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A Brush With Death in Baltimore? The Other Lincoln Assassination Attempt

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This is from Mental Floss.

IMAGE CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS // PUBLIC DOMAIN

Even if John Wilkes Booth hadn’t gotten to Abraham Lincoln on that fateful night at Ford’s Theater, it seems likely that someone would have, eventually. After all, Lincoln narrowly avoided death on an uncomfortable number of occasions—including one incident in 1861.

In February of that year, the president-elect was traveling by train from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D.C. Word was circulating that Lincoln’s detractors planned to stop him from taking office, and that their attempt would likely happen during Lincoln’s stop in Baltimore.

The rumor was upsetting to many people, but it was particularly alarming to Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad president Samuel Felton. Felton didn’t want any harm to come to the president-elect, of course, and he also didn’t want any harm to come to the reputation of his fine railroad. To protect both, Felton hired independent detective Allan Pinkerton to investigate.

Pinkerton visited Baltimore to delve deeper into the plot, and what he discovered amidst the crowds shocked him: “Every night as I mingled among them, I could hear the most outrageous sentiments enunciated. No man’s life was safe in the hands of those men.”

Though many plots were discussed, including one to give Lincoln dumplings stuffed with spiders, only one seemed to be forming into an actionable plan: Corsican immigrant Captain Cypriano Ferrandini had assembled 20 “Southern Patriots” to assault Lincoln when he exited his train. Some of the men, as designated by secret ballot, were tasked with attacking him while others created a diversion.

Pinkerton’s recommendation was to send Lincoln through Baltimore as planned, but several hours ahead of schedule, and with no entourage. Instead of the usual conspicuous crew, Lincoln would be accompanied by just Pinkerton and friend and bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon. He would also be in disguise, wearing a soft wool hat and an old overcoat with a shawl for good measure. The costume wasn’t just for theatrics. Lincoln’s train wasn’t just “passing through” Baltimore—his sleeper car actually needed to be unhooked and driven via horse to a different depot in town in order for him to switch trains to D.C. Not only did this exposure make Lincoln more physically vulnerable, it also meant that more people could potentially find out that he had arrived well ahead of schedule, creating more opportunities for the word to leak out.

Even with a small snag in the schedule, the plan ultimately succeeded. By the time Ferrandini and his murderous crew were gathering for their attack, Lincoln had already arrived in Washington.

To confirm that everything had gone according to plan, Pinkerton wired a coded message to his boss back at the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad: “Plums delivered nuts safely.”

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Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln: Dueling inaugural addresses

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This is from the National Constitution Center.

On this day in 1861, former U.S. Senator Jefferson Davis took to a podium for his presidential inauguration and gave an impassioned speech about the Constitution. Three weeks later, Abraham Lincoln did likewise, to much different results.

Davis_Inauguration-536Davis had been a highly visible figure in Washington, D.C. as a pro-slavery and states’ rights advocate from Mississippi. Earlier his life, Davis was the son-in-law of future President Zachary Taylor. After graduating from West Point, Davis served in the military and Congress, and he was Secretary of War for President Franklin Pierce.

Davis returned to the Senate after his time in the Pierce administration, where he was a vocal supporter of states’ rights. But he quit  after Lincoln’s election, saying “we are about to be deprived in the Union of the rights which our fathers bequeathed to us.”

On February 4, 1861, six states that had left the Union called their own constitutional convention in Montgomery, Alabama. A dozen delegates at the Confederate congress quickly wrote a provisional constitution and proclaimed Davis as provisional president of the Confederate States of America, with Alexander Stephens as vice president. Both would serve for one year until the permanent constitution took effect in February 1862.

Davis spoke at the Alabama capitol in Montgomery on February 18, 1861, about the virtues of the new constitution, which he claimed was in tune with the 1787 Constitution written in Philadelphia and was also in accord with the Declaration of Independence.

He argued that the Confederate states had no choice but to form their own constitution after the actions of the federal government.

“The declared purpose of the compact of Union from which we have withdrawn was ‘to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity;’ and when, in the judgment of the sovereign States now composing this Confederacy, it had been perverted from the purposes for which it was ordained, and had ceased to answer the ends for which it was established,” Davis said.

The six states had “merely asserted a right which the Declaration of Independence of 1776 had defined to be inalienable; of the time and occasion for its exercise, they, as sovereigns, were the final judges, each for itself,” he argued.

“We have changed the constituent parts, but not the system of our Government. The Constitution formed by our fathers is that of these Confederate States, in their exposition of it, and in the judicial construction it has received, we have a light which reveals its true meaning,” he concluded.

In 2011, Adam Goodheart from the New York Times looked back at the scene in Montgomery when Davis took office as the provisional president, and it appeared that Davis wasn’t a match for Lincoln when it came to inaugural speeches.

Goodheart said Davis didn’t start writing his speech until the night before his inauguration and the event lasted a mere 15 minutes.

“The inaugural address had contained not a single memorable phrase or idea. Even Davis’s admirers would rarely quote it,” Goodheart wrote back in 2011.

Several weeks later, Abraham Lincoln gave his first inaugural speech on March 4, a speech he started working on since his election in November 1860. Lincoln referenced the concepts of famous speeches and the Constitution, and he worked with William Seward to hone his messaging.

Historians believe Seward toned done confrontational language in early drafts of the speech and worked in ideas consistent with James Madison’s writings in The Federalist.

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war,” Lincoln concluded in his epic address.

At one point, Lincoln meant to conclude with a sharply worked warning,””Shall it be peace or sword?” Instead, the final speech sought unity.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

A month later, the Civil War started in earnest, and on February 22, 1862 (and Washington’s birthday), Davis gave a second inaugural address, after winning election under the permanent Confederate constitution.

He continued with the theme that it was the United States government that was unconstitutional and the Confederate government had acted in concert with the Founders.

