One If by Land…

(top) Portrait of silversmith Paul Revere with one of his silver pieces by J. S. Copley.  (row two l) An engraving by Paul Revere depicting the Boston Massacre. (row two r) Pre-Revolutionary War Paul Revere Silver Coffee Pot, circa 1775. (row three) Paul’s sig. (rows four – six) Some of the many paintings of Paul Revere. (bottom left) Paul Revere and the Raiders album cover, circa 1967. (bottom right) Paul was a dentist, too.  He made his own dental instruments. That was 130 years before novocaine. Yikes!

 

Networking.  Something that we’ve come quite accustomed to today. Whether it’s clicking your social media links, joining a conference call, logging in to a podcast, shouting across the shop floor or just visiting with friends at the local coffee shop, we all rely on networks to communicate, share information and keep ourselves up to date.  History is filled with famous networks – from the cults of ancient Rome, to plotting European kings and queens, the silk rode of China, South American trading routes, Stalin’s secret police, the banking and investment industries, the Free Masons and of course modern-day Alibaba, Instagram and Twitter.  Staying connected and getting news to the people changed when Guttenberg started pushing paper through his press and has now been overtaken by the immediacy of the internets.  One network that is entwined in our American history is the famous ride of Paul Revere. Last weekend marked the anniversary of his 1775 ride through New England towns, supported by a network of lanterns, church bells and fellow riders. I absolutely love re-learning the history of our great country!   Special thanks to Wikipedia and history.com for the insights and details.  Enjoy the unique details below and be sure to turn your porch light on tonight in memory of his efforts.

