic mixture of greed, racism, and unregulated firearms. To top it off, the area exhibited little in the way of long-term community or government law enforcement.

How Wild was the Wild West?

One might expect such a situation to lead to violence and daily gunfights. But a growing body of research suggests the opposite – that the Wild West may have actually been quite peaceful and prosperous. Let’s take a look at some of the strange truths we now know about the Wild West.

  • Bank robberies were rare: According to historian Larry Schweikart, bank robberies were almost non-existent in the Wild West. From 1859-1900, there were only about a dozen or so robberies. In fact, such crimes only became a problem during the 1920s when automobiles allowed for easy escapes and physical security became less important to a bank’s success due to the Federal Reserve assuming responsibility for the system.
  • Private agencies provided law and order: According to Terry Anderson and P.J. Hill’s book, An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild, Wild West, “private agencies provided the necessary basis for an orderly society in which property was protected and conflicts were resolved.” Such agencies included land clubs, cattlemen’s associations, mining camps, and wagon trains.
  • Homicides were also relatively rare: In his book Cattle Towns, Robert Dykstra examined five major cattle towns between 1870 and 1885. He found that only forty-five murders took place over the fifteen years.

All this is not to say that hatred, violence, and murder didn’t exist during the Wild West but merely to say that the amounts of it that occurred were far less than has been portrayed in the popular media.

Why was the Wild West relatively Tame?

This can be partly credited to the establishment of private organizations. According to historian Tom Woods, private land clubs created their own laws to “define and protect property rights in land.” Wagon trains that transported people to the west had their own constitutions and judicial systems. Mining camps formed contracts to restrain their own behavior and developed their own legal systems. Those who didn’t approve were free to leave and mine elsewhere. Cattlemen’s associations also wrote constitutions and “hired private ‘protection agencies’ to deter cattle rustling.”

The result was peace…a peace that only began to deteriorate once formal government was introduced into the region…a peace that astounded observers of the time:

“Appeals were taken from one to the other, papers certified up or down and over, and recognized, criminals delivered and judgments accepted from one court by another, with a happy informality which it is pleasant to read of. And here we are confronted by an awkward fact: there was undoubtedly much less crime in the two years this arrangement lasted than in the two which followed the territorial organization and regular government.” ~ J.H. Beadle, Western Wilds (1860)

What about Violence toward the Plains Indians?

Now of course, this just covers the settlers themselves. Treatment of the Plains Indians was marked with violence right? Well, according to Woods, the first half of the 19th century was notable for relatively peaceful trading between the Indians and the settlers. It wasn’t until the second half of the century that violence became the norm. And much of that violence “sprang from…U.S. government policies” rather than civil society. More specifically, at the end of the Civil War, “white settlers and railroad corporations were able to socialize the costs of stealing Indian lands by using violence supplied by the U.S. Army.” In other words, rather than paying for land, politicians beginning with Abraham Lincoln were determined to seize it on behalf of the Union Pacific Railroad. In the process, they enriched themselves as well as numerous prominent American families.

Unfortunately, that seizure came at a high cost…the vicious and deliberate extermination of the Plains Indians by forces led by former Civil War generals. General William Sherman sometimes referred to the affair as “the final solution of the Indian problem.” As many as 45,000 Indians, including women and children, died between 1862-1890 as a result of this government-initiated campaign.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, it would appear that civil society in the Wild West was actually rather tame. The “wild” was supplied by the U.S. government’s so-called Indian Wars, which served to permanently alter the settlers’ once-friendly trading relationships with the Plains Indians.

But why does popular culture continue to portray the typical Wild West city as being full of death and violence? It turns out that the problem begins at the academic level.

“The ‘frontier-was-violent’ authors are not, for the most part, attempting to prove that the frontier was violent. Rather, they assume that it was violent and then proffer explanations for that alleged violence.” ~ Roger McGrath, Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier

Anarcho-capitalists often use the Wild West as an example of how individuals can foster a peaceful existence in the absence of government. Essentially, settlers created their own institutions in order to deal with the very specific problems they faced. Violence was relatively minimal in civil society. But the arrival of formal government brought with it a culture of violence as well as a wave of violent genocide that haunts us to this day.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Wild West Coverage

The Year without a Summer?

In 1816, average global temperatures fell. A strange fog drifted across the Northern Hemisphere. Sunlight dimmed. Crops died due to unusual amounts of dust. What caused “The Year without a Summer?”

What was the Year without a Summer?

