America/United States

Rutherford Birchard Hayes: America’s 19th President

Rutherford Birchard Hayes is considered the first of the five presidents to be elected during the Gilded Age, a period that involved serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding and generally recognized as existing from the 1870s to 1900. Hayes won the presidency in 1877. His victory was highly unusual as he was…

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Hetty Green: The Witch of Wall Street

Born on 21 November 1834, Hetty Green was nicknamed the “Witch of Wall Street” probably because of her miserly and frugal ways, her severe Quaker dress, and the stiff competition she brought against her male counterparts. Henrietta “Hetty” Howland Robinson was the daughter of Edward Mott Robinson and his wife Abby Slocum Howland. She born…

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Rotten Row Accidents in Hyde Park in the 1800s

How Rotten Row acquired its name seems to be shrouded in controversy what is not controversial is the fact that it became a popular meeting spot for London’s upper classes, who in the eighteenth century frequented it on weekends on horseback. In addition, the adjacent South Carriage Drive also soon began to be used by…

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John Paul Jones: Pirate, Sailor, and Hero

John Paul Jones was the son of John Paul Sr. and Jean McDuff. He was born on 6 July 1747 at the estate of Arbigland near Kirkbean on the southwest coast of Scotland and was christened John Paul, but later added Jones as his surname. At the age of 13 Jones began his maritime career…

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Inspector Thomas Byrnes: 19th-century American Policeman

Inspector Thomas Byrnes was an Irish-born American police officer who served as head of the New York City Police Department from 1880 until 1895. He was born in Dublin, Ireland on 15 June 1842 to James and Rose Byrnes, and he immigrated to the United States while he was a child. He had a limited…

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Blind Tom Wiggins: The African-American Piano Prodigy

Blind Tom, as he was called, was an African American musical piano prodigy born on 24 May 1849 on a plantation owed by Wiley Edward Jones in Harris County, Georgia, to Charity and Domingo “Mingo” Wiggins. From birth Thomas Wiggins was blind* and in 1850, when he was three, he was sold with his enslaved…

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Edward Maynard: Dentist and Firearms Inventor

Edward Maynard was a dentist but became famous for his firearm designs and inventions. He was born in Madison, New York, to Colonel Moses Maynard and Chloe Butler on 26 April 1813. His surname comes from Old French derived from the Germanic or Teutonic name Maganhard or Meginard with Magin meaning “strength” and hard meaning…

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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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