  1. Paul Revere was an American silversmith, engraver, early industrialist, and Patriot in the American Revolution. He is best known for his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia in April 1775 to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord.
  2. Revere was born in the North End of Boston on December 21, 1734.  His father, a French Huguenot born Apollos Rivoire came to Boston at the age of 13 and was apprenticed to the silversmith John Coney.  By the time he married Deborah Hitchborn, a member of a long-standing Boston family that owned a small shipping wharf, in 1729, Rivoire had anglicized his name to Paul Revere. Their son, Paul Revere, was the third of 12 children and eventually the eldest surviving son.
  3. Revere grew up in the environment of the extended Hitchborn family, and never learned his father’s native language.  At 13 he left school and became an apprentice to his father. The silversmith trade afforded him connections with a cross-section of Boston society, which would serve him well when he became active in the American Revolution.
  4. Revere’s father died in 1754, when Paul was legally too young to officially be the master of the family silver shop.  In February 1756, during the French and Indian War, he enlisted in the provincial army. Possibly he made this decision because of the weak economy, since army service promised consistent pay.  Commissioned a second lieutenant in a provincial artillery regiment, he spent the summer at Fort William Henry at the southern end of Lake George in New York as part of an abortive plan for the capture of Fort St. Frédéric, but soon returned to run the family business.
  5. Revere’s business began to suffer when the British economy entered a recession in the years following the Seven Years’ War and declined further when the Stamp Act of 1765 resulted in a further downturn in the Massachusetts economy.  Business was so poor that an attempt was made to attach his property in late 1765. To help make ends meet he even took up dentistry, a skill set he was taught by a practicing surgeon who lodged at a friend’s house. One client was Doctor Joseph Warren, a local physician and political opposition leader with whom Revere formed a close friendship.  Revere and Warren, in addition to having common political views, were also both active in the same local Masonic lodges.
  6. Although Revere was not one of the “Loyal Nine”—organizers of the earliest protests against the Stamp Act—he was well connected with its members, who were laborers and artisans.  Revere did not participate in some of the more raucous protests, such as the attack on the home of Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson.  In 1765, a group of militants who would become known as the “Sons of Liberty” formed, of which Revere was a member. From 1765 on, in support of the dissident cause, he produced engravings and other artifacts with political themes. Among these engravings are a depiction of the arrival of British troops in 1768 (which he termed “an insolent parade”) and a famous depiction of the March 1770 Boston Massacre.
  7. In 1770 Revere purchased a house on North Square in Boston’s North End. Now a museum, the house provided space for his growing family while he continued to maintain his shop at nearby Clark’s Wharf. His wife Sarah died in 1773, and on October 10 of that year, Revere married Rachel Walker (1745–1813). They had eight children, three of whom died young.
  8. In November 1773 the merchant ship Dartmouth arrived in Boston harbor carrying the first shipment of tea made under the terms of the Tea Act.  This act authorized the British East India Company to ship tea directly to the colonies, bypassing colonial merchants. Passage of the act prompted calls for renewed protests against the tea shipments, on which Townshend duties were still levied.  Revere and Warren, as members of the informal North End Caucus, organized a watch over the Dartmouth to prevent the unloading of the tea. Revere took his turns on guard duty and was one of the ringleaders in the Boston Tea Party of December 16, when colonists, some disguised as Indians, dumped tea from the Dartmouth and two other ships into the harbor.
  9. From December 1773 to November 1775, Revere served as a courier for the Boston Committee of Public Safety, traveling to New York and Philadelphia to report on the political unrest in Boston. Research has documented 18 such rides. In 1774, his cousin John on the island of Guernsey wrote to Paul that John had seen reports of Paul’s role as an “express” courier in London newspapers.
  10. In 1774, the military governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage, dissolved the provincial assembly on orders from Great Britain, closed the port of Boston and all over the city forced private citizens to quarter (provide lodging for) soldiers in their homes.
  11. During this time, Revere and a group of 30 “mechanics” began meeting in secret at his favorite haunt, the Green Dragon, to coordinate the gathering and dissemination of intelligence by “watching the Movements of British Soldiers”. Around this time Revere regularly contributed politically charged engravings he made at his silversmith shop to the recently founded Patriot monthly, Royal American Magazine.
