30 Weird History Facts You Weren’t Taught In School


1Giles Corey

Giles Corey

An 81-year-old man called Giles Corey, accused of being a wizard in 1692, was the only man in American history to be subjected to death by pressing in an attempt to get him to submit to trial by jury. It is said that his response to the torture was to tell them to add 'more weight.'

2. The first recorded pizza delivery was in 1889 to Queen Margherita of Savoy. Reportedly, she was tired of courtly fare and requested a local peasant meal. They delivered a white, green, and red pie to symbolize the newly unified Italy's flag. She called it "delicious" and the rest is history.

3. In 1976, Japan donated 53 bonsai trees to the US for its bicentennial, including a white pine that had been tended daily since 1625 and survived the Hiroshima atomic blast. Its history was unknown until 2001 when two brothers showed up at the museum to check on their grandfather’s tree.

4. The location of the tomb of Alexander the Great has been lost to time. Alexander was entombed in Alexandria, the tomb was subsequently visited by many pilgrims throughout history, including Caesar. The tomb was well visited up till the 1500s when its location was suddenly forgotten.

5. Xenophanes, who died in 490 B.C.E., found fish fossils and concluded that the land where they were found must have been underwater at some time. He was the first person known to have used fossils as evidence for a theory of the history of the Earth.

6Operation Fish

Operation Fish

The largest movement of physical wealth in history was during World War 2. Operation Fish had 186,332 gold bars and more than 8 million ounces of gold coins sent to Canada from the UK with not even one crate or treasury bill going missing.

7. Charley Ross was a 4-year-old American child whose 1874 kidnapping for ransom (considered the first in US history) became a nationwide sensation. Charley, who was never found, was lured by two men offering candy and fireworks, giving rise to the warning "never take candy from strangers".

8. In 1861, Japan had an illustrated history of America which depicted, among other things, John Adams stabbing a giant snake, and George Washington punching a Tiger.

9. One of the deadliest explosions in history occurred in Beijing in 1626. An unexplained explosion at a gunpowder factory obliterated 4 square kilometers of the city and killed around 20,000 people. The blast itself was about as powerful as the nuclear explosion over Hiroshima.

10. The Guinness Book of Records recognizes the presidential election of 1927 in Liberia as the most fraudulent election reported in history. Although there were only 15,000 registered voters in Liberia at the time, Charles D. B. King, received 234,000 votes and won.

11Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin

When Joseph Stalin was dying, his private physician was not available because he was already being tortured in the basement of the KGB headquarters for suggesting that the Soviet leader required more bed rest.

12. The Iroquois Theater in Chicago was billed as "Absolutely Fireproof" in advertisements when it opened. It lasted 37 days before being destroyed in what is still the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history, leaving 602 dead and 250 injured.

13. The idea that people used to think that the world was flat is actually a modern misconception and with extraordinary few exceptions, no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the 3rd century B.C. onwards believed that the Earth was flat.

14. Winston Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. His most famous work was a six-volume memoir about WW2, but he also wrote a science fiction alternate history story about the US Civil War.

15. Until 1870, the pope required all Jews living in Rome to attend compulsory sermons every Sabbath in front of the Church of San Gregorio. They all attended, but would often stuff wax in their ears in order not to hear a thing.

16Japanese POWs

Japanese POWs

Japanese POWs provided a vast wealth of information during World War 2. This was because most Japanese soldiers were unaware of the rights they retained as prisoners under the Geneva convention. Many also felt indebted to American troops for the courteous treatment they received.

17. Sweden switched their entire traffic system from the left side of the road to the right side in a single day in 1967 called “Dagen H”, the most logistically complex event in Sweden’s history.

18. Robert Liston is the only surgeon in history to have performed an operation with a 300% mortality rate, losing his patient to infection, accidentally amputating his assistant's fingers, who also died of infection, and slashing a spectator who died from shock.

19. One of the most inaccurately named men in history was Charles Coward. While in German captivity, he traded clothes with a Jewish inmate so he could report to the British on what was happening in Auschwitz. He later testified in Nuremberg.

20. For most of history, smiling in a painting or photo was considered radical, and even Mark Twain once wrote, "A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever"

21Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton studied alchemy, tried to put all the world's religious histories together into one timeline, thought Atlantis was real, associated with secret societies like the Freemasons, and predicted the end of the world in 2060.

22. Subotai was the primary General of Genghis Khan during the Mongolian conquest of Asia. He directed more than twenty campaigns in which he conquered 32 nations and won 65 pitched battles, during which he conquered or overran more territory than any other commander in history.

23. The only coup in US history occurred in North Carolina in 1898. A mob of white supremacists armed with rifles and pistols marched on City Hall in Wilmington and overthrew the local government, forcing both black and white officials to resign. The leader of the mob was later elected as mayor.

24. On January 23, 1902, 210 Japanese soldiers got caught in a blizzard on the Hakkoda Mountains in Aomori prefecture. A total of 199 of them died during the ascent making it the most lethal disaster in the history of mountaineering.

25. Voltaire's joke that the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) was "neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire" was mostly true. The center of the Church at the time was actually the Vatican, the HRE's people were mostly Germanic and not Roman, and the nation was never truly unified at any point in its history.