Kamasutra means “guidebook” (sutra) to “sensual pleasure” (kama), and most historians believe the Kama Sutra was translated into Sanskrit by a fellow named Malianaga Vatsyayana somewhere between the third and fifth centuries A.D. Vatsyayana broke it down into an easy-to-digest step-by-step guidebook so that the basics could be followed and remembered by readers (it would, […]
Young men on the Plains were eager to go to war. Battles were exciting, and they gave men the opportunity to prove themselves. A brave fighter, like a talented hunter, earned the respect of his people. On special occasions, warriors were expected to boast of their war exploits to remind others about their achievements. To […]
Mao Zedong’s Long March when the Red Army retreated was longer than you’d want to walk, most likely. Especially while being bombarded by Chiang Kai-shek’s air force. The Long March was a very long, slow retreat by the Chinese communist revolutionaries from southwest China to northeast China, in which they escaped encirclement and hiked 6,000 […]
Surprisingly, chain mail was really good at protecting against arrows and bludgeoning weapons during the Middle Ages. Soldiers who could afford and wear chain mail also wore leather tunics underneath, to keep the rings from being driven into their skin if they were clubbed. They relied heavily on their shields for defense as well. So […]
You would think the Mayflower was a small rickety ship by reading the Pilgrims’ accounts of the voyage. However, they weren’t familiar with the nautical life, so they were not accustomed to the hardships. Thinking their lives were always in constant danger, their journals reflect a much more harrowing journey than it probably seemed to […]
There is no truth to the notion that frankfurters are unavailable today in Germany, the land of their birth. Stop by a roadside eatery or pop into a quick lunch restaurant in Germany and you’ll have little trouble finding a frankfurter of some dimensions, complete with bread, mustard, and sauerkraut. But there is one difference […]
The Texas Revolution is remembered as a blow for freedom. What is often forgotten is that many Texan Americans were southerners who owned slaves. In fact, Mexico’s antislavery policy was one of the irritants that provoked the revolution. When Mexico abolished slavery in 1829, an outcry from Texans forced Mexico to take back the decree. […]
Los Angeles is the home to most Central American immigrants. As of 1990, about 350,000 Salvadorans and 110,000 Guatemalans lived there. The biggest concentration of Central Americans is in the Pico-Union section west of downtown. Other favorite spots for Central Americans are San Francisco, New York, Houston, and Washington, D.C. Many Nicaraguans live in Miami.
Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind. Saint Lucy, also known as Saint Lucia, was a wealthy Christian martyr who is venerated as a saint by Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Christians. As history tells it, she was a Roman governor who had her eyes put out because of her Christian faith. Keep your […]
California features many different environments, from harsh deserts in the south to great, rainy forests in the north. Nearly every region offered Native Americans a wide variety of wild plants and animals for food and for materials to make clothing, houses, and tools, so many Native American tribes could flourish there.
A tipi, which consisted of a hide cover placed over a wooden frame, was the dwelling favored by the Plains Indians. For a people who spent most of their time on the move, the tipi was a perfect type of house, light to carry and easy to assemble and disassemble whenever necessary. The hide tipi […]
In 1924, native-born Indians were finally granted American citizenship, and many were allowed to vote at that point. However, in some states they were forbidden from voting until as late as 1954. The struggles of women and African Americans point out the fact that citizenship does not automatically ensure voting rights. Throughout the 1800s, native […]
From 1889 through 1930, at least 3,724 people in the United States were lynched during and after the American Civil War ended. About 80% were black, and nearly all of the lynchers were white. Some of the victims were merely hung; others were burned alive; and some were tortured hideously with castration and dismemberment first. […]
Which came first: England’s thirteen colonies on the Atlantic coast or Spain’s colonies in the American Southwest?