“The experiment instituted by our revolutionary fathers, of a voluntary Union of sovereign States for purposes specified in a solemn compact, had been perverted by those who, feeling power and forgetting right, were determined to respect no law but their own will,” Davis claimed, pointing to emergency acts taken by Lincoln to deny habeas corpus rights near Washington, D.C.

The word “slavery” wasn’t used in Davis’ inauguration speeches, but his intent was clear when he said the conflict had “culminated in a warfare on the domestic institutions of the Southern States.

10 ways Abraham Lincoln remains in our daily lives

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This is from the  National Constitution Center.

Liberals would like to erase Abraham Lincoln from the pages of history.

Abraham Lincoln, the man, was a national figure for a little less than a decade in his lifetime. But Lincoln, the legend, is a daily part of most American’s lives as a figure represented in currency, pop culture and our geography.

lincolnobjectsIf you think about it, how many times on a daily basis do you see Lincoln’s image, hear his name or see his name on everything from schools to roads to buildings?

Here is a look at 10 different areas where Abraham Lincoln remains with us as an icon.

1. The Lincoln Cent. The Victor David Brenner image of President Lincoln has been featured on the penny since 1909.  It replaced the “Indian Head” design that appeared from 1859-1909. Estimates vary on how many cent coins are in circulation today, with numbers ranging from 140 billion to more than 200 billion.

2. The Lincoln Five Dollar Bill. The first Federal Reserve Note with Lincoln’s likeness was issued in 1914. The Fed says the average $5 bill lasts in circulation for about five years. There are about $11 billion worth of $5 bills in circulation today.

3. Businesses named after Lincoln. We really don’t know how many there are. There’s Lincoln Financial Group for starters, and there are banks and insurance companies named for Lincoln, and stores and other retail businesses. Look around your town to see how many Lincolns you have in business.

4. Cars. The Lincoln Motor Company was founded in 1917 as a luxury car maker by Henry Leland, and it was acquired by Ford five years later. Lincoln limousines were also used by many modern Presidents, starting with Franklin Roosevelt and ending with George H.W. Bush.

5. Towns. A few years ago, PBS did a nice map that showed about three dozen towns and cities named after Abraham Lincoln. You’ll notice on the map that no towns in the South are named for the 16th President. Any town or county in that region called Lincoln was named after Benjamin Lincoln, a general from the Revolutionary War era.

6. Toys. The classic Lincoln Log toy set dates back to 1916, when they were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, John Lloyd Wright. The classic edition was for a frontier cabin, but modern Lincoln Logs come in different configurations – but they are still made from wood.

7. Schools. Many educational institutions across the country have Lincoln has part of their name, starting with Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, California and Missouri, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In Illinois, 89 public schools have Lincoln in their name.

8. Movies and TV. Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” is the longest in a series of films about Abraham Lincoln that started in 1908. Walter Huston, Henry Fonda, Raymond Massey, and Daniel Day-Lewis have all taken turns portraying Lincoln in different situations.

9. Books. Lincoln’s life and presidency remains an unending source of book materials, from scholarly analyses to the popular “Killing Lincoln” from Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Amazon.com has more than 40,000 books related to Abraham Lincoln for sale and more than 3,000 biographies.

10. Monuments. Two truly iconic American monuments feature the 16thPresident. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. was designed by Henry Bacon and opened in 1922. The Memorial’s site has become historic in itself, as the location of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Abraham Lincoln is also one of four Presidents featured in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. Lincoln’s Tomb is located in Springfield, Illinois.

 

The First U.S.-Minted Penny Was Horrific

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This is from Mental Floss.

A bit of the history of the first American Penny.

IMAGE CREDIT: NATIONAL NUMISMATIC COLLECTION, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY

Although today the pennies in your pocket bear Abraham Lincoln’s likeness, the first pennies made by the U.S. Mint bore a startling etching of a woman, shown above (here’s a huge version). This woman is supposed to be a personification of “liberty,” and she unfortunately looks a bit freaked out. I mean, seriously, I could probably draw a better face than this:

National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History

Called the chain cent, this penny was only minted in 1793, and it was much larger and heavier than pennies today. It was also made from nearly pure copper, unlike modern pennies, which are made mostly of zinc (pure copper would be worth vastly more than $0.01 to make now, and even the zinc version costs too much to make).

Walter Breen wrote a history of early U.S. coinage, including this notable snippet about the chain cent (emphasis added):

Use of a Liberty head design was inevitable because of the terms of the Mint Act of April 2, 1792, mandating “a device emblematic of liberty.” Her unbound hair was meant to symbolize freedom; instead, what its disheveled look then suggested was failure of respectability, either savagery or, more often, madness. This explains such criticisms as Carlile Pollock’s comment in a letter to General Williams, January 25, 1796:

A plough and a sheaf of wheat would be better than an Idiot’s head with flowing hair, which was meant to denote Liberty, but which the world will suppose was intended to designate the head of an Indian squaw.”

Sheldon quotes others, notably an anonymous gibe at the “wild squaw with the heebie jeebies,” supposedly antedating by over a century Billy DeBeck’s coinage of the phrase in Barney Google.

Within a year the design was revised to clean up the wild hair issues, and Liberty’s visage grew more respectable still in a series of redesigns over the following decades. It wasn’t until 1909 that the Lincoln cent (with wheat on the reverse) became standard.

(Trivia note: Prior to the chain cent, there was the 1787 Fugio cent, designed by Benjamin Franklin and featuring the very Franklin motto: “Mind Your Business.”)

If you found this interesting, you’ll love the story behind the original $1 bill.

Lincoln and Thanksgiving

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Old Abe would have driven the A.C.L.U. nuts with this proclamation.

 Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day
October 3, 1863
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.
To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry tothenational defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as oftheprecious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.
Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Three ghoulish tales of body snatchers, presidents and the Founders

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This is from the National Constitution Center. 

I knew about the plot to snatch Lincoln’s body and I remember Paul Harveys Rest Of The Story program telling of the snatching of Congressman John Scott Harrison.

