The first American Express Travelers’ Cheque was issued in 1891. Then as now, Travelers’ Cheques were designed to allow travelers to carry funds safely. American Express levied a surcharge on buyers of the cheques and paid banks a commission for each sale.
The song “Meet Me in St. Louis” by Andrew B. Sterling and Kerry Mills refers to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. The tune provides the leitmotif for the 1944 musical film Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland, about a St. Louis family faced with a move to New York […]
Henry Ford adopted the eight-hour day and five-day week to alleviate a depression in the auto industry in 1926. The move to reduce working hours curbed overproduction and unemployment in the industry.
It happened in 1913 by way of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
The first black candidate to launch a major presidential campaign, Jesse Jackson ran twice for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency, in 1984 and 1988.
President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974, 30 days after coming to office on August 9. The unconditional pardon exonerated Nixon of any crimes he might have committed as president.
When was the starting point of the 20-year period described by Jane Addams in Twenty Years at Hull-House?
The score of years described by Jane Addams in Twenty Years at Hull-House began in 1889 when Addams (1860-1935) and her friend Ellen Starr moved into an old mansion in a poor neighborhood of Chicago. Hull-House became a center for social and political activism. In 1910, Addams published her autobiography, Twenty Years at Hull-House. She […]
In the mid-1970s, the leading career choice for Harvard M.B.A. graduates was manufacturing. Ten years later, it was investment banking.
In the mid-1890s, Mr. and Mrs. Pearl B. Wait of LeRoy, New York, adapted a gelatin dessert that had been patented by inventor Peter Cooper and named it Jell-O. In 1899, the Waits sold the business to Francis Woodward, founder of the Genessee Pure Food Company. By 1906, Woodward had sold $1 million worth of […]
President William Henry Harrison died in 1841 after only 31 days in office. James A. Garfield was a close second. In 1881, he died of a gunshot wound after only six months in office.
The inexpensive, crystallized cocaine called crack was first noted in urban areas on the west coast of America in 1983.
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was originally scheduled to take place in Wallkill, New York, but had to be moved to nearby Bethel when Wallkill residents, nervous about the huge turnout, backed out of the deal. The event, held August 15-17, 1969, brought together about 400,000 people. Performers included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joan […]
Emma Lazarus (1849-87), a New York Jewish poet, wrote the poem “The New Colossus” with its words, “Give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It was written in honor of the planned Statue of Liberty in 1883, but the poem was not part of the statue when it was […]
Joe Louis fought Max Schmeling twice. In their first encounter in 1936, before Louis became heavyweight champion, the German boxer emerged the winner. In 1938, now the world champion, Louis beat Schmeling in a one-round knockout that struck a symbolic blow to Nazi Germany’s claims of national and racial superiority. Louis’s initial loss to Schmeling […]
It wasn’t only John D. Rockefeller who founded the Standard Oil Company. What would become the country’s largest oil company was founded in 1867 by four people, Rockefeller, Henry M. Flagler, S. V. Harkness, and Rockefeller’s brother William.
The 600-foot futuristic steel structure in Seattle, known as the Space Needle, was erected for the Century 21 exposition in 1962.
Theodore Roosevelt offered a “square deal”. Franklin Delano Roosevelt offered a “new deal”. Harry Truman offered a ‘fair deal”.
The women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) did not live to see the 19th Amendment adopted in 1920 guaranteeing women the right to vote. But Anthony had voted illegally in a Rochester, New York, election in 1872, and refused to pay the fine that followed.
The city of Cleveland (pop. 573,822) was named for its founder Moses Cleaveland in 1836. The city was once known as the “Forest City” because of its abundance of trees.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame was dedicated in 1939 at Cooperstown, New York, to honor the centennial of the alleged invention of baseball by Army officer Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown in 1839. However, it was later proven that Doubleday was not even at Cooperstown in 1839 (he was a cadet at West Point) and […]
Precursor of the modern machine gun, the rapid-firing weapon the Gatling gun saw limited action during the Civil War, specifically in the Petersburg Campaign in 1864. The hand-crank-operated gun, capable of firing hundreds of rounds a minute, was patented by Richard J. Gatling in 1862.