“The Year without a Summer” was indeed a strange year. It was most apparent in the northeastern United States, Atlantic Canada, and western Europe. These regions experienced a heavy summer frost which killed off crops, summer snow, persistent fog which reduced and reddened the sunlight, icy lakes and rivers, and rapid temperature changes. In turn, these factors led to rising food prices, famine, riots, arson, looting, disease, and death.

What caused the Year without a Summer?

The Year without a Summer lasted past 1816, into 1817, and possibly into 1818 as well. What could’ve caused such an extended period of climate change?

Well, most scientists attribute the event to the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. Incidentally, Mount Tambora was the largest eruption of the last 1,300 years and one of the three largest eruptions of the last 2,000 years. Along with four other significant eruptions between 1812 and 1814, Mount Tambora kicked up huge amounts of volcanic dust into the upper atmosphere, which served to block incoming sunlight. Making matters worse, this occurred during a period of significantly reduced solar activity.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The Year without a Summer was one of the most horrible ones in recent history. But even in bad times, good things can sometimes arise. The volcanic dust in the upper atmosphere led to a period of incredible sunsets, which were immortalized in J.M.W. Turner’s paintings (including the one at the beginning of this post). The vast crop failures also caused American families to seek out better growing conditions. This led to the settling of western and central New York as well as the Upper Midwest.

Joseph Smith’s family was one of those who left New England. His move to Palmyra, NY was an essential step in his founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (it should be noted that past periods of violent climate change have often resulted in the growth of new religions). Also, large amounts of rain in Switzerland led Mary Shelley and John William Polidori to stay indoors for most of the summer. During that time, Shelley wrote Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus while Polidori wrote The Vampyre.

Still, the event must be remembered for the awe-inspiring destruction it wrought throughout the world. In many ways, it’s reminiscent of the Black Death, which may have been caused by the loading of cometary dust into the upper atmosphere. “The Year without a Summer” serves as a reminder of how much we depend on nature for our survival…and how easily it can be taken away.

What is the Report from Iron Mountain?

In 1967, Dial Press published a book called Report from Iron Mountain: On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace. It remains one of the most controversial works of all time. Who wrote the Report from Iron Mountain? What does it say? And most importantly…is it real?

What is the Report from Iron Mountain?

The Report from Iron Mountain purports to be the findings of a 15-man Special Study Group. It hints that it was commissioned in 1963 by the Department of Defense and was produced by the Hudson Institute, which is located at the base of Iron Mountain in New York. The purpose of the supposed top-secret study was “…to determine, accurately and realistically, the nature of the problems that would confront the United States if and when a condition of ‘permanent peace’ should arrive, and to draft a program for dealing with this contingency.”

The Report from Iron Mountain states that from a historical perspective, war has been the only reliable way for a government to perpetuate itself. Fear of an enemy will cause civilians to accept government intrusion into their lives. Also, war creates loyalty for political leaders. But during times of peace, people begin to turn against taxes and intrusion.

“The war system not only has been essential to the existence of nations as independent political entities, but has been equally indispensable to their stable internal political structure. Without it, no government has ever been able to obtain acquiescence in its ‘legitimacy,’ or right to rule its society. The possibility of war provides the sense of external necessity without which no government can long remain in power. The historical record reveals one instance after another where the failure of a regime to maintain the credibility of a war threat led to its dissolution, by the forces of private interest, of reactions to social injustice, or of other disintegrative elements.” ~ Report from Iron Mountain

The Report from Iron Mountain sought to find a credible substitute for war and considered several ideas such as an alien invasion. However, aliens were ultimately discarded for an “environmental-pollution model.” In passages that are eerily prescient of the current global warming debate, the Report proposes that people would be willing to accept a lower standard of living, higher taxes, and increased governmental intrusion in order to “save Mother Earth.”

Was the Report from Iron Mountain Real?

As you can imagine, the Report from Iron Mountain sent giant waves rippling throughout the world back in 1967. It became a New York Times bestseller and was translated into fifteen languages. Its authenticity quickly came under question, a debate that continues to this day.

On one hand, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it’s an authentic document. In 1967, the U.S. News and World report claimed that the report was real and that it had confirmation to that effect. In 1976, John Kenneth Galbraith (under a pseudonym) wrote in the Washington Post that he had been invited to participate in the Special Study Group.

“As I would put my personal repute behind the authenticity of this document, so would I testify to the validity of its conclusions. My reservation relates only to the wisdom of releasing it to an obviously unconditioned public.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

On the other hand, Leonard Lewin, who wrote the original introduction to the book, came forward in 1972 and claimed to be the author. He said that it was meant to be a satire. Supposedly, he got the idea from a New York Timesarticle that discussed how a “peace scare” led to a stock-market sell-off.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, who wrote the Report? In all likelihood, Lewin was indeed the author. In 1990, Liberty Lobby published its own edition, claiming that the study was in the public domain since it was a U.S. government document. Lewin sued for copyright infringement and received an undisclosed settlement.

