HISTORY FUN FACTS


Turkeys Were Once Worshipped Like Gods.


The Olympics Used to Award Medals for Art.


Women Were Once Banned from Smoking in Public. The Sullivan Ordinance, a city law banning women (and only women!) from smoking in public.


During Prohibition in the United States, the U.S. government literally poisoned alcohol. When people continued to consume alcohol despite its banning, law officials got frustrated and decided to try a different kind of deterrent—death.


Captain Morgan Actually Existed.


Using Forks Used to Be Seen as Sacrilegious.


Cleopatra Was Not Egyptian. As best as Historians can tell, Cleopatra VII (that's her formal name) was Greek. She was a descendant of Alexander the Great's Macedonian general Ptolemy.


Pope Gregory IV declared war on cats in the 13th Century. He said that black cats were instruments of Satan.


Everyone knows the nursery rhyme "Mary Had A Little Lamb," but you probably didn't know this was based on true story. Her name was Mary Sawyer. She was an 11-year-old girl and lived in Boston and one day was followed to school by her pet lamb. In the late 1860s, she helped raise money for an old church by selling wool from the lamb.


Richard Nixon Was a Great Musician. He played five instruments in total: piano, saxophone, clarinet, accordion, and violin.


Lyndon B. Johnson Gave Interviews From the Bathroom. the unapologetic president gave interviews while using the toilet. Presidential biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin describes the impetus: "he just didn't want the conversation to stop."


Ketchup Was Sold in the 1830s as Medicine. In 1834, it was sold as a cure for indigestion by an Ohio physician named John Cook. It wasn't popularized as a condiment until the late 19th century.

President Abraham Lincoln is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame. The 6'4" president had only one loss among his around 300 contests. He earned a reputation for this in New Salem, Illinois, as an elite fighter. Eventually, he earned his county's wrestling championship.


Abraham Lincoln Was Also a Licensed Bartender. Lincoln was also a licensed bartender. In 1833, the 16th president opened up a bar called Berry and Lincoln with his friend William F. Berry in New Salem, Illinois. The shop was eventually closed when Berry, an alcoholic, consumed most of the shop's supply.


The first face to appear on thE $1 currency was Salmon P. Chase. The first $1 bill was issued during the Civil War in 1862. Chase was the Secretary of Treasury at that time and was also the designer of the country's first bank notes.


Thomas Edison Didn't Invent the Light Bulb. While he did land the patent for the light bulb in 1880, the real inventor was actually Warren de la Rue, a British astronomer and chemist, who actually created the very first light bulb forty years before Edison.


Cars Weren't Invented in the United States. The first car actually was created in the 19th Century when European engineers Karl Benz and Emile Levassor were working on automobile inventions. Benz patented the first automobile in 1886.


Columbus this European explorer did not discover America. Columbus was 500 years too late. In fact, it was the Norse explorer Leif Erikson who landed on American shores during the 10th century. Erikson could be considered the first European to discover America.


The witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, lasted between February 1692 and May 1693. Nearly 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft, including the homeless, the elderly, and a four-year-old girl. The majority were jailed, and some were hanged. But none of these people ever got burned alive.


You know that happy meal between Native Americans and the Pilgrims where everyone bonded? Well, the real story of Thanksgiving is awful, and actually consisted of plagues and violence and murder. Also, there's no evidence turkey was actually served—or that native people were invited to the meal.


The Protestant "Separatists" left Holland because of too much religious freedom, since the country allowed Judaism and Catholicism and even atheism. Because of this, the Puritans dipped and went to the Mayflower where they embarked across the pond for the new world.


U.S. President Zachary Taylor Overdosed On Cherries. After serving a mere 16 months in office, U.S. president Zachary Taylor passed away after eating far too many cherries and drinking milk at a Fourth of July party in 1850. He died on July 9th from gastroenteritis. The acidic cherries along with the milk is believed to have caused this.


Andrew Jackson Had a Vulgar Parrot. Andrew Jackson taught his parrot, Polly, to curse like a sailor. There is even one legend that the parrot had to be taken out of Jackson's funeral for its proclivity for profanity. And you thought you swore too much.


A Woman Was Elected to Congress Before Women Could Vote. Jeanette Rankin joined Congress in 1916, which was four years before women could actually vote. The 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote wasn't passed until August 18th, 1920.


During World War II, a Great Dane named Juliana was awarded the Blue Cross Medal. She extinguished an incendiary bomb by peeing on it!


Alexander the Great was accidentally buried alive. Scientists believe Alexander suffered from a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré Syndrome. They believe that when he died he was actually just paralyzed and mentally aware!


There were female Gladiators in Ancient Rome! A female gladiator was called a Gladiatrix, or Gladiatrices. They were extremely rare, unlike their male counterparts.


From 1912 to 1948, the Olympic Games held competitions in the fine arts. Medals were given for literature, architecture, sculpture, painting, and music. Obviously, the art created was required to be Olympic-themed.


In 1386, a pig was executed in France. In the Middle Ages, a pig attacked a child who went to die later from their wounds. The pig was arrested, kept in prison, and then sent to court where it stood trial for murder, was found guilty and then executed by hanging!


During the Victorian period, it was normal to photograph loved ones after they died. People would dress their newly-deceased relatives in their best clothing, and then put them in lifelike poses and photograph them. They did this to preserve one last image of their dead loved one!


The shortest war in history lasted 38 minutes! It was between Britain and Zanzibar and known as the Anglo-Zanzibar War, this war occurred on August 27, 1896. It was over the ascension of the next Sultan in Zanzibar and resulted in a British victory.


