Historical Nonfiction

fun facts, quotes, and pictures from history

This seems appropriately historical for this blog! Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Either A Darwin Award, Or True Dedication To Ones Profession

Clement Vallandigham, notoriously pro-separation Ohio politician during the American Civil War, led a quiet life afterwards as a successful attorney back in his home state. In 1871, he defended one Thomas McGehan, who was accused of murder in a bar fight. Vallandigham claimed that the victim, a certain Meyers, had accidentally shot himself by trying to draw his pistol while kneeling down. At Lebanon, Ohio, on the night of Friday, June 16, Vallandigham was in a hotel room discussing McGehan’s defence with Andrew McBurney, who had previously been Lieutenant Governor of Ohio.

McBurney expressed scepticism at Vallandigham’s theory, so Vallandigham grabbed a pistol he had placed on the table and demonstrated what he would show the jury.The only problem was that he didn’t grab the pistol he thought he had, but rather a loaded gun.  What happened next was exactly what you would expect. Vallandigham received a would similar to the one found on Meyers and died the next morning. Vallandigham’s death was not entirely in vain. The jury in the McGehan case were suddenly quite able to believe that Meyers’ wound was self-inflicted, and McGehan was acquitted and went free.

(Source: allfunandgames.ca)

In most of china, this sweet and sour orange sauce is known as “sour plum sauce” (酸梅醬) and it is always served with — what else? — duck. But thanks to one adventurous diner and a sick cook, duck sauce has become ubiquitous in the US as the sauce for spring rolls.

In most of china, this sweet and sour orange sauce is known as “sour plum sauce” (酸梅醬) and it is always served with — what else? — duck. But thanks to one adventurous diner and a sick cook, duck sauce has become ubiquitous in the US as the sauce for spring rolls.

Ada Jones and Billy Murray

—"I Love My Wife But, Oh You Kid!" chorus

In 1909, “I Love, I Love, I Love My Wife — But Oh, You, Kid” was a viral hit. It inspired hundreds of rip-offs, ironically, because the hit was stolen and upgraded from a rival Tin Pan Alley studio. Part of the appeal was its raciness. “Kid” was new slang, like “baby,” usually reserved for pillowtalk. And in the popular version the man’s wife was walking out with the butcher! The song winkingly suggested that everyone was doing the do — and not with their spouses.

Lady detectives learning their trade. Mr. Kersey is showing them how to apprehend a suspect.  April 1927.

Lady detectives learning their trade. Mr. Kersey is showing them how to apprehend a suspect.  April 1927.

Roosevelt and the Bar Fight

Theodore Roosevelt once found himself in a bar fight in Mingusville, Montana. It was likely summer of 1884, when the future president was relatively unknown in the area. He was traveling alone, mourning the loss of his wife and mother. Roosevelt had been riding through the badlands and the prairies of western Dakota Territory and eastern Montana Territory for many days when he arrived at the Nolan’s Hotel in Mingusville. There, he encountered a bully who, like others had done who did not know Roosevelt well, teased him about his glasses. After refusing to be laughed off, the bully followed Roosevelt to his seat. In Roosevelt’s own words:

"I said, ‘Well, if I’ve got to, I’ve got to,’ and rose, looking past him.As I rose, I struck quick and hard with my right just to one side of the point of his jaw, hitting with my left as I straightened out, and then again with my right. He fired the guns, but I do not know whether this was merely a convulsive action of his hands, or whether he was trying to shoot at me. When he went down he struck the corner of the bar with his head… if he had moved I was about to drop on my knees; but he was senseless. I took away his guns, and the other people in the room, who were now loud in their denunciation of him, hustled him out and put him in the shed.” The bully was gone the next morning, left town on the train.

(Source: nps.gov)

Way to Go!

Martin of Aragon, King of Aragon, Valencia, Sardinia and Corsica and Count of Barcelona and King of Sicily died from a combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughter.

