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Greatest Facts Contest: The Winners!

We've just been handed an envelope that contains the results of our Greatest Facts contest that coincided with the release of our new American History book. The winners are...

1) The U.S. Army suffered its worst defeat in 1791 on the Wabash River to a confederation of Eastern Woodlands tribes under Miami Chief Little Turtle. General Arthur St. Clair's force suffered nearly 900 casualties out of 1400 men, effectively wiping out 25% of the standing army at the time. (Submitted by Ross G. Shaw)
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2) Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on U.S. paper currency. It appeared on $1 Silver Certificates, Series 1886, 1891, and 1896. (Submitted by Darrin Ambrose)
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3) Alexander Hamilton was involved in America's first sex scandal. He had an affair with Maria Reynolds and paid nearly $1000 to her husband, who had been demanding blackmail money from Hamilton in exchange for sleeping with his wife. When Maria finally divorced her husband, her lawyer was Aaron Burr. (Submitted by Erica Ma)
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4) Jimmy Carter was the first US President born in a hospital. (Submitted by Abhinav Praneet)
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5) At 53 square miles, the Denver airport is larger than the land area of Boston (48 square miles). (Submitted by Danny Groner)

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6) Smokey the Bear is the only fictional character to have his own ZIP code - 20252. (Submitted by Brian A. Henegar)
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7) The inventor of Lincoln Logs, John Lloyd Wright, is the son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. John was also an architect, and was inspired by the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, which his father designed. (Submitted by Jana Warner)
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8) Ben Franklin composed his own epitaph when he was 22 years old. (It wasn't used on his tombstone, though.) (Submitted by Kanika Wahi)
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9) During Lincoln's campaign for the presidency, a Democrat named Valentine Tapley from Missouri swore that he would never shave again if Abe was elected. He didn't shave from November 1860 until he died in 1910. His beard reached a length of 12 feet 6 inches. (Submitted by Haley Jackson)
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10) Jimmy Carter is the only president to serve a full term without nominating a Supreme Court justice. (Submitted by Kimberly Campbell)

Congrats, everyone! We'll be in touch shortly about how to claim your prizes. If this has inspired you to go on an American History binge, check out our new book!

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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