In the 1830s Americans drank an average of 7.1 gallons of pure alcohol per year. Early Americans took a healthful dram for breakfast, whiskey was a typical lunchtime tipple, ale accompanied supper and the day ended with a nightcap.
The world’s oldest known complaint letter was written to a Sumerian copper merchant named Ea-Nasir almost 4000 years ago on a clay tablet: “You put ingots which were not good before my messenger and said: ‘If you want to take them, take them; if you do not want to take them, go away!'”
There were homeless shelters where you could sleep for 4 pennies in a coffin, hence the name Four Penny Coffin. For 1 penny you could sit on a bench all night but weren’t allowed to fall asleep. For 2 pennies you could sit on a bench and lean on a rope and catch some sleep.
1816 was called “The Year Without a Summer” after the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. Crop failure forced Joseph Smith to leave Vermont, and his journeys resulted in “The Book of Mormon,” the dreary rain in Switzerland drove Mary Shelley to stay indoors, where she wrote “Frankenstein.”
19th century England (and later the US) had ‘Ugly Clubs’ where people that had less desirable facial traits met up to drink, sing, and satirize their own looks.
Humans used crop rotation 8,000 years ago. As far back as 6000 BC, farmers alternated planting crops each year. They did not understand the chemistry, but knew that doing so kept the soil healthy for good harvests.
The world’s first traffic signal was short lived. Installed in London in 1868, it exploded less than a month later, injuring its policeman operator.
The Roman Imperial army created specialized fighting units to capture dangerous wild animals to fight in the Colosseum. They were forbidden from harming the animals and were considered to have one of the most dangerous jobs in the empire.
Life in Puritan New England was so hard that children who were abducted by Native Americans often refused to come back.
In the 19th century China came extremely close to being ruled by the leader of a Christian cult who believed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ. It took the deadliest civil war in history with 30 million dead to defeat him.