If you’re someone who enjoys history, then you know that, pretty much since the beginning of time, people haven’t really changed all that much. Historical folks are just as big of smarta$ses as we are today, and whoo boy, there have been some totally classy, but totally harsh, middle fingers thrown threw the ages.
Here are 14 that the people of Reddit consider the best of the best.
14. Lafitte is one of my favorite historical characters.
A pirate known as Jean Lafitte had a bounty of $500 put on him by a governor.
So he put a $5000 bounty on the governor.
13. I mean, he did warn them.
Julius Caesar crucifying the pirates that captured him.
12. I’m sure we’ll get a movie about this one day.
Lamborghini was originally a tractor manufacturer. The owner bought a Ferrari and discovered that they had clutch problems due to some design flaw, so he sent a letter to Enzo Ferrari explaining who he was and how his mechanic and him figured out a simple design-fix to remedy the problem.
This sent Enzo Ferrari over the edge and he answered back with a huge “go f%ck yourself” letter saying that he “didn’t know jack sh%t” about cars and that he was “just a tractor manufacturer” and told him to go pound sand.
Lamborghini responded by designing some of the most advanced cars ever made and eventually knocked Ferrari from their #1 position in the racing world by smoking them at the track.
(If that ain’t a classy “f%ck you” then I don’t know what is…).
11. That’s awkward, I don’t care who you are.
Gaius Julius Caesar was in in senate listening to one of his rivals (Cato the Younger) drone on about how one of Caesar’s was a member of a conspiracy to destroy Rome (Cato did this a lot by the way and no one really believed him this time) when a messenger brought him a letter. He decided to read it.
While not against the law, it was both rude and against custom to not only have letters delivered, but also to read them openly while someone else was speaking. It was a mild fuck you because everyone knew Cato had no evidence and the accusation was baseless.
His opponent demanded that Caesar read the letter, to which Caesar declined, claiming it was personal. Cato became furious and claimed the letter was from another conspirator, to which Caesar handed it to him and rather calmly said, “fine, you read it.”
Cato did, out loud.
It turned out to be a salacious love letter from Cato’s own sister to Caesar, who she was madly in love with. It went into rather graphic detail and due to not only the nature of Roman Latin, but also Cato’s fury he read out loud far more of the letter than he should have. (As a point, Romans did not use punctuation, lower case letters, or spaces so letters were often hard to read out loud and due to sentence structure it’s easy to speak it in such a way that you only realize what you read once the entire sentence is finished. This is even more true when using poetic language you would find in a dirty letter).
10. Mad props to this guy.
Jordan Anderson’s letter to his former master. Basically Anderson’s former master wrote to him after the Civil War and asked Anderson to come back and work.
Anderson responded with some very over the top thankfulness that the north hadn’t hung his former master and praise for the master’s good character. Anderson then went on to request his back wages for his time as a slave as proof that his former master recognized that slavery was wrong.
9. Good, clean living I guess.
When Otto von Bismarck was about 50, he was walking down a street when a man ran up to him and shot him five times. Otto then turned around and began to beat the absolute sh%t out of him until some armed guards come to help him.
When they inspected Otto for wounds, they found that all 5 hit, but they all either just grazed him or bounced off his ribs. Literally the iron chancellor.
8. Lincoln threw down several of these.
The Gettysburg address.
They originally didn’t plan to have Lincoln speak at this event, I think he was invited as a formality and they didn’t expect/want him to come. He came anyway and they told him he only had the time for an extremely short speech. Basically, they let him speak because if the President comes to your event, he has to have some time, right?
He delivered such an excellent speech that no one remembers the other people who spoke that day.
7. I’m not so sure about this…
The judge that sentenced Kevin Tunnell to write a $1 check every week for eighteen years to the parents of the girl he killed in a drunk driving accident so that he wouldn’t forget what he’d done.
6. A polite request.
“Stop sending people to kill me! We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send a very fast working one to Moscow and I certainly won’t have to send another.”
Tito to Joseph Stalin
5. “I trust you will find this satisfactory.”
25 July 1938
20 Northmoor Road, Oxford
Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.
Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.
I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and
remain yours faithfully,
J. R. R. Tolkien
4. That seems fair.
Louis Pasteur, instructing in his writings on sterilization, that they never be translated into German, because he’d been screwed over by beer companies.
3. It is, even if unintentional.
Putting Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill. Jackson was openly against the centralized bank, and for the gold standard. He openly opposed “greenbacks” (paper money). He was also known to duel anyone who opposed him politically.
He was basically U.S. history’s biggest bully. They waited several decades after his death to put him on the twenty note. Some think it was a blatant “fuck you.”
2. One of the best.
A group of blackmailers managed to get hold of a love letter that Oscar Wilde wrote to Lord Alfred Douglas in the late 1800s, when gay s*x was still illegal and severely punished.
Wilde realized that the letter was missing, hastily turned it into a poem, and published the poem. When the blackmailers came to try to collect money from him, he told them that they could show the letter to anyone they liked, as he would just explain that it was the rough draft of his poem, now published for everyone to see.
The blackmailers gave up and refused to come back and try again, saying that Wilde only taunted them.
1. Good ol’ A. Ham.
“There are approximately 1010300 words in the English language, but I could never string enough words together to properly explain how much I want to hit you with a chair.”
– Alexander Hamilton
I’m thrilled to learn about some of these, honestly.
If you could add something to the list, what would it be? Let us know in the comments!