America’s first minority vice president: Charles Curtis?

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?

King Tut’s cause of death: hippopotamus?

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?

Samuel Dickstein: Congressman, New York judge, HUAC Committee member… and Soviet spy

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

Worst year to be alive? Try 536 AD, not 2020

When asked which year was the worst in history to be alive, many historians are quick to mention 536 AD. It might seem surprising that these historians can pinpoint a specific year as a clear winner, considering how fraught human history is with suffering. Perhaps it is less surprising, however, when the events of 536 are described. Due to a heavy fog, many portions of … Continue reading Worst year to be alive? Try 536 AD, not 2020

Did Native Americans settle Polynesia?

Many people think so, at least to a limited extent. For many decades, the theory rested on the presence of sweet potatoes in Polynesia, a food that has its origins in the Americas. Recently, however, more concrete evidence of the interactions between Native Americans and Polynesians has emerged due to genetic testing. Polynesians in French Polynesia, for instance, carry DNA associated with Native Americans. Studies … Continue reading Did Native Americans settle Polynesia?