Fascinating Facts

  • Martin Luther King Jr. is Assassinated Today: April 4, 1968

    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.

    King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. With the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King also helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. (more…)

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  • Happy Birthday Albert Einstein

    March 14, 1879 — Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). He is best known in popular culture for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”). (more…)

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  • Who is the first man to make his home in Chicago?

    440px-Jean_Baptiste_Point_du_Sable_Andreas_1884March 12, 1773 — Jean Baptiste Point du Sable is believed to be the first man to make his home in a US settlement, which today is Chicago. As a free black man born in Haiti before 1750, he was also the city’s first black resident. Starting in 1768, he operated as a fur trader with an official license from the British government and managed a trading post in Indiana. The area was Indian-owned (he was a tenant) and as a result Point du Sable was harassed by both British and American troops who passed through the Midwest. (more…)

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  • 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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