Category Archives: History

The High-Flying Origin of Hot Air Balloons

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It isn’t often that a duck, rooster and sheep get this much attention. In September 1783, King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette (see: The Truth About Marie Antoinette’s Cake)- along with 130,000 curious French citizens – stood in the Palace of Versailles’ courtyard to witness a demonstration of a modern marvel. After months of tests, two well-to-do paper […]

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Why Does the United States Use the Electoral College Instead of a Simple Vote Count When Deciding the Next President?

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Mike C. asks: Why don’t we use the popular vote to pick the president? On December 13, 2000,  Vice President Al Gore conceded the presidential election to Governor Bush. A day earlier, a lengthy and expensive manual vote recount process in Florida was stopped by the United States Supreme Court despite Bush leading by only 537 votes. With Bush winning […]

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When Did Humans Start Wearing Clothes?

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M. Schane asks: When did humans start wearing clothing? Determining exactly when humans began wearing clothes is a challenge, largely because early clothes would have been things like animal hides, which degrade rapidly. Therefore, there’s very little archaeological evidence that can be used to determine the date that clothing started being worn. There have been several different theories based on […]

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The Duel That Wasn’t

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It was a beautiful spring day on the banks of the Potomac River in 1826 when Secretary of State Henry Clay and Senator John Randolph of Roanoke counted paces, cocked their guns and prepared to fire at one another. The two notable American politicians were engaged in an illegal duel that, by nearly all accounts, should have never happened. Shots […]

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Why a Typical Work Day is Eight Hours Long

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During the Industrial Revolution, companies attempted to maximize the output of their factories by keeping them running as many hours as possible, typically implementing a “sun up to sun down” work day.  Wages were also extremely low, so workers themselves often needed to work these long shifts just to get by, including often sending their children to work in the […]

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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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