-Investing in Thomas Edison's ground breaking work, J.P. Morgan's home would become the first private residence in the world to have electricity.
-Julius Caesar was once captured by pirates. When the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents, Caesar had indignantly claimed that he was worth at least fifty. He had also warned his captors that he would capture and crucify them once he had been released, a promise that he would duly fulfill.
-Nikola Tesla started working in the telephony and electrical fields before emigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison. Edison, busy with his own emerging ideas, neglected the young Tesla in various aspects. Tesla, worldly talented as well, got noticed and eventually struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories/companies to develop a range of electrical devices.
-Albert Einstein was born at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, March 14, 1879, in Ulm, which prophetically boasted as its motto, "Ulmenses sunt mathematici," (the people of Ulm are mathematicians"). Ulm had at the time just become a part of the infant German Reich, along with the rest of Swabia. Einstein's parents, Pauline and Hermann, had originally planned to give him the name Abraham, for his paternal grandfather, but they changed their mind, considering their initial choice "too Jewish" and compromised by retaining the initial "A", and naming him Albert.
-Upon Napoleon's return to power in 1815, many states that had opposed him formed the Seventh Coalition and began to mobilize armies. Two large forces under Wellington and Blücher assembled close to the north-eastern border of France. Napoleon chose to attack in the hope of destroying them before they could join in a coordinated invasion of France with other members of the coalition. The decisive engagement of this three-day Waterloo Campaign (16–19 June 1815) occurred at the Battle of Waterloo. According to Wellington, the battle was "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life." Napoleon delayed giving battle until noon on 18th of June to allow the ground to dry. Some speculate because he had constipation. Anyhow, Wellington's army, positioned across the Brussels road on the Mont-Saint-Jean escarpment, withstood repeated attacks by the French, until, in the evening, the Prussians arrived in force and broke through Napoleon's right flank. At that moment, Wellington's Anglo-Allied army counter-attacked and drove the French army in disorder from the field. Pursuing coalition forces entered France and restored King Louis XVIII to the French throne. Napoleon abdicated, surrendered to the British, and was exiled to Saint Helena, where he died in 1821.
-By 1939, J. Edgar Hoover had been director of the FBI for 16 years, a post he would continue to hold for a further 32 years. He provided a dossier to the army that pointed to Einstein's pacifism and socialism as reasons to deny him a security clearance. The conclusion was stark. "In view of his radical background, this office would not recommend the employment of Dr. Einstein on matters of a secret nature. It seems unlikely that a man of his background could, in such a short time, become a loyal American citizen." So it was that the greatest scientific genius in the United States was denied any active knowledge of the country's greatest scientific project.
-The first ever letter sent by airmail was sent in 1785 via hot air balloon by William Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's son.
-In around 1752, French forces were fortifying positions in rivers and forests in modern day Ohio and portions of three neighboring states. The Ohio was central to French claims in North America but the British viewed The Ohio as theirs, an expansion of colonial Virginia. Robert Dinwiddie, Virginia's Governor drafted an Ultimatum demanding that France vacate The Ohio. Someone had to deliver the message to the French outpost 500 miles away. In the Fall of 1753, George Washington volunteered for the assignment. At the age of 21, Washington felt invincible and was about to take center stage in a grueling showdown between Britain and France. During the mission, an Indian guide turns hostile and shoots at Washington, nearly killing him. Two days later, while crossing the storm swollen Allegheny River on a raft, Washington falls into the frigid water and nearly drowns. He survives but nearly freezes to death. He loses the sense of cockiness and after another two weeks, returns to Williamsburg a changed man.
-In 1887, visionary Thomas Edison opened a new laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. He designed and built the facility himself for the quick and economical development of his inventions.
-Plato became a student of Socrates and focused his attention to the question of what constitutes a virtuous life. Soon after Socrates' death sentence and disillusionment with the behavior of an oligarchy known as the Thirty Tyrants that assumed power in 404 BC, Plato turned to a life of philosophical reflection and writing.
-Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested approximately thirty times during the Civil Rights Movement and assaulted on at least four occasions. His efforts proved immensely influential as the conditions for blacks changed drastically over the following decades. He was awarded five honorary degrees and named Man of The Year by Times Magazine in 1963.
-Many people back in ancient times believed that Gods lived all around humans, laughing, walking, talking, and eating just as normal people did. Many cultures believed in a God or Goddess for just about every aspect of human life. It was believed that divinity could be granted to a living being.
-Cicero writes that Julius Caesar received the marks of deification, including the divine marks of his rod, his staff, and his crown, right before his assassination. Some other scholars, are certain that Julius Caesar was only deified after his death. Shortly after his death, a cult based on the life and possible divinity of Julius Caesar came together, remaining popular for many years.
-Did you know? In 1903, Dr. H. Nelson Jackson won a $50 bet when he and co-driver Sewall Crocker became the first to cross the U.S. in an automobile. The two-month trip from San Francisco to New York City cost Jackson an estimated $8,000.
