When George Washington became President in 1789, life expectancy at birth for Americans was 34.5 years for males and 36.5 years for females.
In 1801, when Thomas Jefferson became president, 20 percent of the people in the U.S. were slaves.
Globally, there are some 1,800 thunderstorms in progress at any given moment and lightning strikes the planet 100 times every second. Lightning kills more people in the United States (400 per year) than any other natural disaster.
An average of 140 tornadoes occurs in the United States every year. In the spring of 1974, there were a record 90 tornadoes in one day, from Georgia to Ohio. In 1755, Benjamin Franklin chased a tornado on horseback for three-quarters of a mile, repeatedly lashing out with his whip in an effort to calm the storm.
The first formal rules of baseball required the winning team to score 21 runs.
Baseball pitcher, Hoyt Wilhelm, played 21 seasons for several major league teams in 1952 to 1972. He hit a home run in his first time at bat and never hit another one in more than 400 at bats. His career batting average was .088.
There are more than 10,000 golf courses in the USA.
The Winchester House, near San Jose, California, is 8 stores high and covers 6 acres of ground. It has 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 48 fireplaces and miles of secret passages and hallways. Mrs. Sara Winchester believed that if she stopped adding rooms to her house she would die. After 38 years of continual construction, she died in 1922, at age 85.
In 1829, two young sisters, Susan Tripp (age 5) weighed 205 pounds and Deborah Tripp (age 2) weighed 124 pounds.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, has more dentists and more burglaries, proportionally based on population, than any other city in the USA -- these two statistics are not related.
New York City has 570 miles of shoreline.
In 1911, after Bobby Leech became the second person to survive a barrel ride over Niagara Falls, he spent six months in a hospital recovering from his numerous injuries. He later embarked on a global promotional tour -- in New Zealand, he slipped on a banana peel and died of complications from the fall.
Three of Theodore Roosevelt's four sons were killed while serving the USA in wartime -- Quentin was killed on World War I -- Kermit and Theodore, Jr., were killed in World War II.
Bamboo can grow three feet in 24 hours.
In 1871, the Great Chicago fire killed 300 people -- at the same time on the same day, a fire some 200 miles north in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, killed 600 people.
Whiskey and vermouth (a Manhattan cocktail) was invented by a woman named Jennie Jerome (1854 - 1921), a New York socialite whose father was millionaire Leonard Jerome and whose great-great grandmother was an Iroquois Indian. She met Lord Randolph Churchill at a sailing regatta on the Isle of Wight in 1873, having been introduced by the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward V11) and they became engaged three days later. They were married at the British Embassy in Paris in April of 1874. Their son, Winston, was born two months prematurely in a ladies' cloakroom in a castle in Blenheim, a country home in Oxfordshire, England, where Jennie was attending a dance. In 1921, Jennie slipped down a stairway wearing new high-heeled shoes and broke her ankle. Gangrene set in and her leg was amputated above the knee, whereupon she died at her home in London 20 days later, at age 67. Her son, Winston Churchill, went on to become Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1940, during World War II. He had such a remarkable memory that he was able to recite an entire Shakespearean play or a lecture verbatim.
In Pacific Grove, California, city ordinance 352 makes it a misdemeanor to threaten or kill a butterfly.
Of the first 23 U.S. Astronauts who flew on space missions, 21 of them were first-born sons or an only child.
Mirza Nuruddin Beig Mohammad Khan Salim (1569 - 1627) was the fourth Mughal Emperor, ruler of India and Pakistan. He was known by his imperial name as Jahangir, which means Conqueror of the world, and had 500 royal wives. He also had 5,000 woman and 1,000 young men for alternative pleasure. His pets, stabled near his palace, included 12,000 elephants, 10,000 oxen, 3,000 deer, 2,000 camels, 4,000 dogs, 500 buffalo, 100 tame lions and 10,000 carrier pigeons.
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V once declared, "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse."
When Adolph Hitler ruled Germany, farmers and policemen were not allowed to call their horses by the name "Adolph."
Wanting to demean the Jews in Denmark, Adolph Hitler ordered all Jews to wear a Star of David armband. Soon, Danish citizens of all religions were wearing the armband. King Christian X of Denmark announced, "I am my country's first Jew."
After surrendering in 1886 and being imprisoned in Florida and Alabama, the Apache Chief Geronimo became a member of the Dutch Reformed Church in Oklahoma, but was later expelled from the church for gambling.
Ernest Hemingway donated his prize money as a Nobel Prize winner to the Shrine of the Virgin in Cuba. "You don't ever have a thing until you give it away," he said.
John D. Rockefeller (1839 - 1937) had donated $531,326,842 to charitable causes during his lifetime.
Ten percent of the earth's land mass (approximately 3.9 million square miles) is covered permanently under ice.
