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sultanknish via YouTube
sultanknish via YouTube

What Early-20th Century American Presidents Sounded Like

sultanknish via YouTube
sultanknish via YouTube

Everyone knows JFK's Boston accent and, thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, is more than familiar with the voices of recent presidents like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama (who, according to some, sounds more than a little bit like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). But what did President Calvin "Silent Cal" Coolidge sound like when he deigned to speak? Or how about 23rd President Benjamin Harrison, the first president to be captured on audio? Wonder no more—here's what nine presidents sounded like. (You'll have to continue using your imagination for Chester A. Arthur and all of his predecessors.)

1. BENJAMIN HARRISON

Twenty-third U.S. president Benjamin Harrison, who actually served his term in the 19th century, is believed to be the first POTUS to have his voice preserved for the ages. The 1889 recording was made on a Edison wax cylinder.

2. WILLIAM MCKINLEY

McKinley was known for making campaign speeches right from the front porch of his home in Canton, Ohio—this is one of them. He won the election, of course, and a second term as well—but was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz six months in.

3. THEODORE ROOSEVELT

During his 1912 campaign, Roosevelt recorded several speeches for commercial release through the Edison company. This one addresses the poor wages and grueling hours experienced by industry workers of the day, but you can also listen to three others at the Library of Congress.

4. WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT

This campaign speech about how the Republican party values the American farmer was recorded in 1908 in Hot Springs, Virginia. Taft won the election later that year.

5. WOODROW WILSON

Compared to today's fiery speeches, this 1912 campaign stop by then-Governor of New Jersey Woodrow Wilson seems downright dull. 

6. WARREN G. HARDING

Harding's famous "Return to Normalcy" campaign speech from 1920 struck a chord with Americans who were eager to get back to how life was before World War I. They voted Harding into the White House by a landslide.

7. CALVIN COOLIDGE

The president known as "Silent Cal" was a man of notoriously few words, so it's a bit funny that he was featured in the first presidential film with sound.

8. HERBERT HOOVER

Hoover may not have campaigned so hard had he known what was about to happen. This clip shows the future 31st U.S. president asking voters to visit the polls for the 1928 election.

9. FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

All of the presidents make speeches, but not many deliver lines that become as historic as FDR's "a date which will live in infamy." You can listen to the full speech, delivered the day after the Pearl Harbor attacks, above.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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History
Alexander Hamilton’s Son Also Died in a Duel
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton on July 11, 1804, the scene must have been eerily familiar to the former Secretary of the Treasury. After all, his son died in a similar setting just three years earlier.

On November 20, 1801, 19-year-old Philip Hamilton and his friend Richard Price had a run-in with a young lawyer named George I. Eacker at Manhattan's Park Theatre. A supporter of Thomas Jefferson, Eacker had delivered a Fourth of July speech that harshly criticized the elder Hamilton, and his son was apparently determined to take revenge.

On that fateful day in November, according to biographer Ron Chernow, Price and the younger Hamilton "barged into a box where Eacker was enjoying the show ... [then] began taunting Eacker about his Fourth of July oration."

As onlookers started to stare, Eacker asked the two young men to go into the lobby, where he called the pair "damned rascals." Tempers rose, and although the trio went to a tavern in an attempt to settle their differences, they failed miserably. Later the same night, Eacker had a letter from Price challenging him to duel.

Customs of the time meant that Eacker had little choice but to accept or face social humiliation. He and Price met that Sunday in New Jersey, where the penalties for dueling were less severe than in New York. They exchanged four shots without injury—and considered the matter between them closed.

Philip Hamilton wasn't so lucky. Cooler heads tried to negotiate a truce with Eacker's second, but their efforts were also for naught. Once the duel had been scheduled for November 23 on a sandbar in today's Jersey City, the elder Hamilton advised his son to preserve his honor by wasting his first shot—by waiting until Eacker fired first or firing into the air, a move the French called the delope. The intent was to cut the duel short, and, if the other side fired to kill, plainly show they had blood on their hands.

