That One Time Abraham Lincoln Threw a Wedding Reception for Tom Thumb

It’s a bit unbelievable to think that Barack Obama would hold a White House wedding reception for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but something just like that happened almost 150 years ago when Abraham Lincoln held a White House reception for General Tom Thumb and his wife.

The 2'11" Charles Stratton had toured with P.T. Barnum as “General Tom Thumb” since the age of five, making a name for himself and counting no less than Queen Victoria among his fans (and was once attacked by her poodle). When Barnum came across a similarly small woman named Lavinia Warren and hired her to be part of his traveling crew, Stratton was smitten.

“The Little Queen of Beauty” agreed to marry General Tom Thumb and the world was completely riveted by their so-called “fairy wedding” on February 10, 1863, the social event of the season. Only 2,000 people were lucky enough to receive invitations, but ever the promoter, Barnum held a wedding reception at the Metropolitan Hotel and charged $75 for each of the 5,000 tickets he sold.

But it wasn’t the Strattons’ only reception. They embarked upon a three-year “honeymoon tour,” including a stop at one of the most famous residences in the world: the White House. The guests were a veritable who’s who of D.C. at the time, but there was one notable person missing from the festivities: Lincoln’s son, Robert, who was embarrassed by the triviality of the event. It’s said that when Mary Todd Lincoln asked him to reconsider his attendance at the reception, Robert replied, “No, mother, I do not propose to assist in entertaining Tom Thumb. My notions of duty, perhaps, are somewhat different than yours.”

His younger brother Tad was delighted, however. In her memoirs, Lavinia said she overheard young Tad telling the First Lady, “Mother, if you were a little woman like Mrs. Stratton, you would look just like her!”

Robert may have thought the reception silly, but his father treated it - and the newlyweds - with great dignity. One party-goer recalled, “It was pleasant to see their tall host bend, and bend, to take their little hands in his great palm, holding Madame’s with especial chariness, as though it were a robin’s egg, and he were fearful of breaking it.”

Apparently President and Mrs. Lincoln got the Strattons an “elaborate set of fire screens” as a gift.

The New York Times wrote up an insanely detailed account of the wedding and reception at the Metropolitan, if you care to read it.

Take a Rare Glimpse Inside the World's Largest Seed Reserve

Since 2008, the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen has been home to the world’s largest seed storage facility, known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The 11,000-square-foot facility contains nearly 865,000 seed samples—many of which are crops—and functions as both a reserve in the event of a catastrophe and as a backup for other seed banks around the world. Countries can send samples for preservation and access the reserves as needed (the effort is funded by Norway in conjunction with the organization Crop Trust). The vault was opened for the first time last year in light of the destruction caused by the Syrian War.

Access to the fault is notoriously limited, but AJ+ has a glimpse inside on its YouTube page. It’s a rare look at a place that isn’t known for its looks, but holds some of the planet’s most beautiful and valuable offerings.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

This Infographic Explains the Difference Between Perfume and Eau de Toilette

Ever wondered why you can't smell the perfume you dabbed on earlier this morning? Maybe it's because you aren't actually wearing perfume. Instead, you likely applied eau de toilette, cologne, or another type of fragrance.

These sprays contain different concentrations of fragrance oil dissolved in solutions of alcohol and water. Scents with a heavier amount of oil are stronger, they're more expensive, and they also last for longer periods of time. Even the most discerning shopper might not know whether to opt for parfum or eu de parfum when perusing bottles of Chanel No. 5 at the fragrance counter—or even realize there's a difference. 

If you'd prefer to smell like a few roses instead of a field of them, it's handy to know the difference between perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, cologne, and eau fraiche when you're out shopping for a new scent. Lifehacker recently ran this handy infographic by Real Men Real Style, which breaks down the strength of each fragrance along with how long it lasts. Use it as a guide to purchase the perfect product for you.

[h/t Lifehacker]


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