  12. He rode to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in December 1774 upon rumors of an impending landing of British troops there, a journey known in history as the Portsmouth Alarm. Although the rumors were false, his ride sparked a rebel success by provoking locals to raid Fort William and Mary, defended by just six soldiers, for its gunpowder supply.
  13. When British Army activity on April 7, 1775, suggested the possibility of troop movements, Joseph Warren sent Revere to warn the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, then sitting in Concord, the site of one of the larger caches of Patriot military supplies. After receiving the warning, Concord residents began moving the military supplies away from the town.
  14. One week later, on April 14, General Gage received instructions from Secretary of State William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth, to disarm the rebels, who were known to have hidden weapons in Concord, among other locations, and to imprison the rebellion’s leaders, especially Samuel Adams and John Hancock.
  15. Dartmouth gave Gage considerable discretion in his commands, issuing orders to Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith to proceed from Boston “with utmost expedition and secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and destroy… all Military stores…. But you will take care that the soldiers do not plunder the inhabitants or hurt private property.” Gage did not issue written orders for the arrest of rebel leaders, as he feared doing so might spark an uprising.
  16. Between 9 and 10 p.m. on the night of April 18, 1775, Joseph Warren told Revere and William Dawes that the king’s troops were about to embark in boats from Boston bound for Cambridge and the road to Lexington and Concord. Warren’s intelligence suggested that the most likely objectives of the regulars’ movements later that night would be the capture of Adams and Hancock. They did not worry about the possibility of regulars marching to Concord, since the supplies at Concord were safe, but they did think their leaders in Lexington were unaware of the potential danger that night. Revere and Dawes were sent out to warn them and to alert colonial militias in nearby towns.
  17. In the days before April 18, Revere had instructed Robert Newman, the sexton of the North Church, to send a signal by lantern to alert colonists in Charlestown as to the movements of the troops when the information became known. In what is well known today by the phrase “one if by land, two if by sea”, one lantern in the steeple would signal the army’s choice of the land route while two lanterns would signal the route “by water” across the Charles River (the movements would ultimately take the water route, and therefore two lanterns were placed in the steeple).
  18. Revere first gave instructions to send the signal to Charlestown. He then crossed the Charles River by rowboat, slipping past the British warship HMS Somerset at anchor. Crossings were banned at that hour, but Revere safely landed in Charlestown and rode to Lexington, avoiding a British patrol and later warning almost every house along the route. The Charlestown colonists dispatched additional riders to the north.
  19. Riding through present-day Somerville, Medford, and Arlington, Revere warned patriots along his route, many of whom set out on horseback to deliver warnings of their own. By the end of the night there were probably as many as 40 riders throughout Middlesex County carrying the news of the army’s advance.
  20. Revere did not shout the phrase later attributed to him (“The British are coming!”): his mission depended on secrecy, the countryside was filled with British army patrols, and most of the Massachusetts colonists (who were predominantly English in ethnic origin) still considered themselves British.  Revere’s warning, according to eyewitness accounts of the ride and Revere’s own descriptions, was “The Regulars are coming out.”
  21. Revere arrived in Lexington around midnight, with Dawes arriving about a half-hour later. They met with Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were spending the night with Hancock’s relatives (in what is now called the Hancock–Clarke House), and they spent a great deal of time discussing plans of action upon receiving the news. They believed that the forces leaving the city were too large for the sole task of arresting two men and that Concord was the main target.  The Lexington men dispatched riders to the surrounding towns, and Revere and Dawes continued along the road to Concord accompanied by Samuel Prescott, a doctor who happened to be in Lexington “returning from a lady friend’s house at the awkward hour of 1 a.m.”
  22. Revere, Dawes, and Prescott were detained by a British Army patrol in Lincoln at a roadblock on the way to Concord. Prescott jumped his horse over a wall and escaped into the woods; he eventually reached Concord. Dawes also escaped, though he fell off his horse not long after and did not complete the ride.
  23. Revere was captured and questioned by the British soldiers at gunpoint. He told them of the army’s movement from Boston, and that British army troops would be in some danger if they approached Lexington, because of the large number of hostile militia gathered there. He and other captives taken by the patrol were still escorted east toward Lexington, until about a half mile from Lexington they heard a gunshot. The British major demanded Revere explain the gunfire, and Revere replied it was a signal to “alarm the country”.