  

In a special Halloween feature, Constitution Daily looks at two real-life body snatching stories related to three U.S. Presidents, and a ghoulish tale involving Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.

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Grave robbing seems creepy today, but it was big business for two centuries in America, when bodies were dug up from graves or taken from vaults to be sold to medical facilities as study aides.

No one was spared from the body snatchers, including the son of President William Henry Harrison, who was also the father of President Benjamin Harrison. And then there was the bizarre plot to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body for ransom.

The era after the Civil War was especially booming for people who stole bodies and then sold them under clandestine circumstances to medical schools. Known as “resurrectionists,” professional body snatchers were part of a national network where bodies were stolen from graves, transported, stored, and sold to medical schools. Body snatchers were careful to just take the bodies, and not objects, from graves, in order to use a legal technicality that exempted them from felony charges.

But it was the theft of the body of John Scott Harrison in Ohio in 1878  that sparked public outrage over the practice.

Harrison, himself a former U.S. congressman, passed away at the age of 73. When his family proceeded to a cemetery in North Bend, Ohio, to bury Harrison, they discovered that the grave of Harrison’s recently deceased nephew, Augustus Devin, had been robbed and the body was missing.

Harrison’s sons protected the burial site for the former congressman by placing large stones on top of the crypt, and one son, John Harrison, headed to Cincinnati to find Devin’s body, accompanied by another cousin and a constable.

There were suspicions that Devin’s body could be at the Medical College of Ohio. After interrogating a janitor, Harrison spotted a pulley with a rope, and when the rope was tugged, there was a heavy weight on the end.

Harrison pulled up the body, possibly expecting to find Augustus Devin. Instead, a shroud was removed and the body of Congressman John Scott Harrison was at the end of the rope. The body snatchers had drilled through the gravesite and transported the body to the school in less than 24 hours.

Two men were later arrested in the case, including the janitor, and Devin’s body was found in Michigan, where it had been sent to another school. The Harrisons had hoped to keep the incident out of the newspapers, but it quickly became public, and a large crowd gathered when Devin’s body was re-interred.

Public outrage over body snatching and medical schools wasn’t new in 1878. In fact, 100 years’ earlier, a riot occurred in New York City that involved two Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.

The April 1788 Doctors’ Riots in New York started when body parts were discovered at a medical facility after a series of body snatchings. Hamilton and Jay were among the public officials that tried to appease a mob. The crowd responded by tossing rocks at the men, and Jay was knocked unconscious.

And then there is the well-publicized tale of grave robbers who targeted the corpse of President Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, in 1876.

A counterfeit ring had fallen on hard times and plotted to steal Lincoln’s body and sell it back to the government. The ring’s leader, Big Jim Kennally, had bragged about the plot, and one of his recruits was a man named Lewis Swegles, who was known as a professional body snatcher.

When Kennally’s gang approached Lincoln’s unguarded grave, the plot seemed assured. But Swegles turned out to be a Secret Service agent. The men fled when another agent’s weapon went off prematurely, but they were caught within days.

Ironically, one of Lincoln’s last acts as president was to approve the creation of the Secret Service. He signed the law on April 14, 1865, just hours before he was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington.

An Open Letter to Congress

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This is from Charlie Daniels.com.

Charlie hit a grand slam with this letter.

I am a proud American who believes that America has held – and still holds – a very sensitive and special place in the affairs of mankind on Planet Earth. I believe that America has been divinely blessed and protected in our two centuries plus of existence.

I believe that America has been a counter balance that has cancelled out a lot of tyranny, evil and conquest and, admittedly, we have made a lot of mistakes, but on balance we have exerted a certain Pax Americana in the international affairs of mankind.

It took a lot of old fashioned guts for the Continental Congress to stand up to the world’s mightiest military and tell them that we demanded our independence, even at the peril of going up against a far superior force on land and sea with a ragtag army of untrained citizens, many who had to supply their own firearms.

It took courage above and beyond for Abraham Lincoln to push the country into a Civil War that he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt would divide this nation for decades.

It took guts to give the order for American troops to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, straight into the face of artillery and machine gunfire, wave after wave being cut to ribbons by German shore emplacements.

The history of this nation is written in the blood and courage of men who stood in the face of overwhelming odds, politicians, soldiers, statesmen and ordinary citizens who sought to do the right thing regardless of the cost or the consequences.

Well, ladies and gentlemen of the United States Congress, it seems that that particular pen has run out of ink. The courageous politicians that once championed this nation have been replaced, for the most part, by a breed of milksop, politically correct, scared of their own shadow, pushover, pathetic excuses for public servants who are supposed to be representing a constituency of citizens who have to live with the circumstances of their timid folly.

You don’t even have the courage to face down an out of control president, even when he makes a deal with the devil. Don’t you bunch of timid capons even care what kind of world you’re leaving to your children and grandchildren, not to even mention the rest of us? Are you really party partisans before you’re parents and grandparents or even human beings?

Be honest with yourselves a minute, go into the bathroom and look in the mirror and ask the person you see this question.

“Do I really believe that Iran will not use the money we’re releasing to them to finance terrorists to kill Americans, and, when, not if, but when, the Iranians develop their nuclear device, will they really use it against America and Israel?”

You can’t hide from the truthful answer to that question forever, an answer will be required of you one day.

You have allowed Obama to tilt the Supreme Court so far to the left that they’re little more than a shameful extension of the Executive Branch.

You have talked for decades about the porous southern border but have done absolutely nothing about it.

You have allowed cities in this nation to declare themselves sanctuary cities where they protect the worst of the worst criminal aliens, American citizens paying an awful price for your silence.

You watch an impossible National Debt balloon completely out of control knowing full well that a day of reckoning is coming that will seriously curtail the quality of life for coming generations.

