Taiwan was the first Asian democratic republic.

The First Female War Correspondent

Margaret Full was a well-educated native of Massachusetts in the early 1800s. Born in 1810, she joined the New York Tribune as its literary critic in her early 30s and quickly amassed a following. She became something of a celebrity in her native New England, and was popular enough that she became the first woman allowed access to the library at Harvard College! (Which says more about Harvard than about Full, unfortunately.) She argued for equal access to education for women, prison reform, and the abolition of slavery.  Her views ended up in a book, "Woman in the Nineteenth Century" in 1845.

One year later, the New York Times sent Fuller to Europe as its first female correspondent, for her to cover the democratic revolution in Italy led by Giuseppe Mazzini. There, she fell in love with revolutionary Giovanni Ossoli, giving birth to their child -- scandalously without marrying Ossoli. The three were en route back to America in 1850 when their ship foundered off Fire Island, New York, drowning all three. Her friend, writer Henry David Thoreau, searched the beach for Fuller's personal effects but none were ever found.

The World Has Been Ending Since 2800 BCE

An Assyrian clay tablet dating to about 2800 BCE is said to bear the words "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common. Children no longer obey their parents."

That's A New Level Of Famous

Victor Hugo was a star in his own lifetime. To such a degree that they renamed a street in Paris for him -- while he still lived there. Such idolatry was usually reserved for those who had already died. Instead, many fans took great delight in writing letters to the author, addressed "Victor Hugo, en son avenue, Paris." So, in English: "Victor Hugo, His Avenue, Paris."

Where are Witches?

A belief in witches -- and consequently witch-hunts -- have been found in every single inhabited continent of the world, and most of the peoples who have lived on it. But belief in witches is not entirely universal: the largest witch-free area is Siberia, covering about a third of the northern hemisphere, and the ancient Egyptians were notable for their lack of belief of witchcraft and embracing magic, instead of fearing magic.

The Bixby Letter's Complicated History

The Bixby letter is a brief, consoling message sent by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1864 to Lydia Parker Bixby, a widow living in Boston, Massachusetts, who was thought to have lost five sons in the Union Army during the American Civil War. That might sound familiar - this letter was the inspiration for the movie Saving Private Ryan. Except the letter might be a forgery.

Here's a few more facts about the Bixby Letter. Lydia Bixby, the grieving Boston widow, was likely a Confederate sympathizer. At least two of her five sons survived the war, and it is possible that a third survived as well. By deserting to the Confederate Army. Finally, the letter itself is suspicious, and may have been written by Lincoln's private secretary John Hay.

According to ancient Chinese belief, a tiger's body parts have magical powers to cure disease. Tiger bones supposedly cure weakness. Whiskers are used for toothaches. And tiger tails are used for skin diseases.  These beliefs are paying for catastrophic poaching, as tiger's body parts can be sold at high prices to a Chinese market hungry for "medicine."

Caligula, the Roman emperor who was ... mentally challenged ... tried to emulate Alexander the Great by riding horseback across a bridge of boats over the Naples Bay. And he did it dressed in a breastplate Caligula had stolen from Alexander's tomb.

In British English, raisins are also called "sultanas." That's because they were originally a foreign import, from the Ottoman Empire. In the UK and Australia, "Raisin Bran" cereal is "Sultana Bran."

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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