The History Thread (Lizi's Trivia Thread)


Hey Greg,

I just remembered some like old internet meme and this one concerned Andrew Jackson so I figured I’d ask you if there was any truth to it or if it was just hogwash.

The meme was something about how modern people are nowhere near as x as those that came before. When General Andy came up the meme was something to the effect of:

“Ozzy Ozbourne uses bad language and it’s rubbed off on his kids; Andrew Jackson was so profane that his own parrot had to be ejected from his funeral for swearing.”

Something to it, or folktale?

When I googled I found this, but I was wondering if you’d come across something than the word of a minister years after the event in question.


It’s true. @Greg has mentioned this a few times to me.


As Black History Month (a sad indictment of our white-centric society) nears an end, it would be super keen if this thread wasn’t solely focused on a dead white president who was a slave owner and became a leading figure in anti-abolitionist efforts. Just sayin’.

To get us started, here we go:


Yeah, that image was part of a series by the Smithsonian. It also featured a really funny and distrubing one about Genghis Khan. The tale is mostly credible. We have really good documentation of the parrot himself. He was an African Grey bought late in Jackson’s life, making it probable that the parrot, named Poll, would be able to replicate Jackson’s speech and would outlive the General. The available information.

stops right around Jackson’s death. The ejection from the funeral is only in one account of the event, but that account is from someone who was actually there, giving it some credibility.

I highly recommend this /r/Askhistorians thread for further detail.

I thought I’d posted the John Brown trivia from when I was reading it at the beginning of the month, but that only made it to Twitter I guess. Gimme a minute and I can write up some abolitionist trivia.

EDIT: I also have spent the majority of the thread not talking about Jackson, oddly enough. I made that subtitle as a prediction, but it looks inaccurate now.


So, I think Sally Hemings is pretty well known, but this trivia has gotten neglected outside of Jefferson-dedicated texts. In the 1780s Thomas Jefferson was made Minister to France (the position would change its name to ambassador upon ratification of the Constitution), and decided Sally should join him. France, however, had outlawed slavery, meaning that she had no obligation to return to the slave holding State of Virginia. When Jefferson needed to return to the United States to serve in Washington’s cabinet, Sally asserted that she could and would stay in France. Jefferson offered to negotiate. The cession Sally negotiated was that all her children – those already born and those she might have later – be freed once they were old enough to support themselves. This provides the horrifying implication that Jefferson was going to shackle his own children.

There was an interesting split around John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry. Brown was a militant abolitionist, the first in Bleeding Kansas to stand up to the slaver militias that plagued the Kansas Territory in the hopes of admitting it as a slave state. Federal authorities attempted to shut him down, but Major General Robert E Lee sent in the cousin of Charles Sumner, who had been caned but two weeks earlier for objecting to the Kansas chaos, so the hostilities were muted. When Brown returned to the East Coast, he formed a collective to raid the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia to equip the slaves with firearms and lead a slave revolt like what took place in Haiti. White abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison objected, but, unsurprisingly, the black abolitionists applauded the sentiment, but were split on the feasibility. Since Nat Turner’s rebellion, slaves had lost a great amount of morale and gained a great amount of fear. These men who had fled slavery had insight to that which John Brown, a white man, simply couldn’t. Frederick Douglass was a close friend of John Brown and always spoke well of him, but feared Brown would die in the raid. Ultimately, Brown’s 19 men were primarily his own children. Harriet Tubman tried to join them, but became too ill to reach Virginia safely. Brown would become a symbol for emancipation in the Civil War, even getting a marching song in the Union army.

Speaking of Frederick Douglass, Election College did a good two-part overview of his life. Listen to part one here and part two here.

I’ll write a bit about the forgotten abolitionists of the Revolution, but I don’t want to boil my blood right now.

I apologize that I don’t have much in the way of black victories, but my expertise is in a time when black people were so thoroughly marginalized that very little documentation from their perspective or of their experiences has survived


Read American Revolutions: A Continental History by two time Pulitzer winner Alan Taylor. It sheds light on so many dark truths from the early days of American independence on behalf on both the Nationalists and the Loyalists (tho Taylor does emphasize the Nationalist crimes a bit more than the Loyalists). Highlights include the Continental Association, an agency created by the Continental Congress to search loyalist houses and burn any pro-British documents, the upopularity of the Constitution and Rhode Island’s rejection of it being due to it being put to popular vote instead of State Legislatures, and an anonymous critic coining the underutilized term “grumbletonian,” one who is more interested in what they don’t want than do.