(Source: Wikipedia)

This man helped create analytic philosophy and was one of the 1900s’ premier logicians, and you probably don’t know who he is. Meet Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, socialist, pacifist and social critic. He co-authored Principia Mathematica, an attempt to show all mathematics derive from a well-defined set of axioms. His philosophical essay “On Denoting” has been considered a “paradigm of philosophy.” Both works influence a variety of fields today, including mathematics, linguistics, and logic. 

This man helped create analytic philosophy and was one of the 1900s’ premier logicians, and you probably don’t know who he is. Meet Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, socialist, pacifist and social critic. He co-authored Principia Mathematica, an attempt to show all mathematics derive from a well-defined set of axioms. His philosophical essay “On Denoting” has been considered a “paradigm of philosophy.” Both works influence a variety of fields today, including mathematics, linguistics, and logic. 

"The Candy Seller (Ameya)" by American artist Robert Frederick Blum, who became fascinated with Japanese culture after making a visit to the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. He made his way to Japan in 1890, where he stayed for three years, during which he created various paintings and sketches based on the scenes and people he saw in the country. "The Candy Seller" shows old Edo, today called Tokyo.

"The Candy Seller (Ameya)" by American artist Robert Frederick Blum, who became fascinated with Japanese culture after making a visit to the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. He made his way to Japan in 1890, where he stayed for three years, during which he created various paintings and sketches based on the scenes and people he saw in the country. "The Candy Seller" shows old Edo, today called Tokyo.

The Bang Pa-In Palace, in Thailand. Summer residence of the monarch and their family, it is an interesting mix of styles. The royal palace is Chinese; see the throne room above, with the distinctive red and gold decor. Smaller buildings are in traditional but simple Thai style. In the later 1800s, King Chulalongkorn renovated Bang Pa-In Palace, adding buildings and gardens in the European style as he went. Today it is an interesting and colorful mix, away from the tourist crowd at two hours north of Bangkok.

(Source: timetravelturtle.com)

During the crusages in the Middle Ages, European crusaders encountered a new kind of blade, with a distinctive grain pattern. This was damascus steel, made from the damascene process of thrusting a superheated blade in the body of a slave and then into cold water. India had discovered the technique, and exported the steel to the Middle East. Crusaders discovered, to their dismay, that swords made of Damascus steel were more resilient and harder than those of European manufacture. Europeans did not discover the secret until 500 years after the Crusades, however, when it was discovered that thrusting a red-hot sword into a mass of animal skins soaking in water had a similar effect to the Damascus method. The nitrogen given off by the skins in the water produces a chemical reaction in the steel, no slaves required

During the crusages in the Middle Ages, European crusaders encountered a new kind of blade, with a distinctive grain pattern. This was damascus steel, made from the damascene process of thrusting a superheated blade in the body of a slave and then into cold water. India had discovered the technique, and exported the steel to the Middle East. Crusaders discovered, to their dismay, that swords made of Damascus steel were more resilient and harder than those of European manufacture. Europeans did not discover the secret until 500 years after the Crusades, however, when it was discovered that thrusting a red-hot sword into a mass of animal skins soaking in water had a similar effect to the Damascus method. The nitrogen given off by the skins in the water produces a chemical reaction in the steel, no slaves required

(Source: Wikipedia)

The inventor of the first bank-issued credit card was John Briggs, a banker from the Flatbush National Bank of New York. Introduced in 1946, the card was called “Charge-It.” The catch was that a user had to have an account at Brigg’s bank and purchases could be made only locally. Technically, it was actually a charge card, because the bill had to be paid in full at the end of each month.

(Source: facts.randomhistory.com)

Diner Slang

Adam and Eve on a raft and wreck ‘em”: two scrambled eggs on toast

  • “Burn one, take it through the garden, and pin a rose on it”: hamburger with lettuce, tomato, and onion
  • “Burn the British and draw one in the dark”: English muffin, toasted, with black coffee
  • “Adam’s ale, hold the hail”: water, no ice
  • “Give it shoes”: an order to go
  • “Honeymoon salad”: “lettuce alone”
  • “Life preservers”: doughnuts
  • “Noah’s boy on bread”: ham sandwich
  • “Put out the lights and cry”: liver and onions
  • "Zeppelins in a fog”: sausages and mashed potatoes

(Source: futilitycloset.com)