-In the painting "School of Athens", master artist Raphael portrayed famous thinkers from before his time in all types of poses and gestures. Not knowing what they looked like, he used portraits of himself and his contemporaries to serve the composition. For instance, in the place of Plato, he used Leonardo. Michelangelo is in the background (depicted as Heraclitus) leaning against a block. Not wanting to appear egotistical, Raphael put himself on the right side of the canvas amongst other ancient greats. As time would show us, he fit right in.
-Nikola Tesla was born around midnight, on July 10, 1856 during a fierce lightning storm. According to family legend, midway through the birth, the midwife wrung her hands and declared the lightning a bad omen. This child will be a child of darkness, she said, to which his mother replied: “No. He will be a child of light.”
-Michelangelo had been born on the sixth of March, 1475, at an hour, he informed his assistants, when Mercury and Venus were in the house of Jupiter. Such a fortunate arrangement of the planets had foretold "success in the arts which delight the senses, such as painting, sculpture and architecture." Michelangelo's Pieta would later win praise for surpassing not only the sculptures of all of Michelangelo's contemporaries but even those of the ancient Greeks and Romans themselves - the standards by which all art was judged.
-Salvador Dali would put a tin plate on the floor and then sit by a chair beside it holding a spoon over the plate. The moment he began to doze off the spoon would slip from his fingers and clang on the plate, immediately waking him to capture the surreal dream images.
-After the early death of his father, Charlie Chaplin's mother was put in a mental hospital and the young boy and his brother had to try to make a living by themselves.
As both his parents were in show business, Chaplin and his brother decided to follow suit. Today, he's known as one of, if not the greatest actor during the silent film era.
-On April 14, 1865, Lincoln signed legislation creating the U.S. Secret Service. That evening, he was shot at Ford’s Theatre. Even if the Secret Service had been established earlier, it wouldn’t have saved Lincoln: The original mission of the law enforcement agency was to combat widespread currency counterfeiting. It was not until 1901, after the killing of two other presidents, that the Secret Service was formally assigned to protect the commander-in-chief.
-In October 1815, Napoleon was exiled to the remote, British-held island of Saint Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean. He died there on May 5, 1821, at age 51, most likely from stomach cancer. (During his time in power, Napoleon often posed for paintings with his hand in his vest, leading to some speculation after his death that he had been plagued by stomach pain for years.) Napoleon was buried on the island despite his request to be laid to rest “on the banks of the Seine, among the French people I have loved so much.” In 1840, his remains were returned to France and entombed in a crypt at Les Invalides in Paris, where other French military leaders are interred.
-According to Greek history, the first marathon commemorated the run of a soldier named Pheidippides from a battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C. According to legend, Pheidippides ran approximately 26.2 miles to announce the defeat of the Persians to some anxious Athenians. Due to pushing and exceeding his bodies limit, he delivered the message "Niki!" (Victory!) then keeled over and died.
-The trial and execution of Socrates took place in 399 BC. Socrates was tried on two charges: corrupting the youth and impiety. More specifically, Socrates' accusers cited two "impious" acts: "failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges" and "introducing new deities".
-Henry David Thoreau went to Walden Pond and lived in the woods for 2 years. Besides having a quieter place to live, think and write, Thoreau remarked "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
-Andrew Carnegie had started cultivating his interests in books, music, the fine arts, learning, and technical education early in life. He began to set up trust funds "for the improvement of mankind." The first were for "free public libraries"; some 3,000 were scattered over the English-speaking world. In 1895 the magnificent Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh was opened, housing an art gallery, a natural history museum (which also financed archeological expeditions), and a music hall. Originally under the institute was a group of technical schools which blossomed into the Carnegie Institute of Technology, today the basis of the Carnegie Mellon University. The Carnegie Institution of Washington was set up to encourage pure research in the natural and physical sciences. He built Carnegie Hall in New York City. The Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was created to provide pensions for university professors. Carnegie established the Endowment for International Peace to seek the abolition of war.
In all, Carnegie's benefactions totaled $350 million, $288 million going to the United States and $62 million to Britain and the British Empire. The continuation of his broad interests was put under the general charge of the Carnegie Corporation, with an endowment of $125 million. Carnegie died on Aug. 11, 1919, at his summer home near Lenox, Mass.
-On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth crept into the presidential box at Ford’s Theater, shot Lincoln in the head, and then leapt from the balcony and into one of the most dramatic manhunts in American history. But Booth was just one of the prowlers in Washington on that bloody night. In Lafayette Park, Lewis Powell forced his way into Secretary of State William Seward’s bedroom and stabbed him repeatedly with a knife. At the Kirkwood Hotel, George Atzerodt was overpowered by fear before he could make his planned attack on Vice President Andrew Johnson. The men sought to reinvigorate the Southern cause but within two months they would all be dead, shot or hanged, along with co-conspirators Mary Surratt and David Herold. Seward survived Powell’s assault, but Lincoln died the next day. At his deathbed, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton offered an epitaph: “Now he belongs to the ages.”
-When Henry Ford was a young man, he repaired watches for his friends and family - and he made his own tools to do it. He used a filed shingle nail as a screwdriver and a corset stay as tweezers.
Ford became Chief Engineer of the Edison Illuminating Company's main plant in 1893, and was on-call 24 hours a day to keep Detroit's electricity running. He left the position 6 years later - with Edison's encouragement to work on his plans for a gasoline automobile.