You allow corrupt government agencies like the IRS to run over the very people you are sworn to protect and allow the entitlement society to expand exponentially while you actually entertain the idea of raising taxes on those who still work and shoulder the burden.

You compose a third of the constitutionally mandated ruling system and you shirk your duty
and allow this nation to move a little closer to the edge every day.

I wish you bunch of sold-out, jaded, burned-out hacks would just go home and let some people who still have some vision and whose consciences haven’t been seared past the point of reminding them when they’re wrong take over and start to claw this nation back on to the path of sanity,

Your ratings are in the single digits, your morals are in the gutter, your minds are on self-preservation and somewhere along the way you traded your honor for political expediency.

You’ve violated your oaths, you’ve betrayed your country you’ve feathered your nests and you’ve sat on your hands while an imperial president has rubbed your noses in the dirt time after time.

You’re no longer men, you’re puppets, you’re caricatures, jokes, a gaggle of fading prostitutes for sale to anybody who can do you a political favor.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

What do you think?

Pray for our troops and the peace of Jerusalem.

God Bless America

Charlie Daniels

 

10 fascinating facts on the Postal Service’s birthday

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This is from the National Constitution Center.

 After being appointed as Postmaster Ben Franklin hired clerks to help at the post office. Thirty seconds after being hired the clerks went on break.   

 

On July 26, 1775, the Continental Congress created the Post Office, naming Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General. Here’s a look at 10 fascinating facts about a unique American institution.

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1. The Founding Fathers were all for a postal system, especially Franklin.  It was Franklin who modified and improved the postal delivery system as Joint Postmaster General for the Crown, greatly expanding its services in the Colonies. He was fired by the British in 1774 for sympathizing with rebellious forces. When the new nation needed a postmaster, it turned to Franklin in 1775 and Congress paid him a salary of $1,000 a year.

2. The post office was in the Articles of Confederation, too. Article IX said that the government “shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of … establishing or regulating post offices from one State to another, throughout all the United States, and exacting such postage on the papers passing through the same as may be requisite to defray the expenses of the said office.”

3. The Constitution gave the Post Office (and Congress) even more power. The Constitution gives Congress the ability “To establish Post Offices and post Roads” in Article I, Section 8. That means it not only does Congress have the power to create a postal system, it had the ability to acquire and control the land for the “post roads” to carry the mail and the buildings needed to maintain the system. In 1789, that meant 75 Post Offices and about 2,400 miles of post roads!

4. Today, the Postal Service is slightly larger. It has more than 31,000 Postal Service-managed offices and 511,000 employees. Carriers and drivers travel more than 1.3 billion miles (yes, that is billion) a year transporting and delivering the mail.

5. Abraham Lincoln was a local postmaster. As a postmaster in New Salem, Illinois from 1833 until 1836, Lincoln would occasionally deliver the mail by stashing it inside his hat.

6. According to the Postal Service’s web site, here are some other famous people who delivered the mail or worked as clerks, or postmasters: Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, William Faulkner, Charles Lindbergh, Richard Wright and Adlai Stevenson.

7. The Postal Service as high-tech innovators. The quest to deliver the mail faster and more consistently led to the pioneering uses of steamboats, trains, boats, cars, planes and horses.

8. The Pony Express was a financial failure. Like all great technological innovations, the privately operated Pony Express than ran in 1860 and 1861 had a lot of risks. The use of relay horses cut mail-delivery times in half, but another technology, the telegraph, grounded a Pony Express that was deeply in debt.

9. The Post Office had a dog as a mascot, until …. Yes, Owney the dog was befriended by workers in Albany in 1888 and soon became a sensation as he rode on the rail cars along with the mail to New York. For the next decade, he was an international postal ambassador until he committed a cardinal sin: Owney bit a mail worker. Although a postmaster put Owney down, his co-workers paid to have him stuffed and he’s at the National Postal Museum today on display.

10. The price of stamps has gone up slightly in the past few years. Until 1968, it cost 5 cents to mail a one-ounce piece of mail, and it only cost 3 cents in the 1930s. Times have changed as has the cost structure of the mail business. The current cost of a first class stamp is 49 cents for the first ounce.

10 Of History’s Strangest Duels

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This is from ListVerse.

I knew about the Lincoln and the Twain duels, but I had never heard of the other stories.

 

Duels were once considered the height of chivalry, the proper way for people of a certain class to settle their differences. Not all duels went off without a hitch, though, and certainly not all of them were fought with pistols or swords. The stories behind some duels—and some of those that never happened—are much, much stranger.

Featured image credit: Lock, Stock, and History

10 Billiard Balls

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Sometimes, a duel is the proper and honorable way for gentlemen to settle their differences, whatever they may be. Other duels seem more like frat party dares gone really wrong.

On what was an otherwise quiet September day in 1843, a game of billiards in Maisonfort, France went terribly sideways. The two opponents, Melfant and Lenfant, began to argue about how the game was going and whether or not any rules had been broken. Unable to settle their differences by arguing, they decided to do so by dueling. Presumably because the argument had been about a billiards game, they decided to use billiard balls as their weapon of choice. They drew to see who would be throwing first, and Melfant won. They set up according to all the usual rules of dueling, standing the proper distance apart—12 paces.

With the comment, “I am going to kill you at the first throw!” Melfant threw the ball, and did exactly that. Lenfant died instantly when the ball hit him squarely in the forehead. Even though Melfant had technically won the duel, he didn’t have a happy ending. Officials didn’t view it as an honorable duel at all, and Melfant was arrested, tried, and convicted for manslaughter.

9 Abraham Lincoln’s Near Duel

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Photo credit: Alexander Gardner

 

 

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In case you think that being a troll is something new, trolling was a thing at least since Abraham Lincoln—and he was phenomenal at it.