When did Lincoln say, “I believe this government can not endure permanently half slave and half free”?
Lincoln said, “I believe this government can not endure permanently half slave and half free” in a speech delivered on June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, accepting the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. In the same speech, Lincoln paraphrased the New Testament, saying, “A house divided against itself can not stand.”
A six-cylinder Marmon Wasp, driven by Ray Harroun at an average speed of 74.59 miles per hour, won the first 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Speedway in 1911.
Standard sizes for ready-made clothing were not developed in America until the Civil War, when the Union Army collected body measurements of more than a million conscripts. The statistical data was needed to meet the demand for large numbers of uniforms. From this beginning, fitting systems with numbered sizes were developed during the latter half […]
Which was larger, the landslide that elected Herbert Hoover to the presidency in 1928 or the landslide that removed him in 1932?
By the electoral votes of two states, the 1932 landslide that removed Herbert Hoover was more complete. In 1928, Hoover captured the electoral votes of 40 states; in 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt captured the votes of 42 states. Roosevelt’s landslide was larger in the popular vote as well. The 1928 election saw Hoover winning 6.4 […]
The 1803 purchase from France of 828,000 square miles of land, stretching from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, now known as Louisiana, cost $15 million. This put the price of each acre of land at about 3 cents. The purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 cost $7.2 million. This made the selling […]
Consisting of a belted tunic that reached just below the knees and baggy trousers gathered at the ankles, the garment known as bloomers was introduced in 1851 by American feminist Amelia Jenks Bloomer. She considered it a lighter, less confining costume for active women than the heavy hoop skirts of the day. Originally designed by […]
Humorist Dorothy Parker made the quip “How can they tell?” after U.S. President Calvin Coolidge’s death in 1933.
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman said, “If nominated I will not run. If elected I will not serve”, when the Republicans tried to draft him for president upon his retirement from the army in 1880.
Richard M. Nixon’s running mate in 1960 was Henry Cabot Lodge.
The federal income tax in the U.S. has been permanent since 1913, with the passage of the 16th Amendment. As established in that year, the bottom rate was 1 percent on taxable net income over $3,000 for an individual, $4,000 for a married couple. The top rate, for those making more than $500,000, was 7 […]
The two candidates for the U.S. Senate in Illinois in 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, held seven debates. Democrat Douglas was reelected. But Lincoln’s strong performance in the campaign led to his nomination as the Republican candidate for president in 1860.
Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan’s first wife (married 1940, divorced 1948), is Maureen Reagan’s mother. Nancy Davis Reagan (married 1952) is her stepmother.
The duties assigned to the vice-president by the Constitution are: To be president of the Senate; to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate when needed; and to replace the president of the U.S. in the event that the latter’s term ends prematurely.
Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the “I Have a Dream” address to more than 200,000 people on the mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.
The 71-year-old head of the Gambino crime family Paul Castellano was shot dead on December 16, 1985, on 46th Street near Third Avenue in New York City. His successor, John Gotti, reputedly masterminded the killing.
Magic Johnson was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player three times, in 1987, 1989, and 1990. Earvin “Magic” Johnson retired from pro basketball after announcing that he had the AIDS virus in November 1991.
In 1913, Illinois stonemason Charles Pajean brought the toy he created for his children to the American Toy Fair in New York City. Within one year, 1 million Tinkertoy sets had been sold.
The Revolutionary War patriot Paul Revere (1735-1818) was only 50 percent British. Revere’s father was French silversmith Apollos Rivoire, a Huguenot (Protestant) refugee from persecution by the Catholic authorities in France. Revere’s mother, Deborah Hitchbourn, was of English descent.