The bigger question regards its authenticity. Most scholars consider it a hoax. Still, numerous groups continue to believe that the Report from Iron Mountain is genuine and that Lewin only called it a hoax on orders from the United States government. Others would say that whether its authentic or not misses the point. What really matters is that the ideas presented in the document are no longer just ideas…they are rapidly becoming a reality.

The Bernie Madoff…of Memorabilia?

In 1999, Barry Halper, often considered the “Father of Baseball Collecting,” auctioned off his entire collection. It sold for a whopping $37.5 million. But since that time, troubling questions have arisen, questions that have led many people to ask: Was Barry Halper the Bernie Madoff of memorabilia?

Barry Halper: Legendary Collector of Baseball Memorabilia?

Back in the 1980s, I collected old baseball cards with the Guerrilla Dad. And I knew about Barry Halper. His collection was legendary and even featured in the April 1987 issue of Smithsonian Magazine, which still sits on my bookshelf. Many nights I paged through the magazine, staring wistfully at his magnificent memorabilia. Little did I know that, like baseball itself, it may have been far less innocent than it appeared.

Barry Halper was born in 1939. He spent most of his adult life working for his family’s paper supply company. During that time, he accumulated a large fortune, which he used to build one of the greatest collections of baseball memorabilia ever assembled. According to the Smithsonian Magazine article, he owned more than a million baseball cards in 1987, along with over 900 uniforms and over 3,000 autographed baseballs. But while Halper enjoyed positive press, others viewed him with a large degree of skepticism. There were vague reports of missing photographs and documents from libraries in New York and Boston. Still, no one could prove anything.

Halper auctioned off his collection in 1999, receiving $7.5 million from the Baseball Hall of Fame and $30 million from Sotheby’s. The Baseball Hall of Fame got first pick, selecting such items as a Shoeless Joe Jackson jersey and Ty Cobb’s diary. In September 1999, these pieces were showcased as the “Barry Halper Gallery” within the Hall of Fame itself.

Was Barry Halper the Bernie Madoff of Memorabilia?

Halper passed away in 2005. But that didn’t stop the questions. Then in 2010, a report published by Peter J. Nash led the Hall of Fame to admit that Halper’s Jackson jersey was a forgery. The scandal exploded on the collecting world. As Nash describes on his Hauls of Shame blog:

The autograph Halper said he got from the Babe in 1948 has been deemed a forgery by experts; so has Ruth’s letter authenticating his alleged lock of hair (the hair is bogus, too). In 2009, Ernie Harwell reported, in the Detroit-Free Press, that the FBI determined Halper’s Ty Cobb’s diary was a forgery, and in 2010 expert Ron Keurajian determined it was likely forged by his biographer, Al Stump. SABR researcher Ron Cobb proved in an article he published last August that Cobb’s mother shot his father with a pistol, not with Halper’s shotgun that was featured in SI. Ollie O’Mara’s son claims that his father never sold Halper any uniforms and that his father was a fugitive from 1950 to 1966 and only saved a scrapbook from his playing days with the Dodgers. The Last Will of Tommy McCarthy, that rounded out Halper’s Hall of Famer autograph collection, has been confirmed as stolen from a Boston Probate Court.

It turned out that many of Halper’s most spectacular items were forgeries or stolen property. Other items were misrepresented. For example, a glove once owned by Lou Gehrig was advertised as his last one, even though the player who gave it to Halper never made that claim. And the lies didn’t stop there…even Halper’s claim of playing baseball at the University of Miami were proven false.

All told, at least $4 million of Halper’s collection is now considered “misrepresented or outright forgeries.” Another quarter million or so was stolen from the previously mentioned libraries in New York and Boston.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Barry Halper was idolized in life. But in death, he has become a bad memory. People who purchased items from him over the years are only now finding out that they are in possession of forgeries or stolen property. And unfortunately, the evidence is mounting that Halper knew what he was doing all along.

Recently, Bernie Madoff made news for running what has been described as the largest Ponzi scheme in history. While Barry Halper’s scam doesn’t quite fit that description, the comparison is apt. His wing at the Hall of Fame still exists today, at least in name. It seems likely that will change soon, especially if Fay Vincent, an Honorary Director of the Baseball Hall of Fame, has anything to do with it.

