15 Little-Known Facts About the US Government

Posted Jun 15, by Val Liarikos

Major General Edward Geary Lansdale was a bit of an oddball, and is most notable for his sacreligious plan to overthrow Fidel Castro. The plan had a few different components to it. The first was that the American military would somehow spread word that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent.

After that was established, the second part of the plan was to proclaim that Christ was against Castro who was the anti-Christ. More importantly, the military planned on spreading around a specific date of the Second Coming.

Next, the military would set up a submarine just outside of Cuba that would launch star-shells (essentially giant flares that can illuminate the night sky). On the day of the "Second Coming" the submarine would launch Star-shells at the same time an American plane hidden behind the clouds would broadcast messages in the voice of Jesus, whatever that may be.

At the sight of all these extraordinary events, the Cuban people would then be expected to overthrow Castro fearing that they would be doomed to eternity in hell if they disobeyed Christ during his Second Coming.

The plan never went through because although it was seen as a genius ploy, the government also calculated the success rate to be virtually zero. Read the full story here!


In 2003, when the United States was in the midst of the war with Iraq, France was not particularly supportive. As such, Americans attempted to rename French fries "freedom fries." A similar rebranding occurred in the US during World War I.

The government encouraged Americans to rename traditionally German foods. They attempted to rename sauerkraut "liberty cabbage" and hamburgers "Liberty Sandwiches." Whether or not Americans embraced this change, eventually we went back to calling these foods by their original names.


Impeachment in the United States is when the legislature presses formal charges against a civil officer of government for crimes committed in office. These civil officers are often given a trial that is presided over by some other government official.

When the impeachment trial involves a US president, the Chief Justice is required to preside over the Senate trial. In other trials, the Vice President presides in his capacity as President of the Senate.

Due to this unintended omission in the Constitution, however, the Vice President would also have to preside over his own impeachment trial. Guess we all know the result of that trial.


In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed the trade embargo against Cuba. This effectively shut down trade between the US and Cuba because of Cuba's repressive form of government. It is still in effect today. However, Kennedy didn't sign it before he was able to secure some Cuban goods of his own.

The night before Kennedy signed the trade embargo, he asked his head of press, Pierre Salinger, to secure 1200 Cuban cigars for him. Salinger was successful, and Kennedy got his cigars before the embargo went into effect. Wonder if any of those are left over.


In the 1850s, the Howard Banking Company printed legal tender with Santa Claus on his sleigh with reindeer. From the time the American Revolution ended until 1861 private banks were the ones who printed legal tender.

Today, the federal government issues all of the paper currency in the United States. Anyone else doing it is committing a federal crime. The money from back then is now called “obsolete bank notes”. Each bank made their own paper money and they often ended up being quite colorful.

In the 1850s, several banks used Santa Claus in their money. The Santa who graces this Howard Banking Company bill is descended from Sinter Klaas, a traditional figure brought by Dutch settlers to New York in the 17th century.

He went through several significant metamorphoses in America, including features added by Washington Irving in his “Knickerbocker History” and the 1822 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas".


When the US economy was still new, there was a fierce debate over how to develop and grow it. Some people wanted a more industrial America, while others like Andrew Jackson stood behind farming and agriculture as the backbone of the new country.

Andrew Jackson was convinced that corporations and banks would harm political rights and influence of the common man. As a result of this, he also strongly opposed paper money, because he had lost a lot of money due to paper notes devaluing.

At the time, paper money was issued by banks, and not the federal government. Because of this, bills could lose their value if the banks that issued them went under.

After that, Jackson held the belief that paper money was inherently evil and that banks had too much unregulated power. In his mind, only gold and silver would be used for money. Pretty ironic, given that he’s the face of what is probably the most used Dollar bill.


In 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission exploded two bombs with bottles and cans of pop and beer at various distances to see if they were drinkable after the explosions.

The closest liquids were placed less than a quarter of a mile away from ground zero. The farthest away were a couple of miles. Some of the drinks were buried, others were in clusters, and others were paired up.

The bombs were equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT and 30 kilotons of TNT. The commission found that the beer even closest to the blast site was drinkable.

It was a little radioactive, but drinkable in dire situations. The farther away from the blast site the less radioactive the beer was. The researchers even taste tested the beer and said it was all good, except for the beer closest to ground zero.

Now you know: if we ever suffer from nuclear war, you can at least calm your nerves with a cold brewski.


The United States is almost unique in how our government is organized. The balance of power between the federal and State governments is constantly altered, and with each new addition the balance is changed in some way. Originally starting with 13 colonies, in the early years we expanded relatively quickly. In the early 20th century there had not been a state added for some time after Arizona in 1912.

It was not until 1959 that Alaska and Hawaii were added, meaning the flag changed to include 50 stripes. To this day, no president has been born and buried under the same flag. Until a president is born after 1959 without the new addition of a state, the statement will remain true. For those expecting Obama to be the first, it looks like Puerto Rico might just break the over 50 years of non-additions!


