“Facts are stubborn things…”

In the years leading up to the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, the rebel-rousing Sons of Liberty used an engraving of what they called “The Boston Massacre” to encourage anti-British sentiments.   The engraving, done by Paul Revere, shows a line of British soldiers coldly firing their bayoneted muskets into a crowd of … Read more

“You have the right to remain silent.”

You probably know the famed “Miranda Rights” warning police are supposed to recite to someone they are arresting. Even if you’ve never been arrested and heard it spoken by a law enforcement officer in real life, it’s spoken by characters in thousands of TV shows, movies, and books. The exact language varies from state to … Read more

The odd links between “Louie Louie” and Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe At Any Speed”…

It’s truly odd, but true: the renowned rock song “Louie Louie” and the history-making book about car safety by Ralph Nader, titled Unsafe At Any Speed, are connected by both a quote and by a date. “Louie Louie” was written in 1955 by the pioneering American R&B singer and songwriter Richard Berry (1935-1997). In a … Read more

“Say it ain’t so, Joe!”

One of the most famous quotes in sports history is linked to the date September 28, 1920. On that day, “Shoeless Joe” Jackson supposedly admitted during testimony to a grand jury that he was one of eight Chicago White Sox baseball players who took bribes to let the Cincinnati Reds win the 1919 World Series. … Read more

The story, the man – and the dog – behind the phrase “man’s best friend”

September 23rd is the anniversary of what is said to be the origin of a dog-related saying that’s as or more famous than “Love me, love my dog.” The saying is generally heard in the form “A dog is a man’s best friend.” Sometimes it’s given as “A man’s best friend is his dog.” Either … Read more

“He who destroys a good book kills reason itself.”

In the 1630s, England’s infamous “Star Chamber” (sort of a politically-oriented version of the Spanish Inquisition) banned the printing or sale of “any seditious, scismaticall, or offensive Bookes or Pamphlets.” The Star Chamber was abolished in 1641. But two years later, the British House of Commons passed a new censorship law. Although it was called … Read more

“No rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

On March 6, 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court issued it’s controversial decision on Scott v. Sandford — generally referred to as “the Dred Scott case.” The plaintiff, Dred Scott, was a slave purchased from the Blow family of St. Louis in 1831 by U.S. Army surgeon John Emerson. Over the next 12 years, Emerson took … Read more

“Wise Latina” and “Too big to fail” – two top quotes of 2009 that were actually uttered years ago

Every year, a number of “quotes of the year” lists are published. My favorite is the annual list issued by Fred R. Shapiro, editor of the excellent Yale Book of Quotations. But my own picks for the top quotes of 2009 include some that are not on Fred’s list. Two of them share an unusual … Read more