“Given the evidence that has come to light in the past several years, the Hall of Fame should immediately reconsider the naming of that gallery to honor Barry Halper. I do not think he deserves the honor.” ~ Fay Vincent, Former Commissioner of Major League Baseball

Did Protestors Spit on Vietnam Veterans?

It’s a well-known story. After serving in the Vietnam War, a veteran returned home to America only to find himself viciously attacked at the airport by anti-war protestors. He was called “Baby killer” among other names. And then someone invariably stepped forward and spat directly into his face. There’s just one problem with that story. According to sociologist Jerry Lembcke, it’s nothing more than a myth…a modern stab in the back legend.

Chaos!

Before we get started here, I wanted you to know that I released my first novel, Chaos, on Monday. It’s an adventure thriller along the lines of Indiana Jones or books written by Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, or Steve Berry. If you haven’t already done so, please consider picking up a copy of Chaos at one of the following locations:

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords * Paperback

Did Protestors Spit on Vietnam Veterans?

Back in 1998, Lembcke wrote The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam. In it, he made the rather extraordinary claim that the shabby treatment of Vietnam veterans as they deboarded their planes was nothing more than a “stab in the back legend,” concocted to discredit the anti-war movement. He followed that up in 2005 with a widely-read opinion piece in the Boston Globe.

To make a long story short, Lembcke researched news reports from the late 1960s and early 1970s. He failed to find a single story about protestors spitting on veterans. However, he did find a substantial increase in claims during the 1980s. He examined these claims and found them largely lacking in credibility for two reasons.

  1. Lack of Means: “GIs landed at military airbases, not civilian airports, and protesters could not have gotten onto the bases and anywhere near deplaning troops.”
  2. Lack of Proof: “A 1971 Harris poll conducted for the Veterans Administration found over 90 percent of Vietnam veterans reporting a friendly homecoming. Far from spitting on veterans, the antiwar movement welcomed them into its ranks and thousands of veterans joined the opposition to the war.”

Lembcke speculates that the reason for the persisting image is that pro-war Hawks wished to blame the loss of the Vietnam War on the anti-war protestors. This would make it a variation of the “Stab in the Back legend.”

A Modern Stab in the Back Legend?

But Lembcke takes it one step further. He observed that many of the stories cast girls in the role of spitters. As such, he states his opinion that the stories were mythical projections in the Freudian sense. In other words, soldiers created these stab in the back stories as manifestations of fears that they had lost their masculinity by fighting in a losing effort.

Interestingly enough, there is some historical precedent that could back up this stab in the back theory. Apparently, many German soldiers after World War I and French soldiers after the defeat at Dien Bien Phu shared stories of being rejected by women and being ashamed of their military service.

Rebuttal to the Stab in the Back Legend Theory?

His book caused a firestorm in 2007 when Jack Shafer published an article for Slate Magazine entitled, “Newsweek Throws the Spitter.” Several conservative-oriented blogs noticed the story and began to attack Lembcke’s research on this modern Stab in the Back legend. Most notably, Jim Lindgren wrote several pieces for The Volokh Conspiracy, one of which contained numerous newspaper articles from the 1960s and 1970s that discussed veterans who’d been spat upon.

The rising debate brought to prominence a book written by Bob Greene in 1989 entitled Homecoming: When the Soldiers Returned from Vietnam. Greene, who’d worked at the Chicago Tribune, compiled the book from letters he’d solicited from veterans. His research included 63 stories that involved a veteran being spat upon and 69 stories from veterans who believed that no veteran had ever been spat upon. Greene ended up questioning many of the accounts of spitting but ultimately decided “there were simply too many letters, going into too fine detail, to deny the fact.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, what are we to make of all this information? First, it’s impossible to prove the negative. Thus, we can never definitively proof that no Vietnam veteran was ever spat upon. Second, there is no physical evidence of a spitting attack. No pictures, no video, nothing. It’s all eyewitness accounts.

It seems probable that it must’ve happened somewhere, sometime. I find it hard to imagine that no soldier was ever spat upon by an anti-war protestor. The real question is whether it occurred with any degree of frequency. Did it happen all the time? Or was it just isolated examples?

Personally, I would guess it happened infrequently. True, Lindgren has unearthed stories of spitting from the period and thus, seemingly upended part of Lembcke’s thesis. But these are a drop in the bucket compared to the over 500,000 American soldiers that fought in some capacity during that war.

