Sometimes referred to as “the green fairy,” absinthe is a highly alcoholic green liquor made from a variety of aromatic herbs. It is said to have been invented in 1792 by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French expatriate living in Switzerland, as a means of delivering the medicinal qualities of wormwood in a relatively palatable form.
The liquor is prepared from the leaves of common wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and other ingredients steeped in alcohol, including licorice, star anise, fennel, hyssop, and angelica root. Many absinthe drinkers believed that wormwood was the source of its legendary hallucinogenic powers, but most modern scientific analysis attributes its effects to the very high alcohol content, sometimes as high as 70 or 80 percent. In addition, some less-reputable distillers used toxic chemicals to fake the brilliant green color and other characteristics of absinthe, further contributing to its toxicity and notoriety.
The traditional absinthe drink was prepared with a special slotted spoon on which a sugar cube was placed. Water was sluiced over the sugar and into a glass containing absinthe until the liquid turned a milky, greenish- white color. This correct color and consistency, called “louche,” indicated that the bitter taste of straight absinthe had been adequately diluted. Only a few daring individuals would drink absinthe straight.
Absinthe was popular in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century among artists and writers, including the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and the Irish poet Oscar Wilde. Postimpressionist painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec combined absinthe and cognac to produce a drink he called an “earthquake.”
The popularity of absinthe in America was largely restricted to the demimonde, or cultural underworld, of New Orleans, a city with deep ties to France. On Bourbon Street in the French Quarter (Vieux Carré), an establishment known as the Old Absinthe House had a spigot used solely for dripping water through sugar-loaded absinthe spoons.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, opposition to absinthe began to develop among people who disapproved of recreational intoxicants. An almost hysterical fear of absinthism led to the drink being lumped together with opiates and other powerful drugs. Exaggerated accounts of debaucheries committed by absinthe drinkers led legislators on both sides of the Atlantic to ban its production and consumption. The United States banned absinthe in 1912, almost a decade before Prohibition.
Excerpts from Charles Manson’s statement to the California court that convicted him of seven counts of murder conspiracy in the first degree and sentenced him to death in 1970:
“These children that came at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them. I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up. Most of the people at the ranch that you call the Family were just people that you did not want, people that were alongside the road, that their parents had kicked out or they did not want to go to Juvenile Hall, so I did the best I could and I took them up on my garbage dump and I told them this: that in love there is no wrong.
“… It is not my responsibility. It is your responsibility. It is the responsibility you have toward your own children who you are neglecting, and then you want to put the blame on me again and again and again.… You eat meat with your teeth and you kill things that are better than you are, and in the same respect you say how bad and even killers that your children are. You make your children what they are. I am just a reflection of every one of you.”
“… I have nothing against none of you. I can’t judge any of you. But I think it is high time that you all started looking at yourselves and judging the lie that you live in. I sit and I watch you from nowhere, and I have nothing in my mind, no malice against you and no ribbons for you.… You are just doing what you are doing for the money, for a little bit of attention from someone. I can’t dislike you, but I will say this to you. You haven’t got long before you are all going to kill yourselves because you are crazy. And you can’t project it back at me.…”
“You can say that it’s me that cannot communicate, and you can say that it’s me that don’t have any understanding, and you can say that when I am dead your world will be better, and you can lock me up in your penitentiary and you can forget about me. But I’m only what lives inside of you, each and every one of you. These children … you only give them your frustration. You only give them your anger. You only give them the bad part of you rather than give them the good part of you. You should all turn around and face your children and start following them and listening to them.
“… If I could get angry at you I would try to kill every one of you. If that’s guilt, I accept it. These children, everything they have done, they done for love of their brother.…
“I may have implied on several occasions to several different people that I may have been Jesus Christ, but I haven’t decided yet what I am or who I am. I am whoever you make me, but what you want is a fiend. You want a sadistic fiend because that is what you are.
“… My father is the jail house. My father is your system.… I have ate out of your garbage cans to stay out of jail. I have wore your second-hand clothes. I have given everything I have away. Everything! I have accepted things and given them away the next second. I have done my best to get along in your world and now you want to kill me, and I look at you and I look how incompetent you all are, and then I say to myself, You want to kill me? Ha, I’m already dead! Have been all my life!’ I’ve lived in your tomb that you built.”
