5 Historical Events That Weren’t Taught in School

The average American student spends over one thousand hours in a classroom in a year. And though some of that time is dedicated to learning about historical phenomena, it would be impossible to cover the thousands of years worth of recorded history within that time.

World history is peppered with weird, curious and outright strange happenings, many of which have been tucked away in preference for more meaningful events. And while the Roman Empire may be a viral topic of conversation, here are a handful of events that are equally interesting, if not as world-changing. 

1. The Micronation That Didn’t Make It

In 1961, the movie Atlantis: The Lost Continent was released, garnering popularity for the mythical city of Atlantis. Four years later, Leicester Hemingway, younger brother of iconic writer Ernest Hemingway, had his own moment of Atlantis-related history.

Inspired by the story of Atlantis, and enabled by capital made from his own work as a writer, Leicester set out off the coast of Jamaica to international waters, whereupon he established New Atlantis on a raft constructed of bamboo and rusted pipe.

While his micronation had stamps and even a flag sewn by his wife, Leicester’s presidency – and he did acknowledge himself as the president – was short lived. Within a year of establishing the legally recognized nation, a tropical storm sent the raft to demise, ending with it, the short term of New Atlantis

2. Napoleon the Romance Author

Napoleon Boneparte rose to prominence around the time of the French Revolution. He was a military commander first, a politician later. And while he may have published some political pamphlets in his time, the hairpin turn into romance authorship was unexpected.

Clisson et Eugénie (Clissen and Eugenie) is a novella written by Boneparte. The story entails a doomed relationship between a soldier and his lover and is widely accepted to be a fictionalized version of Boneparte’s own romantic relationship with a woman named Eugénie. 

Napoleon’s softer work was not intended for publication and only became so in 2007 and 2009 when two historians gathered together his notes for viewing. 

3. A Truly Silent Night: the Nationwide Christmas Ban

It may seem like the stuff of children’s tales to ban Christmas, but in the late 1600s, that very thing occurred in England.

Though Christmas, or winter celebrations as some knew it, had been a common occurrence for over a hundred years, the tone of the holiday was vastly different to what we know it as today. Spirituality held no place, nor were children a focal point for the fun. Instead, the festival focused on drinking, eating and sex.

So out of control the celebrations became, in 1647, the Puritan government banned the event, claiming it was simply an excuse for promiscuously, gambling and drunkenness. Shops were forced to remain open on the day and churches were barred to prevent Christmas services. 

The ban induced what became a civil war and it was 20 long years before people were able to legally celebrate December 25th.

4. Einstein’s Brain Stolen

Perhaps one of the most intelligent individuals in history, Albert Einstein’s death was an immense loss to the scientific community. Known for developing the theory of relativity which went on to revolutionize the way humans understand physics, Einstein was renowned for his ingenious approach to sciences.

After his death in 1955, the physicist was sent for autopsy. Thomas Stoltz Harvey, an American pathologist, was tasked with the job. The following day, Einstein was cremated without fanfare, while his son, Hans, was alerted to the fact that the body had not entirely been intact.

Harvey, without permission or instruction, had removed the brain that had brought enlightenment and wonder to the scientific community, and stored it for his own possession and research. 

Though Einstein’s family were initially outraged, they did ultimately relent to the promised studies, allowing the brain to be scrutinized by minds all over the world.

And, for what it was worth, no research ever indicated that Einstein’s brain was any different from any other male human, making the thievery almost entirely pointless. 

5. Unfulfilled Treasure Hunt: The Civil War Gold

The Confederate gold is a well-known lure to those in treasure hunting spheres. It was a large sum provided by wealthy citizens during the American Civil War.

At the time the Union Army was aggressing, Jefferson Davis – then the president of the Confederate States of America – went on the run, taking a sum estimated to be worth one million dollars with him.

Though Davis was later arrested, the money had vanished without trace. While a small amount is accounted for, the rest has remained a mystery, thousands of theories flocking the internet. To this day, nobody quite knows what became of it.

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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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