Page 194 - History Facts

Slaves in Texas didn’t know they were free for two months because news traveled so slowly!

The day is called “Juneteenth,” and it is the day that slaves in Texas finally received the news that they were free. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 banning slavery throughout the nation, however news traveled so slow at the time that it was not until June 19, 1865 that all slaves were finally free.

The reason it took so long was because the war was still going on at the time of the issuance. The westernmost Confederate states, such as Texas, were still under the control of the South, meaning it had zero significance. General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomatox in April. It was not until two months later that Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas with 2000 Union troops. He publically announced General Order No. 3 which said, “The people of Texas are informed that all slaves are free.” 250,000 former slaves stood in amazement as they heard the news of which they had no idea would arrive, that they were free people.


The first Spaniard to meet Mesoamericans died fighting for his adopted homeland-against Spain!

Little is known about the early life of Gonzalo Guerrero, but we do know he was a sailor from Palos, Spain who shipwrecked along the Yucatan Peninsula. He was captured by local Mayans and made a slave. 

After he bought his freedom, he became a respected warrior under the Mayans and raised three of the first mestizo children in Mexico. Mestizo refers to the mixed race of a person. Normally the person is of a native and European mixture. Guerrero became loyal to the Mayans. 

He is said to have told them that the Spaniards would suffer death like other men. He led the Maya campaigns against Cortes and his lieutenants and the Panamanian governor. 

One of Cortes’ lieutenant’s orders was to capture Guerrero. He ended up being killed in a battle fighting the Spaniards for the sake of the Mayan people that he had grown to love and call his adopted homeland. 


A Soviet spy stole most US nuclear secrets, enabled the Cold War and wasn't discovered until 2002!

A Soviet master spy infiltrated the Manhattan project, stole nearly all US nuclear secrets, single-handedly provided the key technology for Russia's nuclear arsenal, and was only discovered as a spy in 2002.

Real spies do exist. George Abramovich Koval was an American who, during the height of the Cold War, was one such person. Though American, he was a Soviet intelligence officer. Koval infiltrated the Manhattan Project (the development of the first atomic bombs) and helped to drastically reduce the time it took for Russia to develop nuclear weapons with the secrets he stole. 

Though many famous spies like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were caught, Koval got off scot free. In fact, the truth wasn’t revealed until 2002, when a book was written on the subject. 

Koval died at the age of 92 in 2006, and had for years been angry over never receiving recognition for his acts. Vladimir Putin, however, awarded him the decoration of Hero of the Russian Federation a year after he died.


Some awesome lists!

Britain and Sweden had a two-year war rage between them without a single casualty!

The Anglo-Swedish War commenced in 1810 and ceased in 1812. During Napoleon’s wars on, well, everyone, Britain and Sweden were allies against Napoleon. Upon the defeat of Sweden in the Finnish War and the Pomeranian War and two treaties, Sweden turned around and declared war on Great Britain. The catch is that the war only existed on paper. Britain was even still allowed to station ships in the Swedish port of Hano and trade with the Baltic nations. 

So, no real acts of war ever incurred. Therefore there were no casualties. Sweden was still scared that Britain would attack, so they enlisted more farmers into the military to prepare. 

The only bloodshed that actually took place was Sweden against its own. Some farmers refused to join the Swedish army and the general in charge took matters in his own hand and had his men kill 30 farmers. 


The Romans dealt with war elephants by circling them with towropes and chariots just like in Star Wars!

There’s little that could be more terrifying than having an angry, screaming elephant, with sharpened tusks and a ferocious man holding a spear charging full speed at you. While war elephants weren’t exactly common, it wasn’t strange to see them in battle.

 They were first employed in India and the technique quickly spread around south-east Asia and eventually to the Mediterranean. Elephants were first tamed for agricultural practices, but after realizing the obvious power of the giant animals they were quickly tamed for war purposes. Alexander the Great’s famed expedition to India while conquering the Persians gained extreme notoriety after the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC, when the Persians used fifteen war elephants which Alexander took after defeating his enemy because he was so impressed. 

By the time of the Punic Wars, the Carthaginians had perfected the use of war elephants, evident in their trek into Italy, and destroyed the Romans in several battles before they adopted the technique of using fire and riding quickly around them with ropes tied to chariots to bind their legs. Sound similar? The idea is nearly exactly the same as the Battle of Hoth in Star Wars, “The Empire Strikes Back” when the rebels bind the legs of the Imperial Walkers with ropes to topple them. 



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