The Spice Islands, or the Moluccas, have been a much-sought territory for its cultivation of both nutmeg and cloves since at least the fourth century B.C. Almost every major civilization has fought for the rights to rule there: the Chinese, Dutch, Indian, Portuguese, and Arabs, for instance. In the 1500s, because of the constant battling, […]
How was the merry-go-round invented during the Middle Ages as a device for training knights to joust?
The merry-go-round is the oldest amusement ride that still exists today and was originally created during the Middle Ages as a device for training knights to joust. It took tragedy to popularize the ride. When Catherine de Medicis’ husband was killed during a jousting tournament in 1559, the merry-go-round began to take the place of […]
A samurai is a warrior, protector, and leader. A Ninja is someone who practices ninjutsu. Ninjutsu is covert activities, or if literally translated from the Japanese, “the art of stealing in.” Ninjutsu came about from Japanese mystics during the rise of the samurai. It didn’t exclude combat, but fighting was only a small part of […]
The chances of a U.S. President being assassinated on the job are not that bad. Only four of the 43 so far have been killed by assassins, which is fewer than 10 percent. Tell your mom that it’s about the same odds as working for the post office. Okay, we’re kidding about that last part. […]
Alexander Graham Bell was from Boston Massachusetts, sort of. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, but immigrated to the U.S. in 1871, spending most of his work time in Boston. But he spent his summers at Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he had a summer home.
U.S. Slave Population in 1860 Alabama: 435,000 Arkansas: 111,000 Delaware: 2,000 Florida: 62,000 Georgia: 462,000 Kentucky: 225,000 Louisiana: 332,000 Maryland: 87,000 Mississippi: 437,000 Missouri: 115,000 North Carolina: 331,000 South Carolina: 402,000 Tennessee: 276,000 Texas: 183,000 Virginia: 491,000
During the 1977 power blackout in New York City, the business and commercial life of the world’s busiest metropolis came to a complete halt for an entire day. Though buses were still running to take people to work and many offices had sufficient natural lighting to make some work possible, the blackout shut off one […]
The Scottsboro case was a legal case involving two white girls who accused nine black boys, aged twelve to nineteen, from Scottsboro, Alabama, of rape in March 1931. The nine, Clarence Norris, Olen Montgomery, Andrew Wright, Willie Roberson, Ozie Powell, Eugene Williams, Charley Weems, Roy Wright, and Haywood Patterson, became known as the Scottsboro Boys, […]
In mining as in ranching, Mexican Americans knew more than the Anglo newcomers to the West and Southwest. Mexican Americans taught Anglos how to use a bates, a flat-bottomed pan, to extract gold from streams and rivers; how to pulverize gold-bearing rocks with a tool called an arrastra; and how to use mercury to refine […]
Yup, the mile 5280 feet instead of an even 5000 or something and you can blame it on the Tudors and their fondness for the furlong. Originally, the mile was 5,000 feet, but Elizabeth I decided that the mile should be divisible by an equal number of furlongs, one furlong measures exactly 220 yards, or […]
In 1992, the small Mashantucket Pequot tribe opened the Foxwoods Casino and Resort in Connecticut. The business was such a success that, within a few years, it was bringing in almost $1 billion a year. In addition to helping other tribes establish their own businesses, the tribe has used its profits to build a $193 […]
The English word “buckaroo” for cowboy is a corrupt form of the Spanish word “vaquero.” The name fits, because Anglo cowboys learned a lot of their trade from Mexican Americans, who were experts in western-style ranching long before the Anglos arrived. Many of the cowboy techniques, equipment, and apparel we think of as distinctively American […]
As of 1994, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30.7 percent, nearly a third, of Hispanic Americans lived below the poverty level. That means that a family of four would make under $15,141 per year. Poverty is more widespread among Hispanic Americans than among white Americans. The proportion of white Americans living under the poverty […]
The Pennsylvania Dutch came from Germany, actually. It was one of those funny language misunderstandings. When asked what nationality they were, the new settlers said “Deutsch.” Americans were never very good with languages. And although it was a misunderstanding, the name stuck. Many Pennsylvania Dutch are descendants of refugees from the Palatinate of the German […]
Hispanics from one country get mistaken for Hispanics from another country all the time. As a rule, Anglos on the West Coast assume every Hispanic they meet is from Mexico. Anglos on the East Coast assume all Hispanics are from Puerto Rico, except for Miami Anglos, who think they are all from Cuba. There are […]
The clock tower north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, often referred to as “Big Ben”, is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. “Big Ben” is neither the tower nor the clock of England’s Houses of Parliament. Rather, it’s the largest of the bells in […]
The 1983 film El Norte tells the story of a Guatemalan brother and sister, Native American peasants, who escape political terror in their home village to come north (norte) to the United States. Praised for its compassion and beauty, the film opened many people’s eyes to the plight of Central American refugees.
