Page 10 - History Facts

Lincoln almost participated in a diel--but he scared his opponent out of it!


Abraham Lincoln is known as one of the greatest presidents the young United States, and perhaps the world, has ever seen.

He had an aura of stoic elegance and wisdom. If you thought he was always the silent giant, you might be surprised to find out he nearly participated in a duel—until he intimidated his opponent out of it.

James Shields was an attorney and auditor for Illinois, the same state Lincoln was a state legislator for at the time.

Anonymous letters disparaging Shields and criticizing his work showed up in the Sangamo Journal of Springfield that were believed to be written by Lincoln's future wife, Mary Todd, or even Lincoln himself.

Shields hastily challenged Lincoln to a duel for his good name, even though duels had been banned since 1839.

Both parties met on September 22, 1842 where Lincoln got to choose the weapon (since he was the one challenged). He intelligently chose a broadsword due to his height and long reach.

The distinct advantage quickly became apparent and Shields backed down, apologizing the whole time. The two made peace and maintained a friendly relationship from that day forward.

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Switzerland became a neutral country after it lost the Battle of Marignano in 1515


After they lost the Battle of Marignano in 1515, the Swiss decided to become a neutral country.

The battle was fought between France and led by their newly crowned, 21-year-old king, King Francis I, and the Swiss Confederacy.

France did have help in the form of German landsknechts and also from its Venetian allies.

Lengthy negotiations followed and on November 29, 1516, the two countries signed an ‘Eternal Peace’ in which both vowed that they will seek diplomatic or judicial resolution of all future conflicts.

Switzerland has been neutral for almost 500 years, which means it will not participate in any war between other states. It will, in other words, not choose sides and will not assist any side against another.

Neutrality has not only protected Switzerland from war, but has also protected the country from being torn apart when its own different language communities might have been tempted to side with different countries in times of conflict.

The Swiss have been following the advice of their own St. Nicholas of Flüe who said "Don't get involved in other people's affairs," but in October 2002 the first armed Swiss peacekeepers arrived in Kosovo.

Switzerland stressed that it was motivated by the desire to promote peace and security and that it reserves the right to withdraw if it believed its neutrality was threatened.

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Ranked by geographic size, the Roman Empire was only the nineteenth biggest ever


The Roman Empire is legendary.

From emperor Augustus to Julius Caesar, the power and reach of this Italian empire is well known. The name conjures up images of Roman soldiers spreading across the world and conquering all lands in the name of Rome.

However, when compared with other historical empires, the Roman Empire is pretty small.

In fact, when ranking all the empires in the history of the world by geographic size, the Roman Empires comes in at number 19.

Its maximum land area was 2.51 million square miles, and its maximum population was somewhere between 65 and 88 million people.

By comparison, the number one ranked empire is the British Empire with a geographic area of 13.01 million square miles and a population of 458 million people.

Other empires that surpass the Roman Empire in geographic area include the Mongol Empire, the Russian Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Qing Dynasty, and the Japanese Empire.

While these empires may have not been quite as famous as the Roman Empire (at least not in the Western world), they were more powerful in many ways.

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Some awesome lists!

We could have had the steam engine thousands of years ago, but slavery was the reason for the historical delay.


Without the creation of the steam engine we wouldn't have had the industrial revolution that catapulted us into the modern times full of assembly lines, factories, and cheap goods.

Thank goodness for those brainiacs back in the 1800s. Too bad they didn't come up with steam power—you can thank the ancient Romans for that!

The earliest known notation of using steam as a power source was when Heron of Alexandria described steam powering devices used to open and close gates, doors and blow horns.

However, the use of the machines was just used as a spectacle or novelty. Though we used it for many practical reasons, the Romans had a different, cheaper power source: slavery.

It's very possible that the development of things like the steam engine and other scientific discoveries were hindered due to slave labor. Without the need for quicker, easier, and cost effective labor there was no need to develop anything new.

Just count this as yet another notch in the “bad” column for slavery! It's a shame it took so long for miraculous breakthroughs due to nefarious reasons.

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Annie Taylor was the first person to successfully descend Niagara Falls...on her 63rd birthday!


It’s a pretty crazy stunt to go over Niagara falls. The number of people who have done so and survived isn’t very high.

One of the ways people choose to try it is in a barrel. This is the way that the very first person went over the Falls. That was Annie Edson Taylor, who would do so in 1902.

There were several delays in the launching of Taylor’s barrel, as not many people were interested in being part of what would likely end up being literal suicide.

The barrel itself was custom made for her trip, constructed of oak and iron and padded with a mattress.

To help ease the nerves of some, a cat was sent over the falls in Taylor’s barrel.

Despite rumors otherwise, the car survived, and there are pictures of Taylor and the cat after its trip.

Two days later Taylor became the first person to ever successfully travel down Niagara Falls. It was her 63rd birthday.

Taylor's main motivation for the stunt was that she wanted to secure her later years financially, and avoid the poorhouse.

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