Philip seemed to follow his father's advice. For about a minute after the duel officially began, neither man made a move. Then, Eacker raised his pistol, and Philip did too. Eacker fired, and Philip shot back, though it may have been an involuntary reaction to having been hit. The bullet tore through Philip's body and settled in his left arm. Despite being rushed to Manhattan, he died early the next morning.

On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr also departed to New Jersey, this time Weehawken, to settle their infamous differences. This time, the elder Hamilton fired the first shot—and he aimed to miss. (According to his second, anyway.) Burr, on the other hand, seemed to have every intention of connecting with his target. He shot Hamilton in the stomach, and the bullet lodged in his spine.

Just like Philip, Hamilton died the next day.

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©Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Inside the Kitchen of Thomas Jefferson's Acclaimed—and Enslaved—Chef James Hemings
 ©Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello
©Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

James Hemings once prepared lavish dishes for America's founding fathers at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's Virginia plantation. Though enslaved, he trained in France to become one of colonial America's most accomplished chefs. Now, archaeologists have uncovered the kitchen where Hemings created his elaborate banquets, LiveScience reports.

Researchers at Monticello are conducting a long-term effort, the Mountaintop Project, to restore plantation premises, including slave quarters, to their original appearance. Archaeologists excavated a previously filled-in cellar in the main house's South Pavilion, where they found artifacts like bones, toothbrushes, beads, and shards of glass and ceramics. Underneath layers of dirt, experts also uncovered the kitchen's original brick floor, remnants of a fireplace, and the foundations of four waist-high stew stoves.

"Stew stoves are the historic equivalent of a modern-day stovetop or cooking range," archaeological field researcher manager Crystal Ptacek explains in an online video chronicling the find. Each contained a small hole for hot coals; centuries later, the cellar floor still contains remains of ash and charcoal from blazing fires. Hemings himself would have toiled over these stoves.

During the colonial period, wealthy families had their slaves prepare large, labor-intensive meals. These multi-course feasts required stew stoves for boiling, roasting, and frying. Archaeologists think that Jefferson might have upgraded his kitchen after returning from Paris: Stew stoves were a rarity in North America, but de rigueur for making haute French cuisine.

Hemings traveled with Jefferson to France in the 1780s, where for five years he was trained in the French culinary arts. There, Hemings realized he was technically a free man. He met free black people and also learned he could sue for his freedom under French law, according to NPR.

And yet he returned to the U.S. to cook for Jefferson's family and guests, perhaps because he didn't want to be separated from his family members at Monticello, including his sister, Sally. He later negotiated his freedom from Jefferson and trained his brother Peter as his replacement. Hemings ended up cooking for a tavern keeper in Baltimore, and in 1801, shortly after turning down an offer from now-president Jefferson to be his personal chef, he died by suicide.

"We're thinking that James Hemings must have had ideals and aspirations about his life that could not be realized in his time and place," Susan Stein, senior curator at Monticello, told NPR in 2015. "And those factors probably contributed to his unhappiness and his depression, and ultimately to his death."

Hemings contributed to early America's culinary landscape through dessert recipes like snow eggs and by introducing colonial diners to macaroni and cheese, among other dishes. He also assisted today's historians by completing a 1796 inventory of Monticello's kitchen supplies—and he's probably left further clues in the estate's newly uncovered kitchen, says Gayle Jessup White, Monticello's community engagement officer—and one of James's relatives.

"My great-great-great-grandfather Peter Hemings learned to cook French cuisine from his brother James on this stove," White tells Mental Floss. "It was a spiritual moment for me to walk into the uncovered remains of Monticello's first kitchen, where my ancestors spent much of their lives. This discovery breathes life into the people who lived, worked and died at Monticello, and I hope people connect with their stories."

[h/t Live Science]

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