The issue of spitting during the Vietnam War may seem small, even irrelevant today. However, it’s important to remember the role that the spitting imagery has played in America’s current military conflicts. In many ways, this stab in the back legend has led to the current “Support the Troops” slogan, which is based on the idea that we don’t what to treat today’s soldiers like we treated the Vietnam Veterans. And some would argue that “Support the Troops” is really nothing more than a slogan used by pro-war Hawks to intimidate anti-war Doves and maintain support for wars that would otherwise be increasingly unpopular.

“With no more context than that, one of my students said she was undecided about the war, but as long as the troops were fighting it was really important to ‘support the troops and we have to support the mission…’ Now is not the time to be critical of the war, it was, in her mind…all mixed together.” ~ Jerry Lembcke, How the Myth of Spat on Vets Holds Back the Anti-War Movement

The Secret of the Lost Time Capsule?

Several years ago, New York University made plans to demolish the Bellevue Hospital Medical College building in New York City. In the process, it discovered the existence of a mysterious time capsule which had gone undetected for more than 100 years. A few days ago, this capsule was finally opened. What did scholars find inside of it?

The 1897 Bellevue Hospital Time Capsule?

In 1897, a bacteriologist named Edward Dunham buried the time capsule inside the cornerstone of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College building. After being recovered from the concrete, the 15-pound capsule was handed over to Dr. Martin Blaser, a well-known bacteriologist and chair of New York University’s Department of Medicine.

Dr. Blaser opened up the box and discovered the typical time capsule stuff…as well as something a little more unusual…

“In addition to papers from that time and materials from students from the Bellevue Medical College and the newspaper the New York Sun from 1897, it also had a test tube that had some bacterial spores in it that were gotten and cultured from a patient in 1896.” ~ Dr. Martin Blaser

More specifically, the sealed Pasteur tube contained spores of a bacterial strain culled from a 23 year-old female patient. The microbes, originally known as Bacillus aerogenes capsulatus and now known as Clostridium perfringens, are “believed to be the oldest identified spores of a species of bacterium, according to an article published in the New York Times on Nov. 14, 1897.”

Ancient Bacteria Spores?

During the late 1800s, these microbes were responsible for infections that sometimes led to gangrene. They still exist today, residing in the intestines of most people. However, these days the only damage they cause is the occasional food poisoning.

While interesting in their own right, the spores may prove useful to modern science. They come from the pre-antibiotic era, which means they’ve been untouched by decades of modern medicine.

“We are interested in the question of whether seventy years of antibiotics is changing the organisms that live in the body. The organism that was put in the time capsule was a normal organism that lives in the human body. By having this organism and comparing it to present day organisms, we may have a chance to answer the question of whether our own organisms are changing or not.” ~ Dr. Martin Blaser

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

A team led by Dr. Blaser is attempting to wake these hardy spores and get them growing again. Assuming they’re still alive, the process shouldn’t take much more than 24 hours. Assuming all goes well, the team should garner valuable knowledge about the evolution of bacteria as well as the effects of modern medication on that evolution.

At this point, I’m sure some of you are wondering: “Are they insane?” After all, the idea of reviving a pre-antibiotic bacteria sits at the core of numerous pandemic-based thrillers. But in reality, the risk of anything going wrong is small…very small…

Isn’t it?

U.S. Invasion Plans for…Canada?

In 1930, the United States formally approved “War Plan Red.” Although never put into action, the plan caused a major international rift when it was declassified in 1974. Did the United States really plan to go to war…with Great Britain?

War Plan Red: The Most Sensitive Document on Earth?

My how times have changed. Today Great Britain is viewed by American political leaders as its greatest ally. But back in 1930, opinions were decidedly different. Americans harbored suspicious feelings toward its former ruler. In addition, Great Britain was indebted to America to the tune of £9 billion thanks to the so-called “Great War.”

But those things paled in comparison to the brutal, long-term economic and political oil war that was being waged between wealthy interests from both countries. On one side stood the Rockerfellers and Standard Oil, which had previously held dual monopolies in international crude and export oil markets. On the other side, the Morgans and the Rothschilds stood alongside the newly-formed British Royal Dutch-Shell company. In many ways, the tensions between the two nations can be directly traced to this expanding “oil war.”

As such, the American military prepared War Plan Red – a document once considered the “most sensitive on earth.” Military officers thought that in the event of war, Great Britain would most likely stage attacks from the north. So, America proposed an invasion of British-controlled Canada.

How did War Plan Red Work?

According to the initial plan, one force would swarm the port city of Halifax, effectively cutting off British support. A second force would seize power plants near Niagara Falls. Then troops would invade Canada in a three-pronged approach while the Navy annexed the Great Lakes and blockaded Canadian ports. Massive bombing raids and chemical weapon deployment would accompany the attacks.

