Getty Images/Erin McCarthy
Getty Images/Erin McCarthy

Talk Like a Founding Father This Fourth of July

Getty Images/Erin McCarthy
Getty Images/Erin McCarthy

Not sure what to talk about at your Flossy Fourth party? Use these bon mots from the founding fathers. 

1. The Words: “Facts are stubborn things.”

Original Context: Said during closing arguments at the Boston Massacre trial by John Adams. An accomplished attorney, Adams was defending the British soldiers on trial for murder.

Say what? That’s right, Adams was the defense attorney for the British Captain Preston and his soldiers. The reason? The defendants could not find anyone willing to serve as counsel and, in Adams’ own words, “…counsel ought to be the very last thing that an accused person should [lack] in a free country.” The facts, as Adam presented them at trial, led to acquittals on the basis of self-defense.

How to Use At Your Flossy Fourth Party: Folks love a good party debate, and America’s Independence Day offers a wonderful array of debatable topics. But plenty of folks love to present points sans substantiation. Clearly, you will be well-read and prepared to provide evidence in support of any claim you make which makes you the perfect candidate to throw down this debate-ending statement on the stubborn nature of factual things. 

2. The Words: “I like a little rebellion now and then.”

Original Context: Thomas Jefferson wrote these words in a letter to Abigail Adams. The topic was the 1787 Shays’ Rebellion and Jefferson’s hope that Shays and his fellow rebels would be pardoned for their actions. “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it were always to be kept alive," he wrote. "I like a little rebellion now and then.”

How to Use At Your Flossy Fourth Party: You’ve enjoyed one scrumptious bite of salsa-laden tortilla chip and are left with another naked chip half. You know how much better the rest of that chip is going to taste if it takes another dive into the salsa. Tossing decorum out the window, you propel that chip, bitten-side-first, back into the salsa for a most rebellious, most satisfying double-dip. Your friend complains. You use Jefferson's words.

3. The Words: “By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.”

Original Context: In the late 1760s, a series of 12 letters was published in the Pennsylvania Chronicle lamenting British taxation of the colonies among other perceived injustices. They were signed, simply, “A Farmer.” The contents of the letters spread throughout the colonies and were published as a pamphlet, adding fuel to the growing revolutionary fire. The author of these letters was John Dickinson, a lawyer and legislator who owned Delaware farmland.

This particular quotation is not actually from the letters themselves, but from some song lyrics he penned following the success of the letters. Dickinson was as effective a songwriter as he was a letter-writer: The song was printed in the Boston Gazette and reprinted many times over, serving as a battle hymn of sorts for the colonists.

How to Use At Your Flossy Fourth Party: Perfect to inspire your team when everyone decides it’s a good time to play Red Rover. You can add something about how whoever the other team “sends right over” is going to fall instead.

Find these and more words that made America in We Hold These Truthspart of our Flossify the Fourth collection at the mental_floss online store.



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NASA, Getty Images
Watch Apollo 11 Launch
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
NASA, Getty Images

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, on its way to the moon. In the video below, Mark Gray shows slow-motion footage of the launch (a Saturn V rocket) and explains in glorious detail what's going on from a technical perspective—the launch is very complex, and lots of stuff has to happen just right in order to get a safe launch. The video is mesmerizing, the narration is informative. Prepare to geek out about rockets! (Did you know the hold-down arms actually catch on fire after the rocket lifts off?)

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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