Fascinating Facts

  • Who is the only U.S. president to hold a patent?

    March 10, 1849 — Today, Abraham Lincoln applied for a patent for an invention that lifted a boat over shoals and obstructions. A patent lawyer at one point in his career, the application process very familiar to the future president.

    On May 22, 1849, he received Patent No. 6469. Although the invention was never manufactured, when he was elected in 1861, the accomplishment gave him the distinction of being the only U.S. president to hold a patent. (Click to read more and see the scale model of Lincoln’s invention, which is currently located at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.) (more…)

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  • Harriet Tubman Dies Today in 1913

    March 10, 1913 — Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross; c. 1822 – March 10, 1913) was an American abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout and spy for the United States Army during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved families and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era was an active participant in the struggle for women’s suffrage. (more…)

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  • Which first lady never actually became first lady?

    March 8, 1783 — Hannah Hoes Van Buren was born today. The wife of the 8th President of the United States, Martin Van Buren, she died of consumption on February 5, 1819 — 18 years before her husband took office on March 4, 1837.

    The couple had been childhood sweethearts and were first cousins once removed through his mother. When they married on February 21, 1807 at the home of the bride’s sister in Catskill, NY, Martin was 24, and Hannah was 23.

    Van Buren is said to have been devoted to his shy, blue-eyed bride, whom he always called “Jannetje”, a Dutch pet form of Johanna. Like Martin, she was raised in a Dutch home and never did lose her distinct accent. They eventually had four children, two of whom would later serve in their father’s Cabinet.

    Van Buren never remarried and was one of the few Presidents to be unmarried while in office. During his term, his daughter-in-law, Angelica, performed the role of hostess of the White House and First Lady of the United States. He died on July 24, 1862, at the age 79.

    Sources: Wikipedia/HannahVanBuren, firstladies.org, whitehouse.gov, firstladies.c-span.org, Wikipedia/MartinVanBuren, todayifoundout.com

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  • Happy Inauguration Day to Martin Van Buren: President, March 4, 1837 – March 4, 1841

    Martin Van Buren (December 5, 1782 – July 24, 1862) was an American politician who served a single term as the eighth President of the United States (1837–41). A member of the Democratic Party, he served in a number of senior roles, including eighth Vice President (1833–37) and tenth Secretary of State (1829–31), both under Andrew Jackson. Van Buren’s inability as president to deal with the deep economic depression following the Panic of 1837 and with the surging Whig Party led to his defeat in the 1840 election. (more…)

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  • Happy Birthday Alexander Graham Bell

    Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922) was a Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with patenting the first practical telephone. (more…)

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  • When was the first postage stamp issued?

    March 3, 1847 — Today, the Postmaster General awarded the contract to print the first postage stamp to the New York City engraving firm of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, and Edson. It was later issued on July 1, 1847, in New York City. Boston received its shipment of stamps the next day.

    A 5-cent stamp paid for a letter weighing less than 1 oz. (28 g) and traveling less than 300 miles; the 10-cent stamp was charged for deliveries to locations greater than 300 miles, or twice the weight deliverable for the 5-cent stamp.

    Source: Wikipedia

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  • Happy Birthday Steve Jobs

    Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an American businessman, inventor, and industrial designer. He was the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple Inc.; CEO and majority shareholder of Pixar; a member of The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors following its acquisition of Pixar; and founder, chairman, and CEO of NeXT. Jobs is widely recognized as a pioneer of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, along with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. (more…)

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  • Happy Birthday George Washington: Feb. 22, 1732

    Feb. 22, 1732 — George Washington is born today. Our nation’s first president is born today in Westmoreland County, VA. The second son from the second marriage of a Colonial plantation owner, George Washington was initially a loyal British subject. But in 1775, the Continental Army chose him to lead them in the American Revolution, which ultimately led him to being known as the father of our country. (more…)

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  • Social Reformer Frederick Douglass Dies Today in 1895

    Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; c. February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writings.

    In his time, he was described by abolitionists as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave. (more…)

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  • 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

    Source: Click here to learn more about President’s Day! (more…)

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  • 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…)

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  • 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…)

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