40 Interesting Facts From History You Never Knew

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1Life on Earth

Out of all the species that ever lived throughout all of Earth’s history, only a fraction of a percent have fossilized. Even fewer are discovered by humans. Most of life’s history will be forever unknown.


2. Italy had to build an entire courthouse to prosecute the Mafia. They charged 475 members in a trial that lasted from 1986-1992. To date, it is one of the biggest trials in history.


3. USS William D. Porter was the only vessel in US Navy history to have its entire crew placed under arrest after accidentally firing a live torpedo at a vessel carrying the President of the United States and the Secretary of State.


4. As many as three US Presidents, and also Abraham Lincoln's son may have died as a result of contaminated water supply to the White House. Until 1850 there was no sewage system and a field of human excrement called "night soil" flowed freely into the water supply.


5. German agents set off an explosion in New York Harbor on July 30, 1916, that killed four people, destroyed $20,000,000 worth of military goods and damaged the Statue of Liberty. It was one of the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions to have ever occurred.


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6First-Ever Strike

The very first strike ever recorded in history started in 1152 BC. During the reign of Rameses III in Ancient Egypt. While building a royal necropolis, the workers felt they were being underpaid, so they organized a massive strike. Their wages were actually increased and workers returned to work.


7. During the exceptionally cold winter of 1795, a French Hussar regiment captured the Dutch fleet on the frozen Zuiderzee, a bay to the northwest of the Netherlands. The French seized 14 warships and 850 guns. This is one of the only times in recorded history when calvary captured a naval fleet.


8. General George Thomas was arguably better than both Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. He never lost a battle and once completely destroyed a confederate army, earning him the nickname "sledgehammer". History has forgotten about him because he was too modest and always downplayed his own accomplishments.


9. An 81-year-old man called Giles Corey, accused of being a wizard in 1692, was the only man in American history to be subjected to death by pressing in an attempt to get him to submit to trial by jury. It is said that his response to the torture was to tell them to add 'more weight.'


10. The first recorded pizza delivery was in 1889 to Queen Margherita of Savoy. Reportedly, she was tired of courtly fare and requested a local peasant meal. They delivered a white, green, and red pie to symbolize the newly unified Italy's flag. She called it "delicious" and the rest is history.


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11Bonsai Trees

In 1976, Japan donated 53 bonsai trees to the US for its bicentennial, including a white pine that had been tended daily since 1625 and survived the Hiroshima atomic blast. Its history was unknown until 2001 when two brothers showed up at the museum to check on their grandfather’s tree.


12. The location of the tomb of Alexander the Great has been lost to time. Alexander was entombed in Alexandria, the tomb was subsequently visited by many pilgrims throughout history, including Caesar. The tomb was well visited up till the 1500s when its location was suddenly forgotten.


13. Xenophanes, who died in 490 B.C.E., found fish fossils and concluded that the land where they were found must have been underwater at some time. He was the first person known to have used fossils as evidence for a theory of the history of the Earth.


14. The largest movement of physical wealth in history was during World War 2. Operation Fish had 186,332 gold bars and more than 8 million ounces of gold coins sent to Canada from the UK with not even one crate or treasury bill going missing.


15. Charley Ross was a 4-year-old American child whose 1874 kidnapping for ransom (considered the first in US history) became a nationwide sensation. Charley, who was never found, was lured by two men offering candy and fireworks, giving rise to the warning "never take candy from strangers".


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16Illustrated History 

In 1861, Japan had an illustrated history of America which depicted, among other things, John Adams stabbing a giant snake, and George Washington punching a Tiger.


17. One of the deadliest explosions in history occurred in Beijing in 1626. An unexplained explosion at a gunpowder factory obliterated 4 square kilometers of the city and killed around 20,000 people. The blast itself was about as powerful as the nuclear explosion over Hiroshima.


18. The Guinness Book of Records recognizes the presidential election of 1927 in Liberia as the most fraudulent election reported in history. Although there were only 15,000 registered voters in Liberia at the time, Charles D. B. King, received 234,000 votes and won.


19. When Joseph Stalin was dying, his private physician was not available because he was already being tortured in the basement of the KGB headquarters for suggesting that the Soviet leader required more bed rest.


20. The Iroquois Theater in Chicago was billed as "Absolutely Fireproof" in advertisements when it opened. It lasted 37 days before being destroyed in what is still the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history, leaving 602 dead and 250 injured.


21Flat Earth Theory

The idea that people used to think that the world was flat is actually a modern misconception and with extraordinary few exceptions, no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the 3rd century B.C. onwards believed that the Earth was flat.


22. Winston Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. His most famous work was a six-volume memoir about WW2, but he also wrote a science fiction alternate history story about the US Civil War.


23. Until 1870, the pope required all Jews living in Rome to attend compulsory sermons every Sabbath in front of the Church of San Gregorio. They all attended, but would often stuff wax in their ears in order not to hear a thing.


24. Japanese POWs provided a vast wealth of information during World War 2. This was because most Japanese soldiers were unaware of the rights they retained as prisoners under the Geneva convention. Many also felt indebted to American troops for the courteous treatment they received.


25. Sweden switched their entire traffic system from the left side of the road to the right side in a single day in 1967 called “Dagen H”, the most logistically complex event in Sweden’s history.

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