  24. As the group drew closer to Lexington, the town bell began to clang rapidly, upon which one of the captives proclaimed to the British soldiers “The bell’s a’ringing! The town’s alarmed, and you’re all dead men!”. The British soldiers gathered and decided not to press further towards Lexington but instead to free the prisoners and head back to warn their commanders.  The British confiscated Revere’s horse and rode off to warn the approaching army column. Revere walked to Rev. Jonas Clarke’s house, where Hancock and Adams were staying. As the battle on Lexington Green unfolded, Revere assisted Hancock and his family in their escape from Lexington, helping to carry a trunk of Hancock’s papers.
  25. The ride of the three men triggered a flexible system of “alarm and muster” that had been carefully developed months before, in reaction to the colonists’ impotent response to the Powder Alarm of September 1774. This system was an improved version of an old network of widespread notification and fast deployment of local militia forces in times of emergency. The colonists had periodically used this system all the way back to the early years of Indian wars in the colony, before it fell into disuse in the French and Indian War.
  26. In addition to other express riders delivering messages, bells, drums, alarm guns, bonfires, and a trumpet were used for rapid communication from town to town, notifying the rebels in dozens of eastern Massachusetts villages that they should muster their militias because the regulars in numbers greater than 500 were leaving Boston with possible hostile intentions. This system was so effective that people in towns 25 miles from Boston were aware of the army’s movements while they were still unloading boats in Cambridge.  Unlike in the Powder Alarm, the alarm raised by the three riders successfully allowed the militia to confront the British troops in Concord, and then harry them all the way back to Boston.
  27. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow popularized Paul Revere in The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, a poem first published in 1863 as part of Tales of a Wayside Inn.
  28. Revere’s friend and compatriot Joseph Warren was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Because soldiers killed in battle were often buried in mass graves without ceremony, Warren’s grave was unmarked. On March 21, 1776, several days after the British army left Boston, Revere, Warren’s brothers, and a few friends went to the battlefield and found a grave containing two bodies.  After being buried for nine months, Warren’s face was unrecognizable, but Revere was able to identify Warren’s body because he had placed a false tooth in Warren’s mouth and recognized the wire he had used for fastening it. Warren was given a proper funeral and reburied in a marked grave.
  29. After the war, Revere developed advanced manufacturing for gunpowder, mastered the iron casting process and realizing substantial profits from this new product line. Revere identified a burgeoning market for church bells in the religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening that followed the war. Beginning in 1792 he became one of America’s best-known bell casters, working with sons Paul Jr. and Joseph Warren Revere in the firm Paul Revere & Sons. This firm cast the first bell made in Boston and ultimately produced hundreds of bells, a number of which remain in operation to this day.
  30. In 1794, Revere decided to take the next step in the evolution of his business, expanding his bronze casting work by learning to cast cannon for the federal government, state governments, and private clients. Although the government often had trouble paying him on time, its large orders inspired him to deepen his contracting and seek additional product lines of interest to the military.
  31. Revere remained politically active throughout his life. His business plans in the late 1780s were often stymied by a shortage of adequate money in circulation. Alexander Hamilton’s national policies regarding banks and industrialization exactly matched his dreams, and he became an ardent Federalist committed to building a robust economy and a powerful nation. Of particular interest to Revere was the question of protective tariffs; he and his son sent a petition to Congress in 1808 asking for protection for his sheet copper business.  He continued to participate in local discussions of political issues even after his retirement and circulated a petition offering the government the services of Boston’s artisans in protecting Boston during the War of 1812.
  32. Revere died on May 10, 1818, at the age of 83, at his home on Charter Street in Boston. He is buried in the Granary Burying Ground on Tremont Street.
  33. After Revere’s death, the family business was taken over by his oldest surviving son, Joseph Warren Revere. The copper works founded in 1801 continues today as the Revere Copper Company, with manufacturing divisions in Rome, New York and New Bedford, Massachusetts.
  34. The song “Me and Paul Revere”, written by musician Steve Martin and performed with his bluegrass group Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, was inspired by the tale of Paul Revere’s ride and told from the point of view of Revere’s horse, Brown Beauty.

