William Langer, the (short-lived) dictator of North Dakota

The economic tumult of the 1930s wrought considerable havoc in governments around the world, and the United States was no exception. Huey Long, a left-wing populist governor and Senator in Louisiana, is the most well-known emblem of authoritarian American politicians during this era. The comparatively ineffectual William Langer is much less studied. Langer was elected North Dakota governor in 1932 as a member of the … Continue reading William Langer, the (short-lived) dictator of North Dakota

Britain’s last witchcraft imprisonment was during World War II

Witchcraft trials tend to conjure images of Salem or medieval Europe. This connotation implies that witchcraft convictions are a convention long abandoned by the vast majority of the world, a mere relic of ancient superstition. In fact, Great Britain persisted with witchcraft convictions well into the twentieth century. Helen Duncan is known as the last British person to be imprisoned for witchcraft under the country’s … Continue reading Britain’s last witchcraft imprisonment was during World War II

A nineteenth century swindler invented his own country

Poyais would have sounded dreamlike to those on the foggy shores of Scotland in the early nineteenth century. Prospective investors and settlers were told of a new South American country filled with fertile soil, verdant scenery, a temperate climate, and considerable amenities, including a majestic port. Gregor MacGregor, a native of Scotland who had long since moved to South America and served as a military … Continue reading A nineteenth century swindler invented his own country

Marc Dutroux: The serial killer who shook Belgium

Long before the actions of Jeffrey Epstein became public knowledge, Belgians were aware of a different pedophile with ties to the wealthy and powerful. Marc Dutroux, born on November 6, 1956, is the most prominent serial killer to hail from Belgium. Dutroux began his criminal career as an auto thief and pimp, but gradually turned to rape and murder. In conjunction with his accomplices, he … Continue reading Marc Dutroux: The serial killer who shook Belgium

One of Australia’s Prime Ministers disappeared without a trace in 1967

Australia, as with many countries, has had a rocky political history. Its now-famous war against emus in the early 1930s has become the subject of countless memes and YouTube videos. The country faced a historic constitutional crisis in 1975, when Queen Elizabeth II’s Governor General removed the Prime Minister and imposed his preferred government, in what some have labeled a soft coup d’état. Perhaps the … Continue reading One of Australia’s Prime Ministers disappeared without a trace in 1967

Why didn’t Benjamin Franklin write the Declaration of Independence?

When the Continental Congress assembled the Committee of Five to draft the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin was a perfect candidate to draft the historic document. Franklin was likely the most famous American in 1776. His aptitude across a range of varied pursuits — scientific, literary, and otherwise — granted him a caliber of respect unmatched by his colonial contemporaries. The Franklin stove, bifocals, lightning … Continue reading Why didn’t Benjamin Franklin write the Declaration of Independence?

King George III on General George Washington: Greatest man in the world?

Anyone with a passing understanding of the American Revolution can identify two titular figures in the world-altering American struggle against colonial rule: George Washington, the Commanding General of the Continental Army; and King George III, King of Great Britain. Most would also intuit mutual dislike between the two figures. However, there is considerable evidence that King George III held high regard for the talisman of … Continue reading King George III on General George Washington: Greatest man in the world?

The time the Catholic Church declared cats satanic

Not everyone is a fan of cats. Some might even joke that they are Luciferian in nature. There was a point at which the Catholic Church fueled this belief. Pope Gregory IX has not left a positive image of himself to posterity. The institution of the Papal Inquisition is generally considered the defining feature of his tenure. In fact, it was his zealous pursuit of … Continue reading The time the Catholic Church declared cats satanic

The best way to ensure a coyote population increase is by killing them

When people outside North America imagine the habitat of coyotes, it is possible that they concoct a picture painted by the Road Runner and Wil E. Coyote cartoons. This would lead to an impression that the animal is relegated mainly to the western part of the United States, particularly in the Southwestern deserts. At the time those animated cartoons were created, that was a fairly … Continue reading The best way to ensure a coyote population increase is by killing them