Tug of War used to be an Olympic sport! It was part of the Olympic schedule between 1900 and 1920 and occurred at 5 different Summer Olympic Games. The nation to win the most medals in this was Britain with 5 medals, then the USA with 3.


The University of Oxford is older than the Aztec Empire. The University of Oxford first opened its doors to students all the way back in 1096. By comparison, the Aztec Empire is said to have originated with the founding of the city of Tenochtitlán at Lake Texcoco by the Mexica which occurred in the year 1325.


The most famous female serial killer was a Hungarian Countess, Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed. She was accused of torturing and killing over 650 young women. Most of them were between the ages of 10 and 14.

In 18th century England, pineapples were a status symbol. Those rich enough to own a pineapple would carry them around to signify their personal wealth and high-class status. In that day and age, everything from clothing to houseware was decorated with the tropical fruit.


Tablecloths were originally designed to be used as one big, communal napkin. When they were first invented, guests were meant to wipe off their hands and faces on a tablecloth after a messy dinner party.

Before alarm clocks and way before smartphone alarms, there were people called knocker-uppers who would literally knock on people’s window to wake them up in time for work. Up until the 1970s, knocker-uppers used a long stick, soft hammers, rattles, or even pea shooters to reach their clients’ windows!


British poet and politician, Lord Byron, kept a pet bear in his dormitory while studying at Cambridge. Known for being an avid animal lover, when he found out he couldn’t bring his dog he decided to bring a tame bear to live with him on campus instead. He was even known to take it on walks with a leash!


For over 30 years, Canada and Denmark have been playfully fighting for control of a tiny island near Greenland called Hans Island. Once in a while, when officials from each country visit, they leave a bottle of their country’s liquor as a power move.


In 1998, 1,200 bones from some ten human bodies were found in the basement of Ben Franklin’s house. Before you go crafting a murder mystery about the Founding Father, it was revealed that the bodies were used in the study of human anatomy.


Roman gladiators often became celebrities and even endorsed products! Children would even play with gladiator ‘action figures’ made out of clay. Also, their sweat was considered an aphrodisiac and women would mix it into their skincare products.


Roman Catholics in Bavaria founded a secret society in 1740 called the Order of the Pug. New members had to wear dog collars and scratch at the door to get in. This para-Masonic society was reportedly active until 1902!


King Henry VIII of England had servants who were called “Grooms of Stool” whose job it was to wipe his bottom after he went to the bathroom. During his reign, he had all of those four such people knighted.

The ancient Romans often used stale urine as mouthwash. The main ingredient in urine is ammonia which acts as a powerful cleaning agent. Urine became so in demand that Romans who traded in it actually had to pay a tax!


From the 1940s to the 1970s, Yale, plus other Ivy League schools like Harvard, Vassar, and Brown, required their freshmen to pose nude for a photoshoot. The goal was to gather material for a massive study into how rickets developed, and that involved sticking pins to the backs of the subjects, male and female. Generations of the country’s elite who went to the Ivy Leagues posed and the archives included the naked photos of well-known figures ranging from George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Meryl Streep. The photos were destroyed after news leaked and the study was denounced.


In Ancient Asia, death by elephant was a popular form of execution. They could be taught to slowly break bones, crush skulls, twist off limbs, or even execute people using large blades fitted to their tusks. In some parts of Asia, this method of execution was still popular up to the late 19th century.


Back in the 16th century, the wealthy elite used to eat dead bodies. It was rumored the cadavers could cure diseases. The highest delicacy? Egyptian mummies.


Winston Churchill typically smoked eight to ten cigars a day, sometimes as much as fifteen. During the American prohibition, he would get a doctor’s note saying he needed to drink “indefinite” amounts of alcohol when he would come and visit the states.


100 million years ago, the Sahara Desert was inhabited by galloping crocodiles. Back then, the Sahara Desert was a lush oasis full of life and full of predators. In 2009, fossil hunters found the remains of crocodiles that had large land-going legs that were capable of galloping across the land at breakneck speeds!


Before the 19th century, dentures were made from dead soldiers’ teeth. After the Battle of Waterloo, dentists ran to the battlefield to seek out teeth from the thousands of dead soldiers. They then took their bounty to their dental practices and crafted them into dentures for the toothless elite.


Roman Emperor Gaius, also known as Caligula, made one of his favorite horses a senator. The emperor loved his horse, named Incitatus, so much that he gave him a marble stall, an ivory manger, a jeweled collar, and even a house! Caligula also allegedly planned to make his trusty steed Consul before his assassination.


Sure, we’ve all heard of the Boston Tea Party but what about the Boston Molasses Disaster? On January 15, 1919, a 90-foot wide cast-iron tank filled to the brim with sticky molasses, exploded and spilled 2.5 million gallons of crude molasses into the streets of Boston. The brown stuff ran through the streets like a tsunami, with 15 foot high waves and reaching speeds of 35 miles per hour. The molasses demolished everything in its path, toppling buildings, drowning horses, and eventually killed 21 and injured 150.


When Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were beheaded, it is said that people dipped handkerchiefs in their blood to keep as souvenirs. In 2011, a group of scientists confirmed that a blood-stained handkerchief dated from approximately 1793 was soaked in the blood of Louis XVI.


In 1644, English statesman, Oliver Cromwell, banned the eating of pie. He declared it a pagan form of pleasure. For 16 years, pie eating and making went underground until the Restoration leaders lifted the ban on pie in 1660.