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8 Historical Events that are Closer Together Than You'd Think


Picture someone eating Oreos on the Titanic. It’s a bit of a silly picture; someone sitting on the deck of a luxury cruise ship in full dress and underskirts while enjoying milk’s favorite cookie. It is also something that absolutely could have happened. Oreos were introduced on 6 March 1912, a little over a month prior to the Titanic leaving England on 10 April 1912.

This shows exactly how difficult it can be to really conceptualize time and how events relate to one another. What are some other examples of that? Well:

The Civil War Widow

The last (known) civil war widow died the same year President Obama was elected. William Cantrell of the 7th Virginia Infantry first hired Maudie Cecilia Hopkins to do his cooking and laundry. As he became older, he asked her to move in with him to ensure he’d be taken care of. In the 1930s, it was wildly improper for a young woman to live alone with an older man. So she agreed to marry him in order to avoid the scandal. When they wed in 1934, she was 19 and he was 86. She died in 2008 at 93.

Cards with the Ripper

Everyone knows the name Nintendo, and Jack the Ripper could have been familiar with it as well! The company that made beloved characters such as Mario and Princess Peach started in 1889 by selling Hanafuda Cards. The Ripper’s “Canonical 5” all occurred in 1888, although he is theorized to have been active through 1891, meaning Nintendo could have been selling during the Ripper’s reign of terror. Not exactly what people associate with everyone’s favorite plumber!

Faxes on the Trail

Alexander Bain received his patent for the “Electric Printing Telegraph” in 1843, the same year that 1,000 pioneers headed out on the Oregon trail in an event known as The Great Migration, popularizing the Trail’s use. Unfortunately, faxes were not widespread enough to reliably get messages to those on the trail.

No Aztecs at Oxford

Most historians agree that the Aztec Empire began when the city of Azcapotzalco was conquered in 1428 and the conquerors started calling themselves “huetlatoani” (roughly translated to Emperor). There is some debate over when Oxford University technically began, but if you believe the sweatshirts sold at the university’s bookstore, it was officially established in 1231. That makes Oxford University almost two hundred years older than the Aztec Empire!

Tonic on the Eiffel Tower

Drinking Coca-Cola at the Eiffel Tower. After Atlanta passed a prohibition law in 1886, physician/chemist John Stith Pemberton had to rebrand his “French Wine Coca” nerve tonic, stimulant, and headache remedy. Easy fix - just replace the alcohol with “the coca plant and cola nut”, thus making Coca-Cola. The Eiffel Tower was made for the 1889 World’s Fair, meaning the construction crew could have taken a break from building by drinking a Coke!

Can You Hear That?

Most people are familiar with the Wright brothers, the duo credited with building the first airplane. Their famous “First Flight” spanned 852 ft, lasted 59 seconds, and the 27mph winds gave the plane an airspeed of 34mph. In the years that followed, planes got significant advancements and improvements, to the point where Charles E Yeager was able to fly faster than the speed of sound (767 mph), breaking the sound barrier. The time between those events must have been huge, right? Not really, as Orville Wright was alive to hear about Yeager’s flight.

President Grandpa

In 1841, John Tyler was the 10th president of the United States. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, John Tyler ran as part of the Whig Party, and his presidency started 20 years before the American Civil War. He was born in 1790, so he must have some great, great grandchildren, right? Not only does he have great, great grandchildren, but he also has two grandsons that as of March 2018 were still alive.

No Birthday Party for Pluto

Poor Pluto never got the chance to celebrate a full year of being a planet. Pluto’s orbit around the sun takes about 248 Earth-years. The not-planet was discovered in 1930 and demoted in 2006, meaning My-Very-Educated-Mother-Just-Served-Us-Nine-Pizza for about 30% of a Pluto-year. Although apparently there’s still new arguments been brought up, so it may get its shot at having a discovery party in 2178!

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