Henry Clay is one of the most revered figures in American political history. The storied “Great Compromiser,” who, in addition to being a vaunted attorney, served as a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Speaker of the House, Secretary of State, a lead negotiator of the Treaty of Ghent, and in many other roles. Clay had a head-spinning political resume. Famously, the only political position he couldn’t … Continue reading Henry Clay: The Illegitimate Senator?
The sixth President of the United States advocated for a polar expedition to reach the globe’s epicenter. Continue reading John Quincy Adams and the Journey to the Center of the Earth
The first month of the modern Gregorian calendar owes its name to a Roman god. Continue reading How January got its name
Planned obsolescence is an annoyance to many consumers. The conventional wisdom, that consumer goods were once produced using material that would ensure longer-lasting durability than those today, is based upon solid evidence. What many may not know, however, is that the plethora of cheaper, less durable items lining the shelves of today’s stores is the culmination of several generations. Among the earliest, and perhaps most … Continue reading The Phoebus cartel: Lighting the way for planned obsolescence
Robert May, an advertising copywriter for Montgomery Ward, thought up Santa’s most trusty reindeer in 1939. Continue reading Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by a department store ad man
Curtis was born in 1860 in what was then known as the Territory of Kansas (Kansas would be admitted to the Union the following year). He was an enrolled member of the Kaw Nation, and was approximately 3/8 American Indian ancestry. After his mother died at age three, and his father was captured in the Civil War, Curtis was raised by his grandparents. His childhood … Continue reading America’s first minority vice president: Charles Curtis?
According to the Norse sagas, the region south of Viking territory in medieval Canada was called “Irland it Mikla,” or “Greater Ireland.” Continue reading Did the Irish reach North America before the Vikings?
Beloved as the animal might be from the childhood game “Hungry Hungry Hippos,” the hippopotamus is considered the most dangerous animal in Africa. Hundreds continue to be killed by the massive mammals each year throughout the continent. The mighty hippo’s strength is such that its forceful jaws can decapitate a human with a single bite. Though hippos have long since abandoned Egypt, their terror was … Continue reading King Tut’s cause of death: hippopotamus?
The soda bottle’s iconic design was incorrectly modeled on the shape of a cocoa bean. Continue reading How chocolate accidentally inspired the Coca-Cola bottle
The infamous House Un-American Activities Committee, associated with the excesses of the Second Red Scare in the popular imagination, perhaps should have investigated one of its own members. Samuel Dickstein, a Democratic congressman from New York from 1923 to 1945, was well-known as a fierce interrogator of communists and especially fascists. His conduct during hearings was extreme even by the general standards of the Committee, … Continue reading Samuel Dickstein: Congressman, New York judge, HUAC Committee member… and Soviet spy