40 Historical Facts From the 1800s That We Bet Never Came Up In School

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26Kasper Hauser

In 1828, a 16-year-old boy named Kaspar Hauser mysteriously appeared in Germany claiming to have been raised his entire life in a dark cell. Five years later, he was murdered just as mysteriously, and his identity remains unknown.

27. Soldiers are required to "route step" (or walk out of step) when crossing bridges because, in 1831, the rhythmic march of British soldiers broke a bridge, throwing soldiers off of the bridge.

28. The word "scientist" did not exist before 1833. Before this, scientists were referred to as "natural philosophers".

29. The fire hydrant is believed to have been invented by an engineer named Frederick Graff, but this can't be verified because the patent was destroyed in a fire at the patent office in 1836.

30. In 1838, Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs issued Missouri Executive Order 44, ordering all Mormons to leave the state or be killed.

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When invented in 1840s, some people criticized anesthesia as a “needless luxury.”

32. In 1842, Abraham Lincoln was challenged to a duel by a political rival, James Shields. Due to his towering height, Lincoln chose broadswords. When the day of the duel arrived Lincoln demonstrated his strength by chopping a nearby tree branch in half, causing Shields to back out and apologize.

33. In 1848, to begin construction on the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, engineers needed to secure a line across the 800-foot chasm. The lead engineer held a kite-flying contest and eventually paid a local boy $5 for securing the first line over the river

34. Henry "Box" Brown was a 19th-century Virginia slave who escaped to freedom at the age of 33 by arranging to have himself mailed in a wooden crate in 1849 to abolitionists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

35. Samuel Thompson was the original con man. In 1849, he would walk up to strangers in New York and begin a conversation. Gaining their trust, he would ask “Have you the confidence to trust me with your watch until tomorrow?” He would never return them. When finally caught, he was labeled a “confidence man”, later shortened to simply “con man.”

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36George Crum

The potato chip was believed to have originated in 1853 when a chef named George Crum had his fried potatoes sent back by an annoyed customer multiple times because the potatoes were "too thick". He was fed up, cut the potatoes razor thin, and put extra salt on them. The customer, to his surprise, loved it.

37. Captain Jonathan R. Davis, in a well-documented incident, single-handedly killed 11 armed bandits who ambushed him in 1854. He killed 7 with dual-wielding revolvers and then finished the remaining 4 with a Bowie knife. He sustained only 2 slight flesh wounds.

38. In 1899, a taxi driver named Jacob German was arrested for driving 12mph, 4 mph over the legal limit. He was pulled over by a police officer on a bicycle.

39. In 1860s, two stray dogs named Bummer and Lazarus who were best friends became local celebrities in San Francisco. Their exploits were celebrated in local papers and they were granted immunity from the city’s dog catchers.

40. Niihau, the 7th largest island of Hawaii is completely privately owned by one family who seeks to maintain it as it was purchased in 1864 (for $10,000 in gold), including the native population.


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