In 1842, James Shields, the State Auditor of Illinois, supported the closing of the Illinois State Bank after it faced some financial troubles. Lincoln thought otherwise, and rather than engaging in an upfront debate, he went the troll route. At the time, Lincoln was friends with Simeon Francis, editor of theSangamo Journal. Lincoln submitted a letter to the paper, written under the guise of an Illinois farmer “Rebecca.” He took aim not only at the immense price the everyman would have to pay because of the bank’s collapse but also said some pretty personal things about Shields himself, making fun of his high self-importance and apologizing to all the women he just couldn’t marry. Lincoln’s then-girlfriend, Mary Todd, also got in on the action. Her letter was written by “Cathleen” and was no less scathing.

Shields demanded to know who had written the demeaning letters, and the editor folded. Shields demanded a duel for his honor, feeling that he had been rather savagely attacked. As the challenged, Lincoln was entitled to choose the conditions of the duel. He chose massive cavalry broadswords, which gave the 193-centimeter (6’4″) Lincoln an advantage over the 175-centimeter (5’9″) Shields. They faced off on Missouri’s Bloody Island. The duel ended withan abrupt truce after Lincoln hacked down an overhead tree branch, and Shields decided he wasn’t that angry after all.

8 Proust Duels His Critic

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Photo via The Daily Beast

Literary critic Jean Lorrain didn’t like Marcel Proust. In one of his articles, he called Proust “one of those small-time fops in literary heat” and suggested that Proust was involved in a homosexual love affair with a friend named Lucien Daudet. By all accounts, it was something that Lorrain was well known for. He was one of those critics that didn’t actually seem to have anything constructive to say and relied on stirring up trouble and name-calling to secure his popularity. Because people are people, he was incredibly widely read. Proust wasn’t the first one to be targeted by the critic. He wasn’t about to take it lightly, though.

Being gay wasn’t against the law at the time, but there was a certain stigma attached to it. Proust challenged Lorrain to a duel in order to put an end to the matter. They met at the forest of Meudon. The two men exchanged shots, no one was wounded, and the matter was considered settled.

The accusation and the duel offer some intriguing implications when looking at Proust’s later work. The sexual orientation of the title character of Swann’s Way has long been debated, with many suggesting that the secretive sort of double life the character lives was a way of discreetly expressing the emotionally torn nature of the 19th-century gay man. Some biographers have gone as far as to say that Proust was both gay and in denial of the fact, putting the duel in an even more intriguing light.

7 The South’s Dramatic Duelist

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Duels were supposed to be the gentleman’s way of settling something, but some people took it way beyond that.

Kentucky’s infamous duelist Alexander Keith McClung was well known for challenging people to duels for reasons that were more along the lines of “just because” than due to any actual insult or slight. He became known as the “Black Knight of the South,” although he didn’t strike only in the southern United States. McClung also fought in several duels while he was in Uruguay, and even though estimates vary as to how many men he’d actually killed in a duel, the accepted number is more than 10.

McClung’s reputation trapped him in something of a downward spiral. The more duels he fought, the worse his reputation became, the more he drank, and the shorter his temper got. Rather understandably, people started just staying away from McClung, which made him lash out even more. He was briefly pursued by a Southern society lady, who wrote about him in her memoirs and provided a pretty intriguing look into the inner circle of the South. She also described his habit of hanging around in cemeteries and looking morose. Eventually, McClung gave in to his ever-spiraling moods,killing himself in Jackson, Mississippi in 1855.

6 Ben Jonson

NPG 2752; Benjamin Jonson by Abraham van Blyenberch

Image credit: National Portrait Gallery

Ben Jonson was a playwright and occasional actor who worked during William Shakespeare’s time. The first play Jonson wrote and staged, Every Man In His Humor, had Shakespeare in it. In comparing the two, though, you could say that Jonson had a few more brushes with the law. Another early play, The Isle of Dogs, was thought to be doing nothing less than encouraging outright rebellion against the state and saw the ex-military man jailed for sedition.

The details surrounding the exact circumstances of Jonson’s duel are a bit hazy, but it ended with the death of a fellow actor named Gabriel Spencer. Spencer was one of the company’s leading men, and when he was killed, Jonson found himself being brought up on charges over it.

In order to get out of the charges, Jonson performed a simply miraculous feat in court: He wrote. By proving that he could read and write in Latin, he was able to exercise a defense called pleading the benefit of clergy. This basically meant that since Jonson’s knowledge was on par with that of the clergy, he could get a more lenient court sentence. As a result, Jonson only spent a couple of weeks in jail, but that wasn’t by any means the only time he found himself there. Jonson’s later stint in Newgate Prison happened when he didn’t quite get away with the same defense, and it was there that he did something even more questionable for the time: He converted to Catholicism.

5 George Frideric Handel

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Image credit: Balthasar Denner

Handel is one of the world’s greatest composers. His name is almost synonymous with one of his most famous compositions—the Messiah. But he may not have been around to compose it, if it weren’t for a button.

First living in Hamburg, Handel moved in with a like-minded young composer named Johann Mattheson. The friendship was somewhat tense from the outset, with both competing for many of the same things. When auditioning for the role of an organist, neither one ended up wanting the job that also came with a marriage contract. Mattheson’s career took off first. During a performance of his opera, Cleopatra, Mattheson was doing double duty—being in the orchestra pit and playing Antonius—to make sure that it was very clear to the audience who was responsible for the production. Handel was in the pit as both a conductor and harpsichord player; when it came time for Handel to turn the reins over to Mattheson, Handel outright refused.

The audience witnessed the confrontation. Afterward, they followed the composers out into the street and, as opera audiences often do, catcalled and heckled until they started a duel. Fought with swords, it ended in a draw. Mattheson later stated that the only reason his blow hadn’t been fatal was because his sword had broken on one of Handel’s coat buttons. The two ended up reconciling and wrote to each other throughout their careers.

