Two out of four Kratovil girls studied American history this last school year.

In an effort to make it a little more interesting, I’ve been collecting interesting bits of American history trivia to share with them.

In turns out my definition of “interesting” doesn’t always match with their definition.

In honor of the 4th of July, I thought I would share a few of the fun facts that they did find interesting.

The past is closer than you think.

How weird would it be if you were the only person in the country a law applied to?

After the Civil War ended, Congress allocated a pension of $73.13 per month for every child of a Civil War veteran.

Believe it or not, but the government is still paying one of those military pensions.

Irene Triplett, the 88-year-old daughter of a Civil War veteran, collects her $73.13 military pension each month.

How is this possible?

Miss Irene’s dad, a Civil War veteran, was 83 years old when she was born. And yes, her mother was considerably younger (by 50 years).

Too bad for Irene there’s no adjustment for inflation. $73.13 is worth $1,082.22 today.

A college kid got a rejected Bill of Rights amendment ratified.

Did you know in the original version of the Bill of Rights there were 12 instead of 10 amendments?

Way back in 1982, during the time when people used to books and micro fiche to find answers to questions, Gregory Watson, a University of Texas student, discovered one of the missing amendments while researching a term paper.

The “Congressional Pay Amendment” restricted Congress’ ability to give itself a pay raise or pay cut, with any changes in salary not taking effect until after the next Congress had begun.

Sounds like a good idea to me, but apparently Americans were more concerned about British troops moving in with them and the amendment did not get the required three-fourths majority of U.S. states.

So it sat in limbo. For 202 years.

Can’t believe the School House Rock! folks missed out writing a ditty about this one.

Gregory mounted a letter-writing campaign (you know, pen, paper, envelope, and stamp) and ten years later, the Congressional Pay Amendment became the 27th Amendment.

Hook ’em Horns!

Captain America is…Irish?

So what do Captain America and me have in common?

My eight year old daughter is currently obsessed with everything superhero. Correction, the MARVEL superheroes, not the DC superheroes.

Yes, there is a difference. If you like Spider-Man, you’re Team Marvel, if you like Superman, you’re Team DC.

We’ve been reading a Marvel encyclopedia (yes, they have reference books on superheroes), where I picked up this fascinating little gem.

Captain America, like me, is a first generation American born of Irish immigrant parents.

I guess Marvel thought “Captain America” was catchier than “Captaen Meiriceá”.

George Washington really liked to shop.

Last summer the girls and I started listening to the audio version of Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life in the car.

Thirty-two CD(s), later, the girls and I are almost done.

Thank you Lin-Manuel Miranda for making the Revolutionary War cool to kids.

A few of the fun facts we have learned about George Washington:

  • He was a ginger with long, luxurious hair. Those portraits of him with perfectly coifed white hair? All his own. He powdered it.
  • He loved to shop. Like Confessions of a Shopaholic level shopper. Chernow’s book is full of his purchase orders. He liked his pants “roomy in the seat.” His order for wedding clothes included “Spanish Fly” (try explaining that one to a four year old).
  • His dentures? Not made of wood. They were made out of a combination of carved animal bone and human teeth that he bought out of the mouths of his slaves. They were kept together with a tight spring that required him to clench his jaw in order to keep his mouth shut.

Okay readers. Share a fun American history fact. Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.