" The demagogue is usually sly, a detractor of others, a professor of humility and disinterestedness, a great stickler for equality as respects all above him, a man who acts in corners, and avoids open and manly expositions of his course, calls blackguards gentlemen, and gentlemen folks, appeals to passions and prejudices rather than to reason, and is in all respects, a man of intrigue and deception, of sly cunning and management. "
James Fenimore Cooper

Back in the day


Louisiana Purchase Completed

Early 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. Why did Napoleon ultimately sell the entire Louisiana territory, including New Orleans, to the US for only about 4 cents per acre, or a sum total of $15 million?



Billie Holiday

Affectionately known as "Lady Day," Billie Holiday is considered one of the greatest vocalists in jazz history as well as one of its most tragic figures. Known for her haunting rendition of the song "Strange Fruit," Holiday began singing professionally in 1930 and embarked on a successful solo career in 1940. However, Holiday's drug and alcohol addiction and abuse at the hands of men took a toll on both her health and her voice, and she died in 1959 at the age of 44. What was her real name?

Born on a day like today


Samuel Mudd

Mudd was the physician and Confederate sympathizer who 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 Sunday, 20th December 2009

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