America/United States

Biddy Mason: Californian Real Estate Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Biddy Mason was born the same year that Madame Récamier’s friendship with François-René de Chateaubriand became intimate. But unlike Madame Récamier, Bridget, as she was named at birth, was not a French socialite. In fact, she was an African-American born into slavery on 15 August 1818. Exactly where she was born is unknown but various…

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Hair Powder: History of Its Popularity and Unpopularity

Hair powder was at one time used as an ornament for powdering a person’s hair or wig. It was sometimes perfumed and generally made from pulverized starch or Cyprus powder, although the poor classes were known to use flour. In addition, according to Chambers’s Encyclopaedia, the idea for hair powder was initiated in France:

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John Muir America’s Preeminent Naturalist

John Muir, America’s preeminent naturalist, is also known as “John of the Mountains” and “Father of the National Parks.” He was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States of America. He was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland to Daniel Muir and Ann Gilrye on…

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Gigot or Leg of Mutton Sleeves of the 1800s

Gigot or leg of mutton sleeves were first seen in the sixteenth century. They became fashionable again in the late 1820s and early 1830s (approximately 1824 to 1836) and then once again in the 1890s. Gigot is French for an animal’s leg, particularly a sheep or a lamb, and as that was what the sleeve…

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Charles Julius Guiteau’s Plan to Assassinate President James Garfield

Charles Julius Guiteau’s plan to assassinate President James Garfield happened on 2 July 1881 as the President was walking through the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad in Washington D.C. The assassin, Guiteau, who was an American writer and lawyer, falsely believed he had played a major role in Garfield’s election victory…

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Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: Wife of Jerome Bonaparte

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte was an American socialite who married Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte’s youngest brother, on 24 December 1803. Elizabeth, who was often referred to as Betsy, was the daughter of Dorcas Spear and William Patterson, who had been born in Ireland in 1752 and who had immigrated from Donegal to North America before the…

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Thomas Jefferson’s Love Affair with Maria Cosway

Thomas Jefferson’s love affair with the Italian-English Maria Cosway began after Jefferson’s wife, Martha Wayles Skelton, died. He had married the widowed Martha in 1772 and they had several children, but weakened by childbirth, she died several months after the birth of her last child in 1782. Of the six children the couple had only…

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The 11 June 1880 Tragedy: Stonington and Narragansett

Disasters, no matter how slight, are of public interest, and the 11 June 1880 tragedy between two American passenger steamers was no exception. The accident happened between 11:30pm and midnight in dense fog. At the time, the SS Stonington was west bound heading to New York as its sister ship the SS Narragansett was sailing…

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Jean-Victor Moreau and His Exile in America

Jean-Victor Moreau was exiled to America after Napoleon Bonaparte banished him to the United States. Moreau, who was a friend to Madame Récamier and Madame de Staël, had served as a general under Napoleon and had helped him gain power. However, Moreau’s alleged involvement in a plot against Napoleon (the “Pichegru Conspiracy” or “Cadoudal Affair”)…

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