If you are intrigued by “networks” throughout history and up to the present day, be sure to read Niall Ferguson’s latest book, The Square and the Tower, Penguin Press 2018.

 

Hmmmmmm…

Hey, check it out. Jack Black looks a whole lot like Paul Revere. 

 

And for your listening pleasure…
>> Steve Martin ‘Me and Paul Revere’ (lyrics from the perspective of Paul’s horse)
>> Paul Revere and The Raiders – Kicks 1967

 

 

 


 

Live in Infamy

(top left) The USS Arizona during the attack on Hawaii. (top right) A war bonds poster. The headline says “Tojo Wanna Cracker?” (row 2 left) The bombs on Hiroshima (Aug. 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (Aug. 9, 1945) finally ended the war in the Pacific. (row 2 right) Hideki Tojo, prime minister of Japan (1941–44), at his war crimes trial in 1948, was hanged as a Class-A war criminal December 23, 1948. (the other three images) Three views of the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.

Today we are reminded of “a date which will live in infamy” – the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Let us take a moment to respect those brave individuals who serve(d), better understand the events leading up to the event and reflect on the ongoing role of the US as the world’s peacekeeper.  Special thanks to Wikipedia and Air and Space Museum for the insights.

  • The attack on Pearl Harbor, many believe, can be traced back to the 1850’s, when U.S. Naval Captain Matthew C. Perry sailed to Japan and negotiated the opening of Japanese ports for trade. After more than 200 years of self-imposed isolation, Japan wanted to engage with the rest of the world and knew its fortunes lie outside its shores.
  • To compete globally, Japan needed resources—a theme that persistently and eventually pushes the narrative of Pearl Harbor to its climax. Iron and coal were key natural resources in the steam era at the end of the 19th century but were not available in any significance on the Japanese island. Japan needed to look elsewhere for oil and vital manufacturing resources.
  • Beginning around 1894, Japan engaged in war with China and in 1904 with Russia to secure more resources.  A 1905 win against the Russian Navy shocked the world and alerted the U.S. that they needed to be prepared for new relations with a more aggressive Japan.
  • As early as 1911, the U.S. Navy drafted plans for dealing with a possible war with Japan, known as War Plan Orange. The 1921 Washington Naval Treaty set out to prevent expensive naval building races between nations, but limited Japan to a much smaller navy than the U.S., a result that further soured the relationship between the two countries.
  • The relationship between the two countries was cordial enough that they remained trading partners. Tensions did not seriously grow until Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931. Over the next decade, Japan expanded into China, leading to the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Japan spent considerable effort trying to isolate China and endeavored to secure enough independent resources to attain victory on the mainland. The “Southern Operation” was designed to assist these efforts.
  • Starting in December 1937, events such as the Japanese attack on USS Panay, the Allison incident, and the Nanking Massacre swung Western public opinion sharply against Japan. Fearing Japanese expansion, the United States, United Kingdom, and France assisted China with loans for war supply contracts.  The goal was simple – keep Japan at bay.
  • In 1940, Japan invaded French Indochina, attempting to stymie the flow of supplies reaching China. The United States halted shipments of airplanes, parts, machine tools, and aviation gasoline to Japan, which the latter perceived as an unfriendly act. The United States did not stop oil exports, however, partly because of the prevailing sentiment in Washington: given Japanese dependence on American oil, such an action was likely to be considered an extreme provocation.
  • In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Hawaii. He also ordered a military buildup in the Philippines, taking both actions in the hope of discouraging Japanese aggression in the Far East. Because the Japanese high command was (mistakenly) certain any attack on the United Kingdom’s Southeast Asian colonies, including Singapore, would bring the U.S. into the war, a devastating preventive strike appeared to be the only way to prevent American naval interference.
  • In September 1940, Japan aligned with Germany and Italy. Japan hoped the war would result in a boon of new resources and saw the alignment as a way to push back against the U.S. embargos.  If America wanted to declare war on Japan, they would also have to declare war on Germany meaning a fight across two oceans.
  • An invasion of the Philippines was also considered necessary by Japanese war planners. The U.S. War Plan Orange had envisioned defending the Philippines with an elite force of 40,000 men; this option was never implemented due to opposition from Douglas MacArthur, who felt he would need a force ten times that size. By 1941, U.S. planners expected to abandon the Philippines at the outbreak of war.
  • The U.S. finally ceased oil exports to Japan in July 1941, following the seizure of French Indochina after the Fall of France, in part because of new American restrictions on domestic oil consumption. Because of this decision, Japan proceeded with plans to take the oil-rich Dutch East Indies. On August 17, Roosevelt warned Japan that America was prepared to take opposing steps if “neighboring countries” were attacked. The Japanese were faced with a dichotomy—either withdraw from China and lose face or seize new sources of raw materials in the resource-rich European colonies of Southeast Asia.
  • The U.S. believed that Japan would run out of necessary resources in six months and would have to agree to negotiations or cease military action. Japan did the same math and realized they needed to act. Japan began to plan the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Many within the Japanese military were wary of the risks—Japanese carriers did not have the range to make it to Pearl Harbor and would need to refuel at sea, a maneuver that was unfamiliar to their navy. But to Japan, the potential reward outweighed the risks. They believed an attack on the U.S. would prevent America from entering the war for up to six months. In that time, Japan could shift the balance of power and take Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. Japan also hoped the attack would demoralize the United States into inaction.
  • The Japanese Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto knew that to be successful secrecy was key. Few within the military were aware of what was conspired. Japanese carriers would take an extremely northern path to avoid shipping routes, and while travelling they were under complete radio silence. Even ship-to-ship communication was done using flags or blinker lights.
  • The final orders to attack Pearl Harbor were delivered to the ships by hand before they sailed on November 26th.  Burke noted that, at the time, the U.S. had only broken Japan’s diplomatic codes, not their naval codes. But even if the U.S. could read Japanese naval codes, there was no radio traffic to intercept.
  • Japan set an internal deadline: If negotiations with the U.S. did not go as desired, Pearl Harbor would be attacked. They pushed the deadline to November 29th. Three days later, the Japanese high command sent the message, “Climb Mount Niitaka,” to tell the listening Japanese carrier force to proceed with the attack.  War declaration communications were drafted and sent to the U.S. leadership, but never arrived on time.
  • What unfolded in the days to come is the story we’re more familiar with—2,403 Americans were killed, 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed, and the heart of the Pacific Fleet was left sitting on the harbor’s bottom.
  • Said Pearl Harbor curator Lawrence Burke said, “We can see why Americans should have anticipated war with the Japanese.” But the specifics of the attack were a surprise. The U.S. knew something was afoot but anticipated being attacked in the Philippines not Pearl Harbor. The U.S. knew the risks that Japan faced with an attack on Pearl and believed it to be impossible. And the U.S. did not believe that Japan was capable of planning and executing such an attack.
  • To say that Pearl Harbor was a complete surprise, as most history books do, does not take into account the complex history and relationships between the U.S. and Japan leading up to the attack. The war with Japan was not a surprise, but the location and nature of the first strike was.

