Fascinating Facts

  • February 20, 2017: Happy President’s Day!

    Today we honor the US Presidents! This American holiday, celebrated each third Monday in February, was originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington. (It is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government.)

    Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

    While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.

    To celebrate, consider these words from our 16th president:

    “The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.” – Abraham Lincoln, President 1861-1865

    SourceClick here to learn more about President’s Day! (more…)

    Learn More

  • Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln: Feb. 12, 1809

    Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and perhaps its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. (more…)

    Learn More

  • Happy Birthday Thomas Edison: Feb. 11, 1847

    Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America’s greatest inventor. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. (more…)

    Learn More

  • Happy Birthday Dostoyevsky

    Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881), was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher. His literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmosphere of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. (more…)

    Learn More

  • Happy Birthday Charles Dickens: February 7, 1812

    Charles John Huffam Dickens (Feb. 7, 1812 – June 9, 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the 20th century, critics and scholars had recognized him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories enjoy lasting popularity. (more…)

    Learn More

  • John Marshall is Sworn In as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: February 4, 1801

    John Marshall is sworn in today as the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The man who served in all three branches of the federal government throughout his career shaped American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court a center of power. Most notably, he established that the Court is entitled to exercise judicial review — the power to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. His judicial career is unsurpassed in the history of the United States.  (more…)

    Learn More

  • Happy Birthday to Rosa Parks: February 4, 1913

    Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”

    Here’s why: On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation.

    Celebrate Freedom!  Her birthday, February 4, and the day she was arrested, December 1, have both become Rosa Parks Day, commemorated in California and Missouri (February 4), and Ohio and Oregon (December 1).

    (more…)

    Learn More

  • Happy Birthday Gertrude Stein: “There is no there there”

    Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) was an American novelist, poet, playwright, and art collector. Born in the Allegheny West neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and raised in Oakland, California, Stein moved to Paris in 1903, and made France her home for the remainder of her life. She hosted a Paris salon, where the leading figures of modernism in literature and art, such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, and Henri Matisse would meet. (more…)

    Learn More

  • Woodrow Wilson Dies Today: February 3, 1924

    Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921. Born in Staunton, Virginia, he spent his early years in Augusta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina.

    He was the first Southerner elected as president since Zachary Taylor in 1848, and a leading force in the Progressive Movement, bolstered by his Democratic Party’s winning control of both the White House and Congress in 1912. (more…)

    Learn More

  • Happy Birthday Oprah Winfrey: Jan. 29, 1954

    Oprah Gail Winfrey (born January 29, 1954) is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011.

    Dubbed the “Queen of All Media,” she has been ranked the richest African-American, the greatest black philanthropist in American history,[ and is currently North America’s first and only multi-billionaire black person. (more…)

    Learn More

  • Happy Birthday Benjamin Franklin: January 17, 1706

    Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, he was a leading author in his day, as well as a printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia’s fire department and The University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution. (more…)

    Learn More

  • Happy Birthday MLK: January 15, 1929

    Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr., January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

    In the final years of his life, King expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam.” (more…)

    Learn More