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Pistols, Peaches & Pocketbooks

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Our 7th president Andrew Jackson, was a hard partying, hot tempered lunatic who fought his way through two wars to seize the highest office in the land. When he wasn’t shaping the powers of the presidency he could often be found dueling against the men who dared challenge his honor. That’s right, the President of the United States used to frequently fire pistols at people that he had beef with (kind of makes the whole Drake vs Kanye feud look lame). Scholars disagree on how many duels Andrew Jackson took part in but, estimates say that the president took part in a minimum of 13 duels and a maximum over 100.

Jackson’s most famous duel was with a man named Charles Dickinson who accused Jackson’s friend of welching on a bet made over a horse race. After a year of arguing back and forth, Dickinson challenged Jackson’s honor by calling him “a coward” in a local newspaper which, prompted Jackson to call for a duel.

On May 30th 1806, Dickinson and Jackson met on the Kentucky/Tennessee border (dueling was illegal in Tennessee) to duel. The two men pointed their pistols at each other and prepared to fire. Dickinson fired first striking Jackson directly in the chest. Seemingly unphased and with a lead bullet lodged in his chest, Jackson steadied himself and returned fire killing Dickinson. Andrew Jackson lived with Dickinson’s bullet lodged next to his heart for the rest of his life.

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It was the great philosopher and mathematician William Hunting who first asked the seminal question “Do you like apples?”. For most of us the answer is yes but, which kind of apple do you like best? Golden delicious? Granny smith? Macintosh (RIP Steve Jobs)? What if you could have every type of apple all growing from the same tree?

A company in Australia is now selling what they call “Fruit Salad Trees” which is a single tree that is able to grow up to six different types of fruit on it. Their citrus tree can grow any combination of lemons, limes, oranges, mandarins, grapefruits, and pomelos all on just a single tree. The creators of the fruit salad tree had discovered how to graft portions of different fruit trees within the same species (i.e citrus) together so that they fuse together and produce a variety of fruits. Currently, fruit salad trees are only on sale in Australia and are illegal to import into the US but one day the techniques used may hit the states and we will all have fruit salad trees in our yards.

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Have you ever wondered why purses/handbags are sometimes called pocketbooks? They are not books and they don’t fit in your pocket. Turns out there is an interesting history behind it.

As early as 1617, men and women began carrying a small pad of paper with them to collect names, addresses and to jot down personal note. These mini notebooks were a fashionable accessory for the upper class and over time those accessories evolved. By 1816, the pad of paper evolved to have pockets to store papers and knickknacks. Eventually, the notepad portion of the pocketbook was phased out in favor of more storage space for personal items but the name pocketbook stuck. Now the pocketbooks that women carry serve a completely different function from the original pocketbooks of the 17th century but the name persists after more than 400 years

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This Week in History

During this week in 1865, after a year and a half of deliberation, the 13th amendment of the United States constitution was adopted ending the legal practice of slavery in the United States. At this time, the civil war was still ongoing and hundreds of thousands of slaves had been emancipated but were not legally free until the passage of the 13th amendment.

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