Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Great Hoaxes -- The Black History Jack Johnson Hoax


The above meme is being circulated on Facebook, and other social media, by so-called Black History groups. The problem is that it's not true. It is false, a fake, not real. It is a lie.

Wrenches and applications using wrenches or devices that needed wrenches, such as pipe clamps and suits of armor, have been noted by historians as far back as the 15th century. Adjustable "coach wrenches" for the odd-sized nuts of wagon wheels were manufactured in England and exported to America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. So yes, it is well known that wagons coming West had tools aboard including wrenches. 

In the mid-19th century, we began to see patented wrenches which used a screw to narrow and widen a wrench's jaws. That includes patented "monkey wrenches." They were set either by sliding a wedge, or later by twisting the handle, which turned a screw to either narrow or widen the jaws. It was popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but is now used only for heavier tasks, having been mostly replaced by the lighter and sleeker shifting adjustable wrenches. 

An adjustable wrench as we call it here in America is called adjustable "spanner" is the United Kingdom. They are wrenches with a "jaw" of adjustable width that allows us to use them with different sizes of nuts and bolts. And yes, there are many forms of adjustable wrenches, from the taper locking wrenches which needed a hammer to set the movable jaw to the size of the nut, to the modern screw adjustable wrenches. Simpler models use a serrated edge to lock the movable jaw to size. Today there are some adjustable spanners automatically adjust to the size of the nut. while more sophisticated versions are digital types that use sheets or feelers to set the size.

Named after the Crescent Tool Company was founded in Jamestown, New York, by Karl Peterson and Edward J. Worcester in 1907. The company became known for its adjustable wrenches. That's why we here in the United States and the folks up in Canada call most a adjustable wrench simply a "Crescent wrench".
In many Europe and parts of the Middle East, places such as France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, the adjustable wrench is called an "adjustable spanner" or an "English key" as it was first invented in 1842 by the English engineer Richard Clyburn. In countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Greece, Egypt, and Iran, an adjustable wrench is called a "French key." In Poland, they are called a "Swedish key" or a "French key" depending on type. 

Monkey wrenches are just another type of adjustable wrench. 

Hand-forged adjustable wrench

The "monkey wrench", known as "gas grips" in Great Britain, is an adjustable wrench. The term "monkey wrench" is really a colloquialism to refer to the a pipe wrench -- although they are still used by aircraft technicians when a large low torque fasteners are involved.

In America, Solymon Merrick of Springfield, Massachusetts, patented the first wrench in 1835. Then in 1840, in Worcester, Massachusetts, knife manufacturer Loring Coes invented a screw-based "coach wrench" design in which the jaw width was set with a spinning ring fixed under the sliding lower jaw, above the handle. 

This was patented in 1841 and the tools were advertised and sold in the United States as "monkey wrenches," a term which was already in use for the English handle-set coach wrenches. For the next eighty-seven years a very wide and popular range of monkey wrenches was manufactured by Coes family partnerships, licensees and companies, which filed further wrench patents throughout the nineteenth century. 

Some Coes wrenches could be bought with wooden knife handles, harking back to the company's early knife making business. In 1909 the Coes Wrench Company advertised a six-foot-long "key" wrench, shaped like a monkey wrench, for use on railroads. 

Monkey wrench (left) compared
to Stillson or pipe wrench (right)
The Coes wrench designs were acquired by longtime toolmaker Bemis & Call of Springfield, Massachusetts in 1928. After 1939, its successor companies manufactured monkey wrenches from Coes designs until the mid-1960s, yielding a production run of over 120 years. 

As for another piece of trivia, they were also known as a "Ford wrench" for a short time because a monkey wrench was included in the tool kit supplied with every Ford Model A.

Monkey wrenches are still manufactured and used for some heavy tasks, but as stated before, what many Americans today call a Monkey wrench is actually a pipe wrench. 

And yes, American Daniel C. Stillson, who was a steamboat firefighter, received a patented in 1870 for an invention later known as the Stillson pipe wrench. 

The Charles Moncky hoax

According to research, Charles Moncky lived in Baltimore and worked as a mechanic. He acquired a patent for his invention of an adjustable wrench in 1858. There those who say his wrench was called a "Monkey wrench" because of his name but that is false. 

But as I stated previously, other screw-adjustable wrenches and the term "monkey wrench" were used as far back as the early 1800's.

For example, the term "monkey wrench" can be found dating back to 1807 in Great Britain where the phrase "monkey wrench" appears in E.S. Dane’s "Peter Stubs & Lancashire Hand Tool Industry" catalog. That catalog has a section which reads: "Fleetwood, Richard, Parr, Rainford. Screw plates, lathes, clock engines, monkey wrenches, taps."

But let's get back to the Jack Johnson hoax!

Well over a year ago in early 2015, Black History groups circulated the Jack Johnson hoax on social media. They stated his patented wrench garnered the term "monkey" because Jack Johnson was a black man. 

