" Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it. "
W. Somerset Maugham

Back in the day


Louisiana Purchase Completed

American settlers in the western territories depended on the Mississippi River's port of New Orleans for commerce. When Spain retroceded New Orleans to France in 1800, Americans feared their access to the river would be blocked, so President Thomas Jefferson sent negotiators to broker a deal for the port city. Ultimately, Napoleon sold the entire Louisiana territory, including New Orleans, to the US for only 3 cents per acre. Why did Napoleon part with the territory for such a small sum?



The Seven Summits

The Seven Summits are the highest mountains of each of the world's seven continents. Richard Bass compiled this list in the 1980s and established as a mountaineering challenge the summiting of all seven. Reinhold Messner, another climber, proposed substituting one of the mountains with New Guinea's Carstensz Pyramid (4,884 m). From a mountaineering standpoint, Messner's list is considered the more challenging one. As of March 2007, how many climbers had scaled all of the peaks on both lists?

Born on a day like today


Samuel Mudd

Mudd, a physician and Confederate sympathizer, set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin, just hours after Booth fled the crime scene at Ford's Theater. In 1865, Mudd was charged with conspiracy to murder the President, stood trial, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was pardoned by President Johnson in 1869 and returned to his home in Maryland. Of the eight people charged with conspiring to assassinate Lincoln, how many were hanged?

Last updated on Thursday, 20th December 2007

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