Friday, 12 July 2013

1885 - Prof. Johnson's Machine

There was a member of Hamilton’s black community who was not only very well-known in his home city, but indeed his fame was much more widespread.
Assuming the title, “Professor,” C. A. Johnson, was an orator, writer and newspaper editor.
On July 20, 1885, the Hamilton Spectator reprinted an account of Prof. Johnson’s appearance in New York City as carried in one of that city’s newspapers, the New York Exchange :
“Johnson, the colored weather prophet and editor of the British Lion published in Hamilton, Can., who recently offered to give the Canadian government 200 colored volunteers to fight against Riel, is in town today.”1
1 “In a New Role : Prof. and Col. C. A. Johnson Announces a Startling Machine”
Hamilton Spectator. July 20, 1885.
Prof. Johnson was attempting to rent a hall to give a lecture, of course, charging a fee for all who would want to hear him speak.
To drum up interest in what he was going to speak about, Johnson gave an interview with a newspaper reporter from the New York Exchange in which he said:
“I have an aerial machine made to go at the speed of at least 200 million miles an hour, which I will exhibit at my lecture, and I will navigate by electricity. I shall startle the people. I propose to go from New York to Liverpool in a day and a half. I understand all about the wind and the air currents and have made my arrangements accordingly.”1
The reporter asked Johnson the following question : “Would not such a rate of speed cause concussion of the brain?”1
In reply, Johnson said : “Oh, not at all. I have provided for that. I understand all about quick motion and have made arrangements against such contingencies. I’m not in a position to explain definitely the principles of my invention, but I have not the slightest doubt it will succeed. People can’t help being impressed with it, and I believe in five years, instead of Jacob Sharp’s railroad on Broadway, we’ll have aerial machines which will transport us up or down Broadway in a few seconds, at almost infinitesimal cost.”1
This was just one of the Professor Johnson’s many incidents designed to attract attention to himself, his newspaper and his public lectures.

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