4 The Duel Over The Donner Party

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Image credit: Brady-Handy Photograph Collection

After the tragedy that surrounded the Donner party’s ill-fated attempt to make it across the mountains to California, James Denver, California’s Secretary of State, issued a bill that stated California would be providing aid to people crossing the mountains. Denver also specifically stated that he would provide aid to the remaining members of the Donner party. When a supply train left for the mountains, it was done with impressive fanfare, which the Daily Alta California editor Edward Gilbert said was a pretty obvious attempt to capitalize on tragedy to get ahead in the polls. Words were exchanged and words were published, including some that were defined as using “unmistakably discourteous language.” Gilbert finally challenged Denver to a duel over the matter.

Gilbert survived the first round but not the second, dying minutes after being shot by the general. After that first round, Denver had tried to call off the rest of the duel and reconcile their differences peacefully, but Gilbert stubbornly refused. According to eyewitnesses, Denver said he had no choice but to defend himself. The incident also proved that even in the 1850s, dueling was rather well respected. Denver went on to become the Governor of the Kansas Territory and give his name to Denver, Colorado.

3 The Legend Of Mark Twain’s Duel

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Photo credit: A.F. Bradley

On the subject of duels, Mark Twain wrote, “I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.” Based on his experience with duels, it’s no wonder.

Like many of the stories around Mark Twain, just what happened is still up for debate. According to the popular story, Twain was working for a paper called the Territorial Enterprise when he got caught up in an animated exchange of insults with another editor, James Laird. Eventually, the insults culminated in the challenge of a duel, although who issued the challenge isn’t quite clear. When it came time, Twain was practicing with his second. Presumably, Twain knew beforehand what a horrible shot he really was. According to his own works, he quite literally couldn’t hit a barn door. His second, however, was a much better shot. When they told Laird that it was Twain who had shot the head off a bird, Laird not only believed them but called off the impending duel.

Twain still left the city not long after. The gun he had once used now sits in the Nevada Historical Society, which is hoping to do even more research toconfirm the details of the story.

2The Court-Ordered Medieval Duel

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In 1386, the Paris government turned to the duel to decide matters in a court case. It would be the last time a French court ordered citizens to decide the outcome of a case by duel. The case was brought by Sir Jean de Carrouges, a knight who had been away on an overseas deployment. He had left his household and his wife behind. While he was gone, she was raped by one of the servants. According to the lady, the squire, named Jacques Le Gris, had instructed her not to tell anyone, as no one would believe her anyway. Le Gris was a favorite among the household and the court, using his position to get exactly what he wanted.

When her husband returned from overseas, she told him what had happened—and it briefly looked as though Le Gris’s warning had been right. However, charges were eventually brought against the squire who had taken care to be seen in public on the morning before the attack. The court ruled that the wife had dreamed the whole thing, but the knight insisted on pursuing the charges. Since neither side could prove their case, it was decided that the matter should be settled by a duel, as soon as the king returned to Paris to be in attendance.

It was a big deal, and there was a lot at stake. The loser would be found guilty and hanged. If it was the knight, his wife would have been burned at the stake. It wasn’t. Le Gris died at the hands of a wounded knight, and his body was hanged afterward for good measure.

1 The Princess And The Countess

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Image credit: Lock, Stock, and History

Dueling wasn’t a male-only occupation, and there’s one incident in history that stands out as the prime example of just what happens when two royal women get to arguing.

In 1892, Princess Pauline Metternich and Countess Kielmannsegg were going over ideas for floral arrangements to be presented at an upcoming musical exhibition. The discussion grew so heated that they eventually decided there was no way to settle it aside from picking up their swords. The two women faced each other under the watchful eye of a pretty unique woman, Baroness Lubinska, whose presence at the duel was largely due to her having a medical degree. Because of her experience on the battlefield, Lubinska had seen many infections. She suggested that the two women fight topless to keep any cuts and scrapes from getting infected. Since there were only women present, the story goes, they decided to do exactly that.

The women partially stripped and started swinging. The princess drew first blood with a wound to the face but was apparently so shocked by what she’d done that she forgot to defend herself against another swing, taking a piercing blow to the forearm. Their seconds promptly fainted at the sight of blood, and the steadfast baroness patched up their respective wounds.

The fact that they had fought topless wasn’t a secret for long, and there’s a wealth of artwork and paintings depicting the so-called “emancipating duels” fought by women. These paintings seem to have remained popular for as long as dueling was a thing.

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10 Deadly Mistakes Made By US Presidents

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This is from ListVerse.

 

Throughout American history, presidents have done things both good and bad. They have made mistakes which have cost lives, and many times they have gotten away with it. This is a list of some of the things that presidents have done which caused casualties and fatalities.

10 Bill Clinton
Not Killing Bin Laden

9- clinton

Photo credit: USAF

 

In 2001, just hours before the attacks on the World Trade Center, former President Bill Clinton told an audience in Australia that he once nearly killed Osama bin Laden. The recording, which neither Clinton nor the audience would have known the significance of at the time, serves as one of the most sadly ironic footnotes in history.

In 1998, bin Laden was not considered the danger that he later became, but he was still on the government’s radar. He had been wanted for bombing the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya but had never committed significant attacks toward the United States. The government, though, suspected that the terrorist leader was capable of far more dangerous attacks. Finally, after years of attempting to find him, he was tracked to a small town in Afghanistan called Kandahar, where he was suspected of being held in the governor’s residence.

The military wanted to launch a strike against the town which would have killed bin Laden, but to do so would have put hundreds of civilian lives at risk. To avoid the deaths of the 300 or so townspeople, President Clinton called off the strike. It was also believed that the strike wouldn’t be successful because bin Laden left the room which the missile was aimed at. A second strike was proposed in May 1999, but a recent mishap involving a CIA bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade made the military wary of another possible misstep. Another chance would never come their way, and two years later, bin Laden committed the deadliest attack on US soil in American history. We may never know what difference it may have made had bin Laden been killed when we had the chance.

