Lady Liberty Almost Ended Up in the Desert

The majestic image of the Statue of Liberty is so firmly connected with the United States that it is hard to imagine it being anywhere else. In fact, the USA received Lady Liberty only when its designer's first choice rejected the gift. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi visited Egypt as a young man and became captivated by... Continue Reading →

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Not Only an Assassin; He’s a Book Thief, Too

As if assassinating President John F. Kennedy weren't offensive enough, Lee Harvey Oswald has yet another black mark against his name. According to the records of the Dallas Public Library, Oswald checked out the book The Shark and the Sardines by Juan José Arévalo. It was already overdue at the time of Oswald's death.

Meet the Woman Whose Name is on the Declaration of Independence

Women would not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920. Ironically, 144 years before this oversight was addressed, it was a woman who played a key role in the proclamation of American independence. If you don't know who this woman is, take a look at the Declaration of Independence, and you... Continue Reading →

Did One Wrong Word Cause the Hiroshima Bombing?

Readers of Commonplace will not be surprised to learn that one little mistranslation from one language to another can be embarrassing. Whether it is one misplaced letter when cheering General Douglas MacArthur, an incompetent interpreter for a US President, or slip of a tongue during an word of encouragement from a member of the royal family, one... Continue Reading →

Did Dr. Doom Help Design the Atomic Bomb?

Readers of Marvel Comics know that the nefarious Dr. Doom will go to any lengths in his power-hungry desire to conquer the world. It is worth taking a second look, therefore, to see if this master of villainy's fingerprints were on the design of the most destructive weapon in history -- especially since one of... Continue Reading →

The Great Tootsie Roll Battle of the Korean War

On Veteran's Day we honor and celebrate those who have served their country in the armed forces. These individuals are known for bravery, selflessness, commitment to duty, and innovation in the face of challenges. Few moments in history illustrate all of these characteristics better than the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, when soldiers used a tasty... Continue Reading →

The Second Round of the Hamilton/Burr Duel

One of the most famous rivalries in history was between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. It culminated in a duel between the two men, resulting in Hamilton's death  (the rather gory details of which are documented here). What is not as well known is the fact that there was a second round fought between Hamilton and... Continue Reading →

How did Pirates Keep the United States from Going Metric?

Of all the countries in the world, only the United States, Burma, and Liberia have not adopted the International System of Units, more commonly known as the metric system. It may seem odd that the USA, as leader of the free world, has resisted the system that works so well for everyone else. Some chalk... Continue Reading →

Horsing Around With Royalty

President Ronald Reagan shared Queen Elizabeth II's love of horses. During a state visit to the United Kingdom, the President accepted the Queen's invitation to go horseback riding together. As the two leaders rode along, the Queen's horse suddenly began expelling gas loudly, in sync with each step. The Queen was mortified and said, "Oh, I am... Continue Reading →

Lincoln’s Dog Followed Him Even in Death

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) knew the value of a faithful friend. Maybe that's why he acquired a yellow mixed-breed dog in 1855 when he lived in Springfield, Illinois. The future President named the dog Fido, and they quickly became inseparable. Their connection would unite them in life -- and in death.  Fido accompanied Lincoln everywhere in... Continue Reading →

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