The United States faced the greatest depression it had suffered to date in 1893. Called The Panic of 1893, it was characterized by the collapse of many railroad companies, a market flooding of silver and bank failures that led to the US Treasury to almost run out of gold.

By 1893, the railroad industry had over expanded, and a prominent railroad company, the Philadelphia and Reading railroad went bankrupt in February 1893. This was a troubling sign about the economy, and it caused people to rush to take their money out of banks, causing a credit crunch that further stifled the economy.

To make matters worse, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 required the US Government to buy millions of ounces of silver per year. Farmers flooded the market with silver notes that they had gotten from the government. Then, people tried to redeem those silver notes for gold. The US Treasury has a minimum limit for how much gold it can have in reserves, and they reached it during this crisis, which meant that you couldn't exchange US notes for gold.

President Grover Cleveland convinced Congress to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which many blamed for a large part of the crisis. He also convinced JP Morgan to join the Rothschilds to supply the US Treasury with 3.5 million ounces og Gold in exchange for 30-year bonds. This saved the Treasury, but ultimately cost Cleveland his job, as Morgan and Wall Street bankers donated heavily to his rival.


Buzz Aldrin was the second man to ever step foot on the Moon. On July 20, 1969 his Apollo 11 mission successfully landed on the Moon and although Aldrin was supposed to be the first person out of the spacecraft, he instead came out second due to awkward positioning. His first action after landing was holding a short religious service.

Aldrin is a Presbyterian, and after landing said, “I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.” He then gave himself communion, the first person to ever do so not on Earth.

NASA and Aldrin decided to keep this a secret because of a recent lawsuit that atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair had enacted against them. O’Hair complained against the reading of Genesis on Apollo 8. Her case made it to the Supreme Court and although Aldrin was not allowed to tell anyone that he had taken communion, the government still allowed him to do so.



Sugar Grove is the name of an American government communications site in West Virginia. It’s run by the National Security Agency. The site intercepts all international communications entering the Eastern United States. The Naval Information Operations Command is in charge of the operation.

It started in 1960 with a radio telescope that was to intercept Soviet radar and radio signals by reflecting the signals from the moon. The project got halted and began again in 1962 as a radio receiving station. Sugar Grove is located in an officially designated National Radio Quiet Zone. It covers 13,000 square miles in West Virginia and Virginia.

The zone was established in 1958 by Congress to facilitate its mission and the mission of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory located about 30 miles away. There is a small community called Sugar Grove near the site.


If you don’t know what smallpox is, be happy. Most of you reading this will probably never have to deal with it. Smallpox was a highly infectious disease that caused painful blisters to appear all over the body. Its mortality rate was about one third. Once a massive problem, it has since been dealt with and the last case of smallpox was diagnosed in 1977.

 After the disease was eradicated in the US, smallpox vaccinations gradually stopped. Until relatively recently, the vaccine was only circulated to medical professionals for research. Following September 11th, 2001, however, the US government decided to prepare itself further for defense of terrorism- including disease warfare.

Theoretically, one could intentionally release the smallpox virus. The US government has prepared for this by updating and releasing a smallpox response plan, as well as manufacturing enough vaccines to vaccinate every person in the US.


The U.S. government planned to drop more than just two atomic bombs in Japan during World War II. Groves, the U.S. Secretary of War planned on dropping one on August 19th, three more during September, and another three in October. That is a lot of powerful bombs falling on such a small island.

Groves sent Marshall a memo on August 10th saying to drop another bomb when the weather was clear sometime after the 17th or 18th of August. Marshall replied back that he wasn’t to drop another bomb on the island of Japan without express authority from the President. One of the extra atomic bombs would have been dropped over Kyoto, Japan.

However, the U.S. Secretary of War had his honeymoon there. He had such good memories of the experience that he didn’t allow them to drop a bomb on the city. What a nostalgic man.


Project A119 was also known as A Study of Lunar Research Flights. The project was a top-secret plan created in the 1950s by the US Air Force. The point of the project was to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon to boost public morale in the US when the Soviet Union took the lead in the Space Race.

It wasn’t until 2000 that the plan was even revealed. Leonard Reiffel the former executive at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) led the project in 1958 and was the one who leaked the information. The project was never carried out, luckily. They decided that landing on the moon would be a much better way to spend the money and find more favor from the public than an explosion.

The project was a secret for 45 years before Reiffel revealed it. The US government still does not officially recognize any involvement in the study.



Talossa, or rather, “The Kingdom of Talossa” is the name of the oldest existing micro-nation, founded by 14-year-old Robert Ben Madison in 1979. Apparently, it seceded peacefully from the United States (someone should probably tell the United States), and is located on the western shore of La Mar Talossan (the Talossan term for ‘Lake Michigan’). 

Talossa is a constitutional monarchy headed by an apolitical King and governed by a democratically elected Government. It has its own language, political parties, registered Coat of Arms, and official website! According to the site, total membership (citizens are called “members”) of the nation reached between 100-200 people at its peak. To learn more about this free-spirited and quirky place, visit the source! 


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