Top Ten Strange Things You Probably Don’t Know About American History


5. Balloon Bombs

World War II was fought at a strange time in technological history. Computers were in their infancy and planes and ships were the primary weapons of the Pacific portion of the wars beginning. When the Japanese were attacking, they also sent out bombs tied to balloons to presumably land on the coast. While most of the bombs were presumed lost over the Pacific, there are a few instances of them making landfall and even being discovered years later. One family in Oregon were killed when a bomb flew much further inland than intended in 1944 and others have been found on beaches from Alaska to the southern tip of California.

 

4. Hemp Nation

Before the early 1900’s cannabis wasn’t excessively difficult to find in the United States. Before states began outright banning it as a poison in the early 1910’s, cannabis and hemp were quite readily available. In 1619 in fact, King James I ordered the Virginia colony, the only colony in the New World, to have every colonist grow 100 plants for export. The use of hemp for rope or fabric was quite normal and regularly seen and was seen in medicines as early as the 1830’s.

 

3. President Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam is a character that is synonymous with America and for good reason. The image used for Uncle Sam helped gain tons of volunteers for the US Army from World War I to present day, and the image of Uncle Sam pointing invokes emotion and pride from many Americans. Yet the character was actually based on two people. The name comes from a butcher in New York who shipped pork to the Army during the War of 1812. The image however, including the famous pointing picture, is based on a professional clown named Dan Rice. Rice even ran for election for the President of the United States several times, but lost.

 

2. Why November?

Tuesday in November seems pretty random for the most important day in a democratically elected nation, but it has simple to understand roots. It comes back to when America was founded, and finding a time when the weather and tradition would cooperate. At this time voters (and poll takers) traveled by horse and market day was on Wednesday. By putting the elections on a Tuesday allowed for voters to worship on Sunday, travel on Monday and vote on Tuesday, all in time for market day on Wednesday. As for November, it was the perfect time between harvest and winter which could be brutal to travel in, especially in Northern states.

 

1. Speak American

English is the most well known language in the United States. It is used in road signs, in government, on media, in just about every facet of American life. In fact, a growing sentiment against teaching other languages alongside English, or displaying them in public places alongside English has sprung up several times in various parts of the country. This is all despite the fact that although English is the most well known language, the country has no official language to speak of.

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