Page 4 - History Facts

This man was unjustly committed to an asylum for 15 years! When released, he sued the place and won!


In 1956, Philadelphia citizen Kenneth Donaldson traveled to Florida. His mission: to visit his elderly parents.

While with his parents, Donaldson commented that he believed one of his neighbors may be poisoning his food. In response, his father, knowing his son had a mental episode 13 years prior, petitioned a local court for a sanity hearing.

During the trial, despite receiving no legal counsel or representation, Donaldson was diagnosed by the state as a paranoid schizophrenic. He was escorted to a hospital in the Florida State mental health system, where he was kept with dangerous criminals.

During his time in the asylum, Donaldson refused any treatment, continually proclaimed his sanity, and worked toward being released.

After 15 years, Donaldson finally escaped the asylum’s clutches and filed a lawsuit against the hospital. His case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, where Donaldson won by unanimous vote.

The case, O’Connor v. Donaldson, led to further deinstitutionalization of mental asylums in the United States.

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A 400 year-old Bonsai tree survived the Hiroshima bombing!


During the Second World War, a B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, Japan, killing thousands of people there and then. However, a small Bonsai tree survived. At the time it was over 300 years old, having been planted in the 1600’s.

Japan actually gifted the tree to the United States for it's bi-centennial, along with 53 other bonsai trees. All of these trees now resides in the U.S. Capital, and are considered one of the most striking collections there. The Bonsai is now 400 years old and probably has tons of stories to tell.

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This operating room was boarded up in the 1800s. It laid undisturbed for nearly 100 years!


In 1957, an old operating theater was discovered at the original site of St. Thomas' Hospital in Southwark, London. Completely boarded up, the theater rested undisturbed since the hospital changed locations in 1862.

Patients at St. Thomas' were generally poor, though the hospital expected them to pay for what they could. Rich patients generally received house calls for treatments instead of being hospitalized.

Unlike today, surgeons did not have access to numbing agents like anaesthetics, which made surgeries much quicker by necessity. This also meant that more invasive surgeries were simply not an option.

Students would often watch surgeries being performed. Though patients did not particularly enjoy this, many put up with it in exchange for receiving high-quality medical care they normally couldn't afford.

In 1859, Florence Nightingale opened her nursing school on the same site as St. Thomas' Hospital. It was on her recommendation that the hospital moved elsewhere. Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing and brought a number of important reforms to the practice.

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Some awesome lists!

During its war with Iraq, Iran used school-aged children to clear the ground for its troops by running over minefields!


Go to Iran if you want to witness severe human rights abuses. Iran is notorious for using “human waves” to clear minefields or draw enemy fire during war. It cost many lives, but the tactic worked sometimes. Volunteers were swept away by patriotism and martyrdom war propaganda presented by the government during the revolution. 

Children were encouraged through visits to the schools as an invasive media campaign. Boys aged nine to sixteen proudly and excitedly lined up to become martyrs. They wore white headbands to signify their embracing of death. An estimated 95,000 Iranian child soldiers were killed during the war. 

The Iraq-Iran War was intense and brutal for all citizens. Poison gas was released on citizens during stalemates. Neither side had enough artillery to keep progressing in the war. They turned to dirty tactics that took the lives of countless innocent people. Poison gas was even let loose inside schools, needlessly killing children. The war took a major toll on the nation.

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Casey Jones sacrificed his own life to save the passengers on his train in 1900, but it is less known that he also rescued a little girl from certain death much earlier in his career


Casey Jones went down in history after his dramatic death on 30 April 1900. He was an engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad.

His work primarily involved freight service between Jackson and Water Valley, Mississippi before he was transferred to Memphis, Tennessee, for the passenger run between Memphis and Canton, Mississippi.

On the fatal night of his death, heavy fog reduced visibility and there was a light rain. Casey didn't know that some of the cars of other trains were stopped on the main line at the station at Vaughan and due to the low visibility his fireman, Simeon T. Webb, only spotted them when it was too late.

When Casey realized the danger he slammed the air brakes into emergency stop and reversed the throttle, slowing the train from 75 miles per hour to about 35 miles per hour at the time of impact.

By staying on board and acting heroically despite the danger he was in, he saved the lives of all his passengers. He was the only fatality in the crash and died on impact.

What is less known is that he had already saved a little girl’s life in 1895. He'd braced himself on the cowcatcher of a moving train, leaning forward as far as he could and lifting her of the tracks, where she was frozen in fear!

She was completely unharmed due to his brave and quick action.

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