While it is true that boxer Jack Johnson did receive a patent for a wrench while in prison, his patent was only improvements on an existing wrench that was not related to a monkey wrench. So frankly, the claim is false. Yes, a flat out lie.

So why did I want to look at this hoax?

Well, as I see it, the idea that a patient by a Black inventor was mocked when it fact that claim is false, is just more race baiting. This is a great example of people who create a story to serve their own agenda. In this case, their agenda is to show how a Black America inventor can be hated, and how a Black inventor's invention can be given a derogatory label. 

Friends, there were a number of Black inventors whose inventions were well received by the world.

Thomas L. Jennings (1791-1859) was the first Black American person to receive a patent in the United States. He invented an early method of dry cleaning called "dry scouring" patented it in 1821.

If you ever owned the original IBM personal computer, you can partially credit its existence to Mark E. Dean. He was the computer scientist/engineer who worked for IBM and led the team that designed the ISA bus which is the hardware interface that allows multiple devices like printers, modems, and keyboards to be plugged into a computer. This innovation helped pave the way for the personal computer's use in office and business settings.

Dean also helped develop the first color computer monitor. In 1999, he led the team of programmers that created the world’s first gigahertz chip. Today, Dean holds three of the company's original nine patents -- and more than 20 overall.

Dean was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1997. He’s currently a computer science professor at the University of Tennessee.

Madam C. J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in 1867, and her early life was filled with hardships: By the age of 20, she was both an orphan and a widow. He business sense and persistence made her America’s first self-made female millionaire. That's a far cry from her roots as the daughter of Louisiana sharecroppers. She 

Dr. Shirley Jackson is a theoretical physicist who currently serves as president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. While working at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories, she helped develop technologies that led to the invention of the portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and the technology enabling caller ID and call waiting. 

Dr. Jackson was also the first black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. from M.I.T., and the first to be named chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Countless individuals owe their lives to Black American Charles Richard Drew who was the physician responsible for America’s first major blood banks. Drew attended McGill University College of Medicine in Montreal, where he specialized in surgery. During a post-graduate internship and residency, the young doctor studied transfusion medicine. Later, while studying at Columbia University on fellowship, he refined key methods of collecting, processing, and storing plasma.

When World War II was in full swing, Dr. Drew was put in charge of a project called "Blood for Britain." He helped collect thousands of pints of plasma from New York hospitals, and shipped them overseas to treat European soldiers. Drew is also responsible for introducing the use of "bloodmobiles". Yes, he was responsible for those refrigerated trucks that transport blood.
Dr. Patricia Bath, is a Black American who revolutionized the field of ophthalmology when she invented a device that refined laser cataract surgery, called the "Laserphaco Probe." She patented the invention in 1988, and today she’s remembered as the first Black American woman doctor to receive a medical patent.

The average 19th century person couldn't afford shoes. That changed thanks to Black American Jan Ernst Matzeliger. She worked as an apprentice in a Massachusetts shoe factory. Matzeliger invented an automated shoemaking machine that attached a shoe’s upper part to its sole. 

Once it was refined, the device could make 700 pairs of shoes each day. Yes, that's a huge improvement from the 50 per day that the average worker once sewed by hand. But besides making shoes faster, her invention led to lower shoe prices which of course made financial reasonable for purchase by the average person.

Of course there's one of my favorite inventors, George Washington Carver who was actually born into slavery in Missouri. The Civil War ended when he was a boy. The end of the war gave him the chance to receive an education. And yes, Carver eventually received his undergraduate and master's degrees in botany at Iowa State Agricultural College.

After graduation, Carver was hired by Black American Booker T. Washington to run the Tuskegee Institute’s agricultural department, in southeastern Alabama. He helped poor farmers, black and white, by teaching them about fertilization and crop rotation.

And since the region's primary crop was cotton, which drains nutrients from the soil, the scientist conducted studies to determine which crops naturally thrived in the region. Legumes and sweet potatoes enriched the fields, but there wasn't much of a demand for either. So Carver used the humble peanut to create more than 300 products, ranging from laundry soaps to plastics and diesel fuel. 

By 1940, peanuts was the South's second-largest cash crop. While contrary to popular belief, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter. He was one of the greatest inventors in American history. He was a pioneer in the agricultural world and many refer to him as father of the peanut industry.

So now, after hearing of all of those notable Black American inventors who in many cases pre-dated Black Boxer Jack Johnson, why would anyone make up a story such as Johnson being black as the reason the "monkey wrench" being called what it is?

Some call it "rewriting history" to serve their own agenda, I believe that's the case. And yes, their agenda, the reason it's being done, is to divide Americans and stir up hate. I believe people who come up with race baiting things like this have nothing constructive to do and only want a divided America. I believe people who come up with thing like this are sorry individuals. 

The idea that the "monkey wrench" was a derogatory reference to Jack Johnson or any black person is ridiculously false. It is also ridiculously obvious that it is being used by Black groups as a way to stir up more hatred for White people. Yes, I believe it's meant to stir up hate for White Americans. 

And yes, that's just the way I see it. 

Tom Correa

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