Category Archives: Articles

10 Interesting Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ben Franklin

ben-franklin

Ben Franklin was a man of many and varied accomplishments- a Renaissance man in the grand tradition of Leonardo da Vinci. He was a writer, scientist, musician, inventor and innovator, despite only ever receiving 2 years of formal schooling. His ideas and principles helped shape his fledgling nation, and his diplomatic skills assured the newly born United States of America […]

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Before He Was President, JFK Was a Bestselling Author and Won a Pulitzer Prize

JFK

Most remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy as our youthful and inspiring 35th President who, with his elegant wife, turned the White House into Camelot until his assassination in November 1963. But what few today recall is that long before his presidency, JFK was a well-respected author and even won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1957 with Profiles in Courage. Born […]

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The Great Chicago Fire Wasn’t Started by a Cow

The Chicago Water Tower, the only public building in the burn area to survive the fire.

Myth: The Great Chicago Fire was started by a cow. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed 3.3 square miles of Chicago, Illinois, burning for two days in 1871—between October 8th and October 10th. It killed hundreds of people, left more than 100,000 homeless (nearly one third of Chicago’s residents at the time), destroyed roughly 17,000 buildings, and caused a couple hundred […]

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Why and How a Cat Purrs

happy-cat

Rachel asks: Why and how do cats purr? As any cat owner—or even someone who’s seen a cat—knows, cats often purr when they’re being petted or getting their chin scratched. They also purr when they want food and when they’re eating. Sometimes, they’ll purr as they drift off into sleep. Purring is most known to be a sign that cats […]

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How the United Kingdom Flag Design Came to Be as It is Today

the-flag-of-the-uk

Today I found out the origin of the United Kingdom’s flag design. With Britain permeating many a nation’s history, even people who have never visited the place are familiar with the British flag peering out at them from their history textbooks. Red, white, and blue before America adopted the colour scheme, the current British flag has been flying above government […]

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The First African American Invited to Dinner at the White House

Booker-Taliaferro-Washington

In the autumn of 1901, Booker T. Washington, the great educator, author, and orator, was on a speaking tour.  In Mississippi, he received a telegram from President Theodore Roosevelt.  (President William McKinley had been assassinated less than two months before, an event which led to Roosevelt being sworn in as President.) The telegram asked Washington to come to the capitol […]

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10 Interesting Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Walt Disney

walt-disney

Walt Disney epitomized the American dream like few others. Sure, he wasn’t perfect. He was a ruthless businessman, long rumored to be anti-semitic and otherwise racist, and was a ringleader for Hollywood’s anti-communist witch hunt in the 40s. But he rose up from humble beginnings; his childhood was anything but stable as his family moved throughout the midwest as his […]

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How Voltaire Made a Fortune Rigging the Lottery

Voltaire

While history knows him as a great Enlightenment thinker, Voltaire was once Francois-Marie Arouet, the charismatic and rebellious youngest son of a middle-class French family. In his early life, Voltaire fell consistently afoul of French authorities and was no stranger to controversy. Besides being exiled from Paris for a time in his early career, he was also imprisoned in the […]

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Where “Catch-22″ Came From and the Origins of Other Famous Words and Phrases

writing

Not set in stone, the English language is constantly evolving to describe new developments and experiences and to match the zeitgeist of the times. With words created out of necessity to describe a new technology, like tweet and telephone, their origins are relatively easy to trace back to the people who first invented them. With others that seem to rise […]

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