John Adams

For Throwback Thursday, I’m throwing back to John Adams.  Why?  Last year, I binge watched the entire HBO Series “John Adams” on the 4th of July.  If you haven’t had the chance to see that series, I can’t recommend it highly enough – you can stream free with Amazon Prime.

John AdamsFun facts about John:

  • None of John’s family members went to his Presidential inauguration.  How sad is that?
  • John and Thomas Jefferson were famously rivals in politics – but died on the same day (July 4, 1826) exactly 50 years after signing the Declaration of Independence.  Adams last words?  “Thomas Jefferson survives” – but he didn’t.
  • His son John Quincy Adams became the 6th President.  John’s birthplace of Braintree, Massachusetts was renamed Quincy in his honor.
  • John was the first President to live in the White House – although it wasn’t quite finished when he and Abigail moved in four months before his term ended.
  • John was a devoted husband, writing more than 1,100 letters to Abigail – most of which have survived to this day.  In contrast, historians only know of 3 letters that George Washington wrote to his wife Martha.
  • The Constitution of the State of Massachusetts was written mostly by John Adams – and served as the model for the U.S Constitution.

David McCullough wrote an excellent biography of John Adams but if you’d like other suggestions try this link to more great books about John.

Famous quote by John Adams – “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Benjamin Franklin

Often referred to as Dr. Franklin, he was not actually a medical doctor.  He was however, a renowned scientist, inventor, author and diplomat.  He was a REALLY interesting guy but since our theme today is generally health, let’s stick to that topic for Ben.

220px-Benjamin_Franklin_by_Joseph_Duplessis_1778Fun facts about Ben:

  • Tired of switching between two pairs of glasses, Franklin famously cut the lenses of both pairs in half and reassembled a single pair – creating the first bifocal glasses.
  • After noticing he felt cooler when wearing wet clothing on a hot sunny day, he proposed the principle of Cooling by Evaporation – the basis for refrigeration and air conditioning.
  • Ben didn’t patent his inventions – even the Franklin stove that produced more home heat with less waste – because he just wanted people to use them and make their lives better.
  • Ben is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.  One of his first inventions was a pair of wooden paddles he used to help propel himself while swimming!  He was a proponent of the benefits of swimming his whole life and once wrote “every parent would be glad to have their children skilled in swimming.”
  • And last but certainly not least – Ben founded the first public hospital what would become the United States.  In 1751, he and Dr. Thomas Bond founded the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia which is still in operation today.  The main building dates to 1756 and is registered as a National Historic Landmark.

These are just a few of the many amazing facts about Ben – you can learn more about him by reading his autobiography or check out one of these biographies by various authors.

Famous quote from Ben Franklin – “Well done is better than well said.”

 

Alexander Hamilton

I fell in love with Alexander Hamilton the first time I played the soundtrack for the Broadway musical Hamilton.  And if any of our Founding Fathers had a to-do list, I’m betting it was Alex.  After all, one of the songs in the musical refers to him and his writing as Non-stop!

Alexander-Hamilton-portrait-by-John-Trumbull-1806-275Fun facts about Alexander Hamilton:

  • We really don’t know when he was born.  The records on his home island of Nevis report his birth in 1755, but Alexander always claimed he was born in 1757.   His claim may have worked to help him land an apprenticeship position after the death of his mother left him an orphan.  And it certainly didn’t hurt his reputation of being precocious to shave a couple years off his age!
  • Alexander’s views on a strong central national government inspired the beginning of the Federalist Party.  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison opposed many of Hamilton’s ideas about centralized governance and formed the Republican Party in response.
  • Regardless of how it is presented in the musical, Hamilton didn’t actually pass the bar to become a lawyer until 1782 when the Revolution was over.  He began studying law while still on Nevis, attended some classes at King’s College and also studied with John Jay and William Paterson (two future Supreme Court justices) on his mostly self-taught way to becoming a lawyer.
  • The last letter George Washington wrote before his death was to Alexander.
  • Alex may have been this nation’s first media mogul.  In 1801, he talked several investors into giving him $10,000 to found the New York Evening Post.  Today, it is known as the New York Post and is the nation’s oldest continuously published newspaper.

If you haven’t read “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow that was the inspiration for the Broadway musical, do yourself a favor and look it up at your library or favorite bookseller.

Famous quote from Alexander -“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”

Theme Week!

The 4th of July is sneaking right up on us so I thought maybe we should get ready by taking a look at our Founding Fathers.  That doesn’t mean I’m leaving my regular editorial schedule – just making it all about the Founding Fathers this week!

georgeSo the first among our Founding Fathers seems obvious – George Washington.  Here are some fun facts you may not have known about George:

  • George didn’t belong to a political party.  In fact, he disliked the idea of political parties.  He believed parties would lead to conflict and hinder the country’s growth.
  • George is the only one of our President’s to have been elected unanimously.
  • While we know him for his glorious head of white hair, when George was young, his hair was red.
  • George did not attend college.  Like many young men of the time, he was home schooled by his father and older half-brother.  He applied himself well to his educational pursuits and became an expert surveyor and map maker.
  • While many wanted to to refer to George as “Your Excellency” or “Your Highness,” he set president that lives through to today by asking to be referred to as Mr. President.

Want to learn more about George?  Here’s a list of some great biographies.

Famous words from George’s eulogy –

“First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen.”

Summer Solstice

Happy Summer Solstice!  Today is the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours.   From now until December 21st, the days will get progressively shorter.  I know – I’m a buzzkill.  So let’s think about happier things shall we?

stonehengeAll around the world, from ancient times right up to today, the summer solstice has been celebrated by almost every culture.  In ancient Greece, the solstice was used to mark the opening of the Olympic games.  And the ancient Romans celebrated Vestailia in the days just prior to the solstice to honor the godess Vesta.  During this celebration, married women would go to temple and leave offerings to the godess while asking for blessings for their families.

Here in the U.S., native American tribes also had festivities to honor the solstice featuring ceremonial sun dances.  And like the pagans who may have built Stonehenge to mark the solstice, the Plains Indians built Wyoming’s Bighorn Medicine Wheel that aligns with the day’s sunrise and sunset.

Want to know more about the solstice?  Check out these resources:

So enjoy the daylight and raise a glass in celebration of the solstice!