9 Richard Nixon

Pakistani Genocide Of Bangladesh

2- nixon

Photo credit: Jack E. Kightlinger

 

In 1971, tensions were flaring between the military government of Pakistan and the government of India. India and Pakistan have had issues for centuries, but due to increasing problems between the countries, there seemed to be war on the horizon. Pakistan at the time was a close economic and political ally of the United States, while India held a lesser position. Despite the Muslim dictatorship of the country, President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger decided to provide economic and military support for Pakistan in the event of a war (which there was later that year).

However, the weapons which were secretly given to the Pakistani government were used for a much more sinister purpose—the genocide of the Bengali people. It’s estimated that nearly 200,000 people were killed by Pakistan, and according to documents by the State Department, neither Nixon nor Kissinger seemed to care. The slaughtering did nothing to stop the United States from continuing its support. The private US investments (many of the companies which were in Pakistan donated money to the Nixon campaign) seemed to be more important than the lives of the Bengali people.

At the time, the Indian government was receiving support from the Soviet Union, and the White House Tapes revealed the feelings of the president: Nixon once said that India needed “a mass famine.” When Kenneth Keating, a Republican serving as ambassador to India, confronted Nixon about the suffering of the Bengali people, Nixon called him “a traitor.” Finally, this all came to a head when India and Pakistan went to war. The cost of Nixon’s support for Pakistan was the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in the region, for which he showed a callousness which displayed his lack of remorse for his lethal actions.

8 Herbert Hoover
The Election Of General Jorge Ubico

3- hoover

Photo credit: Harris & Ewing

 

In 1930, President Lazaro Chacon suffered a stroke and resigned, which set about a series of events through which General Jorge Ubico would be elected. After several leaders were removed by either the Guatemalan army or the United States government, Ubico finally proved himself to be a worthy leader in the eyes of the United States.

His most appealing quality to the United States was his undying devotion to the United Fruit Company. He offered them vast tracts of land in the country along with complete access to the labor force. He knew that by portraying himself as a servant to the United States, he would remain the sole leader of Guatemala. In fact, Ubico made such an impression on American ambassador Sheldon Whitehouse that Whitehouse said he was “the best friend the Untied States has in Latin America.”

After a rigged election in 1931 which was sanctioned by Herbert Hoover, Ubico started a campaign to create a highly efficient military dictatorship in Guatemala. He became an ostentatious man who wore extravagant military uniforms wherever he went in an effort to emulate his hero, Napoleon Bonaparte. He started to systematically kill off all opposition and democratic activity. His abuse of the labor force soon bubbled over, though, and after more than 20 years of a bloody, repressive regime, Ubico was removed from power in 1944.

7  Franklin D. Roosevelt

SS St. Louis

7- roosevelt

Photo via Wikimedia

 

Photo via Wikimedia

In 1939, The SS St. Louis set sail from Hamburg, Germany, to Havana, Cuba, with 937 Jewish refugees seeking to escape Nazi Germany. At the time, the United States had immigration quotas which allowed for only a certain number of immigrants to stay in the United States at any given time. The refugees went to Cuba ostensibly as tourists but planned to remain there until they could fill the quota numbers. However, when the Cuban government received word that they planned to stay there, they refused to allow the Jewish refugees to leave the ship. The non-Jewish passengers, though, were allowed to leave the ship.

Knowing what would happen if he took them back to Germany, the captain of the ship, Gustav Schroder, refused to allow the Jewish refugees to return across the Atlantic. The Jewish passengers were treated well onboard the ship: Captain Schroder tried to treat the passengers with respect, giving them kosher foods which were being rationed in Germany at the time, along with Jewish religious services. He even provided a cinema for the passengers. He next tried to dock the ship in Florida, but the Roosevelt administration would not allow the passengers on US soil due to immigration laws. When the ship neared the Florida coast, warning shots were fired.

Captain Schroder was so desperate to save the Jewish passengers that he tried to wreck the ship and force the American government to take them, but the Coast Guard, hearing of his plan, was ordered to follow the ship. Despite knowing full well the fates of the Jewish people aboard the ship, Roosevelt told them to leave.

Roosevelt, who was considering an unprecedented third run for president, did not want to engage in the plight of the passengers of the ship because public opinion leaned toward strict immigration laws. Eventually, the British government coordinated efforts to place the passengers into countries in Europe, but Nazi Germany eventually conquered many of the countries where the refugees were placed. It’s been estimated that a quarter of those aboard the SS St. Louis were exterminated in Nazi concentration camps.

6 Abraham Lincoln
Dakota War Of 1862

5- lincoln

Photo via Wikimedia

 

Abraham Lincoln is certainly one of the most beloved presidents of all time. His handling of the country during the Civil War counts as one of the greatest achievements of any American president before or since. However, one of the most overlooked aspects of his presidency was his treatment of the Sioux tribe. It is certainly one of the darkest spots on Lincoln’s record and taints his reputation as an American saint.

In 1851, the Sioux ceded massive tracts of their land in exchange for cash payments. By 1862, the federal government owed the Sioux nearly $1.4 million. Chief Little Crow attempted to go before the government, but the president refused to acknowledge him. A series of skirmishes started by the Sioux led to Lincoln giving permission for General John Pope to fight back. This led to the Dakota War of 1862, in which the Union government went on the warpath against the Sioux, who were only fighting for payment they’d been promised.

Of course, the American government crushed the Sioux uprising almost as soon as it began. On December 26, 1862, 300 Sioux were to be executed; while Lincoln pardoned most of them, 38 were still executed in the largest mass execution in American history. Over the years, the Dakota War disappeared from history. While the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves have been used to uplift Lincoln to a spot higher than many other presidents, his war with the Sioux over their rightful payment has not been forgotten.

5  Andrew Jackson

Treaty Of New Echota

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Photo credit: Lmaotru

 

In 1835, five years after the Indian Removal Act had been signed by Andrew Jackson, a small group of Cherokee tribal members signed the Treaty of New Echota, which forced the Cherokee to leave their tribal lands in Tennessee and move west of the Mississippi River to the Oklahoma territory. The signing of the document itself was already illegal since the entire Cherokee tribal leadership had not agreed to the removal of their lands, but it soon came out that speculators had pushed for the signing of the treaty so they could purchase the newly available land for profit.