To learn more, visit  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pearl_Harbor_looking_southwest-Oct41.jpg, and God bless the brave souls who lost their lives defending our great nation.

On December 8, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Declaration of War Address to congress and later officially signs it.  WATCH HERE

 

 


 

Legend, Teamwork & The Impossible

 

Ever set a crazy goal … and then reach it?  Ever been told “oh, that’s impossible”, then feeling larger than life when it happens?  Ever convince a small group, that even though the goal is crazy (BHAG’s as the motivation experts like to call them today), you overcome the odds, and deliver.  That drive, passion and purpose, lives everyday here at KHT –  it’s the engine behind our PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs solutions – digging, testing, discovering and delivering.  It’s an amazing feeling for sure.  Last week a legend passed away at the age of 88 – Sir Roger Bannister, famously known as the first person to break the four-minute mile barrier, an accomplishment, at its time, most felt was “simply impossible”.  Being a bit of a running junkie, I dug into the history books a bit, and found out some things I never knew – like the fact that two other runners were chasing the same dream and pushing Bannister to hit his goal – like the fact that Roger had a pack of runners help him during the race to set the correct pace – that prior to breaking the record, Roger finished far behind in the pack of runners in many of his previous races, was unsure of this ever happening, and even thought of not running at all that glorious day, and about a month later, another runner broke Mr. Bannister’s record time.  Special thanks to The Guardian and Wikipedia and for the info, and congratulations Roger for reminding us all that sometimes, the impossible is possible.

 

  • Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister was a British middle-distance athlete, doctor and academic who ran the first sub-4-minute mile (3 minutes 59.4 seconds) on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford, with Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher providing the pacing.
  • Bannister was born in Harrow, England. He went to Vaughan Road Primary School in Harrow and continued his education at City of Bath Boys’ School and University College School, London; followed by medical school at the University of Oxford Exeter College and Merton College and at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, now part of Imperial College London.
  • Bannister started his running career at Oxford in the autumn of 1946 at the age of 17. He had never worn running spikes previously or run on a track. His training was light, even compared to the standards of the day, but he showed promise in running a mile in 1947 in 4:24.6 on only three weekly half-hour training sessions.
  • He was selected as an Olympic “possible” in 1948 but declined as he felt he was not ready to compete at that level. Inspired to become a great miler by watching the 1948 Olympics, he set his training goals on the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.
  • In 1949, he improved in the 880 yards to 1:52.7 and won several mile races in 4:11. By 1950 Bannister saw more improvements as he finished a relatively slow 4:13 mile on 1 July with an impressive 57.5 last quarter. Then, he ran the AAA 880 in 1:52.1, losing to Arthur Wint, and then ran 1:50.7 for the 800 m at the European Championships on 26 August, placing third. Chastened by this lack of success, Bannister started to train harder and more seriously.
  • His increased attention to training paid quick dividends, as he won a mile race in 4:09.9. In 1951 at the Penn Relays, Bannister broke away from the pack with a 56.7 final lap, finishing in 4:08.3. In his biggest test to date, he won a mile race on July 14 in 4:07.8 at the AAA Championships at White City before 47,000 people. The time set a meet record as he defeated defending champion Bill Nankeville in the process.
  • Bannister avoided racing after the 1951 season until late in the spring of 1952, saving his energy for Helsinki and the Olympics. He ran an 880 on May 28 in 1:53.00, then a 4:10.6 mile time-trial in June, proclaiming himself satisfied with the results. At the AAA Championships, he skipped the mile and won the 880 in 1:51.5. Then, 10 days before the Olympic final, he ran a ¾ mile time trial in 2:52.9, which gave him confidence that he was ready for the Olympics as he considered the time to be the equivalent of a four-minute mile.
  • His confidence soon dissipated as it was announced there would be semifinals for the 1500 m (equal to 0.932 miles) at the Olympics, and he knew that this favored runners who had much deeper training regimens than he did. The 1500 m final would prove to be one of the more dramatic in Olympic history. The race was not decided until the final meters, with Josy Barthel of Luxembourg prevailing in an Olympic-record 3:45.28 (3:45.1 by official hand-timing) and the next seven runners all under the old record.  Bannister finished fourth, out of the medals, but set a British record of 3:46.30 in the process.
  • After his relative failure at the 1952 Olympics, Bannister spent two months deciding whether to give up running. He set himself on a new goal: to be the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. Accordingly, he intensified his training and did hard intervals, a type of training that involves a series of low- to high-intensity workouts interspersed with rest or relief periods
  • On 2 May 1953, he made an attempt on the British record at Oxford. Paced by Chris Chataway, Bannister ran 4:03.6, shattering Wooderson’s 1945 standard. “This race made me realize that the four-minute mile was not out of reach,” said Bannister.
  • Other runners were making attempts at the four-minute barrier and coming close as well. American Wes Santee ran 4:02.4 in June, the fourth-fastest mile ever. And at the end of the year, Australian John Landy ran 4:02.0, and matched his time again early in 1954. Bannister had been following Landy’s and Santee’s attempts and was certain a rival would likely succeed, Bannister knew he had to make his attempt soon.
  • The historic event took place on May 6, 1954 during a meet between British AAA and Oxford University at Iffley Road Track in Oxford, watched by about 3,000 spectators. With winds up to 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) before the event, Bannister had said twice that he favored not running, to conserve his energy and efforts to break the 4-minute barrier; he would try again at another meet. However, the winds dropped just before the race was scheduled to begin, and Bannister did run.
  • The pace-setters from his major 1953 attempts, future Commonwealth Games gold medalist Chris Chataway and Olympic Games gold medalist Chris Brasher combined to provide pacing on this historic day. Bannister had begun his day at a hospital in London, where he sharpened his racing spikes and rubbed graphite on them so they would not pick up too much cinder ash. He took a mid-morning train from Paddington Station to Oxford, nervous about the rainy, windy conditions that afternoon.
  • The race went off as scheduled at 6:00 pm, and Brasher and Bannister went immediately to the lead. Brasher, wearing No. 44, led both the first lap in 58 seconds and the half-mile in 1:58, with Bannister, No. 41, tucked in behind, and Chataway a stride behind Bannister.  Chataway moved to the front after the second lap and maintained the pace with a 3:01 split at the bell. Chataway continued to lead around the front turn until Bannister began his finishing kick with about 275 yards to go, running the last lap in just under 59 seconds.  Said Bannister, “The world seemed to stand still, or did not exist. The only reality was the next 200 yards of track under my feet. The tape meant finality – extinction perhaps.  I felt at that moment that it was my chance to do one thing supremely well. I drove on, impelled by a combination of fear and pride.”
  • The stadium announcer for the race was Norris McWhirter, (who went on to co-publish and co-edit the Guinness Book of Records). He excited the crowd by delaying the announcement of the time Bannister ran as long as possible.

“Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event nine, the one mile: first, number forty one, R. G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which—subject to ratification—will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire and World Record. The time was three…” (the roar of the crowd drowned out the rest of the announcement – “minutes, 59.4 seconds.”

  • The claim that a four-minute mile was once thought to be impossible by “informed” observers was and is a widely propagated myth created by sportswriters. The reason the myth took hold was that four minutes was a round number which was slightly better (1.4 seconds) than the world record for nine years, longer than it probably otherwise would have been because of the effect of the Second World War in interrupting athletic progress in the combatant countries.
  • Just 46 days later, on 21 June in Turku, Finland, Bannister’s record was broken by his Australian rival John Landy, with a time of 3 min 57.9 s, which the IAAF ratified as 3 min 58.0 s due to the rounding rules then in effect.
  • On August 7, at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, B.C., Bannister, running for England, competed against Landy for the first time in a race billed as “The Miracle Mile”. They were the only two men in the world to have broken the 4-minute barrier, with Landy still holding the world record. Landy led for most of the race, building a lead of 10 yards in the third lap (of four), but was overtaken on the last bend, and Bannister won in 3 min 58.8 s, with Landy 0.8 s behind in 3 min 59.6 s. Bannister and Landy have both pointed out that the crucial moment of the race was that at the moment when Bannister decided to try to pass Landy, Landy looked over his left shoulder to gauge Bannister’s position and Bannister burst past him on the right, never relinquishing the lead.
  • Bannister went on that season to win the so-called metric mile, the 1500 m, at the European Championships in Bern, Switzerland, with a championship record in a time of 3 min 43.8 s. He retired from athletics late in 1954 to concentrate on his work as a junior doctor and to pursue a career in neurology.
  • Bannister later became the first Chairman of the Sports Council (now called Sport England) and was knighted for this service in 1975. Under his aegis, central and local government funding of sports centers and other sports facilities was rapidly increased.  He also initiated the first testing for use of anabolic steroids in sport.
  • Retiring from athletics, Bannister spent forty years practicing medicine. He ultimately published more than 80 papers, mostly concerned with the autonomic nervous system, cardiovascular physiology, and multiple system atrophy.  Bannister married the artist Moyra Jacobsson, daughter of the Swedish economist Per Jacobsson, who served as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.  In 2011, Bannister was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and died on March 3, 2018 at the age of 88.
  • On the 50th anniversary of running the sub-4-minute mile, Bannister was interviewed by the BBC’s sports correspondent Rob Bonnet. At the conclusion of the interview, Bannister was asked whether he looked back on the sub-4-minute mile as the most important achievement of his life. To the contrary, Bannister replied essentially that he instead saw his subsequent forty years of practicing as a neurologist and some of the new procedures he introduced as being more significant.
  • For his efforts, Bannister was made the inaugural recipient of the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year award for 1954. Later runners inspired by Bannister and his achievement, included Phil Knight who says that Roger Bannister inspired him to start Nike.
  • Today, according to The IAAF, the official body which oversees the records, Hicham El Guerrouj of Moracco is the current men’s record holder of the mile with his time of 3:43.13, while Russian Svetlana Masterkova has the women’s record of 4:12.56.