- 80% -- Antarctica
- 12% -- Greenland
- 8% -- various mountain peaks & polar islands
Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel but he turned it down, claiming he had no head for human problems.
Thomas Young (1773 -- 1829) was known as "The Last Man Who Knew Everything." He could read at age two and read the entire Bible twice by the age of four. During his youth, he studied 12 languages and could play a variety of musical instruments. In 1803, he worked out the wave theory of light. He made many scientific contributions in solid mechanics, light, vision, physiology, energy, language, musical harmony and Egyptology. He was the first person to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, including the Rosetta Stone.
Writer, Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870), and others, believed that a person should have their bed aligned from north to south in order to get a good night's sleep. The theory subscribes to the notion that by sleeping in this position, magnetic currents flow straight through the body.
Even though he had not lost his eyesight, Thomas Edison preferred Braille to visual reading.
Christian Heinrich Heinecken (1721 -- 1725) was known as the "infant scholar of Lubeck (Germany)." When he was eight weeks old, he could speak German. By age two and a half, he read the entire Bible in Latin. He had learned Latin and French by age three. When he was three years old, he authored "A History of Denmark" which he recited when visiting the King of Denmark later that year. Still being breast fed, he died at age four of celiac disease.
Kim Ung-Yong, born in March of 1962 in South Korea, was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records has having the highest IQ, estimated to be at 210. At age four, he was fluent in Korean, English, German and Japanese, and also composed and published poetry. When he was Four years and eight months old, he performed integral calculus on a live TV program in Tokyo.
Alexander Graham Bell was the inventor of the telephone. He was also a teacher of the deaf and set the world speed record in 1919, at age 72, by exceeding 70 miles per hour in his hydrofoil boat.
Paul Charles Morphy (1837 -- 1884), born in New Orleans, Louisiana, was considered to be the greatest chess player in the world by age 21. In 1857, not yet of legal age to begin the practice of law, he participated in the first American Chess Congress tournament in New York City, where he defeated all of his opponents (worldwide chess masters) to become the Chess Champion of the United States. On other occasions, he would even play chess blindfolded. In a set of eight games of chess, played simultaneously and blindfolded, he had to remember the positions of 256 chessmen on eight different chessboards. The number of possible variations of playing just the first four moves on each side of a chessboard in a game of chess is 318,979,564,000. In the end, he won six games, lost one and tied one. At age 22, he quit playing chess to embark on a career as an attorney in New Orleans
In 1903, the first automobile to cross the United States, from San Francisco to New York, took 52 days.
In 1911, the first coast-to-coast airplane flight in the United States, from New York to Pasadena, California, by Galbraith P. Rodgers, took 49 days (many stops).
The budget for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare is larger than the combined operating expenses of all the governments of the 50 states in the USA.
In the old Soviet Union, there were over 170 different languages and dialects.
One of the most original writers in the twentieth century, D.H. Lawrence, amused himself by removing his clothes and climbing mulberry trees.
A mosquito has 47 teeth. When filled with blood, it is able to fly carrying a load twice its weight.
In the U.S. military draft lottery in 1917, one of the holders of the first number (258) was Alden C. Flagg. In the U.S. military draft lottery of 1940, his son, Alden C. Flagg, Jr., was a holder of the first number (158).
The first French soldier who was wounded in the Franco-Prussian War was also the last one to be killed, six months later, in 1871.
In 1951, General Douglas MacArthur was dismissed by President Truman during the Korean War in a dispute over U.S. policy. MacArthur's father, who fought Geronimo was relieved of his command by President Taft for insubordination. MacArthur's paternal grandfather defied orders while engaged in the battle of Missionary Ridge, during the Civil War.
Just prior to World War II, the U.S. Army (including reserves) ranked nineteenth among the world's armed forces -- behind Portugal and ahead of Bulgaria.
In the early 1940s, during the development of the atomic bomb in Alamagordo, New Mexico, applicants for routine jobs (such as janitor) were disqualified if they could read, in an attempt to keep plans and trash from being read. Secrecy was paramount.
Half of the world's population lives in just four countries -- China, India, USA, Russia.
In 1935, "Iran" became the new name for what had been called "Persia" -- prior to being named "Persia," it had been called "Iran."
Congress had originally appropriated $2 million for the construction of the Sam Rayburn House Office Building. When it was completed in 1965, the total cost of construction was $88 million.
Martin Van Buren, the eighth President, became the first man born in the United States to become President.
Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth President, was the first U.S. President born in a hospital. The previous thirty-eight Presidents were all born at home.