“I did seven years for a thirty-seven-dollar check. I did twelve years because I didn’t have any parents, and how many other sons do you think you have in there? You have many sons in there, many, many sons in there, most of them are black and they are angry.…
“Sometimes I think about giving it to you. Sometimes I’m thinking about just jumping on you and let you shoot me. Sometimes I think it would be easier than sitting here and facing you in the contempt that you have for yourself, the hate that you have for yourself. It’s only the anger you reflect at me, the anger that you have got for you.… If I could I would jerk this microphone out and beat your brains out with it because that is what you deserve! That is what you deserve.
“… I live in my world, and I am my own king in my world, whether it be a garbage dump or in the desert or wherever it be. I am my own human being. You may restrain my body and you may tear my guts out, do anything you wish, but I am still me and you can’t take that. You can kill the ego. You can kill the pride. You can kill the want, the desire of a human being. You can lock him in a cell and you can knock his teeth out and smash his brain, but you cannot kill the soul.”
“… I don’t care what you believe. I know what I am. You care what I think of you? Do you care what my opinion is? No, I hardly think so. I don’t think that any of you care about anything other than yourselves.…
“You made me a monster and I have to live with that the rest of my life because I cannot fight this case. If I could fight this case and I could present this case, I would take that monster back and I would take that fear back. Then you could find something else to put your fear on, because it’s all your fear. You look for something to project it on and you pick a little old scroungy nobody who eats out of a garbage can, that nobody wants, that was kicked out of the penitentiary, that has been dragged though every hellhole you can think of, and you drag him up and put him into a courtroom. You expect to break me? Impossible! You broke me years ago. You killed me years ago!”
The federal government had a number of forts and military installation in the South. As Southern states seceded, many of them were quickly turned over by state forces. One of the major exceptions was the federal facilities in and around Charleston.
Federal troops there were concentrated in Fort Moultrie. In the middle of Charleston harbor sat Fort Sumter, unoccupied and still under construction. On November 15th Major Robert Anderson was named commander of Federal troops in Charleston. He quickly came to the conclusion that Fort Moultrie was not defensible. The unoccupied Fort Sumter was defensible as it was situated in the middle of the harbor surrounding by deep water.
On the night of December 26th Major Anderson, mustered his command and moved in the stealth of night to Fort Sumter. The Southerner felt betrayed. They believed that they had an understanding with Anderson to maintain the status quo.
When Lincoln took office the issue of Ft Sumter arose and he was forced to come to grips with the problem. On one hand reinforcing the fort seemed increasingly difficult. Lincoln was afraid of using force, since this might sway those Southern states such as Virginia that had not yet seceded to secede. On the other hand Major Anderson was becoming a hero in the North.
Finally after receiving varied advise from his advisors Lincoln decided to resupply the fort.
The Confederate government under Davis felt that they could not allow the fort to be resupplied, and Davis despite opposition from the Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs – he stated “Mr. president at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornets nest which extends from mountains to ocean, and legions now quiet will swarm our and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it put us in the wrong it is fatal.”
On the afternoon of April 11th, General Beaulegrad issued a formal demand of surrender to Major Anderson. When major Anderson received it he refused it, however he stated to the Confederate representatives, that if they had only waited another few day the fort would be forced to surrender, as it would be without food. Colonel Chesnut one of the Confederate representatives asked if he could include that in his report. Anderson assented.
Beauregard then asked for direction from President Davis. Davis agreed to call off the bombardment if he could get a firm commitment as to the time of the surrender from Anderson. At midnight on the 12th Confederate representatives again demanded the surrender of the garrison. Anderson answered that they would surrender by the 15th, but with an important proviso, that only if the fort was not resupplied. This was not considered a sufficient answer for the Confederates. As the confederates began to leave, Anderson stated” If we never meet in this world again, God grant that we may meet in the next.”
Thus at 4:30 AM confederate batteries began their bombardment of Fort Sumter. The confederate bombing was effective, and included a floating battery, in a makeshift boat. Anderson’s counter fire was limited by the his lack of munitions and by his limited number of soldiers. Finally 34 hours after the bombardment began, Anderson surrendered.
Sumter had fallen- now it was Lincoln’s turn to respond. He did so by a call for troops: Lincoln stated, “Now I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the constitution, and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of several States of the Union, to aggregate number of seventy thousand.
The nation responded by a series of meetings in every part of the North. Thousands came forth with enthusiasm. A New York mother of five sons who enlisted stated:” I was startled by the news referring to our boys, and, for the moment felt as if a ball had pierced my own heart. For the first time I was obliged to look things full in the face. But although I have always loved my children with a love that none but a mother can know, yet when I look upon the state of my country, I cannot withhold them; and in the name of their god and their mothers god, and their country’s god I bid them to go. If I had ten sons instead of five I would give them all sooner than have our country rent in fragments.”