In 1838, the Cherokee tribe was forced to relocate in what has been called the Trail of Tears. The brutal march led to the deaths of 4,000 Cherokee who had been forced out of their ancestral land. Andrew Jackson showed no remorse for his actions, and the treaty, while technically illegal, was upheld by the entirety of the Cherokee nation out of honor.

Through abuses by officials which were sanctioned by Jackson, many more Native Americans were killed or cheated out of their land. Many of the other treaties signed during Jackson’s presidency only led to further wars with the Native Americans and more bloodshed. While the Treaty of New Echota was just one of many treaties used against the Native Americans, it led to the most pain for people who were forced out of their land by a president who was led by cruel convictions.

4 Franklin Pierce
Bleeding Kansas

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Photo credit: Utopies

 

In 1854, with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the decision of whether or not slavery was to be legal in Kansas was left to the settlers of the state rather than to Congress. Franklin Pierce thought that this would be a good resolution to the slavery issue without involving the government. He believed that, with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the whole headache of deciding a state’s slavery status was behind him. His assumption proved wrong.

As anti-slavery forces heard about the rise in pro-slavery settlers, they began to arrive en masse to sway the pro-slavery vote in Kansas. The abolitionists began to arm the settlers in an effort to keep them from being forced out of the state. This eventually erupted into bloody conflict as fighting broke out between the pro- and anti-slave forces. This was dubbed “Bleeding Kansas” by Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune.

In 1856, all hell broke loose with the Sacking of Laurence, in which Missourians invaded the city and destroyed homes, businesses, and other properties. The Missourians were pro-slavery, and the city of Laurence had been built by anti-slavery forces. The fighting continued throughout the state, all due to Franklin Pierce’s insistence that the federal government stay out of the slavery issue.

3 George W. Bush
Niger Uranium Forgeries

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Photo via Wikimedia

 

In 2001, the Italian military supposedly presented the CIA with evidence that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy yellowcake uranium from the government of Niger. This occurred in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks, and the United Nations was gathering evidence of whether or not Hussein was attempting to create and store weapons of mass destruction. Yellowcake uranium is one of the main ingredients in the creation of nuclear weapons—which the Iraqi government had been doing, according to the United States—and the documents only seemed to prove this accusation.

However, for their entire existence, the documents were suspected of being forgeries. Despite the questions of their authenticity, the Bush administration used them in the case for war with Iraq with the infamous words, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Even before President Bush gave the speech in which he put forward the evidence that Iraq had been attempting to get uranium, French intelligence had said that the documents were not hard evidence. Despite this, the American coalitionwent to war with Iraq.

The controversy behind the documents and the justification for war would not die down. In 2002, American generals and CIA agents had attempted to verify the documents, but their efforts came to nothing. In 2004, an Italian source claimed that he had helped forge the documents, and both British and French forces found that the documents had indeed been forged. In 2003, word broke that an investigation by the Atomic Energy Agency had also found the documents to be forged. None of these findings affected the war. Many lives were lost, but there were no prosecutions despite the key foundation of the War in Iraq being entirely fake.

2 Barack Obama
ATF Gun-Walking

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Photo credit: Pete Souza

 

While gun-walking has been in use by the ATF since 2006 with some success, it wasn’t until 2009 that President Obama authorized then–Attorney General Eric Holder to use the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to tag several deadly assault rifles so they could be sold by gun dealers near the border to “straw buyers” who would then sell the weapons to the Mexican cartels. This was all done under the code name “Operation Gunrunner.” Not only was this all highly illegal, but when the guns did manage to get into cartel hands, they were used to execute Mexican citizens and ceremoniously dumped so there could be no trace. While many of the straw buyers were caught and prosecuted, none of the cartel targets were actually caught, leaving them in the clear.

After the failure of the operation, the order was for all documents to be buried. According to a Department of Justice report, of the 2,000 guns being tracked, only 710 of them had been recovered by 2012. This means that over 1,000 assault rifles may still be in the hands of the Mexican cartels. The operation would have remained secret if it weren’t for the murder of United States border patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed by a Mexican cartel in 2010. After his death, investigations discovered that the tagged guns were related to 150 murders in Mexico.

In 2011, members of Congress began to investigate the operation and started to wonder: Who gave the order for it? Former Attorney General Holder denied giving the order. He refused to give any related documents to Congress, and he was placed in contempt of court. When President Obama was asked about his part in the operation, he invoked executive privilege for the first time in his presidency. The investigation, while never formally closed, eventually came to nothing, and there has been no further word about who was at fault.

1 James Madison
War Of 1812

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Photo credit: Thomas Birch

 

During the Napoleonic Wars, many British war vessels patrolled the Atlantic Ocean for French trading vessels. This often led to altercations with American ships that did business with both Britain and France. The frequent provocative acts by the British eventually angered President Madison too much, and he declared war in 1812. This proved to be a great mistake.

The British government was angered by their defeat during the War for Independence and were out for blood. They unleashed the most vicious assault that the United States has ever known. After crushing the American naval fleet, they launched the first and only invasion of the United States. They overwhelmed the American armies, and it seemed that they were going to retake the lands they had lost. They marched to Washington, DC, where they proceeded to sack and burn the city. Madison began to realize that by declaring war, he may have sowed the seeds of destruction for America.

By 1814, however, after much fighting in which the United States managed to push back the British invasion, Madison decided to press for a truce with the British government. Both governments came to realize that prolonged war would be unprofitable on both sides of the Atlantic and agreed to peace. They signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814, which put an end to the War of 1812, although fighting would continue for some time. By the end of the violence, an estimated 20,000 Americans had lost their lives.

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