In 1922, Rebecca Felton, a Georgia Democrat, became the first woman appointed to the U.S. Senate. In 1932, Hattie Caraway, an Arkansas Democrat became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
In 1869, the Territory of Wyoming allowed women to vote in territorial elections. When the Territory became a state in 1890, it was written in the state constitution that women could vote in state and local elections. In 1925, residents of Wyoming elected Mrs. Nellie Taylor Ross as the first woman in the U.S. to become a state governor.
In the early eighteenth century, the Church owned two-thirds of the land in Portugal.
America's most prolific songwriter, Irving Berlin, never learned how to read or write music. He would sing or hum his songs to a secretary who would take notes in musical notation. He composed some 3,000 songs. His song "White Christmas" had sold 113,067,354 records and 5,588,845 copies of sheet music. His song "God Bless America" was not performed publically until 20 years later, on Armistice Day in 1938, when Kate Smith introduced it on radio.
Beethoven was half-deaf most of his life and was totally deaf when he wrote one of his best pieces of work, the Ninth Symphony.
In 1954, in the state of Indiana, professional wrestlers and boxers were required to swear under oath that they were not communists.
Professional basketball player, Wilton Norman Chamberlain (1936 - 1999), a.k.a. "Wilt the Stilt," was over seven feet tall and played 13 seasons in the National Basketball Association. A regulation NBA game is 48 minutes. In the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain averaged more than 48 minutes per game, due to overtime periods, and scored a record 100 points in a single game that season.
It takes 314 acres of trees (some 63,000 trees) to create the newsprint on the average Sunday edition of the New York Times.
A Russian Air Force officer, Ivan Mikhailovich Chisov (1911 -- 1986), survived a 23,000 fall from a damaged airplane without a parachute. He fell onto a steep snow-covered slope and slid to the bottom, damaging his spine and breaking his pelvis.
It takes 13 months to train a pilot, but at the Pentagon's School of Music it takes 15 months to train to be a bandleader.
In the mid-1960s, movie director-producer Stanley Kubrick approached Lloyd's of London to obtain insurance against losses if extraterrestrial intelligence were to be discovered prior to the completion and release of his forthcoming movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey." Lloyds of London turned him down.
In August of 1938, Northwestern University conferred an honorary degree on Charlie McCarthy, who was ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's wooden dummy.
There are a half million more automobiles than people in Los Angeles.
Half of the people in the U.S. live in 8 of the 50 states.
- New York
- New Jersey
Arlington National Cemetery was once part of the property owned by Robert E. Lee, south of Washington, D.C. Graves for soldiers were dug close to Lee's house, and later the area was confiscated. Today, this area is the site (624 acres) of the National Military Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
On April 19, 1861, four members of the Massachusetts Militia were stoned to death by a Baltimore mob of Confederate sympathizers -- they were the first four fatalities of the Civil War.
In the late 20th century, about 100 people per day (over age 14) committed suicide, a 50 percent increase over the previous century.
In 1919, over a million gallons of melted sugar (molasses), weighing 13,500 tons, was stored in a tank in the harbor area of Boston, Massachusetts. When the tank ruptured, it sent a 50-foot wave that engulfed eight buildings, killing 21 people.
According to a study by Brigham Young University, 46 percent of people die within three months after their birthday, but only 8 percent die within three months prior to their birthday.
In 1705, a condemned robber in London named John Smith was being hanged for his crimes. He fell through the drop and dangled at the end of the rope for about 15 minutes, when a courier arrived on horseback with a reprieve, setting Smith free, still barely breathing. Thereafter, he was nicknamed "Half-Hanged Smith."
The most common name in the world is Muhammad.
The original name of Los Angeles was El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula -- meaning "The Village of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Little Portion."
Victoria Woodhull was a radical feminist who ran for the Presidency in 1872. She spent the last four years of her life sitting in a chair because she feared she would die in bed in her old age. She died in 1927, at the age of 89.
Everyone in Iceland must graduate from school and be able to speak three languages in order to get a job.
In its old English form, the literal meaning of "lady" is "loaf-kneader."
The Lesser Antilles, West Indies, was once inhabited by Carib Indians who had three different languages.
- One language was used by men -- women could use it if speaking to a man
- One language was used by women -- men would only use it when quoting or mocking the women
- One language was used by men in councils of war -- never learned by the women
Some 13,700.000 people died in battle in World War I. In the influenza pandemic that followed in 1918, some 500,000,000 people were ill and more than 20,000,000 died. While most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill the young and elderly, the 1918 pandemic predominantly killed previously healthy young adults.
There are thousands of languages used around the world. Some 175 languages are spoken by at least a million people. The 10 most spoken languages, in descending order:
There are a zillion more frivolous far-out facts floating around out there, but I will end the list here -- wouldn't want your head to explode.
"Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable." Mark Twain
Quote for the Day -- "You can observe a lot just by watching" Yogi Berra
Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where strange things happen almost daily.