In February 1935, the plan was updated and “the U.S. Congress authorised $57 million to be allocated for the building of three secret airfields on the U.S. side of the Canadian border, with grassed-over landing strips to hide their real purpose.” Also, “America staged its largest-ever military maneuvers, moving troops to and installing munitions dumps at Fort Drum, half an hour away from the eastern Canadian border.”

It’s impossible to know what exactly would’ve happened in the event of war. But the world as we know it would probably look very different today.

“Using available blueprints for this war, modern-day military and naval experts now believe the most likely outcome of such a conflict would have been a massive naval battle in the North Atlantic with very few actual deaths, but ending with Britain handing Canada over to the U.S. in order to preserve our vital trade routes.” ~ David Gerrie, Daily Mail

Defense Scheme No. 1: Canada’s Version of War Plan Red?

By the way, don’t feel too bad for Canada here. It turns out Canada had its own version of War Plan Red, which it called “Defense Scheme No. 1.” Created in 1921, it detailed a preemptive invasion of America in the event of a possible war. The idea was to send “flying columns” to Seattle, Great Falls, Minneapolis, and Albany. The Canadian military hoped this would distract and delay the more powerful American military, thus providing ample time for British forces to arrive. This plan was ultimately discarded in 1928.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Interestingly enough, War Plan Red was just one of numerous contingency plans that are now known as the Rainbow Plans. For instance, War Plan Black was created before World War I to deal with a possible conflict with Germany. War Plan Orange considered how best to attack Japan. And most frightening, War Plan White was designed to suppress a domestic revolt.

As for War Plan Red, it became moot when World War II broke out and America threw its weight behind the Allies. But for a few short years, the economic ambitions and political power of the world’s largest oil industrialists nearly led to war. Such a war would’ve altered relations between the two countries…impacted the global balance of power…and changed the world forever.

Who Kidnapped Lindbergh’s Baby?

In 1932, famed pilot Charles Lindbergh’s 18-month old son was abducted and subsequently killed. After an exhaustive investigation and trial, Bruno Hauptmann was found guilty and executed for the crime. But despite everything, he maintained his innocence until the end. Did the police and courts get it wrong? If so, who kidnapped the Lindbergh baby?

The Missing Lindbergh Baby?

On March 1, 1932, Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne Morrow were preparing to spend the night at their newly-finished home near Hopewell, New Jersey. Around 8:00 pm, Anne and her nursemaid Betty Gow put Charles Jr. to bed. Two hours later, Gow went to check on the Lindbergh baby and discovered that he was missing.

Lindbergh proceeded to search the room and discovered an envelope. The oddly-misspelled note inside left little doubt as to what had happened:

Have 50.000$ redy 25.000$ in 20$ bills 15.000$ in 10$ bills and 10.000$ in 5$ bills After 2–4 days we will inform you were to deliver the mony. We warn you for making anyding public or for notify the Police The child is in gut care. Indication for all letters are singnature and three holes.

Two intersecting blue circles were at the bottom of the note. The overlapping area was colored red and a hole had been punched in its middle. Two additional holes were punched on the left and right sides of the design. It quickly became clear to all involved that the purpose of this “singnature” was to allow the Lindbergh’s to recognize communications from the kidnappers.

After the police arrived, they searched the area and found a muddy footprint as well as part of a makeshift ladder. A fingerprint expert was able to gather plenty of prints from the rungs. Unfortunately, many of them had been tainted by the growing crowd of observers.

Who Kidnapped the Lindbergh Baby?

Lindbergh thought the kidnapping had been conducted by mobsters and decided to take matters into his own hands. He got in contact with numerous crooked figures who promised to act as intermediaries between him and the kidnappers. Former FBI agent Gaston Means claimed he knew where to find the Lindbergh baby and managed to convince socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who owned the Hope Diamond at the time, to provide him with $100,000 in ransom money. He promptly absconded with the money (he was later caught and convicted of Grand Larceny). Even jailed gangster Al Capone tossed his hat in the ring, offering his assistance in finding the Lindbergh baby in exchange for his freedom (an offer that was quickly denied).

Eventually, Lindbergh sought help from Mickey Rosner, who was reputed to have underworld contacts. However, unbeknownst to him, Rosner was secretly working with the New York Daily News. This backfired horribly when Rosner got his hands on a second ransom letter for the Lindbergh baby. He sent it to the Daily News where it was leaked to the public. From that point on, it became difficult to determine if communications were from the kidnappers or hoaxers.

