Historical figures have all kinds of interesting facts about them often not taught in school. Many of these facts are American-centric, but there are others as well!
Here are some little know and interesting facts about your favorite historical figures.
Many thanks to all the Redditors who responded. Check out more answers from the source at the end of this article!
1. Abe Lincoln had a voice that was described as “shrill”, “feminine”, and as having a strong country accent.
2. Casanova nearly slept with his own daughter.
The girl’s mother narrowly stopped it from happening… only to sleep with Casanova while said daughter was naked in the bed with them.
3. Genghis Khan killed a larger percentage of the world’s population than anyone in history, and he is also our most common ancestor. In short, he redesigned the world in his own image.
4. Before battle, Blackbeard would dress all in black, strap several pistols to his chest and put on a large black captains hat. Then, he would put slow burning fuses in his hair and beard. The fuses constantly sputtered and gave off smoke, which wreathed him in a perpetual greasy fog. He looked like a devil who had stepped right out of hell and onto a pirate ship and most of his victims simply surrendered their cargo rather than fight him. Blackbeard intimidated his opponents this way because it was good business: if they gave up without a fight, he could keep their ship and he lost fewer men.
5. I remember hearing somewhere that nobody knows Albert Einstein’s last words, because he spoke them in German, and the nurse didn’t know German.
6. Napoleon wasn’t that short. He was like 5’6″, but due to differences between an English foot and a French foot at the time he was described as 5’3″. The English propaganda kinda ran with it, so now most people remember him as tiny.
7. Abe Lincoln was the tallest president ever at 6’4″.
8. I’ve got a few: While president, Ulysses s. Grant was arrested for driving his horse too fast and was fined $20.
John Quincy Adams named one of his sons George Washington.
John Tyler was on his knees playing marbles when informed that he had become president.
Calvin Coolidge loved having his head rubbed while he ate breakfast in bed.
9. I don’t remember the exact details, but from learning about Martin Luther King Jr. there were some things they never mentioned to me as a kid. As they do with all important historical figures.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a very intelligent student but was caught basically copying large parts of papers verbatim without citation and would stitch different works together with his early work. He was also anti-religion as a teenager before learning of the power of religion to spread a message and create a following/audience.
He wrote his own eulogy one day when sitting and talking with his colleagues. He essentially expected to be assassinated and mentioned how he only wanted to remembered as someone who tried to help other people.
He was also a womanizer and was known to cheat on his wife, who eventually found out but never divorced him. She also wished to protect the Civil Rights movement and his message of non-violence wouldn’t have a major stain on it from his misgivings.
10. George Washington had, by most accounts, bright red hair but wore a white wig which was the fashion at the time.
11. George Washington controlled an extremely efficient spy network during the Revolution, so much for never telling a lie.
And Paul Revere is on the Sam Adams logo because Sam Adams was not as classically handsome.
12. Julius Caesar once subdued thirty thousand angry Roman legionaries with a single word. They were threatening to revolt if they didn’t get paid or released from service. There was no money to pay them, and the nation was in the middle of a war. Caesar said, “Citizens…”
That one word was enough, and the entire army began banging spear on shield, yelling, “No, we are still your soldiers, Caesar!” Greatest orator of all time.
13. Boston Corbett, the man who pursued and killed John Wilkes Booth, cut off his own penis with a pair of scissors to avoid the temptation of prostitutes after he became a born again Christian.
14. Mad Libs books were the inspiration for R. L. Stine to start his Goosebumps series of books. He wanted to see if it was possible to profitably market a series of books that are essentially the same story, but with some changes in the premise and in character traits.
15. The Iroquois name for George Washington was “town destroyer.”
16. Whenever President William McKinley’s wife suffered an epileptic seizure in public at an event or dinner, he would calmly drape a handkerchief over her face and carry on with whatever he was doing.
17. When Johnson tried to fire Lincoln’s Secretary of War, (Edwin Stanton), Stanton locked himself into the War Department building and refused to come out.
He was also appointed a Supreme Court justice and then died a few days later.
18. King George III (as in the American Revolution one) was fairly eccentric. He went through a period when he ended every sentence with the word ‘peacock’ and sometimes said “My Lords and Peacocks” instead of “Ladies.” Peacock.
19. President William Taft got stuck in a bathtub.
20. Andrew Jackson had such a foul mouth that his parrot had to be kicked out of his funeral.
21. Andrew Jackson challenged a world renowned marksman to a duel for insulting his wife, then proceeded to give him the first shot. It’s said he took the bullet, straightened up, and shot the man dead.
22. Winston Churchill was a hardcore racist who promoted killing “uncivilized tribes”.
23. A very recent historical figure, but Boris Yeltsin got so drunk on a visit to Washington, D.C. that he stood in his underwear on the White House lawn trying to get a taxi to take him to get pizza.
24. Descartes had a thing for cross-eyed women.
25. James Joyce wrote really creepy, scatological love letters to his wife.
26. Americans during the revolutionary era did not sound like the modern British like the media seem to love using. The two modern accents which sound most similar to period accents are those in MA (North) and those in NC (South).
British people at the time had an accent very close to the modern MA accent, during the early/mid C19 the accents diverged due to the change in Rhotacism of the British accent.
27. Benjamin Franklin only had two years of formal education.
28. Many leaders wore red capes so they could hide wounds and blood so they wouldn’t demoralize their troops in war. Just pointing it out that Adolf Hitler always wore brown pants.
29. Abraham Lincoln’s son was saved from being crushed by a train by America’s greatest Shakespearian actor of the day – Edwin Booth, brother to John Wilkes.
The room Edwin died in has not been altered since, and is open for viewing at The Players Club in NYC.
30. Alexander Hamilton was shot to death by the sitting Vice President of the United States.
31. That before becoming a philosopher, Socrates was a hoplite in the Athenian army. He fought the world, then he mused about it.
32. Abraham Lincoln reportedly hated being called “Abe”.
33. Wilbur Wright right never lived to see his invention perfected, unlike Orville.