The Constitution, a 44-gun frigate that defeated two British warships in the War of 1812, was nicknamed “Old Ironsides”. It was memorialized as “Old Ironsides” in the 1830 poem of that name by Oliver Wendell Holmes, written to protest the proposed scrapping of the ship. The ship was saved and, in rebuilt form, is still […]
The first public showing of a motion picture in the U.S. took place on April 23, 1896, at New York’s Koster & Bial Music Hall on 34th Street and Broadway. The 12 short-subject films, projected on Thomas Edison’s Vitascope, accompanied a vaudeville show. Previously, Edison’s films could only be viewed peep-show style on his Kinetoscope […]
The federal government founded the National Rail Passenger Corporation Amtrak in 1970 to prevent the imminent extinction of passenger railroads in the U.S. Unable to compete with airlines, the commercial railroads had been eliminating most of their passenger service and concentrating on freight. Railroad passenger-miles traveled in a single year had declined from a height […]
An American “Continental Navy” was established by the Second Continental Congress on October 13, 1775. It was disbanded after the War of Independence, in 1784. The first U.S. Navy was not established until April 30, 1798.
The sharpshooter Annie Oakley who appeared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in the late 19th century was born Phoebe Mozee. Her life was popularized on Broadway in the 1946 Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun, starring Ethel Merman.
The median age in the United States was 33 in 1990.
The famous mining town Deadwood, South Dakota from the gold rush days that now stands as the final resting place for Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, has 1,830 inhabitants. Every August it relives its frontier past in a three-day “Days of ’76” celebration, featuring a historical parade and rodeos. In 1992, Deadwood held its […]
Yes, Bob Dylan did indeed meet Woody Guthrie, albeit when Guthrie was in his last years. Born Robert Zimmerman in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, young folksinger Bob Dylan hitchhiked to New York in 1960 to visit his musical idol Woody Guthrie, who was hospitalized with Huntington’s chorea. The composer and collector of hundreds of folk […]
Only two future presidents signed the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. George Washington and James Madison were the only two to sign the Constitution.
The Minnesota Valley Canning Company of Le Sueur, Minnesota, introduced the Jolly Green Giant as the emblem of a line of canned peas in 1926.
The grandfather and namesake of 1950s Democratic Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson served as vice-president from 1893 to 1897 under Grover Cleveland.
Yarn was produced at the first American factory. It was produced at Samuel Slater’s Mill, founded in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1790. Workers at the spinning machines lived in company housing and worked for wages paid in credit at the company store. Cloth itself was not produced at the mill: The yarn was woven into […]
More than 36 percent of the nation’s net worth (assets minus debts) was held by the top one percent of households in 1989, up from below 20 percent in 1979, according to a 1992 study. The study shows that the wealthiest few increased their share of the nation’s total wealth as much during the Reagan […]
The seven bond drives during World War II, often led by top movie celebrities, yielded $61 billion. Among the more popular celebrity bond spokespersons were Bob Hope and Marlene Dietrich.
The secretive, anti-Catholic, and antiforeign movement, which flourished in the 1850s, received its name, the “Know Nothings”, because members, when questioned by outsiders, answered, “I know nothing.” They pursued their aims through electoral politics, violence, and intimidation. Also known as the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner and the American Party, the movement had adherents in […]
The official signing ceremony for the Declaration of Independence was on August 2, 1776, not July 4. On July 4, Congress approved the final draft of the declaration, and John Hancock and the secretary of the Congress signed it. But most members of Congress signed it at the official ceremony on August 2. A few […]
Harry Truman didn’t attend college. He was the only president in the 20th century without a college education.
How many students were shot during the antiwar demonstration at Kent State University on May 4, 1970?
Thirteen students were shot by Ohio National Guard troops under the command of General Robert H. Canterbury during the antiwar demonstration at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Nine were wounded and four were killed: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and Bill Schroeder. Of those four, only Krause and Miller had been demonstrating. […]
Sally Hemings was the name of the slave reputed to have been Thomas Jefferson’s mistress. The charge that he had fathered children by her while he was an envoy in Paris came up during the presidential election of 1804, which he won just the same.
In the 1860s, Karl Marx wrote about politics in Europe for the U.S. periodical the New York Tribune.
The leader of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad, was born Elijah Poole in 1897 near Sandersville, Georgia. He took over leadership of the Muslim sect (founded in Detroit in 1930 and commonly known as the Black Muslims) in 1934, expanding its reach and advocating black separatism until his death in 1975.