The Plaster Cast and the Lord of the Rings
Broken bones are set and immobilized so that the body can heal the break. To this point, the various systems for keeping the bones aligned amount to rough splits wrapped in bandages and a lot of pain. For example, when Benedict Arnold broke his leg during the Battle of Saratoga, two halves of a wooden cylinder were strapped to his leg. It was a painful arrangement. By the time of the Napoleonic Wars, wet strips of cardboard were molded to an injured limb and then coated with a starchy paste that dried within 6 hours. This was considered a vast improvement since actual starch would take days to set. An improved system of wrapping the limb in cotton wool before applying the mixture has helped considerably and remains the basic beginning of an orthopedic cast. Finally, the Dutch Army medic, Antonius Mathysen, dips bandages in wet plaster of Paris and then wraps it around the limb. It hardens in minutes rather than hours. Thus we have the plaster cast that will remain the state of the art until the 1980s when it will be replaced by the fiberglass cast which has the virtues of being lighter, waterproof and a formidable weapon.    
The Book that Started the War between the States
Harriet Beecher Stowe has been publishing, Uncle Tom's Cabin in serial form in an abolitionist newspaper, but this year it comes out in book form. It sells 300,000 copies in 3 months. Will it really start a war? No. It will take the hard work of three failed Presidents and an army of fool politicians to turn a painful transition into an ugly, ugly war, but the moral impetus to end slavery in America comes from this book. It is the story of Uncle Tom, a black slave and house servant of a poor white family. When the family falls on hard times, they are forced to sell Tom. Uncle Tom suffers trials and tribulations, especially under Simon Legree who beats him and his fellow slaves sadistically. But Tom knows his Bible and he is a model Christian encouraging his fellows to believe in God and take Jesus into their hearts. He is given a chance to escape, but he refuses, "...the Lord's given me a work among these yer poor souls, and I'll stay with 'em and bear my cross with 'em till the end." The end is near. Simon Legree hates Tom, but Tom fights for Simon's soul. Finally, Simon beats Tom to the ground and he faints away. This is not the end of the book. It is only the end of Tom in this life. For the immortal soul of Simon Legree and perhaps the soul of every reader who sits and does nothing, something unforgivable has happened.     
In Other News
- Say hello to Wells Fargo and Company. The board of directors at American Express don't want to take a chance in California, so Mr. Wells and Mr. Fargo start their own rough and ready express company. It does a lot more than simply deliver mail. 
- Horace Mann brings the Prussian system of education to Massachusetts. It's just on a trial basis. If anything goes wrong, we'll fix it... endlessly. 
This Year in Wikipedia
Year 1852, Wikipedia.
- Antonius Mathijsen - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 17 August 2016. “While working at military hospital Haarlem Mathijsen in 1851 first used plaster of paris as a bandage. He discovered that a bandage soaked in water and plaster of paris hardened within a few minutes and thus made a good fixation for broken bones. He published his findings in a Dutch medical magazine Repertorium in February 1852.”
- Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 418-419.
- LIBERTY! Benedict Arnold's Leg. PBS (2016). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “The leg was severely wounded, bleeding copiously, and pinned beneath Arnold's own horse. It survived the battle and the war.”
- Fractures, Treatments and Devices - used, first, body, Immobilizing the Bones, Casts Replace Splints, Traction, Screws and Plates, Antiseptics and Compound Fractures. Discoveries in Medicine (2016). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “Around 1852 Dutch army surgeon Antonius Mathijsen revived the ancient Arabian system and introduced roller bandages. The bandages were filled and covered with quick-drying plaster of paris (gypsum) and combined the features of a splint and bandage. Broken bones were held in place while the wet bandages were applied. When the bandages dried, they became rigid. They held the bones perfectly in place during healing. Plaster of paris casts remained standard treatment for fractures until the early 1980s. At that time, casts made of fiberglass plaster came into use. Fiberglass casts are favored for their light weight and water resistance.”
- Gamgee Tissue - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “Gamgee Tissue has a thick layer of absorbent cotton wool between two layers of absorbent gauze. It represents the first use of cotton wool in a medical context, and was a major advancement in the prevention of infection of surgical wounds. It is still the basis for many modern surgical dressings.”
- Tolkien, J. R. R.. Fellowship of the Ring: The Lord of the Rings Part 1, The. ISBN 9780965307758.
Samwise Gamgee - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “Tolkien claimed to be genuinely surprised when, in March 1956, he received a letter from one Sam Gamgee, who had heard that his name was in The Lord of the Rings but had not read the book. Tolkien replied on March 18:
'Dear Mr. Gamgee,
It was very kind of you to write. You can imagine my astonishment when I saw your signature! I can only say, for your comfort, I hope, that the 'Sam Gamgee' of my story is a most heroic character, now widely beloved by many readers, even though his origins are rustic. So that perhaps you will not be displeased at the coincidence of the name of this imaginary character of supposedly many centuries ago being the same as yours.'
