History is fascinating, and you know the old saying: those who don’t study it are doomed to repeat it.
AskReddit users who work in the history field share the facts they love sharing with people.
1. A long piece
“The longest piano piece of any kind is Vexations by Erik Satie.
It consists of a 180-note composition which, on the composer’s orders, must be repeated 840 times so that the whole performance is 18 hours 40 minutes.
Its first reported public performance in September 1963, in the Pocket Theater, New York City, required a relay team of 10 pianists. The New York Times critic fell asleep at 4 a.m. and the audience dwindled to 6 masochists. At the conclusion, one sado-masochist shouted ‘Encore!’ “
2. That’s why it’s there
“The Pentagon wasn’t built that way for any defense reason — in fact, it’s not even a regular pentagon. It was designed to fit nicely into the empty field between five major roads, but then later there was some reason why they had to build it somewhere else, I think it was too close to some city or something. Anyway they’d already paid someone to design this five-sided building so they just said forget it, it’s a pentagon now.”
3. Need those hats
“Notorious Pirate/Pirate hunter Benjamin Hornigold Once attacked a ship just to steal all of the crew member’s hats. His men had gotten drunk and lost their hats during a party the night before and decided to board a ship to get replacements.”
4. This is great
“Andrew Jackson had a pet parrot with a surprisingly large knowledge on swear words.”
5. Orphan trains
“I like telling people about orphan trains. During the late 19th-early 20th century, Progressive reformers loaded “orphans” onto trains, sending them to the countryside for what often amounted to indentured servitude. Also, some of the kids that were targeted were not orphans, and the Protestant reformers may have intentionally targeted the children of intact Catholic and Jewish immigrant families to make sure they were converted to the right religion. I’ve found that it’s not a very well known part of the Progressive Era.”
6. The long war
“There once existed an alleged theoretical state of war that lasted 335 years and 19 days, and was between the Dutch and an archipelago off the coast of southwest England called the Isles of Scilly.
What’s more, there were no casualties (because the Dutch forgot that they were at war with the Isles).
It wasn’t until a Scilly historian contacted the Dutch about the “war” in 1985, and received the information that the “war” was still technically ongoing, that a peace treaty was signed in 1986.”
“From the memoirs of a Bill Bellamy, a British WW2 tank troop commander:
One of our favorite pursuits was to eavesdrop on other squadron wireless nets while we were resting. This could be very exciting and, on occasion, very amusing.
One splendid moment occurred when C squadron were out on a standing patrol and Michael Payne, a young and popular troop leader, was in a hedgerow with shelling taking place to his front. Apparently the whole area was covered with cattle, who paid little attention to the lethal objects dropping around them and concentrated on the job in hand.
Suddenly over the air came the laconic voice of Mickey,
“Gunner, you see that poor cow in front which has just been wounded? Put the poor devil out of its misery will you?”
He obviously imagined he was talking on his intercom and not broadcasting to the world, because he then remained on the air with his microphone switch pressed. There was a moment of silence and then a rat-tat-tat of the Besa machine-gun. Then came Mickey’s agonized cry,
“Not that one you bloody fool, the one on the left!”
We didn’t let him forget that for a long time.”
8. That didn’t happen
“Despite being one of the most fearsome pirates of all time, Blackbeard never tortured or killed any of his prisoners.”
“I love sharing the story of Deborah Sampson. She was effectively the American Mulan. During the Revolutionary War she masqueraded as a man to fight. While she did eventually get caught after being wounded, she managed to avoid that issue once by digging a musketball out of her thigh! She was the only woman following the war to receive a soldier’s pension. Awesome.”
10. That would’ve been strange
“That the US was one single vote away from introducing hippos into the Everglades.
The American Hippo Bill of 1910 was made to solve both a meat shortage and the issue of an invasive species of water hyacinth. The bill went to Congress, and we were one vote short of having the North American Hippopotamus, and adding one more thing to the Everglades that wants you dead.”
11. This is awesome
“Melbourne was once terrorised by a crime gang that consisted exclusively of men with one leg and crutches. ““The Crutchy Push, with one exception, consisted of one-legged men. The exception was a one-armed man who kept half a brick in his sewn up empty sleeve. He led his followers into battle swinging the weighted sleeve around his head. Behind him came the men on crutches – each one expert at balancing on one leg. The tip of the crutch was used to jab an opponent in the midriff. With the enemy gasping for breath the crutch would be reversed and the metal-shod arm rest would be used as a club.”
It gets better. After several incidences of their member outrunning cops sent to track them down, the police got together the ten most violent police officers in Australia, called them “The Terrible Ten” and sent them to beat up the Crutchie Push with hoses, because Australia is clearly one giant Carry On movie.”
12. Good ol’ Ben
“The founding fathers wouldn’t let Benjamin Franklin work on the Declaration Of Independence because they were afraid he would slip a joke into it.”
13. What a job
“Some Egyptian pharaohs had a court physician with the title Shepherd of the Royal an*s who had the sole job of keeping the royal butthole healthy.”
14. Not a good rate
“In 1847, Robert Liston performed an amputation in 25 seconds, operating so quickly that he accidentally amputated his assistant’s fingers as well. Both patient and assistant later died of sepsis, and a spectator reportedly died of shock, resulting in the only known surgical procedure with a 300% mortality rate.”
“The US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been much more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.”