The Fairbanks Almanac vol. 3: A man named Francis, banned books and Old Hickory

George Fairbanks
Review staff

Put down that snow shovel (for now, at least), grab a hot beverage and relax with the latest edition of the Fairbanks Almanac. When you’re done you can crack open your dusty volume of Francis Bacon essays.

A few famous Francises

On March 13, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, was selected as the Catholic Church’s 266th pope. He was chosen on the fifth ballot during the traditional papal conclave. He chose the name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.

So now that Pope Francis is officially the most famous Francis in the world let’s take a look at a few other famous people named Francis.

Francis Bacon was born Jan. 22, 1561, in London and died near Highgate, England on April 9, 1626. Bacon is considered one of history’s most important scientific and philosophical thinkers. His essays are also considered some of the finest ever written and are still used in college classrooms around the world.

Francis Scott Key, born Aug. 1, 1779 in Frederick County, Maryland, had something of a front row seat during the War of 1812 as British ships attacked Fort McHenry in the Chesapeake Bay. That experience inspired him to write a poem, the Star Spangled Banner, that was later set to music.

Key died Jan. 11, 1843, in Baltimore.

Francis Ford Coppola, born April 7, 1939, in Detroit is the celebrated director of the Godfather trilogy as well as the Conversation, Apocalypse Now and Tucker: the Man and His Dream, a wonderful and underrated movie starring Jeff Bridges as automaker Preston Tucker.

Today, Coppola lives in California’s Napa Valley and produces outstanding, modestly priced wine, that bears his family’s name.

Books under fire

According to the American Library Association, the five most challenged books in 2011 were: the Internet Girls series by Lauren Myracle, the Color of Earth series by Kim Dong Hwa, the Hunger Games trilogy by Susan Collins, My Mom’s Having a Baby!

A Kid’s Month-By-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler, and the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

The most common reasons for the challenges were profanity, sexually explicit situations, religious viewpoint, and unsuitability for the listed age group.

Before the drive-thru ATM

On March 18, 1852 businessmen Henry Wells and William G. Fargo scrounged up a few investors and started a delivery service using a network of stagecoaches. The inspiration for the company came from the 1849 California gold rush and the need to move goods from eastern cities to west coast mining camps as quickly as possible.

In 1905 the company’s banking operation merged with the Nevada National Bank. Today Wells Fargo is one of the country largest banks. From horses and pickaxes to 24-hour online banking in just 150 years.

Presidential tidbits

Andrew Jackson, our seventh president, celebrated his birthday last week. Well, he didn’t celebrate it personally, but you know what I mean. Born March 15, 1767, near the North and South Carolina border, Jackson became a celebrated Army general, Congressman and U.S. Senator from Tennessee before his election to the presidency in 1828. During his two terms, Jackson argued against the Electoral College and opposed the national bank. Many historians have also accused Jackson of ethnic cleansing for his advocacy of Indian removal. Jackson was also a slave owner.

Jackson was nicknamed Old Hickory for his aggressive personality, a personality which led him to take part in several duels, some of which led to the death of his opponent.

The Fairbanks Almanac Vol. 2 should have noted President Martin Van Buren died July 24, 1862. Van Buren wasn’t killed fighting in the Civil War, probably because he was 79.

George Fairbanks can be reached at or 651-748-7813.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Article category: 
Comment Here