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High school history class is great, it provides students with a very general foundation of history. Students learn the big names and dates, but teachers tend to gloss over the controversial topics. This post will shed a little light on the more scandalous tidbits of American history.

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1. Two African American senators were elected after the abolition.


Many history teachers tend to neglect to mention that fairly soon after slavery was abolished, the African American population had a lot of momentum. In 1869, Hiram Rhodes Revels is elected as a republican senator from Mississippi. He was the first African American senator and he served from 1869 to 1871. Shortly after Mr.Revels, Blanche Kelso Bruce was elected a senator. Bruce was a democrat and was also from Mississippi. While Mr. Bruce was not the first African American senator, he was the first to serve a full term (Shaping the Constitution). It's interesting to think that before America had Jim Crow Laws and Civil Rights movement, that we had two African American senators.

Shaping the Constitution . N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. <.>.

2. City Life during the Gilded Age was fairly horrid.

Most students hear the gilded age described as this wonderful time of opportunity and technological advance, but in reality it was far from that. Majority of the people of this time lived in something called a tenement. An article written about tenements stated that "three fourths of New York's population" lived in these buildings (Edward). Tenements were apartments that were often shared by a whole family. These people had horrid living conditions; cramped living conditions and often didn't have access to clean water. In addition to their living conditions being awful, most people didn't have enough money for rent and were forced to share these shanties with a large group of their family. So while this particular period of time is remembered for being a time of endless opportunity, it was in reality a time of poverty.

Edward, Marshall. "New York Tenements ." Internet Archive . N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2014. .

3. Abortion was legal in the early 19th century.


Most people forget that abortion was indeed legal before Roe v. Wade. Abortion was legal in the early months of pregnancy, until a point called quickening. Quickening is defined as the "first fetal movements", they vary in women and can happen anywhere from 13-16 weeks (American Pregnancy Org.). Many women did not know they were pregnant before the time of quickening, therefore the baby was not considered alive until this point. Abortion later became illegal because the government feared that the population would be over run by the immigrant population, but before this abortion was a very common thing to do.

American Pregnancy Organization . N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .

4. Graham crackers and Corn Flakes were developed as anti-aphrodisiac.


The delicious vehicle we commonly use for s'mores was originally developed to prevent unnatural spilling of the seed. The government was very concerned about the white population dwindling and they thought a big cause of this was masturbation. They were very concerned that this would result in people no longer being able to have children and they longed for a way to stop them, enter corn flakes and graham crackers. They believed that these bland, wheat foods would curb their desires and allow them to have more children (Aym). We now know that "unnatural spilling" of the seed doesn't lessen your ability to have children but we still enjoy these snacks today.

Aym, Terrence. Foods that kill the sex drive . N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .

5. A long lost romantic... friend?


Many women in the 19th century had a romantic friend. A romantic friend was another woman that she had a close, intimate relationship with. This was a very common and accepted relationship. Most romantic friends would exchange very emotional letters throughout the year and would visit each other about once a year. It was so common for this to happen, that the husband would often leave the two alone for their visit. The women would often share a bed and be very affectionate toward each other.This however did not make the women lesbian or change their status by any mean (Thomas). The concept of this happening, and it being totally normal, before the Lavender Scare is mind boggling.

Thomas, Lincy. How to Explain a Romantic Friendship . N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .

6. The KKK wasn't always taboo.

During the 1920s Klan membership skyrocketed. The Klan was not seen as being backwards or taboo, it was actually seen as being patriotic and was a common thing to do. In this time, 1 in 5 Americans was a member and membership numbers went up to 3-8 million (American Experience.) Many types of people joined the Klan, such as doctors, lawyers, and even ministers. The Klan promoted fundamentalism, patriotism, and white supremacy. This ideals appealed to the people who were uncomfortable with the change from rural to urban since the Klan attacked urbanites (American Experience). The Klan is now seen as a backwoods and almost voodoo sort of practice, but it used to be very acceptable and almost promoted.

American Experience . N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .

7. The Lavender (not Red) scare.

While the Red scare was happening, an even bigger Lavender scare was happening. The Lavender scare was pretty much the fear of gay and lesbian citizens. After World War II when Americans felt that the homosexual community threatened their traditional way of life. Homosexuals or presumed homosexuals could lose their jobs and had a harder time getting hired. Gay people were broadcasted as perverts and pedophiles to the society to public and announcements of this were made in schools (Wiley and Burke). This was obviously was a very hard time for gay people and they felt the need to stay in the closet. This part of gay history is often skipped over since it was such a controversial topic.

Wiley, Andrea, and Josh Burke. The Lavender Scare . N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .

8. The 50s; suburbia, pie, and martinis??

The 50s is often remembered as being a time of picket fences and house wives, but most people were avid drinkers. What would be considered heavy drinking today was far more acceptable in the 50s (Kolota). People often held martini luncheons and had cocktail parties. Many women were unhappy with their lives because they longed for more. Women longed to make something for themselves and have a purpose in their life. People felt unsatisfied with their suburban lives and often invested happiness into material goods. People were often miserable with themselves and so they turned to drinking to ease the pain. So while there were a lot of picket fences and pies, there was often alot of unhappiness and drinking.

Kolota, Gina. Alcohol Is A Problem When It's A Problem. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014

9. Nixon and the secret bombing.

In 1969, Richard Nixon authorized bombing of Cambodia. This bombing was top secret and only 5 congress men knew about it. Nixon believed that the North Vietnamese were transporting supplies through Cambodia and hoped to destroy their route. The bombing of Cambodia lasted until 1973, and the casualties were about 100,000 Cambodians (Ohio History Central). These raids caused the war to become even more unpopular. Eventually Nixon did send ground troops into Cambodia, but these bombings continued for a few years after that. It does not appear that Nixon learned his lesson about secrets as Watergate followed shortly after.

Ohio History Connection . N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .

10. Martin Luther King Jr. was a still just a person.

Martin Luther King Jr. was no doubt was of the greatest and most influential people of the civil rights movement. He is held up to high standard and many people seem to forget that he was human too and made mistakes. While King was still a great leader, he did cheat on his wife. The only reason the public knows so much about King's personal life is that the FBI was allowed to bug his rooms and they revealed that he was a serial adulterer (Stone). While King should defiantly be remembered for more than cheating on his wife, it just shows that he was a human too. He was still a very important and influential person in the Civil Rights movement.

Stone, Jeff. Martin Luther King Cheated On His Wife & Other Lesser-Known Facts About The Civil Rights Leader For MLK Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .

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