History for the Rest of Us

Transcontinental Railroad ‘Done’

Transcontinental Railroad ‘Done’

May 9, 2014

Final Spike Driven After a swing and a miss by an official from Union Pacific, and a second swing and a miss by another, two construction supervisors took turns driving in the last spike and completing the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. The spike and the original sledge used by the UP officials were wired to transmit the sound to the...

Rediscovery of Machu Picchu

Rediscovery of Machu Picchu

Jul 18, 2013

On July 24, 1911, Hiram Bingham III, a lecturer at Yale University, was led by Melchor Arteaga to a site Melchor called Machu Picchua (“old mountain”), a largely forgotten Inca city. Bingham wrote, “The morning of July 24th dawned a cold drizzle. Arteaga shivered and seemed inclined to stay in his hut. I offered to play him well if he showed...

Great Fire of Rome

Great Fire of Rome

Jul 13, 2013

On July 19, 64 AD the Great Fire of Rome began in the merchant area of the city and burned for six days. Three of Rome’s fourteen districts were ‘leveled to the ground’ and seven others were reduced ‘to a few scorched and mangled ruins’ according to Tacitus. There are contradictory accounts explaining the cause of the fire. Rumors...

Mercuralia – Festival of Mercury

Mercuralia – Festival of Mercury

May 14, 2013

Mercuralia was a Roman celebration that was also known as the ‘Festival of Mercury’. Mercury, was a Roman messenger god whose attributes were mainly borrowed from the Greek god Hermes although there are myths regarding Mercury that are distinctly Roman. He was a god of trade, thieves, and travel. The name is closely related to merx, mercari, and...

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

May 4, 2013

Cinco de Mayo is observed mainly in the state of Puebla, Mexico in commemoration of the Mexican Army’s surprising victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Mexican-American War, Mexican Civil War and the Reform Wars had left the Mexican Treasury near bankruptcy. President Benito Juarez suspended all foreign debt payments for two...

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Nov 22, 2012

During the reign of Henry VIII of England, radical Puritan reformers wished to move from a calendar filled with nearly 150 days when people were required to attend church, forego work, and in some cases pay for expensive celebrations, to a calendar that only consisted of special Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving. These days were to be selected based on...