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Niagara Falls Is Discovered... Again *

At this point several people can lay claim to being the first European to discover Niagara Falls. The French have sent explorers galore out this way and missionaries have come along to convert the Iroquois Indians. This time, Robert de La Salle has built a small sailing ship that he names Le Griffon to explore the Great Lakes and to find the Northwest passage to China. Why? Because a fast route to China means spices and other exotic products that can be bought cheaply and sold for a king's ransom in Europe. In the meantime he is settling for furs. They sail and tow the ship along the Niagara River until they discover the falls. They also make their way to Lake Huron and after a severe storm La Salle makes a stop at Green Bay. Le Griffen sets out for further exploration without him. Reportedly the ship runs into another severe storm and they never return. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Traditionally Niagara Falls has been a favorite destination for honeymooners. There are boat tours and some people have tried to go over the falls in a barrel. Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to try it in 1901. She survived. When she was pulled out of the barrel, bruised and bleeding she said, "No one ought ever do that again." It is currently illegal to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel or anything else. Oddly enough, in the 1800s several attempts to find a new homeland for the Jews considered Grand Island near Niagara Falls as a site. Uganda was also on the list. Regarding the ship that was lost, two divers recently claimed to have found the wreck of Le Griffon somewhere at the bottom of Lake Michigan, but the report seems like a promotional stunt by two treasure hunters. Only time will tell. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Go to the Head of the Class: France Requires Merchant Exams

Back in 1673, several changes in French commercial law have brought merchants under strict control. Contracts must be in writing and signatures verified by a notary public. Partnerships must be registered, and investors are liable for its debts, but only up to the amount of their investment. It is usually easier to pass a law to reform commerce than it is to actually make the reform happen, but the Finance Minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, is going to make it happen. He requires that all merchants be examined for competency in bookkeeping and commercial law. [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... gone are the good old days when you could just put up a sign and start selling something. Eh? Yeah. It's been a VERY long time since you could do that... at least officially. But according to the book Freakonomics even drug dealers have to know bookkeeping to be successful. If you are not tracking what is coming in and what is going out, you don't really know what you have left to take home to Mama. This is why you hear so many ads on the radio offering to help you with your tax problems. People take in money from a sale, foolishly believing that the money belongs to them, but Uncle Sam thinks that you owe part of that money to him and he will send federal agents to knock on your door to remind you. But a lot of people still forget and when tax time comes around they don't have the cash to pay the tax man. So now you know why the French were forcing merchants to take exams on bookkeeping. They'd rather have the money in government coffers than send disorganized merchants to prison for not paying their taxes. [10] [11]

The Armenia Earthquake *

A 7.0 earthquake hits Armenia this year. Not much is known about the quake except that it knocked down a lot of churches and Fort Erivan was completely destroyed. The Shah conscripted the people from several local villages to rebuild the fort. [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1679, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Le Griffon - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 19 November 2015. “La Salle disembarked and on September 18 sent the ship back toward Niagara. On its return trip from Green Bay, Wisconsin, it vanished with all six crew members and a load of furs.”
  2. Niagara Falls - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 19 November 2015. “On October 24, 1901, 63-year-old Michigan school teacher Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over the falls in a barrel as a publicity stunt; she survived, bleeding, but virtually unharmed. Soon after exiting the barrel, she said, 'No one ought ever do that again.'”
  3. 'Le Griffon’: Muskegon Divers Claim To Have Found The 'Holy Grail’ Of Shipwrecks In Lake Michigan. inquisitr.com (2015). Retrieved on 19 November 2015. “The two divers, Kevin Dykstra and Frederick Monroe, told WZZM 13 ABC that they photographed the shipwreck accidentally while diving in search of gold bullion, about $2 million of Confederate gold coins, that were being smuggled in box cars.”
  4. Treasure hunters find mysterious shipwreck in Lake Michigan. CBS News (2015). Retrieved on 19 November 2015. “Dykstra said. 'Can we call this the Griffin? Certainly not -- not without a lot more information -- but these are very compelling.'”
  5. Alex Shrugged notes: My remark about Niagara Falls as a site for a new homeland for the Jews comes from my own memory of reading the biography of Theodor Herzl by Jacob de Haas.
  6. (1927) Theodor Herzl : a biographical study : De Haas, Jacob, 1872-1937 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive. Retrieved on 19 November 2015. 
  7. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 310-311. “Colbert issues order that all Fr. merchants be examined in bookkeeping and commercial law” 
  8. Howard, Stanley E.. "Business Partnerships in France before 1807". The Accounting Review 7 (4): 242-257. 
  9. Jean-Baptiste Colbert - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 November 2015. “His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing and bringing the economy back from the brink of bankruptcy.”
  10. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side Of Everything. William Morrow. ISBN 9780061131325. 
  11. Steven Levitt: The freakonomics of crack dealing (VIDEO). TED Talk (February 2004). Retrieved on 20 November 2015. “'Freakonomics' author Steven Levitt presents new data on the finances of drug dealing. Contrary to popular myth, he says, being a street-corner crack dealer isn't lucrative: It pays below minimum wage. And your boss can kill you.”
  12. Erivan Fortress - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 November 2015. “The fortress was destroyed by an earthquake in 1679. After the earthquake, the ruler of Erivan Zal Khan asked the Shah for help to rebuild Erivan, including the fortress and the Palace of the Sardars.”

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