The thirteen colonies that later became the United States began with the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, England’s first permanent settlement in North America. By that time, Juan de Ofiate had already been living in New Mexico for nine years. However, Spanish colonization was slow. By the time San Francisco, California, was founded in […]
In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, abolishing slavery in the entire United States. The Thirteenth Amendment was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted after the American Civil War. Below are the amendments. Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall […]
The first Latino to break into major league baseball was Esteban Bellan in 1871. But Hispanics did not become a major force in baseball until after 1947, when Jackie Robinson made it possible for players to be nonwhite. Since then, people from many parts of Latin America have come to make up a large percentage […]
Native Americans in the same tribe often disagreed about how to deal with land-hungry Americans moving onto their lands. Among the Creek, a large southern tribe, one group, called the Upper Creek, wanted to fight the Americans. Another group, called the Lower Creek, believed they could not possibly win a war with the United States. […]
According to Iroquois legend, Hiawatha was an Onondaga man who refused to take revenge on those who murdered his wife and children. He instead looked for comfort in the words of a prophet the Iroquois now call the Peacemaker. The Peacemaker instructed Hiawatha in the Great Law, a set of rules for settling disputes without […]
Before 1900, black musicians in New Orleans (a city with a rich international heritage) were playing upbeat music that was called “hot blues,” and that eventually came to be known as jazz. Jazz came about from the mixing of several types of music: spirituals, blues, ragtime, and gospel. It was spontaneous music; musicians played around […]
In sharecropping, poor blacks and whites sold their labor to planters for a share of the crop. The planter sold them cabins, work animals, tools, food, clothes, and other supplies on credit. At the end of the season, the sharecropper would pay off his debts with profits from the crop. But planters charged whatever they […]
A totem pole was a giant sculpture carved from the trunk of a cedar tree. Wealthy Native American families hired artists to create totem poles, which they proudly placed outside their houses. By displaying a totem pole, a family could let everyone in the village know how important and powerful it was. The carvings on […]
Three words explain why South Americans started coming to the United States in larger numbers after 1950: commercial air travel. By the end of World War II, commercial flights to the United States had come within the reach of middle-class South Americans. If they could afford a plane ticket, they could come. They had reason […]
One of the most memorable abolitionists of her time, the dark, tall, and plainly dressed woman calling herself Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in 1797. After enduring years of physical and emotional abuse, Truth was freed in 1827 under New York State law. The bold, independent-minded Truth went on to become a moving and […]
Ask even a hard core cardsharp about the origin of playing cards and pointing to the king and queen in their Renaissance raiment, he may well answer smugly that, of course, the cards originated in Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Well, the reply would be half correct; yes, the design of modern playing […]
Ronald Reagan was the first presidential candidate to be endorsed by TV Guide. TV Guide can also be remembered as the first print venue to publish the conservative Republican coalition’s “Contract With America,” which helped Newt Gingrich capture the House in the 1996 campaign.
Because so many of the great British legends have been proven to be patently untrue, many people assume that the Lady Godiva story of her riding a horse through the streets of Coventry England naked is equally false. Yet according to accounts by 13th- and 14th-century historians, the core of the story is true. Here’s […]
Americans did not forget about the laws passed during the civil rights movement; there were some new gains made in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1982, both houses of Congress voted to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for twenty-five years. In 1983, some 250,000 marchers came together in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the […]
The United States tried to overthrow Fidel Castro’s regime. On April 17, 1961, an invasion force of about 1,500 Cuban exiles landed in the Bay of Pigs, Cuba. They were supported by the United States, but not very well. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had promised the exiles full-scale U.S. military support, but President John […]
After more than 200 years of slavery, African Americans now saw a chance to work for themselves by farming their own land and using their skills to make a living. It was now legal for them to come and go whenever they wanted, to learn to read and write, to stay with their families, and […]
To escape the icy cold, the Inuit had to spend much of the winter indoors, but they made the most of this hardship. Comfortable in their warm homes, winter became the season of socializing. Families gathered for feasts and singing and dancing. Both children and adults also loved telling stories and playing games. Inuit hunters […]
What was the The Battle of Bunker Hill and how was Colonel William Prescott defeated by the British?
The Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775 took place on nearby Breed’s Hill, just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, during the Siege of Boston early in the American Revolutionary War. The Americans were running out of ammunition when Colonel William Prescott ordered, “You men are all marksmen, now don’t shoot until you can see the […]
Throughout most of their history, the Makah were great whale hunters. That tradition came to an end in 1926, when the International Whaling Commission banned whaling in the region. Non-Native American hunters had killed so many whales that the commission feared the whales would die out completely unless all hunting stopped. With the ban, the […]
Central Americans seeking to come to the United States can drive there via the Inter-American Highway, which runs from Panama to the Mexico-Texas border. It is one part of the almost completed Pan-American Highway, a system of roads running 16,000 miles from Alaska to Chile. Those who make it as far as the U.S. border […]
According to legend, after Marie Antoinette’s beheading on 16 October 1793, the executioner lifted her severed head and slapped her face, which blushed a bright red. However, this is probably unlikely, considering how much blushing is dependent on blood moving through veins. In fact, witnesses to other beheadings described the victim’s face as immediately drained […]
Joseph Stalin studied for the priesthood but was expelled from the seminary in 1899 and joined the Communist Party, before becoming a militant dictator .
In June 1839, fifty-three captured Africans were brought from West Africa to Cuba, where they were sold to two Spaniards. On June 28, they were chained belowdecks on a ship, the Amistad, to be taken to their destination. On the fourth night at sea, the Africans, led by a young man named Cinque, broke their […]