Since it’s women’s history month, I’ll also include this. In Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler sings “when I meet Thomas Jefferson I’m gonna compel him to include women in the sequel [to the declaration of independence].” And as it turns out, Angelica Schuyler did exactly that in 1788 through a written correspondence between her London residence and Monticello. When Angelica asked about having rights, Jefferson wrote to her “The tender breasts of ladies were not formed for political convulsion.”


“The fundamental principle of the Republican party, – the one that gave the party its strongest claim upon the confidence and support of the public, – is its advocacy of equal civil and political rights. If that party should ever come to the conclusion that this principle should be abandoned, that moment it will merit, and I am sure it will receive, the condemnation of the repudiation of the public”

– John R Lynch, former slave, member of the House of Representatives, from his book “The Facts of Reconstruction”, published in 1913


Oh how far they’ve fallen.


Around here, it’s commonly known that the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on Breeds Hill, but not many know the origin of the misnomer. What happened was that the rebels set up their fortifications on Bunker Hill in the dark of night to avoid British detection. However, this impaired them enough that they set up on Breeds Hill, and did not realize as much until the break of day, when the British promptly started attacking.

Hoping to become a tour guide for the Freedom Trail Foundation in the autumn when my seasonal job with them expires. There’s surprisingly few books dedicated to Boston history, with them mostly being too short in length and great in scope for me to bother with. I did, however, find a book by a student of my favorite historian, Alan Taylor (who also wrote the forward to the book) that featured some good stuff like that.


What if the American Revolution was the biggest backfire in French history? They financed the Rebels to demolish England’s holdings in the New World and damaging its faltering economy while making the new nation so deeply in debt to France that they could trivially annex and unite with Louisiana? They had it all lined up to do that, but they didn’t anticipate that the insurrection they funded would then inspire an insurrection against them.


I would think that the biggest backfire would be the continental system and the invasion of Russia, no?


Arguably. I was only thinking up to 1789 because anything after that would’ve been totally different if things had gone another way.

@Amp, you know more about Europe than me. Thoughts?


Well its a bit out of my realm of study but I have a bit of knowledge kicking around. This is a bit off the cuff. So to start the Continental system and the Invasion of Russia was under Bonaparte I rather than the King of France Louis 16th, along with being post revolution. As such it was a different playing field, that said Russia was bad for Napoleon and America bad for Louis.

Well funding the American revolution was one of the major factors in the French revolution. And although yes there was some influence on the French people seeing the Americans rise up, it wasn’t the overriding factor. That is to say it was not a direct correlation. So yes it was a massive backfire that should have worked out for them, but Louis had the worst luck in the world so it didn’t.

Now was this the worst thing for France…weeeeell that is a tricky thing really. It was certainly bad for the French royal family, well parts of it, but was it the worst for France and her people. Well it depends on how far you want to go back. Are we going with the Francia unification of 486 or the Treaty of Verdun in 843 and so on and so on. You could make a strong case for the Hundred Years war, and although they did win (sort of Joan of Arc really benefited from revisionist history and WW1, and Im English) it was a big knock for them. We then had the Crusades against the Cathars, Or the Norman invasions (yes I know the became that after they took Normandy but stop being pedantic). And then the Wars of Religion. Look France is a really hard one its had a really rough old time of it and its really hard to give a clear yes or no answer.

To try and sum up, yes it was the worst for the nobility of France. For the people of France it turned out pretty good. Well sort of then you had the purges.

I would strongly strongly suggest listening to the Revolutions Podcast episodes on the French and American revolution. The person who produces it previously did the history of the Western Roman Empire in full. It is wonderfully researched and well presented.

So @Greg I have some questions for you. I met a delight full person who was making the claims that it was the Democrats who both wanted to maintain slavery and created the KKK (now I know in the second wave they had a bit more to do with it). Is there much weight to this or is it a bit of bollocks. As with all history I expect shades of grey but I’m sure you will be able to give me better sauces than ‘listen I’m an American I know my own history I don’t need no books’.


