50 Little Known Facts about Politicians From Around the World

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1Susanna M. Salter

Susanna M. Salter was America's first female mayor who was elected in 1887. A group of men nominated her as a joke, but she won over 60% of the vote.


2. An American politician named Gary Hart who was running for president in 1988 invited the media to follow him around after he was alleged to be a womanizer. He was quoted as saying, “Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious.” Members of the media complied and he was caught having an affair 2 weeks later.


3. Lucius Cincinnatus was a Roman statesman, and a military leader who was given absolute power to rule the empire when it was attacked. After his victory, he immediately resigned his post as a dictator and went back to farming. The city of Cincinnati is named in his honor.


4. In 1992, a German politician named Vera Lengsfeld divorced her second husband after finding out he had been an informant for the Stasi and had spied on her for most of their marriage.


5. In 1857, Senator James Hammond, representative of South Carolina, released a manual of breastfeeding rules for enslaved women. The manual regulated time spent breastfeeding and rigidly set weaning schedules. The women were forced to nurse the children of their owners as well as other babies.


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6Edwina Currie

In 1988, a British politician named Edwina Currie was forced to resign after incorrectly stating that British eggs were tainted with salmonella. A few months later a government report found she was actually correct, but it was covered up until 2001.


7. Gaius Gracchus, the ancient roman politician, had a bounty put on his head to the price of the head's weight in gold. Although the head was delivered, the prize was never paid, as it was discovered that Gaius' captor had emptied out his brain and replaced it with molten lead.


8. Tennessee State Representative Harry Burn was the deciding vote that led to the ratification of the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote in the U.S. He said: “I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for her boy to follow and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification.”


9. A comedian named Jacob Haugaard accidently became a politician in Denmark when his joke political party managed to get a seat in parliament.


10. During a press conference in June 1943, Congressman Andrew May noted that Japanese depth charges detonated too soon to be effective. The Japanese changed depth-charge tactics after the press releases, killing 800 US submariners.


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11Antanas Mockus

Antanas Mockus, a former mathematician, and mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, known for his eccentric legislation, hired exactly 420 mimes to mimic jaywalkers in efforts to prevent traffic rule-breakers. Traffic fatalities dropped by over 50% as Mayor Mockus proved people would rather be fined than mocked.


12. In 1974, an American newspaper reported that the US Senator from Virginia William L. Scott was the “Dumbest Member of Congress.” Once while being briefed by members of the military about missile silos in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, he reportedly said “Wait a minute! I'm not interested in agriculture. I want the military stuff.”


13. British politician John Stonehouse faked his death in November 1974, leaving a pile of clothes on a beach in Miami. It was presumed he had gone swimming and drowned. But Stonehouse was actually en route to Australia to set up a new life with his mistress and secretary, Sheila Buckley.


14. Politician Boss Tweed was brought down by Thomas Nast's cartoons, which painted him as the embodiment of corruption. Tweed said to aides, “Let's stop them damned pictures. I don't care so much what the papers write about—my constituents can't read—but damn it, they can see pictures.”


15. Eugene Whelan, a Canadian politician, late to his own dinner party, may have inadvertently initiated the fall of the USSR.


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16Clement L. Vallandigham

Clement L. Vallandigham, a defense lawyer (who was also a congressman) in a murder trial accidentally shot himself and died while reenacting the possibility of a victim accidentally shooting and killing themselves instead of his client. The defendant was then set free.


17. In 1988, a US Senator invoked an obscure rule to allow the Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest absent Senators and bring them into the chamber for a vote. One Senator named Robert Packwood attempted to escape but was caught and carried feet-first into the Senate chamber by three officers.


18. Boris Nemtsov, a former physicist, and liberal Russian politician who was instrumental in the introduction of capitalism following the collapse of the USSR was shot four times in the back and died on a Moscow bridge in 2015.


19. A U.S. senator named Larry Pressler was called a hero for refusing a bribe from the FBI, to which the senator responded - "I do not consider myself a hero... what have we come to if turning down a bribe is 'heroic'?"


20. In 1855 the mayor of Los Angeles, Stephen Foster, convinced a mob to not kill an accused murderer, but to try him in a court of law. When the accused man was acquitted, the mayor resigned and led a lynch mob to kill the man. He was re-elected a year later.


21William Barksdale

In 1858, a massive brawl between more than 50 US Representatives ended when a missed punch between two Representatives knocked the wig off of Representative William Barksdale's head. The embarrassed Barksdale accidentally replaced the wig backward, causing both sides to erupt in spontaneous laughter.


22. Sue Jones-Davies, who portrayed Judith in Monty Python's Life of Brian, later became Mayor of Aberystwyth. She discovered that the town had banned the Life of Brian for 30 years, and her first act was to overturn the ban and stage a screening with Terry Jones and Michael Palin.


23. The first female state senator to be elected in the United States was Martha Hughes Cannon, who was a Mormon polygamous wife. She ran against and defeated her own husband.


24. British politician Tony Benn met his wife in Oxford in 1949. 9 days later, he proposed to her on a park bench. Later, he bought the bench from Oxford City Council and installed it in the garden of their home. They were together for 51 years.


25. Former US Senator Daniel Inouye had his arm blown off in combat while throwing a grenade. He yelled to stay back, snatched the live grenade out of his blown off-hand, then used it and a Thompson sub-machinegun to mow down the remaining Germans. He wasn't awarded the Medal of Honor until the year 2000.

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