Fascinating Facts

  • 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…)

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  • 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…)

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  • 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…)

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  • 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…)

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  • 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…)

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  • 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…)

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  • Happy Birthday Oprah Winfrey, born today in 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…)

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  • Winston Churchill Dies Today in 1965

    January 24, 1965 — Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (November 30, 1874 – January 24, 1965) was a British statesman who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a non-academic historian, and a writer (as Winston S. Churchill). He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his overall, lifetime body of work. In 1963, he was the first of only eight people to be made an honorary citizen of the United States. (more…)

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  • 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…)

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  • 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…)

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  • President Theodore Roosevelt Dies Today: January 6, 1919

    Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was an American statesman, author, explorer, soldier, naturalist, and reformer who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. (more…)

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  • Happy Birthday American politician Barry Goldwater: January 2, 1909

    Barry Morris Goldwater (January 2, 1909 – May 29, 1998) was an American politician and businessman who was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona (1953–65, 1969–87) and the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States in the 1964 election. Despite losing the election by a landslide, Goldwater is the politician most often credited for sparking the resurgence of the American conservative political movement in the 1960s. He also had a substantial impact on the libertarian movement. (more…)

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