@Amp If you are familiar with US History, then you know that the two main parties have switched platforms multiple times. Attempt to ascribe credit or blame for issues of the past to current political parties is somewhat asinine as it is obvious that the modern Republican party is as akin to Lincoln as the modern Democratic party is to Southern Democrats of the Revolutionary era.


I have the barest passing of American history unfortunately. I mean hell my realm is the middle ages back.
A righty ho then, so can I then dismiss his attempts to use history to back up is bullshit then as revisionist fart waffling.


Yeah no that’s what happened. The Democratic Party was run completely by Southern slave holders, while only half the Whigs were based in the slave power. By the end of the Mexican American War, John Calhoun was Democratic in all but name, and this wonderful phrase was in the Democratic Platform of 1848

“All efforts of the Abolitionists or others made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences; and that all such efforts have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of the people, and endanger the stability and permanence of the Union”

Not that there were any Abolitionists in elected office. This was when William Lloyd Garrison was being dragged through the streets of Boston by a horse for publishing the Abolitionist paper The Liberator. The Whigs saw a faction evolve within them called “The Conscious Whigs”, who thought that slavery was bad. These Whigs were so marginalized by the establishment Whigs like Henry Clay that they formed a coalition with the Northern Democrats, who fought to support the poor but also were completely absent from Federal Congress. That coalition would go through a few labels but ultimately became the Republican Party.

As the 1850s rolled through, things only got worse. Democrats undid every compromise Henry Clay had brokered so that they could expand slavery into as many territories as they could. The Kansas Nebraska Act was a piece of Democratic legislation that declared Kansas’s Free/Slave status would be decided by popular vote, leading to terrorism against any abolitionist residents by the slave holding settlers. As a result, radical conscious Whig Senator Charles Sumner gave the speech “The Crimes Against Kansas,” a piece of rhetoric so firery that Democratic Representative Preston Brooks beat him with his cane the next day, and he couldn’t return to work for three years due to physical and psychological injury. When John Brown began to lead his militia to strike back, the Democratic Pierce administration sent in soldiers to put it down, continuing to ignore the slaver terrorism (Brown would have perished here but the officer Pierce sent was cousin to one Mr Charles Sumner and still bitter about the cane thing).

Come 1861, it was Democrats who led the calls to secession, but we’ve talked about that on here enough I don’t feel I need to repeat myself about the cause of that war. In the wake of the war, the Republican Federal Government went through great strides to reach for political equality for the freed slaves, but were repeatedly stopped by white terrorism by Democrats. The Acts of Reconstruction, which put the South under martial law until they got their act together, were repealed due to Democrats calling for a second Civil War in 1876 (President Grant an Sec. War Sherman must’ve found that one strange, but it worked) over a Presidential election where the Republicans had won by one vote.

What they always leave out is that the Democrats were punished for their incendiary tactics, unable to obtain the White House for 50 years (save for Cleveland, who the Party didn’t like anyway) as a result of their secession. By the 1890s, the second Populist movement lead by William Jennings Bryan demonstrated that the Democrats were a class conscious party looking to start a welfare state and care for those in need.

I’m gonna close with this quote from Mr John R Lynch, former slave and Federal Representative:

“The fundamental principle of the Republican party, – the one that gave the party its strongest claim upon the confidence and support of the public, – is its advocacy of equal civil and political rights. If that party should ever come to the conclusion that this principle should be abandoned, that moment it will merit, and I am sure it will receive, the condemnation of the repudiation of the public”

EDIT: Today is also the 161st anniversary of Brooks caning Sumner, oddly relevant to this discussion.


Wow thank for that! was really interesting. To be a pain I don’t suppose you can recommend any good books to give me an intro to the topic and causes of the Civil war. Its been an area that I’ve glossed over if I’m honest.


Not Greg, but I’m reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals, and while it’s primarily about Lincoln and other prominent pre-Civil War personalities, it does, by necessity, cover a lot of what Greg mentioned in the lead up to the Civil War. I’d recommend her other books as well if you have an interest in US history.


I shall have to check it out cheers!


The greatest backfire in (at least Western) history was the Fourth Crusade. Accept no substitutes.