The Maya had 4 Gods that they worshiped. Itzamna: The lord of the heavens and the god of learning and writing. ltzamna was often depicted in Maya art as a two-headed serpent. Ix Chel: The wife of Itzamna and the goddess of medicine and childbirth. All other gods were the children of lx Chel and […]
During the Civil War, the submarine the H. L. Hunley (named after its financier, Horace Hunley) was (sort of) successfully used in battle. Although it sank the Union’s Housatonic in shallow water by ramming bombs up against the sides of the battleship, in the process it sank itself as well. Five lives were lost on […]
When Native Americans could grow large amounts of corn, they no longer had to spend every moment trying to find food. They were free to put time into other pursuits. Eventually they developed complicated religious rituals and became skilled craftspeople. Becoming farmers also meant that Native Americans had to live in large, permanent settlements to […]
A culture is a collection of customs and beliefs that make up a group’s way of life. It includes the language the people speak, the beings they worship, the ways they obtain food, the houses they build, the clothing they wear, and the weapons they make to defend themselves and their culture from outsiders. People […]
Despite their unfair treatment, the 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the “Harlem Hell Fighters,” had the best World War I record of any U.S Army regiment. Two members of the all-black 369th Infantry, Sergeant Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts, were awarded the French Croix de Guerre for aborting a German surprise attack. The two […]
The largest period of Spanish immigration was between 1901 and 1931, when 100,000 Spanish immigrants came to the United States. Steamship travel, widely available in this period, made the trip faster and more comfortable than the sailing ships of the nineteenth century. Most of those who came were farmers or tradespeople tired of poverty and […]
Why was Brown Weasel Woman of the Blackfeet called Running Eagle and How did Warrior Women earn fame and honor on the battlefield?
Although most Plains warriors were men, some women broke tradition by earning fame and honor on the battlefield. Brown Weasel Woman of the Blackfeet was such a successful horse raider and war-party leader that she was called Running Eagle, a name given to only the greatest Blackfeet fighters. Woman Chief of the Crow was educated […]
Nobody knows who Jack the Ripper was, but there are plenty of theories. In London, from August 31 to November 9, 1888, five prostitutes were killed and mutilated. Based on the precision with which “Jack” practiced his murders, some people believed that Jack the Ripper was a surgeon. One suspect was the royal physician, Sir […]
The turning point of the Texas Revolution came in 1836 at a fortified mission called the Alamo. An army of several thousand Mexicans, led by dictator Santa Anna, laid siege to the fort and its 180 Texan rebels. The rebels included Juan Seguin and a company of Tejanos, along with such American frontiersmen as Davy […]
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It is consumed regularly by one third of the world’s population, and consumption continues to rise steadily. At the turn of the 1900s, world exports totaled about one million tons. But by 1950, that figure had doubled. Today, several million tons of beans are […]
Did the prehistoric Neanderthals make any tools and art or develop any complex language and culture?
No, prehistoric Neanderthals did not make any significant tools and art or develop any complex language. They therefore did not have a culture that we know of. Even though they did have brains as large as ours and lived concurrently with Homo sapiens at a time when humans were making tools, painting caves, and traveling […]
About 1,700 years ago, ancient Native Americans of the Hohokam, Mogollon, and Anasazi cultures began establishing farming villages in the Southwest. Many of the Native Americans who live there today are these early peoples’ descendants. The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico were probably descended from the Anasazi, while the Akimel O’odham (also known as the […]
The Maya developed one of the most advanced ancient civilizations in Mesoamerica. At its height from 300 to 800, Maya cities spread over what is now southern Mexico and portions of Belize and Guatemala. The Maya had much in common with the Olmec. Their skilled farmers grew enough food that many of their people could […]
Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, nicknamed Caligula, was the third Roman emperor after Augustus and Tiberius. His name meant “Little Boots” in Latin. Like so many parents since, his parents thought he looked cute as a child dressed in a soldier’s uniform, and his nickname stuck. His reign was short—only 3 years, 10 months. Following a […]
In dollars and cents, the 1989 Loma Prieta quake was the costliest earthquake at $5.9 billion, whereas the 1906 San Francisco quake totaled a mere $400 million. Some would argue that in today’s money, that would equal about $7.6 billion dollars. However, in today’s money, the 1989 damage would equal about $8.2 billion. So do […]
A powwow is a festival where Native Americans from different tribes come together to celebrate their heritage. The main attraction at powwows are exhibitions of Native American singing and dancing. Especially exciting are fancy dancing competitions, during which elaborately costumed dancers display spectacular movements inspired by traditional dances. Some powwows are small gatherings that last […]
Raphael was an Italian painter of the Renaissance period in the Late Middle Ages and did indeed have a last name. His given name at birth was Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino. Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, Raphael was admired for his perfection, and was one of the great masters of that period. […]
The Maine was a U.S. battleship that exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba’s capital, on February 15, 1898. Two hundred and sixty crew members died. Spain was accused of setting off the explosion, and American newspapers and people in the street trumpeted the battle cry, “Remember the Maine.” President William McKinley had previously been […]
Honduras had its own political turmoil in the past twenty years. There were many pressures on civil order: military coups, followed by restoration of a shaky democratic government; the unpopular presence of the Nicaraguan contras; declaration of a state of emergency; a bad economy; labor strikes. Costa Rica’s situation was better. It has one of […]