Little Known Things
The American Republican Party once attempted an armed Coup d' Etat of the United States. The GOP was so incensed by the election of Franklin Roosevelt that in 1931 they developed a plan to overthrow the government using disaffected veterans and sympathetic elements of the US armed forces. To lead them, and head up the new government as a figurehead, they enlisted the help of 2-time Medal of Honor winner Marine General Smedley Butler. Butler was a hardcore Republican but when he realized what the GOP was planning he became alarmed and, after collecting damning evidence, he went to Roosevelt, a man he despised, and alerted him of the plot. Roosevelt put a team of security investigators onto the case and they broke the plot open and rounded up many of the ringleaders, some of whom were prominent and well known Republican businessmen. At the time, the US was in the depths of the Great Depression and misery was rampant. Roosevelt decided that exposing the plot to the general public would be seriously demoralizing to the country as a whole and to well-meaning and loyal Republicans, so he had the details squashed. The New York Times got wind of the plot and reported on it, but before the story could get legs, Roosevelt had it squashed. The Businessman's Plot, as it became known, remains the biggest example of Republican perfidy and the lengths they will go to to achieve their ends.
Up until the 1930s Santa Claus was seen sometimes as a fat fellow in green outfit or a thin Bishop, but it took Coca Cola to make him into the rotund fellow wearing red and white that we know today. In the late 1920s Coke began a widespread ad campaign with Santa as the main theme and dressed in an outfit of red and white, the exact same color and hue as the Coca Cola product. Everything from playing cards to serving trays were produced with the rotund Santa in his Coca Cola colors, holding a bottle of Coke and a smile. The ad was extremely successful and propelled Coca Cola far beyond its biggest rival at the time, Moxie. Moxie would never fully recover and while you can still buy it, it's nothing more than a footnote, though during the 20s Coke and Moxie sold neck-and-neck. And ever since, Santa has always been the unofficial spokesman for Coca-Cola. acknowledged even by Pepsi, which has ads showing Santa drinking Pepsi in the "off" season, and Santa always wears Coca Cola colors.
I am always amazed by the story of Alcuin of York. He lived during the time of Charlemagne and was widely recognized as the smartest man of his time. In those days, the mid 700s, books were hand-copied by monks and usually consisted of bibles, psalm books and hymnals. There wasn't much in the way of literature. You can still see some of these bibles in places like the Gardner Museum in Boston and the thing that is striking is not that they are in Latin, but that they are one long sentence with no spaces of punctuation. It was Alcuin who invented the punctuation we use today, and put the spaces between the words and developed capitalization and so on. He paved the way for literature that was accessible to the common man by making books more readable and more understandable.