He sent Gamgee a signed copy of all three volumes of the book. However, the incident sparked a nagging worry in Tolkien's mind, as he recorded in his journal:
'For some time I lived in fear of receiving a letter signed 'S. Gollum'. That would have been more difficult to deal with.'”
- Uncle Tom's Cabin - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 3 July 2016. “Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel 'helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War', according to Will Kaufman.”
- 'Uncle Tom’s Cabin' - A Model for the Study of Moral Theology. Orthodoxy and the World (Russian Orthodox Church) (2011). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “He prays for his owners without complaining. Tom willingly, repeatedly and consistently sacrifices himself initially by saving his indebted owner from losing everything to creditors (at the same time saving his own family from a worse fate), and at the end of his journey, giving his life to save two women from certain death at the hands of the sadistic plantation owner, Simon Legree.”
- The National Era - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “The National Era was noted for its large size and unique type. It featured the works of John Greenleaf Whittier who served as the associated editor and the first publication, as a serial, of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851).”
- SparkNotes: Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Context. SparkNotes.com (2016). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in episodes in the National Era in 1851 and 1852, then published in its entirety on March 20, 1852. It sold 10,000 copies in its first week and 300,000 by the end of the year, astronomical numbers for the mid-nineteenth century.”
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published - Mar 20, 1852. HISTORY.com (2016). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is published. The novel sold 300,000 copies within three months and was so widely read that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe in 1862, he reportedly said, 'So this is the little lady who made this big war.'”
- Vollaro, Daniel R. (Winter 2009). "Lincoln, Stowe, and the 'Little Woman/Great War' Story: The Making, and Breaking, of a Great American Anecdote". Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 30 (1): 18-34. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.2629860.0030.104. Retrieved 18 August 2016. "Despite its popularity, however, the quotation is entirely apocryphal, emerging from within Stowe family tradition without any textual support or verification from the author herself. Most of Stowe's biographers have included some version of the quote, almost always scrupulously attributing it to its apocryphal origins. Many twentieth-century literary scholars, critics, and historians who reference the incident were not as careful as Weinstein to qualify the quotation with phrases like 'allegedly said' or 'is reported to have said.' The quote is a rarity in Lincoln biographies, however, and many of the Lincoln biographers and historians who have used it have been sloppy about noting its apocryphal origins. On the Internet, where historical summaries are often disconnected from their sources entirely, Lincoln's alleged words are rapidly hardening into unqualified historical fact.".
- Bill Clinton help sink Hillary's chances of a Kennedy endorsement by belitting Obama. NY Daily News (January 10, 2010). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “Bill Clinton, whose stock with black voters was so high he used to be referred to as 'America's First Black President,' severely damaged his rep in his overheated drive to help elect his wife.”
- Bill Clinton made insensitive 'race jab’ about Obama in 2008 - New York Post. nypost.com (September 3, 2012). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “'A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee,' Clinton is quoted as saying in 'Game Change,' by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.”
- Grimsby Dock Tower - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 June 2016. “Grimsby Dock Tower is a hydraulic accumulator tower and a maritime landmark at the entrance to the Royal Dock, Grimsby, in North East Lincolnshire, England. It was completed on 27 March 1852 with the purpose of containing a 30,000-imperial-gallon (140,000 L) reservoir at a height of 200 feet (61 m), that was used to provide hydraulic power to power the machinery of the Grimsby Docks. The extreme height of the tower was necessary to achieve sufficient pressure.”
- Hydraulic accumulator - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 June 2016. “The first accumulators for Armstrong's hydraulic dock machinery were simple raised water towers. Water was pumped to a tank at the top of these towers by steam pumps. When dock machinery required hydraulic power, the hydrostatic head of the water's height above ground provided the necessary pressure.”
- Hydrostatic head - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 June 2016. “When generating hydropower, the head is the distance that a given water source has to fall before the point where power is generated. Ultimately the force responsible for hydropower is gravity, so a hydroelectricity plant with a tall/high head can produce more power than a similar plant with a short/low head. In short, for a given water flow, a larger head will be converted into greater kinetic energy. That energy is then harnessed by a water wheel or water turbine to create usable hydropower.”
- History of Wells Fargo - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 August 2015. “On March 18, 1852, they organized Wells, Fargo & Company, a joint-stock association with an initial capitalization of $300,000, to provide express and banking services to California. The original board of directors comprised Wells, Fargo, Johnston Livingston, Elijah P. Williams, Edwin B. Morgan, James McKay, Alpheus Reynolds, Alexander M.C. Smith and Henry D. Rice. Of these, Wells, Fargo, Livingston and McKay were also on the board of American Express.”
- Horace Mann - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 18 August 2016. “n 1852, he supported the decision to adopt the Prussian education system in Massachusetts. Shortly after Massachusetts adopted the Prussian system, the Governor of New York set up the same method in twelve different New York schools on a trial basis.”