Category Archives: History

Why Did Yankee Doodle Stick a Feather in His Cap and Call It Macaroni?

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James H. asks: Curious question for you, but something I’ve always wondered about. Why did Yankee Doodle call the feather in his hat macaroni? While silly and irreverent, the song “Yankee Doodle” holds a rather patriotic place in many American hearts and is even the official state song of Connecticut. Today, the jingle may bring to mind a proud revolutionary […]

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How Hitler’s Flatulence May Have Helped End WWII Earlier Than it Otherwise Would Have

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader What was it that caused Adolf Hitler’s physical and mental health to collapse in the closing days of World War II? He was losing the war, of course— surely that had a great deal to do with it. But for more than 60 years, historians have wondered if there was […]

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The Declaration of Independence was Voted and Approved on July 2nd and Wasn’t Signed Until August 2nd, So Why is July 4th Independence Day?

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While it is often said that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, this isn’t actually correct. In fact, nobody signed it on the 4th. This is contradictory to Thomas Jefferson’s, John Adams’, and Benjamin Franklin’s account of events. On top of their accounts, the public congressional record of events back their story. So how do we […]

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The Story of “the Rock”

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Everybody knows that Alcatraz (also known as “the Rock”) was a federal prison. But it wasn’t always just the dungeon of the notorious. GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES When gold was discovered near San Francisco in 1848, word spread like a virus. Seemingly overnight, the sleepy western town turned into a full-fledged city. […]

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That Time Jordan Anderson Sent His “Letter from a Freedman to His Old Master”

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During the 19th century, there were many freed slaves that went on to lead extremely noteworthy lives despite all the adversity they faced in their lifetime, such as the world famous Frederick Douglass, who not only played an important role in fighting for black people’s rights, but also championed women’s rights, particularly playing an important part in the fight for […]

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The Not-So-Holy Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe

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Established in West Wycombe by Sir Francis Dashwood in 1749, the Brotherhood of St. Francis of Wycombe was anything but saintly. Devoted to wicked fun and debauchery, for the next two decades, many notable individuals in England counted themselves members, such as the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, Baron George Dodington, member of Parliament Thomas Potter, and, while not […]

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The Mystery of One of the Strangest Natural Disasters of the 20th Century

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Here’s the story of how scientists unlocked the secrets of the worst natural disaster in the history of the west African nation of Cameroon …and what they’re doing to try and stop it from happening again. THE DISCOVERY On the morning of August 22, 1986, a man hopped onto his […]

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Alexander III and the Story Behind the World’s Most Expensive Eggs

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Unless you happen to be a Russian history buff, you probably don’t know much about Czar Alexander III. But if you’re a fan of Fabergé eggs, you have him (and Carl Fabergé, of course) to thank for them. HOW EGGS-CITING In 1885 the emperor, or czar, of Russia, Alexander III, […]

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Damnatio Memoriae: When the Romans Purposely Erased People from History

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Damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) was a punishment reserved for certain people the Romans decided to dishonour for one reason or another. Rather impressively, it involved trying to get rid of all records that the person ever existed. Understandably, historians aren’t aware of any people to whom this dishonor was successfully applied, since if they did, it wouldn’t have been […]

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When Did People First Start Clapping to Show Appreciation?

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Mark D. asks: When did we start clapping to show that we like something? Clapping is the near-ubiquitous way we show our appreciation of something, particularly when we’re in large groups. But have you ever wondered why slapping our hands together has come to be so closely associated with approval and where the practise originated from? To begin with, the […]

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Dustbin of History: The Fascinating Saga of the Comstock Lode

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Practically everybody has daydreamed about prospecting for gold and striking it rich. But what happens after the big strike? Here’s the amazing tale of one of the biggest bonanzas in U.S. history. KILLING TIME In January 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, California, sparking the Gold Rush that brought […]

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That Time the Nazis Nearly Completed a Super-Cannon Capable of Hitting London from France

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WW2 saw the nations of the world investing massive amounts of manpower and money into the development of better ways to extinguish life in hopes of turning the tide of the war in their respective favors, sometimes including coming up with outlandish contraptions like (surprisingly effective) bat bombs and pigeon guided missiles, anti-tank dogs, flying jeeps and tanks, suicide torpedoes, […]

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The Origins of Mother’s Day and Its Inventor’s Campaign to Put a Stop to It

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Today, Mother’s Day is a holiday of joy, brunches, gifts, flowers and phone calls. In fact, phone traffic spikes more on Mother’s Day than any other holiday. This annual celebration of moms everywhere was first officially established in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation, which read that this is the day we “[publicly express] our love and […]

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