Page 10 - History Facts

There was a time when patients suffering from syphilis were injected with malaria, and even mercury!


Originally there were no cures for syphilis. Various methods were used and tried in an effort to cure the disease, with varied degrees of success and failure.

In the late 1400s and early 1500s mercury was used to treat the disease. It was rubbed on the skin, administered by mouth and even injected into the patient! That is where the saying "A night in the arms of Venus leads to a lifetime on Mercury" originates from.

Another method was fumigation. The patient was placed in a box with his head sticking outward. Mercury was then placed inside the box.

A fire was lit underneath and that would cause the mercury to vaporize. It was a very unpleasant process for the patient and not very effective at all.

In the 1900's it was noticed that syphilis was cured by high fevers. There was a disease that could cause very high fevers indeed – malaria.

Syphilis patients were inoculated with malaria in the hopes that it would induce a high fever and cure the patient from syphilis. It was a fair gamble as the malaria could later be treated with quinine, which was already available.

Sweat-boxes were later used and these methods were only rendered unnecessary by the discovery of penicillin and its widespread manufacture after World War II. Penicillin is a reliable and effective treatment method for syphilis.

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Hundreds of American spies during the Cold War were caught in Russia for the STUPIDEST reason


There were many secret agents during the Cold War, and they were always in danger of being caught. Both sides came up with ingenious ways of deceiving the enemy and infiltrating 'the other side.' Spies were used to acquire knowledge of what the other side was doing, but also to spread false knowledge of what was being done.

It was a highly dangerous job and many worked knowing that there was barely any chance of being rescued if caught. Prison or death by execution were the most common punishments for those unfortunate enough to make mistakes that led to their discovery.

Fake passports were the primary move for spies. Attention had to be paid to every minute detail during the forgery of a passport. Something seemingly insignificant was, however, missed by the Americans and it resulted in hundreds of American spies being caught in the USSR. Something as seemingly unimportant as staples!

The staples used in Russian passports corroded rather quickly. America, on the other hand, used stainless steel staples in the counterfeit passports for their spies. These obviously never corroded. This was a tell-tale sign for Russian officials that the passport had to be counterfeit.

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The 'Archives of Terror' describe the horrible fate of hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans—and were discovered by accident!


When judge Jos Agustn Fernndez and lawyer and human-rights activist, Dr. Martn Almada, searched a police station in a suburb of Asuncin on 22 December 1992 for files on a former prisoner, they were not prepared for what they found instead.

They stumbled across archives describing the terrible fates of thousands of Latin Americans. It described how these people were secretly kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay in an operation now known as Operation Condor. The archives were named the 'Archives of Terror.'

The archives listed 50,000 people murdered, 30,000 people disappeared and 400,000 people imprisoned. Paraguay was under the dictatorship of Stroessner until 1989, and according to Dr. Almada, "The documents are a mountain of ignominy, of lies, which Stroessner used for 40 years to blackmail the Paraguayan people."

The terror archives revealed that countries such as Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela also cooperated by providing intelligence information requested from them by the security services of the Southern Cone countries.

Dr. Almada wants the archives listed as an international cultural site in order to make funding for the preservation and protection of the documents possible. A UNESCO mission visited Asuncin in 2000 to help put these files on the Memory of the World Register.

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Some awesome lists!

Harriet Tubman used opium to get kids through the Underground Railroad!


In times of slavery in the US, there was a network of friendly people and places that slaves used to migrate from the South to the North. That network was known as the Underground Railroad.

One of the most famous people to be a ‘conductor’ of the railroad was Harriet Tubman. The woman made 19 journeys and freed more than 300 slaves.

She was so wanted that there was a reward for about $1 million in today’s dollars. Why was she so successful? She had some very good techniques.

For example, she threatened to shoot people who changed their minds and wanted to go back. She knew that if they went back that would risk her entire network.

One of the most interesting, and perhaps controversial things she did is she drugged small kids. Recognizing that they might slow down the group or give them away by crying at the wrong moment, she always carried an offshoot of opium to make them sleep.

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Pineapples were once such a status symbol that it was popular to rent one for a party!


Pineapples weren't always as easy to come by as they are today. Once they were extremely rare outside of the tropics and actually considered a status symbol.

It all started when Christopher Columbus was on his second Caribbean voyage. When word of the fruit got back to Europe, and later samples came back as well, it became highly sought after.

Fresh fruit and sugar were both rare in Europe, so this sweet fruit with such an exotic shape quickly became the cream of the crop. Pineapples were so rare that a king even had a portrait painted of himself receiving one as a gift!

In colonial America, pineapples became just as sought after. A hostesses' ability to have a pineapple for an important dining event said as much about her rank as it did about her resourcefulness, as they were very hard to get ahold of. Most would rot before reaching the northern colonies.

To make them more available, pineapples were rented out for parties and then resold to more wealthy customers who would actually eat them. They would often "crown" the platters of food by being placed noticeably on top of the other foods.

Next time you're invited somewhere, you should bring a pineapple for the ultimate show of respect.

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