13 Times History Out-Historied Other History

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Vote up the newly uncovered historical events that grab your attention.

Some events in history are pretty well-known. You likely have some familiarity with the sinking of RMS Titanicthe first time man walked on the moon, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, whether it's from school, the media, or popular culture. These are game-changers, watershed moments, times when an opportunity presented itself or, just as often, when disaster and hardship struck.

Deaths of world leaders, catastrophic accidents, and milestones in history receive attention at the time they occur, as well, often overshadowing other happenings on the same day or around the same time. As a result, a lot of really important things fall by the wayside and go unnoticed. We uncovered some pretty big historical events that have been outshined by, well, history itself. They grabbed our well-deserved attention - what about you? 

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  • 1
    1,146 VOTES

    The Peshtigo Fire Took Place On The Same Day As The Great Chicago Fire And Was Far More Deadly

    The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 started on October 8 and kept burning until the early hours of October 10. Despite claims that the inferno broke out after a cow kicked over a lantern in a barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O'Leary, it's not entirely clear exactly how the fire began.

    Regardless, flames swept north- and eastward from the southwest side of Chicago quickly. By the time the fire was brought under control, 300 people had perished and 100,000 individuals were left without homes. In the aftermath of the disaster, looting and crime resulted in even more destruction. 

    The fire in Chicago received a lot of media attention at the time and books continue to be written about the disaster, overshadowing the deadliest forest fire in US history that broke out in northeastern Wisconsin on the very same night. 

    The summer of 1871 was especially dry in the American Midwest and when a fire started (perhaps by railway workers clearing land) on October 8, it moved "like a tornado" - eventually extending into eight Wisconsin counties. It also reached parts of Michigan.

    Towns like Peshtigo were essentially destroyed, with residents taking refuge at the nearby Peshtigo River to survive. Amelia Desrochers recalled:

    The sky got very red... A lot of people perished because they thought it was the end of the world. They got tired of fighting the fire and gave up.

    The exact number of deaths that resulted from the Peshtigo Fire isn't known, but estimates range from 1,200 to 2,400 lives lost.

    1,146 votes
  • Shot while watching a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, President Abraham Lincoln passed on April 15; his body was transported from the nation's capital to Springfield, IL, between April 21 and May 3, with the president finally being buried on May 4. With the nation in mourning, Lincoln's funeral train passed through hundreds of towns, and as many as 1 million individuals viewed his body.

    On the day the funeral train arrived in Erie, PA, and continued onto Ohio, thousands of Union soldiers - many of whom had been prisoners of war - climbed aboard the Sultana, a steamship on the Mississippi River.  Docked in Vicksburg, MS, the Sultana was supposed to take the men to New Orleans, receiving $10 per officer and $5 for each enlisted man aboard. Despite only having the capacity for 346 passengers, the Sultana left Vicksburg with between 2,100 and 2,400 men on board.

    Conditions on the river and the excess weight of the passengers aboard the Sultana caused one of its boilers to explode, claiming hundreds of lives immediately. Desperate passengers jumped into the water, but many couldn't swim or were too weak after having spent time in a POW camp. Historians estimate 1,800 of the individuals aboard the Sultana died from drowning, hypothermia, or injuries they sustained in the explosion.

    1,054 votes
  • Michael Jackson's Death Overshadowed The Passing Of Farrah Fawcett
    Photo: ABC Television / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    When news of Michael Jackson's death broke on June 25, 2009, music fans around the world were shocked. Jackson, 50 years old, had passed from cardiac arrest at his home - an event that was later ruled a homicide. Ultimately, it was a prescription medication provided to Jackson by his doctor, Conrad Murray, that caused his heart to stop.

    Hours before the media reported about Jackson's passing, there were reports that actress Farrah Fawcett had passed away. Fawcett, perhaps best known for her role on Charlie's Angels, was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. She was thought to have beaten the disease in 2007, but a recurrence that same year later resulted in her demise.

    One of Fawcett's friends, Alana Stewart, had a unique perspective on the fact that the actress's passing seemed to fall out of the news cycle once Jackson's death was announced:

    I always had the sense that Farrah would kind of be getting a laugh out of that and saying "Thank God, they're over there, finally... They're leaving me alone. The paparazzi, the reporters, the news cameras."

    1,290 votes
  • On the eve of the attacks on September 11, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech stating, "According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions." The "we" was the Pentagon and the amount in question worked out to about $8,000 for every person in the US. 

    Rumsfeld called the bureaucracy at the Pentagon an "adversary" - noting its strength and size. He promised to address the issue, to work with Congress, and to generally reduce waste.

    Within a month of the attacks on September 11, however, Rumsfeld's attention shifted to the "global campaign" against terrorism. Domestically, the 2020 government budget called for "a $14.2 billion increase in Department of Defense spending... to begin to arrest the decline in national security."

    1,034 votes
  • 5
    692 VOTES

    The Texas City Disaster Happened One Day After Jackie Robinson's First Game

    As a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, first baseman Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947. Robinson took the field in front of more than 25,000 fans in his first official game at Ebbets Field in New York.

    Robinson didn't get any hits that day, but he did get on base thanks to an error by the Boston Braves.  Robinson was subject to widespread discrimination, but his perseverance both on and off the field made him a hero among anti-segregationists in the United States. His first game (and his signing to the Dodgers five days earlier) received widespread media attention, albeit cursory in the minds of future observers.

    The day after Robinson made his MLB debut, one of the largest industrial disasters in US history took place in Texas City, TX. The SS Grandcamp, a French cargo ship, blew up in the port of the small town with more than 2,000 tons of explosive material on board. The explosion triggered additional blasts on the dock and at a nearby Monsanto chemical plant.

    Flames burned in Texas City for days, and somewhere between 500 and 600 people perished as a result, including more than two dozen firefighters. In addition to the roughly 3,000 individuals who were injured, the blast triggered a tidal wave and destroyed buildings and vehicles.

    692 votes
  • Frank Sinatra Died On The Same Night The 'Seinfeld' Finale Aired - And Even Sinatra's Daughter Was Watching
    Photo: 20th Century Fox / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The last episode of Seinfeld aired on NBC on May 14, 1998. About 76 million people watched the end of the nine-season sitcom - many of whom were disappointed with the results

    One of the people who tuned in to watch Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer, and Newman sign off was Nancy Sinatra, the daughter of famed crooner Frank Sinatra. What Nancy didn't know was, as she enjoyed Seinfeld, her father's life came to an end. 

    On May 14, 1998, the elder Sinatra had a heart attack at his home in Los Angeles, CA. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and, at 10:50 pm, was pronounced dead at the age of 82. Tina Sinatra was told of her father's passing at 11:10 pm and called her sister, Nancy, soon after to deliver the news.

    According to Nancy, she'd planned to see her dad that day:

    Except that Seinfeld reruns started prior to the Seinfeld finale - isn't this tacky - and I got so involved watching that damn show that I never got over to my dad's.

    785 votes