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6 Odd Things You Might Not Know About American History

on Tuesday, 12 September 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

You know American History, don’t you? George Washington and the American Revolution? Read it in school. Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation? Got it! Thomas Edison, and Harriet Tubman? Check and check.

For those who want to delve a little deeper however, here are some obscure events that might not have made it into the school textbooks:

  • Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the first American flag, but who came up with the modern version? That would be 17 year-old Robert Heft, who designed it as a school project. He only got a ‘C’ for his efforts.
     
  • In an early example of artists ripping off each other’s work, composer Francis Scott Key, famous for writing the Star Spangled Banner, actually took the music from an English drinking song.
     
  • Early America almost had a fourteenth state. The region of Franklin, then a part of North Carolina, voted to secede from the state and petitioned to join the new union. They were rebuffed and became part of Tennessee instead.
     
  • Women’s suffrage wasn’t a thing until 1920, so we’re told. Well, the women of New Jersey exercised their right to vote through the American Revolution until the early 19th century.
     
  • In Salem, New Jersey, tomatoes were put on trial. These colorful fruits were believed to be poisonous, and it wasn’t until 1820 that Robert Johnson stood in front of the local courthouse and proved their innocence.
     
  • Some American presidents have been true political heavyweights, but none fit that description as well as William Howard Taft. At an estimated 350 pounds, Taft was the largest man to have ever held the office.

Americans have had a long and occasionally checkered history. It’s a fascinating journey into how we got where we are today, and there’s always something new to learn.

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