" What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the specter which had haunted my midnight pillow. "
Mary Shelley

Back in the day


Panama Gains Independence from Spain

Situated on the thin isthmus that connects North and South America but divides the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Panama has long been a vital crossroad for trade and travel. Under Spanish control for more than 300 years, Panama finally broke with Spain to join a newly independent Colombia as the Spanish empire faltered. Today, in addition to celebrating that Independence Day, the country observes another. When did Panama separate from Colombia, gaining a second independence—and another holiday?



Premature Burial

In the late 1800s, fears of being mistakenly assumed dead and accidentally buried alive led to the invention of "safety coffins." To avoid such a fate, US President George Washington requested on his deathbed that his burial be delayed to ensure that he had truly died. Premature burial can also be intentional. Saint Oran was buried alive as a human sacrifice in Scotland in the 6th century. Later, he was dug up and found to be alive, but he was supposedly hurriedly reburied after saying what?

Born on a day like today


Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon

Not long after Hyde allegedly attended his wife's funeral dressed in women's clothes, the queen of England—whom Hyde had also reportedly dressed as during an official event—dismissed him from his post as governor of New York and New Jersey. The decision was purportedly prompted by mounting complaints from the colonists he governed, including myriad charges of corruption. He was later imprisoned for debt. What is known about the portrait that supposedly depicts him wearing a gown?

Last updated on Thursday, 29th November 2012

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