While the call for militia succeeded in raising an army, it was the final blow in the attempts to keep the Virginia and other wavering states in the Union. The Border states and the states of the Upper South all responded with words similar to those of Kentucky: “Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister southern states.”
Virginia was the first Southern state to secede, and with her the man who was to become the South leading General – Robert E. Lee. Lee was a reluctant sessionist, he had stated two months earlier “I fear the liberties of our country will in the tomb of the great nation. If Virginia stands by the old Union so will I. But if she secedes ( though I do not believe in secession as a constitutional right, nor that there is sufficient cause for revolution) then I will sill follow my native State with my sword, and if need be, with my life.”
Next Arkansas joined the confederacy, they were followed in May by North Carolina and Tennessee.
Immediately following the riots secessionists in Baltimore destroyed the railroads bridges and the telegraph lines thus cutting off Washington. For days Washington was cut off, with no additional replacement troops coming. Panic reined in Washington- Lincoln looked out the White House windows wondering when reinforcements would show. Finally in April 25th the 8th Mass Infantry and the 7th New York Regiment, landed at Annapolis Maryland. The New York Regiment managed to repair a branch line of the B&O that had been sabotaged and soon they arrived in the capital, whose citizens breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Considering how many workers lost their lives at Sloss Furnaces’ in Birmingham, Ala. when it was in operation, is it any surprise that the former industrial site is said to be haunted?
Working at the furnace, which was in use for nearly 100 years, was considered to be very dangerous, and employees met grisly deaths — either by being incinerated, poisoned by carbon monoxide or falling victim to steam pipes that often burst unexpectedly — on a regular basis.
While the furnace, which was named a National Historic Landmark in 1981, may have closed up shop in 1971, it seems not all of its former employees left, according to The Travel Channel. At night, visitors have claimed to hear the screams of those who died, seen shadowy figures and heard the calls of a foreman deriding his crew.
Like a lot of ghost stories, the tale of Henry Vignes, who is said to haunt New Orleans’ St. Louis Cemetery, is a sad one.
Vignes, a sailor during the nineteenth century, trusted the wrong person with keeping his important documents, including the deeds to his family tomb, according to Ghost City Tours’ website.
The swindler sold the deeds and Vignes died before he could reclaim ownership. Instead of being placed in his family tomb, the sailor was buried in an unmarked grave in the St. Louis Cemetery.
Since his death, visitors of the cemetery have claimed to see Vignes looking for his grave. Some even say his ghost will approach the living and ask if they know where the Vignes tomb is. Others said his apparition can be heard saying “I need to rest!” as he wanders through the tombs.
The central character in Mr. Selfridge is none other than Harold Gordon Selfridge, the British-American retail magnate and founder of the eponymous department store. The show begins with the store’s founding in 1908 and follows the trials and triumphs of the Selfridge family and their staff through 1929.
While Selfridge’s early history is true to life, the workers at the store are fictional. Nonetheless, viewers may appreciate the realistic accounts of life behind the store counter, as well as Jeremy Pivens’ subtle performance in the title role.
The highest-rated period drama on IMDb is Peaky Blinders. The part-fiction part-history show stars Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby, leader of the Peaky Blinders, a gang that ruled Birmingham at the end of World War I.
Shelby is cunning and ambitious, with plans to expand his organization beyond its current stronghold. Peaky Blinders is told from the gang’s point of view, making Chief Inspector Campbell (played by Sam Neill) the primary antagonist. The show also features numerous empowered female characters, as well as characters of diverse backgrounds.
After the sudden death of their father, sisters Evangeline and Beatrice have no prospects and no hope for a future in society. That is, until they put their talents in dressmaking to use and become the most celebrated fashion designers in London.
New opportunities for women are at the forefront of this series, which aired from 1991 to 1994. Audiences loved the entrepreneurial main characters and their gorgeous costumes, as well as the cutthroat world of fashion.
The original Upstairs Downstairs that aired in the 1970s follows the Bellamy family and their servants at 165 Eaton Place. Although the house is run by a member of Parliament and his socialite wife, the show gives the downstairs characters their due with rich storylines and characterizations.
The fifth and final season is set between 1919 and 1930 and works real-life events into the story such as the post-war recovery and the 1926 general strike.