A Tragic End to the Lindbergh Baby?

Soon after, Lindbergh came into contact with a retired school teacher named Dr. John Condon. Condon had seemingly been in contact with the kidnappers and offered to help. Condon met with a kidnapper named “John” who claimed that the Lindbergh baby was healthy and being held on a boat. As proof, “John” provided the baby’s sleeping suit, which Lindbergh identified.

On April 2, Condon met again with “John” and gave him $50,000 in a wooden box. The carefully-selected ransom money consisted of gold certificates, which were increasingly rare due to President Roosevelt’s new currency regulations. Also, the police had recorded the serial numbers of each bill. Condon made the drop while Lindbergh watched from a distance and in return, received a note telling him where to find the Lindbergh baby. Unfortunately, the note gave false instructions.

On May 12, 1932, Charles Jr.’s body was discovered in a tree grove just a few miles from the Lindbergh’s home. The child had been killed by a blow to the head.

Did Bruno Hauptmann Kidnap and Murder the Lindbergh Baby?

With no other alternative, the police focused their efforts on tracking the ransom money. A year later, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 which, in effect, forced American citizens to turn in “all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates” to the Federal Reserve.

On September 18, 1934 a gas station attendant received a $10 gold certificate as payment. Since Roosevelt’s Executive Order made such certificates illegal to possess, the attendant wrote down the customer’s license plate number. After the bank identified the certificate as one from the ransom drop, the police tracked down the license to a German immigrant named Bruno Hauptmann.

Upon Hauptmann’s arrest, police discovered a $20 certificate on his person. A subsequent search of his home led to the recovery of $13,760 of the ransom money. The police also found a notebook containing a sketch of a ladder similar to the one found outside the Lindbergh home, a closet wall upon which Hauptmann had written down Condon’s telephone number and address, and a piece of wood that matched the wood used in the construction of the ladder.

And the evidence didn’t end there. Eight separate handwriting experts declared that Hauptmann’s handwriting fit that of the initial ransom note. And the letter itself, with misspellings like “gut” instead of “good” indicated that it had been written by a native German speaker. In addition, Hauptmann had fled Germany in order to escape punishment for a crime that involved entering a second-floor bedroom window via ladder. Finally, Condon and Lindbergh claimed that Hauptmann’s voice matched the one they’d heard at the ransom drop.

A jury voted to convict Hauptmann. And a short while later, on April 3, 1936, he was electrocuted.

But did Bruno Hauptmann really do it?

The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby caused a national uproar. Journalists reported every new discovery. Citizens flocked the crime scene and surrounding area. Thousands of letters poured into the Lindbergh estate. With intense pressure to close the case, is is possible that the police got the wrong man?

The evidence against Hauptmann was damning. And yet, to the end he proclaimed his innocence. Even when New Jersey’s governor offered to commute his sentence in return for a confession, Hauptmann refused to change his story. He claimed that the money had been left to him by a friend named Isidor Fisch, who’d died back in 1934.

During the 1970s, historians began to question the official version of events. They pointed out that handwriting analysis is highly subjective. Also, Hauptmann’s fingerprints weren’t on the ladder, a fact that the police covered up. In addition, the crime scenes were heavily contaminated, Condon’s and Lindbergh’s voice identification was highly questionable, and Hauptmann’s defense attorneys did a rather poor job.

Still, modern technology indicates that the ladder did match the wood found in Hauptmann’s attic. And modern forensic experts have stated that the handwriting found on the ransom notes matches that of Hauptmann.

But if Hauptmann did commit the crime, how did he know the Lindbergh’s would be spending that Tuesday at their house rather than with Anne’s parents, as was their normal custom? And how did he know where to find the baby?

The possibility of an “inside job” was considered almost from the beginning. The police suspected a servant named Violet Sharp. Violet later committed suicide after several rounds of questioning. Since her alibi checked out, it’s generally assumed that police pressure tactics, rather than guilt, caused her to kill herself.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Today, most historians believe that Hauptmann kidnapped and murdered the Lindbergh baby, possibly with help from an unidentified insider. One intriguing theory is that this mysterious insider was none other than Charles Lindbergh himself. It is well-known that he deliberately impeded the investigation and in many respects, took it over completely. He was also apparently a practical joker of some cruelty as recorded by Gregory Ahlgren and Stephen Monier in their book, Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax.

“Just two months earlier [Lindbergh] had hidden the baby in a closet and then dramatically announced that the child had been kidnapped.The whole household had been thrown into an uproar while a panic stricken Anne feared the worst. Lindbergh had allowed the ruse to continue for some 20 minutes before roaring heartily and admitting it was all a hoax.”

Did Lindbergh accidentally kill his own child while attempting an elaborate “practical joke?” Did he then stage a kidnapping to cover it up while using his influence to guide the investigation? It seems possible, if pretty unlikely. Regardless, let’s hope scholars continue to revisit this case and dig up facts. Because while Hauptmann was most likely guilty in some respect, it seems a near certainty that he didn’t work alone. And that means one thing…

Someone else got away with murder.

The Lost Nuclear Sub?

On July 4, 1974, the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a deep-sea drillship vessel, dropped anchor in the Pacific Ocean. Its stated purpose was to mine the sea floor for manganese nodules. However, that was just a cover. Its real purpose was far more ambitious…nothing less than the salvage of a lost Soviet nuclear submarine known as K-129.

Disaster Strikes the K-129

Six years earlier, on March 8, 1968, the Soviet submarine K-129 sank in deep waters 1,560 nautical miles northwest of Oahu. 98 crewmen perished in the process. The loss wasn’t realized until the K-129 missed its second consecutive radio check-in during mid-March. About a week later, the Soviet Union launched a gigantic search and rescue effort to find the lost submarine.

The effort failed. However, it was noticed by U.S. intelligence who guessed the mission’s true nature. After checking archived acoustic records, the U.S. Navy discovered an unexplained event had occurred on March 8, 1968. After triangulating the signals, the Navy generated a search grid and initiated Operation Sand Dollar to find and photograph the Soviet sub. The U.S. submarine USS Halibut was sent to the vicinity and after just three weeks of searching, managed to locate the wreck at 16,500 feet below sea level.

The K-129 represented an exciting opportunity. It was believed to contain Soviet nuclear missile technology as well as cryptographic machines and a code book. As such, the United States decided to secretly recover the wreckage. Tasked with this responsibility, the CIA formulated Project Azorian in 1970.

Project Azorian & the Hughes Glomar Explorer: Salvage of the Lost Nuclear Submarine?

The CIA hired Global Marine Development to build a deepwater drillship vessel. The famous industrialist Howard Hughes lent his name to the project and claimed that the ship’s purpose was to mine for manganese nodules. On June 20, 1974, the newly-christened Hughes Glomar Explorer set sail from Long Beach, California. It was equipped with a large mechanical claw dubbed Clementine by the crew. The plan was simple, at least on paper. The claw would deploy to the ocean floor, wrap around part of the submarine, and then lift that part into the Hughes Glomar Explorer’s hold.

The salvage effort began on July 4, 1974 and lasted for over a month. Since the whole process took place underwater, it proved impossible for the Soviets to detect. The details of Project Azorian remain classified to this day so it’s uncertain what exactly was recovered from the wreckage. Officially, the operation was a failure (you can see one of the heavily redacted files here). Supposedly, Clementine broke down during the salvage, forcing the Hughes Glomar Explorer to abandon two-thirds of the K-129. But since the CIA is known for being extra secretive, many researchers have questioned the official account. Thus, there is speculation that Project Azorian was a major intelligence coup, leading to the capture of Soviet submarine technology, nuclear torpedoes, code books, and other items.

What caused the K-129 to Sink?

But how did the K-129 sink in the first place? The Soviet Navy believed that the sub simply sank too low and failed to handle the situation due to mechanical or crew failure. Other theories include the lead-acid batteries exploding while being recharged or an accidental missile detonation. A more controversial theory (and one privately believed by many Soviet officers) is that the sub sank after an accidental collision with the USS Swordfish.

But the most controversial theory by far was put forth by Kenneth Sewell in Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine’s Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. Sewell postulated that the K-129 was captured by Soviet hard-liners. They planned to launch a nuclear missile on Pearl Harbor that would appear to have been fired by a Chinese submarine. The purpose was to bring about war between the U.S. and China. However, a fail safe device caused the missile to explode instead.

Sewell’s theory was bolstered by Dr. John Crane’s The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea. According to Crane, the real purpose of Project Azorian was not to recover the submarine but to find out why it sank in a part of the sea where it shouldn’t have been in the first place.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Until the CIA releases more information, the true intent of K-129 as well as the strategic success of Project Azorian remain matters of speculation. However, from at least one vantage point, the Hughes Glomar Explorer had a tremendous impact. Prior to that time, the deepest successful salvage of a submarine was at 245 feet. At 16,500 feet, Project Azorian shattered that record and in the process set a new one that, as far as I know, continues to remain to this day.